If you recently saw my Thanksgiving Tablescape Posts, you know how excited I am to Host Thanksgiving this year. I love hosting events of any kind. It’s so fun to coordinate the decor and the food to create a certain feeling throughout the event. I like to make food that is unique and wows my guests. The Thanksgiving menu I created this year keeps the classic Thanksgiving dishes and adds a twist using some unique ingredient additions.
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This Thanksgiving menu was a huge success. So many of my guests were blown away by the sides and how juicy the Turkey was. I’m going to add my post-Thanksgiving notes now that I’ve made this meal in purple below and all of my prep-ahead tips. If you’ve seen any of my party planning posts you know I am the queen of prepping as much ahead as possible and using the heck out of crockpots to make sure I can enjoy my event too.
Photo via: Spend with Pennies
Cranberry Goat Cheese Crostini: Ever since mine and my Hubby’s honeymoon when I tried a fig, goat cheese flatbread and fig, roasted garlic and goat cheese appetizer at 2 different restaurants on our trip I have loved the combo of bread, goat cheese, and something sweet. This appetizer is that perfect combo but uses a popular Thanksgiving staple as the something sweet…cranberry sauce.
Prep Ahead: I sliced and baked my crostini (I used french bread drizzled with olive oil and baked in the oven) then once cooled I stored in ziploc bags. Thanksgiving Morning I spread on the goat cheese and cranberry sauce and arranged on a platter.
BBQ cocktail weenies: (I used the sauce from this meatball post to prep mine) I had so much sauce left from making these meatballs that I threw in some of these cocktail weenies and froze them for an easy crockpot appetizer with no prep other than thawing.
These were just as easy as I had imagined. I just thawed the bag I had in the freezer and poured it into this triple snack-size crockpot.
Or try this bacon wrapped version, it looks super tasty.
No-Brine Juicy Turkey: As a newbie Thanksgiving chef My biggest fear is drying out the turkey (especially because I already made a miscalculation and purchased a turkey large enough to feed 50. That is no exaggeration, I got a 27 pounder.) So I’m going to try this Turkey recipe, minus the champagne since I wanted to make the gravy using all of the drippings on auto-pilot and not have to worry about using just a small amount because of the tang of the champagne. But this recipe has a pretty unique way of keeping the Turkey breast juicy.
This was the juiciest turkey ever!! It was a bit messy trying to smear butter under the skin…but TOTALLY worth it. As my hubby was carving this bad boy the juice was all over, even in the breast. I didn’t stuff mine since it was so large and I was concerned about it cooking in time.
Photo via: Dinner at the Zoo
Maple Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprout, Pecan & Cranberry Salad: Every Fall and Winter when it’s cool enough to start the oven up again I roast veggies several times a week. They taste so much better than boiling or steaming. This recipe pairs two of the veggies I roast frequently, Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts. The addition of cranberries and pecans ups the holiday feel of this side dish.
A wonderful twist on roasted veggies. To prep ahead, I cut all of my vegetables and put in bags in the fridge. Then the day of I poured them on my largest sheet pan (this one is amazingly sturdy and well built) and roasted in the oven, then mixed with the nuts and pecans in a pretty serving bowl.
Butternut Squash Biscuits: I tried to make some of the prep of such a huge meal a bit easier by using similar ingredients throughout the dishes, but in different enough ways that they don’t feel like copies. I figured since I’d already be roasting butternut squash for the salad above why not try these biscuits with a bit of squash thrown in the mix.
These I fully made ahead and warmed in the oven quick after the veggies were out.
Sausage Cranberry and Apple Stuffing: Stuffing is my all time favorite side dish of Thanksgiving. Whether it’s Plain old Stovetop stuffing made with water or this upgraded version it will definitely be the main star on my Thanksgiving plate.
This stuffing was a huge hit. There was barely any left for leftovers, and trust me I made a LOT!! I browned the sausage and cut the apples the day before and then in the am tossed them all into the crockpot to sit for the day. Then the crockpot did all the work while I sipped wine and pretended to watch football!
Loaded mashed potato casserole: While the mashed potatoes aren’t my favorite, I know they are many of my family members’ favorite. My dad (the one who usually cooks our Thanksgiving dinner) requested this certain recipe so I had to include it in our Thanksgiving menu. It can be prepared ahead of time, which is always a pro for any Thanksgiving side dish.
For these potatoes, I cooked and mashed all of the potatoes ahead of time. Browned my bacon, and even mixed in all of the cheese and sour cream before tossing them in the fridge. Then Thanksgiving Day, you guessed it, I threw them in the crockpot and that’s it!
Slow Cooker Creamed Corn: Corn was at the request of my Husband, but I couldn’t add any old plain corn to this wonderful menu of unique and interesting versions of Thanksgiving classics so this creamed corn was the solution.
This was the most surprising hit, It was an unexpected side that we don’t usually have but I think this was my Hubby’s favorite. Also so easy in the crockpot. (I put it in one of the smaller triple crockpot spots) This is just a dump all the ingredients in and stir type of dish so no prep ahead of time needs to be done, but definitely worth adding to your Thanksgiving menu.
Photo via: 29DesignStudio
Pumpkin cheesecake mini tarts: I have made other versions of these mini tarts using sugar cookie dough as the crust and they have always been a huge hit. I’ve done a strawberry and lemon version before.
These minis were perfect for everyone that stuffed themselves on turkey and sides but wanted a small taste of dessert. I premade all of the shells and you guessed it stored them in bags on the counter. Mixed up the filling and stored in the fridge. Once my turkey was in the oven and all of the sides in the crockpots I put the filling into a pastry bag (or gallon ziploc bag and cut off the tip) and piped it into the shells. I don’t recommend putting the filling into shells the night before since it will make them soggy.
Classic Apple Pie: this recipe has no twist, It’s my husbands all time favorite dessert so I keep it classic served with vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream. I use the crust and filling recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
My Hubby’s favorite pie was fully made ahead of time and warmed in the oven after the turkey came out. To jazz it up a little bit I look cookie cutters and cut small pieces of dough in heart shapes (you can use any shape you have) to decorate the crust a bit more. Any baked goods you can make well ahead of time and freeze until a night or two before your dinner.
Hope these notes help you decide on some new dishes to add to your Thanksgiving menu, or allow you to spend some time with your Fam on this wonderful Holiday. All of these dishes made for a spectacular meal, and I got sooooo many comments about how wonderful the food was. It was quite a bit of work the days leading up but definitely worth it when on Thanksgiving Day I could play board games with my girls and hang out with my guests.