Holidays,  Recipes

Preparing for Thanksgiving

2009_11_15Preparing for Thanksgiving is like getting ready for a big game. You can’t successfully execute without a solid game plan.

So huddle up!

OK, enough with the bad sports analogies. Let’s get started.

Week before Thanksgiving

  • Order your turkey/s—figure about 1-1.5 pounds per person, but if you like leftovers as much as my family, you’ll buy an entire extra turkey
  • Start thinking about your menu. Technically, you don’t have to commit until your grocery store trip, but it helps to have time to brainstorm and not feel rushed
  • Give guests ideas for dishes they can bring

Week of Thanksgiving

  • Take inventory—make sure you have the items you need in your pantry (spices, canned items, etc.) and pots, pans and other utensils
  • Clean out your fridge to make room
  • Buy all the non-perishable ingredients you’ll need. Unless you enjoy the fighting with old ladies over the last can of pumpkin filling or hauling and unloading 200 pounds of groceries the day of. And don’t forget the booze—you’re gonna need it.
  • Begin to thaw your turkey/s—figure 24 hours of thaw time per five pounds of turkey

2-3 days before Thanksgiving

  • Cook the things that will keep well in the fridge or freezer, such as pies, casseroles, sauces and anything else you can think of

Day/night before Thanksgiving

  • Purchase all the fresh items you still need (lettuce, freshly baked bread, etc.)
  • Start preparing by chopping veggies, setting ingredients out, etc.


  • If you can’t figure this out by now you’re screwed
  • Actually, there is one thing you should know—you’ll need to start preparing your turkey/s 5-7 hours before dinner time, depending on the size

Be sure to check back on Better with Butter for a “Southwestern Thanksgiving” (part of this month’s Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24) and leftover recipes.

Now for the fun part—menu research …


Mom’s roast turkey

Fried turkey

BBQ turkey


Homemade tofurkey

And if you’re really ambitious … this monstrosity


Mom’s turkey stuffing

Herb and onion stuffing

Sage, walnut and dried fig stuffing

Vegan stuffing

Cornbread stuffing

No-shame-in-packaged-crouton stuffing


Perfect mashed potatoes

Cheesy potato casserole

Sweet potato oven fries

Roasted potato stacks

Sweet potato souffle

Twice baked potatoes

Cheesy baked mashed potato

Roasted sweet potatoes

Classic potato gratin


Roasted butternut squash with garlic, sage and pine nuts

Roasted acorn squash with goat cheese and tahini sauce

Sauteed green beans

Homemade creamed corn

Buttered braised asparagus with morels

Asparagus with hollandaise

Roasted carrots and mushroom with thyme

Moroccan carrot salad

Brussels meets brandy


Basic turkey gravy

Cream gravy

Vegan mushroom gravy

Homemade cranberry sauce

Soups and salads

Roasted three-squash soup

Saffron pumpkin soup

Sweet potato, apple and ginger soup

Caramelized pear and blue cheese salad

Roasted butternut salad with arugula and pomegranate dressing

Wheat berry salad with dried cranberries

Pomegranate salad with honey-cider vinaigrette


Green bean casserole

Broccoli, rice, cheese casserole

Paula’s corn casserole


No-knead bread

Pumpkin sage biscuits

Braided cranberry walnut bread

Bacon onion cheddar biscuits

Dinner rolls


Chocolate pecan pie with Kahlua whipped cream

Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie cheesecake

Apple pie

Twice baked sweet potatoes

Stuffed sweet potatoes


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