Every year I scour the internet looking for new recipes to add to my traditional Thanksgiving spread. Last year we tried creamed spinach with a touch of nutmeg and a new type of stuffing with sage. Both went over really well! This year, I researched the Clabber Girl recipe vault and found that I could make our complete meal with these recipes. I get so excited for Thanksgiving, it is the one meal I make from scratch every year and spend days preparing for. My dad always offers to buy our meal already prepared from the grocery store, and I always respond, “Don’t you dare!”. To me, Thanksgiving is a personal journey at the peak of harvest season. To celebrate its bounty, I want to carefully curate a menu featuring local ingredients as much as possible. You can use this post as a plan for your own Thanksgiving meal, download a blank menu template, this full menu template and a shopping list sorted by grocery store aisle too!
There are three appetizers on our menu this year: sweet and sour meatballs, sweet popcorn snax and rosemary Parmesan crackers. I love making meatballs for Thanksgiving as I can make them in advance and freeze them, then just reheat in a slow cooker the day of. The sweet popcorn snax will be perfect for putting in candy bowls around the house for people to enjoy. I am especially happy to find this rosemary Parmesan cracker recipe. There are so many toppings and ways to cut up the crackers, I will be able to get really creative. One topping I know I want to try is soaking some figs in a high quality balsamic vinegar overnight, then putting it on top of crackers with goat cheese.
Thanksgiving Main Dishes: Turkey or Ham?
There are some strong feelings in my family when it comes to what to serve as the main dish. Thanksgiving traditionalists demand turkey, and this apple roasted turkey with gravy is sure to please them. The other camp feels that having a spicy baked ham on Christmas and Easter is not enough, and that it should also be served as the main dish at Thanksgiving. In order to appease everyone, both are made. For our turkey, I usually pre-order a fresh turkey from our local grocery store. These are farm raised and super fresh. For both the turkey and ham, I don’t have to crowd the oven on Thanksgiving. I make the turkey the day before Thanksgiving. After the turkey is cooled off, I slice it up and add the slices and reserved juices to a slow cooker the day of Thanksgiving. The ham can be made completely in a slow cooker as you are just warming up the ham anyway.
Thanksgiving Bread Basket
When it comes to bread, our family likes a lot of options. Thankfully, the Clabber Girl recipe database base has a wide variety. This year I am making two savory favorites: biscuits and cornbread, along with a family favorite: old fashioned pumpkin bread. When choosing what kinds of breads to make, I consider what type of dressing and desserts I’ll be making. The cornbread will be used in our dressing this year and the pumpkin bread will be used in a bread pudding dessert that sounds delicious.
Thanksgiving Side Dishes
This is the toughest category for me. It is difficult to choose just a few to feature on the menu, and depending on what the produce is like at our Farmer’s Market this year, my choices may have to change. So far I planned on the cranberry cornbread dressing, since it would play well with the fruity notes in our roasted turkey and glazed ham. If I left off mashed potatoes from the menu, I would probably lose my host privileges, we take them that seriously. For our vegetable sides, I plan on making a green bean casserole, my sister-in-law’s favorite and a creamed spinach that we tried for the first time last year. The green bean casserole is extra special this year as the cream of mushroom reduction and French fried onions will be made from scratch. Last, but not least, is the most simple cranberry sauce you can make. This is another do ahead menu item and believe me, it is so much better than any canned sauce.
I decided to go very traditional this year sticking to pies with one exception: pumpkin bread pudding. Bread pudding is my mom’s favorite and I can’t wait for her to try this out. As for the pies, I thought this apple crostata with a lattice top would be beautiful. Living in the Midwest, apples are prominent this time of year and we buy them by the half bushel. For this cherry pie, I will be using the cherries we picked in June and froze. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without a classic pumpkin pie. I usually make at least two of these so everyone can enjoy. Our pecan trees weren’t very bountiful this year, but I should have enough for a classic Southern pecan pie too. We crack the pecans while watching television and often recruit kids in our family to help.
In addition to red and white wine, I also like to have some kid-friendly options. This year I am going to try out our hot chocolate mix and spiced apple cider. Both of these can be warmed up in slow cookers and will help to fill our house with wonderful smells.
As you can tell from all these recipes, I think the slow cooker is your best friend when preparing for a meal like this. I make almost the entire meal in advance, and really just have the side dishes to focus on the day of Thanksgiving. Hope this helps out with your own Thanksgiving plans. Don’t forget to download a free blank menu template or menu that’s already filled out and get your shopping list!