Simple and Delicious Thanksgiving Recipes and Tips!

If you know me well, you know that hosting Thanksgiving is one of my all time favorite things to do ever.  I have done it a few times and have a Thanksgiving guide for the intermediate cook and ambitious host HERE.  I love all the recipes so much but have realized that only a handful of them are THANKSGIVING to ME. So I thought I’d share a simplified guide here, including only the most critical recipes from my Thanksgiving guide, and then giving you tips for the rest of the recipes.  If you are super picky about a certain side dish that I suggest to purchase instead, definitely check out my original Thanksgiving guide for divine homemade recipes for every aspect of the feast!

First, let’s talk about the essential elements to a Thanksgiving feast.  Here is a list of everything I require at our table:

Turkey

Gravy

Cranberry Sauce

Mashed Potatoes

Stuffing

Sweet Potatoes

Rolls

Veggie side dishes (at least 2)

Salad 

Beverage

Pumpkin Dessert

 

Am I missing anything? You may not need some of these things on your table for it to feel official, but these dishes are usually included in a typical Thanksgiving Feast.  Now, let me tell you which dishes are sentimental to me and are required to be prepared a certain way in order for them to count:

Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Potato Soufflee

Creamed Corn (one of the veggie sides)

Rolls

Did you notice I did not mention turkey?  Yeah, I don’t really care about turkey!  Or super fancy stuffing.  Or even Pumpkin Pie!!  But you might care about all those things, and maybe not so much the things I care about.  In which case, go check out my original Thanksgiving guide for recipes and inspiration!  If you are hosting and want to keep it as simple as possible but still delicious, here are my suggestions:

Turkey

Either purchase, have someone else be in charge of it, or do a Butterball from Costco in the crockpot!  Slice it up before serving and garnish with some sage/rosemary sprigs to fancify it and no one will care there’s not a huge bird on the table.

Gravy

Gravy is pretty simple to make, but even simpler to buy!  Make it your own by adding cream of mushroom soup or thinning it out with some chicken broth (or drippings from the turkey, if you have them).

Cranberry Sauce

Just buy the can!  But don’t keep the can shape once you put it in the serving dish.  Use a fork to stir it up and make it look more like a jelly/jam.

Mashed Potatoes

Okay, this one matters to me.  Use THIS recipe and never be the same!

Stuffing

Would you stone me if I said just use the boxed variety?  It’s dang good, people! Definitely does the job for our family.

Sweet Potatoes

Another essential for our table, but only if they are made like THIS.  Don’t be intimidated by the word “soufflee.”  It’s really just a simple casserole!

Rolls

This one is also important to me, but you can buy amazing rolls and be just as satisfied.  I don’t mind making homemade rolls and I have the most delicious yet SIMPLE roll recipe in the world right HERE.

Veggie side dishes (at least 2)

Okay, not everyone loves creamed corn the way I do.  I HAVE to have it for Thanksgiving.  It’s so decadent that I don’t let myself have it any other time of year, so if no one else cares about it I still bring it to share.  THIS recipe.  I know people associate green bean casserole with Thanksgiving, but I really don’t care about that.  I do, however, LOVE Brussels sprouts and could eat them like popcorn and have been known to on more than one occasion.  If you, too, love Brussles, HERE is the recipe I prefer.

Salad 

You could easily get away with no salad, or a bagged salad from Costco.  But if you are interested in a delicious Fall salad that isn’t hard at all to throw together, I love THIS recipe.  We also use the balsamic dressing on pizza!

Beverage

Of course water is totally adequate.  I like to at least offer some type of fizzy beverage, too.  But nothing complicated, obviously.

Pumpkin Dessert

Okay, I know I said I don’t care about pumpkin pie, but I do care about a pumpkin dessert.  But I also care about not killing myself over it.  If you want to purchase a pumpkin pie, that’s obviously going to be the least amount of stress.  But here are my three favorite pumpkin recipes that are so easy and that taste SO MUCH BETTER than pumpkin pie to me! Pumpkin Crumble Brownies || Pumpkin Croissant Pudding || Pumpkin Doughnut Holes . Another tip: all these desserts are amazing with Mexican Hot Chocolate!

And there you have it!  A simple but delicious Thanksgiving Feast for you and your family.  Just remember, if you are interested in more homemade recipes, check out that original Thanksgiving Guide that I mentioned.  No matter which guide you choose, I hope I’ve been able to offer ideas and inspiration to help bring joy and satisfaction into your home on that wonderful day!

 

 

Autumn Brunch Recipes and Charcuterie Tips? Okay!

Back in September I was asked to host a brunch for the women at my church and now that I’m getting back into blogging after a few years off, I decided I should post about it!  It turned out lovely, even though we almost had to cancel last minute because there was open sewage in my bathroom tub.  Instead, we just never had a lack in conversation starters and all had a good laugh? Sure.  I have true friends, that’s all. And an amazing MIL who was in town and helped me be able to do it!

Here are some tips for throwing a beautiful party: BUY PRETTY LOAVES OF BREAD! I sliced some of them up while the other loaves functioned as decor in a pretty basket and paired them with butter, lemon curd, jams and honey.  Also, BUY GRAPES! they are the most dramatic of the fruits, if you think about it, and function as beauty and taste.  Lastly, BUY THOSE PRETZLE-Y LOOKING PASTRIES FROM COSTCO.  They are gorgeous, just sweet enough, and are friggin’ bomb with lemon curd.

Creamy Mini Quiches Recipe Here

To make a beautiful charcuterie (cheese platter), the key is variety, color and texture.  Offer at least two types of cheeses (you don’t have to spend a lot of money!) and then do a variety of carbs, like crackers and breadsticks (you can find assorted cracker packs at virtually any grocery store, mine are from Trader Joe’s). Start the board by laying down the cheeses and then fill in with crackers here and there, and then fill in smaller gaps with things like nuts, dried or fresh fruits and lunch meats like salami.  You can also slice up a baguette and add the slices here and there.  The beauty is in the disorder.  For extra drama, add a sprig of fresh rosemary here and there!  It’s all about presentation with charcuteries if you think about it…

Pumpkin Croissant Pudding recipe here

Those pretty jams up there are from the jar.  Don’t kill yourself over making things, people.  I mean, make some stuff, but for heaven’s sake, not jam.

Blueberry Crumble Coffee Cake recipe here

Lemon Curd recipe here

 

 

Recipe: Pumpkin Croissant Pudding

Yup!  And it’s as amazing as it sounds!!!  Serve it for breakfast or dessert, perfect for Fall brunches and showers!

Pumpkin Croissant Pudding
Serves 4
The perfect pumpkin dessert. Or breakfast. And it's just so easy!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  2. 3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  8. 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  9. Pinch of ground cloves
  10. 5 cups cubed (1-inch) croissants
  11. 3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Toss the croissants in the melted butter. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the milk, sugar, eggs, spices and pumpkin. Add the buttered croissant pieces and mix to coat evenly.
  3. Add mixture to an un-greased 8x8 baking dish.
  4. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until the custard is set.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Hopes and Dreams http://cherishinghopesanddreams.com/

Happy Birthday JDubby the Hubby!

John has started a tradition this year where he takes each birthday kid to our family’s favorite place, Foothills Park, for a little mountain man time on their special day.  So we took him there for his birthday today, too!  We were all together in nature and in crisp Autumn air and I couldn’t believe how wonderful it all was–thanks to this wonderful man. I hope, hope, hope each of you has a JW in your life–a man you can trust to be kind and faithful and who you can have fun with and who you just always want to be together with.  Happy birthday to my darling husband!

Believe it or not, James’ face was his choice.  He’s experimenting with expressions lately and I guess he felt like this one deserved some spotlight.

Oh, you don’t have beautifully photogenic charcuterie boards strategically placed and staged up in a mountainous picnic setting?  We don’t usually, either!  But for a special birthday picnic, we bring the photogenic food.

The pie was a gift from Grammy from a local apple farm (Auggie actually stepped in it, full boot submersion, right after I took this picture), but the panzanella recipe is here, and the crusty bread recipe is here

31 years old

Yes, we did a tick check when we got home.

My best guys.  Love all these cool dudes!

Beautiful Foothills Park, in all it’s exclusive-to-Palo-Altans glory.