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Thanksgiving Recipes and Tips

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. No Christmas rush, reflecting on God’s goodness, cherishing blessings, the love of family all around, scrumptious comfort food . . . what more could you ask for?

About 15 years ago, because of my mother’s physical limitations, I began preparing the entire holiday meal on my own. I can still remember the early days cooking Thanksgiving dinner. The thought of sticking my hand inside the turkey to pull out his neck and gizzards was revolting. Tongs have multiple uses!


Through the years, I have developed a little system.

One to two weeks ahead:

  • Do I have a tablecloth, napkins, enough dishes and silverware?
  • What will the centerpiece be?
  • Shop for necessary items.

Click here to see my post on Thanksgiving tablescapes.


The weekend before Thanksgiving:

  • Clean out the refrigerator.
  • Grocery shopping
  • Check to see how many days the turkey needs to thaw based on its weight. Mark the calendar.

Two days ahead:

  • Set the table.
  • Arrange the centerpiece.
  • Turn plates upside down to keep them dust-free.
  • Do the house cleaning. (A welcoming atmosphere begins with order and cleanliness. My friend Ruthann suggests saying a prayer before cleaning and playing music during.)

When you’re in charge of the entire Thanksgiving meal it’s essential to prepare some things ahead of time. This prevents stress and allows you to enjoy your family. Put your kids in charge of preparing a specific dish. That dish can become their tradition year after year.

My Traditional Thanksgiving Menu

Turkey (Prepare Thanksgiving Day)

Dressing (Prepare Thanksgiving Day)

Day Before Mashed Potatoes (Prepare the day before – bake on Thanksgiving)

Sweet Potato Casserole (Prepare the day before – bake on Thanksgiving)

Green Bean, Feta Cheese, and Kalamata Olive Salad (Prepare on Thanksgiving Day)

Sonia’s Hot Rolls (Start these two days ahead)

Cran-Apple Salad (Prepare the day before)

Pumpkin Pie or Pecan Pie (Prepare the day before)

Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie (Prepare the day before)

Recipes for a few of my favorite dishes


Day Before Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds potatoes, peeled and cooked (I use Yukon Gold potatoes)

2 tsp. garlic salt

Pepper to taste

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream (can add more if needed)

1 stick margarine

Beat cream cheese and margarine. Add potatoes then garlic salt and pepper. Add sour cream last. Mix well. Store in refrigerator, covered.

To serve: Take out desired amount and dot with butter. Cook at 350 degrees (uncovered) for 30-45 minutes.

Keeps in refrigerator for two weeks.

Sonia’s Hot Rolls

My friend, Sonia, brought these to dinner years ago. I’ve been making them ever since. They have a hint of delectable sweetness. Very good!

1 package yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 beaten eggs

1/2 cup oil

4-5 cups flour

Mix eggs, oil, salt, and sugar in bowl. Add 1 cup very warm water. Add dissolved yeast. Mix together. Add flour. Knead then place in slightly oiled bowl. Rub 1 Tbsp. oil over top of dough. Cover and let rise until double in size. Punch down. Shape into balls. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise again.

Bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes.

(Can put these in the refrigerator overnight. Let them finish rising in the morning.)


Green Bean, Feta Cheese, and Kalamata Olive Salad

My family craves these green beans! Last week, I made them for friends who came to dinner. Greg kept the bowl of beans next to his plate for seconds, thirds, and fourths!

1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed, sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces; steamed until tender

1/2 thinly sliced red onion

2/3 cup pitted, diced Kalamata olives

2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup slivered fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil

Dijon Garlic Marinade

Combine all ingredients and mix with Dijon Garlic Marinade.

Dijon Garlic Marinade

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 minced garlic cloves

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 Tbsp. pure-pressed extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, using a fork, combine vinegar, garlic and black pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking until smooth and well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings.

You might want to double or triple this for a large crowd.

If you have the privilege of serving your family by preparing the Thanksgiving meal . . . remember to breathe. It will all get done. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Focus on your blessings. Enjoy your family.

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:4-5

Thanks for stopping in. Come back anytime. I’ll leave the welcome mat out and the porch light on for you!

What tips do you have for Thanksgiving day?


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