Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Very Merry Cranberry Thanksgiving Menu

I did it! I did it!  An entire Thanksgiving meal with not a burnt roll, soggy salad, or broken plate (however, two wine glasses and lever on the sink weren't so lucky).

We had a very quaint Thanksgiving dinner--just me, my husband, son, sister, mom, and dad.  Because it was a casual occasion, there was no set dinner time, which gave us the opportunity to take a leisurely walk down to Starbucks in the morning, snack on lettuce wraps and aspergras rolls in the afternoon, and have a 5pm (give or take a half hour) dinner.

I think the key to success for Thanksgiving dinner is:
  • Know what's ok to make ahead (cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, dessert)
  • Know what not to make ahead (turkey, salad, bread) and how to properly re-heat anything you do make ahead.
  • Pre-cut anything you can't make ahead.
  • Thaw your turkey early.
  • Don't have too many unique flavors that compete with each other.
  • Have a hungry audience so everything tastes good (i.e. lots of alcohol and don't serve lunch).
I will be sharing my favorite recipes from this meal with you over the course of the next week.  Just in time for Christmas!

The Menu:

Asparagus Roll-Ups
Lettuce Wraps
Blue Cheese, Walnut, and Cranberry Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Herb-Roasted Turkey
Mushroom Sausage Stuffing 
Rosemary Mashers with Gravy
Homemade Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots (fan favorite)
Rhodes Rolls
Cranberries with Oranges
Sour Cream Cheesecake

I found that I didn't even have to put out the fine China.  My casual dinnerware matched the Harvest decor just fine!  But it was laughable that I actually had to think to remember what side the fork, knife, and glasses go on!

I placed fabric leaves under my recycled glass plates and added gold chargers (from the Dollar Tree) for a festive look.  I can't help but laugh every time I see a charger because it reminds me of this episode of "Cribs" where this basketball player was eating off a charger and was so happy he "found these really big plates).

The table (before we messed it up).

The food (before we ate it).  Dinner was comprised of Roasted Turkey with Herbs, Rosemary Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Rhodes Dinner Rolls, Homemade Green Bean Casserole, Sage Sausage Stuffing with Mushrooms, and Cranberry-Orange Sauce.

Mmmmm.  My husband insisted on canned cranberries (which no one ate because the homemade ones were better), and my sister insisted on Stove Top (which no one made because the homemade smelled so much better).  The only thing not homemade was the dinner rolls, which were an accident because we forgot to put the homemade bread in the breadmaker.

The crowd-winning favorite was the Homemade Green Bean Cassorole with home-fried shallots and homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup (recipe to follow in another post).
For dessert, I made a Cheesecake using my father-in-law's recipe.  It was to die for! I used leftover cranberry sauce for the topping.
I also used a Silky Pumpkin Pie recipe, but it pretty much just tasted like Pumpkin Pie.  The Cheesecake was better.

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