Easy Recipes For A Gourmet Thanksgiving For Large Groups
When it is time to plan your Thanksgiving dinner menu or any other large menu, you probably want something that tastes gourmet without a lot of work. I am sharing my favorite recipes, for large dinner events, that are very easy to make.
Reflection on the holiday:
Thanksgiving, for me, is a time to reflect on all of the wonderful blessings that God has provided. It is a time to gather with family and loved ones and to be thankful for what we have. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in our desires to have more that we lose sight of all that we truly have. When we take time to count our blessings one by one, suddenly it puts things more into perspective.
Atmosphere for dinner:
Depending on the size of the family you have, you may have one or several tables to set up. A special holiday like this should be somewhat formal. Pretty tablecloths and china are a nice touch again depending on the size. You can get very nice plastic wear that looks dressy from a party supply store for very large groups. Decorate the table/s with candles or fall foliage. Place-card holders are nice for large groups so there isn't any confusion on seating. As the host, this gives you the ability to strategically seat family members.
When you have a large group coming over for thanksgiving dinner, it can be hard to find easy and yet good tasting recipes - especially if you are doing all of the cooking. What you don't want to have is a lot of stress on this special holiday. Everyone should have a happy thanksgiving. The thanksgiving recipes I have highlighted are easy to make and go a step beyond average. All of them can be made ahead of time, leaving the day of your dinner stress free.
Thanksgiving Day Dinner
Allow 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person, which should leave enough for leftovers too! A frozen turkey takes about 1 day of thawing time, in the refrigerator, for every 4 pounds.
The giblets - heart, liver and gizzard - will be tucked inside the neck in a little bag. This must be removed before cooking.
If you are going to stuff the bird, loosely spoon the stuffing into the neck and body cavities just before roasting. Allow room for expansion. If you are not going to use stuffing, you might want to fill the cavities with onion, celery and sage to give a nice aroma.
Most roasting directions say to cook the turkey breast side up and 325 degrees. I like to cook it breast side down for the first half of the cooking time and then flip it to brown the breast. It turns out moister this way but it is a little more tricky.
Brush the bird with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before cooking. An 18 - 20 pound turkey will take about 4 1/2 hours to cook. A meat thermometer should reach 165 degrees to be safe for eating. However, for best flavor and ease of carving it should reach 180 degrees.
Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
I like the fact that you can make these potatoes ahead of time and then just pull them out of the refrigerator and bake for your thanksgiving meal.
5 pounds potatoes
1 8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup light sour cream
2 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper
2 T. Chives
2 T. butter
- Cook peeled potatoes in boiling water. Drain.
- Mash until smooth.
- Add softened cream cheese, sour cream, salt, white pepper, chives and butter. Beat until fluffy. Cool
- Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to use. Can be stored up to two weeks.
- To use, place in greased two quart casserole dish.
- Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until heated through, about 30 minutes
This recipe reminds me of the taste of hush puppies. The corn is baked with a corn muffin mix that is very tasty!
1 stick melted butter
1 can cream style corn
1 can whole kernel corn
1 8 oz sour cream
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix (not prepared)
1/4 cup onion
1/4 cup green pepper
Brown onion and green pepper in butter. Mix with rest of ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Put mixture in a greased casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes.
Sweet Potato Crunch
This almost tastes like a dessert! It is one of my favorite thanksgiving side dishes.
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
Combine main ingredients and mix well. Pour into well greased baking dish. Prepare topping: Mix together brown sugar and butter; gradually add flour. Mix well. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbly. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Corn Bread Stuffing
3/4 cup butter
2 large celery stalks (with leaves), chopped (1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
9 cups corn bread cubes
1 1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground sage1/4 t. pepper
- Melt margarine and cook celery and onion until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Toss celery mixture and remaining ingredients.
- Stuff bird. Moisten any remaining mixture with chicken broth until it sticks together and put in a greased casserole dish.
- Bake the extra stuffing for 45 minutes in the same oven with the turkey.
Of course pies are a traditional favorite thanksgiving dessert - especially pumpkin pie. But, I have to include our family favorite recipe of fudge. This recipe is easy to make and always turns out perfect.
4 c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 c. butter (do not substitute margarine)
25 large marshmallows, cut up
13 oz. milk chocolate, cut up
1 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, cut up
1 c. nuts (optional)
- Combine sugar, milk, vanilla, and butter in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil two minutes (do not stir or touch the mixture in any other way while it boils); turn off heat. Leave saucepan on burner without heat turned on.
- Add cut up marshmallows and stir until melted. Add chocolate, one kind at a time, stirring rapidly until melted. Stir in nuts, if desired (whisk works best for stirring).
- Spread fudge evenly in a buttered 9x13 pan. Cut into squares after fudge has cooled completely. Freezed well if it lasts that long!