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My Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

Updated on November 6, 2009

My Thanksgiving Menu

Gather your family together and get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. Some of my recipes can be made ahead. I like to make a time line and follow it to the letter. This gives me more time to spend with my family.

The menu is:

Make-Ahead Classic Crab Dip served with Triscuits and cut-up veggies

Classic Turkey (roasted in an oven bag), juicy and delicious

Make-ahead Turkey Gravy

Make-Ahead Cornbread-Sausage Stuffing

Make-Ahead Seven-Layer Salad

Make-Ahead Scallion Mashed Potatoes

Best Green Beans

Make-Ahead Sweet Potato Surprises (your kids will love them)

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Make-Ahead Double Cranberry-Applesauce

Pumpkin Pie

Crab Dip

1 can lump crab (6 oz)

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 Tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon onion flakes

1/4 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

Hot sauce, to taste

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with Triscuits, crackers and/or cut up vegetables for dipping.

How to use a turkey cooking bag..........

This recipe is from the USDA website for cooking a turkey safely. I have used it for years. I know the stuffing tastes better in the bird, but I do not stuff the turkey anymore, to be safe.

The oven-roasting bag keeps the turkey very moist and it speeds up the roasting time.

  • Add a small quantity of flour to the bag and shake it to coat the inside of the bag.

  • Place the turkey inside the bag and close the opening with the twist tie provided.

  • A few holes should be punctured in the bag to allow some steam to escape during the roasting process.

The following cooking times can be used as a guideline for an unstuffed turkey roasted in an oven bag in a 350 degree F. conventional oven. NOTE: An additional 30 minutes or more may be required for a stuffed turkey. Remember - the only reliable test for doneness is to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometerin the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone.

8 to 12 pounds ......................1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours
12 to 14 pounds .....................2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds......................2 3/4 to 3 1/2 hours
18 to 20 pounds............................3 1/2 to 4 hours
20 to 24 pounds...........................4 to 4 1/2 hours

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at:
1 (800) 535-4555.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

I got this recipe from Woman's Day magazine back in 2004 and have been using it every Thanksgiving since. You can freeze this gravy in an airtight container up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator for 2 days. Reheat in saucepan.

4 turkey wings (about 3-4 lbs) Some people use the giblets that usually come packed inside the turkey, but my family prefers the wings.

2 medium onions, peeled and quartered

8 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup chopped carrots

1/2 teaspoon thyme

3/4 cup flour

2 Tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Put wings in a large roasting pan. Place onions on top. Roast at 400 degrees F. for about an hour or until the wings get brown.

In a large stockpot, put wings and onions. Add 1 cup water. Add 6 cups chicken broth, carrots and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove wings. Save for another use. Strain the broth into a saucepan. You will not need the vegetables. Skim fat.

Take the other 2 cups of chicken broth and place in a large container with a lid and add flour. Shake until well-blended. Pour into boiling broth in saucepan and whisk until smooth. Boil for 4-5 minutes until thickened. Add butter and pepper and stir.

Cornbread-Sausage Stuffing

Cornbread (recipe follows) or use 1 box cornbread mix, like Jiffy

10 slices white bread, torn in pieces (day old) or leave out overnight to dry

2 cups celery, sliced (you can bag it and refrigerate up to 2 days ahead)

1 large chopped onion (you can bag it with the celery)

1 package Spicy Italian turkey sausage

2 teaspoons dried sage

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon in 2 cups boiling water (let cool) or 1 can chicken broth, (14 oz)

2 eggs

Allow cornbread and white bread to dry overnight. Break corn bread and white bread in pieces in a large bowl. Remove sausage from casing and cook in a large skillet, medium heat, until browned about 8 minutes.Add celery and onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sage.

Add the sausage mixture and butter to the white bread and cornbread. In a small bowl, whisk broth and eggs together. Stir into large bowl with sausage mixture. Bake in a 1 1/2 qt. baking dish for 30 minutes, covered, at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes until lightly browned.


1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup corn meal

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/4 cup soft shortening

Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and corn meal together. Add eggs, milk and shortening. Beat with rotary beater or by hand until smooth. Fill a greased 8" square pan and bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

Make Ahead 7 Layer Salad

This salad looks best in a large glass bowl so that the layers can be seen. Sometimes I use my glass lasagna pan.

Place in the order given in layers:

1 layer of torn lettuce

1 layer of uncooked frozen peas, thawed

1 layer of celery slices (about 1 cup)

1 layer of chopped green pepper

1 layer of finely sliced onions (combined with additional torn lettuce)

1 layer of low-fat or non-fat mayonnaise (about 2 cups)

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar, sprinkled over top of mayonnaise

1 layer grated cheese (I use Colby or Longhorn)

     Top with crispy bacon pieces, broken up finely.

Do not mix or stir this. When served, it will become blended as people help themselves. (Suggest that they dig deep!) The great thing about this salad is that it can be stored in the refrigerator for several days in a covered container. Containers with tight fitting lids are perfect for this delicious salad.

You can't have a failure with it. You can even adjust amounts or add ingredients, according to your preferences.

A lighter variation would be to use 1/2 mayonnaise and 1/2 plain nonfat yogurt.

Scallion Mashed Potatoes

Can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Reheat in microwave. 12 servings.

4 pounds peeled russet potatoes, cut into pieces

2 peeled cloves garlic

4 Tablespoons butter

2 bunches scallions

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup milk

Cook potatoes in water until tender, about 20 minutes. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in skillet. Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Add scallions, salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute more. Add chicken broth. Cook for 2 more minutes.

Drain potatoes. Add milk and scallion mixture, rest of butter. Mash potatoes with a mixer. To get this many, you would need to make a double-batch To get this many, you would need to make a double-batch

Sweet Potato Surprises

1- 20 oz can sweet potatoes

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

16-18 marshmallows

Mash sweet potatoes with a wooden spoon or potato masher in medium size bowl. Add brown sugar and melted butter. Shape 1/4-1/3 cup of mixture around large marshmallow. Roll in graham cracker crumbs. Place sweet potato balls on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. Do not over bake or they will fall apart.

Double Cranberry-Apple Sauce

This can be made 2 weeks ahead and kept in refrigerator. Recipe comes from Betsy Shroat in Union, KY. Delicious!

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

1 package fresh cranberries (12 oz)

1 small lemon, sliced and seeded

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Stir together apples, cranberries, lemon, sugar and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring.

Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until cranberries start to pop and mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in dried cranberries. Cool. Cover and chill.


Pumpkin Pie

This is my mother's recipe. She always dusted it with more cinnamon when it was done!

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 Tablespoons melted butter

Combine ingredients. Pour into 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Makes 1 pie.


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    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thanks so much for the nice comment, Ben. These recipes have all been tried for many years and loved by my family. I hope you love them, too!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Oh boy does this look good Judy! Yum! I'm going to email this to my wife, we're hosting my father in law this year, great article for some delicious ideas! I love the idea of the timeline!

      Thanks! Ben

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thank you to everyone for your comments. I have been on vacation for a week and missed everyone! Glad to be back. Hope you have a happy thanksgiving!

    • profile image

      BookFlame 8 years ago

      I'm bookmarking this one! Will definitely use some of these recipes on T'giving Day. Thanks!

    • Shells47 profile image

      Shells47 8 years ago

      Thanks! I am doing dinner for my family this year. You have reminded me to GET ON IT! Making things ahead of time will be my saving grace!

    • elisabethkcmo profile image

      elisabethkcmo 8 years ago from Just East of Oz

      love these recipes, jucydianne, thanks for adding a link to my Thanksgiving recipes, I'm adding a link to this hub.

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 8 years ago from Texas

      Judydianne, I love this hub. I am just beginning to think about Thanksgiving and you have put me in the mood!

    • judydianne profile image

      judydianne 8 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

      Thank you so much, creativeone! Happy holidays!

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thanks for a wonderful thanksgiving dinner, thanks for sharing it with us. blessings to you. creativeone59


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