Thanksgiving Go-To Dinner Party Menu

ON THE MENU:

Endive, Blue Cheese, Cranberry & Walnut Salad
Bacon Wrapped Turkey, Sausage Stuffing, Horseradish Cheddar Potatoes & Roast Veggies
Spiced Apple Cake and Individual Pumpkin Trifle

Thanksgiving Turkey Raw Image 1

This week’s Go To Dinner Party Menu celebrates the wonderful American holiday of Thanksgiving. The following are my foolproof recipes for a Thanksgiving Day Dinner – hors d’oeuvres, starter, turkey, sides and dessert – that will leave you enjoying the evening as much as your guests will. Happy Thanksgiving!

BLUEPRINT: You can make the stuffing and potatoes in advance. Freeze them, defrost and then simply reheat on the day. You can make the spiced apple cake the day before and just dust with powdered sugar right before serving. You can make the individual pumpkin trifles Thanksgiving morning, leaving just the cookie garnish to add right before serving. You can make the sweet potato and parsnip soup shots the day before and have the remainder of the hors d’oeuvres completely prepped and ready to go. The salad can be assembled beforehand and simply dressed, leaving only the turkey to make on the spot. Make sure you don’t forget to heat your plates, platters and gravy boat.

GROCERY LIST

  • Fresh Herbs: bunch chives, bunch cilantro
  • Fruit: 1 lb apples (2 – 4)
  • Produce: 1 large red pepper, 1 large yellow pepper, 10 celery stalks, 6 large carrots, 3 large onions, 8 good size endive lettuces, 1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, 1/2 lb parsnips, 1 bunch scallions, 5 lb bag yukon gold potatoes, 12 oz sliced mushrooms
  • Meat & Fish: 2lbs bacon, 12 – 14 lb turkey, 4 oz smoked salmon, 1 lb sausage links
  • Dairy: 2 eggs, 2 sticks salted butter + 2 tbs, 2 sticks unsalted butter + 2 tbs, 1/2 cup sharp cheddar, 1/2 lb horseradish cheddar, 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, 3 cups whole milk, 1 eight oz container cream cheese + 2 eight oz packets cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups blue cheese, 5 oz margarine
  • Frozen: n/a
  • Staples: 3 tbs olive oil, chopped walnuts, 2 tsp garlic puree, chicken stock cubes, 8 cups chicken stock, 2 cups low sodium chicken or turkey stock, garlic puree, 2 cups + 2 oz chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup herbed panko breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • Baking: 12 1/2 tbs plain flour, 8 oz self-raising flour, 8 oz superfine sugar, 3 tbs confectioners’ sugar, 1 tsp vanilla
  • Spices: 3 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1 tsp rosemary
  • Other: 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup white wine, 1 can sliced water chestnuts (8 oz), 14 oz herb seasoned stuffing, 1 pack Athen’s Phyllo Pastry Cups (15 cups), 1 container/quantity your favorite dip, 2 cans pureed pumpkin (15 oz each), 8 oz gingersnap cookies

Individual Vegetable Crudité

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, cutting board, break knife, chef’s knife, paring knife, 8 – 10 small shot glasses (depending on number of guests)

Serves: 8 – 10 as an hors d’oeuvre

  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 large yellow pepper
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 large carrots
  • 1 container/quantity of your favorite dip

Peel the carrots. Wash, dry the remaining veggies. Cut the carrots, celery and peppers into similar size sections that will fit well in the small shot glasses – you want them to stick out of the glass at the top, but not be too tall that they will tip it over.  Julienne the vegetables and set aside. (At this point you can put them in a Ziplok with a piece of paper towel until ready to serve.) Place a teaspoonful of dip in the bottom of the shot glass. Add in the veggies. Serve immediately.

To Serve: I like to put the glasses on a decorative tray and walk around offering them to my guests. It’s a fun way to serve crudité and assures there will be no double dipping!

Smoked Salmon Cups

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, baking sheet, kitchen scissors, 2 teaspoons

Serves: 8 – 10 as an hors d’oeuvre

  • 4 oz smoked salmon
  • 8 oz container plain or chive & onion cream cheese
  • 1 tbs fresh chives
  • 1 pack Athens Phyllo Pasty Cups (15 shells)

Pre heat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the salmon into small bite size pieces and place in the bottom of the pastry cup. Place a quarter teaspoonful of the cream cheese on top. Place the cups on a baking tray. (You can place these in the fridge right on the baking tray covered with Saran wrap. Remove the Saran wrap and bake them right before serving.) Bake until the cheese is melted and the cups are golden brown (about 5 minutes). Using the kitchen scissors – cut the chives and sprinkle them over the salmon cup. (You can cut the chives ahead and have them in a Ziploc ready to roll.) Serve immediately.

To Serve:  Place on a serving platter. I love them on a white platter as it really makes the vibrant pink of the salmon and green of the chives pop!

Sweet Potato and Parsnip Soup Shots

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, large heavy bottomed sauce pan with lid, chef’s knife, cutting board, knife, blender or immersion blender, 8 – 10 small heat proof ramekins or cups (depending upon number of guests)

Serves: 8 – 10 as an hors d’oeuvre

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 tbs scallions
  • 1 1/2  lb sweet potato (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 lb of parsnips (roughly chopped)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in the sauce pan over medium high heat. Add the bacon slices to the pan. Once crispy, remove and set aside (draining on paper towel). Pour out all but about 2 tbs of the rendered fat from the pot and return to heat. Turn to low and add the sweet potato, parsnip, onion and rosemary. Stir to combine. Place the lid on top and continue to cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. You want the vegetables to soften and develop flavor, but not to brown. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. You want the carrots and parsnips to be very tender. Remove from heat and let cool. Place in a blender or use an immersion blender – pulse till smooth.

Add in the cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. (At this point you can pop the soup in the fridge and then reheat when ready to serve.) Gently reheat on low. Finely chop the scallions and finely crumble the bacon. (You can also have the bacon and scallions ready to go in a Ziploc.)

To Serve: Serve in little individual cups, one portion bowls or ramekins. Top with a dash of cream, crumbled bacon and finely chopped scallions. Yum!

Endive, Blue Cheese, Cranberry & Walnut Salad

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, paring knife, chef’s knife, cutting board, large mixing bowl, small bowl or ramekin

Serves: 8 – 10

  • 8 endive lettuces
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cup blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Kitchen Moxie Vinaigrette
  • salt & pepper to taste

Take any bruised outer leaves of the endive lettuces. Chop about 1/4 inch off the bottom.  Carefully peel 3 – 4 leaves from each endive – yielding 30 leaves. Set aside. (If you are putting the salad together later – carefully place the leaves in a Ziploc with a paper towel and keep in the fridge.) Take the remaining endive and chop. Toss chopped endive, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries and blue cheese in the Kitchen Moxie Vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.

Tip: I like to put a few scoops of the dressed salad into a small single serving bowl or ramekin and then turn it upside down on the plate to create a dome of the salad in the center of the plate.

To Serve: Divide salad evenly on plates and add three whole leaves to each plate for decoration.

Horseradish Cheddar Potatoes

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, peeler, large casserole dish (about 3 1/2 – 4 quart), chef’s knife, cutting board, large pot, strainer, medium heavy bottomed pot, whisk, wooden spoon

Serves: 8 – 10

  • 1 five lb bag Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled & quartered)
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 8 tbs plain flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 lb horseradish cheddar (shredded)
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup herbed panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Parboil potatoes in generously salted water for about fifteen minutes. Drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add in the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until it becomes a paste and begins to brown. Slowly add in the milk and whisk until thickened (this can take a few minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place about 4 tbs of the white sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish. Once the potatoes have cooled, slice them and place in a layer over the white sauce. Add salt and pepper, a quarter of the grated cheese and then more white sauce.

Repeat two more times, ending with a layer of potatoes. Spoon any remaining white sauce on top of the last layer of potatoes and cover with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the cheese and cover with aluminum foil (spray the foil with a non-stick cooking spray to keep the foil from sticking to the cheese). Bake for 1 hour, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes to brown the top layer of cheese or place under a broiler for about 5 minutes to crisp up that top layer before serving.

To Serve: Let the potatoes sit for about 10 minutes and you can cut out squares to serve as a plated dish or simply serve the entire casserole dish and allow people to help themselves.

Mom’s Sausage Stuffing

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, large casserole dish (about 3 1/2 – 4 quart), chef’s knife, cutting board, large pot, large sauté pan, broiling pan, can opener

Serves: 8 – 10

  • 12 oz mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts (approximately 8 oz)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 4 stalks celery (diced)
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tsp garlic puree
  • 1 lb sausage links (Irish Pork Bangers if you can get them, but you can use any kind)
  • 14 oz herb season stuffing bread cubes (you can use any brand you like)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 stick butter + more to butter baking dish
  • 2 tbs olive oil

Preheat broiler to high. Broil the sausages until cooked through and set aside to cool. Once cool slice them into bite size pieces. Preheat oven to 350 ˚F. Heat the olive oil in the sauce pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook till translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add in the celery, walnuts, mushrooms, water chestnuts and cooked sliced sausage. Sauté until veggies are tender. Place the butter and chicken stock in a large pot and gently heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add the stuffing bread cubes. Fluff with a fork. Add in the sauté mix and gently stir to combine. Place in a buttered casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes to brown and crisp up the top layer.

To Serve: Spoon some onto each plate or simply serve the entire casserole dish and allow people to help themselves.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

This recipe is a combination of Ina Garten’s Roasted Broccoli and Emeril Lagasse’s Roasted Cauliflower. Being British, roasted vegetables are a part of every Sunday roast;  however the addition of lemon juice and Parmesan cheese, well that creates the perfect simple, yet elegant holiday vegetable dish everyone will love! 

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, large baking pan, cutting board, paring knife, chef’s knife, aluminum foil

Serves: 8 – 10

  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tsp garlic puree
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Place the broccoli and cauliflower in a large baking pan. Add the olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Stir to combine, making sure all the pieces are coated. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bake covered with aluminum foil for 10 minutes. Uncover and stir. Put pan back in the oven uncovered and roast for a further 10 – 15 minutes or when just fork tender and slightly browned. Top with Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Tip: Roast the veggies in a foil baking pan and toss once you transfer to a serving dish. One less roasting pan to clean at the end of the evening.

To Serve: Place in a heated serving dish. Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Turkey with Gravy

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, paper towel, large baking pan, turkey baster, pastry brush, meat thermometer, large Pyrex measuring jug, whisk, small strainer, cutting board, chef’s knife, paring knife, aluminum foil, dish towel, food processor

Serves: 8 – 10

  • 12 – 14 lb turkey
  • 1 lb pack bacon
  • 2 sticks salted butter (1 sliced into pats, 1 softened)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks (with tops)
  • small bunch cilantro
  • salt
  • pepper

For the Turkey: preheat oven to 450˚F. Rinse, peel and chop the carrots, onions and celery. Place all but a few slices of each at the bottom of the roasting pan. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity and discard. Rinse and thoroughly pat dry the turkey with paper towel . Place on the veggie bed. Season the inside cavity of the bird generously with salt and pepper. Place the remaining onions, carrots and celery inside the cavity.  Place softened butter in food processor with 2 tbs of cilantro and pulse till combined.

Loosen skin on the breast meat. Place butter pats under skin, atop the breast meat. Rub the softened cilantro butter over the skin of the breast and legs. Season all over generously with salt and pepper. Take the bacon slices and working in a criss cross pattern – lay the strips of bacon (overlapping them) across the breast of the turkey. Tuck cilantro sprigs in between bacon slices.

Wrap the bacon covered breast section of the turkey in foil and place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes per pound or to an internal temperature of 165˚F for the first 30 minutes at 450˚F. Reduce temperature to 325˚F for the remainder of the cooking time. Check the bird every 30 – 45 minutes or so, basting with pan drippings as you go. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes to brown and crisp up the skin and the bacon. When turkey is cooked through, remove from oven, rest on a heated platter, covered in foil with a dish towel on top until ready to carve.While it’s resting work on the gravy.

For the Gravy:

  • 2  cups low salt chicken / turkey stock + 1 cup pan drippings
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 1/2 tbs flour
  • bits from the bottom of the pan + 4 tbs of fat from drippings
  • salt
  • pepper

Before you begin pour all the pan drippings into a large Pyrex jug (leaving behind the veggies and bits on the bottom of the roasting pan).

Let it sit for a few minutes until the fat (yellowish clear liquid) rises to the top. Place 4 tbs of the fat back in the roasting pan. Discard the remainder of the fat and set the pan drippings aside. Heat the roasting pan on the stove top over a medium-high heat. Add in 4 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Use a wooden spoon to mix that in with all the bits on the bottom of the pan including the onion, carrot and celery. Cook the fat and flour mixture until it begins to color. Next add the wine. The alcohol will cook off, but adds some great flavor to the gravy.

Once you’ve successfully gotten all the bits off the bottom of the pan and cooked off most of the wine, add in the stock and pan drippings and bring to a boil. Simmer until the gravy is thickened. Pour the gravy through a fine sieve to catch all the yucky bits – including the onion, carrot and celery slices. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: Heat your gravy boat prior to putting the gravy in. This will keep in nice and hot at the table.

Spiced Apple Cake

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, food processor (slicing disk & blade), deep 8’’ round cake tin, parchment paper, non-stick cooking spray

Serves: 8 – 10

  • 1 lb apples (depending on size approximately 2 – 4)
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 oz margarine
  • 8 oz superfine sugar
  • 2 oz chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbs butter (for greasing the pan)
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Grease the cake tin with unsalted butter. Line with parchment. Spray the parchment with non-stick baking spray. Peel and core the apples. Using the slicing disk attachment for your food processor – slice the apples and set aside. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl. Put back in place with the metal chopping blade. Place the flour, cloves and nutmeg and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the margarine, sugar and egg sand process for twelve seconds, until well combined. Add in the chopped walnuts and process for and additional few seconds to combine.

Spoon half of the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and spread evenly. Cover with the apple slices and then top with the remaining caked batter. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until well risen, golden in color and a toothpick pierced through the center of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool.

To Serve: Place cooled cake on a serving dish or cake stand. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. You can microwave back to warm if you prefer and serve it alongside a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Dust with confectioner’s sugar after you warm it up. Heaven.

Individual Pumpkin Trifle

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, stand-alone (or hand held) mixer, food processor, small pot or heatproof bowl, 8 glasses (for serving)

Serves: 8

  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • 2 fifteen oz cans pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup good quality maple syrup
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 16 oz heavy cream
  • 2 tbs confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter (melted)
  • 8 oz ginger snap cookies

Melt the butter in the heatproof bowl (or small pot). Place the cookies in a food processor and pulse till crumbs – holding back one for each guest for plating. Add in the melted butter and sugar and pulse till combined and the mixture looks like wet sand. Set aside

In the bowl of the electric mixer beat the cream cheese. Once smooth, add pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla, 1 tsp cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Stir to combine and set aside. Rinse and dry the bowl and whip the cream with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the 2 tsp of cinnamon and the confectioners’ sugar.

To put the trifle together – start by spooning a little of the ginger snap crumbs into the bottom of the glass, top with a little of the pumpkin cream cheese mixture and then a dollop of the cinnamon whipped cream. Layer until the glass is almost full finishing with the whipped cream. Top with a ginger snap cookie.

To Serve: Place the individual trifles on a tray and offer to your guests or set them up on a dessert buffet.

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