Easy and Delicious Thanksgiving Recipes

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Thanksgiving is a holiday that is looked forward to all year. The proper planning, recipe testing, and interesting spins on holiday traditions will have your friends and family standing by for seconds (or thirds). So, it’s time to loosen that belt buckle and dive in. This is what you need to create an unforgettable holiday meal.

A little on my credentials: as a now thirty-something foodie, I have cooked (or helped to cook) numerous holiday meals and it is something I look forward to all year. I have cooked holiday dinners for one person to 40 people, spent time planning and searching for the perfect recipes. I have also come up with some delicious, easy to make, and sometimes slightly healthier options for traditional holiday dishes.

Many of these recipes are adapted from Food Network chefs or Cooking Light (two great resources). Adaptations to recipes have been made to make them original, slightly different, and real crowd pleasers.

Follow the links below to the recipes. You won’t be disappointed.

A few tid-bits on Turkey: There are a few different approaches to cooking a turkey. Frying has become popular, however the oil involved and the danger (not to mention the lack of drippings for gravy) make this variation the first to go from the list.

The next variation includes stuffing a bird. There is some controversy over this one. I say, don’t stuff the bird. This takes us to the third variation — a stuffless bird. The stuffing will be just as tasty if you bake it, the bird won’t take as long to cook, it won’t dry out as much, and who doesn’t love that crispy crunch topping that the stuffing develops when you put it in the oven. A “stuffless” bird should be spiced and oiled/buttered before baking. A coat of butter under the skin is always a nice touch.

Finally, the recipe that will make this years table is a brined bird. After tasting a brined bird for the first time a few years ago, I have been converted. It was delicious and moist, you get a flavorful bird, and the prep is pretty easy. Get the recipe.

A note on gravy: Gravy is a high point of the meal and the right gravy can put your meal over the top. Skip the packet gravy, please. An easy pan gravy is simple and fast to make and doesn’t require much extra work. My version uses basting liquid (created from boiling giblets with water and butter), pan drippings, and a flour slurry to thicken the sauce. Get the recipe.

All things sweet potato: Technically, if you’re making the orange kind of sweet potatoes, you’re actually making yams…but these days the terms are fairly interchangable. We all know what we mean. Beings that you get mashed potatoes, I prefer skipping the mashed sweet potatoes too. What?!?!? Yes, skip the mash and go for cubes or slices for a different texture. Get the Recipe.

Get stuffed on stuffing: If we’re not stuffing the bird, I guess it should be called dressing. Either way, there are a number of ways you can go on stuffing. Corn bread, bread crumbs, bread chunks, stuffing with sausage, bacon, or other meat, stuffing with mushrooms and other veggies, stuffing with apples, cranberries, and other fruit, and the list goes on and on. Stuffing is good no matter what type you make, but the best stuffing to ever make my plate is a sourdough bread stuffing. It won’t disappoint, I promise.

Tell me what you think. If you try any of these recipes let me know your take in the comments section below.

Photo from minimalistphotography101 via Flickr

San Diego resident for over 10 years, I now call this beautiful city home. Originally from the Bay Area, I'm a California girl at heart. I love the outdoors, fitness, food, and a good craft beer (from San Diego of course).

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