My Thanksgiving All-Stars

I typically spend my Thanksgivings alternating between my grandma’s house and Blake’s family. And so while I haven’t hosted turkey day at my home but once or twice,  I’m usually making half a dozen sides to contribute to the meal and so I’ve acquired my favs over the years. My office also has an annual Thanksgiving lunch, and so I get another opportunity to try new recipes and perfect the tried and true.

Ever since I began eating cleaner and cutting out all the “cream of whatever” soups, I’ve been on a quest to find recipes that are just as flavorful, but truly made from scratch. So far so good. I’m still lacking a good green bean casserole, but I’ve got a couple of Pinterest ideas that I may just try next week – stay tuned.

So here’s the list… sorry don’t have pictures for all of them, but trust me, they look as good as they sound!

My Thanksgiving All-Stars:Butter and Bay Leaves Roasted Turkey (see below)

Sweet Potato Casserole

Squash casserole5

Creamed Spinach

Broccoli and blue cheese casserole2

  • Cauliflower Gratin with Gouda and Asiago (see below)

Cauliflower gratin

Mac n cheese

Green Beans

Pumpkin pie slice

  • Chocolate Pie (see below)

Recipes for some of the my unblogged dishes above:

Butter and Bay Leaves Roasted Turkey
Courtesy of my good friend, Glynis

1 turkey (any size)
2 sticks of softened butter
2 tsp salt
10 or more bay leaves

1.) Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towel and set aside.
2.) In a small bowl, mix softened butter and salt.
3.) Rub the exterior and underneath the skin with butter and salt mixture. (I suggest you wear gloves for this, and you will have to do some work to separate the skin from the bird – but do not give up!)
4.) Arrange bay leaves in a decorative pattern underneath the skin.
5.) Bake according to the size of the turkey, basting often.

Cornbread Dressing
Courtesy of my grandma

2 10-inch skillets of homemade buttermilk cornbread
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 cups diced celery
2 or 3 hard boiled eggs, diced (optional)
2 tsp ground sage (or more to taste)
1 tsp ground pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
6 to 8 cups turkey or chicken stock (enough to thoroughly moisten cornbread)
2 eggs

1.) In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat and add onion and celery. Sauté until onion is translucent. Set aside.
2.) In a large mixing bowl, crumble cornbread and add onion/celery mix, hard boiled eggs, sage, pepper, salt and stock until it is very moist (but not soupy). If you add too much liquid, you can always cook longer to dry out, but if you don’t add enough liquid your dressing will be dry! Do not add raw egg yet. Taste to make sure seasoning is good and adjust as needed. Once the taste is right, add raw egg.
3.) Pour into a greased 10″x13″ casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees until golden brown (about 45 to 60 minutes).

Cauliflower Gratin with Gouda and Asiago

2 lbs (or 1 large head) cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk, warmed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded gouda
1/2 cup shredded asiago
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup seasoned panko

1.) Steam cauliflower for 5 minutes, then allow to drain in a colander for at least another 5 minutes.
2.) In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and add flour. Whisk continuously for 1 to 2 minutes and then gradually add warmed milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Continue whisking until sauce thickens.
3.) Remove pan for heat and add gouda and asiago. Stir until cheese melts.
4.) In a large bowl, combine cauliflower with cheese sauce. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with parmesan and then with panko.
5.) Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until top is brown and sides are bubbly.

Chocolate Pie
Courtesy of Cooking Chef’s Grandma’s Chocolate Pie

½ c. cocoa
¼ cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 ½ c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix cocoa, cornstarch, beaten egg yolks; sugar and salt and vanilla, then add milk gradually, while stirring in a pot over med-high heat. Cook until thick, beating it smooth. Pour into a pre-baked pie shell (use this homemade version and bake it for 12-15 mins on 375). Put in the fridge to chill.

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Casserole

Next up on the Thanksgiving recipe line up… Broccoli Casserole. But this one has a little something special – blue cheese. I got this recipe from my aunt and have been making it for years. Even before I was a big blue cheese fan, I have loved this casserole! It’s a great from-scratch recipe with no cream soup but a whole lot of flavor. I served this at our office Thanksgiving lunch today and they ate it up!

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Casserole

3 bunches of broccoli (about 9 stalks – see pic below)
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup blue cheese
2 cups milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup crushed crackers (see pic below)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Cut off broccoli florets (cutting large ones in half). Steam for about 10 to 12 minutes or until fork tender. Place in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice.
3.) In a saucepan, melt butter and add flour and salt to make a roux. Add milk while whisking. Add cream cheese and blue cheese and stir with a whisk until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Add mayo. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
4.) Add cheese sauce to broccoli in mixing bowl. Mix well until broccoli is evenly coated.
5.) Place into a casserole dish. Top with crushed crackers and bake for about 30 minutes or until crackers are golden and sides are bubbly. Longer if it’s sharing an oven with another dish.

Broccoli
I used 3 of these bunches… each bunch had 3 stalks

Broccoli cut up
Here’s the size of the cut broccoli

Broccoli blue cheese sauce
Blue cheese sauce

Broccoli and blue cheese sauce

Broccoli and blue cheese casserole pre crackers

Back to Nature Classic Round Crackers
These are my Ritz cracker substitutes – all natural and they taste exactly the same!

Broccoli and blue cheese casserole topped with crackers

Broccoli and blue cheese casserole

Broccoli and blue cheese casserole2