To Die for Thankgiving Dinner ~ Easy Prep!

I first, posted this 2 years ago, and I’m asked about our Thanksgiving line up all the time.  It’s not the healthiest meal, but it sure is tasty!! My rationalization is that if I get a workout in sometime in the morning (Running around the house like a chicken with her head cut off definitely counts!), then eating this meal is A-OK!  Seriously, this is your meal line up!!


Thanksgiving. Wow. That day is just a gift. A great big gift of Yummy, yummy, yummy food.

Oh and the family, laughter, and football games are pretty cool too!!  This year Thanksgiving fell the Thursday after the site relaunch. So the site went live again Monday, the girls all came down with massive colds that night, and 12 people + kids were coming to our house on Thursday. Hmmmm…mission impossible??

Thankfully I had thought about it a bit.

First, I like to host things at our house. It’s selfish, but I know our house and I know the boundries for my Littles and the visiting Littles when they are here.  So subsequently, I’m more relaxed because I’m not chasing them out of trouble at someone else’s house.

Second, with almost every major holiday, EVERYONE is happy to help in someway, especially if the party doesn’t have to be at their house. So delegate! My parents were assigned the Turkey/Gravy/Cranberry Sauce, my Mother-in-Law the pies, my Sister-in-Law the wine, my Brother-in-Law the appetizer. So that just left Side Dishes for me.

Third, with a little bit of prep work, you can actually enjoy the day too, rather than work yourself to the bone.

Now to be honest, I very often prep ahead for meals, meaning chopping, dicing, etc. But I have never made all the side dishes (especially for Thanksgiving) the day before. So I was going on a wing and a prayer. (But after this the result of this year, I will be doing this for the REST OF MY LIFE! I truly enjoyed Thursday and the food all turned out better than I could have imagined!)

Monday night ~ I printed all the recipes I was making, clipped them with a binder clip to keep them all together, and wrote out the shopping lists.

Tuesday ~ I did all the grocery shopping. The super fresh-I-could-have-eaten-the-entire-bag-dinner-rolls went straight into the freezer. That night I baked a super easy pan of Jiffy cornbread for the stuffing.  While it was baking I chopped, diced, & prepped anything I would need to assemble the dishes the next day, and popped everything into ziplocks. Then left both breads for the stuffing out to start drying.

Wednesday ~ I made arrangements for Addie to go an extra day to Daycare, so I would only have 2 Littles while I assembled everything.  When Piper went down for her nap at 9:00AM, Hayden played with her puzzle and Mama got busy.

Cheese mama!! (Sorry, she see’s a camera and can’t help herself…)

The tastiest Broccoli Casserole, Hay approved too.

The puzzle wasn’t exciting anymore, so I let her wash the dishes.

You’re freaking out right now aren’t you?? (Hee, hee.) Polycarbonate (Plastic) Wine Glasses folks. Plastic. And I love em. A gift from my Genius Sister-in-Law. Perfect around the pool…or just to have when you have crazy Littles running around your house…

Anyway, with this going on behind Hay, I was happy to have her busy at the sink. She in fact washed dishes for about 45  minutes. Does it really matter what they are doing as long as they are safe and occupied??

Love the look of the stuffing coming together. I kid you not, it was THE BEST Sourdough Cornbread Sausage stuffing I have ever eaten in my life. And everyone at the table will tell you the same thing. Make this and make it soon! Thank you Picky Palate for coming into my life!

About this time the Sweet Potatoes were ready to mash. Hay thought she should be prepared…

And that she should say “Cheeeeeeese!” again. What? You would think she was the daughter of a blogger or something, sheesh.

Sweet Potatoes done. Have you seen these pewter dishes from Match? I have the Toscana Pewter Pyrex Casserole Dishes. They were wedding gifts (and I mean GIFTS!) and are AWESOME.  You can cook whatever you want in the glass Pyrex dishes, then drop them in the Pewter when you’re ready to serve. (A SERIOUS wish list splurge item, but I love em! So I gotta share em with ya!)

In the hour Piper slept, I made the Broccoli Casserole & the Sweet Potatoe Casserole, Sourdough Cornbread Sausage Stuffing, and the Mashed Potatoes. The Tupperware was for my sister to take to her in-laws, simply the extra from doubling all the recipes.

Then with Piper on the floor at my feet and Hayden entertaing her, I finished the last of the deliciousness. Again a Picky Palate treat, Cheesy Bacon & Green Bean Casserole Pot Pie ~ sooo scrumptious! While the kids ate lunch, I cleaned up the kitchen.

Later that night, my sister brought containers to transport and bake the extra sides at her in laws. I wrote instructions on the tops of each and added accompaning toppings to labled Ziplocks (love me a Ziplock bag & and Sharpie!)

I was certainly tired when I went to bed that night, but knowing the bulk of the work was done, was HEAVEN to my brain!

Now, you’re probably wondering about the main star of the day. Well, as luck would have it, I have a dad that is skilled with the Grill. I found a fabulous sounding Turkey recipe  on Twitter and Dad took over that responsibility (LORD LOVE HIM!). Let me tell you, thay Turkey did not disappoint! WOW! It was a Maple Brined Smoked Grilled Turkey. I will forever be a fan!

This was a late addition. I thought I should have one healthy alternative and my Genuis Sister-in-Law raved about this Green Bean Salad from the Flat Belly Family Cookbook. I did prep the veggies on Tuesday night as well, then threw it together in about 15 minutes the day of. Nice little refreshing salad. I’ll post the recipe later this weekend.

While the Turkey was on the grill, I pulled all the side dishes out of the fridge, (about 3 hours before I planned to bake them). I also pulled the Puff Pastry from the freezer to defrost for the Green Bean Casserole, and the dinner rolls to defrost. All the side dishes baked at 350 degrees for roughly the same time. I topped them with their respective toppings and 30 minutes later we were enjoying a meal to die for! Don’t forget to pop the rolls in the oven for about 10 minutes to get toasty too. Have them waiting to go on a cookie sheet.

Broccoli Casserole & Sweet Potatoe Casserole

Yum Mashed Potatoes! Can you say butter?

Oh Man.

I will be seeing this Turkey in my dreams for years to come.

The side of my kitchen counter served as a buffet for everyone to help themselves.

Then head to the table.

Seriously yummy.

See these glasses? Remember them. You’re about to hear a whole lotta a goodness about them…

And if you eat all that I’ve told you above, you will most likely have a Thanksgiving Food Hangover that apparently requires sunglasses…

Or at least that’s what 2 of my Littles told me.

Our Thanksgiving Feast that would be AMAZING for Christmas too:

Maple Brined Smoked Grilled Turkey

Broccoli Casserole & Sweet Potatoe Casserole

Sourdough Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

Cheesy Bacon & Green Bean Casserole Pot Pie

Mashed Potatoes

Green Bean & Pumpkin Seed Salad

Fresh Bakery Dinner Rolls

Cranberry Sauce


{good eats} how do you butter your corn?

I love this tip!  It’s one of those that you think, HOW have I never thought of this before??

So how many of you butter your corn before wrapping it in foil for the grill?  Or Maybe you butter your corn after (when it’s super HOT, and you can barely lay a finger on it).  I

‘m sure that most of you do all this the old fashioned, “family style”, way with a butter dish on the table and to each, their own….

BUT, if you are part of the crowd that pre-butters, as in the first example, foil + grilling, then this little trick is for you.

My brother-in-law, “Master of the Grill”, shared this one with me a few weekends ago…

STEP 1: Spread softened butter on a piece of bread…

STEP 2: Coat your corn from end to end….

STEP 3: Place corn on a piece of foil.

STEP 4: Add desired seasonings (salt, seasoned salt, fresh herbs, etc)

STEP 5: Wrap up, and close the foil around the corn.

STEP 6: Grill.

Honestly brilliant. This may just be how I do our corn forever and ever. I think it would be a great way to get kids involved and helping with dinner too!

Enjoy!  (We sure did!!)

i will squash you for these squash cakes!

When I send out a Tweet that I’ve just made a delicious and super easy Squash Carbonara with the Garden’s bounty, and someone Tweets back “I have an incredible recipe from my grandma for squash patties! My kids and hub LOVE them! Let me know if you want it!! “…you pretty much say “Yes please!!”

Now stick with me here…it’s complicated and may take you ohhhhhh, all of 15 minutes (TOPS) to makes these babies (which I have now made 3 times this week, but who’s counting??)


1 cup grated squash
1 egg
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoon grated onion

Directions: (Again, really complicated, pay attention!)

Mix everything together and spoon into hot olive oil, fry lightly until firm!

Ignore my out of focus photo, I was in a hurry to try these! Love using my ice cream scooper for EVERYTHING that needs to be spooned and dropped! Thanks for the tip Barefoot Contessa.

Dropped a few spoonfuls in the hot oil…

When I saw them starting to lightly brown, I flipped them with a fork.

When they felt firm to the touch with the back of my fork, I lifted them out onto paper towel.

And then I devoured them. You will too.

The end.

THANK YOU Christine (and your Grandmother!) for sharing your family’s favorite summer staple with us!!  You can be sure it’s now one of ours!

thermador’s tomato jam

Oh boy.  I don’t even know where to begin.  You may have seen my post this AM about the little adventure I’m on…

Or if you follow me on Twitter you probably saw about 200 tweets today (check for #steamythermador) on the AMAZING food we ate and the incredible kitchen appliances we were introduced to at Thermador…..seriously, I’m NEVER leaving.

Well, OK, maybe I’m already back at the hotel, but it doesn’t mean it’s beneath me to sneak back in tonight and set up camp for awhile!

Until I am able to get all the photos loaded and posts ready to share, I thought I might pass on a few recipes that were truly to die for…

Truly this photo DOES NOT do this dish justice AT ALL.

When I saw it next to the Beef Tenderloin, I passed it up thinking it might have a savory tomato taste and I wasn’t feeling that for the beef.  But then Thermador’s Chef Kyle saw my plate and asked if I had tried the Tomato Jam.

Huh??  Jam??  TOMATO Jam??

I had to give it a whirl.

I need to take a moment to savor the memory… truly was unbelievably delicious.  Just the perfect combination of sweet and spicy with a touch of savory (kinda covers it all, huh!?) Such a wonderful compliment for so many dishes.  If you want to wow your dinner guests (or your husband/wife/mother/partner/boss)…and you have an ABUNDANT tomato crop going in your garden leaving you wondering what to make with tomatoes next…

THIS is your dish!

Tomato Jam – to be served as a garnish for any type of red meat.


1 ½ pounds Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
3 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 Serrano pepper seeded and minced
Salt and pepper


1.      Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil for two minutes.
2.      Lower to simmer and cook for 1 to 1 ½ half hours.
3.      Refrigerate for up to one week, but can also be canned.

Thank you for sharing the recipe Thermador and Chef Kyle!!

For other yummy recipe from my Thermador trip, check out Buttermilk Syrup and a Goat Cheese & Strawberry Salad

Flat Belly Diet ~ Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cobb

From the Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook ~ p 223

4 Servings / 199 Calories / MUFA: Canola Oil Mayonnaise

This is a GREAT alternative to butter and salt!  I served this for a Memorial Day dinner, so YUMMY! Perfect for summer BBQs.


4 ears of corn (Pick up some fresh corn at a Farmers Market or produce stand, LOTS of extra flavor!)
1/4 cup canola oil mayonnaise (I used Best Foods Light)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.  Remove the outermost husks ans silks, but leave the tender inner husks on the corn.  Soak the ears in cold water for 15 minutes. (For a pretty presentation, I used one of the peeled husks to tie a knot around the inner husks once I had removed the silks.  EASY. Took a few extra seconds each.)
  2. Combine the mayo, lime juice, and chili powder in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Grill the ears of corn over direct heat for 10 minutes, turning to prevent charring.  Move to indirect heat and grill for 1 minutes longer, or until a kernel pops easily when pressed.  If the corn appears dry, it’s overcooked. (You can also wrap each husk in foil, or use a piece of foil on the grill to prevent burning.)
  4. Peel back the husks and spread 1 teaspoon the reserved mayo mixture over each cob.  Dust with 1 teaspoon of cheese and serve hot.

Flat Belly Diet ~ “Fried Corn” & BBQ Chicken

From the Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook ~ p 228

4 Servings / 200 Calories / MUFA: Olive Oil


4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups frozen corn kernels
8 tablespoons chopped roasted pepper
ground pepper


  1. Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add corn kernels, roasted peppers and ground pepper to taste.

Serve with 1 cup steamed cooked broccoli and 2 ounces grilled chicken** topped with 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce.

** Or bake the chicken at 375 degrees.  Spray baking dish with non-stick spray.  Add sliced onion (for flavor only) and top each chicken breast with 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce.  Bake for 35 minutes or until chick juices run clear.

Total Meal: 386 Calories

pepper jack, corn, and roasted red pepper risotto

LOVE this recipe!!  It makes an awesome side dish and can also be served as a full meal (for my hubby I would need to add some meat to it for a complete meal…).  It is super impressive to guests, tastes yummy and gets better as a leftover!  Most definitely a FAVORITE.  Unfortunately, I have had the recipe so long (I cut it out of a magazine in college) that and I don’t have a clue who to credit it to…so sorry!  The page kind of looks like “Southern Living“…

Serves 4, 1 cup servings (but trust me, you’ll want more than 1 cup!)


1 3/4 cups water
2 – 14 1/2 ounce cans vegetable or chicken broth
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup uncooked Arborio or other short grain rice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
4 garlic cloves, minced (I use frozen ones from Trader Joes)
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
3/4 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1/2 tsp hot sauce
2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn
3/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers


  1. Combine water and broth in a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer (do not boil).  Keep broth mixture warm over low heat.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add rice, cumin, coriander (if desired), and garlic, saute 1 minute.  Stir in 1/2 cup broth mixture, cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed, stir constantly.  Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of liquid is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total).
  3. Stir in the onions, cheese, hot sauce, corn, and bell peppers, cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.


YUMMY Broccoli Casserole & Sweet Potato Casserole

OK – I had to add these recipes EXACTLY as they came to me.  You have to know my Genius Mom Sister-in-Law, puts moms to shame.  She is always put together, cooks like nobody’s business,  is always smiling, always offering a glass of wine, always helping out, always calm, SUPER laid back, a very fun mom, but definitely appreciates good food!  When you ask her kids (5 and 3) what their favorite pizza is, you’ll likely hear “arugula and mushroom”, and their favorite veggie?  Pepper of some form.  What would you like on your hot dog?….from the 5 year old, “Good mayo please, but I need to wash my hands first, all good chefs do.”  HOW SHE DOES IT, I don’t know!!

Read on and enjoy.  You have to love the part that they cook for the same time at the same temperature.  BONUS!!

Thanks for sharing Genius SIL!

Hey Shanna,

Here are the recipes you asked for. I have been making these for literally over 20 years (boring…and not exactly gourmet, but everyone loves them and asks for them over and over). Anyway what I am getting at is that I didn’t come up with them and don’t remember where they came from…so don’t know whom the credit goes too, but, they are yummy…and I have added a few of my own tips!

Broccoli Casserole:

1 Large Bag Frozen Broccoli (I use florets only)
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup (I try to get the healthy one with no MSG)
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (use decent cheese)
1 Cup Mayonnaise (use good Mayo – no low fat crap)
1/4 Cup Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
2 Eggs (lightly beaten)

Mix it all together and spread in casserole dish. Cover with topping.


A couple of rolls of Ritz Crackers crumbled and mixed with about 1/2 cup melted butter (I only use un-salted butter).

Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Tip: If I am taking this dish somewhere, I mix all ingredients except broccoli and topping. Then just before I leave the house I add the “frozen broccoli” (this helps keep it cold…since there are eggs and mayo). Then I sprinkle the topping on just before baking so it doesn’t get soggy.

Sweet Potato Casserole:

3 Cups Cooked Mashed Sweet Potatoes/Yams (I put them through a ricer so the don’t get too gluey)
1/2 to 1 Cup of Sugar (based on how sweet you want it)
2 Eggs (lightly beaten)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Butter (I only use un-salted)

Mix it all together and spread in casserole dish. Cover with topping.


1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Butter (room temperature)
1 Cup Chopped Pecans

Mix it all together.

Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Note: These two recipes bake at the same temperature and for same time. Helpful for saving oven time when when entertaining.

Bandera Clone Cornbread

Bandera Cornbread (Clone) Recipe #291454

A great Southern girlfriend shared this with me from RecipeZaar, and you KNOW you have to trust a girl form the South sharing a corn bread recipe!!!  I have never made myself, but have eaten hers many times and can vouch for its holy goodness!!  She omits the green chilies and then often adds whatever leftover veggies and meat she has in her fridge. They freeze well and her daughter devours!

Moist sweet and amazing cornbread from the Bandera chain of restaurants owned by Houstons. To accurately clone the restaurant’s version, use small (6″) cast iron skillets, however this can just be made in one large 12″ cast iron skillet.

50 min | 10 min prep

SERVES 16 , 16 slices

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn
2 ounces green chili peppers (1/2 small can, roasted syle)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese (shredded)
4 eggs

Prehead oven & skillet to 300 degrees.

Mix flour, cornmeal, salt & baking powder and set aside. Melt butter and combine with sugar, creamed corn and chili peppers. Mix to combine. Add eggs one-by one and mix until well blended. Add cheese. Fold-in flour mixture until mixed well, clumps are okay.

Carefully remove cast iron skillet from oven and evenly coat top and sides with canola/vegetable oil. Pour in cornbread batter (be careful, it may splatter).

Bake 30-45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.