Perfecting the Thanksgiving Menu

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November 20, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

Let’s talk about the Thanksgiving menu. I mean, this holiday is about food isn’t it?! And planning the menu in advance gives you a chance to make sure that:

  • your meal is perfectly balanced
  • all your bases are covered and you have included everyone’s favorites in the spread
  • you know what you can make in advance and how far
  • you don’t have too much of one ingredient (bacon, cream, etc. All crucial ingredients on the Thanksgiving table but can sometimes end up overloading…)
  • you know what to farm out to your guests and helpers

Here’s our 2013 menu:

COCKTAILS

Ginger Mint Lemon Splash

Prosecco with Pomegranate & Elderflower

APPETIZERS

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Apricot & Goat Cheese Palmiers

Garlicy Baked Camembert

MAINS

Sage Roasted Turkey Breast with Chardonnay Gravy

Mulled Wine Spiked Cranberries

Milk Mashed Potatoes

Caitlin’s Classic Stuffing

Sweet Potatoes with Grand Marnier Glazed Pecans

Creamed Spinach Gratin

Carrots Sautéed with Vodka & Grapes

Green Beans & Mushrooms with Sherry Vinegar

Bacon Wrapped Brussel Sprouts

DESSERTS

Pumpkin Cognac Cheesecake

Oatmeal Pecan Pie Cookies

Are you getting hungry yet?!? The great thing about this menu is about half of it can be made completely in advance (the appetizers and desserts, plus the gratin, stuffing, and sweet potatoes). That way on Thanksgiving day you can focus on your turkey and your guests.

With Thanksgiving a week away, if you haven’t already, it’s definitely time to start planning your own menu. First think about your favorites and traditional must-haves. Then make sure you have dishes that hit all the tastebuds: sweet, salty, creamy, spicy, sour, buttery, bacon-y, tart, and nutty. For more ideas, the rest of my recipes will be coming in the next few days along with lots of tips and tricks.

The very first recipe I make every year is my Mulled Wine Spiked Cranberries. They can be made and stored in the fridge up to a week in advance. Even if your family always has the canned stuff, try some fresh ones this year. They add an amazing spice and sweetness to the whole Thanksgiving meal. Plus the recipe uses about half the bottle of wine, which means two glasses for the chef to enjoy while finalizing her Thanksgiving battle strategy.

Mulled Wine Spiced Cranberries: A Broad Cooking

The base of these cranberries is wine simmered with mulling spices and orange zest. Don’t forget to remove all of these before adding the cranberries of course.

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My favorite part is when you add the cranberries, turn up the heat and they begin to “pop”!

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Once the cranberries pop continue to cook over a very low heat for about 20-30 minutes. The cranberries and wine will thicken into a beautiful sauce that can be stored for a week before serving.

Mulled Wine Spiced Cranberries: A Broad Cooking

I love serving the cranberries in small dishes along the table so that everyone can have some nearby.

Mulled Wine Spiced Cranberries: A Broad Cooking

Mulled Wine Spiked Cranberries

Serves 8

2 ¼ cups red wine

5 orange peel pieces

2 cinnamon sticks

8 whole cloves

5 whole allspice

½ tsp dried lemon peel (Penzys)

Juice of half an orange (about half a cup)

¾ cup sugar

12 ounces fresh cranberries

Splash of Grand Marnier (about 2 teaspoons)

Combine first eight ingredients in a large skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly and sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.

Strain mixture and return to the pan (or just remove orange rinds, cloves, etc.).

Add cranberries and cook over medium high heat for about 10 minutes until cranberries pop. Reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes. Pour into a bowl, mix with a splash of Grand Marnier, and let cool before serving.

*Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 week.

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One thought on “Perfecting the Thanksgiving Menu

  1. Alana says:

    I wanna have thanksgiving with the Clarks!!!!! Mmmmmmm 🙂 Miss you xoxoxo

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