Oh my, it’s already time for Thanksgiving! Everyone is busy trying to figure out all the details about their turkey day. Most of the time I let someone else host and I just show up with some wine or something. However, over the past couple of years I’ve attempted to host and cook the entire meal. You don’t know how much of a stretch that was! Believe me. I can say that with a little help and research it can be done. This year I wanted to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes from friends and Pinterest that I have collected to help you come up with a fantastic meal that everyone will love.
I’ve eaten my share of classic soul food and southern comfort foods my whole life. Those meals don’t usually have recipes because Grandmomma/Big Momma usually just put in a little of this and that when she cooked. That’s how real cooks operate! Well, I need a recipe. I try out many with some failure and some success. If I taste something and it’s phenomenal, I’ll track down the cook for some semblance of a recipe.
Most of the dishes are classic like the turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread, green beans, mac n’cheese, sweet potatoes, collard greens, etc. You can’t go wrong with those on your menu. Except, I like a little twist on the traditional at times.
The Turkey – Thanksgiving Recipes
Let’s start with the Turkey. This year I planned to use the same recipe from last year, which was Roast Turkey with Mustard Maple Glaze from Bobby Flay. This was my first time cooking a turkey and it turned out great! People raved about my turkey, no kidding. It had so much flavor throughout and the prep wasn’t difficult at all. I would never have thought about mustard and maple to season a turkey, but it was perfect. This is a great recipe to try for your Thanksgiving meal. Look at all that color in the skin….roasted goodness!
Even though that recipe turned out great, I wanted to try something different. If you know me, you know I like variety. This year we tried a butter herb recipe with a dry brine beforehand. When I say butter, I mean BUTTER! Lots of it.
This turkey was delicious! The dry brine and compound butter gave it so much flavor. I let three sticks of butter soften and added two heads of roasted garlic, fresh parsley, chives, sage, thyme, lemon zest of 4 lemons and pepper. After combining I coated the turkey inside and out with the compound butter and stuffed it under the skin. I wanted this turkey to have flavor in every bite. Turned out fantastic! The drippings made for a perfect gravy, too.
I wanted a smoked turkey this year to go along with my roasted one, but I had no idea how to smoke a turkey. Apparently, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. All we had to do was add some wood chips to the charcoal side of the grill, season the turkey, wrap it in foil and leave it alone to smoke between 250-300 degrees for about 8-10 hours. Make sure you pat the turkey dry and season it well. This Turkey was so gooooooood!
The Sides – Thanksgiving Recipes
The turkey is important but I think the side dishes are even more important. Mostly, because that is your chance to offer your guests some variety and let’s face it, not everyone likes turkey. Also, if the turkey ends up being less than stellar, by the time you pile all those other flavors on your plate the turkey ends up being good anyway. So, I like to offer a few green things, the typical starchy stuff, bread, salad and dessert.
Sweet Potato Souffle Recipe
This recipe comes from my co-worker, Leslie, and it has a long history in her family. It was handed down from a guy named Eddie and we call it “Eddie’s Sweet Potatoes”. This dish is EVERYTHANG!!! It’s so sweet, gooey, crunchy and unbelievably delicious. Make a lot or else you might have people fighting over the last scoop.
Eddie’s Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6 – 8
3 small cans one large 40oz can well drained sweet potatoes
½ c milk
½ stick butter
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Beat all the base ingredients until smooth. Put in buttered baking dish.
1c brown sugar
½ stick butter (melted)
½ c self-rising flour
1c chopped pecans or walnutsMix ingredients until crumbly, sprinkle on top of base.
Bake uncovered: 350 degrees for 20 minutes
Suggestion: double the topping recipe! (Yep, I always double the topping.)
Macaroni and Cheese Recipes
My mom used to make a really good mac and cheese, but she never wrote it down and I never paid much attention when she made it. Unfortunately, she’s forgotten how to make it and I haven’t been able to replicate it just yet. One thing that she included in her dish was cheddar cheese soup. I haven’t really seen that in any other mac n’ cheese recipe that I’ve tried. She also used to add paprika to the top for color.
As I try to recreate mom’s recipe, I’ve made a couple of others that I found on Pinterest. One is Patti LaBelle’s “Over the Rainbow” Mac & Cheese
. It’s good and much different than my mom’s because there are a variety of cheese flavors in this one. My mom used only extra sharp cheddar cheese and the cheese soup. Patti uses mild and sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, Muenster and Velveeta. I love these Thanksgiving recipes.
Look at that molten hot cheese lava in those casserole dishes. I could stare at mac and cheese pics all day.
Here’s a close up shot of my other favorite macaroni and cheese recipe from NY Times
. This one is closer to my mom’s because it calls for a pound of cheese. One cool thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to boil your macaroni ahead of time.
Beasy’s Collard Greens
Holy smokes, people! These greens are so darn good. Honestly, I was never a fan of collard greens growing up. I think the pieces of ham hock floating around completely turned me off. Plus, McDonald’s happy meals were my food of choice. So, I tried cooking them a few times and they were awful. Either they were too bitter and tough, too sweet or to vinegary, or flavorless. I just gave up and hardly ever ate them because not too many people know how to cook collards well.
A couple of years ago I found out my friend, Barry aka Beasy, had a hidden talent outside of delivering mulch for me. Who knew he could cook collard greens, too??? After tasting his greens at Easter dinner one year, I was hooked. It took everything in me not to slurp up the pot liquor! Ya’ll know about the pot liquor, right??? You betta ask somebody! Thankfully, he was happy to share his recipe with me. Now I can add it to my collection of Thanksgiving recipes.
Southern Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey
2 bags of pre-chopped collard greens
1 pack of smoked turkey necks
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
One sweet onion (diced)
1/2 cup of Sugar
32oz Chicken Broth (You can (substitute with beef or vegetable broth)
4-5 Strips of thick cut bacon (I like Wright’s peppered bacon)
2 teaspoons of black pepper
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
In a large pot cook bacon on low heat to draw some of the fat out, about 5-7 mins. Add onions and garlic and let them saute in the bacon fat for about 5-6 mins. Add 3 cups of water, all the broth and turkey necks. Let that simmer for about 20 mins. Add one bag of collard greens and a 1/4 cup sugar and cover. Let that simmer for about 15 mins until the greens cook down a bit. Add the other bag of collards and 1/4 cup sugar and let simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring every 30-45 mins or so. This recipe does not require salt since you’re using bacon and smoked turkey necks. If you add salt it will definitely be too salty. Also, if you don’t want to use bacon, substitute it with 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.
Tama’s Cornbread Muffins
I was never a fan of cornbread back in the day. It was a big chunk of dry gritty bread that people always ate with collard greens. Everyone knew that I always opted for dinner rolls if there were any available. My attitude completely changed towards cornbread after encountering the corn muffins at Famous Daves. Those little sweet and moist morsels of gold were like heaven. When the Famous Dave’s in my neighborhood abruptly closed I was heartbroken. Seriously! Thankfully, I had a friend, Tama, that came up with a great copycat recipe. She even brings me one whenever she whips up a batch. This is a must when considering Thanksgiving recipes!
Sweet Corn Muffin Recipe
1 Box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
2/3 can of creamed corn
2 Tbsp honey or more ( I probably drizzle much more than this!)
Combine all ingredients and mix together. Pour into a greases muffin pan and cook at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until the sides are golden brown. I use a mini muffin pan, but you can use whatever size suits you. This makes about 6 large muffins or 12 minis. Most of the this recipe has to be doubled in my home because I can eat 6 minis all by myself.
Steve’s Bread Pudding with Bourbon Glaze
My friend Steve could make tree bark taste good. He’s a real cook that never uses a recipe so, I had to get him to run through it with me. This is another dish that I was not a fan of growing up. One day, Steve catered my 4th of July meal and surprised me with Bread Pudding. I was NOT going to try it, but he talked me into taking one bite and I ended up having several! It was so good and I thought I’d share it with you. Thanks to me, Steve has one recipe written down for all to enjoy. I’ll be sure to add this dessert to my collection of Thanksgiving recipes.
Southern Bread Pudding with Bourbon Glaze
2 Loaves of Raisin Challah Bread (stale and cut into large cubes)
3 cups of milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick of melted butter
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/4 cup of bourbon
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1/4 cup of Turbinado sugar (Don’t add this to the milk mixture. Save for the topping.)
1/2 cup of heavy cream (save until after the bread soaks overnight
Cut Challah bread into large cubes and let sit out a day or two to get stale in a large bowl. Combine the milk, cream, butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, bourbon and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk until completely blended. Add the milk mixture to the challah bread and stir until combined. Cover the mixture with foil. Press the foil down on top of the bread and weigh it down with a plate to force the air out. Let the mixture soak into the bread overnight in the refrigerator. The next day add a 1/2 cup of heavy cream to the mixture if it looks a bit dry.
Butter a large baking dish and scoop the bread mixture into it. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top and put in the oven uncovered on 350 degrees for about 25 mins.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup Bourbon
Melt butter and sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir for a couple of minutes until sugar is dissolved. Add Bourbon and remove from heat. Pout a spoonful over a serving of the warm bread pudding and serve.
Enjoy cooking for your guests and your holiday meal will be great because it was made with lots of love. It’s okay to call your family and friends for help when you need it. You’ll be happily surprised uncovering all their hidden talents. All of my friends are so talented and always just a phone call away. I’m always happy to exploit their talents to the fullest. LOL! Just kidding. I’m so thankful for loving family and friends that are so supportive and I love them to the moon and back.