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Party Plan: Thanksgiving

If it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving, we’ve got some ways – both classic and new – for you to make it extra special and delicious!

Give Thanks for Good Food!

Thanksgiving is almost here, and if you’ve got some guests coming over, we’ve got all the recipes and tips for you to make the day extra special and delicious!

From sensational sides like Cinnamon Sugar Diced Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts Medley, to impressive drinks like Slow Cooker S’mores Hot Cocoa and Spiked Vegan Eggnog, you’re covered with a full spread of Thanksgiving goodness to please even the pickiest eaters! Want to put a twist on the traditional main course? You gotta try the Pomegranate and Chipotle Glazed Turkey Breast or Garlic and Rosemary Pork Roast! And if you’re looking to make a lasting impression with dessert, Pecan Pumpkin Pie is a treat that should do the trick.

Plus, check out tips, tricks and more to keep Thanksgiving smooth and fun! 3 Tips for an Easy Thanksgiving will start you off right. Be sure to incorporate this Leaf Balloon Pop Game for some entertainment, and a Simple Eucalyptus Wreath and DIY Rustic Wood Flower Centerpiece for the finishing touches. Good luck, and give thanks!

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Created by: Krissy Allori, Self Proclaimed Foodie

Pecan Pumpkin Pie combines the best of both worlds into one decadent and perfectly sweet holiday pie that is perfect for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Ingredients:
  • 1 unbaked 9” deep dish pie shell
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten (2 sets of 2 beaten eggs)
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecan halves
Directions:
  1. Line a 9” pie plate with pie dough. Roll edges under and create a scalloped pattern.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, two beaten eggs and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pie dough and level it with the back of the spoon.
  3. Wash and dry the bowl, then combine the corn syrup, sugar, the other two beaten eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract and pecans. Gently pour over the pumpkin mixture. If desired, place the pecans in a symmetrical pattern.
  4. Cover the crust loosely with aluminum foil or a pie shield to keep it from browning too much.
  5. Bake in preheated 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Without opening the door, reduce heat to 350°F. Bake an additional 40-45 minutes until crust is golden brown. Turn oven off and crack oven door. Allow pie to sit in open oven for about 15 minutes before removing.
  6. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Fall Roasted Brussels Sprouts Medley

Fall Roasted Brussels Sprouts Medley

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

This Thanksgiving, treat your family with a bright and colorful dish that delights the taste buds. With the combination of Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, pecans and dried cranberries, a Fall Roasted Brussels Sprouts Medley will quickly become a family favorite.

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1½ lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes
  • 5 Tbsp. maple syrup, divided
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup Craisins
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and prepare two baking sheets by lining with foil.
  2. Slice all Brussels sprouts in half and add to one of the foil-lined baking sheets. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt, to taste. Use hands to incorporate oil and salt over all Brussels sprouts and turn them cut side down.
  3. Place cut butternut squash on the other foil-lined pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Toss all ingredients to incorporate.
  4. Bake Brussels sprouts and squash, side by side, for 20-25 minutes, turning once halfway through baking, until Brussels sprouts are slightly charred and squash is softened.
  5. Remove pans from oven and pour all ingredients into a large bowl. Toss with pecans and Craisins, and remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Place in serving dish and enjoy.
  6. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to three days.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Leftover Green Onion and Cheddar Mashed Potato Cake Benedicts

Leftover Green Onion and Cheddar Mashed Potato Cake Benedicts

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

Never throw away your leftovers! Leftover mashed potatoes get a new lease on life when they’re thrown together with a handful of green onions and cheddar cheese, then fried up into a crispy cake. The patties are topped with poached eggs and smothered in a homemade spicy hollandaise that will leave you happy and satisfied.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced green onion, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 7 eggs, plus 3 egg yolks, divided
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and warm
  • ½ tsp. Sriracha
Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine leftover mashed potatoes, green onion, cheese, 1 egg, flour and salt.
  2. Form into 6 cakes, then set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook 3 cakes at a time, browning on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining cakes. You can keep them warm in a 300°F oven while you poach the eggs and make the sauce.
  3. Fill a medium saucepan halfway full with water and add 1 tablespoon vinegar. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Crack 6 eggs, one at a time, into a small ramekin. With the eggs at the ready, stir the simmering water briskly to create a cyclone in the pan. Before the water settles, gently slide the eggs into the middle of the current. The swirling water will help keep the egg whites close to the yolks instead of spreading through the water. You may need to cook only 3-4 at a time if the pan gets too crowded. Cook about 3-4 minutes until the egg whites are cooked, but the yolks are still runny. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon.
  4. While the eggs poach, make the hollandaise sauce. Place a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water; the water should not touch the bowl. Add in your egg yolks and lemon juice. Whisk constantly until eggs are hot to the touch and pale yellow, about 2-3 minutes. If the mixture gets too hot, just take the bowl off and continue to whisk vigorously. Slowly whisk in the melted butter until it’s fully incorporated. Whisk in Sriracha. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. If needed, you can add a little bit of water to loosen the sauce up.
  5. Place a poached egg on top of a potato cake, spoon sauce on top and garnish with green onion.
  6. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Turkey Bacon Ranch Sliders

Turkey Bacon Ranch Sliders

Created by: Erin Sellin, Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

When you use leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make these easy sliders, no one will guess you’re trying to get rid of leftovers!

Ingredients:
  • 12 slider buns or dinner rolls
  • ⅓ cup ranch dressing
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked
  • 2 cups cooked turkey
  • 1½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. sesame seeds
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the bottom half of the slider buns in a 13”x9” baking dish. Spread ranch dressing evenly over the buns. Top with bacon, turkey and cheese. Cover with the top buns.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together butter, garlic, parsley and sesame seeds. Brush over the top of the slider buns. Cover pan with foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes until everything is warm and the cheese is melted.
  4. Serve immediately.
  5. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

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Cinnamon Sugar Diced Sweet Potatoes

Cinnamon Sugar Diced Sweet Potatoes

Created by: Britni Vigil, Play. Party. Plan.

Skip the traditional sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving this year and try these cinnamon sugar diced sweet potatoes instead. They’re caramelized with coconut oil, sautéed with cinnamon and salt, then topped with a little cinnamon sugar and butter for the perfect sweet side dish.

Ingredients:
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch squares
  • 2 Tbsp. Kroger coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Kroger coarse kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Kroger granulated sugar
  • ½ Tbsp. Kroger unsalted butter
Directions:
  1. Heat coconut oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Once coconut oil is hot, carefully place chopped sweet potato into oil in one single layer.
  3. Allow sweet potatoes caramelize in coconut oil for three minutes then flip and repeat for three minutes on the other side.
  4. Sprinkle sweet potatoes with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Stir gently to mix seasoning into sweet potatoes.
  5. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
  6. Remove from heat onto a paper towel to soak up the oil.
  7. While sweet potatoes are soaking, mix remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon with 1 tablespoon white sugar to create cinnamon sugar. Lightly sprinkle cinnamon sugar over hot sweet potatoes.
  8. Serve hot topped with butter.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Cinnamon-Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash with Bacon

Cinnamon-Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash with Bacon

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

Fresh, seasonal, vegetable-centric sides are a favorite in my family, as we’re all big on vegetables, and these types of dishes add color and flavor to the feast. This cinnamon-maple glazed Brussels sprouts and acorn squash dish is made simple on the stove top. While there are a few steps to preparing the dish, the basic premise behind the recipe is simple: use one skillet for all of the cooking.

Serve the dish alongside your Thanksgiving entrée and other side dishes for a well-rounded meal.

Ingredients:
  • 4 pieces thick-cut bacon
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)
  • 1 large acorn squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. sea salt, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (or honey)
  • ⅓ cup Kroger Pecan Halves
Directions:
  1. Heat a large skillet to medium-high on the stovetop. Once hot, add the bacon and cook, flipping every 1-2 minutes, until fat has seeped out and bacon has reached desired amount of crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Remove bacon from skillet and transfer to a cutting board, leaving the bacon drippings in the skillet. Chop the bacon and set aside until ready to use.
  2. Add the chopped Brussels sprouts to the skillet with the bacon drippings and reduce the heat to medium. Stir the Brussels sprouts well, cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Uncover, stir and continue cooking until they have reached desired doneness, about another 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Place the skillet back on the hot stovetop and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil if necessary. Transfer the chopped acorn squash to the skillet, stir well and cover. Cook 4-5 minutes, stir, and remove the cover. Cook an additional 8-10 minutes, until acorn squash is golden-brown and cooked through.
  4. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to the skillet with the acorn squash, along with the chopped bacon, cinnamon, sea salt, pure maple syrup and pecans. Stir well to combine and continue cooking until heated through, about 3 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with the rest of your Thanksgiving feast.
  6. Store any leftovers in a sealed container for up to three days.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Spiked Vegan Eggnog

Spiked Vegan Eggnog

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

Eggnog is an incredibly flavorful and delicious beverage to share with friends and family around the holidays, but it’s rich in fat and sugar (no wonder it tastes so great)! While my family has been making the authentic version of eggnog ever since I was a small child, I began making a healthier version of the classic drink 3 years ago and have never gone back.

This recipe can easily be adapted to fit your own personal taste. Some folks enjoy their ‘nog super sweet or with a lot of nutmeg, while others could do with less. In order to tailor the beverage to your palate, start with fewer dates, less nutmeg or less alcohol - you can always add more! I tend to like my eggnog heavy on the rum and light on the nutmeg. Get crafty with your cocktails and be sure to share!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 can (14 oz.) Simple Truth™ Full-Fat Coconut Milk
  • 6-8 large Medjool dates, pitted
  • ¾ tsp. Private Selection™ Ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon, optional
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. spiced rum, optional
  • 1 Tbsp. Kahlua, optional
Directions:
  1. Place cashews in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours. Drain the water and place the cashews in a high-powered blender, along with 2 cups of new cold water, and blend on high for 2-3 minutes or until mixture is completely smooth.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients for the eggnog and blend until smooth. Taste eggnog for flavor, and add more rum, Kahlua, nutmeg, dates or pure maple syrup to taste.
  3. Serve chilled and enjoy. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed jar for up to 5 days.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Turkey Bagels

Thanksgiving Turkey Bagels

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving dinner! Whip up these super cute Thanksgiving Turkey Bagels for breakfast. And the best part? They are so easy that you can let the kids make their own!

Ingredients:
  • 12 Kroger Pre-Sliced Mini Bagels
  • 1 container (8 oz.) Kroger Original Cream Whipped Original Cream Cheese
  • Ground cinnamon
  • 1 can (11 oz.) Kroger Peeled & Segmented Mandarin Oranges in Light Syrup, drained
  • 1-2 apples, cored and sliced
  • 1-2 pears, cored and sliced
  • Mini chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Toast your desired number of mini bagels (1 for each serving). Top each half of the toasted mini bagels with 1 tablespoon of the whipped cream cheese, then sprinkle with the cinnamon.
  2. Using the apple slices, pear slices and Mandarin orange segments, make the “feathers” on the top half of the bagel. On the bottom half of the bagel, use the two mini chocolate chips to make the turkey’s eyes. Then cut pieces of the apple or pear slices to look like beaks, and place one on the turkey bagel. You can use cut apple or pear slices or Mandarin orange segments for the turkey’s wings. Repeat this with the remaining cream cheese and cinnamon topped bagel halves.
  3. Enjoy immediately and Happy Thanksgiving!
  4. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Lush Bars

Pumpkin Lush Bars

Created by: Emily Buys, Clever Housewife

This Thanksgiving, swap the pumpkin pie for Pumpkin Lush Bars! Pumpkin pudding plus a thick cream cheese layer on top of a buttery crust and your taste buds will be doing flips.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups whipped topping, plus more for topping
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 package (5.1 oz.) instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 can (15 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Directions:
  1. Combine flour, butter and nuts in a large mixing bowl. Mix until incorporated and resembling a fine powder, being careful not to overmix like a dough. Press into the bottom of a 9”x13” casserole dish. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes.
  2. While crust is baking, prepare cream cheese layer and pudding. In a large mixing bowl, blend together cream cheese, whipped topping and powdered sugar. Set aside.
  3. To make pudding, whisk together vanilla pudding and evaporated milk. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and stir in pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice, until fully incorporated. Return to refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. Remove crust from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before spreading the cream cheese layer over the top of the cooled crust. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove dish from the refrigerator and top the cream cheese layer with the pumpkin pudding. Return to refrigerator for 20 minutes, to set up.
  6. Pull the dish out from the refrigerator and cut and serve. Top with additional whipped topping if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 3 days.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Orange Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Orange Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Created by: Crystal Owens, A Pumpkin & A Princess

If you’re looking for a side dish to add to your Thanksgiving feast, try these mashed sweet potatoes with orange and spices.

Ingredients:
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. fresh orange zest
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ cup chopped pecan pieces
Directions:
  1. Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling water for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  2. Drain water and allow potatoes to cool enough to peel skin.
  3. Mash potatoes with butter, syrup, orange juice, zest and spices.
  4. Put mashed sweet potatoes in serving dish; garnish with chopped pecans.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Cranberry Citrus Punch

Cranberry Citrus Punch

Created by: Crystal Owens, A Pumpkin & A Princess

Cranberries have always been a key part of Thanksgiving and now you can incorporate them into kid-friendly punch that’s easy to make right before the big feast. The cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice and lemon-lime soda make this non-alcoholic drink perfect for guests of all ages.

Ingredients:
  • 1 64 oz. bottle Cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
  • 1 cup orange juice, chilled
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 two limes, thinly sliced
Directions:
  1. Mix cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice and lemon-lime soda in a large pitcher.
  2. Stir in sliced oranges and limes.
  3. Chill punch until ready to serve.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Slow Cooker Pumpkin S’mores Hot Cocoa

Slow Cooker Pumpkin S’mores Hot Cocoa

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

This creamy Slow Cooker Pumpkin S’mores Hot Cocoa is the perfect fuss-free treat to serve your guests after Thanksgiving dinner. Just leave it warming in your slow cooker and let your guests help themselves. It pairs perfectly with a slice of pumpkin pie!

Ingredients:
  • ½ container (7 oz.) Private Selection™ Toasted Marshmallow Hot Cocoa Mix
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup Kroger 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 5½ cups milk
  • p$$t™ Graham Crackers & Kroger Mini Marshmallows, for topping
Directions:
  1. In a 6-quart slow cooker, whisk together the hot cocoa mix and ground cinnamon. Then add in the pumpkin and milk, and whisk well.
  2. Cook on High for the first 30 minutes; whisk well. Cook on Low for another 1½- 2 hours, whisking every 30 minutes.
  3. After 2-3 hours of slow cooking, turn your slow cooker setting to Warm.
  4. To serve, ladle into mugs and top with mini marshmallows and serve with graham crackers.
  5. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Garlic and Rosemary Pork Roast

Garlic and Rosemary Pork Roast

Created by: Erin Sellin, Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

Impress your guests this holiday season with a Garlic Rosemary Pork Roast. Not your average Thanksgiving dinner!

Ingredients:
  • 2 -3 lb. boneless pork loins
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped (about 3 Tbsp.)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
Directions:
  1. In a bowl combine olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Generously rub over pork loins. Place in a zip top bag and marinate in the fridge overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add pork loins to the pan, and cook for 2 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Place on a roast pan, and cook for 60-75 minutes until an instant read thermometer reaches 145° F. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing to serve.
  4. Refrigerate leftovers for up to three days.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Pomegranate and Chipotle Glazed Turkey Breast

Pomegranate and Chipotle Glazed Turkey Breast

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

This pomegranate and chipotle glazed turkey breast takes a fraction of the time it take to cook an entire turkey, and is perfect for a smaller Thanksgiving crowd

Ingredients:
  • 2 lb. boneless, skinless turkey breast roast
  • 1½ cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Adobo sauce (from canned chipotles in adobo)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Sprinkle turkey breast with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting dish and pour ½ cup of the chicken stock in the dish. Place in oven.
  3. While turkey roasts, add pomegranate juice to a small saucepan. Turn the heat on medium-high. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until reduced by ⅓, about 2-3 minutes. Add adobo sauce, honey and molasses. Whisk and continue to simmer until thickened and syrupy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Once the glaze becomes thick, brush it on the turkey. The turkey should have been roasting about 10 minutes by now. Let the turkey roast another 10 minutes and brush with glaze again. Roast turkey until the internal temperature reads 165°F. After removing the turkey from the oven, brush with glaze again, and tent with foil while you make the gravy.
  5. In another small saucepan, add butter. Turn the flame on medium and when butter melts, whisk in flour. Take drippings from the turkey and whisk into butter and flour. Whisk in remaining chicken stock and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Cut turkey into ¼” slices and serve with remaining glaze and gravy.
  7. Refrigerate leftover turkey for up to 3 days.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Thankful Jar

Thanksgiving Thankful Jar

Created by: Laura Franklin, Food Fun Family

‘Tis the season for enjoying moments with family and friends, sharing traditional foods together and – of course – giving thanks. This Thanksgiving, make the feast even more special by writing down the things you’re grateful for and then sharing them with each other around the holiday table.

Things You'll Need:
  • Colorful paper, cut into strips
  • Pens
  • 1 large jar
Directions:
  1. Scatter strips of festive paper and a few pens around the dinner table.
  2. During the meal, encourage family members to write down a few things that they are thankful for. Aim for specifics, and include experiences, people and things in your thankful list. Place completed slips of paper into the jar at the center of the table.
  3. Near the end of the meal, open the jar, remove the papers and read the notes out loud. Encourage conversation about the things that family members have shared.

This activity can be extended to the whole day. Let everyone add their notes to the jar throughout the day, while the meal is cooking, while everyone is relaxing and chatting, and during dinner. Share the notes aloud during dessert.

Keep the notes at the end of the day, place them back in the jar and open them again next Thanksgiving, like a mini time capsule filled with gratitude!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

DIY Rustic Wood Flower Centerpiece

DIY Rustic Wood Flower Centerpiece

Created by: Laura Franklin, Food Fun Family

The Thanksgiving season means festive feasts with family and friends. Make the table even more inviting with a homemade, rustic floral centerpiece. Repurpose sticks from the backyard to create something of beauty that can be enjoyed for years. Because this centerpiece is made to fit over an existing flowerpot, it can be used over and over again. Just change the flowers out for a whole new look.

Things You'll Need:
  • Several straight sticks, cut to a uniform size
  • Hot glue gun with hot glue sticks
  • Wide ribbon
  • Potted flowers
  • Misc: rubber bands, twine, large cylindrical jar (such as a shortening tub or oatmeal container)
Directions:
  1. Trim your sticks to half an inch to an inch taller than the pot you’d like to cover.
  2. Line sticks around a cylindrical container (like a tub of shortening or an oatmeal container) that is slightly wider than your flowerpot. Loosely fasten the sticks around the container with a large rubber band or twine so that the sticks cover the entire circumference of the container. The sticks should be standing straight.
  3. Secure the sticks to each other by running a bead of hot glue in between each stick; press sticks together gently. Keep the rubber band or twine in place until all of the sticks are glued together and the glue has dried.
  4. After the sticks are secured in place, tie a wide ribbon around the middle. You can glue the ribbon on for a more secure fit or leave it loose so that it can be removed. Change colors and styles of ribbon to fit each season.
  5. Place your flowerpot inside the wooden frame you just made and display!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Leaf Balloon Pop Game

Leaf Balloon Pop Game

Created by: Amy Christie, this heart of mine

All holidays need an extra “pop” of excitement and balloons filled with a bit of confetti or candy are just the thing. Play this pop-tastic game with friends and family, young and old. It might get a little rowdy, but it’s full of fun.

Things You'll Need:
  • 33-35 12” balloons
  • Funnel
  • Candy or confetti to fill balloons
  • Brown craft paper
  • 1 piece of dark cardstock (for stem)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Cutting blade
  • Push pins for popping
Directions:
  1. To start, fill the balloons with confetti/candy and then inflate and tie each off with a knot.
  2. Then, lay out at least two strips of brown craft paper and tape them together to create a larger piece of brown craft paper to work with.
  3. Cut the cardstock into four strips, taping them end-to-end and then cutting out a “stem”, wider at the bottom, narrower at the top. Stick to the craft paper with tape.
  4. Begin to layout the balloons in a leaf shape. Once the layout has been decided, begin to place the balloons by slicing the craft paper and threading the end of the balloon through the slice to the backside.
  5. Once the shape is complete, have guests take turns popping the balloons.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Grid Placemats for Kids

Thanksgiving Grid Placemats for Kids

Created by: Nikkala Stephens, The Crafting Chicks

While you’re in the kitchen whipping up a feast, keep the kids entertained as they make their own placemat for Thanksgiving dinner!

Things You'll Need:
  • Clear contact paper
  • Variety of cardstock colors
Directions:
  1. Cut 2”x2” squares of cardstock.
  2. Cut a piece of contact paper approximately18”x12”.
  3. Place paper cardstock in a grid pattern on contact paper, alternating colors.
  4. Finish by covering the top of paper with another piece of contact paper and trim.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Simple DIY Eucalyptus Wreath

Simple DIY Eucalyptus Wreath

Created by: Sharon Garofalow, Cupcakes and Cutlery

I like to go all out with my holiday cooking and keep my decorations on the simple side. This DIY Eucalyptus Wreath uses only a few supplies and takes just a few minutes to make. When hung on the front door, it’s a nice way to welcome guests. It could even be used as part of a cool table centerpiece. One bunch of greenery will make several wreaths. Consider sending smaller versions home with your guests!

Things You'll Need:
  • 1 brass craft ring
  • Thin gauge wire (I tried to match the color to my ring)
  • 1 bundle eucalyptus leaves (or similar)
  • A short amount of string and some wooden decorative elements (optional)
Directions:
  1. Begin by separating the eucalyptus branches so they are easier to work with, in individual stems instead of several stalks off of a main branch. Starting with about 3-4 stems, attach them to the ring with a short piece of wire by twisting it around several times. End with the two ends on the backside of the ring and twist them around themselves a few times. Then trim the ends.
  2. Take another few branches, as well as a few from the original bunch and secure them to the ring with more wire. I like to leave a few out so that the leaves look natural and a little bit wild.
  3. Continue adding more branches and attaching them to the ring with wire until you like the fullness and look of the wreath.

This wreath is easy to customize to your liking. You can leave it like this or put the branches all the way around. As you can see, I hung a few wooden hearts on the wreath as an accent. To do this, glue your wooden accents to a short piece of string. Once dry, simply tie the string to the top of the wreath.

As this is a wreath made from fresh greenery, it should be made the day before your party at the earliest, to ensure freshness. When you are done with your wreath, you can remove the branches and save the ring for another wreath or craft project.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

3 Tips for an Easy Thanksgiving

3 Tips for an Easy Thanksgiving

Created by: Krissy Allori, Self Proclaimed Foodie

The only thing better than celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family is enjoying an easy and stress free Thanksgiving with friends and family!

I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. I have memories of cooking in our kitchen at the age of 10, slaving over a hot stove and making a huge mess while wearing a bathrobe. Ah, those were the days. Not much has changed except for the fact that I now have a glass of wine in my hand! I kid! I kid. Well, sort of.

After years and years of hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I’d like to think I have a few tricks up my sleeve. There are few things that give me more joy than cramming a ton of people in my house to enjoy good food and each other’s company. What I don’t love is chaos and confusion. I am happy to say that now, because of the tips I’m about to share with you, my Thanksgiving dinners are much more enjoyable than they used to be when I first started!

1. Prepare as much food the day before as you can.
I don’t remember when I started doing this, but it’s absolutely amazing waking up on Thanksgiving morning and only having to worry about the turkey. The day before, I prepare the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, the green bean casserole, the sweet potato casserole and the fresh cranberry sauce. By preparing, I mean that I cut, slice, assemble, mix, etc. but I don’t do the final baking. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, I take them out of the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature and all I have to do at that point is cook them. The mashed potatoes go in the slow cooker, the casseroles go in the oven, and the cranberry sauce goes on the stove. I don’t want to reheat them on Thanksgiving, I want to cook them. That way, when your guests arrive, you can enjoy that glass of wine with some appetizers without a huge mess from all the prep work, plus you have tons more energy than if you had woken up at 3am to do all that work.

2. Use place cards.
They’re easy and inexpensive to make. When everyone knows where they’re sitting, there is a whole lot less chaos and confusion come dinnertime. Also, that way you can keep Aunt Harriet away from Grandma Joan because you know they’d bicker throughout the entire meal if they had to sit next to each other!

3. Put together personalized disposable to-go boxes for your guests.
Not only will they think it’s a lovely gesture, but you don’t have to worry about buying a whole new set of Tupperware after it goes home with your guests only for you to never see it again! Smart idea, right?

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Mango Cranberry Sauce

Mango Cranberry Sauce

Add a refreshing, unique flavor to your Thanksgiving cranberry sauce with mangos. An excellent alternative to the original!

Ingredients:
  • 1 package (12 oz.) fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup Kerns mango nectar
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 firm but ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped crystalized ginger
Directions:
  1. Stir together cranberries, mango nectar and sugar in a small saucepan over heat.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until cranberries are popping and soft and mixture is slightly thickened (it will continue to thicken as it cools.)
  3. Stir in mango and ginger and simmer for 15 more minutes.
  4. Serve over sliced turkey, chicken or pork.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Brussels Sprouts with Mango and Bacon

Brussels Sprouts with Mango and Bacon

The combination of mango and bacon with Brussels sprouts is a surprising and unique twist on a Thanksgiving side dish. A tasty addition to any feast!

Ingredients:
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 2 large mangos, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
Directions:
  1. Place chopped bacon in large non-stick skillet on medium heat. Cook until crisp and fat renders, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and transfer to paper-towel lined plate; set aside.
  2. Remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Add Brussels sprouts, mango, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook until Brussels sprouts and mangos are beginning to brown and become tender, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and toss with reserved bacon.
  4. Serve & enjoy!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Holiday Leftover Hand Pies

Holiday Leftover Hand Pies

Now that all the guests are gone, whip up these easy hand pies using leftovers to make the most of your meal!

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup prepared Pepperidge Farm® Herb Seasoned Stuffing
  • 3/4 cup chopped cooked turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Campbell’s® Turkey Gravy
  • 1/3 cup chopped cooked green beans and/or chopped cooked carrots
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 package (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. water
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir the stuffing, turkey, 1/4 cup cranberry sauce, gravy and vegetables in a medium bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on the work surface and lightly roll to remove the fold marks. Cut the pastry sheet into 3 (about 3-inch wide) strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 (about 3-inch) squares. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet, making 18 pastry squares in all.
  3. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork. Brush the edges of 9 pastry squares with the egg wash and spoon about 1 teaspoon remaining cranberry sauce in the center of each. Top each with about 2 tablespoons stuffing mixture. Top with the remaining pastry squares, stretching slightly to cover the filling, and crimp the edges of the top and bottom pastries together with a fork to seal. Place the filled pastries onto a baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make 3 small cuts in the top of each pastry to vent. Brush with the egg wash.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Serve with additional gravy or cranberry sauce, warmed, for dipping.

Flavor Variation: Add 2 teaspoons your favorite chopped fresh herb to the stuffing mixture, if you like!

Easy Substitution: You can substitute any leftover vegetables for the green beans or carrots in this recipe.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

Q&A: Turkey Brining

Q&A: Turkey Brining

Is this the first year you plan on brining your Thanksgiving turkey? Or have you tried it before and wondered if there was a secret you missed out on? Maybe you’re just wondering if the extra effort really makes a difference.

You’ll find two kinds of brining recipes. Wet-brining involves submerging the turkey in a salted, flavored solution for many hours. Dry-brining also requires plenty of time, but you just need to rub a blend of salt and seasonings on the turkey. Both can yield great results; however, all those steps in each process can raise a lot of questions. Recipes don’t always tell the whole story.

Here are some of the questions that often come up when brining. The answers will help ensure your brining efforts are rewarded and the star of the show is roasted to perfection inside and out.

Is brining really worth the trouble?

Yes! Turkey white meat cooks faster than the dark meat; that’s why by the time the dark meat is ready, the white is often dried out. Brining helps keep the white meat juicy while the dark meat finishes roasting.

Is brining just like marinating?

No - it’s different than marinating, which uses acidity to change the texture. Both wet-brines and dry-brines simply use salt to tenderize the turkey through osmosis…the salt draws in moisture. Wet-brines dissolve the salt in flavored solutions that allow aromatic infusions, while with dry-brines you just rub the salt and seasonings right on, which creates crispier skin during roasting.

I found a brining recipe that sounds good – but can I add my own twist?

For wet-brining, it’s best to resist the temptation to change the amounts of liquids or salt in a recipe. Wet-brining relies on the correct proportions of those two elements to activate the tenderizing chemistry. But you can indeed add your own twist to the seasonings. For an aromatic, citrusy brine, include quartered lemons and oranges. A teaspoon or two of a Garam Masala spice blend turns up the Indian heat. Whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and star anise pods create a sweet and spicy Asian flavor.

In dry-brining, as long as you use the amount of salt recommended, you can add your own touch, too. If you like extra spice, add a teaspoon each of Sichuan peppercorns and coriander seeds. For a more traditional taste, mix in several tablespoons of dried, crushed bay and sage leaves. Teaspoons of allspice, mustard seed, ginger and lime zest give a Caribbean kick. A smoky-sweet variation calls for a tablespoon each of smoked paprika, chipotle chile flakes, ground coffee and maple brown sugar.

Can I brine any turkey?

No - brining works best on birds that have had no liquid or salt added yet, or they will turn out too salty or mushy. Most grocery store turkeys have been injected with seasonings, sodium solutions or water - check the label. Even Kosher turkeys have been salted already as part of their preparation.

This brining recipe calls for kosher salt, can I substitute regular salt?

Yes - but be sure to cut the measure in half! Two cups of kosher salt equals only one cup of table salt, because the kosher crystals are bigger. If you use the same amount of table salt, you will definitely have an over-salted turkey.

Is any pan or pot OK for brining?

No - be sure to use a non-reactive pan (ceramic, enamel, glass, plastic or stainless steel). Aluminum and copper react with salt and can ruin both your pan and the turkey.

Can I brine a frozen turkey?

Yes - you can save time defrosting by brining a frozen turkey. If dry-brining, you can add more dry brine under the skin once it’s defrosted enough. For either method, defrost just enough so that you can remove giblets from the cavity, if present, before starting to brine.

Is smoking or deep-frying OK for a brined turkey?

Yes - for deep-frying, though, make sure that the turkey is completely dry – inside and out – before frying, especially if you used the wet-brining method.

If I’m wet-brining, the more time the better, right?

No – best to follow what it says in the recipe … leaving it in the solution too long is the primary cause of spongy turkey.

My dry-brined turkey doesn’t need to be rinsed before cooking, does it?

Yes - you should rinse the turkey after wet-brining or dry-brining. Just be sure to pat it dry afterward, completely dry, so that the skin will brown nicely when roasting. Allowing the turkey to air dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator for several hours works even better.

I’m wet-brining my turkey – do I just guess how much brine solution to make?

No - the easiest way is to place the turkey in the container you will use for brining and pour water over it until the turkey is covered. Remove the water, measure it and that’s how much brine you will need.

My wet-brine recipe says I can substitute other liquids for some of the water. Apple juice sounds good, doesn’t it?

No - avoid acidic liquids like apple cider or vinegar in your wet-brine solution. The combination of salt and acid will overdo the tenderizing and make the meat mushy. Coffee or herbal tea can add interesting flavors.

This wet-brine recipe calls for heating the brine to dissolve the salt and then cooling it. Do I really have to cool it afterward?

Yes – make sure the brine is cold before you use it. Completely cold – ideally store it in the refrigerator overnight. If a brine is used warm, it will begin to poach your turkey, which results in over-cooking later.

OK, brining is all done, now I just pop the turkey in the oven?

No - for best results and the crispiest, golden skin, once you take the turkey out of the refrigerator be sure to let it rest at room temperature an hour before roasting. This holds true for both wet-brining and dry-brining.

A brined turkey takes the same roasting time as usual, correct?

No - a turkey that has been brined will cook faster than one that hasn’t been. Adjust your roasting times if this is the first time you’ve brined your turkey. Over-cooking is another reason even brined turkeys dry out.

Scalloped Fennel Potatoes

Scalloped Fennel Potatoes

Created by: Leigh Ann Hieronymus

Fennel adds a light fresh flavor to this decidedly savory dish.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 6 cups potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fennel, thinly sliced
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet. Add shallot and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add flour, whisking to combine, for one minute. Gradually add in half and half; cook, whisking constantly for several minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Fold in cheese until melted. Add salt, pepper, and thyme.
  3. Combine onion and fennel. Layer potato and fennel-onion mixture alternately in a lightly greased casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over top.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, then cover with aluminum foil. Return to oven and bake for 30 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Remove foil.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving

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