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Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Your Thanksgiving guests will have plenty to be grateful for as they gather for a gourmet get-together that pulls out all the stops.

It starts with a feast for their eyes, with a Floral Pumpkin Thanksgiving Masterpiece capturing oohs and ahs. Meanwhile, as the Juicy Smoked Paprika Turkey roasts fragrantly in the oven, whet appetites with an elegant passed tray of Cheesy Crab Cup Cakes and a round of Pumpkin Pie Martinis for the adults.

Once the bird is served, it’s time to bring out divine accompaniments, including Butternut Squash Wild Rice Stuffing with Pears and Pecans and Sweet Potato Pancakes With Maple Yogurt Sauce. For guests with special diets, a Vegan Meatloaf with Fig Glaze and a Harvest Kale Chopped Salad ensure everyone walks away from the table smiling.

Don’t forget to leave room for dessert. The Pumpkin Pie Buttermilk Skillet Cake is as decadent as it sounds, and for chocolate lovers, the Caramel French Silk Pie with Pretzel Crust will win you serious brownie points.  

Plus, with our sanity-saving tips, it’s simple to prepare such a crowd-pleasing dinner. Check out How to Get Your Bathroom Thanksgiving Guest Ready in Just 10 Minutes and crafts such as Salt Dough Leaves that will keep small children occupied (and out of the kitchen) as you prepare the most fabulous feast your family has ever seen.

12 Ways to Host Thanksgiving Dinner Like a Pro

12 Ways to Host Thanksgiving Dinner Like a Pro

Created by: Elisabeth McKnight, Bella the Blog

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, there’s no need to stress. Elisabeth Earnshaw of BellatheBlog.com offers these 12 sanity-saving tips so you can (gasp!) actually enjoy the holiday with your family.

  1. Use bathroom cleaner instead of kitchen cleaner on kitchen counters and sinks for less scrubbing and more sparkling.
  2. Days before the dinner, make the gravy and freeze it. It will thaw beautifully for your Thanksgiving dinner.
  3. Don’t try out new dishes on Thanksgiving – stick to tried-and-true favorites you know your guests will enjoy.
  4. Set the table the night before.
  5. Clean as you go.
  6. Delegate side dishes, desserts and salads to guests. You’re in charge of the bird!
  7. Create a playlist the week before.
  8. Line your pans with foil or parchment paper for easier cleanup.
  9. Double or triple line your trash cans so you won’t have to replace the bags during dinner.
  10. Don't let the dishes sit,or else they will be much harder to clean.
  11. Consider disposable dishes for dessert. Then you won’t have to clean a second time after dinner.
  12. Use a great dishwashing detergent. For a meal with lots of dishes, you’ll want to minimize the cleaning before loading.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktails

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktails

Created by: Danielle Cheever, Envision Pretty

Nothing gets a Thanksgiving get-together started like a seasonal cocktail. Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktails are a great option to serve your guests.

The smell of apple cider brings pure nostalgia to the holiday season, and the bourbon adds warmth and a flavorful flair. If you're also serving children or guests who don't drink, you can omit the alcohol and serve apple cider with the sugarcoated rim and garnishes.

0 minutes | Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves: 1
Ingredients:
AppleCiderBourbon2
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 6 oz. apple cider
  • 2 Tbsp. P$$T…™ ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp. Simple Truth® Organic Granulated Sugar
  • Orange wedge
  • Rosemary sprig (for garnish)
Directions:
  1. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a plastic bag and pour onto a shallow dish or plate.
  2. Coat the edge of a cocktail glass with an orange wedge.
    AppleCiderBourbon3
  3. Dip your cocktail glass, edge side down, into the cinnamon and sugar mixture to create a sugarcoated rim.
  4. Fill the cocktail glass with ice.
  5. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  6. Pour 2 ounces bourbon and 6 ounces apple cider into a cocktail shaker.
  7. Shake, stir and strain the cocktail into the glass.
    AppleCiderBourbon4
  8. Garnish with the orange wedge and rosemary sprig.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Wild Rice Stuffing with Pears and Pecans

Gluten Free Butternut Squash Wild Rice Stuffing with Pears and Pecans

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

During the holidays, it's easy to fall into the habit of eating a lot of high-carb side dishes and high-sugar desserts. Since I eat a gluten-free diet, I try to stick to dishes that are healthful, easy to prepare and feed plenty of guests.

For this reason, skipping the bread-based stuffing recipes and sticking to wild rice stuffing that’s full of flavorful, healthful ingredients has been my go-to over the last few years.

Generally, I find wild rice side dishes are great for entertaining guests. Most people I know adore rice in any form, and it can be made in bulk for optimal sharing. From a health standpoint, wild rice is a marvelous slow-burning carbohydrate, which helps complete your meal in a filling, comforting, yet nutritious way.

When it comes to holiday stuffing (or “dressing” as some folks call it), I love adding diced butternut squash (or sweet potato or beets), pecans (or walnuts), pears (or apple), dried cranberries, dried and fresh herbs, and just a touch of orange zest and cinnamon. All of these flavors together turn out warm, rich and inviting — you’d never know the recipe is filled with only healthy ingredients.

Personally, when I prepare Thanksgiving turkey, I rarely stuff the turkey and leave the “stuffing” or “dressing” on the side. You can definitely use this recipe as turkey stuffing or do as I do and leave it as a side dish. Whatever you choose, your guests will surely love the fall flavors and will be delighted to consume a dish that’s equal-parts delicious and nutritious.

While the preparation is simple, this recipe does take awhile, so be prepared to set aside a chunk of time to complete it. All you need to do is sauté the vegetables in a large oven-safe pot that has a lid (I used my cast-iron Dutch oven), add the rice and remaining ingredients, allow it to simmer on the stovetop, then finish it off in the oven to get a crispy top and flavor-infused dish.

When all is said and done, this crowd-pleasing dish feeds 6-10 people (depending on portion size) and can easily be a staple in your house throughout the fall and winter. Enjoy this wild rice stuffing for any of your holiday gatherings.

40 minutes | Cook time: 45 minutes | Serves: 4 | Yields: 8 servings
Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Bosc pear, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups Private Selection™ wild rice
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. Kroger Dried Oregano
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 4 cups water (or broth)
  • 1 cup Kroger Raw Pecan Pieces
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
Directions:
  1. Place dry wild rice in a bowl and fill with water. Soak for 10 minutes.
    Butternutsquashstuffing3
  2. Add the oil, onion and butternut squash to a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven. Sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the chopped pear, garlic, rice, sea salt, oregano and cinnamon and stir, then sauté 3 minutes.
  4. Add the dried cranberries, water and orange zest, and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, cook 40-50 minutes, until much of the water has been absorbed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Uncover the pot, place on the center rack of the oven and bake 10-20 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed and top is crispy.
    Butternutsquashstuffing2
  6. Remove from pot from the oven and stir in chopped pecans and fresh parsley. Taste the stuffing and add salt to taste.
  7. Serve alongside your holiday entree or use as turkey stuffing.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Caramel French Silk Pie with Pretzel Crust

Caramel French Silk Pie with Pretzel Crust

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

Turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes get all the love when it comes to Thanksgiving – but for me, Thanksgiving isn’t complete without dessert, and that includes at least three variations of pie.

Of course, there’s the obligatory pumpkin pie (which I love and would never think about omitting); there’s your pecan pie (mandatory at our house); and then there’s the wild card, which for my family tends to be something new and exciting each year.

I’ve whipped up apple pies and pear tarts, and while I adored them all, I feel like dessert isn’t truly complete unless there’s a little bit of chocolate involved. I grew up on French silk pie, so of course it’s a dessert that’s near and dear to my heart. But for some reason, it never seemed to make it to the Thanksgiving table – that changes now. Because “new and exiting” is the ultimate goal for the wild card dessert, this particular French silk pie has its own twists and turns.

For starters, instead of a butter-and-flour-based pastry crust, I opted for an easier, less traditional, sweet and salty pretzel-based crust made up of crushed pretzels, brown sugar and plenty of melted butter. The mixture is pressed into a greased baking dish, popped into the oven until it’s golden brown and set, and then left to cool to room temperature.

While the crust cools, the two other components of the pie are assembled – a caramel sauce base and the actual French silk filling. Brown sugar, butter and heavy cream make up the caramel sauce. Plenty of chocolate, softened butter, eggs, sugar and store-bought whipped topping make up the French silk filling. While I admit that the French silk filling does require a little bit of a time commitment, the end results are 100% worth the effort; plus, I feel like holidays warrant a little bit of an extra special touch.

Once the pretzel crust is cooled, the caramel sauce gets poured into the bottom, with the French silk filling following next. The whole pie is covered in plastic wrap and popped into the fridge to set up for a few hours or, preferably, overnight. Right before serving, it’s covered with the remaining whipped topping, sprinkled with some crushed pretzels and shaved chocolate, and then it's ready for the dessert table!

30 min | Prep time: 13 hours | Serves: 8
Ingredients for Crust:
  • 4 cups mini-pretzels
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 stick butter, melted
Ingredients for Caramel:
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2½ Tbsp. butter
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
Ingredients for Filling:
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 8 oz. whipped topping
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a pie dish with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
  2. Add pretzels and sugar to a food processor. Pulse until almost completely crushed. Slowly drizzle in melted butter while pulsing.
  3. Transfer mixture to pie dish, and use your fingers or the side of a measuring cup to push the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and set. Cool completely.
  4. In a medium sauce pan, add butter and brown sugar. Turn the heat to medium. Let the butter and sugar melt, stirring occasionally. Once all of the butter has melted, add in heavy cream. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sugar has completely melted. Remove from stove; set aside.
  5. Put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 25-second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until chocolate is almost melted. Once chocolate has just a few pieces left, stir until completely melted. (The heat of the bowl will finish melting the chocolate.)
  6. In a small saucepan, whisk sugar and egg yolks together. Turn the heat down to low, and while stirring almost constantly, heat the mixture up until the sugar has melted and the mixture is hot. It should coat the back of a spoon and when you run your finger through the middle, nothing should drip down. Remove from heat and add chocolate; stir until combined. Cool to room temperature.
    CaramelFrenchSilkpie2
  7. In a medium bowl, cream butter with a hand-held mixer. Cream until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add in chocolate mixture; beat until combined.
  8. Gently fold in 1 cup of whipped topping until combined.
  9. Pour caramel into the cooled crust. Pour chocolate filling on top. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for six hours or preferably overnight.
    CaramelFrenchSilkpie3
    CaramelFrenchSilkpie4
  10. Before serving, top with remaining whipped topping, extra crushed pretzels and shaved chocolate.
    CaramelFrenchSilkpie5

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Cheesy Bacon Pull Aparts

Cheesy Bacon Pull Aparts

Shake up your normal breakfast routine with this delicious combination of cheese, bacon and biscuits.

35 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Serves: X | Yields: X servings
Ingredients:

  • 1 can (10 pieces) refrigerated Homestyle Biscuits
  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • 1½ tsp. Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix Packet
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1½ cups Kraft Natural Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 package (11-13 pieces) Oscar Mayer Fully Cooked Bacon, finely chopped
  • Cooking spray
  • Foil
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Line a 13”x9” baking sheet with foil. Coat foil well with cooking spray.
  3. Cut the 10 slices of biscuits into 8 pieces each.
  4. In small mixing bowl, melt butter in microwave for 1 minute or until liquefied.
  5. Stir in seasoning mix and onion powder. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Space the sliced biscuits on the baking sheet approximately ½” apart.
  7. Spoon on butter mixture. Sprinkle on cheese and bacon.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool for about 3 minutes.
  9. Pull apart and serve warm.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Cheesy Crab Cake Cups

Cheesy Crab Cake Cups

Created by: Greggy Soriano, Greggy’s Digest

The only thing you need to know this holiday season are the four Cs: Cheesy Crab Cake Cups! These appetizers will seriously make you forget about the main course and have you looking forward to them every Thanksgiving!

There’s something about the toasted, buttery, mini-bread bowl filled with comforting, ooey-gooey, cheesy crab that takes any crab cake to another level.

15 minutes | Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves: 18-20
Ingredients:
  • 1 stick room temperature butter (real butter is always better)
  • 18-20 mini bread rolls (round brioche or dinner rolls work best)
  • 1 lb. package Kroger Flake Style Crab Select Imitation Crab Meat
  • 8 oz. jar pure lump crab meat
  • 5 oz. jar sharp cheddar cheese spread
  • 2 cups Kroger Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz. container Kroger Sour Cream
  • ¼ cup onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • Cookie sheet pan
  • Medium-size ice cream scooper
  • Stand mixer with bowl and paddle attachment, or bowl and rubber spatula
Directions:
crabcakes2
  1. Slightly slice the tops of the dinner rolls, ½” away from the top, with a bread knife.
  2. Score the dinner rolls in a circular pattern with a bread knife, without going all the way to through the bottom. Pinch and scoop out the bread and crumbs inside of each dinner roll to form a vessel or cup.
    crabcakes3
  3. Cream the butter, sour cream, cheese spread and pepper in your stand-up or hand mixer.
    crabcakes4
  4. Mix the imitation crabmeat, chopped onions and sharp cheddar cheese until the crab flakes are separated. Fold in the lump crabmeat without breaking it down too much.
    crabcakes5
  5. Scoop a heaping amount of the crab filling into each bread cup.
  6. Place on a sheet pan and into the oven on the broil setting. Broil until the tops brown and the cheese is melted. I love to simply put them into a toaster oven on high for 10 minutes.

Enjoy! I know they’re addicting, but save some for the other guests at the party!


View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie Martini

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie Martini

Created by: Hannah Hagler, Champagne Lifestyle

I love pumpkin pie-flavored anything, so this cocktail was a no-brainer. I decided to make it dairy free because many of my family members, including myself, are sensitive to dairy. The last thing you want after a huge Thanksgiving meal and delicious dessert is to feel bad.

This cocktail is creamy, packed with flavor and sweet, but not too sweet. It's the perfect dessert cocktail that anyone who is a pumpkin fan will love. The best part is that you would never know there's no dairy in it. It tastes almost like a pumpkin milkshake, with an adult kick.

5 minutes | Prep time: 2 minutes | Serves: 1
Ingredients:
PumpkinMartini2
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar with a pinch of cinnamon for the rim
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice blend
  • A pinch or two each of ground nutmeg and ginger – you can leave this out if you're using pumpkin pie spice seasoning
  • 2 oz. whipped or vanilla-flavored vodka
  • 3 Tbsp. canned coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. canned pure pumpkin puree
  • ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Mix the coconut sugar and a pinch of cinnamon on a plate.
    PumpkinMartini3
  2. Wet the outer rim of a martini glass with a wet sponge or towel. Dip it into the sugar/cinnamon combo to coat the rim.
  3. In a martini shaker, mix ice, vodka, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and spices.
    PumpkinMartini4
  4. Shake vigorously and strain into the martini glass.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Dietitian’s Corner: Give Thanks for Plant-Based Eating

Dietitian’s Corner: Give Thanks for Plant-Based Eating

Created by: Molly McBride, RD, LD – Kroger Corporate Dietitian

It’s autumn, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Have you started thinking about what kinds of plants you can incorporate in or around the center of your plate this holiday season?

Here are some tips for making your Thanksgiving meal something to share with (all your?) friends and family, including any vegan company who may stop in:

  • Many times eggs are used in baking for binding ingredients. Instead try flax “eggs” (one part ground flax with three parts water), mashed bananas (½ banana for one egg), or cornstarch (one part cornstarch with two parts water). These swaps do particularly well in muffins, cupcakes and breads.
  • Tofu is a great ingredient that picks up flavors of a dish seamlessly! Try blending silken tofu into puddings, mousses, smoothies and creamy desserts. Cut extra-firm tofu into cubes and incorporate into stuffing or even marinate with a favorite dressing.
  • Consider mushroom gravies over beef or chicken gravies to be veg friendly. Mushrooms impart a savory flavor, making them a terrific substitution. Consider making your own mock beef stock as a foundation: combine equal parts mace spice, nutritional yeast, onion, celery seed and garlic powder; mix into boiling water.
  • Take advantage of hearty grains and legumes. Lentils, brown rice, black beans, quinoa and couscous can be cooked up and made into dishes like lentil “loaves”, rice puddings or as a great casserole base.
  • No one wants to waste food, and certainly not when you’ve spent all that time making a meal for the group! Think through how to extend the use of your prepared dishes. Might extra cranberry relish do well on a sandwich over the next few days? How about using those extra dinner rolls and sauces towards a yummy biscuits ’n gravy the next morning?
  • Thank goodness the flavors of the season, like pumpkin, cranberry, apples and squash, are vegan and that dishes using these foods can be easily veganized!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Eggnog Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Eggnog Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

With festive notes of pumpkin and eggnog, this recipe from Nicole Leggio of CookingforKeeps.com is a great “wild card” dessert among the classic pumpkin and pecan pies we all love so much. Even better: it requires little to no preparation – perfect when you’re cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast from start to finish.

1 hour | Prep time: 20 minutes | Serves: 8
Ingredients:
EggnogPumpkinBread2
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 loaf ciabatta (about 1 lb.), cut into ½” cubes
  • 2 cups International Delight® Classic Nog
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
  • Powdered sugar for garnish
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9”x13.5” oval baking dish.
  2. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet. Bake until slightly crisp (not brown), about 8 minutes. Pour into the greased baking dish once cool.
  3. Whisk together the eggnog, pumpkin, eggs, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar. Pour the mixture on top the bread cubes and gently use the back of a wooden spoon to press the bread into the liquid. Let soak for 15 minutes.
    EggnogPumpkinBread3
  4. Place the baking dish on a large baking sheet and put in the oven. Bake until the pudding is puffed and golden brown, about 60-65 minutes.
  5. Let the pudding cool slightly, then dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if you’re feeling especially indulgent.
    EggnogPumpkinBread4

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Floral Pumpkin Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Floral Pumpkin Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Created by: Hannah Hagler, Champagne Lifestyle

You don’t have to hire a florist or be an expert at flower arranging to have a beautiful Thanksgiving centerpiece — this one is affordable, festive and sure to impress your guests.

Having a good centerpiece can make a world of a difference when entertaining. The best type is one that takes hardly any time to create, yet is also affordable.

This arrangement is perfect for Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you're doing the cooking as well. It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and you can get everything you need while you're shopping for the rest of your Thanksgiving groceries.

Supplies:
FloralPumpkincenterpiece2
  • Hydrangeas and/or any other fall blooms
  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin, hollowed out (or a hollow foam pumpkin from your local craft store)
  • Small vase or glass
  • Newspaper

 

Directions:
  1. Cut the top of your pumpkin off with a knife. Do this very carefully and slowly. Then scoop out the insides of the pumpkin and throw them away.
  2. Next, you will want to put a small vase or glass (I used a mason jar) filled with water in the center of the pumpkin.
    FloralPumpkincenterpiece3
  3. Stuff the area surrounding the vase or glass with paper (you can use newspaper).
  4. Trim the flowers so that no stem is sticking out and visible from the pumpkin.
    FloralPumpkincenterpiece4
  5. Place the centerpiece on the table and enjoy!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Get Your Bathroom Thanksgiving Guest Ready in Just 10 Minutes!

Get Your Bathroom Thanksgiving Guest Ready in Just 10 Minutes!

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

For the most part, Carrie Robison, the mom behind the blog FrugalFoodieMama.com, is able to keep her home clean when she hosts Thanksgiving dinner by enlisting the family in a big group house-cleaning project the day before the holiday.

But the one room that never seems to stay clean is the bathroom. So she devised this easy, last-minute cleaning routine that gets the bathroom guest-ready in just 10 minutes.

  1. Eliminate counter clutter. Stash hair care products, toothpaste and other toiletries under your sink or in a linen closet.
  2. Spray and wipe down everything using a product like Pledge® Multi Surface Cleaner that can be used on the bathroom mirror, wooden shelves and windowsill, and most importantly, works quickly.
  3. Spray the counter and toilet with a disinfectant such as Scrubbing Bubbles® Bathroom Cleaner, which works fast and really makes the bathroom fixtures sparkle.
  4. Empty the trash can and set out extra rolls of toilet paper.
  5. Use a scented flameless warmer to make the bathroom smell great. Choose a fall-inspired scent such as apple cinnamon.
And if you happen to have an extra 5 minutes to spare, add these finishing touches ...
  • Shake the bathroom rugs.
  • Set out magazines.
  • Add a few fall touches to your bathroom counter, like a pumpkin or leaves.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Guide to Surviving Holiday Cooking

Guide to Surviving Holiday Cooking

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

When you’re getting ready to cook a big holiday dinner for your family, food blogger Julia Mueller of TheRoastedRoot.net has an easy Guide to Surviving Holiday Cooking that will give you confidence to spare in the kitchen. Here are her tips for serving an absolutely delicious dinner.

1. Plan Recipes in Advance
Print out recipes from your favorite blogs and put them in a folder, or start a Pinterest board and pin the recipes that catch your eye.

Be sure to choose a variety of dishes and consider whether your guests eat gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free or have other dietary restrictions. Stick with healthful sides and mains, as well as lightened-up desserts, so there will be room for the entire meal.

2. Make Lists
GuidetoHolidayCooking2

As simple as it sounds, keep a grocery list taped to your refrigerator and add to it as new items or ideas come up, so you can keep track of what you need for one organized trip to the store. If your menu requires specialty ingredients, you can have separate lists for the different stores you'll need to visit.

Also be sure that your list isn’t limited to food – you’ll also need food storage items such as Ziploc bags and containers.

Before you head to the grocery store, do a once-over through your pantry to make sure the items you think you own are still actually there – and to cross off items on your list that you have plenty of, and don’t need to buy. That being said, it’s always smart to double up on nonperishable items in case you need to re-make or double a recipe.

3. Chop Vegetables in Advance
GuidetoHolidayCooking3

Chop hearty vegetables such as butternut squash, sweet potato, onion and beets one to two days before cooking and seal them in Ziploc storage bags. Use a marker to write the contents on the bag, including the measurements. You can also write the date you chopped the vegetables to keep track of freshness.

4. Prepare Full Dishes in Advance
GuidetoHolidayCooking4

Because many holiday dishes incorporate whole grains, hearty vegetables and sauces, they tend to save very well. Many dishes, particularly pastas, casseroles, stews, soups, breads and pies are even better a day or two after they’re made, so make these in advance.

5. Relax!
Take your time throughout your meal prep process so you don't overlook details that will become problematic and time-consuming later. But also be sure to take some time to pamper yourself with a yoga class, a run or even a lightly scented candle. You can always ask your friends and family to lend a helping hand if you have an onion to chop!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Harvest Kale Chopped Salad

Harvest Kale Chopped Salad

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

Have you started planning that Thanksgiving dinner menu yet? I've been hosting my family's Thanksgiving dinner for the past few years, and prep and planning starts for me in October.

Although I always plan to serve a few traditional favorites that my family loves and looks forward to each year, I also like to include one or two new and different recipes in my menu for Thanksgiving dinner. Typically, I don't serve a salad for Thanksgiving. Sometimes my mom or sister will make and bring one, but it isn't something you'll find on my Thanksgiving dinner table every year. But this year is different. This Thanksgiving, this fresh and healthy Harvest Kale Chopped Salad will be served.

Hearty baby kale, sweet carrots, crispy bacon and dried cranberries are tossed in a simple apple butter dressing. The result is fall salad perfection. This Harvest Kale Chopped Salad makes the perfect fresh addition to those usual Thanksgiving dinner sides.

5-25 minutes for the bacon, depending on cooking method | Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves: 6
Ingredients:
HarvestKalechop2
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. apple butter
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 5 ounces Simple Truth® Organic Baby Kale, finely chopped
  • 1 Simple Truth® Organic Whole Carrot, peeled and julienned
  • ½ cup Simple Truth® Dried Cranberries
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple butter, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the baby kale, carrots, cranberries and bacon. Pour the dressing over the greens and toss to coat well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Transfer to a serving dish or bowl. Garnish with additional dried cranberries, if desired.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
    HarvestKaleChop3

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

How to Package Thanksgiving Leftovers

How to Package Thanksgiving Leftovers

Created by: Cathy Pollak, Noble Pig

Cathy Pollak, food blogger for NoblePig.com, has a tried-and-true method for packaging up Thanksgiving leftovers. Follow these tips so that everyone can wake up the next day and enjoy a turkey-stuffing sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes, and enjoy other memories from the meal for weeks and even months to come.

Storing:

Turkey: Remove any stuffing and cut leftover meat into smaller pieces and separate into appropriate-sized Ziploc® bags. The carcass can also be bagged and placed in the freezer to make stock at a later time. Tip: freeze one bag of cubed turkey meat for casseroles, soups or turkey salad sandwiches.

Side dishes: Store veggies, sweet potatoes and casseroles separately in their own clean bags to avoid contamination.

Gravy and soups: Cool down quickly by setting containers in bowls of chilled water, then transfer them to storage bags. Lay flat.

Desserts: Everything from sturdy pie slices to brownies and cakes can be placed in Ziploc® bags and stored in the refrigerator, freezer or on the counter.


Freezing:

Getting freezer-ready: Cool down food in the refrigerator a few hours before moving it to the freezer. Don’t forget to label and date each package – everything tends to look the same after it’s frozen.

Bags are better than containers: Make sure to use freezer-storage Ziploc® bags if you're planning on freezing your leftovers. If you freeze a liquid such as gravy, remember to leave room at the top of the package, as liquids will expand during the freezing process.

Take your time, the leftovers won’t go bad: Foods can be frozen for 6-8 months at 0˚ F without going bad, but for ideal taste, eat within 2-3 months.


Reheating:

Safety first: Make sure to reheat leftovers to a safe temperature of 165˚ F before eating (use a food thermometer to check). When using a microwave, stir the food a couple times to ensure the food is heated properly in all areas. But skip the microwave for liquids: leftover gravy, soups and sauces should be brought to a full boil on the stove during the reheating process.

Only reheat what you need: Food tends to lose moisture and dry out every time it's reheated, so warm up only the portion you’re planning to serve and place the unused portions back in the refrigerator.


Extra Bonus Tip:

Wine not: If a little wine is left in the bottle, try freezing it in ½ cup servings so that the next time a recipe calls for wine, you won’t have to look for your corkscrew.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Juicy Smoked Paprika Turkey

Juicy Smoked Paprika Turkey

Created by: Cathy Pollak, Noble Pig

No reason to stress over the Thanksgiving turkey. Brining will keep it juicy and a few seasonings are all you need for a flavorful bird.

I can still recall the sound of my mother clanking around in the kitchen on Thanksgiving mornings. There was always this mad rush to get the turkey in the oven while it was dark out. The funny thing is, I can't recall ever eating Thanksgiving dinner before 5pm. I’m still not quite sure why the turkey took so long to cook, but it does kind of explain why it was so dry…sorry mom.

I know a lot of people really stress about making the Thanksgiving turkey. The pressure can be overwhelming with so many people counting on you to make their holiday taste perfect. But I’m here to tell you it’s not that hard to make a juicy Thanksgiving turkey.

There are two secret weapons when it comes to turkey-making excellence. The first is a meat thermometer, preferably digital, and the ability to brine your turkey – this means you need a clean, 5-gallon bucket.

Brining makes such a difference in flavor and how moist your turkey will taste. If you're going to spend so much time cooking this piece of poultry, why have it turn out less than awesome?

If you go back to high school cell biology, you'll likely remember the terms "osmosis" and "diffusion." If you went on to study biochemistry, you already understand the denaturing of proteins as well. This is basically what happens when we brine.

With osmosis, the high salt solution of the brine passes through permeable meat cells when you begin soaking your turkey overnight. Diffusion creates the balance of the salt and water in the meat and the salt and water from the surrounding brine solution. This results in a higher concentration of salt and water in the meat and less water loss during the cooking process.

The salty concentration also denatures protein strands found in the meat, taking them from a tightly wound-up shape to an unwound and tangled state. It’s the tangled-up structure that traps the water molecules and holds onto them while cooking. Amazing, right? This will almost ensure the juiciness of your turkey.

The next juicy turkey secret weapon is the meat thermometer. If you use a digital one, you won't have to keep opening the oven to check the temperature. It will save you so much stress in the long run and you won't overcook the bird. It’s a lifesaver and a great investment for all the meat you cook.

I season my turkey with very few ingredients. It doesn’t need anything else, especially with all the flavorful side dishes we serve during the Thanksgiving meal.

40 minutes | Cook time: 45 minutes | Serves: 4 | Yields: 8 servings
Ingredients for the Brine:
  • 1 gallon regular water
  • 1⅓ cups kosher salt
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. dried sage leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp. dried crushed rosemary leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 gallon ice water
  • 1 turkey (12-14 lb.), fresh or frozen and thawed
Ingredients for the turkey seasoning:
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. table salt
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tsp. garlic powder
Directions:
Smoked Paprika Turkey2
  1. For the brine, combine regular water, sugar, kosher salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, peppercorns and marjoram in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, making sure the salt and the sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour the cooled brine into a clean 5-gallon bucket. Stir in the ice water.
  3. Place the turkey, breast down, in the brine. Make sure the cavity gets filled and that you've removed all the turkey innards. Place the bucket in a refrigerator overnight. Brine the turkey for 24 hours, no longer.
    Smoked Paprika Turkey turkey3
  4. Remove the turkey, draining off the excess brine and patting it dry. Discard the brine.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450˚ F.
  6. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the turkey seasoning. Place the brined turkey on a large, rimmed baking sheet. It’s easy to work with on the rimmed sheet. Gently pull up the skin of the turkey and rub the seasoning directly on the flesh. Pour more seasoning into the inside cavity and rub all around. Use the rest of seasoning to completely cover the outside of the turkey on top of the skin. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan.
  7. Roast the turkey at 450˚ F for 30 minutes. At this point, you may want to cover the top of the turkey and the wings and legs with some aluminum foil as they can burn easily. Turn the oven down to 350˚ F for another 1½-2 hours, or until the thigh meat and breast meat both reach 160˚ F on a meat thermometer. This is where a digital thermometer comes in handy. You don't have to keep checking the doneness of the meat while it's in the oven. Start with the thermometer in the breast and when it reaches 160˚ F, move it to the thigh. Dark meat often takes longer to cook. A properly cooked turkey should reach 165˚ F. I like to remove my turkey when I know the dark meat is 160˚ F and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving. During this resting period, the turkey continues to cook and reaches the proper temperature for eating.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Leftover Turkey Stacked Enchiladas with Sweet Potato, Black Beans and Spinach

Leftover Turkey Stacked Enchiladas with Sweet Potato, Black Beans and Spinach

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

So you planned the perfect Thanksgiving. You bought two 25-pound turkeys, baked three pies and had countless sides, and everyone left the table happy and full. Success.

But after the desserts have been served, the family has left and the dishes have been cleaned and put away, you’re stuck with a whole lot of leftover turkey. Of course, you could make a completely predictable turkey sandwich, but they kind of lose their luster after one or two, right? There are also the options of turkey noodle soup or potpie, but I find that after eating a giant meal and a few turkey sandwiches, I want something that doesn’t resemble Thanksgiving in the slightest.

Enter enchiladas – a dish that doesn’t even hint at the fleeting holiday and can completely transform your leftovers into something new again. Shredded turkey meat, rinsed and drained black beans, sweet potatoes and vibrant spinach seasoned with a touch of cumin, salt and pepper make up the hearty filling.

Each layer is nestled on top of a whole wheat enchilada covered in a super quick and easy homemade enchilada sauce. If you’ve never made homemade enchilada sauce, fear not – it’s seriously easy. In a quick 8-10 minutes, a little onion, garlic, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, salt and chili powder quickly transform into the perfect enchilada sauce. You’ll never go back to the canned stuff, promise.

Of course, enchiladas aren’t enchiladas without a little cheese. Here, a reduced fat Mexican cheese is sprinkled over the turkey and sweet potato mixture. The process is repeated twice, ending with a final layer of tortilla, sauce and cheese. The enchiladas are covered in foil and popped into a 350˚ F oven until everything is piping hot and the cheese is melted. After a quick 20-25 minutes, you can cut the enchiladas into squares – they're ready to be devoured.

I like to serve them with a dollop of sour cream, chopped green onions and sliced black olives, but some diced tomato or avocado would be perfect as well.

30 min | Prep time: 30 min | Serves: 8 | Yields: 8 servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup diced onion, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 18 oz. water, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 cup diced sweet potato
  • 1 can (14 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of all liquids
  • 1½ tsp. cumin
  • 3 cups shredded turkey
  • 9 fajita-sized whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2½ cups shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese
  • Sour cream, sliced green onion and sliced black olives for garnish
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease an 8”x12” baking dish.
  2. Cut the tortillas to fit into the baking dish.
  3. Heat a medium saucepan to medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, ¼ cup onion and 1 garlic clove. Sauté for 1 minute. Add tomato paste, 18 ounces of water, chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt, vinegar and oregano. Whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
    LeftoverTurkeyEnchiladas2
  4. Heat a large nonstick skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil, onion, garlic and sweet potato. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the remaining water and cover. Let the potatoes and onions cook for another 2-3 minutes until the sweet potatoes are mostly softened. They'll finish cooking in the oven. Add the black beans, spinach, cumin and turkey. Toss to combine and cook another 1-2 minutes until flavors have melded together and the mixture is hot. Remove from the heat.
    LeftoverTurkeyEnchiladas4
  5. Spoon ¼ cup of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Cover with tortillas. Spread half the enchilada filling over the top, followed by ⅓ of the remaining sauce. Cover with ⅓ of the cheese. Repeat once more. Press down after each layer.
    LeftoverTurkeyEnchiladas3
  6. For the final layer, cover with tortillas, spread with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are hot throughout. Serve with sour cream, green onions and black olives.
    LeftoverTurkeyEnchiladas5

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Classic Homemade Mac ‘n Cheese

Classic Homemade Mac ‘n Cheese

Created by: Karrie Pukstas

This mac ‘n cheese recipe is a sure choice for satisfyingly delicious comfort food.

40 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4 | Yields: 8 servings
Ingredients:

  • ½ lb. grated Gruyere cheese
  • ½ lb. grated cheddar or jack cheese
  • 2 cups dry macaroni
  • 4 tsp. onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 cups milk
Ingredients for Topping:

  • 4 tsp. butter
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
Directions:
  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Preheat oven to 400° F. In saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and sauté onion.
  2. Whisk in flour, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly stir in milk over LOW heat. Add cheese and stir until melted.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine cheese mixture with macaroni. Blend well and pour into 2½ quart greased casserole.
  4. Toss panko crumbs in 4 teaspoons butter until lightly browned. Sprinkle on top of the macaroni.
  5. Bake 20 minutes. Remove, let cool and serve.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Moist Cake Corn Bread

Moist Cake Corn Bread

Created by: Elisabeth McKnight, Bella the Blog

This twist classic cornbread recipe is rich and moist, perfect to serve alongside all the fixings at your Thanksgiving dinner. Looking for an easy way to serve? Opt for baking the batter in a greased muffin pan. This cuts the baking time down to 20 minutes or so. Serve the individual servings in a basket on the table.

35 minutes | Prep time: 10 minutes | Serves: 8
Ingredients:
Cornbread2
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 package (9 oz.) yellow cake mix
  • 1 package corn bread mix (or corn muffin mix)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ⅔ cup of milk
  • ⅓ cup of water
Directions:
  1. Combine the cake and corn bread mix in a large bowl, then add in the wet ingredients. Stir until combined.
  2. Bake at 350° F in a greased 9”X13” pan for 35 minutes or until fully cooked — a fork inserted in the center will come out clean. (If you’d rather bake the bread as muffins, grease a muffin tin and bake at 350° F for 20 minutes.)
  3. Serve with warm butter and honey.
    Cornbread3

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Created by: Emily Caruso, Jelly Toast

Cranberries are classic Thanksgiving fare. When November rolls around, I start snapping up bags of fresh cranberries by the dozen and popping them in my freezer because I enjoy using them all year round.

While dried cranberries are available any time of year, fresh cranberries are not. Having a few bags hidden away in the freezer is always a welcome surprise!

While I definitely use cranberries in the offseason for smoothies or baked goods, they're most loved in my home during the Thanksgiving holiday. I often toss a cup of them in my grandma’s apple crisp recipe or a sweet cranberry bread, but my favorite way to enjoy cranberries is in a big bowl of tart cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.

Growing up, my parents always served up a variety of cranberry sauce options. From the jiggly canned cranberry sauce to my grandma’s fresh cranberry relish, there was always enough sweet and tart goodness to go around. Now that I'm often in charge of making the cranberry sauce, I like to mix things up a bit. Sometimes it’s a fresh, uncooked relish. At other times, I crave a simple, simmered sauce like this Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce.

This cranberry sauce recipe requires just a few simple ingredients, simmered together in a saucepan. The Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce is sweetened with orange marmalade and a touch of honey. Orange and cranberry are a classic pairing with the sweet orange citrus cutting through some of the harsh tartness of the cranberries. A bit of ground ginger will add a hint of unexpected flavor and warmth to this simple yet beautiful sauce. If you're like me, you'll find yourself adding a bit of this jewel-colored cranberry sauce to every bite of turkey and stuffing at your Thanksgiving dinner.

15 min | Prep time: 5 min | Serves: 6
Ingredients:
CranberryOrangeGingerSauce2
  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries, washed
  • ⅔ cup Kroger Orange Marmalade
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • ¾ tsp. ground ginger
Directions:
CranberryOrangeGingerSauce4(2)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Allow the cranberry sauce to simmer on low, stirring frequently, until it becomes thickened and the cranberries have burst, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Cranberry sauce can be served warm or cold and can be made up to 2 days ahead.
    CranberryOrangeGingerSauce4

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Pistachio Shell Decorative Fall Candles

Pistachio Shell Decorative Fall Candles

Created by: Greggy Soriano, Greggy’s Digest

Here’s a chic DIY idea from blogger Greggy Soriano. It’s an original combination of a Glade candle and pistachio shells! You’ll have something healthy to snack on as you assemble these fragrant and fashionable holiday candles.

Tools:
  • 1 Apple Cinnamon Glade Candle
  • Half of a 1lb. bag of pistachios with shellsGlue gun
  • Glue sticks for the glue gun
  • Gold spray paint
  • Newspaper
  • 2 bowls
  • Ribbons in festive fall hues

Directions:
  1. Shell most of your pistachios, leaving some whole ones aside, and place pistachio shells in one bowl and pistachio nuts in another. The shells will serve as “petals.”
  2. Take a pistachio that isn't shelled and hot glue a petal to one side. (Work on a surface that's nonstick, such as a granite counter, stainless steel table or over a cookie pan if you don’t have a nonstick table or counter.)
  3. Add two more petals to completely surround the center, making your first flower.
  4. Continue to glue more petals, staggering and overlapping them. These flowers always look better with an odd number of petals in each row. Stop gluing when you reach your desired flower size. Eight petals is a good amount for a small flower.
  5. When you've completed your flowers, bring them outside, set over a newspaper and spray with gold spray paint – unless you prefer the natural look. Allow the flowers to dry.
  6. Wrap the base of your candle with layers of ribbon. Hot glue the ends of the ribbon to the back of the candle.
  7. Hot glue the flowers to the center of your ribbon and there you have it – a super-cute and easy fall decorative embellishment to dress up those yummy scented candles!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Pumpkin Mocha Fudge Brownies

Pumpkin Mocha Fudge Brownies

Created by: Cathy Pollak, Noble Pig

I love classic dessert recipes for Thanksgiving, I really do. Would it be Thanksgiving without Mom’s pumpkin layer cake or Aunt Gina’s apple and sweet potato pies? I can tell you right now, it wouldn’t, at least not at my house.

As the years pass, my family and I continue to dine on and enjoy those expected classic recipes, but I'm constantly changing it up with new and exciting fall desserts. I try to outdo myself every year, raising the bar a little bit higher. In fact, I'm now referred to as “queen of the dessert bar” by family, a title I take very seriously.

A very large sideboard resides in my great room, which I use as the display area for my dessert buffet. All the classics and family-favorite desserts make an appearance, but then I let creativity and inspiration from the season work its way into new and exciting recipes. Needless to say, lots of butter and sugar are always involved.

Some Thanksgiving holidays have included apple pie spice bars, caramel apple cupcakes and pumpkin pie-spiced whoopie pies, and this year will be the debut of Pumpkin Mocha Fudge Brownies. I could go on and on about how delicious they are, but just make them for yourself to find out.

I've done several test runs with this recipe, serving brownies up to kids, adults and anyone who is willing to taste. It's never difficult to find volunteers for this type of work. The verdict has been two thumbs up across the board, making them worthy of my Thanksgiving dessert bar extravaganza.

The added coffee and espresso powder turn up the chocolate, amplifying the dark chocolate notes in a really good way. It doesn't taste like coffee, but instead enhances the taste – coffee and chocolate share many of the same flavor profile characteristics. And we already know pumpkin and coffee pair well together. Sipping pumpkin-spiced lattes from our favorite cafés has become a fall tradition for so many of us.

Enjoy!

75 min | Prep time: 20 min | Serves: 36
Ingredients for the brownies:
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. plus ¾ cup butter, divided
  • 2¾ cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (85% cacao)
  • ¼ cup strongly brewed coffee
Ingredients for the icing:
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp. strongly brewed coffee
  • 1½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Spray the bottom and sides of a 13”x9” baking pan with cooking spray. Line with aluminum foil, letting the foil hang over the sides. Spray the top of the foil with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.
  3. Add the cream cheese and 1 tablespoon butter to the bowl of your stand mixer. Blend until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup sugar and mix well. Beat in the eggs, espresso powder, pumpkin puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.
  4. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Beat the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until fully combined. Set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining ¾ cup butter and chocolate over low heat. Stir constantly until melted. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Pour the chocolate mixture into the foiled and greased pan. Spoon the pumpkin mixture on top of the chocolate mixture. Using a butter knife, swirl the pumpkin mixture into the chocolate batter.
  6. Bake for 75 minutes or until the center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Use the foil to lift the cold, uncut brownies out of the pan.
    PumpkinMocha FudgeBrownies2
  7. To make the icing, add the confectioner's sugar, coffee and pumpkin pie spice to a small bowl. Stir until fully combined. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing over the uncut brownies. If the mixture is too thick for drizzling, add more coffee in ¼ tsp. increments. If the mixture is too thin, add more sugar in one tablespoon increments until the desired thickness is reached. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and let sit 15 minutes before slicing into 36 squares, 2” each.
  8. Place the cut brownies back into the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
    PumpkinMochaFudgeBrownies3

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Pumpkin Pie Buttermilk Skillet Cake

Pumpkin Pie Buttermilk Skillet Cake

Created by: Carrie Robinson, Frugal Foodie Mama

What's Thanksgiving dinner without the pumpkin dessert? I know most people traditionally think of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert, but you know what? I like cake. But I also love pumpkin pie.

So I thought, why not have my pie and my cake and eat it too? This Pumpkin Pie Buttermilk Skillet Cake has the flavor of the traditional pumpkin pie we all love, but in cake form.

If you've never baked a cake in a cast iron skillet, this moist and delicious cake is the perfect excuse to give it a go this Thanksgiving. I love baking in my cast iron skillet because it heats evenly and bakes evenly, resulting in a perfectly baked cake every time. It's just about foolproof.

Top slices of this spiced pumpkin cake with a dollop of your favorite whipped topping or homemade whipped cream. You and your Thanksgiving dinner guests will have the best of both worlds – pumpkin pie and cake in one.

45-55 minutes | Prep time: 15 minutes | Serves: 8
Ingredients:
PumpkinButtermilkSkilletCake2
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup Kroger Buttermilk
  • Whipped topping or whipped cream, for topping (optional)
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 325˚F.
    PumpkinButtermilkSkilletCake3
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light in color and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Beat until blended well, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, then stir in the buttermilk. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and mix well.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into a greased 12” cast iron skillet. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the center of the cake springs back when touched.
  5. Allow to cool until warm. Cut into 8 slices. Top with whipped topping or whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
    PumpkinButtermilkSkilletCake4

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Raspberry Sweet Rolls

Raspberry Sweet Rolls

Created by: Danielle Cheever, Envision Pretty

When everyone’s gathered in the house for the holidays, breakfast is a festive occasion. These raspberry sweet rolls from blogger Danielle Cheever of EnvisionPretty.com offer a fun and tangy twist to the typical morning sweet roll.

: 20 minutes | Prep time: 20 minutes | Serves: 8-10 | Yields: 1 serving each
Ingredients:

  • 2 cans (8 oz. each) Pillsbury Recipe Creations Crescents
  • 2 Tbsp. International Delight® White Chocolate Raspberry Coffee Creamer
  • 2 Tbsp. Simple Truth® Organic Granulated Sugar
  • 12 oz. frozen raspberries
  • ¼ cup seedless raspberry preserves
  • 1½ cups sugar (powder)
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Cover your working surface with a light dusting of flour.
  3. Roll out each package of crescent dough.
  4. Spread the raspberry preserves in a thin layer on top of the dough. Set aside.
  5. Pour the frozen raspberries into a bowl, sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top and toss to coat the raspberries.
  6. Place the coated raspberries on top of the layer of preserves on each piece of dough.
  7. Gently roll each piece of dough up to create a long log, with raspberries and preserves inside. Set aside.
  8. Coat a 12” round baking dish with cooking spray.
  9. Slice each log into 6 slices, about 1½” wide.
  10. Place all of the slices, cut side up, in the round pan. Space them so they are barely touching (they will expand when they cook).
  11. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  12. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, pour the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Sift to remove any clumps.
  14. Add the white chocolate raspberry creamer to the sugar and stir.
  15. Add the milk, creating a thin glaze.
  16. Glaze the rolls with the mixture, using a spoon or brush.
  17. Serve warm with optional topping of fresh raspberries.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Salt Dough Leaves

Salt Dough Leaves

Created by: Elisabeth McKnight, Bella the Blog

These easy salt dough leaves are a great way to get the kids involved with the Thanksgiving decor. Poke holes through them before baking to use them as napkin ties, or just scatter them across the table to add a bit of color.

For the basic salt dough leaves, you'll need equal parts salt and flour with a half part of water.

 
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 1 cup warm water
Directions:
  1. Combine the flour and salt. Add warm water and mix well.
  2. Using a rolling pin, roll out on a flat surface until it's about ¾” thick.
  3. Cut out desired shapes. Use a toothpick to create a small hole if you're using them for napkin ties.
  4. Bake at 200˚ F for 4 hours.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Paint with assorted acrylic paints if you like.

Saltleaf2

If you're using these to secure your napkins, thread a piece of twine through the hole and wrap it around your folded napkin, tying it in the back.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

Created by: Emily Caruso, Jelly Toast

Pumpkin spice vodka combined with creamy, rich hot chocolate results in an amazing dessert cocktail that the adults at your Thanksgiving gathering will celebrate. This festive recipe from foodie blogger Emily Caruso of JellyToastBlog.com is exactly what you need to toast the holidays. Cheers!

1 minute | Prep time: 3 minutes | Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients:
  • 3 oz. pumpkin spice flavored vodka
  • 12 oz. International Delight® Dark Chocolate Heat & Drink Hot Chocolate
  • ¼ cup frozen whipped topping (thawed)
  • 1 pinch pumpkin pie spice
Directions:
  1. Pour the hot chocolate into a microwave-safe, spouted container such as a measuring cup.
    PumpkinHotChocolate3
  2. Add the vodka and stir.
    PumpkinHotChocolate5
  3. Heat the mixture in the microwave until it reaches the desired temperature (approximately 1 minute, depending on your microwave).
  4. Pour into mugs and top with whipped topping. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice before serving.
    PumpkinHotChocolate6

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Maple Yogurt Sauce

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Maple Yogurt Sauce

Created by: Emily Caruso, Jelly Toast

Fall is my favorite time of year. From the colors, to the weather, to the food, there's nothing quite like it. As much as I adore the entire holiday season, Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart.

Thanksgiving is nestled into the heart of autumn, amidst the crisp fall leaves and cool, foggy mornings. In the Midwest, the weather has yet to turn bitterly cold, and warm sweaters, scarves and boots are usually all you need to stay cozy.

Planning a Thanksgiving meal in our family involves spreading the ideas and work around. The hostess – often my mom or sister-in-law – tackles the turkey, while the rest of my family brings dishes to share. The dishes and recipes change from year to year, but the types of dishes remain constant. Stuffing, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes are always welcome on our Thanksgiving table.

Growing up, sweet potatoes used to confuse me. Are they savory? Are they sweet? I just couldn't wrap my head around where they fit into the food world. As an adult, things have changed. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods, especially when the weather turns chilly. They're versatile and flow easily between savory and sweet recipes. They're so versatile, in fact, that they're the star of one of my favorite Thanksgiving appetizers: Sweet Potato Pancakes with Maple Yogurt Sauce.

The base of these pancakes is a simple mixture of shredded sweet potato, egg, flour, salt, pepper and Chesapeake Bay seasoning. Typically used on crabs, this seasoning is one of my favorites in the kitchen. I love sprinkling it on meats, as well as any type of sweet potato dish. Oven-baked sweet potato fries are kicked up a notch with a dash of this savory spice. These Sweet Potato Pancakes are no exception. The unique spice blend rounds out the sweetness of the potatoes wonderfully. A simple topping of Greek yogurt blended with a touch of maple syrup makes the perfect sweet and tart finish for these warm, crispy pancakes. I love finishing off these pre-dinner bites with a sprinkling of fresh sage leaves. Nothing seems more Thanksgiving than sweet potatoes and sage! Give these unique appetizers a try at your family’s Thanksgiving table.

15 minutes | Prep time: 10 minutes | Serves: 10 | Yields: 10 servings (2 pancakes each)

SweetPotatoPancake2

Ingredients:
  • 1 large sweet potato (about 1 lb.), shredded
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. Kroger Chesapeake Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup Kroger Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh Simple Truth Organic® Sage, thinly sliced (optional)
Directions:
SweetPotatoPancake3
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potato, egg, flour, Chesapeake Bay seasoning, salt and black pepper until well combined. Set aside.
    SweetPotatoPancake4
  2. Heat the olive oil in a straight-sided cast iron skillet over medium heat. Drop the potato mixture into the pan by the tablespoon and flatten slightly into a pancake shape. Cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until the second side is golden brown and the inside of the pancake has set. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt and maple syrup. Serve with the sweet potato pancakes and garnish with sage leaves.
    SweetPotatoPancakes5

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving Cheesy Onion Bread

Thanksgiving Cheesy Onion Bread

Created by: Ashley Torres, Pursuit of Shoes

Onions, cheese and bread, oh my! Talk about a delicious appetizer. Cheesy Onion Bread not only looks incredible, it tastes even better…making it perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday. Serve this recipe as an appetizer or pass it around the table during your turkey dinner. Either way, your guests will be satisfied!

25 minutes | Prep time: 15 minutes | Yields: 8 servings
Ingredients:
Cheesyonionbread2
  • 1 sourdough bread loaf
  • 8-16 oz. colby jack cheese, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup green onions, finely diced
Directions:
Cheesyonionbread3
  1. Cut the bread lengthwise and widthwise, making sure not to cut through the bottom.
    cheesyonionbread4
  2. Insert the cheese slices between the cuts.
    cheesyonionbread5
  3. Combine the butter and green onions to make a mix.
  4. Place the bread on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the butter and onion mixture over the bread.
  5. Wrap the bread loosely with foil and bake at 350˚ F for 15 minutes.
  6. Unwrap the bread and bake another 10 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Every ooey-gooey cheesy piece is delectable! Switch out the onions for garlic, or the colby jack cheese for mozzarella for an Italian twist. This is definitely one of those dishes that's best served warm. Enjoy!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Pumpkin French Toast with Almond Nog

Pumpkin French Toast with Almond Nog

Created by: Ashley Torres, Pursuit of Shoes

Is there anything better than French toast in the morning? How about pumpkin spice French toast with subtle undertones of eggnog? This lactose-free recipe from Ashley Torres of PursuitofShoes.com makes an amazingly festive breakfast that’s a treat for everyone at the table!

10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Serves: 6 | Yields: 12 slices
Ingredients:

  • 12 slices Texas toast
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1½ cups Silk® Almond Nog Pumpkin Spice
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. rum extract
  • Butter syrup, whipped cream and butter (optional)
Directions:
  1. Whisk the eggs, Silk Almond Nog Pumpkin Spice, eggs, nutmeg and rum extract in a mixing bowl until blended.
  2. Dip the bread into the mixture, coating both sides.
  3. Place the bread on a buttered griddle and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, then flip and cook the opposite sides until golden brown.
  4. Remove from the griddle and top with syrup, butter or whipped cream.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon, serve and enjoy!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving Gravy Hack

Thanksgiving Gravy Hack

Created by: Greggy Soriano, Greggy’s Digest

Want to know some hacks for making a flavor-packed gravy? You’re going to want to slather this on everything!

Nobody has time to have a rough night with a roux. Sometimes you have the problem of not enough drippings on the bottom of the roasting pan when you roast the turkey. Here’s a quick and easy way to boost that convenient packet of instant gravy into a culinary masterpiece!

10 min | Prep time: 5 min | Serves: 10 | Yields: 3 cups of gravy
Ingredients:
Gravyhack2
  • 1 packet Kroger Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 cup Private Selection™ Applewood Smoked Bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 can (10.5 oz.) P$$T…™ Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)
Directions:
Gravyhack3
  1. Chop and render the bacon in a deep skillet or saucepan. Cook until the bits of bacon are crisp and well done. This creates a “fond” on the bottom of the skillet. All the extra bits of cooked bacon and fat are left in the pan. Basically, all of the flavor and good stuff is in there.
  2. Remove a majority of the bacon pieces from the skillet. If you don’t mind the pieces in there, feel free to leave them. At this stage, if you want mushrooms in the gravy, sauté some sliced mushrooms into the bacon fat. Definitely keep this bacon and serve it on the side to put on your loaded baked potatoes or green bean casserole. Everybody loves bacon.
    GravyHack4
  3. Add a packet of brown gravy mix to your fond and prepare it according to the directions on the packet. It calls for 1 cup of water, but if you like your gravy a bit thinner or thicker, just add water to your liking.
  4. Add 1 can of cream of mushroom soup to the gravy and cook while whisking for 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter. This is a professional chef’s trick for making yummy, rich and glossy gravy. This method is called monte au beurre, meaning to mount or finish with butter.
  5. Serve and slather on your mashed potatoes, turkey and all the other fixin’s! Happy Thanksgiving!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Pumpkin Spice Frappe

Pumpkin Spice Frappe

Created by: Hannah Hagler, Champagne Lifestyle

This blended coffee drink from Hannah Hagler of ChampagneLifestyleBlog.com is certainly an upgrade from your typical morning cup of joe. It’s essentially pumpkin pie in a glass, and your whole family will love it.

5 minutes | Prep time: 60 minutes | Servings: 1
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups frozen coffee
  • 2½ Tbsp. International Delight® Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer, frozen in an ice cube tray
For Topping:
  • Cinnamon
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate syrup
Directions:
  1. Place cube of frozen coffee creamer in a blender.
    PumpkinSpiceFrappe4
  2. Add frozen coffee to blender.
  3. Pulse slowly until blended.
  4. Top with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and cinnamon.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving Pomander

Thanksgiving Pomander

Created by: Danielle Cheever, Envision Pretty

The holidays bring around special traditions every year. Decorating the Thanksgiving dinner table with a bowl of pomander – oranges with cloves – is something I've done every single year with my family. This is one of my favorite simple DIY projects that brings everyone together. The aromatic aftermath is simply amazing and the smell lingers for days!

Supplies:
  • Oranges
  • Private Selection™ Whole Cloves
  • Nails or toothpicks

Directions:
  1. Choose an orange and use it as a canvas! You can create any pattern for the cloves, or cover the entire fruit.
  2. Use a toothpick or a nail to create holes in the skin of the orange for the design or pattern you want.
    ThanksgivingPomander3
  3. Simply fill each hole with a whole clove.
  4. Repeat this process until you have a bowl full of clove-studded oranges!
  5. As an optional addition, you can tie ribbons on the oranges for added decorative flair.
    ThanksgivingPomander4

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

The Untraditional Apple Pie

The Untraditional Apple Pie

Created by: Ashley Torres, Pursuit of Shoes

An apple pie baked in apples – who would’ve thought? This recipe makes for a perfect Thanksgiving dessert that will “wow” your guests the second it comes out of the oven. Everyone expects apple pie on Turkey Day, but no one expects it to look like this!

45 minutes | Prep time: 15 minutes | Servings: 4
Ingredients:
Untraditionalapplepie2

  • 1 pie crust
  • 6 Granny Smith apples
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • Butter for flavor
Directions:
Untraditionalapplepie3
  1. Cut the tops off 4 apples and discard. Remove the inside of each apple with a spoon, similar to carving a pumpkin. Make sure not to puncture the apple peel.
  2. Remove the skin from 2 additional apples and slice very thinly. These will be the filling for the four baked apples.
  3. In a bowl, mix the sliced apples with sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Scoop the sliced apples into the hollows of the 4 other apples.
    Untraditionalapplepie4
  5. Cut the pie crust into strips and create lattice patterns over the top of the 4 apples. Brush tops with a little butter, if desired.
  6. Place the apples in an 8”x8” pan. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and bake at 375˚ F for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  8. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. Serve and enjoy!
    Untraditionalapplepie5

They look almost too good to eat, but you’ll definitely want to dive in while they’re warm!

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

Vegan “Meatloaf” with Fig Glaze

Vegan “Meatloaf” with Fig Glaze

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

While my family is all about turkey and ham for Thanksgiving, I have plenty of vegetarian friends who go meatless during holiday feasts. Vegan and vegetarian options may seem limited, but there is ample room for creating filling dishes that are both tasty and approachable.

The long list of ingredients may seem intimidating, but most of the items are regular household staples. The recipe itself is easy to prepare and turns out very flavorful and healthful. Packed with vegetables, this vegan loaf makes for an excellent meat replacement during the holidays or any time of year.

Made with brown rice, split peas, pecans, celery, spinach, carrots and mushrooms, this vegan loaf is filled with nutrients. You can use lentils to replace the split peas and can substitute a number of veggies for the ones listed. The fig glaze is so easy to prepare and makes for an excellent topping to this flavorful loaf.

Flax is used to replace eggs and bind this loaf together. It may sound strange, but when mixed with water, ground flax seed results in an egg-like consistency and helps bind together ingredients. Plus, flax seeds are filled with healthy omega fatty acids, adding more nutrients to this spectacular dish.

All you need to do to prepare the recipe is combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, transfer the mixture to a loaf pan and bake in the oven. Once the loaf cools, simply turn it out onto a cutting board and spread the fig glaze on top. Serve with your favorite holiday side dishes for a filling and healthful meal.

40 minutes | Cook time: 45 minutes | Serves: 4 | Yields: 8 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1½ cups cooked brown rice
  • 1½ cups cooked split peas
  • ¼ cup Kroger Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Kroger Balsamic Vinegar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup Kroger Raw Pecan Pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • ½ cup water, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1-2 tsp. sea salt, to taste
  • 2 oz. baby spinach
Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. fig preserves
  • ¼ cup ketchup
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly oil a 9”x5” loaf pan.
    VeganMeatloaf2
  2. Add the cooked brown rice, cooked split peas, tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, all-purpose flour, raw pecans and dried cranberries to a large mixing bowl.
    VeganMeatloaf3
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the ground flax seed with the water. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This mixture will thicken substantially and will have an egg-like consistency after it sits.
  4. In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add the chopped onion and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and celery has softened, about eight minutes.
  5. Add the chopped mushrooms, grated carrot, minced garlic, oregano, thyme, cayenne and sea salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the baby spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Remove the sautéed vegetables from the heat and allow them to cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Pour the flax “egg” mixture into the mixing bowl with the rice and split peas. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to the mixing bowl. At this point, all of the ingredients for the “meatloaf” will be in the mixing bowl. Stir everything together until well-combined.
  9. Transfer the “meatloaf” mixture to the prepared loaf pan and pat it down into an even layer. Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until loaf has firmed up in the center and is golden-brown around the edges. Allow loaf to cool 20 minutes.
  10. While the “meatloaf” is cooling, whisk together the ketchup and fig preserves for the glaze. Turn the loaf out onto a cutting board, then spread the glaze over the top. Cut thick slices and serve.
    VeganMeatloaf4

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast

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