The Soft Thanksgiving Menu Plan: Countdown to Turkey Day November 5, 2012

Heather says:

To make creating your Thanksgiving Menu Easier, I have a handy Thanksgiving Menu Printable. This printable has three columns, one for your ideal Thanksgiving menu, a second for your planned guests’ ideal menu -I assume you have some idea of what the people you will be serving expect- and the third column is the great compromise that will be your Thanksgiving holiday menu.

Got it?

Do your holiday meals feel well put together or do they more often seem to resemble a potluck mishmash of flavors?

While you are sitting down to plan your Thanksgiving menu try to keep a specific palette of flavors on your table rather than grabbing any old recipe just because it looks good.

This year for the great-pre-Turkey Day extravaganza I actually created two entirely separate menus. Why? Well there may have been a family uprising if I didn’t serve the expected menu, but I’m looking to expand the holiday recipes available here on Home-Ec 101 and so I went with an Italian American theme for this year’s recipes.

This year’s Italian-American theme consisted of (the recipes are coming, don’t worry):

  • Antipasti -recipe contributed by my good friend and go-to for all things Italian, Stephanie Coccaro-Smith of MoreCaffeineStudios. This dish is served to keep the circling vultures *ahem* less-helpful guests away from the kitchen.
  • turkey -brined in apple cider, parsley, lemon, peppercorns, and salt
  • shallot rosemary gravy
  • mushroom risotto
  • sausage stuffed mushrooms
  • tri-color roasted potatoes with rosemary and parmesan
  • brussels sprouts with prosciutto and parmesan
  • butternut squash with rosemary and balsamic

Do you notice the way the flavor of one recipe relates to at least one other recipe and how they all fall under what many would call an Italian family of flavors? This creates a flow to the meal, one dish complements another avoiding the potluck syndrome.

My usual Thanksgiving menu has a Southern / Cajun theme which you can find on this Google Spreadsheet:

The Cajun seasoning of the turkey also appears in the sausage of the cornbread dressing. The sausage is also used to flavor the collard greens. I swapped out the usual pecans for almonds in the apple, sage, cranberry dressing to tie it with both the broccoli salad and the green beans.  Cranberries are in the cranberry sauce -surprise!- the apple, sage, cranberry dressing, and in the broccoli salad.  Now keep in mind that this flow of flavor works best if there is a variety of textures in the menu. Crisp turkey skin, contrasts with soft dressing, or crisp tender green beans next to the soft-baked, rich feel of the apples in the other dressing.

Is this flow of flavor making sense or should I explain further? Let me know in the comments.

If your menu is vegetarian, I’ve got some resources from other Home-Eccers just for you:

Last year a Home Ec 101 reader asked for some vegetarian Thanksgiving ideas and you, the Home Ec 101 community had some fabulous suggestions. Here are a few of my favorites from that post:

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving from Cheap Healthy Good (fabulous site) suggested by Milehimama

Mark Bittman’s 101 Thanksgiving Side Dishes -not all of these are vegetarian, but Bittman is a go-to for ideas in my world, suggested by Alice Dick

101 Cookbook’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving suggested by Leigh Webber

Mother Earth News A Vegetarian Thanksgiving suggested by CJ McD

What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipe resources?



  1. Deneicer on November 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    When I was growing up my family would have a traditional Thanksgiving meal. However, we all got tired of two ‘Thanksgiving’ meals come Christmas. So, we started a fun tradition. We chose a different culture for each Christmas. Some Christmases were Chinese foods, Mexican foods, Italian foods, etc. Yep… we had enchiladas, potstickers and lasagna on Christmas DAY! It was awesome for everyone to bring an ‘ethnic’ themed dish and really enjoy a wonderful selection.

    No one seemed to mind!


    i LOVE that you chose to do an ‘Italian’ theme!

  2. Annette on November 5, 2012 at 9:44 am

    That anti-pasti platter looks incredible! Is there a recipe? Is it all tossed with a dressing of some sort? Help me make that for my family! 🙂
    And thanks for a great idea!

    • Heather Solos on November 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      Yep, I’ll be sharing it soon. It’s mostly just assembly.

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