baked turkey with full apples on a white platter

Thanksgiving. I love the holiday. And I’ll confess, I’m totally, 100% in it for the turkey. Love it the day of and for days afterward. Mmm, yes, I love me some turkey. Better yet, I love me some tender, juicy turkey smothered in mustard and sandwiched in a soft dinner roll.

Over the past few years, I’ve detailed some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. I like to stick with what we think of as the classics and not go overboard. I’m not crazy about spending three days before, pulling an all-nighter, and slaving away in the kitchen the day-of. Simple, traditional and straight up good food (and lots of it!).

This year, we’ll be celebrating with my brother and his family who gloriously moved within 30 minutes of us recently. Below is the tentative plan for what we’ll be devouring. You’ll see a few of the old stand-bys (with links to the recipes) as well as some new recipes that I’ve been wanting to try (if they haven’t been tested and tried, I haven’t linked to them but you may seem them pop up in the next few weeks as I experiment!). Also, check below the menu for my tips on what recipes can be prepared ahead!

If you haven’t already planned your Thanksgiving menu (and seriously, it only speaks to my insane nerdiness that I actually have), I hope you’ll gain some inspiration for your meal. If you already have it all planned out – please share! What’s on your menu?

*Note: I’ve never forged into the realm of appetizers for Thanksgiving but I love the idea and am going for it this year. I may or may not decide it was a bad idea. I’ll keep you posted.*
Pretzel Crisps with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Blue Cheese and Bacon Deviled Eggs
Bruschetta (classic or maybe a fruit variety)

Citrus Water Punch

Main Course
Roasted Brined Turkey
Perfect Turkey Gravy
Possibly this Slow Cooker Maple and Brown Sugar Ham also (we always had turkey and ham at Thanksgiving growing up and it makes for some good leftovers)

My Favorite Stuffing (Celery Herb Stuffing)
Green Bean Casserole (Make-Ahead!) or Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon
Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (my favorite mashed potatoes in all the world)
Cheesy Cauliflower Bake or Spinach Gratin
Honey Lime Fruit Salad or Creamy 5-Cup Fruit Salad
Lion House Dinner Rolls or Buttery Cornmeal Crescent Rolls (with lots of extras for…you guessed it…leftovers!)

*We shall not be enjoying all of these desserts (too much work for my lazy bones!) but I haven’t narrowed the list down sufficiently so I’m including all the options at this point.*
Bittersweet Chocolate Torte
Blue-Ribbon Apple Pie
Old-Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie
Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Cheesecake

Make-Ahead Tips
Citrus Water Punch can be made ahead 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated (add lemons and limes just before serving to avoid a bitter taste).
Stuffing cubes can be toasted the day before and the stuffing assembled the morning of Thanksgiving.
Green Bean Casserole components can be made and frozen up to 2 months in advance.
Mashed Potatoes (any recipe, really) can be made the day before or morning of and reheated and/or kept warm in a slow cooker the day of.
Both the Cauliflower Bake and the Spinach Gratin can be assembled the night before (don’t sprinkle on the bread crumbs for the cauliflower until ready to bake) or morning of and refrigerated until ready to bake.
The Creamy 5-Cup Fruit Salad benefits from being made a few hours in advance and refrigerated.
The rolls can be made, shaped, placed on the baking sheet and covered with greased plastic wrap the night before. Refrigerate overnight and take the rolls out about 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on the warmth of your kitchen) before you want to bake them to let them come to room temperature and double before baking. I like to bake the rolls the morning of Thanksgiving and keep them covered with a towel to stay tender – it helps free up oven space later in the day.