Your Thanksgiving Menu and What You Have to be Thankful For

We are home for Thanksgiving. Home as in I’m here in my house and not in the hospital with my six-year-old son, Kjell, which is a blessing in and of itself. Holidays in the hospital are never ideal. That said, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for doctors who react quickly and carefully, ensuring that my son is happy and whole this holiday season.

I’m also thankful for all of the people in this wonderful online community, the friends I’ve made, the people who prayed and sent well wishes, kind words and so much more. I’m thankful for all of you for being there for us in spirit, even when you couldn’t be physically. We are amazed and touched and grateful. We are humbled this Thanksgiving for all the love that has been poured out on us.

And because no day would be complete without food to nourish the body, I’m thankful for all the aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings who are bringing food to our family Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Here is what I am looking forward to.
All photos by Shaina

My Thanksgiving Menu Favorites

Turkey | I really can’t imagine Thanksgiving without turkey, though it existed for me for seven years. It seems so central to the meal, and why not? Their large size makes it easy to serve one bird to many, and it’s also economical when you break it down. We tried a mustard-crusted bird out earlier that stole the show.

Dressing/Stuffing | In the dressing versus stuffing debate, Aimée and I agree on the “out of the bird” philosophy. I know my aunts will have both stuffed with giblets and the “made on the stove-top” variety, so I will be diving into the latter. Hopefully it will be divine.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy | I prefer mine with plenty of roasted garlic and Parmesan cheese. My sister likes hers doused with gravy and eaten with the turkey. My dad can be found heaping it all together along with the cranberry sauce. Speaking of which…

Cranberries | From cranberry sauce to cranberry relish to cranberry salsa, tangy cranberries pair perfectly with the rich Thanksgiving fare. We made a salsa with oranges and pomegranates to serve either with the turkey or on toast pieces as a bruschetta.

Sweet Potatoes | Since I’m not bringing them this year, sweet potato casserole will not make an appearance, but I know they’ll represent still at the Thanksgiving table. Lucky for me, I like them multiple ways. So, topped with marshmallows, candied or twice baked, I’m looking forward to digging in tomorrow.

Green Bean Casserole | A long-time favorite of my husband’s, this needs to be on the table for him every year. We are still planning on bringing ours because, well, that way we avoid canned green beans and soup and go the from-scratch route. Onions baked with panko top ours. It’s much more complex that way, and Ole considers it life changing.

Desserts | Okay, so I am all about the dessert, and frankly, not so much the pumpkin pie portion. I’m considering pulling together another apple pie cheesecake for the occasion, and my mom will be showing up with pecan and French silk. Don’t worry, though, the purists at our family dinner will have pumpkin available too, topped with homemade whipped cream that’s been spiked with a bit of ground cardamom for an extra punch.

What are you eating for Thanksgiving tomorrow? Do you have a big meal planned? Is it immediate family only, or maybe you skip the meal and head to the theater or your favorite restaurant? And don’t forget to check out all the fun stuff you can do with those Thanksgiving leftovers!

About Shaina

Shaina Olmanson is the home cook and photographer behind Food for My Family, where she shares recipes, tips, opinions and her philosophy on food as she wades through the process of feeding her family, her friends and anyone else who will let her. She strives to teach her four children how to eat well: seasonally, locally, organically, deliciously and balanced.

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  1. Thank you for sharing these great links! Love having healthier versions of the classics. Bookmarked!

    Our tradition is to have a leg of lamb (no lectures please) because my husband grew up with it and we love it too, once or twice a year still. My every-single-year contributions are Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Apple Chutney, Quiche Lorraine, and Pumpkin Cheesecake. My husband does all the rest!!! :)

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  2. Our Thanksgiving has always meant going home to hunt, and visiting my husband’s family for an extended weekend. We usually have a large family reunion on Saturday that’s a Thanksgiving potluck. On Sunday, a no hunting day, we have our intimate Thanksgiving dinner with his siblings, parents, and grandparents. We don’t have Thanksgiving on Thursday or Friday because the rest of our family is out celebrating with their in-laws or hunting. They are so sick of Turkey by the time Sunday rolls around that we usually have a large grilled Salmon or Pork Loin!

    My family lives so far away, we don’t get enough time off to join them, but they are strict Thursday celebrators! I don’t envy some of my relatives who have to attend 2 or more dinners in one day!

  3. I’m so excited to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family! We’ll probably have: turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams (not my fave), stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, rolls, pecan pie, apple pie, cherry pie, pumpkin pie, and some sort of chocolate mousse pie (for my uncle who’s hosting). We have a BIG family, so there’s always a ton of food being cooked!

  4. Great links and options, Shaina. I’m so thankful your son is home! Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. I think WE are the lucky ones Shaina… you are an inspiration and blessing to this community!! And on top of your huge heart and endless compassion, you have GREAT taste in food!!

    Continued prayers and blessings-

  6. Wonderful round-up, Shaina! Thanks so much for linking to my twice-baked sweet potatoes. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of family and friends.

  7. We are having a traditional Thanksgiving meal with just our family this year. Thanks for all of the great recipes. Kelly

  8. Great post. I love all the links-good resource!

  9. Shaina – I am so relieved that you are home for the holiday. You do have a lot to be thankful for, and it certainly puts all aspects of our lives into perspective. I feel blessed to count you as a friend and keep pouring the good wishes on Kjell’s speedy recovery.

    I am bringing mashed sweet potatoes – it is one of those dishes that they request of me every year. My husband loves marshmallows on his, but I prefer caramelized apples or pecans on mine. Looks like I’ll have to do a dish of each :-)

  10. You amaze me, Shaina – showing all this Thankfulness in the midst of what your family is going through with Kjell. I love you. Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow, hopefully void of any trips to the ER!

  11. So glad you are home, Shaina, and that you have family to pour on the loving for you this Thanksgiving.

    Blessings to you, Kjell, and all the family!

  12. those photos are mouth-watering!

  13. Breville800JEXL says:

    Wow, this is so yummmmmy!!!
    Though we don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving here in the Philippines, we do love eating so many foods esp. on holidays!!…Happy Thanksgiving Shaina. :)

  14. So thankful that you all are home and on the road to recovery! What a blessing!

  15. I want to directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates, but I cant find it, do you have one?

  16. Shaina – Thank you for such a wonderful post. I am so inspired by your thankfulness despite a rough time. I can definitely learn a thing or two from you since I have been feeling less-than-thankful for a few things lately.

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