Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner With The Cherry On Top

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I'm on the hunt for some delicious recipes as I start planning our meal.  I'll be using a couple of tried and true recipes as well.  If you are new to The Cherry On Top, then I welcome you with open arms to wholesome, delicious, family approved meals that require very little fuss and won't cost much either.  I've also got some sweet FREE printables for you at the bottom of the blog.

Thanksgiving is always a bit tricksy to pull from Belgium, but it's growing easier and easier.  Cranberries are easily found now and sweet potatoes are popping up  more and more as well.  Yay!  Fresh corn on the cob is still a bit challenging, but I've found a store (Del Haize/Food Lion) where they do carry it often.  At least the canned corn is not such a challenge to find.

The turkey can be ordered, but shoo wee!  It is three times the price to a nice bird in The States.  I pay $50 for a bird that feeds 6 people and I have to order it in advance from a special place.  One can find a turkey for Christmas dinner in select grocery stores.  I've already made a large, whole, fresh chicken in the place of a turkey when found in a tight spot.  If turkey isn't your thing, then consider baking a whole chicken.

Let's begin with a Cherry basic and that's healthy.  Everything you find here is pretty good if not awesome for you.  I rarely to never give recipes with a lot of sugar or packaged, processed want to be food.  It's always the real deal.  Obesity, diabetes, cancer and so many other illnesses can be cured or at the very least, vanish symptoms  through a good diet and The Cherry always considers this when when posting and sharing recipes.

Relatively fast and easy is also something The Cherry focuses on.  The meals you find here are great for busy families and this blog entry is no different.  I'm using all easy to very easy recipes for the special feast.

Let's get started!

I don't often entertain guests, but when I do they can expect fresh, healthy meals that fills the plate and the stomach.  I'm not into a half dozen courses.  My guests are lucky if they get 3!  Don't get all caught up in a fancy, drawn out dinner if you're not into it.  Keep it simple.  I also deal with a culture clash at times.  Being from America, I like a meal with all of the goods sitting on the table and everyone helps themselves and Thanksgiving will be no different.  Your meal will turn out its best when you do it the way YOU want to.  It doesn't have to be fancy or picture perfect, just as long as it tastes good.

The Starter:

I rarely serve an appetizer, but when the guests come, the living room table is full of finger food.  Sometimes chips and pretzels or olives and cheese and often sliced meats.  These elements have no preparation except putting it in a bowl.  Fast, easy and no problem to find at nearly any store.
I was perusing Pinterest and came across this beautiful image which I think epitomises an awesome starter for your Thanksgiving feast.

 cheese platter

You can click on the image to get to where I found this beauty.  Olives, bread sticks, nuts, fresh fruit, cheese and some thinly sliced meat.  Perfect!  Once again, very simple.  Place the ingredients on a large platter, serving tray or cutting board.  Consider smoked salmon, too.  Put the smaller ingredients in small dishes.  Have napkins and utensils on the table as well.  That's it!  No cooking required and ready in minutes.  Here's another idea for a make ahead starter that also requires no cooking, but it does have a bit of preparation.  Add some olives and cherry tomatoes to this platter, too.

This year, my husband will be smoking the turkey.  That's a total score for me.  If you've got help, use it!  Thanksgiving dinner is a big task.  Put the family to use.  If you're partner is into cooking, let them help.  I've found to help with this, I give my husband explicit directions and a recipe or give him enough notice for him to find his own.  He loves firing up the grill.  Thank goodness for that!  Have the kids help set the table and even participate in the cooking.  The experience is very educational and it's a way for you to be actively together with your family, working as a team.  Major score!

The Bird:

If you will bare the burden of the bird, then check out the following illustration I got from All Recipes.  Baking the bird is not difficult at all, but it does require a bit of attention.

If you need more help than the chart, then click on this delicious looking image for complete directions on how to cook a turkey from start to finish.  (I don't have the roasting rack it mentions.  If you don't have it, no worries.  Carry on as normal.)


What sides you choose to make is all up to you and how far you want to go and who it is your are entertaining.  Think of the likes and dislikes of your guests as well as what you are prepared to make. As usual, I'm going for the easy bill.  Sides this year will include, canned corn, sweet potatoes, cooked carrots, stuffing, cranberry sauce, biscuits and gravy.

If you want to do even less and I often do this too, is wash and cut potatoes, carrots, celery and onion and place them in the pan with the turkey.  That's it!!!  Consider your timing here.  They need at least an hour to cook through.

If you would like to check out other options, click on the image below for more side ideas.


Make the day before:

TIP: You could prep your veggie tray the day ahead and you could choose veggies that don't need preparation to save time.  Olives, cherry tomatoes, artichoke or buy them all ready if need be.

The Cranberry Sauce:  If you've never made your own cranberry sauce, you're gonna give yourself a forehead slap once you make this recipe.  I had no idea just how unbelievably easy it is to make.  I surfed the net and could not find my recipe or one as easy, so I made another recipe card.  Add it to your collection!  There are only 3 ingredients in this baby!

This recipe linked below is from the Pioneer Woman.  It sounds great, too and doesn't have any sugar in it.


The Stuffing:  I never liked my mom's stuffing as a kid, but find myself making one very similar to hers these days.  I chop my onions and garlic very fine because I do not like chunky onions and neither do my kids.  Go figure?!  Hehehe...I add mushrooms because they make an awesome moist maker.  You can add apples, cranberries, nuts...

You can totally make this ahead of time!  Just save the baking for the day of the feast.  It'll need nearly an hour in the over to heat through.

Here is a very basic, delicious recipe for you on a handy card, again.


Since, I'm already doing quite a bit of cooking this year, I'm keeping dessert easy. I've chosen a recipe that I can make ahead. Yay!  It's also something not at all common in Belgium, so it will be a special treat for my guests.  In Belgium they eat pumpkin in soup and non sweet recipes.  I often do not mention that my dessert is with pumpkin. They always end up loving it.  This is a no bake pumpkin cheese cake recipe.  The image is linked up to the recipe.


Just in case, there are no takers, I've got some ice-cream cake in the freezer.  Hehehe...

You could make the biscuits the day before.  I like'm fresh and hot from the oven which needs to be on for your bird and stuffing anyway.

The biscuits:  I've been making biscuits for a couple of years now and I've found Paula Deen's recipe to be, BY FAR the best recipe.  Let me get one thing straight. If you've never made your own biscuits from scratch, they ain't all that easy.  It takes a bit of time and experimenting, but Man!  They are worth the work and they are always a favourite at any meal.  Biscuits are not made here in Belgium.  Biscuits are cookies here.  Hehehe...

Two tips I'll lend here are, if the dough is really sticking to your hands when mixing, then add more flour until it doesn't.  Also, flour to whatever you are using as your biscuit cutter.  I use a rocks glass.  Ha!


The Sweet Potatoes:  I make my sweet potato mash just like my regular mashed potatoes and sometimes even mix potatoes and sweet potatoes in the mash..  Here's an awesome recipe very similar to mine.  I just don't add the nutmeg or cinnamon because my hubby hates it and not everyone is a fan of those spices.  Keeping this in mind, I'd rather err to simplicity.  Click on the image for the recipe.


The Carrots:  I found this carrot recipe on Pinterest which looks nearly perfect.  I'll be omitting the brown sugar.  Carrots on their own are pretty sweet and the honey will add enough for us. I love the site where this recipe comes from.  Scroll through and see all of the fabulous dishes there.  I often use them myself!

 cooked carrots
The Corn:  If I have enough space on my stove top, I'll heat up my canned corn in just a couple of tables spoons of water, until it is heated through.  Save this part for the very last. Heat it up while you are making your gravy.  It won't take, but a couple of minutes.  Empty into a serving dish and top with some butter if you like.  (I leave butter off of mine and have butter on the table so the guests can add it to what they like.)  If space is an issue, pour the corn in your serving dish and heat it up in the microwave right before serving.

The Gravy:  Here's a recipe really similar to mine.  It's pretty easy, too.  A note:  You don't HAVE to use the juices from your turkey, but of course it lends some awesome flavour to your dish.  I use the juices from my vegetables, too.


I didn't even touch on beverages.  I'll take care of that on the Pinterest board, link below.  I'll be serving, water, home made sweet tea and my guests are binging the wine.  The Thanksgiving Board has several lovely, festive drinks on there and I'll add a great recipe for sweet tea.

Wow!  How about it?!  Your entire meal is all planned out for you.  Print or save all of the recipes, get yourself a list together and get cook'n!  Make them something special and enjoy your fabulous meal with family friends. 

Hey!  Why don't you visit my Thanksgiving Board on Pinterest?!  I've got activities for the kid's, decor ideas, more handy cooking and organising charts for the big day and...Just go check it out!  Here are some things you will find there.




Happy Thanksgiving!

(Visit older posts for more easy recipes and more free collectible recipe cards.)

Here are four FREE printables to help make the table beautiful.  Head to the blog I created to download these and get the tutorial if you need it.

 tot free download

 tcot free download

 tcot free download

 tcot free download

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