It's less than a week until Thanksgiving, our second Thanksgiving actually. Then there will be a third... I don't know if we've figured out how we're going to pace ourselves yet but luckily I never tire of turkey and cranberry sauce. We've been in holiday mode for weeks after working on vegan side dishes, and since we haven't ever made the full on Thanksgiving meal ourselves it just seemed right to dive in and have a big get together with lots of friends and way too much food. This time last year we were busy putting together a Christmas Brunch for Foodie Crush magazine. I'm still shocked that we managed to keep a Christmas tree alive from mid-November to January.

Last Sunday, after multiple trips to the grocery store, two prep days and some midnight pie baking, our Friendsgiving meal managed to come together as seamlessly as we had hoped. It was a whirlwind for sure. Cooking for 15 people is a feat in itself, and of course we had to add an extra challenge and make a dozen different things. I think it hit me around 12:15 AM as I was taking the apple pie out of the oven that maybe we had bit off more than we could chew. Or maybe it was when Robert went back to Wegmans for the third time to get a turkey breast to wrap with prosciutto for good measure. Either way, on Sunday afternoon, after everyone arrived and we had a couple glasses of wine I realized that however hectic it had been it was the most fun we've ever had planning a menu. I've included a handful of our favorite recipes below, I hope they inspire your upcoming holiday menu if you need any last minute ideas. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Sage Rubbed Turkey
Serves 10-12

14 lb turkey, thawed rinsed and patted dry
1/2 stick butter
1 cup loosely packed sage leaves
1 lemon, halved
2 stalks celery
1 small onion, halved
sea salt and cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 450°. Starting at the cavity of the turkey, gently work your hands between the meat and the skin of the bird. When it has been loosened, rub butter and stuff sage leaves in between turkey meat and skin. Generously salt and pepper the outside skin of the turkey. Before roasting, place lemon, onion, and celery into cavity of turkey. Place bird in large roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and continue cooking until a thermometer inserted into the thigh of the turkey reads 160° (approximately 2.5 hours but time will vary depending on your oven). When finished cooking, remove turkey from roasting pand and place on cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Carve and serve.

download printable recipe here

the Best Mashed Potatoes
adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 12-14

5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2'' chunks
1 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2'' chunks
1 stick unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large dutch oven and fill with cold water until potatoes are covered. Season liberally with salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cover until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove potatoes to drain and set aside to cool. Empty dutch oven of remaining water and bring back to stove. In dutch oven over simmering heat, warm 1/2 stick of butter. As this is melting, pass potatoes through ricer. After all potatoes are returned to the pot, gently fold in remaining butter, milk and heavy cream. Season with additional salt and pepper.

download printable recipe here

Spicy Quick Pickle Brine
Makes approximately 4 cups brine, enough for 2 large jars

2 cups water
1.5 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs kosher salt
2 tbs pickling spice
4 cloves garlic
1 tbs crushed red pepper flake

In a medium saucepan, combine water, vinegars, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Pour brine into jars, making sure to cover vegetables. Add garlic cloves, pickling spice and red pepper flake. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.

download printable recipe here

Balsamic Pomegranate Relish
adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 4

1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 shallot, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 cup mint, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine pomegranate seeds, shallot, vinegar, lemon juice and zest, and mint in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

download printable recipe here

Sausage + Sage Stuffing
adapted from Serious Eats
serves 12-14

1 loaf white sandwich bread (oven dried, or left out to dry)
1 loaf crusty french country bread (oven dried, or left out to dry)
1 lb sage sausage, casing removed
2 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/4 stick butter
4 cups turkey broth
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut loaves of bread into a roughly 3/4'' dice. Set bread aside. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter and sauté sausage, stirring and breaking up chunks until mostly cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add onions, celery, garlic, and cook until softened, about 8 minutes more. Remove from heat and pour turkey broth into mixture. Arrange diced bread into 2 greased 9x13 dishes. Slowly pour contents of dutch oven over the bread, dividing evenly between the two dishes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until top is well browned, about 10-15 minutes more.

download printable recipe here

Cranberry Muffins
makes 12

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup fat-free milk
12 oz fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350° and prepare a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and milk until smooth.  Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir until just combined, fold in cranberries. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin and bake for about 20 minutes, until the muffins are cooked through and the edges have browned.

download printable recipe here

Baked Mushroom Risotto (vegan)
adapted from the Kitchn
serves 12

1/2 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
4 cups boiling water
2 large onions, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 large sprigs rosemary
2 cubs Arborio rice
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300°. Rinse dried mushrooms and place in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over to rehydrate and set aside. In a large, oven safe dutch oven over medium flame, heat olive oil. Cook onions and garlic until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add portobello mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes without stirring, allowing for them to brown. Drain dried mushrooms and reserve liquid. Add rehydrated mushrooms and rosemary to dutch oven, stirring and sautéing briefly to combine. Add the rice and cook until it begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn flame to high and deglaze pan with red wine, taking care to scrape the brown bits. Add mushroom liquid, broth and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover dutch oven and bake in oven for 35 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

download printable recipe here

Skillet Cornbread
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg
1 cup fat-free milk
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey 

Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the egg and milks together until well blended and pour over dry ingredients. Stir to incorporate. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a 10" cast iron skillet, stirring to coat all sides. Remove from heat and pour in batter. Drizzle honey over top and bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the center is cooked through. 

download printable recipe here


Arugula Salad with Roasted Delacata Squash, Avocado and Pomegranate
serves 12-14

2 delicata squash, halved, seeds removed
12 cups baby arugula
1 avocado, sliced
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Slice squash into thin segments and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange squash on a baking sheet and roast until well browned and caramelized, flipping once, about 15 minutes. Remove squash and set aside to cool.

While squash is cooling, fill a large salad bowl with arugula. Top with sliced avocado, pomegranate seeds and squash. Toss with pomegranate ginger vinaigrette and serve.

Pomegranate Ginger Vinaigrette
makes 1.5 cups

1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a small nonreactive bowl, combine pomegranate juice, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar. Grate garlic and ginger directly into bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Slowly pour in olive oil while whisking to emulsify dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

download printable recipe here