Thanksgiving Menu 2014

It’s almost here!

Eatwhateveryouwantday…I mean Thanksgiving.

So who’s coming? My 2 sisters and their husbands. My 2 nephews. My 2 brothers (one is bringing a girlfriend I haven’t met!). My Mom. My fiance and son. I can’t wait to see everyone! The only partial bummer is that we have to wait to have Thanksgiving until Friday because my sister Angela has a fire-fighter husband 🙂

The not bummer at all is that my new house has a second fridge. It’s SO frivolously wonderful not have one fridge sopackedthatyoucantshutthedoor! We’re living the good life I tell you!!


Veggie Tray with ranch dip. This is a must in our family. We eat on this ALL afternoon.

Thyme and Garlic baked Camembert. To be served with misc crackers and pita.


Baked ham.

Roasted turkey. Butter under the skin (lots!). Rosemary, thyme, garlic and onion stuffed.

Arugula salad with beets, blue cheese, walnuts and shallots. Oil/vin dressing.

Mashed potatoes. Whole milk, butter…the norm.

Stuffing. Whole Foods organic in the bag kind. Dressed up with celery, onion, fennel and shiitake mushrooms.

My sister Angela’s fab 5 cheese mac-n-cheese.

Mom is bringing sweet potato casserole, collard greens and maybe something else.


Candied Pecans.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Oat Pecan Crust. Whipped cream!

My sister Angela and my Mom will both bring surprise desserts to share.

I’ll take some follow up pics so you can see how awesomely amazing everything turned out!!!

Thanksgiving Menu 2013

There were a total of 17 family members at our Thanksgiving table this year! My sister Angela, her husband Troy and their 2 children. My sister Zandria and her fiance Paul from Buffalo. My Mom. My 2 brothers. My Aunt Annette and her fiance G.K….and her daughter Jacquelyn and her new husband Shawn. My Dad. And the three of us!

Zandria and I:

Zandria and I

Isaac, Ben and Devin:

Isaac, Ben and Devin

G.K., our dog Walter and Travis (I’m pretty sure this was after they ate!):

GK, Walter and travis

I went by this checklist as I was cooking (which started on Tuesday!).

my menu checklist

Thanksgiving Menu:


  • mini crab cakes
  • Plate of Baked brie w/ misc crackers
  • veggies/dip tray

Main meal:

  • Cornbread stuffing with fennel, celery, onions and shiitake mushrooms
  • Butternut squash, goat cheese and mushroom risotto
  • Marinated carrots
  • Cauliflower and potato mash w/ buttermilk
  • Roasted brussel sprouts
  • A 23 pound Turkey: followed these instructions. I added tons of rosemary, lemon, salt, pepper and buttered under the skin and on top before roasting!
  • gravy
  • Roasted Cabernet and Citrus Cranberry Sauce
  • 5 cheese mac-n-cheese (my sister Angela)
  • Sweet potato casserole (Aunt Annette)
  • Collard greens (Mom)
  • Yeast rolls (Mom)


Grandma's pound cake

  • Grandma’s pound cake (sorry – secret fam recipe! And it’s baked in a cast iron bundt pan!!)
  • Pumpkin Oatmeal White Choc Chip Cookies (Angela)
  • Pies: Buttermilk, pumpkin and sweet potato (Mom)
  • chocolate cherry cake and buttermilk pie (Aunt Annette)

*All made by me unless noted otherwise.

Secret Sauce Turkey Chili

diced onion and garlic and local ground turkey

I know this might sound silly but I do think this chili is worthy of the “secret sauce” title I gave it. I was browsing the cupboards and spotted the diced green chilies which I usually add to white chicken chili. When I opened the green chilies they reminded me of green salsa verde that was open in the fridge so I decided to add that too.

I think the heat of the chilies and the tang of the salsa verde made this chili unique annnnddddd…I think worthy of a chili cooking challenge or cook-off. Our neighborhood had a get-together around Christmas and they needed at least 10 people to bring chili. One person thought it would funny to buy a lot chili from Wendy’s, add it to a crockpot and call it theirs (they owned up to it later when a few people said it tasted like Wendy’s!). I’ll have to make this chili of our neighborhood has the same event this year!

Use good organic ingredients

If you win any awards with my chili recipe all I want in return is a comment on my blog thanking me! hahahaha!

Secret sauce turkey chili

Secret Sauce Turkey Chili

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.3 pounds ground turkey (preferably organic and local)
  • 28 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 30 ounce can cannellini beans, drained
  • 15 ounce can black beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup salsa verde
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon shallot salt (or onion salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon if you like it less spicy)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth


  • In a dutch oven add a little extra virgin olive oil, then the turkey, onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat stirring and breaking up the ground turkey until it is cooked through and the onions are tender.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Cook over med-low heat with the lid partially covering the top. Simmer for an hour and a half stirring as needed.
  • I like to top chili with a scoop of light sour cream and shredded sharp white cheddar cheese.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Happy New Years Eve!

Turkey Tetrazzini

The only time I have ever eaten Turkey Tetrazzini is at the old Ukrops deli. It’s been forever ago since I had it but I remember the turkey, spaghetti noodles and celery goodness very well. It’s a once-a-year-get-rid-of-my-leftover-turkey-kind-of-dish. You know….delish but not something to make all the time.

I read over a few recipes. Some called for tons of cheese or cream cheese….not the flavor or calories that I wanted. Some had ingredient lists a mile long. I made my own version and I think it turned out great. Peas, celery, onion, shiitake mushrooms…a light(ish) sauce with crispy parmesan cheese baked on top. YUM!

Turkey Tetrazzini

The two 15-year-olds in my house ate 2 plate fulls!!

Turkey Tetrazzini

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 container shiitake mushrooms, stem removed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 5 ounces frozen peas
  • 1 cup homemade turkey stock (or the boxed stuff is good too)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (I don’t usually buy this but I had some leftover from the mashed potatoes I made on Christmas Eve and didn’t want to waste it)
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 3 cups leftover turkey, shredded
  • 10 ounces Barilla Plus spaghetti noodles, cooked for about 8 minutes and drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan


  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the extra virgin olive oil. Add onions and celery (salt and pepper) until about halfway cooked or about 5 minutes. Add butter and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Add peas, shredded turkey, stock, milk and sour cream (then season again with salt and pepper) and cook until starting to bubble. Add cooked, drained noodles and toss to combine
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9 glass dish with non stick olive oil spray and add contents of skillet. Top with 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for another 10-15 minutes before serving.

What I made for Christmas Eve Dinner

I had a huge dinner at my house on Christmas Eve. These are the dishes I made:

My Christmas tree

Clementine Cosmos from 5-Ingredient Fix. The clementine simple syrup was delish and was a beautiful orange color. We used organic cranberry juice and bottled lime juice. They were a hit with the ladies but the guys didn’t want anything to do with a pink colored cocktail.

Trader Joe’s Pear Cinnamon Cider. I went shopping on Christmas Eve-Eve at the very busy Trader Joe’s in Short Pump and they had this cider served warm as a sample in the back of the store. I served it warmed in a crock pot over low heat. Very good!

Good Eats Roast Turkey. I got wrapped up in conversation with my sister Zandria and my friend Lois and forgot all about brining the turkey the night before! How could I! I ended up only getting to brine it for 2-3 hours the next morning. I took a huge risk and didn’t rinse the brine off but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. It was tender and delicious… I will make this again.

My kitty under the tree

I made a variation of Roasted Beet Salad, except that I used clementines instead of navel oranges and goat cheese instead of pecorino romano. I also served it over a bed of arugula.

Mascarpone Chive Mashed Potatoes. Very creamy and a slightly different flavor from the normal mashed potatoes.

My mom brought several different desserts including a fruit cake and chocolate pie, collard greens, venison bbq and a crab dip. My sister Angela brought a 5 cheese mac-n-cheese and some oreo cookie balls and rolo cookies. My dad brought some marinated carrots that I have to get the recipe for! I have been snacking on the leftovers for 2 days now.

Below are my Dad, 7 week old nephew and my brother:

My dad, my nephew and brother

This is my sister Angela’s husband and their son, Ryder:

Troy and Ryder

Me getting ready to chop hazelnuts for the salad:

Elissa cooking

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!