When you’re cooking for them, we thought you might like a little guidance for the holiday menu.
Thanksgiving Cooking
First of all, let’s start with some basics. Plan ahead. You should take your turkey if frozen, out of the freezer on Monday or at the latest, early Tuesday, and set it in the refrigerator so it can defrost. If you do this Tuesday, take it out of the fridge for at least four hours before you cook it.

We don’t recommend stuffing the bird, but if you must, try stuffing it under the skin near the breast meat. That way you can slice it right off the bird and be prepared to slice the white meat without problems.

You will need a good turkey basting liquid. Here’s a great recipe that’s simple and easy.

Next, your menu should include a simple starter such as a soup or salad. Here, you’ll want something light and easy on the palate. Try our Butternut Squash Soup or Arugula Salad with Orange Zest Vinaigrette (you can substitute Boston or Bibb lettuce for Arugula, if you prefer).

Your side dishes should be plentiful. Everyone likes a multitude of sides for Thanksgiving. The favorites include Sweet Potatoes a l’Orange, Sweet Potatoes and Apples, and the classic Sweet Potato Souffle. For a green vegetable, we recommend Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts and of course, Creamed Green Beans with Onions.

You might like to be creative, so here’s one of our favorites for Thanksgiving, Acorn Squash with Cranberries and Apple. Alternatively, you might like to try a lower calorie version Cranberry Filled Acorn Squash. If you like squash, but are not sure which one to select, you can use Acorn, Butternut or Buttercup varieties with this Holiday Cranberry Squash recipe. This year, we’ve introduced Parsnip and Apple Casserole; a delicious vegetable and fruit pairing that’s perfect for Thanksgiving.

You’ll want perfect Mashed Potatoes, which go so well with Giblet Gravy or Brown Mushroom Gravy. Naturally, there’s also Roast Turkey Gravy, our readers favorite.

Then of course, there’s the stuffing. What a chance to express yourself and take out your frustrations at the same time! Try our Apple Pecan Dressing or Double Rice Stuffing (for a 12 pound bird). For a touch more sweetness we love the Grand Marnier Apricot Stuffing, now that we and the French like each other again. And if you like a bit of kick with your stuffing, there’s always Sherried Chestnut Stuffing, which we make into hand rolled balls perfect for serving separately. Prefer something with sausage? We like Sausage and Wild Rice Stuffing too. Careful though, it’s easy to get stuffed on stuffings.

Well, now we’ll need a few choices for the bird. There’s the Ultimate Turkey, and of course our perennial favorite, Herb Roasted Turkey with Mushroom Gravy. Another visitor favorite, and one of our Publisher’s top choices is Roast Turkey with Corn Bread Stuffing I or try a more complicated version with Roast Turkey with Corn Bread Stuffing II.

Not everyone cooks turkey quite the same way as they do in northern climes. In hotter temperatures, you might like Citrus-Rosemary Grilled Turkey, while in Cajun country, Drunken Turkey is a favored recipe. Chinese Americans might want to try this Thanksgiving Turkey recipe, while those from the Caribbean might like our Ginger Turkey recipe.

What’s Thanksgiving without Cranberry Sauce? We love Molded Cranberry Relish and Cranberry-Orange Relish. New Englanders might savor Cranberry-Maple Sauce, while in Hawaii, they prefer Cranberry Pineapple Relish. Of course, if you’re visiting and not cooking at home, bring along a jar or two of Pear, Cranberry and Horseradish Chutney as a great gift for the table.

For desserts, the choices are endless, but the traditional favorites include A Veritable Pumpkin Pie, Hundred Years Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cognac Cheesecake or Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Pecan Crust. Mincemeat pie is yet another traditional dessert. We like Apple Mincemeat Pie and a twist on tradition with Banana, Pineapple and Mincemeat Strudel with Chocolate Rum Sauce, though you must make this the day before. Southern Pecan Pie is our Publisher’s absolute favorite, but he loves all the holiday pies (or so he says).

There’s also Yankee Cranberry Apple Crisp, a wonderful New England dessert with lots of tradition and plenty of flavor. Not to mention All American Apple Pie or Apple Pie in Cheddar Crust. A good old fashioned Austrian Apfelstrudel is never a bad choice either, while the Dutch contribute their Dutch Apple Pie to our communal Thanksgiving celebration.

Some of our other favorites include: Sweet Potato Hash Brown Pancakes, Sauteed Maple Apples, Bacon Maple Biscuits, Braised Chestnuts, Braised Onions with Whiskey and dozens more, found throughout our Recipes Section.

For something to drink we like Hot Cranberry Cider, a delightfully refreshing punch, perfect for this special holiday.

If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll love our recipe for Chestnut, Walnut and Red Wine Loaf.

We hope you’ll have a wonderful Holiday, and remember, what pauses us to give thanks is the diversity, and commonality that makes us all Americans. What other peoples around the world fail to understand about us is simply that no matter our fundamental differences, we generally get along well here, without the stress of the rivalries and separations of our old countries. Here in America, we are free to get along with each other, and in giving Thanks for our lives, country and place in history, we celebrate not only ourselves, but each other.

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