A Happy, Healthier Thanksgiving Dinner That’s Parent and Child Friendly!

by Jennifer A. Gardner, M.D. on November 18, 2013

A Happy, Healthier Thanksgiving Feast

Here's something to be thankful for—at Thanksgiving, simple always satisfies. Yes, we dressed our turkey well, but we know— It's all about the sides! And oh yes, really great pie. Our easy, step-by-step recipes are followed by a day-by-day plan of how to pull off the meal with ease and little culinary skill. 

Healthy Kids Co. wishes you and your family a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!  
To celebrate, we created a family friendly holiday menu that might be kid-inspired, but is anything but childish. Young and old alike will find plenty to be thankful for.

But before we get down to business and talk turkey, let's set the perfect table. For our big day family-friendly meal, we stayed in the kitchen and instead set the food up in the dining room! With 8 adults and 4 kids, we knew a kiddie table was a must.

But here is a kid's table that any adult wouldn't mind sidling up to. With kid-sized plates, no table cloth to dirty, and flameless candles, we know kids are in for a fun and worry free meal. Having simple crafts available in the home keeps kids busy when their tummies get full (inevitably well before adults).  
For this family feast we settled around the theme of apples, cinnamon, allspice, and sage. Kids love apples, but when combined with sage and other herbs, it pleases grown ups as well. 

And since pumpkin is king at Thanksgiving, we added plenty of pumpkin. We couldn't leave out the sweet potatoes, and this streusel topped casserole is perfect for the adults and kids that insist they don't like sweet potatoes!  With a little thought and planning, kids and adults can enjoy the same foods.

Our meal kicks off with an homage to the harvest with a Pumpkin Curried Soup, a delicious start to any fall meal. This is followed by the main event:  Cider Glazed Turkey with Apple, Sage, Onion, and Caramelized Shallot Stuffing, Cornbread Pudding, French Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots, Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Streusel Topping, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Carrot Pudding, and Cranberry Sauce. And make room for dessert. Pumpkin pie spells one happy ending to Turkey Day.

At the end of the blog we include our HKC Thanksgiving Guide: a day-by-day and step-by-step game plan (including hour-by-hour for Turkey Day!) and the full shopping list. We even have a Healthier Thanksgiving video with great food and decorating ideas. All recipes have been made healthier, but you'll just have to take our word for it, no one will know.

Pumpkin Curried Soup  This soup is definitely better the next day. So for Thanksgiving, I always make it one or two days in advance and have one less thing to worry about! We made this soup healthier by replacing cream with tangy Greek yogurt.

2 large onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped or grated with a rasper
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons curry (I sometimes use 4!)
1 teaspoon coriander
5 cardamom pods (preferred) or 3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
2 ½ to 3 tablespoon peeled, fresh grated ginger (on a rasper/microplane) 
1 ½ teaspoon salt
red pepper flakes or regular pepper, to taste
(2) 15 ounce or (1) 29 ounce pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 cups water
4 cups (1 Q) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup Greek or plain yogurt (or more if too much heat)
4 tablespoons golden raisins
1 tablespoon brown sugar (added to taste, if needed, at the end)

1. In 6 quart Dutch oven or heavy large stock pot, melt the butter over medium high heat until foaming, then add olive oil. Add the cardamom pods and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium.
2. Sauté the onions for 10 minutes, until soft, but not brown. Add the garlic, ginger and raisins; sauté another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander and curry; stir. Remove all 5 cardamom pods.
3. Add broth and water; stir to mix well. Bring to a boil. Add the pumpkin and pepper flakes; bring back to a gentle boil.
4. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
5. Cool for 20 minutes. In 3 or 4 batches, puree the soup in a blender. Be sure to leave a small vent for steam and cover the blender lid with a towel. Or, preferably, use an immersion blender. (This is where you stop if you are serving it later. Cool completely, uncovered, then cover and refrigerate. Gently reheat uncovered over medium low heat, and thin with water, or chicken stock to desired consistency only as needed. Continue to step 6.)
6. Return to pot and add yogurt. Gently reheat. Taste and add brown sugar, only if needed. Soup may be garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds or pistachios.

Note: If you don't have a great bowl to serve the soup in, use small pumpkins or acorn squash cut in half. Simply remove seeds and find a bowl that rests securely in the opening!

Cider Glazed Turkey with Apple, Sage, Onion, and Caramelized Shallot Stuffing

Never defrost poultry at room temperature. Nothing makes guests more thankful than a meal without food poisoning! 

To defrost in the refrigerator:
Allow 1 day for each 4 pounds of meat (it will take 4 days for a 16 pound turkey; 5 days for 20 pounds).

To defrost in a cold water bath: 
Cover the turkey (still in the wrapper) with cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes for each pound of meat (it will take 8 hours for a 16 pound turkey; 10 hours for 20 pounds).

To Roast the Turkey: 
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator one hour before roasting, to allow it to come to room temperature. Stuff the turkey at the end of the hour.

Place the turkey, breast side up, into the roasting pan (you can use a roasting rack, if you like). Truss the legs by crossing and tying. Tuck wings in. (Large birds cook unevenly when fully trussed, which can result in dry breast meat. This is why we only truss the legs.) Rub breast meat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Brined meat requires only a few grinds of pepper. Unbrined meat should be seasoned with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 425º and position the bottom rack in the lower third of the oven. Just before roasting, cover the turkey with foil (spray with nonstick spray). Place the turkey into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350º.  

To approximate the roasting time required, plan on 15 minutes per pound of meat. But this is only an approximation; brining the turkey, not trussing, and not stuffing the turkey all result in a faster roasting time.  

A 16 pound turkey will roast in about 3 1/2 hours, but test your turkey well in advance of this to gauge how fast it is cooking. Once cooked, rest the turkey on the platter (or carving board) for at least 30 minutes. Keep it covered with foil and add garnish at the end of the rest period. This allows time to make the gravy!

1. Remove the foil covering the turkey in the last hour of cooking, to (golden) brown the breast meat.
2. If the turkey is getting too brown, but the bird is not done, cover it again with foil.
3. Baste the turkey every 40 minutes to ensure even cooking of the breast and dark meat (basting also keeps the breast meat moist). But baste as quickly as possible, because opening the oven drops the temperature and may result in prolonged roasting time.
4. Turn the turkey 180º half way through cooking to ensure even roasting.
5. Meat is done when a thermometer reads 175º in the thickest part of the thigh and the 165º in the breast (not touching bone). Return to the oven for 20 minutes more if either spot is registering less. If unstuffed, carefully tip the cavity to ensure the juices that run out are clear. If pink, the bird is not done. Legs should move freely. And remember, the turkey will cook a little more as it rests.
6. The breast typically cooks fastest, which is why the pop up indicator may read done before the bird actually is fully cooked!
7. Stuffing tastes better when made in the bird, but the cooking time increases, which can result in drier breast meat. It's a conundrum, decide which is more important. Since we brined our bird, which yields moister meat, we choose to stuff it. Yum!

How Much Turkey Do You Need? One pound per person, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds if you want leftovers.

To Reheat Turkey: Place turkey into a shallow baking dish and add a little chicken stock to moisten; cover with foil. Place into a preheated 325º oven and heat until rewarmed.

Apple Cider Brine  We opted to brine our turkey, but this step is optional. Often brines are too salty to stuff the turkey, but this brine has much less salt than traditional brines, so you can stuff this bird! This is enough brine for a 20 pound turkey. 

4 quarts apple cider (1 gallon or 16 cups)
1 1/4 cups course kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
6 whole cloves
1/4 cup whole allspice
3 bay leaves
4 quarts ice water (1 gallon or 16 cups)
2 oranges, zested and juiced

1. Remove turkey from the packaging; remove neck/gizzards from the turkey. 
2. Add 1 Q of apple cider to a stockpot large enough to hold the turkey. Add allspice, whole cloves, bay leaves and salt; simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 3 Q apple cider, 4 Q water, orange juice, zest; stir.  
3. Allow brine to cool to room temperature. Add the turkey to the brine and refrigerate overnight, up to 24 hours.  
4. Remove turkey from brine, rinse very well, and drain. Pat turkey very dry with paper towels. 
5. Place the turkey into a roasting pan lined with paper towels for up to 24 hours, uncovered, but at least 4 to 6 hours to ensure it is dry for crispy skin. Remove the paper towels and dry the roasting pan before roasting.

Apple Cider Glaze  This is used to baste the turkey for approximately the last hour of roasting. (Baste with pan juices prior to the cider glaze.). This can be made a few hours in advance and kept warm.

1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon butter
4 teaspoons brown sugar 

1. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, melt the butter and then add the sugar. Whisk to incorporate.
2. Add cider and bring to a moderate simmer. 
3. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until it thickens, stirring/whisking frequently. 
4. Baste the turkey with this glaze in the last hour of roasting and just before carving. Carved slices can be brushed with the glaze, if desired.

Thanksgiving Stuffing  This stuffing is made healthier by decreasing the amount of butter from 8 tablespoons (1 stick) to 4 tablespoons (half stick), and adding a healthy amount of apples. This is not a traditional dry stuffing, it is very moist thanks to the addition of milk and eggs.

2 loaves challah bread, torn into bite size pieces or soft white bread (such as seedless Italian)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 1/2 large onions, chopped (or 4 small)
5 to 6 large stalks of celery, sliced in half lengthwise, then chopped into small pieces (or 8 small stalks)
8 apples, chopped into bite size pieces
6 extra large eggs, lightly beaten (or 8 large eggs)
3/4 cup apple cider
1 cup milk 
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
10 sage leaves, torn
6 large caramelized shallots
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or 1 teaspoon for a lower sodium version or if turkey was brined)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (or more, to taste)
1/2 to 1 cup golden raisins (optional)

1. In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat until foamy, then add celery and sauté for 10 minutes. Next, add the onion and apples; continue to sauté until onions are softened and transparent, but not browned, about 5 minutes more. Butter may be sizzling, but should not brown. Add the caramelized shallots and sage; mix well. (This is where you stop if you are assembling the stuffing in advance.)
2. Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes in a large bowl (or in the sauté pan if it is large enough to accommodate the bread). Add the bread and stir to coat with the butter-vegetable mixture.
3. Mix eggs, milk, cider, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning in large measuring cup. Add this to the bread mixture and mix well. Consistency should be wet and sticky, but not extremely runny. Some bread will stick to the spoon when turned over. If too dry, mix equal part eggs and milk and slowly add to make it proper wetness. If too wet, add a little bread.

  • This can be made in a glass casserole sprayed with nonstick spray or stuffed inside the turkey. This makes a lot of stuffing, more than will likely fit in the bird, so you may need to do both. If stuffing the turkey, cover the stuffing at the cavity opening with foil. Do not overstuff, as the stuffing will expand as it cooks. Prior to stuffing, sprinkle a little salt into the cavity (omit if brined).
  • If stuffing is made in a glass pan, cover it with foil (sprayed with non stick spray) and remove the foil during the last half hour of cooking. Once stuffing is nicely browned, if stuffing is not yet done, cover it again with the foil to keep it from drying out. If making the stuffing outside of the turkey, it is done when a metal skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes at 350º. The amount of time depends on the size of the pan it is cooked in (i.e., the thickness of the stuffing). If stuffed, the stuffing is done when turkey is done. 

Traditional Turkey Gravy  Gravy is a matter of taste. This is just a start. Add the flavors you like and adjust the amounts to please the family palate. 

3 tablespoons turkey fat (this is the fat that is skimmed of the liquid from the turkey)
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 3/4 cups LOW sodium chicken stock (1 small 14 ounce can)
pan drippings (this is the liquid from the turkey, minus the skimmed off fat)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or sage, optional

1. Once the turkey is removed from the roasting pan, pour off all of the pan's liquid into a large, clear measuring cup. Set it aside to separate (a few minutes).
2. Skim the fat off the top with a spoon or ladle and transfer this to a second cup. What you are left with in the glass measuring cup are the "pan drippings." 
3. Put the roasting pan over 2 burners set to medium low heat. You want to have about 3 tablespoons of turkey fat in the pan. The pan probably has about 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoons already (along with the browned bits of the turkey, do not remove); add more of the reserved fat as necessary.
4. Whisk in the flour to make a thick paste that incorporates the brown bits from the pan. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes to remove the flour taste and to develop a deep brown color. It should be more "floury" than "fatty."  Add more flour as needed. If it seems too dry, add a little more of the reserved fat.
5. Turn the heat up to medium and slowly add the milk while whisking. Continue to whisk while it thickens. (This can take 5 minutes or more. Just keep stirring.)
6. Once it is thickened, whisk in the pan drippings (not the turkey fat that was skimmed off). This adds so much flavor so don't skip this! The amount of pan drippings can vary depending on the turkey itself and the size, so add what you have. (This could be as little as a few tablespoons up to a cup.) 
7. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and herbs, if using.


  • If too thick, add more chicken stock or milk. If too thin, mix 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons water and whisk it in. It will gradually thicken as it continues to cook. Just keep stirring!  

  • If you want "pretty" gravy, skim off any colored bits from the top with a hand strainer before serving. (Optional; it will taste great regardless.)

  • If not smooth enough, pass through a strainer before serving. Use the back of a spoon to push through, as needed.

French Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

4 to 5 cups French green beans (or a 24 ounce package) or regular string beans, trimmed
6 shallots
1 generous tablespoon butter or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch sugar (up to 1/2 teaspoon, to taste)

1. Cut shallots into thin rings and separate.
2. Add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil (or 50/50) and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots, a generous pinch of sugar, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste). Mix, but then do not stir the shallots, for the first 20 minutes to encourage the caramelization process. After 20 minutes, stir occasionally until the shallots develop a deep mahogany color, about 1 hour total. Add additional butter or olive oil, as needed, if the shallots appear dry. 
3. Steam the beans until crisp tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the shallots and mix. If you are steaming the green beans in advance, plunge beans immediately into an ice water bath and drain well. Add the shallots and store in the refrigerator in a Ziploc bag. When ready to serve, reheat in a sautè pan over medium heat.

Note: double the amount of shallots and use half for the stuffing.

Cornbread Pudding  This is a healthier version of the classic Jiffy recipe. Here we swap flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt for the prepackaged Jiffy mix, and cut out hydrogenated fats in the process. We also decreased the recipe from 8 tablespoons of butter to 4 tablespoons. Not too shabby for a makeover!

2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
3 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

Preheat oven to 350º
1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. (If making ahead place into a Ziploc bag and label cornbread mix.)
2. Melt butter in an oven safe bowl or dish in the microwave. Butter dish with some of this melted butter.
3. Add sour cream and corn; mix. Add eggs and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix. Wipe the sides of the casserole dish before placing in the oven.
4. Bake at 350º for 1 hour. A knife inserted in the middle should come out clean when done.
Note: pudding can be assembled several hours before baking, just keep refrigerated until 1 hour prior to baking.

Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Streusel Topping  This version is made healthier by cutting the sugar in half (roasting, instead of boiling the sweet potatoes as in the original recipe, yields a sweeter flesh), reducing the butter from 1/2 cup to 3 tablespoons, and substituting milk for half and half. This recipe is loved even by those that don't like sweet potatoes (yes, they exist and my husband is one of them, but you guessed it, he likes these!).

4 large sweet potatoes or jewel yams (about 3 pounds)
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoon brown sugar (or maple syrup)  
1/3 cup low-fat milk or evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon clove

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/16 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Note: if you prefer, you can omit the oats and use 3/4 cups of flour

Preheat oven to 350º
1. Bake the sweet potatoes (pierce with a fork and wrap in foil) in a preheated 375º oven for about 2 hours or until they mush easy with pressure.
2. Once cool, cut in half lengthwise and squeeze skin off (alternatively you can scoop out the flesh). Place flesh in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl for use with hand mixer and mix until fluffy.
3. Beat in butter. Add the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and spices; beat until fluffy and well incorporated. Place into a buttered oven safe dish. (This can be done 1 day in advance and kept in the refrigerator until 1 hour before baking).
4. To make streusel topping: Add all the ingredients to a stand mixer or a large bowl for use with hand mixer and beat until the size of large peas. Place streusel topping evenly over the casserole (it will not spread so arrange the topping as you want it to look when served). Streusel topping can be made 1 or 2 days in advance (store in a Ziploc bag labeled "streusel topping), but do not put it on the casserole until a few hours before baking.
5. Bake at 350º for 50 minutes. 

Carrot Pudding  An unusual twist for the Thanksgiving table. Sweet and savory comes together for a pleasing vegetable dish. You can decrease or omit the sugar, if you prefer.

5 large carrots, peeled
1/2 small onion, grated (about 2 to 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter an oven proof baking dish.
1. Cut the carrots into 2 inch pieces and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Add the carrots to a food processor and pulse until pureed (alternatively you could grate or beat with a mixer to puree).
3. Add the grated onion and lemon juice to the pureed carrots. (If making ahead stop here and refrigerate, bring to room temp before continuing). 
4. To a stand mixer bowl or a bowl to be used with a hand mixer, add the sugar, flour, butter, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat until smooth. Add the carrots and beat until well blended. Add milk and egg and mix until smooth. 
5. Bake uncovered at 350º for 1 hour. Garnish with baby carrots and parsley, if desired.
Note: pudding can be assembled several hours before baking, just keep refrigerated until 1 hour prior to baking.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4 pounds of potatoes (8 large potatoes)
2/3 to 1 cup milk
1/2 to 1 cup of sour cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 teaspoons fresh, minced garlic)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Peel the potatoes and chop into 2-inch chunks. In a large stockpot, cover potatoes with cold water. (This can be done several hours in advance).
2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.
3. Drain potatoes and immediately add back to stock pot. Add butter and begin to mash. Once melted, add the milk and sour cream (each on the low end of range given).
4. Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste. 
5. Add milk, one or two tablespoons at a time, until desired consistency. Add more sour cream after tasting, if you like.
6. Keep warm until ready to serve by covering the potatoes with the lid and leaving them on the warm stove (but not turned on!). Add to a pre-warmed serving dish, if necessary.

Note: Mashed potatoes can be made 1 day ahead and reheated covered in foil in a 350º oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. They also heat up well in the microwave. Thin with extra milk if necessary.

Citrus Infused Cranberry Sauce

1 bag cranberries (12 ounces)
1 cup orange juice (or water)
1 cup sugar
zest from 1 orange (or you can grate the peel for more visible chunks, your preference)

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and orange juice; bring to boil over medium high heat.  
2. Add the cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer briskly for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate until serving.

All Butter Pie Crust   

This is healthier because a homemade crust has no trans or hydrogenated fats, found in most prepared pies and pie shells. An all butter recipe yields the best flavor. This unusual pie crust recipe is from King Arthur Flour, and I recommend you view the Flourish Blog for the best description (this is for an apple pie, but the crust is the same). The description below is simply provided to have all the recipes in one place and includes notes of my own. A very useful video can be found in this Blog. (Scroll down, it is in the right column.)

To really cut down on stress, the pie dough can be made up to a month ahead and frozen at the disc stage! Or, if you have an extra pie plate, roll it out and freeze in a large bag (pie crust can be filled or unfilled). Just defrost in the refrigerator overnight before filling. 

2 sticks of butter, cold
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 8 tablespoons of ice cold water

1. Mix flour and salt with a fork in a large bowl (preferably more flat than deep).
2. Cut 1 stick of butter into quarters lengthwise and then into 1/4 inch cubes. Add to the flour and toss with hands to separate the chunks. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter (10 to 15 passes). Now for any chunks larger than peas, pinch into smaller pieces with fingers.
3. Take the second stick of butter and cut into thin pats. Add to the flour and toss with hands, then separate the pats with your hands. Run the pastry cutter 7 or 8 times. Now flatten the large butter chunks between thumb/finger into thumb print size, flattened pieces. 
4. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of water into the butter/flour mixture and toss with fork. Add 2 more tablespoons to the dry spots and toss with fork. Pinch with fingers and if crumbly, spritz dry areas with water (5 or 6 spritzes) onto the dry areas and toss with fork. Test again and repeat. There will be some dry spots and wet spots. Stop adding water when it starts to come together; some dry, crumbly/shaggy areas will remain.  
5. Turn crumbly mixture out onto a 24 inch piece of parchment paper (or wax) and arrange in a line ("log") in the center of the parchment lengthwise (about 12 inches long). There will be shaggy, crumbly spots that will not conform to the log shape. 
6. Fold 1/3 of the parchment paper/dough log over onto itself. Now spray the crumbly areas again and fold 1/3 of the log over onto itself at the opposite end. 
7. Keep folding and spraying until it forms a mass that stays together. This may take a lot of spraying/folding, but be patient, the dry, crumbly pieces will eventually incorporate. Roll into a flat disk, smooth the sides, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes up to 24 hours. If refrigerated for more than 30 minutes, let the dough sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before rolling out. (You can freeze the dough at this stage for up to 2 months, double wrapped in plastic wrap and slipped into a Ziploc bag.)

Note: I flatten to a 6 inch flat disk because I find it easier to start rolling a flatter disk. Smooth edges at this stage ensures a nice rolled out dough with minimal cracks at the edges. 

To roll out the pie dough, roll between 2 pieces of parchment paper as follows:

Spray pie plate with nonstick spray to ensure easy removal of first slice.
1. Flour a large piece of parchment paper (at least 30 inches). Add the disk of dough to the center. Sprinkle the dough with flour and top with the second piece of  parchment. Arrange the parchment so that a 8 to 10 inch piece of both sheets of parchment is hanging off the counter.
2. Use your hip to stabilize the two pieces of parchment paper and roll outward. Turn paper to the right, re-secure with hip, and roll outward. Repeat until crust is 2 inches larger than the pie plate. Avoid rolling back and forth as much as possible.
3. Gently peel off the top piece of  parchment paper. (Getting the edges started is the hardest part.) You can trim the edges to an even round shape with a knife or pizza cutter before transferring to the pie plate, if you like. Alternatively, you can trim the dough in place with scissors at the next step. If shape is very uneven: cut off from one side, add to the other, put parchment paper back over this section and re-roll to flatten.
4. Now slip hand under the dough/parchment paper and flip onto the pie plate. Peel off the remaining parchment (if you are having trouble, put the pie plate and crust back into the refrigerator as is for a few minutes).  
5. Fold the edges of the crust under and then shape the edges by crimping with a fork or making a scalloped shape with thumb and two fingers. 
5. Place the pie plate back into refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before filling to firm up so the crust keeps its shape during baking.
6. Meanwhile, roll out the second crust and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Place onto floured parchment on a rimmed cookie sheet. Put in refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking to firm up so they hold their shape. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 375º or until golden brown. Arrange them onto the cooled, baked pie. For more ideas, see this King Arthur Blog on Pie Crusts.  For best results, brush with egg white wash or milk wash and be sure they are all even thickness to ensure even baking.
Note: If you froze the dough at the disk stage, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator and leave it on counter 15 to 20 minutes before rolling out.

Pie Filling

1 small can (15 ounce) solid pack pumpkin (non pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup milk (or evaporated milk)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup white, 1/4 cup brown)
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/16 teaspoon ginger (or a generous pinch)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons corn starch

Preheat oven to 350º
1. Combine pumpkin, milk, and eggs in a large bowl. 
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. (I pass the dry ingredients through a hand sifter to ensure smoother mixing, but this is not mandatory.)
4. Pour into a 9 inch unbaked pie shell. (The filling does not expand so you can fill pie crust generously.)
5. Bake 350º for 50 to 55 minutes until it just jiggles in the center and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Note: allspice and clover can be substituted for each other, if you do not have both. Sometimes I use all brown sugar (light pack, not heavy).

The Schedule:

4 or 5 Days Before:
  • grocery shop (take ibnto consideration how much time you will need to defrost the turkey if buying a frozen turkey)
2 or 3 Days Before:
  • make cranberry sauce and store it covered in the refrigerator
  • make soup and store it in the pot it was made in for easy reheating
  • cook and puree carrots for the carrot pudding (stop at step 1)
  • mix all the dry ingredients for the cornbread "mix" in a Ziploc bag and label "for cornbread pudding"
  • mix all the dry ingredients for the carrot pudding in a Ziploc and label "for carrot pudding"
  • prepare streusel topping for the sweet potato casserole and refrigerate in a Ziploc bag and label "streusel topping for sweet potato casserole. "
  • tear bread into bite size pieces and store it in the bags the bread came in
  • caramelize 12 large shallots and store in a Ziploc bag (for the stuffing and the green beans)
  • make the pie crust and store the disks of dough overnight in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic 
1 Day Before:
  • brine turkey for 24 hours (optional)
  • trim (omit if French green beans) and steam the green beans until crisp tender. Plunge in ice bath, drain, and store in Ziploc bag along with the caramelized shallots.
  • chop and saute the vegetables for the stuffing 
  • roast the sweet potatoes and make the sweet potato casserole
  • boil and mash the potatoes if you plan to make the mashed potatoes one day ahead and reheat
  • set table, if possible
  • make pie and bake  (this can be made Thanksgiving Day if you have the oven space)
Thanksgiving Day:  Cross your fingers and . . .
  • In the morning:  1.)  Reheat the vegetables for the stuffing and continue with the stuffing recipe from step 2. 2.) Stuff and truss the turkey. Allow it to rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.   3.) Place turkey into a preheated oven.   4.) Peel the potatoes and cover with cold water.   5.)  Prepare pie shell and filling if not already done. Assemble and bake pie.
  • Several hours before dinner is served:   1.) Assemble the carrot pudding. Remember to remove it from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before baking.   2.) Assemble the corn pudding. Remember to remove from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before baking.   3.) Top the sweet potato casserole with the streusel. Remember to remove from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before baking.   4.) Make apple cider glaze and set aside. Rewarm gently as needed.
  • One hour before dinner is served:   1.)  Bake the sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, and carrot pudding in a preheated oven at 350º. If you are making stuffing outside of the bird, you can cook it along with these sides.   2.) Rewarm the soup over medium low heat. Add the yogurt off heat and rewarm as needed.  3.) Cook the potatoes until fork tender.
  • While the turkey is resting (30 minutes to 45 minutes before dinner is served):   1.) Reheat the green beans and shallots in a skillet over medium heat until butter/oil is melted and the green beans are warmed throughout.   2.) Prepare the mashed potatoes or reheat in the oven if made one day ahead.   3.) Prepare the gravy.   4.) Remove the cranberry sauce before serving, if you want to take the chill off.   


The List

Turkey (preferably raised with no hormones or antibiotics)

cloves  (if brining, also whole cloves)
allspice (if brining, also whole allspice)
vanilla (not imitation)
cardamon pods (or powder)
bay leaves (if brining turkey)
curry (I use McCormicks)
garlic powder 
poultry seasoning (I only use Bell's Poultry Seasoning)
salt/pepper (Kosher salt if brining turkey)
baking powder
brown sugar

Aromatics and fresh herbs:
fresh sage
fresh parsley 
onions (1 bag)
shallots (12 large or 16 small)
garlic (1 head)
ginger (3 inch knob)

eggs (2 dozen)
butter (6 sticks)
sour cream (8 ounce)
plain or Greek yogurt (8 ounces)

chicken stock (low sodium)
olive oil
cider (2 cups; add 1 gallon if brining)

1 orange (3 if brining turkey)
1 lemon
8 (large) apples
4 (large) sweet potatoes or jewel yams
8 (large) potatoes
carrots (1 bag)
celery (1 bag)
French green beans (4 to 5 cups)
fresh whole cranberries (1 small 12 ounce bag)
solid pack pumpkin (1 large can, 1 small can)
golden raisins
canned whole corn (small can)
canned cream corn (small can)

Nuts and Grains:
Challah bread (2 loaves) or 2 white soft sandwich loaves (such as soft Italian)
corn meal
oatmeal (old fashioned)

kitchen twine
parchment paper
plastic wrap
Ziploc bags (gallon and quart size)
food safe spray bottle (for pie crust)
turkey baster
left over containers (disposable if giving to guests)

➤ See our video "A Healthier Thanksgiving Feast" for more food pictures and decorating ideas.

➤ See our Pinterest Board, Blog, Blog, Blog for a visual index of our blogs

Leave a Comment