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My Thanksgiving Favorites

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! Ok, if I’m being honest – I love all the holidays. Any reason to celebrate and eat – I’ll toast to that!

Thanksgiving is so important to me because I love to cook and I love seeing my family’s face when they taste what I’ve made. In fact, I gave birth to my second son two days before Thanksgiving and still made sure I was home in time to make a turkey. That’s how die hard I am.

Ten years ago I could barely make a grill cheese, let a lone a turkey without catching the kitchen on fire….so I’d say I’ve come a long way. I wanted to share my top dishes that friends and family always request when they join us for Thanksgiving. I hope you’ll love them as much as we do.

Of course the number one item is the turkey. The key to a great turkey is brining it overnight.

  • In a large stock pot fill with broth. I’ve used vegetable and chicken in the past. Either are fine.
  • Add a cup of sea salt to the broth.
  • Add a few of your favorite seasonings like rosemary, sage, or classic chicken seasoning.
  • Place your defrosted turkey (after you’ve washed it off) in the stock pot, cover with foil and place in refrigerator over night. I like to at least give it 12 -15 hours to brine.
  • Next day remove turkey right before you’re ready to start cooking it.
  • Melt a stick of butter with garlic, pinch of chicken seasoning, thyme, rosemary and sage. Use this mixture to paste all over outer skin and inside the skin on the breasts. Cover the turkey with foil place in oven. I always put broth in the bottom of the pan as well. You can put your stuffing inside if you’d like too. Bake at 350 for however long it says for your turkey. It’s usually 3/12 to 4/12 hours for a 10-18 pounder. The last hour I remove the foil to let the top get crispy. I periodically baste the turkey with the juices that form in the bottom of the pan.
  • Slice up and serve. Delicious!

Next up – homemade mac and cheese. A must have especially with kids in attendance.

I use gluten free pasta and they don’t even know the difference. My favorite brand is Nature’s Earthly Choice Quinoa Pasta Blend Fusilli. You can find it at your grocer or even on Amazon.

  • Bring water to a boil and add in pasta. You can use any pasta you like. I usually do elbow or spiral. I add one full bag which is about 17 ounces so we will have lots of leftovers. Follow instructions on bag as to how long to boil. Make sure it’s nice and soft before straining.
  • While you’re waiting for pasta to cook – melt a stick of butter or ghee in a sauce pan. Stir in enough flour (I used gluten-free flour) to make a roux about 2 tablespoons should do it.
  • Slowly pour in milk (about 3 cups). You can use a milk alternative like coconut or Ripple, but it won’t be as creamy.
  • Add in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup parmesan. Stir until desired consistency. No one will get hurt if you add in a little more cheddar if you know what I mean. Do a taste test to see if you like the cheesy-ness.
  • When you get to desired consistency add a couple pinches of salt and paprika.
  • Strain pasta and pour into baking dish.
  • Take cheese mixture and pour over pasta. Mix all together so pasta is in cheesy heaven.
  • Place in oven (or fridge covered if you made it early) and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • BONUS… if you want yummy bread crumbs on top – melt 1/4 stick of butter in saucepan, throw in the bread crumbs to brown and then sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese and then put it in the oven. So yummy and a Thanksgiving classic in our house.

Then we have creamed spinach. Yes, we do green bean casserole too – but I’m sure you’ve seen a million of those recipes. So, spinach it is.

  • Get two bags of frozen spinach (you can use fresh too, but remember spinach does a disappearing act when you cook it – so get a lot!), coat the bottom of a sauce pan with olive oil and cook the spinach down. Empty on plate and hold off to side for now.
  •  Sauté a clove or two of garlic in some olive oil or butter in the saucepan.
  • Add diced white onion – about 1/4 cup. If you’re an onion lover you can add a little more.
  • When these are cooked to your desire add in 1/4 cup of butter and melt down.
  • Add in a few sprinkles of flour to create a roux. You don’t need much.
  • Pour in 3/4 cups of heavy cream. You can use milk as well but it won’t be as thick.
  • Grab your cooked down spinach and add it to the pan and stir.
  • Sprinkle 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese on top and stir.
  • Add a touch of salt and pepper and serve.

I find this is best served right after completed verses putting in fridge and re-heating later. Enjoy!

And for my last fav item on the menu – deviled eggs!

  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Add 6-12 eggs (however many you need for your attendance)
  • To boil to perfections it’s about 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove eggs and put in a bowl under cold running water for 2 minutes.

Now you’re going to LOVE ME.

  • Get a small plastic container (think Tupperware) with a lid.
  • Place 4-5 eggs in there and fill it half way to 3/4 way with water.
  • Put lid on tight and SHAKE like your life depends on it.
  • Open container and the egg shells you’ll see will be all cracked.
  • Start peeling and see how easy the shell just falls off the egg! NO more back breaking stance over the sink peeling these darn things for an hour!! I know…. you’re welcome.

Now back to making them.

  • Once you peel all the eggs. Slice them each in half and empty all the yolks into a bowl. Place open face eggs on serving platter.
  • Add a table spoon of mayo into bowl.
  • Add a few teaspoons of mustard to bowl.
  • Add a few hearty pinches shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Add (or not) bacon bits! I usually cook 3-4 slices and break it up.
  • Add pinch of salt.
  • Mix up the items above until you get a cream consistency. If you want it to be more creamy add a little more mayo and mustard.
  • Take this mixture in spoon fulls and add them to the top of the open faced eggs.
  • Once you’ve filled all the eggs, sprinkle paprika over all of them. You only need a little.
  • Another garnish you can add is thinly sliced green onion.
  • Try not to shove all of them in your face at once because they are so de-lic-ous!

I hope you’ll add these recipes to your family’s traditions! Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Holly
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Holly

Writer / Author / Inflencer at Huffington Post & Hearst Digital Media
Holly Rust is a native Texan currently living in the great city of Chicago with her husband and two sons. Aside from chasing around two lunatic boys all day, she is a writer, author, and entrepreneur. Her blog was featured on The TODAY Show’s List of Funniest Parents on Facebook. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, Hearst Digital Media, Scary Mommy, GenYize, Dot Complicated, The TODAY Parenting Team and many more. You can also find her essays published in several anthologies. Follow her random thoughts on Facebook and Twitter – but no judging.
Holly
Follow Me

Holly Rust is a native Texan currently living in the great city of Chicago with her husband and two sons. Aside from chasing around two lunatic boys all day, she is a writer, author, and entrepreneur. Her blog was featured on The TODAY Show’s List of Funniest Parents on Facebook. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, Hearst Digital Media, Scary Mommy, GenYize, Dot Complicated, The TODAY Parenting Team and many more. You can also find her essays published in several anthologies. Follow her random thoughts on Facebook and Twitter – but no judging.

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