Deliciously Simple Thanksgiving Menu Ideas November 11, 2016

by Eat

Thanksgiving menu ideas guaranteed to please everyone. Yes, such a thing IS possible. Continue reading to learn more. 

thanksgiving menu ideas-HelloFresh

Before you start sharpening the knives, cranking up the heat, and busting out the potato masher, you need to decide what to eat. But with so many Thanksgiving recipes out there, this isn’t as easy at it sounds. After all, everything sounds so good. You daydream about creamy whipped mashed potatoes, tart, dark red cranberries, and a spread of pies that makes you go weak in the knees. But here’s the thing: bite off more than you can chew and we promise the one thing you won’t be thankful for on the big day is your decision making skills. Don’t get us wrong – we’re all about taking risks in the kitchen and experimenting with new recipes, but you’re only human. Four different sweet potato recipes? Unnecessary. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and green beans? We love veggies, but no.

Instead, check out these balanced, simple, and all-around delicious Thanksgiving menu ideas that won’t sacrifice your waistline or your sanity.

1. Tried-and-True Turkey

thanksgiving menu ideas-turkey-recipe-HelloFresh

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 Pound Turkey
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Lemons, Zested and Juiced
  • 2 Teaspoons Chopped Fresh Thyme
  • Several Large Springs Fresh Thyme
  • 2 Onions (cut into small wedges)
  • 2 Lemons, Thinly Sliced
  • 3 Large Carrots, Diced
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Remove giblets and neck of turkey from cavities. Use paper towels to pat turkey dry.
  3. Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Once it’s almost all melted, add lemon zest, half the lemon juice, and chopped fresh thyme.
  4. While the butter is melting, salt and pepper inside of turkey (aka the cavity). Then, stuff with thyme springs, 3/4 of the onions, and lemon slices.
  5. Pour or brush outside of turkey with butter mixture. Tie legs together with string before tucking wings under body (to prevent them from burning). Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Place turkey in a large roasting pan surrounded by remaining onions and carrots.
  7. Bake until juices run clear when pierced with a knife between leg and thigh, 2 1/2 – 3 hours.
  8. Let rest 20-25 minutes before carving.

Troubleshooting:

  • What happens if the turkey is browning too quickly but not cooked through on the inside? 

Cover loosely with foil. And if veggies are looking too crisp for comfort, add water or broth.

  • How often should turkey be basted?

Spooning turkey juices over the top can help produce golden brown, crispy skin. But do it too often and you run the risk of losing precious oven heat. So keep basting to a minimum during the last hour or so of cooking.

  • I actually bought a meat thermometer. Now what?

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey, and try to steer clear of the bones. Once the temperature hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re good to go.

Feeling adventurous? 

Jazz up your turkey with even more herbs. Our favorites are dried oregano, fresh rosemary, and fresh sage.

Tip from Rebecca, RD:

“For fewer calories, choose white meat over dark meat and always remove the skin before eating.”

2. Creamy Dreamy Mashed Potatoes

thanksgiving menu ideas-mashed-potatoes-recipe-HelloFresh

Ingredients:

  • 4 Pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled and Cubed
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Parsley
  • 3 Tablespoons Chopped Chives
  • 1.5 Teaspoons Chopped Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Place potatoes and garlic in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 15-20 minutes. Drain and return to pot.
  2. Mash with a ricer or potato masher, then slowly incorporate butter, milk, and heavy cream. Stir in herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Feeling adventurous?

Swap out creamy white Yukon golds for red potatoes.

Use buttermilk instead of regular milk for extra thickness and a kick of tang.

Spice it up with a dash of chipotle seasonig and adobo sauce.

Tip from Rebecca, RD:

“For an extra dose of veggies, add pureed cooked cauliflower. Promise no one will notice!”

3. Squash and Wild Rice Wonder

thanksgiving menu ideas-squash-wild-rice-HelloFresh

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Wild Rice
  • 1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Large Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Stalks Celery, Chopped
  • 5 Cups Butternut Squash, Peeled and Chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Grated or Minced
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, Cored, and Diced
  • 1 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Sage
  • 1 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Cherries
  • 1 Cup Turkey Stock
  • 1 Cup Chopped Nuts (Pecans, Walnuts, or Hazelnuts)
  • Salt and Black Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring 8 cups salted water to a boil in a large pan. Add rice and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is tender and grains split open, about 1 hour. Drain and place in a buttered casserole dish to cool.
  2. While rice cooks, melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and butternut squash. Saute until onions are translucent and squash is starting to brown, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and diced apple. Cook until crisp-tender, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook another 2 minutes, then transfer to ovenproof pan with rice. Toss with dried cranberries and cherries.
  5. Pour over turkey stock, cover with foil, and bake until heated through, 15-20 minutes. Uncover and bake until top begins to brown, about 10 minutes.
  6. Top with chopped nuts and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Feeling adventurous?

Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon with the onions, celery, and butternut squash for extra autumnal flavor.

Tip from Rebecca, RD:

“Always bake the stuffing in a casserole dish rather than in the turkey so it doesn’t absorb unnecessary fat while cooking.”

4.  Mighty Maple Sweet Potatoes

thanksgiving menu ideas-maple-sweet-potatoes-recipe-HelloFresh

Ingredients:

  • 4 Pounds Sweet Potatoes (6-7), Peeled and Cubed
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 2.5 Tablespoons Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Sliced Fresh Sage
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pierce potatoes with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Bake about 50 minutes, until soft.
  3. Mash sweet potatoes in a large bowl with butter, sour cream, and maple syrup. Stir in sage and season with salt and pepper.

Feeling adventurous? 

Add a pinch of grated nutmeg for warm and slightly sweet flavor.

Tip from Rebecca, RD:

“Always steer clear of marshmallows. If you’re not a fan of maple syrup, try ginger and honey for another low-fat, naturally sweet alternative.

5. Easy as (Pumpkin) Pie

thanksgiving menu ideas-pumpkin-pie-recipe-HelloFresh

Ingredients:

  • Whole Wheat Crust
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cardamon
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 15-oz Can Pumpkin (2 Cups)
  • 1 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll pie crust onto a lightly greased pan, crimping along the edges. Place in refrigerator.
  2. While crust chills, beat eggs in a large mixing bowl with sugar, salt, spices, and lemon zest.
  3. Stir in pumpkin and cream, then beat until well incorporated.
  4. Pour filling into uncooked shell and bake until inserted knife comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Feeling Adventurous?

Add 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper for a subtle kick.

Experiment with 3 tablespoons dark rum for a richer flavor.

Tip from Rebecca, RD:

“Most of the fat in a pie comes from the crust, so choose reduced-fat graham cracker or whole wheat ones for a boost of fiber. You could also go crust-free!”

That’s all, folks! Now, it’s time to head to the grocery store to stock up, and we have a feeling most of that time will be spent thinking these 60 thoughts.

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2 comments

Austin says:

I am so excited for Thanksgiving! The maple sweet potatoes looks delicious!!

Fern says:

Be sure to remove the giblets. Funny

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