Thanksgiving is the one day a year above all others when cooks should not have to apologize for sticking to a traditional, perhaps decades-old, menu.

After all, being thankful for the family surrounding us and the myriad blessings heaped upon us, is the reason for the day. Add some football and the knowledge that power shopping is about to begin, and it's a day we can all embrace.

Any Thanksgiving menu should have turkey, two kinds of potatoes, dressing (outside the bird, stuffing if it's in), fruit and green salads, one or more vegetables and dessert. There is still plenty of room for personalization and trying trendy, as long as it fits one of those abundant categories.

If your menu is not already complete, here are some ideas (nine, in fact!) that you might want to try.

Herb-roasted turkey

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 turkey (14 to 16 pounds)
  • 8 fresh sage leaves plus 4 fresh sage sprigs, divided
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs, divided
  • 4 medium onions
  • 5 celery ribs
  • 5 medium carrots
  • 3 medium parsnips

In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup oil, garlic, salt and pepper. With fingers, carefully loosen skin from the turkey breast; rub mixture under the skin. Place sage leaves and two thyme sprigs under the skin. Secure skin to underside of breast with toothpicks.

Cut onions into wedges and the celery, carrots and parsnips into 2-inch lengths. Place about a fifth of the onions, celery and carrots in the turkey cavity; add sprigs and remaining thyme. Place remaining vegetables in a roasting pan. Place turkey, breast side up, over vegetables. Brush with remaining oil.

Bake at 325 degrees for 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees, basting occasionally with pan drippings. Cover loosely with foil if turkey browns too quickly. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes before carving turkey. Discard vegetables; use drippings to make gravy. Serves 14.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home" magazine, Oct.-Nov., 2009)

Mashed potatoes with garlic-olive oil

  • 4 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Place potatoes in a Dutch oven; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, place oil and garlic in a small food processor; process until blended.

Drain potatoes; return to pan. Mash potatoes, gradually adding cream, butter, salt, pepper and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Stir in green onions. Serve with garlic olive oil and, if desired, cheese. Serves 12.

Note: To prevent the risk of botulism, prepare garlic olive oil just before serving; do not store leftover oil mixture.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home" magazine, Oct.-Nov. 2012)

Citrus sweet potatoes

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup orange juice concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender.

Drain and cool. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch slices. Place in a greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish.

In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in orange juice concentrate and lemon peel. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Pour over sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with pecans if desired.

Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until sweet potatoes are heated through and sauce is bubbly. Serves 12.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home Cookbook")

Cranberry pecan dressing

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 6 cups seasoned stuffing cubes
  • 1 medium tart apple, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chicken broth

In a small saucepan, bring orange juice and cranberries to a boil. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook sausage until no longer pink; drain. Transfer to a large bowl.

In the same skillet, melt butter. Add celery and onion; saute until tender. Stir in poultry seasoning.

Add to sausage. Stir in the stuffing cubes, orange juice mixture, apple, pecans, salt, pepper and enough broth to reach desired moistness.

Transfer to a greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Serves 13.

Note: To stuff a 14-pound turkey, bake until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees for turkey and 165 degrees for stuffing.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home" magazine, Oct.-Nov., 2010)

Roasted brussels sprouts & cauliflower

  • 8 bacon strips, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 4 cups fresh cauliflowerets
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Additional grated Parmesan cheese, optional

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Discard drippings, reserving 1 tablespoon.

In a large bowl, mix the garlic, oil, butter, salt, pepper and reserved drippings. Add Brussels sprouts and cauliflowerets; toss to coat. Transfer to two greased 15- by 10-inch baking pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle each pan with 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake 3 to 5 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with bacon and, if desired, additional cheese. Serves 12.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home" magazine, Oct.-Nov., 2012)

Parmesan-garlic butter green beans

  • 1 package (14 ounces) frozen whole green beans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Cook green beans as directed on package. Drain. Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan on medium-low heat.

Add garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until garlic is tender, stirring frequently. Pour garlic butter over cooked green beans; stir to coat. Sprinkle with cheese; toss gently. Serves 6.

(Recipe courtesy of "Pillsbury Christmas 2008")

Cranberry eggnog salad

  • 2-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) cranberry or raspberry gelatin
  • 1 can (14 ounces) whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups eggnog
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

In a large bowl, add boiling water to cranberry gelatin; stir 2 minutes to dissolve. Refrigerate for 40 to 50 minutes or until slightly thickened.

In a small bowl, stir cranberry sauce to break up. Fold into gelatin mixture. Pour into an 8-cup ring mold coated with cooking spray; refrigerate 15 to 20 minutes longer or until set but not firm.

Drain pineapple, reserving juice in a small saucepan. Sprinkle unflavored gelatin over pineapple juice; let stand 1 minute. Heat and stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in eggnog and lime juice. Refrigerate 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Fold pineapple into eggnog mixture. Carefully pour over gelatin in mold. Refrigerate until firm. Unmold onto a platter. Serves 12.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home" magazine, November 2015)

Cherry brie tossed salad


  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 cups torn romaine
  • 8 ounces Brie or Camembert, rind removed, cubed
  • 1 package (6 ounces) dried cherries

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients; shake until sugar is dissolved.

For salad, in a heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add almonds; cook and stir until nuts are toasted, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar; cook and stir until sugar is melted, about 3 minutes. Spread on foil to cool; break apart.

In a large salad bowl, combine the romaine, cheese and cherries. Shake dressing; drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with sugared almonds and toss to coat. Serves 10.

Note: Swiss cheese may be substituted for Brie or Camembert.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home Cookbook")

Mystery Pecan Pie


  • 1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box

Cream cheese layer

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg

Pecan layer

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on box for one-crust filled pie.

In small bowl, beat all cream cheese layer ingredients with electric mixer on low speed until well blended and smooth. Set aside.

In another small bowl, beat 3 eggs with electric mixer on medium speed. Add remaining pecan layer ingredients except pecans; beat until well blended.

Spread cream cheese mixture in bottom of crust-lined pan. Sprinkle with pecans. Gently pour egg mixture over pecans. Cover crust edge with 2- to 3-inch wide strips of foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before serving. Store in refrigerator.

(Recipe courtesy of "Pillsbury Christmas 2008)

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