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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving recipes, thanksgiving dinner, cranberry orange relish, thanksgiving sides

Growing up, cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner meant a gelatinous cranberry-ish colored substance in the form of a can. Really, it was like eating canned jelly. It was all I knew and I loved it. I’ve always been a sucker for a bit of sweet with my savory, as evidenced by my cranberry and brie bites addiction. I had no idea there was even such a thing as homemade cranberry orange sauce.

However, when I met the Big Guy, on our first Thanksgiving at his mom’s house, I tasted what could only be called cranberry orange heaven. It was absolutely nothing like the canned stuff that I had believed to be cranberry sauce for my entire previous 20-something years. It was like my mouth was tasting cranberries for the first time ever.

READ ALSO: How to Roast the Perfect Turkey

My mother-in-law bought a prepackaged deli style cranberry orange sauce by a company called Indian Trail. The little tub of sweet-tart-citrus deliciousness was magnificent and the flavors were incredibly vibrant. It was like eating color. The texture was jellied but not gelatinous. It was full-bodied compared to the canned stuff. To be honest, it was almost a dessert.

A couple of years later, the Big Guy and I were married and living hundreds of miles away from our families so we decided to host our first ever Thanksgiving dinner. It was all brand new. I was excited and terrified to take on the undertaking but it was time to make our own traditions, he and I. I finally felt like an adult. Just my husband and his wife and no parents around to do all the heavy lifting.

We made a list and made sure to include everything that we wanted in a Thanksgiving dinner. We were able to move away from the stove top stuffing and canned “cranberry sauce”. The one side dish that  I knew that I really wanted to keep from our mothers was the Indian Trail cranberry orange sauce. Only, when we got to the store, we couldn’t find it anywhere. After a frenzied scouring of the internet to save my Thanksgiving dinner ( because I was not above having my MIL overnight me the sauce from home) I found out that Indian Trail went out of business.

NOOOOOOOOO! I was so disappointed. Obviously, our first Thanksgiving was doomed. All I wanted was to host the perfect Thanksgiving for our family. We had gotten too big for our britches and Thanksgiving was ruined. There would be no Indian Trail Cranberry Orange Sauce for us. Or would there?

READ ALSO: How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

Come on, y’all know me. I’m a Mexican, not a Mexicant. I did a whole lot of research and some trial and error taste testing and guess what I did? I created my own Indian Trail copycat recipe. All the same flavor and texture made at my house in a matter of minutes. And you know what? The homemade, from scratch recipe, is even better than the Indian Trail sold in stores version because it is fresh. All the bursting with flavors I was referring to earlier is timesed by 100%.

Here is my recipe for copycat homemade Indian Trail cranberry orange sauce recipe.

Ingredients

1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

1 whole orange including peel/rind, seeds removed

1-cup sugar

Instructions

Chop all of the ingredients in a food processor or a food grinder and stir to mix. Refrigerate until ready to use. Be sure to let it drain a while to remove the excess liquid before mixing it with Jello. The entire time it takes to process this mixture is about 5 minutes.

Ingredients

2 (3 oz.) pkgs. raspberry Jello

2 1/2 c. boiling water

Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 cup crushed pineapple with juice

1 cup of finely Chopped Walnuts or pecans

Instructions

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in Cranberry Orange Sauce, pineapple and chopped walnuts. Pour into mold. Refrigerate until firm ( 4 hours). I usually make this the night before Thanksgiving.

READ ALSO: How to make an Easy, Elegant Thanksgiving Tablescape

Serve on Thanksgiving along with all of the traditional sides you love. Your family will thank you for it. This year will be year 15 that we’ve hosted and I just had a hysterectomy and we’re still cooking because I can’t go back to canned cranberry sauce and Stove Top.

What’s your Indian Trail Cranberry Orange Sauce side that you MUST have every holiday?

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Thanksgiving recipes, How to make sweet potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, sweet potatoes, Holiday recipes, turkey recipes, Thanksgiving

Of all the Thanksgiving Recipes I use how to make Sweet Potato Casserole is the one I’m asked for the most often. As Thanksgiving recipes go, this one is a favorite in our house. I found the sweet potato casserole recipe online some years ago. It has been made famous by the Grandview Lodge in North Carolina. This particular sweet potato casserole recipe has become synonymous with autumn in our house.

As far as Thanksgiving recipes go, this is the one must have ( aside from my Thanksgiving turkey recipe) that our family always wants me to bake. It also happens to be one of the side dish casseroles that people will ask me to bring to their assorted holiday functions. It is truly that good. I’ve even had family tell me that they would forgo the mashed potato recipes and Thanksgiving gravy for this sweet potato casserole.  It’s truly a Thanksgiving recipe favorite that your family will be asking for for years to come.

READ ALSO: Thanksgiving Recipes for the Perfect Holiday 

This is a bit of a Thanksgiving recipe secret so shhhh! It’s simple and delicious and people will think you were working in a hot kitchen all day. If you’re like me, you can even put it all together the night before ( to reduce the amount of kitchen time on Thanksgiving Day) and then just pop it in the oven for the last 45 minutes of your turkey baking time.

Best Thanksgiving Recipes : Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients –   How to make Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, baked and mashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk

Ingredients – Topping

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the first 6 ingredients.

Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch or two 9 x 9-inch baking pans.

In a food processor fitted with a steel knife, combine ingredients for topping until crumbly or use a pastry blender to cut butter into brown sugar and flour until crumbly.

Mix in the chopped pecans.

Sprinkle topping mixture over the sweet potatoes.

At this point, the sweet potato casserole dish can be refrigerated (covered).

Thanksgiving recipes, How to make sweet potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, sweet potatoes, Holiday recipes, turkey recipes, Thanksgiving                                Photo: Pinch of  Yum

Bake uncovered in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes until browned and bubbly.

READ ALSO: How to Make an Easy, Elegant Thanksgiving Tablescape

Let cool slightly before serving.

Enjoy with your other favorite Thanksgiving Recipes. This sweet potato casserole recipe will surely be a Thanksgiving recipe that you will come back to year after year.

Thanksgiving Recipes are the best. What’s your favorite sweet potato casserole recipe?

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grief,loss, parenting, miscarriage

Last night, I dreamt about a baby. A tiny, baby boy who perched his little bobbling head atop my shoulder right in that perfect cradle made just for babies between my collar bone and my ear. Then his tiny head would wobble and bob and little lips would fall on my flesh like kisses from heaven.

I woke up this morning feeling happy with my visitation from the sweet baby boy in my dreams. Then, I realized that it’s November 24th and it wasn’t just any baby, it was our baby. The one who should be turning 4-years-old today. Instead of celebrating together, I’ll be choking down tears and turkey while he (that pregnancy just felt completely different than either pregnancy with my girls so I assume it was a boy), my sweet Declan Wayne (that would have been his name…in my heart it already was) will be missing from our table and our lives.

It’s been 4 years and I still can’t feel the loss any less. Only now, it seems my sadness is turning to bitterness and anger. It took 4 years but all I keep asking God is why? Why did you take my baby? Why must I survive this?

There are so many unwanted pregnancies and babies, so many children born into families where they are mistreated and unloved and all we wanted to do was love our baby. All I wanted to do was hold him in my arms, even just once. It wouldn’t have been enough but it would have given me closure. Instead, I live my life like an open wound that never closes; vulnerable to all of existence. I need some kind of closure, some tangible marking that you were here, so I am writing you this letter.

Dear Declan,

I wish you were here. More than anything in this world, I wish that I could hold you in my arms and feel your little heart beat against mine. I wish I could see your sisters love on you and fawn over you like big sisters do. I wish I could see the pride in your dad’s eyes when you two connected over something boys do. I wish there was a little Big Guy in the world.

I wish you were here to have booboos kissed and tears wiped. I wish you were here to smile lovingly at your sisters when they had a long day at ballet or a hard day at school. I wish you were here to make us smile and giggle as only little boys can do. I wish you were here for me to see grow up.

I wish you were here to love because you see each time I got pregnant, I fell deep in love and my heart grew to accommodate that enormous love. Only now, who am I supposed to give all that extra love to? You made me better before you were ever here.

I won’t talk about the day I lost you or how my entire world crashed down on me. I won’t talk about how all I wanted to do was be with you, to stay with you forever because if I do, I’ll start to cry. I’ll never forget you, my sweet boy, and you will always be in my heart. That’s where I carry you. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it once more and every single day for the rest of my life, I wish you were here.

Forever yours, Mommy

I know it’s Thanksgiving and I am thankful for all that I have but it’s also what should have been the 4th birthday of the baby that I’ll never get to hold. So while I am thankful for all that I have, including those few short precious months of pregnancy with my third baby, I am still sad beyond belief that I will never get to celebrate his life with cake and ice cream surrounded by family and friends.

I will never see him play soccer or go to prom, get married and have children of his own and every November 24th, I will be just a little melancholy around the edges knowing that one child is missing from our table and from our life. I don’t think that sad emptiness ever goes away and to tell the truth, I’m not sure that I want it to because it is the one reminder that I have that he was ever here.

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Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

Thanksgiving is seriously my holiday jam and this year, I needed a Thanksgiving tablescape to convey that. No joking, aside from Christmas, it’s my absolute favorite holiday. I love everything about it; the food, the family and even the chaos. I love the smell of pumpkin, roasted turkey and sweet potato casserole baking that permeate every nook and cranny of my house. As soon as you walk in the door, it’s like a great big giant hug and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Normally, we host between 30-35 people for Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t feel bad for us. We love it. I come from a huge family and it’s always been my dream to give my girls that feeling of a big family. We host dinner for both sides of the family because we want everyone to be close. For us, it is one family.

Nothing makes my heart soar more than hearing my girls chatter on about their lives to their great grandma Gigi or the way they patiently listen to stories of when their Great Aunt Maxie was a child. I love seeing all of my nieces and nephews laughing and joking together. I love seeing the melding of the Latino and the German cultures but mostly, I love all the love that fills the room like air.

Unfortunately this year our guest list will be much smaller. This year it will be an intimate Thanksgiving dinner for 13. Since breaking my leg, everyone wanted to give me a break this year and made other plans with in laws and such. It’s okay and I do appreciate the thoughtfulness. I’m still not fully walking on my own and I know they’ll all be around my table again next year. But I will definitely miss the house being filled with the warmth of family.

You see a long time ago, my husband and I decided that we wanted to host both families for Thanksgiving and we always would because no matter what happened, we wanted our parents to always have a place to come for dinner to celebrate.

This year may be small but I thought I’d take the opportunity to make it extra special and kick everything up a notch. This is the year for experimenting with a little more elegance and refinement starting with my tablescape.

Normally, there are so many guests that we use Thanksgiving themed plastic tablecloths and paper goods along with plastic silverware and napkins. This year, with there only being a small group, I’ve decided to break out the chargers and the china.

The food is always spectacular (here are all the recipes for the perfect dinner) but this year, I want the dinner to be an experience. I want it to feel special and cozy and warm. We might not have the bodies this year but I still want the house to feel cozy and inviting. I want the people who are here to know that they mean everything to us.

Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

For my Thanksgiving tablescape, I decided to go with warm neutrals with a little bit of sparkle for elegance.

Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

I chose a burlap runner because I feel like it gives the table a natural and inviting feel.

Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

I topped that with small wreaths that I used to surround the bottom of my candleholders.

Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

I chose white candles to accentuate the crisp white of the plates.

Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

I went with robin’s egg blue chargers to give the table a little pop of color and tie in the wallpaper in the room.

Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

I opted for my charcoal grey napkins that have silver and gold striations in them. I felt they tied in well with the centerpieces.

Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

I feel like it looks beautiful and I can’t wait to eat dinner at this table surrounded by the people that I love most. For more great ideas to create the perfect Thanksgiving tablescape check out Wayfair.

Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

What will your Thanksgiving tablescape look like this year?

Disclosure: I am a Wayfair ambassador and  this is a compensated post but, as always,  all opinions and this Thanksgiving tablescape are my own.

Wayfair, Thanksgiving, tablescape, thanksgiving tablescape, holidays, thanksgiving recipes,turkey, entertaining, family

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Thanksgiving recipes, perfect thanksgiving, Thanksgiving, family, Angel Soft, recipes, recipe perfect thanksgiving

A perfect Thanksgiving is just around the corner. In all honesty, it’s my favorite holiday, not because of the perfect turkey recipe, all of the scrumptious side recipes  or even the unbelievably good tasting sweet potato casserole that I make every year but because it’s the one time of year, I know that my entire family will be gathered together in one space; breathing the same air. I am so grateful for this one-day and these people who I hold so dear to my heart. These are the people who cause me to be soft and to be strong.

We don’t live that far apart, only a few hours really. But as many of you can relate, life gets in the way of the best intentions. We never get to see one another as much as we would like. But birthdays, weddings, religious celebrations and Thanksgiving, those are the days we show up for without fail.

Once the Big Guy and I were married, we knew that we wanted Thanksgiving to be our holiday because we wanted to unite both families. My husband is from a small family. He only has one brother, three uncles and two aunts. I can count all of his cousins on one hand. This was weird for me at first because this was completely different from what I was used to.

I grew up in a big Latino family with 60 first cousins and several Aunts and Uncles. My parents have six children and we were raised to believe that family is the most important thing, right after God. Being together with family means everything to us. In fact, we were raised that the moment you marry your spouse his family is your family. Even if you barely know them or don’t like them, you love them because they are family.

That’s the true recipe for the perfect Thanksgiving.

We may not have had much in the way of money or possessions growing up, our fortune was meager but we were rich in family and wealthy beyond our wildest imagination in love. We want this for my children. This is why we decided to host Thanksgiving, to bring both sides of the family together and blend them into one great big beautiful village for our children. For us, Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate all the blessings we have by being part of that amazing group of people.

Since I was a small child, Thanksgiving has always been about our family being together celebrating. In Mexico, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s an American holiday but in our house, it’s always been a day to be thankful for the life we have and the people we get to share it with. This is a beautiful thing to celebrate.

We might be Mexican but our Thanksgiving doesn’t look much different than yours. There are only a few subtle differences. For example, at some point during the day Banda music will probably be playing because I like to dance while I cook. There will always be hot sauce on the table because my dad puts it on every thing he eats, including turkey legs.

Sure there is football on the television, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and a 30-pound turkey but depending on who’s showing up there might be tamales and there is usually a pretty intense game of lotteria played by all the children. In the end, it’s all about the family and taking the day to be thankful for those people whom you get to love.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Georgia Pacific. The opinions and text about Thanksgiving are all mine.

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Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Dinner,thanksgiving recipe, recipes, turkey, cranberry sauce

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of family and food. It’s my favorite holiday of the year and I always dreamt that one day we would host Thanksgiving dinner at our home. This year will be our 11th year hosting dinner for both sides of our families.

You can imagine that when hosting a dinner party for 20-30 people, you need a system in place that works. It took a couple years but we finally perfected the perfect traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu.

Here is the menu our family loves every year;

The perfect Thanksgiving turkey

Sweet Potato Casserole

 Ingredients – Casserole

3 cups sweet potatoes, baked and mashed

1/2-teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

1-cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2-cup milk

Ingredients – Topping

1-cup brown sugar

1/2-cup flour

1/2-cup butter

1 cup chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, beat together first 6 ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch or two 9 x 9-inch baking pans. In a processor fitted with steel knife, combine ingredients for topping until crumbly or use a pastry blender to cut butter into brown sugar and flour until crumbly. Mix in nuts. Sprinkle topping mixture over sweet potatoes. At this point, dish can be refrigerated (covered). Bake uncovered in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes until browned and bubbly.

 

Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

1 whole orange including peel/rind, seeds removed

1-cup sugar

Chop all ingredients in a food processor or a food grinder and stir to mix. Refrigerate until ready to use. Be sure to let it drain a while to remove the excess liquid before mixing it with Jello.

2 (3 oz.) pkgs. raspberry Jello

2 1/2 c. boiling water

Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 cup crushed pineapple with juice

I cup of finely Chopped Walnuts or pecans

 

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in Cranberry Orange Sauce, pineapple and chopped walnuts. Pour into mold. Refrigerate until firm.

 

The Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes

 

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • ¾ cups Butter
  • 1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • ½ cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
  • ½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • ½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

 

Preparation Instructions

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half (Or heavy cream). Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt (or roasted garlic cloves) and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

 

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Sausage

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 1 teaspoon freshly minced thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/4 pounds cubed and dried cornbread stuffing, store-bought
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cups turkey or low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in 12-inch skillet.

Cook sausage for 5 to 7 minutes until browned. Add onions and celery and sauté until softened. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Mix in apples, thyme and sage and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add bourbon. *Cook’s Note: When adding alcohol, take pan off flame. Allow to simmer until bourbon is almost evaporated; 1 to 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, add cornbread stuffing, parsley, chicken stock, eggs and pecans. Mix well. Mix in vegetable mixture to bowl. Combine and stir well together. Add to a large casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.

 

Creamy Turkey Gravy

 

Ingredients

 

Turkey pan juices, about 4 cups of hot turkey stock.

Unsalted butter, if necessary

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4-cup heavy cream

1-teaspoon kosher salt

1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry white wine (optional)

Directions

  1. Pour the pan juices from roasting the turkey through a fine-mesh strainer into large heat-safe measuring cup, and skim off the fat and reserve (or use a fat separator).
  2. Place the roasting pan over two burners, and warm over medium-high heat. Add 1-1/2 cups water to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits with a flat-sided wooden spoon. Once all the fond has dissolved, pour it through the fine mesh strainer into the same heat-safe measuring cup.
  3. Add enough turkey stock to the juices to bring the total to 5 cups.

Add 5 tablespoons of the reserved turkey fat to the pan (making up any difference with butter), and whisk in flour. Cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking frequently to get rid of the raw flour flavor.

  1. Drizzle the drippings mixture into the pan, whisking constantly. Add the cream, salt, pepper, and wine (if using).
  2. Bring to a boil, and whisk constantly until the gravy has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Serve with turkey.

Makes 5 cups gravy.

Spiced Apple Cider

Ingredients

Makes 2 quarts

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2-teaspoon whole allspice

1-teaspoon whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/4-teaspoon salt

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 large orange, quartered with peel

2 quarts apple cider

 

Directions

  1. Place filter in coffee basket, and fill with brown sugar, allspice, cloves, cinnamon stick, salt, nutmeg, and orange wedges. Pour apple cider into coffee pot where the water usually goes. Brew, and serve hot.

Looking at this list, it may look like a lot of work and it is BUT it is totally worth it. Each year, we spend the week of Thanksgiving cleaning our home, prepping for visitors and cooking. It’s a hectic week to say the least but I wouldn’t trade a second of all the love and laughter that will be filling our home this weekend. I love giving my daughters these memories to cherish.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe?

 

 

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Thanksgiving recipes, How to make sweet potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, sweet potatoes, Holiday recipes, turkey recipes, Thanksgiving, how to roast the perfect turkey

Ever wonder how to roast the perfect turkey? I had no idea how to cook a turkey the first year I hosted Thanksgiving. I just knew  I wanted all of my family together in one place. If that meant that I had to learn how to roast the perfect turkey, so be it. I’d do it. That’s how I learned how to roast a turkey.

I did a lot of research online and on Pinterest before I dove deep into this recipe. I wanted to prepare the best tasting, most moist turkey that ever graced a Thanksgiving tablescape and I did a pretty good job on my first year. By year two, I had all the kinks worked out and there’s been no turning back since.

This turkey recipe is very easy and has worked better than beautifully for me for the past 7 years. I am not a domestic diva but there are a few things that I can really cook so well that it will knock the taste right outta your mouth..turkey is one of those things. So, I want to share with you all my secret of how to roast the perfect turkey. Thanksgiving is my holiday our entire family, both sides come to our house because the Big Guy and I absolutely know how to roast the perfect turkey. I know people deep fry, rotisserie and all sorts of creative ideas but when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I like my turkey traditional. Today I will share with you what I’ve perfected as the sure-fire way of how to roast the perfect turkey.

Easy tips on how to roast a turkey perfectly every time

  1. Learning how to roast the perfect turkey starts with selecting the right turkey for your family. To calculate how much turkey you will need, I use the rule that allows for 1 pound of turkey for every adult and 3/4 pounds for every child that you will be feeding. You will have leftovers and there will be no fighting over portions. Everyone will have their fair share of the tryptophan high that Thanksgiving brings us all.
  2. Start with preheating the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Remove turkey from bag. We have found that buying a non-frozen fresh turkey works the best. It eliminates the headache of thawing. We found this out the hard way when we had our turkey thawing in our game room fridge and little people playing under the bar cabinets, accidentally knocked the plug out of the wall. ( I know so dangerous, please hold all judgment.) Keep in mind that a partially frozen turkey will take longer to cook.
  4. If you need help deciding between fresh or frozen here are a few facts:
    • Fresh turkeys need no thawing and are ready to cook. Winning! This is my favorite tip on how to roast the perfect turkey.
    • Fresh Butterball turkeys are all natural.
    • Frozen turkeys can be purchased weeks in advance but require several days of thawing before roasting. A quick rule of thumb is to allow 1 day for every 4 pounds of turkey. We normally get about a 26-pound turkey. Yes, it takes forever to defrost in the refrigerator but it is less likely to give you salmonella than trying to defrost in cold water overnight. The water needs to be cold and changed every 30 minutes to prevent bacteria from growing. If you are not going with a fresh turkey, please defrost using the refrigerator.
  5. Remove all the innards. Do not forget the neck-bone and giblets, sometimes if you have a frozen turkey the neck-bone and giblets try to stay inside. Just remember, every turkey comes with the neck-bone and giblets inside so if you don’t find them. LOOK HARDER they are most likely still frozen inside.
  6. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels. I like to rinse it once before I pat it dry.
  7. Place turkey lifter across the full length of a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan, 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep. Keep in mind that a dark roasting pan cooks the turkey faster than a shiny one.
  8. Tuck wings back to hold the neck skin in place. Doing so will help stabilize the turkey in the pan and when carving. Place thawed or fresh turkey, breast up, on the turkey lifter. Raise one loop over wings and breast, and the other loop over drumsticks. Rest loops on turkey, not over the edge of the pan during roasting.
  9. *Next, this is important.* I place my hand between the skin and turkey itself. Then, gently lift on the skin. This separates the skin intact without removing it from the turkey. ( I fully realize that this is about as gross as pulling out the guts from a pumpkin but I enjoy that too:) Then take pats of butter and place inside the space between the turkey and skin. While the turkey cooks the butter flavor will seep into the turkey.
  10. This step is essential to ensuring moistness and a key factor in how to roast the perfect turkey, massage turkey skin with vegetable/olive oil ( I prefer olive oil) to prevent the skin from drying and locking in the juices, keeping your turkey moist.
  11. Melt about a cup of butter ( unsalted preferably) and pour over the turkey while massaging it into the turkey. Then shower the turkey with salt and pepper. Massage again. ( This turkey is very relaxed by the time he goes into the oven.)
  12. I do not stuff my turkey with stuffing. I do however quarter 2 lemons and 3 oranges and place inside the turkey along with some rosemary and thyme. There are a variety of things you can add inside your turkey for flavoring but oranges, lemons, rosemary and thyme are what I use. I keep it simple.
  13. Turn oven down to 325 degrees for cooking. To cook the perfect turkey we preheat to 400 degrees because once you put the turkey in the oven, it seals in the juices an then immediately turn the oven down 325 degrees for cooking. If this is your first time, I don’t suggest waiting until turkey is in the oven before turning down temperature because there is a big possibility that you will forget and burn the outside of your turkey while the inside is still frozen.
  14. Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle but not touching the bone. When the thigh is up to temperature and if the turkey is stuffed, move thermometer to center of stuffing. Stuffing should be 165 degrees when done.

READ ALSO: How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

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15. I do not stuff my bird with stuffing when roasting, it slows down the cooking process. I fear if I did, I’d have to title this post How to get Salmonella rather than How to roast the perfect turkey.

16. Place your turkey with a loosely tented piece of lightweight foil atop the breast and top of drumsticks to prevent overcooking in the pre-heated oven at 325 degrees. If you place your dark roasting lid on the turkey it will speed up the roasting process. I prefer to cook my turkey slowly. Think of that lid as Pitocin for your turkey, it will speed up the process but it might not give you the best results. The turkey may be drier than it would have been otherwise.

17. I check the turkey about every hour and baste it in its juices. This helps keep the skin moist and helps to brown the turkey. Yes, I do realize that I am obsessed with keeping my turkey moist. Have you ever had dry turkey? It’s almost impossible to eat and I don’t want to choke to death on Thanksgiving.

18. Use the roasting schedule below as a guide and start checking for doneness about 30 minutes before the end of recommended cooking times.

19. When the turkey is about 2/3 done, uncover the turkey to allow for the skin to cook to a beautiful golden brown. This is the perfect time to start preparing those final side dishes like the recipe for those delicious stuffed sweet potatoes I found on Lady and the Blog.

20. Your turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches the following temperatures:

180 degrees deep in the thigh. At this temperature, juices should be clear, not reddish pink when thigh muscle is pierced deeply.

165 degrees in the center of the stuffing, if the turkey is stuffed.

21. Lift roasted turkey onto a platter with turkey lifter and discard lifter.

22. Before removing stuffing and carving, let your turkey stand 15 minutes to allow juices to set. Garnish as you like, I use citrus and cranberries. This is how to roast the perfect turkey.

READ ALSO: Thanksgiving Recipes for the Perfect Holiday Dinner

How to roast the perfect turkey every time

Net Weight (lb.)Unstuffed (hrs.)Stuffed (hrs.)
4½ to 72 to 2½2¼ to 2¾
7 to 92½ to 32¾ to 3½
9 to 183 to 3½3¾ to 4½
18 to 223½ to 44½ to 5
22 to 244 to 4½5 to 5½
24 to 304½ to 55½ to 6¼

I know there are many ways to roast the perfect turkey but this is what has worked for me for many Thanksgivings. How do you roast your perfect turkey? What are your favorite Thanksgiving sides? What are your must haves at Thanksgiving? Stay tuned, I will be sharing a few of my favorite sides over the next week. How to roast the perfect turkey is the key to how to have a perfect Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

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How to Roast a Turkey to perfection

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