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Kat’s Must-Try Thanksgiving Go-To’s

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of the year.

It’s the one time of year I normally get together with my extended family, we eat until we can’t think (thank goodness for elastic waistbands), laugh until we cry and just have the best time. Before my grandmother passed away a few years ago, we always spent Thanksgiving at her house and even though she is no longer with us, the scenery has changed and traditions have evolved, I still think of her and how special it was spending the holiday together. With the pandemic we won’t be traveling to my aunt’s house and we’ll be keeping it small, but you better believe we’ll be whipping up all of our favorites!

Here are a few that I just had to share with you:

Turkey Brine

Brining the turkey is not the only way to get a moist and juicy turkey but it sure does add some amazing flavor and dimension. This is the brine recipe that my husband prefers to use.

3 c. apple juice or apple cider
2 gallons cold water
4 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. kosher Salt
2 c. brown sugar
3 tbsp. peppercorns
5 whole bay leaves
Peel of three large oranges
1 XL brine bag
Home Depot bucket


  • Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn
    off heat and cover.
  • Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Use a Home Depot bucket to
    help with this party.
  • Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.
  • When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of
    fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the
  • Discard brine.
  • Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.

Mashed Potatoes and Root Vegetables

Adding root vegetables to your usual mashed potatoes is a fun twist to this holiday staple and you will
hardly notice the difference.

1.5 lb of your favorite potato for mashing – russet, Yukon gold, red, etc.
½ lb root vegetables of choice – parsnip, turnip, celery root, carrots
Unsalted Butter, to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Garlic Powder, to taste

Milk, to obtain desired consistency


  • Boil your potatoes and root vegetables until fork tender. Keep in mind they may not have the
    same cooking time and will need to be cooked separately
  • Combine potatoes and root vegetables into single pot for mashing. Use hand mixer or masher to
    mash. Add butter and milk until desired consistency is reached.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder until desired seasoning is reached.


  • A lot of the direction is “to taste” or “until desired consistency is reached” – don’t let this freak
    you out…you really can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes…as my favorite IG cook,
    @primal_gourmet, likes to say, “you’re the boss, applesauce.”
  •  Don’t like butter in them, skip it. Can’t tolerate milk, use stock or almond/coconut milk.
    Just season them how you like them.
  • If you want to be adventurous, drop the amount of potatoes and increase your root
  • Serve with homemade gravy made from your turkey drippings
    • A quick recipe: 1 cup drippings, some chicken stock to add volume, a couple tbsp of butter to add some dimension and flour/cornstarch/arrowroot starch to thicken things up

Uncle Joey’s Sausage Stuffing

This is a recipe that my husband brought to our tradition from his family. This stuffing recipe is what his
godfather used to make each year for their family. It is not for the faint at heart but is oh so delicious!

1 lb bulk sausage (we use Jamestown)
1 lb ground beef
2 large loaves of white bread
1 lb butter & 1/4 lb margarine
1 head celery (chopped)
2 or 3 onions (chopped)
1-1/2 tbsp poultry seasoning
4 or 5 eggs
A little milk, if needed to moisten


  • Remove bread from wrapper and let stand out to get firm – this takes about 1-2 days and
    we cover the bread with dish towels while drying to keep it covered. Once dried out, cut
    into cubes and place in very big pot.
  • Cook sausage and ground beef, drain fat. (Uncle Joey cooks meats separately)
  • In 3 qt pan melt butter and margarine, add poultry seasoning, celery and onions and sauté
    until soft.
  • Add veggie mixture to bread and mix together.
  • Add meat to above and mix
  • Add 4 or five eggs to bind, mix, if dry, add a little milk
  • Use large foil pans or Pyrex dishes lined with foil. Add stuffing, wrap and bake about 1-1/2
    to 2 hours at 350 degrees.
  • Open foil and test for doneness.


Oyster Stuffing

Another twist to stuffing and this one comes from my grandmother. She always made this with Stove
Top for those that don’t like oysters. If I am being honest, you wouldn’t ever know oysters were in it!

2 qts dry bread crumbs
1 pint oysters
2 eggs
¼ lb butter
1 tbsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp salt
1 cup turkey drippings
1 onion, chopped


  •  Brown bread in butter – use a heavy skillet or a low heat so as not to burn the bread
  • Cut oysters into small pieces
  • Beat eggs
  • Add seasoning to bread crumbs then add oysters and eggs
  • Add drippings and stir until bread is moist
  • Form stuffing into paddies and bake on cookie sheet for 20 mins at 400 degrees
  • If you put the stuffing in the bird, do not get it moist – stuff the bird with the dry mixture. The
    moisture from the bird will take care of the moisture


Pumpkin Roll

I tried this recipe out the first year after graduating college and it has been a thanksgiving staple ever
since. One year I forgot the pumpkin roll at home and I still haven’t heard the end of it. Don’t be
intimidate by rolling the cake – it’s super easy and well worth the effort!


3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup solid packed pumpkin puree
1 tsp lemon juice
¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp nutmeg ½ tsp salt
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 – 3oz. packages cream cheese
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
½ tsp vanilla

Roll Directions:
? Beat eggs at high speed for 5 minutes
? Gradually beat in one cup of sugar
? Stir in the pumpkin and lemon juice
? Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt
? Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture
? Pour batter into a greased and floured 15 x 10 x ½ inch baking pan
? Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes
? Remove from an oven and loosen sides with a spatula or knife and turn out on a kitchen towel
with confectioner’s sugar on it
? Gently roll the cake and towel together (while it’s still warm), jelly-roll style and allow to cool.
Allow the cakes to cool overnight, if possible.
Filling Directions:
? Allow all ingredients for the filling to come to room temperature
? Prepare the filling by beating all the ingredients together until smooth
? Carefully unroll the cooled cake and spread the filling on the top
? Carefully roll the cake up again
? Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Can also be frozen for a future date.

? I have yet to find the size cream cheese packages recommended in the recipe, so I buy the 8oz
packages and just roll with it. Don’t fret.
? I also have yet to use that exact pan size…use the pan that is the closest to those dimensions
and roll with it. (see what I did there…haha)
? Confectioner’s sugar is a nightmare so when making the filling don’t put all of it in at once. Go
slow so you don’t end up with a light dusting all over your kitchen.
? Rolling the cake is not hard and you will not crack your cake if you’re using a pan that is close the
dimensions above and the cake is still warm when you roll it.
? When you unroll it, don’t try to make it lay flat. Use one hand to gently support the underside of
it while the other hand is spreading the delicious filling.



Happy Thanksgiving friends and let us know how you like these if you try any! We’d love to hear! is the place to tell us, or on our chat feature.

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