There’s a lot that can go into a Thanksgiving meal. And for some, it’s the biggest dinner they’ll prepare this year. So without getting into too much detail, we have a few suggestions to help you make the best meal you can while still enjoying this day of gratitude with friends and family.

First, you need to answer the following:

  1. Who is coming to dinner? Are there any major dietary issues and preferences to take into consideration?
  2. What are the must-have dishes? (And, are they truly must-have, or can they wait until Christmas?) You could take a survey asking friends and family this question, but be warned, this may turn into a traffic-jam in the kitchen come Thanksgiving day!
  3. Most importantly, how do you want the day to feel? Extremely formal? Traditional? Casual and laid-back?

Here are our answers for 2015 (feel free to copy from our homework – we won’t tell!):

For us, making things simple and highly flavorful is what we’re after this year. If you don’t already know, Brent has some food allergies that we have to consider. Michelle has a love addiction to vegetables. And our daughter is seven, and loves things simple, approachable, and yummy. We do like to experiment, so we always have a new dish or method or idea that we want to try. A turkey is pretty much our only must-have, because we do like a nod to tradition! But, above all else, we want to make sure there’s relaxation, laughter, and a bit of quiet time (we’ve been working a lot this year!). We also like things to be entertaining, without feeling too contrived or stringent. Intentional yet organic.

So we’re most-likely looking at:

  • Sweet Potato Tater Tots & Fried Pickles with Harissa Aioli
  • Smoked Almonds
  • Smoked Turkey (this is our ‘new’ method as we’ve made turkey in a variety of ways before, but never in our new smoker!)
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Cranberry-Apple Chutney and Candied Walnuts
  • Chopped Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
  • Honey-glazed Carrots
  • Gluten-free Cinnamon Snails for dessert (the first Thanksgiving dish our daughter will make and a seven-year old nod to cinnamon rolls!)

This is our ‘ideal’ meal, but we may not end up doing exactly this. The harissa aioli, though, is definitely a must-have and we can’t wait to share this recipe with you!

Your answers may not look like ours, and that’s amazing. Paint a picture in your mind of where you’re going with your Thanksgiving meal. Then, make a list, think about kitchen real estate, make a timeline, think of ambiance along the way, and execute – then ENJOY! Oh, and don’t forget to ask for help AND try to prepare as many things as you can in advance.

If you’re in the neighborhood and need an amazing turkey sandwich, give us a ring! We’ll have one waiting for you.

By the way, have we mentioned how glad we are to have you here at CollabKitchen? You, friends, are the reason why we keep this going. That and we needed a place to store all of our crazy food ideas. Anyway, thank you again and again. And again.