The Homemade Mom: Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is nearly here! Since it’s always about everything but the turkey (ok, it’s also about the turkey!), we have starters, sides, desserts and everything you could ever want!

And, we even have something planned for those yummy leftovers.

Be sure to follow Julie at @seasongenerously on Instagram to see more photos and Thanksgiving ideas!

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Skillet Cornbread

I’ve been making cornbread since before I could walk. Every year at Thanksgiving, my responsibility was to make the cornbread (but as muffins). I made the exact same recipe every year and while everyone said they liked them, truth-be-told, I never did. I thought they were dry and hard to swallow. So a few years back, I started playing around with the recipe and finally ended up on this one. The honey keeps it sweet and the butter makes it moist. You really do need the butter in it and on top of it, so don’t skip this step. And the secret ingredient is the pan you cook it in – a cast iron skillet will give you the golden brown outside you’re searching for. You can even drizzle more honey on top of this if you want it to be extra, extra special, but that’s just crazy talk to me.

Servings: 8

Time: 60 minutes

Difficulty: easy


10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the pan

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal, plus more for dusting the pan

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (see my homemade vanilla recipe here)

2 tablespoons honey


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch cast iron skillet with cornmeal. Be sure to remove any excess cornmeal from the pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

3. Whisk together 8 tablespoons of the butter with the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and honey in a small bowl until smooth.

4. Pour the butter mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

5. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from cake pan. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over the top of the cornbread to finish. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Adapted from:

Sweet Potato with Toasted Meringue

I’ve made a million sweet potato pies with and without marshmallows over the years for Thanksgiving. While marshmallows look nice on top of a sweet potato pie, they’ve always been too sweet for me to eat. So with this being my first year hosting Thanksgiving, I set out to find a new way to make them. And, after trying it this way, I’m always going to make it with meringue! It’s creamier, a little sweet, (but not too sweet) and adds just the right amount of slightly crunchy texture to the much needed mushy food. This is definitely a keeper!

Servings: 12

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: easy


4 medium-sized sweet potatoes

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

5 tablespoons whole milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

1 teaspoon plus 1/8 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup powdered sugar


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork, and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Let stand on baking sheet at room temperature until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

2. Cut potatoes in half length-wise; carefully scoop potato pulp into a medium bowl, leaving about 1/4 inch pulp around shell. Return potato shells to baking sheet and add ginger, milk, and butter to pulp in bowl. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Spoon mashed potato mixture evenly into potato shells.

3. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt with a mixer on high speed until foamy, about 20 to 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Spoon meringue evenly onto potatoes on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until meringue is golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Adapted from:

Note: You can prepare the recipe through step 2 up to two days ahead; reheat potatoes at 375 degrees, then turn up the heat to brown the topping in step 3.

A Medley of Vegetables

I don’t know about your Thanksgiving, but at ours, we are so overwhelmed by savory and sweet pies. Pure vegetables rarely make an appearance. So this year, I’m making sure we have a variety of healthy roasted vegetables on the table. I used beets, Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and Russet potatoes with a sprinkling of thyme and rosemary, but you can use any vegetable and any herb here. Just be aware that some vegetables need longer baking times (like potatoes) than others (like Brussels sprouts).

Servings: 4-6

Time: 30-60 minutes

Difficulty: easy


2-3 pounds of root vegetables (like butternut squash, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, beets, potatoes, etc…)

Olive Oil

A handful of fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, etc…)

Salt & Pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper and top with fresh herbs.

3. Roast vegetables for 30 minutes – hour, stirring/flipping at least once or twice.

4. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Roasted Grapes, Apple, & Cranberry Sauce

My family has always made a slightly unconventional cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. It's a mix of strawberries, cherries, and cranberries. It's scrumptious. But in an effort to revamp our Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to combine an unexpected group of fruits together - black grapes, sweet apple, and tart cranberries. Roasting the grapes elevated this to be a next level cranberry sauce. You might even want to make this another time of year - GASP! I bet it might even taste good with leftover turkey spread on some ciabatta or a baguette.

Servings: 12

Time: 25 minutes cooking, 1 hour cooling

Difficulty: easy


2 cups seedless black grapes, left whole

1 large Honeycrisp apple, chopped

2 tablespoons shallot, chopped

1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 teaspoons pure maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place grapes, apple, and shallot on prepared baking sheet, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees until shallot begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Add cranberries to baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees until cranberries burst, apple is tender, and grape skins are beginning to burst, about 20 more minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer grape mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in butter, maple syrup, and salt. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with thyme. Enjoy!

Adapted from

Corn Pudding

My family has been making this recipe for so long that we don't even know who in the family wrote it. The quantities and ingredients have changed so many times over the years that the only things I do know is it's at least 30 years old and it's delicious. It's so creamy and decadent, so it's perfect for the Thanksgiving day feast.


Time= 90 minutes



1 1/4 sticks butter, melted

1 15-oz can creamed corn

2 15-oz cans sweet corn, well drained

2/3 cups sugar

4 heaping tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1 3/4 cups whole milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix together well. Place in prepared baking dish and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes (pudding is done when it no longer jiggles in the middle). Enjoy!

Gram's Pumpkin Soup

My Gram was an amazing cook. She passed it down to my mom who, in turn, helped me learn to cook from a very young age. I remember standing in the kitchen cooking and baking with my mom for hours prepping holiday meals until my feet would start to hurt. That's how badly I wanted to stay in the kitchen cooking with her. This soup is one of those recipes that my mom would whip up and it screams START OF THE HOLIDAYS! We would always dunk our corn muffins in the soup and be full before the Thanksgiving feast even began. Ohhhh, the holidays! She liked to top it with nuts or fruit, but I prefer it with sour cream and a dash of curry.


Time=20 minutes



1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1 teaspoon curry powder + more to taste

2 large (29-oz) cans pumpkin

5-6 cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup apple sauce

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Optional garnishes: sour cream, ginger, curry powder or sunflower seeds [/recipe-ingredients] [recipe-directions]


In a large pot, saute onion in oil until soft, about 5-minutes. Sprinkle with curry powder and saute 1-2 more minutes.

Add 1/2 can of pumpkin and 1 can broth. Mix well to combine.

Using an immersion blender, blend soup right in pot (or pour into a regular blender to blend and return to pot).

Once blended, add in remaining pumpkin and broth. Stir milk in slowly and heat until simmering. Add apple juice and adjust seasonings as needed. Top with optional garnishes, if desired. Enjoy!

Lorraine's Pumpkin Pie

I like to think of my mother-in-law as the Martha Stewart of England. She is one of the best, most natural cooks I've ever encountered and she inspires me every single day. While they don't celebrate Thanksgiving in England, she does make one heck of a pumpkin pie. This is her recipe that she wrote when my husband was about 5 years old.


Time=2 hours



Homemade or store bought pastry

1 1/2 pounds pumpkin

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup whole milk

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

A pinch of salt

2 eggs, room temperature

Optional: A dash of sherry, brandy or rum is an improvement :)


1. If preparing pastry from scratch, prep pastry and turn it into pie dish. If using store bought, let defrost and place in pie dish. Set aside.

2. Pare, seed and cut pumpkin into 2-inch pieces. Simmer in 1/4 inch water over low heat until mushy (about 20-minutes), stirring frequently. Let cool, then squeeze pulp in clean tea towel until really well drained of moisture. Set aside.

3. Over a gentle heat, mix together remaining ingredients, except the eggs. Remove from heat and add eggs.

4. Bake until golden brown, about 1-hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve with cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

Note: Some recipes also advise separating the eggs and folding in stiffly whisked egg whites at the very end when the mixture has cooled. This will make the pie lighter and fluffier.

How to Make a Cheese Board

There's a revived excitement surrounding cheese boards these days because you can do anything with them. Don't eat meat? Leave it off. Don't like vegetables? Don't add them. Only want 10 cheeses? Sounds great! The key to a good board is not to have any empty space so layer, add dimension and some symmetry and you have yourself one hell of an appetizer.

Servings= unlimited

Time=20 minutes



Variety of 2-3 different cheeses (like aged cheddar, brie, smoked gouda, goat cheese, etc...)

Variety of 2-3 different meats (prosciutto, pepperoni, salami, etc...)

Variety of crackers and bread

Variety of fresh fruit (red & green grapes, strawberries, blueberries, etc...)

Variety of fresh vegetables (cucumbers, mixed peppers, carrots, broccoli, etc...)

Variety of dried fruits (apricots, apples, mango, etc...)

Variety of nuts (almond, macadamia nuts, walnuts, etc...)


1. Place the cheeses on any kind of platter or serving plate.

2.Arrange the cheeses and meats around the plate. Add crackers and bread.

3. Fill in gaps with fruit, vegetables, dried fruit and nuts. Use small bowls or cups for extra dimension. Top with fresh herbs and flowers, if desired. Enjoy!

How to Roast a Turkey (& Make Gravy)

The main event for Thanksgiving is the turkey. There are many ways to make a turkey, but this is a basic, no fuss way that is hard to mess up. You can baste the turkey throughout the cooking process using its own juices to make sure it doesn't dry out. And, if you stuff it with stuffing, make sure you add more time to cook the bird.

Servings=4 Time=30 minutes prep, 3 hours cooking



For the Turkey:

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, coarsely chopped

1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets reserved

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons butter

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

1/2 bunch chopped fresh sage

For the Gravy:

1 to 2 cups pan drippings (from roasted turkey)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 - 2 cups water (or low-sodium stock)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Place onion, celery, and carrot in a large, shallow roasting pan.

3. Place turkey, breast side up, on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. Remove giblets, and pat the outside and inside of the turkey dry with paper towels.

4. Combine salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Season the inside of the turkey with about 1/3 of the salt mixture. Fold wing tips under the bird.

5. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat until the edges begin to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Cook and stir rosemary and sage for 1 minute.

6. Place rosemary and sage inside the cavity of the turkey; reserve melted butter. Tie the legs together with twine.

7. Brush outside of the turkey completely with the melted butter. Season with remaining 2/3 of the salt mixture.

8. Bake turkey, uncovered, in the preheated oven until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 3 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow to rest in a warm area 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

9. To make the gravy, pour the turkey pan drippings into a 2-cup measuring cup and skim the fat off.

10. Put about 1/4 cup of the fat into a saucepan. Stir in 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Discard any remaining skimmed fat.

11. Add enough water to the liquids left in the measuring cup to make 2 cups of liquid. Pour the 2 cups of liquid into the flour and fat mixture. Cook, stirring, until thickened and bubbling. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve with turkey. Enjoy!

What to Do With Leftovers

You know me and my soups, I just love them! So when it comes to Thanksgiving, don't throw out that turkey carcass - make turkey soup! Even if you don't want the soup, make the stock and freeze it for another time. You can use it to cook rice, grains, or add in to just about any recipe you'd use water in.


Time=15 minutes prep, 2 hours cooking



1 turkey carcass, trimmed of the meat

1 pint (2 cups) chicken broth

2-3 cups water, + more if needed to cover carcass

4 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch chunks, divided

1 onion, peeled and quartered

2 carrots, cut into 3-inch chunks, divided

2 dried bay leaves

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 sweet potato, diced

1 cup frozen pearl onions

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups shredded turkey meat

2 pinches salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup fresh parsley, for garnish


1. In a large stock pot, add the turkey carcass, stock, water, 2 celery, stalks onion, 1 carrot and one bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Remove the carcass with tongs and discard. Pour the stock through a large strainer into a bowl. Discard the solids.

3. Back in the stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the sweet potato, remaining celery and carrots and pearl onions. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bloom for 30 seconds. Add the turkey meat, remaining bay leaf and reserved turkey stock. Let simmer another 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes have become tender. Serve topped with parsley & enjoy!

Adapted from:

Julie is a stay-at-home mom of two girls and with a passion for all things food. She loves growing, cooking, and, of course, eating food! She started meal planning years ago to stay organized and eliminate food (and money!) waste and started sharing it on her own blog, Season Generously.