Tuesday, November 8, 2016

favorite thanksgiving tables & recipes

Each year I post lots of photos of Thanksgiving after it is all over, which is perfect for memory preserving, but not so much for providing all of you with ideas and inspiration for your own celebrations.  I thought it would be helpful to round up a post of my past favorite table settings and links to a few tried and true recipes, as every hostess is already starting to gather ideas for their own celebrations.  Please share your favorite dishes in the comments, I usually try one new thing each year just to keep the cooking fun and family holiday favorites are always good ones to share with each other!

Typically by Thanksgiving the stores are brimming with fresh Christmas greens and while it is our tradition to wait until Thanksgiving is over before we deck our halls, there are ways to combine the two a little.  Here I used a Trader Joe's boxwood wreath with a pretty vintage, copper ribbon on our front door to welcome family to dinner.  After Thanksgiving I swapped out the copper ribbon for a red satin bow.  Link to this post here.

One of my favorite ways to set a table is with a natural runner, especially for Thanksgiving.  Here I laid branches of magnolia leaves first and then weaved in eucalyptus, candles and fresh clementines.  I was able to set this the day before and everything still looked fresh.  I wouldn't start much sooner than that since the branches are not in water.  I love Ikea's white pillar candles, inexpensive and burn really well. Link to post here.

Grab little pumpkins now if you can still find them, by Thanksgiving week they are all sold out.  I love them as place card holders because they look pretty with the centerpiece when they are removed from the plate.  I typically set up a buffet in the kitchen so everyone grabs their plate and then helps themselves to dinner.  With a table setting like this you can't serve the food family style at the table.  The pretty Indian block print napkins were bought at a local shop and perfect if you are free of pattern elsewhere at the table.  Link to post here.

A lighter alternative to pumpkin pie.  I especially love these if you are serving multiple desserts and people want a little bite of each.  Mini deconstructed pumpkin pie recipe here.  I love the pecan acorns so much, they would make a great treat for guests to take home and they can be made several days in advance.

Last year I choose this beautiful blue bowl (from Wisteria) for the centerpiece and loaded it up with mums and eucalyptus.  Be cautious to keep arrangements low enough to see over when people are sitting across from each other.   I always place the arrangement on the table and then sit down to make sure it is low enough.  I also layered runners for this table setting.  Seen better below.  Link to this setting here

While being mindful not to add too much height to the centerpiece, I do love adding height either at the end of the table or somewhere else in the room, see here the tall bundle of eucalyptus branches on the window sill and the pitcher of red berry branches.  I like to use lots of votives because at night the room takes on a magical candle glow.  I keep a couple of bottles of wine right at the table so people don't have to get up for refills.  I will pull out the coffee cups later when we serve dessert.

Each year we have lots of repeat favorites.  I will promise this year to blog my Mum's stuffing recipe because it is absolutely the BEST.  I've never made it, since my Mum usually brings a couple dishes to help with the meal and this is one of them.  This year I will make it and blog the recipe for you after Thanksgiving (would be perfect for Christmas dinner too!).  I make it a point never to blog a recipe I haven't tried myself, so I will just have to keep you in suspense.  A couple times over the years my Mum has tried new stuffing recipes and we all vehemently protested, so this one is a family tradition now.

my favorite whole turkey recipe is at the end of this post

Here I used Ikea check fabric folded to make a large table runner.  I love pewter and berries, especially at Thanksgiving and have lots of different little pewter vessels tucked away here and there throughout the downstairs and among the serving dishes of our buffet. 

My FAVORITE Roast Turkey Recipe
20 pound turkey
6 tablespoon butter, softened, room temperature
2 bundles of fresh poultry herbs
1 lemon
1 yellow onion
celery stalk
carrot stalk
1 cup dry white wine
(supplies: large roasting pan with removable rack, kitchen twine, baster)

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry (make sure you've removed neck and giblet for gravy making).  Chop one bundle of poultry herbs and mash with butter to form an herbed butter, add in salt and pepper.  Gently loosen the skin of the turkey and rub the softened butter mixture underneath the skin on the breast and all over the turkey.  It helps if your turkey isn't too cold so that butter spreads easily.  I usually let mine sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before prepping.  Fill the cavity with the remaining bundle of fresh herbs, tied with kitchen twine), a lemon cut in half, an onion cut in half and the celery and carrot, roughly cut to fit into the cavity.  Tie legs together with twine, and tuck tips of wings underneath. Place turkey on a baking rack and into a roasting pan.  Pour wine into roasting pan.  Roast turkey for one hour before basting.  Continue to roast for 3.5-4 hours, basting every 45 minutes or so, until breast registers 170 and legs 180.  Cover breast with foil if it starts to get too brown while roasting.  This will result is a picture perfect roast turkey that tastes amazing!!  It's the recipe I grew up with and the only one I make for my family.


  1. Tell me more about the bundles of fresh poultry herbs... I have never seen or heard of this before. Do you have somewhere where you usually find them?

    1. I do buy them prepackaged in the herb section of our grocery stores. If you can't find them it is just a mix of rosemary, thyme and sage. :)

  2. Your posts are always so inspiring to me. All of them! While all your thanksgiving photos and narrative are wonderful, the top image with your infant nephew is just precious. I look forward to your stuffing recipe! We have family favorite recipes and I, too change things up a little each year to keep things interesting. Have a beautiful Thanksgiving with your family, and thank you for sharing your inspiration here.