A Hodgepodge Thanksgiving Menu

Husband  and I hosted an assortment of friends and family for Thanksgiving 2011.  My simple yet full menu accommodated carnivores; drinkers; abstainers; gluten-, turkey-, and dairy- allergies; and diabetics. I’m excited to share the menu with you.

Some of these recipes will be available in my book Hosting With Style: Beretta Fleur’s Guide To Parties and Homemaking (out in fall 2012).

The Turkey:

As an ex-vegetarian and vegan, it was a change for me to return to the eating habits of my youth for the holidays for the past year and a half.   Since I can now more easily make choices that do not support factory farming (which is why, after reading Diet for a New America, I became vegetarian and then vegan in the first place), I decided to return to the carnivorous lifestyle. I don’t always buy organic or free-range, but I do when I can.

I chose Leaping Waters Farm in Virginia, and I pre-ordered a Heritage Red Bourbon bird. Then I won a turkey in a  raffle at an NSCA shoot last weekend, so I decided to save that idea for Christmas. The people at Leaping Waters were very nice and I look forward to ordering from them.

For balance, every year that I’ve prepared a turkey, I’ve adopted one from Farm Sanctuary:


Bar:  My concoction, “Cranberry Toast” which is Champagne, Apple-Pom juice, and frozen cranberries, served with either rosemary or mint from our garden; plus a dash of simple syrup for those who wanted it sweeter.

Also Spiced Rum Cider (made with vegan butter), sparkling apple cider, water, whiskey, and coffee.


  • We offered: Tempranillo , Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir.
  • Guests brought: Merlot and a lovely Napa Claret.



  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Cheese and Fruit Board (Low fat Brie, Dubliner, Gorgonzola, White Stilton Mango)
  • Nuts in shell


  • Sage Butter Turkey
  • Celebration Roast (V)
  • Brussels sprouts (GF/V)
  • Acorn Squash (Served with optional butter and brown sugar)
  • Smashed Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary (GF/V)
  • Stuffing (Regular and Gluten/Dairy-Free)
  • Cranberry Sauce out of the Can Still in Can Shape (Husband insists.)
  • Gluten Free and Vegan Gravies  


  • Gluten- Free Apple Cherry Pie
  • Low Sugar Vegan Pumpkin Pie
  • Vegan Salted Caramel Apple pie

Preparation and planning lent me a minimal time in the kitchen once guests arrived, so I got to mingle and hang out with my friends and family.

My Timeline:

2 weeks-3/4 weeks prior:

  • Order Bird
  • Plan menu
  • Shop for dishes and decor

1 weekend prior:

  •  Shop for ALL ingredients except seafood (they will keep)
  • Get wood for fire, candles, dishes, etc if needed
  • Heavy-clean entire house

Sunday evening/Monday:

  • Thaw turkey and frozen stock (I had to make stock the day-of, too, but I did need to use a dairy-free stock for one of the stuffings.)
  • Infuse olive oil with rosemary for potatoes
  • Roast garlic for potatoes
  • Make dry rub for turkey (salt, pepper, spices)
  • Soak and freeze cranberries for cocktail

Tuesday evening:

  • Dry brine turkey
  • Make mashed potatoes
  • Set table to ensure there are enough dishes and it all fits on the table/ looks nice
  • Assign dishes for meal. (I put post its in all dishes and set aside all servers so that they remained clean and ready.)


  • Rinse turkey, remove neck/gizzards, store in fridge on rimmed baking sheet
  • Bake pies, spot-clean house
  • Pre-chop all veggies (garlic, onions, brussels sprouts) and put in Tupperware
  • Husband picks up seafood and backup wine


From about 8 am – 3 pm I was cooking and setting up the bar. Guests arrived at 330 and there was nothing to do but take out the turkey and put out the shrimp cocktail. During cocktail hour, I both played bartender or let guests pour for themselves.

I prepared the gravies and warmed sides in the microwave and in oven-proof dishes for about 15 minutes while Husband wrangled guests to the table.

Of course, the clean up was another story….

Happy Thanksgiving!


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