Whole Parenting Family

Week Eats v. 5 THANKSGIVING EDITION // linkup & comment with your meal plans

week eats saturday

It’s Turkey Time. Or Pie Time. You name it.

This week’s Week Eats I’m just going to talk about Thanksgiving. For us it’s a huge meal with china & silver & starched linen napkins with a very full table.

So let’s be honest, I’ll serve leftovers & breakfast for dinner until then 🙂 but maybe make these rolls for the morning of?


Welcome to Week Eats! Your weekly meal plan link up // comment on for inspiring each other.

For your perusal: the first week when I had lots of pictures.

The second week when you had lots of ideas.

The third week when I was out of steam and you guys saved the bacon // dinner.

The fourth week when I tried lots of your recipes and my family ooooo’d and aaaaa’d.

Back to the turkey.

Check out Smitten Kitchen’s Thanksgiving Ideas. Or Pioneer Woman.



1) Turkey

To brine or not to brine. A big turkey or two smaller. Free-range or no.

These are lots of questions.

We’ve tried it all and when serving our typical 20+ group have gone with two smaller birds. A twenty pound bird is not as juicy. It’s just not, in my opinion. *note: NOT A CHEF*

Brining is lovely and makes you feel like you’re really working for your food. Of course, if you over cook it like often happens around here, it doesn’t save your juicy taste.

Free-range meat in general is a big priority for us, even though it costs more. The meat tastes much better and the animal practices are much better. Good stewardship over the earth & animals means something along these lines to us.

A few turkey recipes: Alice Waters (how can you go wrong following her?), Alton Brown (another guru in my world), and then of course, just because, there’s always Martha Stewart.

2) Potatoes.

Mashed? Yes, of course. Are you going to boil or steam them?

Here’s a great guide to picking the best potato based on your method of prep.

We do a very simple and delicious recipe: yukon golds.

wash. peal. quarter. boil. use a ricer to mash them, all old fashioned like. add cream and chopped garlic and butter. with a soon, fold them in. salt & pepppppa. DONE.

Try to avoid beating the hell out of them because mine taste like thick glue when I do. There’s some magic to the air flow through them that keeps them delicious and not glue-y. Says the woman who  usually had glue potatoes til her sister gave her this ricer.

3) Sides.

Wild Rice & Pumpkin Risotto.

Sweet Potato Wedges.

Creamed Mushrooms on Chive Butter Toast.

Brussel Sprouts & Chestnuts in Brown Butter.

Green Beans & Roasted Almonds.

iCranberry Relish: similar to a recipe we make from my aunt.

4) Rolls.


Because what is Thanksgiving without the rolls? How will you gather up those nummy flakey bits of turkey & gravy?

We love a good potato roll. But really, any homemade roll is amazing. Just prep that dough overnight so you just have to let it warm & then roll out. Ha Ha Ha. <– dork.

5). Pies.

I’ve finally found a pie crust recipe that may work this year.

I’ve tried Martha Stewart’s. I’ve tried my sister’s random one. My aunt’s one with lard.

But now: smitten kitchen for the win. 

We do pecan, apple, pumpkin, banana cream, and there are still never enough. WE LOVE PIE. Two of each and they don’t last long. Real freshly made whipping cream & you’re set.


What are your Thanksgiving recipes & traditions?


  1. Celia on November 22, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I love Thanksgiving. Your meal sounds great. We’re having a smaller-than-usual holiday meal this year–only three guests plus our immediate family. (We don’t live near family, and tend to adopt Thanksgiving “orphans” who don’t have another place to go.)

    We’re having ‘deconstructed’ turkey because I find the organic, range-grown birds get dry a lot faster. I’ve done it this way for the past seven years or so, and I will never roast a whole turkey again. I end up with something sort of like this recipe, but I do a dry brine instead of wet: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Deconstructed-Holiday-Turkey-with-Sage-Gravy-236317

    For sides I am keeping it fairly simple: roasted brussels sprouts with bacon; raw cranberry-orange relish (a lot like the recipe you linked to, but without the nuts); roasted Yukon potatoes (hubby prefers them to mashed); probably another green vegetable, but maybe not. Not sure about rolls yet. I wasn’t going to make any, but you make a good point about gravy-sopping goodness

    I also make a sweet potato brulee: bake sweet potatoes until soft. Scoop out the insides and mash with a bit of salt, some cinnamon, and some full-fat coconut milk. Put in a baking dish and top with about a quarter cup of sugar. (I use something like turbinado.) Put it under the broiler until it gets all melted and bubbly; then let it cool until crunchy.

    And a variation on my mom’s stuffing recipe. She used homemade bread/croutons, but my family likes it with wild rice. It’s breakfast sausage, sage, celery, onions, apple, dried cherries or cranberries, an egg, chicken broth, and lots of butter.

    Finally, my husband makes pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. I might make a fruit pie also, but honestly I’m happy just eating slices of cheesecake until I fall into a food coma.

    Have a LOVELY Thanksgiving!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Celia, you’re amazing. Super lovely to see your awesome menu!!!!! Have a lovely Thanksgiving too!

  2. Laurel on November 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Nell, can I come to your house? 🙂
    Yukon golds are THE BEST for mashed. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this, but buttermilk (instead of cream) is delightful.
    If you want a tried-and-true butter pie crust recipe, I have one for you. I don’t think it is on my food blog but I can send it to you if you’d like. It is the one I use ALL THE TIME for fruit pies, meat pies, quiches, etc. You name it — it works!
    I’ve linked up my post and I’m eager to read about others traditions and recipes! Thanks for hosting!! 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      a) yes. b) ooooooo tell me your crust recipe!! cannot wait to see your post!!

  3. Maria on November 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    This is great, lots of ideas! Maybe one of these days, I should just nail down a menu, but that day hasn’t yet come.. Thanks too for the ricer tip! We have one, but I generally ignore it ;] Will have to try it this year..

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      It’s okay! this is YEARS in the making for me!!

  4. Hafsa on November 22, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Love this, thanks for sharing your recipes 🙂 I make my mashed potatoes the same and all hail the ricer right? It’s so much better than anything I’ve tried. I keep telling myself that I need to try brining poultry but I’m lazy.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 23, 2014 at 8:40 am

      It’s just sooooo hard to know if some of these things are super necessary, like brining. I’m on the fence.

      • Celia on November 23, 2014 at 9:19 am

        Brining makes such a difference! But you don’t need to do a wet brine. Rubbing it with salt and herbs the day before works just as well, and is way less messy.

        • Natural Mama Nell on November 23, 2014 at 2:59 pm


  5. Annie on November 23, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    I adore Thanksgiving – my two sisters and I always spent all day helping our mom prepare the meal, so it has strong, wonderful family memories for me! I also love using the china and silver and crystal, really makes it special. This year they are all in FL and I’m in Idaho, so I’ll just be taking the cranberry sauce, cauliflower gratin and an appetizer to a friend’s house. And two pecan pies, because we have to have a taste test of the two recipes. =)

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 28, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      How hard to be away from them!! I hope it was still lovely!

  6. Nicole on November 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Smitten’s pie crust recipe= perfection. Hasn’t failed me yet!!