Planning a Thanksgiving Menu

Even though it’s my second favorite holiday (behind Halloween), I gotta be honest: Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. I didn’t finalize my Thanksgiving menu until Saturday–just in the nick of time to hit the farmers markets on Sunday morning with my shopping list in hand. However, just because I’m a little behind this year, doesn’t mean I’m any less excited or that less care went into my menu.

There was never any doubt that a Peking duck would be at the center of our Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition that the hubs and I started a few years. Neither of us are huge turkey fans and our one attempt at cooking a turkey was uninspiring. Not that I haven’t had good turkey, but even the best turkey in the world doesn’t hold a candle to many other proteins. (Let’s be honest.) And when it comes to the winged beasts, it doesn’t get any better than a delectable, Chinese-style roast duck–at least for my money.

Taking my cue from the East, I usually try to add an Asian twist to traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. For instance, last year, I made curried sweet potatoes, added scallions and water chestnuts to my stuffing, grilled bok choy, and used a miso dressing on my kale salad. Still, I wanted to challenge myself to come up with some new plates for this year. Here’s what I got…

Peking duck
A 50-50 mix of the plum sauce that usually accompanies duck the and–of course–cranberry sauce
Wild rice pilaf with shitake mushrooms
Mashed potato medley with miso gravy
Caramelized butternut squash with Panko bread crumbs
And grilled broccoli in a spicy mustard glaze

I will also mull some red wine, using cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, and orange slices. It’s like hot sangria and the spicy profile suits the menu and the season. In addition, we’ve amassed a small arsenal of pumpkin ales and various other autumn-inspired craft beers to enjoy Thanksgiving day.

Inevitably, someone always wants to make or bring something at the last minute. So, I leave room in my menu for that. You may have noticed that there’s no salad, appetizers, or dessert. (However, my contingency plan is to whip up a last minute cheese plate & veggie platter if needed.) And if previous years are any indication, my husband will beg his our sister to make her famous chocolate souffle. This doesn’t fit with a Thanksgiving or an Asian theme, but more importantly, it’s about appreciating family–and their culinary talents!  It always warms my heart to see the exchange between the two of them.

With that all squared away, I’ve busied myself with styling little Thanksgiving vignettes around the house. Here are some pictures.

Thanksgiving menu ingredients

With my refrigerator overflowing with Thanksgiving menu ingredients, I had to store some fruits and vegetables on a platter on my counter.  I also stuck my parsley in a glass vase.

Orange tulips with clove-studded clementines

Clove-studded clementine oranges not only look festive, but also smell incredible.  I paired them with some orange tulips on my dining room table.

Cornucopia vase and floral arrangement with little white pumpkins

Cornucopias are holiday-appropriate, but this brass beauty sits in my hallway year-round.  For this year’s Thanksgiving, I stuffed it with with white hydrangea and scattered some mini white pumpkins.

What will you serve this Thanksgiving?


  1. I love your Thanksgiving home décor. It’s simple enough for me to do!

  2. That sounds delightful! I agree with cooking up the big bird is not my favorite. This year my version will be a Turkey Ballantine with a sweet savory turkey rice apricot filling. I wish goose wasn’t so expensive- as that I’d first choice. My challenge will be to debone the beast. Wish me luck and I hope the master Jacque Pepin taught me well (via YouTube of course!)

    • Cher This

      November 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm

      Your menu sounds fantastic! I have no doubts that your execution will be spectacular. I hope you and your family have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving! Thank you for sharing and commenting. 🙂

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