My Family-Approved Thanksgiving Menu + Recipes

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My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are of being at my Mamaw’s in Forest, Mississippi.  All my cousins were there and there had to have been at least 20 people. She had two tables, one long and one round, and we younger cousins sat at the “kids” table.  I do not know where she would have put all the food considering that it was probably an overabundance.

Thanksgiving family pictureAfter I married and moved to the Coast, the atmosphere was reminiscence of an earlier time, except that the setting was in my husband’s Mamaw’s house. All the boisterous cousins and food reminded me of my childhood. Now the cousins are grown with their own families and many have moved away. Thanksgiving is a little smaller around our house now.

But between the pandemic and numerous hurricanes, there is much for which to be grateful.

Deciding what recipes to include for this post was tricky. We all have recipes passed down from older generations. We have our own personal tricks for making the turkey exactly right and some people even have strong opinions about their sweet potato casserole – marshmallows on top or pecans and brown sugar?

Including our children in the cooking activities is also important for making memories.

My little one likes to help stir and pour ingredients into the bowl. He is my taste-tester, as well! I am not a professional cook, but my recipes are tried and true, and, more importantly, my family loves them!

Instead of the more traditional Thanksgiving fare, I had the idea to include recipes that could be an alternative. I cooked these last Easter, and my family enjoyed every dish. I love turkey and ham, but this chicken recipe is fabulous. The corn casserole is literally “famous.” It’s been taste tested by one the members of the country singing group Alabama!

CookbookThe corn casserole and sweet potato casserole are special to me because they come from my first cookbook given to me by my Grandmama (my paternal grandmother).  She inscribed the inside of the book, and I will always treasure it.

Included are three child-friendly snacks that are fun, and children can help with during meal prep.

Hoping you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I know that we all have much for which to be thankful.

CHICKEN AND DRIED BEEF

This is so easy and a great alternative to traditional Thanksgiving meat dishes.

Ingredients

  • Boneless chicken breasts (one for each person)
  • Armour Sliced Beef (dried)
  • Bacon (pork bacon works best)
  • Cream of chicken soup
  • Dried onion soup mix
  • 8-ounce sour cream

Instructions

  • Flatten chicken (I use a meat mallet).
  • Put two slices of dried beef on the flattened chicken breast.
  • Fold the chicken breast in half and wrap with a piece of bacon securing it with a toothpick. Do this for all chicken breasts and place in a 9×13 pan.
  • Mix the soup, onion soup mix and sour cream. Cover the chicken breasts with the mixture.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 275 degrees for three hours. 

CRUSTY CORN CASSEROLE

Corn casserole ingredientsThis recipe could not be easier, and I get requests all the time for this dish from friends and family. The Mexican cornbread mix is the secret and using regular cornbread mix is not the same!

Ingredients

  • 1 can cream corn
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 8-ounce sour cream
  • 1 stick butter (melted)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1 package Mexican cornbread mix

Instructions

  • Melt butter.
  • Add all other ingredients.  
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. 

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

This recipe is so simple and also a favorite. I prefer the dark brown sugar for this recipe.

Ingredients for Casserole

  • 3 cups cooked or canned sweet potatoes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ stick butter (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • ½ cup milk or 5 ounces evaporated milk

Ingredients for Topping

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup nuts (chopped; I use pecans)
  • 1/3 stick butter (melted)

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients (except for topping ingredients); then combine the topping ingredients and put on top of the sweet potato mixture
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

Ingredients

  • 2 cans French style green beans
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Large can fried onions

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients. Top with the fried onions.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

CHERRY FLUFF 

Cherry fluffThis is a beautiful dish and an alternative to cranberry dishes. It is an old recipe and I remember eating as a child at church “potlucks.”

Ingredients

  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 14-ounce sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can crushed pineapple (drained)
  • 8-ounce Cool Whip

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for two hours prior to serving. 

Here are three different fun kids’ snacks that are easy to make. Older children can even put them together and these are good snacks to have on hand when Thanksgiving dinner may be taking a while to cook!

CANDY CORNUCOPIA

I can’t take credit. This recipe is courtesy of The Food Network.

Ingredients

  • Waffle cones
  • Melted chocolate
  • Small candies

Instructions

  • Dip the edge of the waffle cone in the melted chocolate and let harden. Children can put small candies into the waffle cone.
  • Another healthier version would be to skip the chocolate and have small and/or chopped fruit for children to put into the “cornucopia.”

CANDY CORN FRUIT PARFAIT

Also courtesy of another trusted source, Healthy Family Project. These are so colorful and healthy! They really look like candy corn!

Ingredients and Supplies

  • Clear cups
  • 2 mandarin oranges (peeled and segmented)
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt

Instructions

  • Put the oranges in the bottom of the cup. Follow with the pineapple, then top with yogurt.

GOBBLE, GOBBLE VEGGIE CUPS

Veggie cupsThis is another favorite from the Healthy Family Project! This is a fun and healthy activity and snack!

Ingredients and Supplies 

  • Ranch or veggie dip
  • Sliced carrots, celery, and/or rainbow peppers
  • Construction paper and tape
  • Clear cups

Instructions

  • Let children cut/color a turkey head and tape to the cup.
  • Put dip in the bottom of the cup and arrange the vegetable slices so they fan out like feathers in the top of the cup.