Basic Thanksgiving Recipes

by Jill Cooper

For those of you just need just the basic side dishes and desserts for your Thanksgiving dinner, here they all are in one spot:

Mashed Potatoes

5 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk

In a large saucepan, place potatoes and enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender (about 10-15 minutes depending on your altitude). Drain. Transfer potatoes to a mixing bowl and mash. I use a hand mixer for this but you can use a potato masher. Add butter, milk, sugar and salt. Beat until smooth. Serves 5-6.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix all the ingredients and put in a buttered 9×9 casserole dish. Sprinkle on topping. Bake uncovered at 350° for 20 minutes. This is a great dish for holiday dinners and potlucks because it can be made the day before and then baked the next day. Serves 8-9.

Grandma Tatum’s Stuffing

I have hesitated about including our stuffing recipe because it is one of those recipes where it is hard to give exact measurements. This year, I have finally decided to try. You can adjust any of these ingredients to suit your taste and if you want, you can add different things to the dish. For example, you can replace some of the bread with cornbread or you can add mushrooms, celery, apples, or giblets and many other things according to your own taste. This is one of those recipes that looks complicated but is really easy once you make it.

Here is the basic recipe:
8-10 cups dried bread, cubed or torn (You can use anything including hot dog buns, dinner rolls or French bread.)
1/2-1 lb. pork sausage
1/2-1 onion (or onion powder to taste)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups broth*
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4-1/2 cup margarine
3 heaping tsp. ground sage
1 small bag or box of seasoned croutons
Salt and pepper

Cube and tear bread in a very large mixing bowl and let set out overnight if not dry enough. Fry sausage and onion. I don’t like celery in my dressing but if you do you can add it at this time. Drain and add to the bowl of bread. Pour broth into a large measuring cup. Add margarine and bouillon cube and heat in the microwave to melt margarine and bouillon cubes. Pour this mixture and eggs over bread. Add sage, salt, pepper and onion powder if not using onions and croutons. Using your hands, mush it all together until well mixed. Place in a well greased casserole dish or pan. Cover. Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes.
If you like your stuffing soft on the inside with a crispy crust, just remove the cover for the last 15 minutes. If your dressing seems too dry, add a little milk for more moisture.
*For broth, I simmer the neck and giblets in a pan of water for an hour or two as soon as I take them out of the turkey. Then I use this water and some broth from my turkey, which has been cooking, to make my 1 1/2 cups.

Turkey Gravy

3-4 cups turkey juices/drippings
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Pour turkey juices/drippings into a sauce pan. Whisk in flour. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring once in a while until it is the right consistency.
If the gravy is too strong or you need to stretch it just a little, you can add a small amount of water.
Another way I used to make the gravy (either way works) is to dissolve the flour into a half cup of cold water and then whisk it into the turkey juices.

Pie Crust

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups shortening, cold
1 egg, cold
1 Tbsp. vinegar, cold
5 Tbsp. water, cold

Mix flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives (I use my fingers). Add egg, vinegar and 3 tablespoons water. Mix lightly. If dough is too dry, add more water. Mix with hands. Don’t over mix. Mix just until the dough sticks together.
Divide into thirds. Roll out to make 3 pies crusts. When using the crust for the top of the pie, sprinkle sugar on top and poke with a few steam holes. Crust can be frozen in balls and then defrosted and rolled out when ready to use. Makes 3 crusts.

Pumpkin Pie

1 pie crust
2 eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

Bake pie crust at 350° for 1-2 minutes until crust starts to puff with small bubbles. Watch carefully. Then remove from oven. Blend all ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into pie crust and bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 350° for 45 minutes. When a knife is inserted into the center of the pie and comes out clean, it is done. Makes one pie.

Pecan Pie

1 stick butter
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
1 1/4 cups pecans, chopped
1 (8-9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Brown butter in a pan until golden brown. Do not burn. Cool. Add other ingredients in order given in a separate bowl. Mix well. Blend in cooled butter well. Pour into pie crust. Bake 10 minutes at 425° and then 40 minutes at 325°. Makes one pie.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit


Thanksgiving for Less

by Jill Cooper

It’s really hard to find ways to save on your Thanksgiving dinner
because, let’s face it — It doesn’t get a whole lot cheaper than a
turkey dinner! Still, I have found some ways that you can save and
today I’ll pass them on to you! 😉

For starters, the larger turkeys are usually cheaper, so buy the
largest one you can. I hear some of you groaning now about what to
do with all those leftovers because you really don’t need a 22 lb.
turkey for 6 people. Not to worry — just don’t bake the whole

I discovered one year by accident that my butcher (at a regular
national chain grocery store) would cut it in half for me. Even if
it is frozen he can still do it. This discovery really changed my
life. (That sounds dramatic, but I was really having a problem
becoming “one” with my turkeys.) I suddenly had the revelation that
I didn’t have to deal with mounds of leftover turkey that haunted
my post Thanksgiving menu for years. I had just enough for a good
old turkey sandwich and some soup. I mean Thanksgiving really isn’t
Thanksgiving without a few leftovers, is it?

It was so much easier to handle and prepare an 11 lb. turkey rather
than to man handle a 22 lb. one. Getting it cleaned and into the
pan was a breeze and in and out of the oven was just plain simple.

Just wrap the other half and freeze it to use for Christmas. I’ve
often made ham for Christmas just because by Christmas we are so
sick of turkey that we don’t want to think of preparing another one
— ever! By not creating so many leftovers, your family might not
mind having turkey again. That’s also potentially one less thing to
buy for Christmas dinner.

Another way to save is by making your own pies instead of buying
the expensive pre-made ones. If you are daunted by the thought of
making pie crust, just buy a ready made one. They are usually on
sale for very little around Thanksgiving. It really isn’t that hard
to make the filling for most pies. Often they are easier to make
than a cake or cookies. If you like the traditional pumpkin pie,
most cans have the recipe on the back.

If your family and friends aren’t fussy about having the
traditional, then you can make banana cream, chocolate, or
butterscotch pie. Just take a box of banana pudding, mix it up and
pour it into a baked pie crust. Cover with sliced bananas and
whipped topping. For the chocolate pie use chocolate pudding with
chocolate chips in it and cover it with whipped topping. For the
butterscotch use butterscotch pudding, whipped topping and sprinkle
with butterscotch chips. My mouth is watering just thinking about

You also don’t have to make so many pies that you could open a
bakery. I have found that most kids are just as happy with a
platter of cookies. Don’t overdo it. You’ll just wear yourself out!
If you have time, make the cookies in the shapes of pumpkins and

Save on your relish dish. Buying ingredients for a relish dish can
get expensive, especially where we live. One year I paid more for
my relish dish items than my turkey. If you’re having this problem,
only use 3-4 veggies on it instead of 10 and cut out on the more
expensive veggies. For example broccoli and cauliflower are very
high priced for us so I would probably use carrots and celery. I
fill the celery with cheese or peanut butter or cut them into fancy
shapes. On this occasion, the turkey is the star and most people
won’t even notice that you cut back on the relish dish.

Don’t make so many side dishes– Like I said the turkey, gravy and
mashed potatoes are above all else. By the time everyone stuffs
themselves on those, they only eat a token amount of the side
dishes. Why? —Because of course everyone wants to save room for

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the
authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will
help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking
quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit

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