Thanksgiving Food Part II – some fixin’s

So, now that you have your smoked turkey going, lets talk about some other fixen’s for your Thanksgiving holiday.  There are two things that I have to have at Thanksgiving, other than turkey.  Mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.  I can handle dry turkey as long as there is mashed potatoes and cranberries.

For mashed potatoes, I don’t do anything too special, except add an entire head of roasted garlic (or two). I make my potatoes non-fat free.  Notice the double negative… yeah, I use lots of butter and cream in my potatoes.  I figure it is okay because I run a charity 10k Thanksgiving morning.


  • ·         5 pounds of Yukon gold or Idaho potatoes, chopped into 1” or so chunks.  I don’t peel the potatoes because I am lazy, I just wash them.  Also, the smaller you chop them, the faster they cook.
  • ·         1 head of garlic (or two)
  • ·         2 sticks of butter
  • ·         ½ cup milk or cream (maybe more)
  • ·         Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven (or toaster oven – which I prefer so I am not using my entire oven to cook a head of garlic) to 350 degrees. Cut the top of the garlic, just enough to get most of the garlic skin off the top and expose the individual heads of garlic.  Take some aluminum foil and make a bowl to encase the garlic, and place on a cookie sheet.  Pour some olive oil on the garlic and close the foil around the garlic and bake for about an hour. 

While the garlic is baking, take the potatoes and put them in a large pot of water (maybe 2 pots – they can get quite full and overflow once the water gets boiling).  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender.  Once tender, drain the water.  Put the butter into the pot the potatoes just came out of and melt it (you can speed this up by leaving the butter on the counter (on a plate) while you prep and cook the potatoes. Add the potatoes back into the pot, and stir.  Add the milk or cream and stir some more. 

Once the garlic is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.  Then turn the head of garlic upside down and squeeze the contents into potatoes and stir again.  The roasted garlic will be gooey goodness.  Add some salt and pepper until it is just right.  You may add more milk or butter (or garlic) until it meets your taste and texture needs.  You can put these potatoes into a crock pot on warm to keep them warm. 

Cranberry Sauce:

I have to admit, I am a huge fan of the canned cranberry Jell-O.  I take a slice of it and put it on my turkey sandwiches for the week after Thanksgiving. Last year at Thanksgiving, my farm box gave us fresh cranberries, so I decided to try to make my own sauce.  I took several recipes and mashed them together.  I used a simple recipe from epicurious ( and added a few things to it. 


  • ·         1 cup water
  • ·         1 cup sugar
  • ·         12 oz of frozen or fresh cranberries
  • ·         1 tsp of finely chopped orange zest
  • ·         ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ·         Dash of ground ginger (or an 1/8 tsp of fresh ginger minced)


Bring the sugar and water to boil. Be sure to stir rapidly until the sugar dissolves.  Reduce to a simmer, add the cranberries until the start to split open or they “pop.” This takes about 10 minutes. Add the orange zest, cinnamon, and ginger, and let it cool. 


Cranberries in the pot

Cranberries in the pot

Cranberry sauce3

Cranberries have “popped” and cooked for some extra time to thicken.

I made the basic sauce last year and several members of my family who are devout can fans like me were converted.  There was nothing left, and I am going to make a double batch this year. Also, if you plan to have the mid-year Thanksgiving party (like we do), buy and freeze a bag of cranberries because you will not be able to find them in the grocery stores after Christmas.

I didn’t talk about stuffing in this email.  And I am only going to add a few tips here.  Stuffing is highly personal for some people.  We have a friend that makes an amazing stuffing with breakfast sausage and a bunch of sage, but she won’t give me the recipe.  When I was first making stuffing, I would use Stove Top stuffing mix, but add a diced up onion and even a shredded granny smith apple.  My favorite, even though it is time consuming, is a recipe from Bon Appetite Magazine “Andouille cornbread (green onion and jalapeño cornbread) stuffing.” It is amazing.   

Sorry, I don’t have any pictures, but I wasn’t thinking about it when I was making this stuff last thanksgiving.

One thought on “Thanksgiving Food Part II – some fixin’s

  1. Those garlic mashed potatoes sound amazing! The mashed potatoes are my favorite thing about any meal, never mind Thanksgiving. And I always look forward to holiday gatherings because my grandmother always makes me her cole slaw. Sure, I could try making it myself (and I have before) but it never tastes as good as hers.

    That stuffing sounds good too!

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