Every year, I start working on my Thanksgiving menu – a few weeks before the big day.  (Check out my Thanksgiving timeline).  While all of my main staples remain the same (I am all for a traditional dinner)….I do play around with the sides just to add something different to the menu.  For example, this year – green beans didn’t make the cut…nor did my glazed carrots.  I find that I always have way too much leftover so that’s a sign its time for a switch…so I’m replacing those two items with loaded cauliflower casserole and roasted butternut squash.

Below is my menu for this year….I’m including links to the recipes that I use.  To note – I always look at 2-3 different recipes of the same item to see how different people make it..and then decide how I want to proceed with a version of my own.

I haven’t mastered the fancy apps for the pre-meal because its wayyyy too much cooking.  But I do offer a meat and cheese platter and pumpkin soup.  I found this Pumpkin Soup recipe from Rachel Ray and it is always a huge hit.  I make it on Wednesday night and its usually halfway gone by the time it makes it to the table the next day – so I usually double the ingredients.
Thanksgiving Menu; One Balanced Mama
Simple cheese platter for the appetizer.


Traditional Roasted Turkey:  I started to brine my turkey a few years ago and it’s been a game changer!  I started with Alton Brown’s brine recipe – but there are so many out there.  You can find one that works best for you.  Brining your turkey ensures that it comes out super moist and it allows it to season on the inside and out.  I also use this roaster oven…because it allows me to use my ovens for other items while the turkey roasts for several hours.
Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving; One Balanced Mama Blog
Fried Turkey:  Because fried turkey is awesome! I’ll either fry a whole turkey or get a turkey cut up and fry the pieces.
Thanksgiving Menu; One Balanced Mama
Glazed Ham:  For my ham, I keep it simple by using the glaze that comes with the ham.  But if you feel like venturing out…here is a good recipe that I’ve used in the past.

Thanksgiving Menu; One Balanced Mama


Collard Greens:  Everyone has a different take on their greens.  I start off with sauteed onions and garlic and throw in smoked turkey neck and wings to steam for a little bit. I add chicken broth halfway thru the pot and let the wings boil for a bit more.  Then I throw in the greens.  I’ve used pre-cut collard greens and when I was feeling fancy – I would get bushels to clean and cut myself…but ain’t nobody got time for that anymore – so pre-cut pre-washed greens are my easy way out.  I also will throw in a scotch bonnet to give it a kick – along with salt. pepper and my go-to seasoning…Tony Chachere’s.
Thanksgiving Menu; One Balanced Mama
Basalmic Glazed Brussel Sprouts:  If you love the roasted and crunchy-style Brussel sprouts that they serve at restaurants..then this is the recipe for you…so easy to make and so good!  You can add cranberries and bacon to jazz it up.


The countdown is on….And I am super hyped!!!  Thanksgiving is a BIG DEAL in my home.  I love everything about it…looking for new recipes, planning the menu and hosting for friends and family.  Last year, I hosted close to 35 people at my house and did most of the cooking.  Yes, that’s nuts.  And yes, my feet are usually on fire for the rest of the weekend…but I would not trade it for the world…at least not now.

My goal is to share some of my staple go-to recipes in the next few days…but first, I wanted to share some of my quick tips on prepping for the big day.  If you haven’t started yet – you still have time!

Recipe Search:  A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I start to look for different recipes that I may want to try out.  My menu generally stays the same with all the key staples – but every year I try to add 1-2 new side dishes or new variations of a dish just for fun.  Its best to test out the new dish BEFORE Thanksgiving…but sometimes – I just take a shot to see how it turns out and if its worthy to make it on the dinner table.  By the way – we’re 5 days away from the big day – so if you’re going to try something new – today is the day.

Saturday:  Finalize your menu and make your grocery list.  You DO NOT want to wait until the last minute to start figuring out what you need. This year, I’m relying on Instacart to get as much as I can off of my list early. Note: Instacart is great for some things – but not everything.  Save the fresh produce, herbs, and meats for your own choosing for a day or two before.

Monday:    Clean out your refrigerator to make space for things you will need to keep cold while prepping…as well as leftovers.  If you’re hosting…this is also a good time to pull out all of your serving dishes and any décor you will need to use.  Don’t wait until the last minute to search for that perfect serving dish you haven’t used in the last 364 days…or worse – realize that it’s missing.  Also, take inventory of all the tools you need to cook and have them readily available – and working!  Nothing worse than finding out the day of that your thermometer konked out.

Make sure you have plenty of glass containers on hand for any leftovers.  I also like to have these containers handy for guests who like to make a to-go plate…so they’re not walking out with my good containers – cause they will.

Tuesday:  Start food prep.  I usually use this day to buy my fresh turkey from Delaware Chicken Farm early in the morning and keep it in the fridge until its brine time.  I also use this time to start cutting up any ingredients that I’ll be using:  onions, peppers, etc…chop them up and pop them in ziplock bags so they’re ready to go when its time to cook.

Wednesday:  First thing…brine your turkey in the morning so that it will have a full 24 hours to soak.  Trust me – its a game changer.  More on that later.

Make your cranberry sauce and desserts.  I try to knock these out in the morning so that I have the rest of the day to get any last-last minute items needed. Promise…it doesn’t matter how much I prep – there’s a moment of “Damn. I forgot to get the sour cream! BOB. I NEED YOU!!!!!!”


For the record…I love blueberry muffins!! And they’re waaaaayyy too easy to make…to NOT make them – from scratch!!  They’re the perfect “pick up and go” breakfast item or mid-day snack. I can’t keep these babies sitting around my house long enough and they’re sure to be a hit in your home too. I used the recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook as my base – and added a twist.

Blueberry Muffins with a Cinnamon Twist
Blueberry Muffins with a Cinnamon Twist
    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prep your muffin pans. This receipe can yield up to 24 medium muffins. Line your muffin pans with cupcake liners or grease your pans for a non-stick lift.
  • In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 sticks of butter (soften it in the microwave or leave out a stick overnight) and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Using a handheld mixer or standing mixer, mix both items until it’s light and fluffy. Should take 2-3 minutes.
  • Add your eggs one by one. You’ll need a total of 3 eggs, and each time you add an egg, mix it well before adding the next.
  • Then add 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 cup of sour cream and 1/4 cup of whole milk. Mix for 1 minute.
  • In a smaller bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Once sifted, slowly pour the flour mixture into the batter and mix for a minute. Do not over mix.
  • Once the batter is fully mixed with the flour, add 1 large pint of blueberries (rinse off your berries first!). The amount of blueberries you use is up to you. I love my muffins full of berries so I use a large pint or 2 small boxes of blueberries. Your call. Mix your berries with a spatula to make sure it’s fully mixed into the batter. Do not use the mixer for this part.
  • Take an ice cream scoop and scoop the batter to fill each cup. If you want medium sized muffins, do not overfill the cups. If you like larger muffins, fill the cups just slightly over the top. However, if you go that route, make sure the top of your pan is well greased (I use PAM baking spray) otherwise your muffins will stick!

This part is optional but just takes your muffin to another level. In a small bowl, take 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and add a few dashes of both Cinnamon and Nutmeg. (About 1 tablespoon of each). Mix together. With a spoon, sprinkle your muffins with this mixture. Just a few dashes on top almost like your sprinkling cupcakes. Pop your babies in the oven for about 25 – 30 minutes or until the top is slightly brown. You’ll want to test the muffins once it’s done by sticking a toothpick in the middle to make sure it comes out clean.

Make yourself a nice cup of coffee and enjoy!!!! Happy Baking!


As I’ve gotten older – Sunday has become one of my favorite days of the week.  Sundays just FEEL good for the soul…whether its going to church…going to the park….or going to brunch – like we did on this Sunday morning, during Art Basel in Miami. There are a ton of amazing restaurants that serve delicious brunch – and we picked Yardbird – Southern Table + Bar on this day. QuestLove from the Roots was also another perk for spending time here…good music…good food…good times! I’ll let the pictures do the talking….

Sunday Funday.  Brunch at Yardbird
Chicken n’ Watermelon n’ Waffles Yardbird’s signature ‘old school fried chicken’, honey hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon, Cheddar cheese chow chow waffle, bourbon maple syrup
Sunday Funday.  Brunch at Yardbird
Shrimp n’Grits Florida shrimp, crisp Virginia ham, Adluh South Carolina stone ground grits