We are just coming off several days of family togetherness and fun so before the busy-ness of December gets underway, putting together this Thanksgiving 2018 recap seems like the thing to do.

Not only did Thanksgiving day go smoothly, the next we took the kids to a hibachi steak house for the first time. The day after that, we put up the Christmas tree and decorated the house inside and out.

The Plan

Anyhow, we had a couple of friends and family members over for Thanksgiving dinner for a total of 6 adults and 2 kids.

I planned the dishes about a week ahead and asked our guests to each bring something. My husband took on turkey duty this year which was a relief (I have yet to cook one right.). He prepped, dry-brined, and put the turkey in the fridge 3 days before Thanksgiving.

With the plan in place, I made the cranberry sauce 2 days before Thanksgiving and prepped the sweet potato casserole and sausage stuffing the night before. That left only the hot buttered apple cider and apple crisp for the day of Thanksgiving.

Our family brought AWESOME Brussels sprouts with bacon spiced up with some cayenne pepper. I do love roasted Brussels sprouts but I was surprised at how much I loved the cayenne pepper. Typically I’m a wimp with spice!

Our friends brought both pumpkin AND apple pies. We count on their pies every Thanksgiving as they’re so yummy!

Planning ahead went so well and I felt so relaxed the morning of Thanksgiving. As a result, I had time to spontaneously make some rustic dinner rolls and rosemary butter spread.

Thanksgiving 2018 Menu

Main Event

Turkey + Gravy Barefoot Contessa’s make ahead recipe turkey and gravy recipe is our recipe from now on. It cooks ahead of dinner time which makes it very low stress. Plus making the gravy base ahead of time means no one is scrambling to finish the gravy while everyone waits to sit down for dinner.


Sweet Potato Casserole | family recipe | fully prepped the night before Thanksgiving
Sausage Stuffing | family recipe | fully prepped the night before Thanksgiving
Cranberry Sauce | slightly adapted, Alton Brown recipe | made 2 nights before Thanskgiving
Rustic dinner rolls | Bread Illustrated’s recipe | baked the morning of Thanksgiving as a last minute decision
Rosemary Butter Spread buttery spread recipe + 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary added in | made the afternoon of Thanksgiving day just before dinner
Roasted Brussels sprouts 2 ways: one spicy, one not spicy and both with bacon | brought by our family.


Gluten free apple crisp
Pumpkin and Apple Pies had perfect crusts and were not too sweet. Our friends know what they’re doing with pies!


Hot Buttered Apple Cider with optional Rum from once upon a chef was set up in a little slow cooker an hour or two before everyone arrived. It was a huge hit!

After dinner entertainment: Poems

Lastly, after dinner we all read a poem. It seemed like a nice way to space out dinner and dessert so that everyone had room for the sweets!

I had given everyone a heads up that I wanted to try this. Luckily, they were willing to humor me with the idea and joined in the fun. Most had brought a poem of their own to share. Even the littlest person (my four year old) joined in our fun and sang Five Little Monkeys for everyone.

The poem I chose relates to the fact that I will reach 40 in the coming year. When I finished reading it, there were a few chuckles. Cheers to more poetry nights in my post 40 future!

Facing the Facts

By Judith Viorst

I’m facing the fact that
I’ll never write Dante’s Inferno
Or paint a Picasso
Or transplant a kidney or build
An empire, nor will I ever
Run Israel or Harvard,
Appear on the cover of Time,
Star on Broadway, be killed
By a firing squad for some noble ideal,
Find the answer
To racial injustice or whether God’s dead
Or the source
Of human unhappiness,
Alter the theories of Drs.
S. Freud, C. G. Jung, or A. Einstein,
Or maybe the course
Of history,
In addition to which
I am facing the fact that
I’ll never compose Bach cantatas,
Design Saint Laurents,
Advise presidents, head U.S. Steel,
Resolve the Mideast,
Be the hostess of some major talk show,
Or cure the cold,
And although future years may reveal
Some hidden potential,
Some truly magnificent act that
I’ve yet to perform,
Or some glorious song to be sung
For which I’ll win prizes and praise,
I must still face the fact that
They’ll never be able to say,
“And she did it so young.”

In Closing

As I moved through this year’s Thanksgiving, I felt relaxed, calm, and like I had to time to spare. I don’t think I have ever felt that way as a host. But because I planned ahead (and stuck to the plan!) I was able to fully enjoy the day from start to finish which was a win for all involved 🙂

Happy eating!