Happy September everyone!!! I must admit I woke up giddy yesterday morning. My kids must think I am nuts. I literally ran into Luke’s bedroom yelling, “Happy September! The holidays are here!” My 3-year-old responds, “Mommy, it’s Christmas!!!!!!” Well………………………ALMOST! For all those who know me, or let’s be honest here, have even maybe met me once, you know I am obsessed with the holiday season. I love everything about it! The decorations, the food, the family traditions and friends, the holiday parties, and most importantly the warm, happy feeling it gives everyone.
I grew up with the best memories of the holidays, and I want to make sure I provide that for my children. September doesn’t really kick off the holiday season, but I decided that because it’s a BER (SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, DecemBER), I needed to make up a holiday. So for the past 10 years, I have hosted Autumn Feast (the first Sunday in September). I always cook a huge Thanksgiving-style meal, invite the entire family over, decorate the house with Autumn decorations, have everyone dress up in Autumn clothes, and play Legends of The Fall on replay. So let me tell you all about our Autumn Feast.
So what’s on the menu for Autumn Feast?
I have been making my mom’s traditional turkey for years. It’s so simple and so delicious. Everyone always thinks making a whole turkey is difficult, but it really isn’t. The hard part is carving it, and thankfully my hubby has mastered that skill.
Here’s how it goes:
- Mix 1 to 2 cups of canola oil with paprika, salt, pepper, onion powder, poultry seasoning
- Cover the outside of the turkey with the seasoned oil
- Chop up onions, carrots, and celery
- Salt the cavity and fill with vegetables
- Cover the cavity with bread
- Tuck wings
- Place more chopped vegetables on the bottom of the pan
- Add chicken broth to bottom of pan
- Place in oven uncovered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Baste every 30-45 minutes
- If the turkey appears to be getting too dark, go ahead and place foil on top
Here are my top turkey cooking tips:
- A general guideline for how big of a turkey to cook- 1 pound per person
- The rule of thumb for cooking a turkey is 13 minutes per pound at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. However, factors like brining the bird, cooking with an empty (un-stuffed) cavity, and leaving the legs un-trussed will change cooking times. Make sure to check the temperature of the turkey through the cooking process in three places: the breast, outer thigh, and inside thigh. In every case, the meat should be at least 165°F when the turkey has finished cooking. If the temperature is not high enough, put the turkey back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
- Baste the turkey every 30 to 45 minutes while cooking (my favorite part).
- After the turkey is cooked, let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
My mashed potatoes have become one of my famous family traditions. They are always the perfect texture and flavor. I have gone to the ends of the earth and back to make sure this recipe is perfect.
- Use Yukon gold mashed potatoes ALWAYS.
- Use a potato ricer to mix the potatoes.
- Stir with warm milk.
My mom’s FAMOUS stuffing. She has been making this recipes since we were kids, and I have NEVER tasted a better stuffing recipe.
Believe it or not, she uses Pepperidge Farm Traditional Herbed CUBED Stuffing as the base then adds all her own seasonings. I always thought we were cheating by not using homemade bread, but I watched a Barefoot Contessa Thanksgiving episode where she advised to use the store bought stuffing, and I feel so much better about myself!
I like to make this the night before and just pop it in the oven the day of Autumn Feast. It is so easy – just your traditional green bean “can’t go wrong” casserole. I love how the recipe calls to boil the green beans in chicken broth. I think it adds an extra layer of flavor.
Brussels sprouts get a bad name. The right recipe will change your mind if you are not already a fan. I make Brussels sprouts all the time, but this recipe takes it up a few notches for a Thanksgiving-style feast.
This recipe is one of my favorites. So comforting on those cool September nights in South Florida (Ha!).
- Make it the night or 2 before your big feast, and heat it up on the day of the event.
- I like to serve this soup in a slow cooker with small coffee mugs.
In our family, we use a shortcut for this one as well. At our local butcher where we get our turkeys, they make homemade gravy. We buy their gravy, heat it up, and add spices (onion powder, poultry seasoning, pepper, and salt, if needed) and turkey juices….YUM!!!!
One year we (my mom) messed up the butcher-bought gravy, so I made a traditional homemade one. It was awesome, and I was the big Thanksgiving Day Hero, or maybe the Barefoot Contessa was the hero!
I ask that everyone brings a dessert to the dinner. Some people home bake their desserts and others buy store bought. The desserts are always great and yummy, and let’s be honest, by the time we are done with a day of drinking, appetizers, and dinner, desserts are just the icing on the cake!
My Aunt Joy always hosts an awesome Thanksgiving dinner. She has everyone bring dessert as a competition. All desserts are judged on different things (taste, presentation, originality, etc.). I thought this was such a great idea to add to your family traditions! When it’s a competition, everyone brings their best and wants to impress.
Final Thoughts on Autumn Feast Family Traditions
Happy September everyone!!! I hope you’re getting a bit excited for the next few months. Cooking a big dinner for a large crowd does not have to be stressful. For me, I love hosting and cooking but not if it takes away from being with my family, enjoying the company, food, and holiday. The biggest tip I can pass along to everyone is have a game plan typed out and organized, then set the table and make all the recipes that you can the day before. Enjoy!