House Beautiful

What’s Cookin’ for Thanksgiving… plus some cheap table decor

When we left off, I was fanny-ing around with decor and the guest list…  which is shaping up to look like a pretty full house.  And I might do a tap dance and shed a few tears if everyone shows up – nothing would make me happier.  But now that Thanksgiving is (gulp) 1 week away, I need to fine tune this menu smorgasboard so I can pre-game grocery shop and not have to clothesline the other hookers in aisle 12, whilst I dive in super slo-mo for the last can of French fried onions.  I’d really like to avoid pulling hair unless absolutely necessary.

For the last few weeks, I have been stock-piling recipes on The Mothership, and I swear my pants get a little bit tighter every time I look at that board…  Because I want to make all 875 things.  But alas, my tiny antiquated kitchen can only do so much, so we gotsta whittle down a menu.  ALSO, I think when you have people over, nothing is more important than making sure they’re comfortable, happy, feel welcome and are taken care of.  So this week I’ve been asking everyone who’s coming if they had a favorite dish growing up, or what they cantlivewithout on Turkey Day.  With all that said, here’s how Grubfest 2012 is shaping up…


First thing’s first, especially for this group:  have a Fall-Themed Cocktail at the ready.  Like, bourbon & spice & everything nice or something like that.  I originally wanted to set up something like the above… which is lovely, in a King Arthur / Fields of Gold / I just dropped $300 bones at Pottery Barn kind of way.  But I’m more into trying my best to use what I’ve already got, plus maybe a few new things here & there, so my spread is probably gonna be a bit more modest.  So, I’m thinking of serving a fall sangria…  that’s a crowd pleaser, right?


But…  wait for it…  sangria will be served iiiiiiiiiiiiin THIS (!)  I swear, it’s like Roost + Wal-Mart = World Market.  $19.99.

7-Liter Glass Teardrop Tank

Other than sangria, I’m setting up a beer tub for the boys…  maybe outside by the fire.

And maybe in my old copper boiler…


The second thing I want to have are a few Appetizers lingering…  not enough to fill people up, but just enough to nosh on, and maybe to soak up some of the booze I’m gonna feed them.  Up for consideration are:

CROSTINI of some sort…  (Clockwise from top left) – Blue Cheese & Fig | Grilled Fig, Hazelnut and Ricotta | a whole mess of ’em | Peach, Prosciutto & Ricotta | Mozzarella, Arugula & Pesto Bruschetta

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP…  maybe in big shot-sized glasses?  Karrie’s wedding caterer served this to us last weekend in Anna Maria Island (deets to follow in an upcoming post), but she added apples to her recipe and used a vegetable-based broth instead of the chicken-base that this one is made of.

CASTELVETRANO OLIVES…  uh, these taste like buttered popcorn.  Found ’em at World Market.

SOUTHERN FRIED STUFFING BALLS – cooked spicy sausage rolled together with stuffing to make balls, then fried again.  Served with cranberry dipping sauce.  What’s not to love?





BACON WRAPPED DATES.  This is happening.  Last Christmas, I stuffed the dates with little squares of parm 1st.  Money.

I realize that is a ridonculous list of ideas.  As for this casa, I think we’ll probably end up with bacon-wrapped dates, some Italian Castelvetrano olives, and maybe the little brie cups.  The dates are easy to prep the day before…  nothin’s easier than dumping olives in a bowl (I’d drain and drizzle with olive oil and a dash of sea salt)…  and the brie cups are a breeze.  Plus, if I make the crostini, Grandpa’s gums can’t take it unless I toss it in the blender for him.


When it comes to the main event, I’m leaning on the classics…  the real fatty kind covered in cream-of-everything and brown sugar and stuff.  PS, remind me to recruit someone who wants to gut the bird and yank out the innards and then make gravy out of em.  Gag.

Turkey | Mashed Potatoes | Gravy | Green Bean Casserole

Sidenote:  I tested that homemade green bean casserole recipe this past weekend.  The trusty out-of-the-can recipe has served me well for my whole life, but I was intrigued.  And I’ll tell ya – if you have time – the homemade way is amazing.  The only thing I would change about that recipe is to double the amount of shallots it asks you to fry, add some extra green beans (the ratio of beans:cream is cream-heavy), and I wouldn’t quarter the mushrooms, I’d slice ’em thinner.  Maybe with a mandolin.


CANDIED YAMS topped with Marshmallows & Pecan Crumble (inset) | SWEET POTATOES stuffed with apples, cranberries and pecans

**uh, who doesn’t love to mix yams together with all the salty stuff on their plate?**




Do brussel sprouts AND green bean casserole make for too many greens?  Are rice, stuffing and taters too many carbs?  Is stuffing balls for apps and stuffing for dinner stuffing overkill?  These are the burning questions that keep me up at night.  Our crowd is shaping up to be about 10 people, including one individual I have lovingly nicknamed “Hoover” (hey Sugar, hey!).  So maybe I’ll make it all.  These folks can EAT (plus leftovers are the best part…  right?)  And after everyone is lulled into a salty coma, I’ll stuff ’em full of sweets.  Here’s what’s in the running:


CARAMEL VELVET BUTTER CAKE.  This is happening.  Also, I just felt a dimple of cellulite pop up on the back of my thigh.




SALTED CARAMEL CHEESECAKE – Pretty sure this is def happening.  It’s the boyfriend’s fave, and all dudes love cheesecake, right?  This recipe is out of Australia and the ingredients are in metrics, so that should be a good time.

Is that not the most gluttonous lineup you’ve ever seen??  Hopefully in my attempt to organize my menu, maybe you picked up a new recipe or two for your holly-day next week.  Before I sign off, could we go back to decor real fast?  ‘Cause this is the stuff that really fans up my skirt.


Since I posted about Thanksgiving table decor a few weeks back, I have gone into full-on Martha mode.  I thought I was going to casually traipse through World Market last weekend and instead, 3 hours and 1 brain orgasm later that spawned all kinds of other ideas, I came out with a full cart and a nearly complete scheme in my head.  There were some beautiful table scapes online that I considered, but I really wanted to try and use what I had, then supplement what I didn’t with versatile things I love and know I’ll use again.  So to start, here’s the gist of what my dining room currently looks like…  lots of neutrals, with pops of fuschia and greens:

So for the table, I dug up a box of old brown transferware that used to hang on my dining room wall in Charleston (and that I almost sold in a yard sale)…  I’m adding mismatched napkins in shades of greige-violet-chocolate-sky blue from World Market…  tying the napkins with raffia…  and then tying on regular shipping tags from Office Depot that I stamp with a little spoon/fork thingamajiggy.  Then I’ll write everyone’s name on ’em.  BANG.  Napkins were under $3 each on sale at World Market, Fork & Spoon stamp was $6, tags and raffia combined $10.  That just doesn’t suck.

That idea is stolen from Karrie’s wedding, and is courtesy of the genius planner A.J. Latteri of The Loft5.  And I totally feel justified in hijacking that idea since Karrie made me stamp and then write all 120 guests’ names about 30 minutes before her wedding last year.  I couldn’t write for a week, God love ‘er.

Last but not least, I stole this glorious idea from the latest issue of HGTV Magazine:  Stock up on to-go containers (I got these at Michael’s for 99 cents each, and the labels at Office Depot for a few bucks) so you can easily delve out leftovers for parting guests.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be sewing an elastic waistband into my jeans in preparation for next week.  Also, I should probably start cooking like, yesterday.  And after dinner (and a few beverages) on Thanksgiving, you will either find me passed out on the kitchen floor, or maybe if I get hopped up enough on sangria, doing the truffle shuffle in the front yard.


Photo Credits:  Cat Fight | King Arthur wheat table | Beer Tub via The Knot | Copper Boiler | ALL RECIPES AND IMAGE CREDITS AVAILABLE HERESpoon/Fork placecards by Joielala Photographie | Truffle Shuffle | All other images taken by Stephanie Ballard

25 Responses to “What’s Cookin’ for Thanksgiving… plus some cheap table decor”

  • This is one of the best Thanksgiving posts I’ve ever read on a blog! Amazing!

  • Epic. All I have to write. Epic.

  • OMG amaze! such yummy ideas!! we might be making some of these indiana…
    ps- nice touch with the chunks photo.

    will you post pictures of your feast?! I bet your t able will look so stinkin cute!

    • Steph @ Covet Living

      Melly: You know I will! PS, while perusing Michael’s the other night, I ran across aqua peacocks, and think I might incorporate some into the Christmas decor, so I can pack a little Hobley cheer into my house!

  • The color scheme is so so great!!!! And I love the name tags!! I MAY have to borrow it for my table if you don’t mind 🙂

  • Holy THANKSGIVING!!! Are there links to all these recipes? especially the desserts?? This is so inspirational! LOVE IT!!!!

  • I have only one question for you, Stephanie. *Kneels down on one knee- “Will you marry me?”

  • i can haz apple cider sangriaz and crostiniz? Everything looks so good!

  • OMG, I want to eat and drink EVERYTHING! mmmmmmm

  • I want to preface this by saying I’m here completely of my own free will.

    But I have to say, after some very persistent prompting and encouragement, *cough cough* Karrie, I literally want to eat everything pictured here. My tummy’s got the grumblies that only Thanksgiving can satisfy.

    Thanks for all the great food ideas! If the next post can be a “how to” on elastic bands in jeans, that would be fitting. Get it? Fitting! Eh? Eh? Anyone?

  • omg i am dying at the truffle shuffle…seriously… really love everything…and now that i dont live in IN i am excited even more to go back home for the holidays!

  • I just invited myself over to crash your feast. Everything looks so yummy! Wish we lived closer…miss you.


  • LOVED the post, Steph 🙂 I’m trying the Green Bean Casserole recipe you shared Thursday, with your notes of course. Wish me luck!!!

  • Steph – I made the betty crocker carmel cheesecake! and it was divine! honestly and I’m a pretty big critic of my own. I didn’t end up making the green beans but maybe for Christmas!! 🙂 thanks again for the wonderful inspiration. I used it! what did you end up making?

    • Steph @ Covet Living

      monika!! You’re a doll. So glad you tried that recipe because I didn’t (!) other people ended up bringing dessert but I am dying to make that salty caramel bastard! Thanks so much for reading and for the sweet words! I totally need to do a follow-up post cuz I ha some successes and some major goofs too :). Hope you had a great Turkey Day with your friends and family!! xo, Steph

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