Thanksgiving Meal Planning


I have looked back and EVERY year at 10 days (now mearly a few days!!)  out is when I think, ohhhhhhhhh better get to planning!

I am a tad earlier this year, right? NO

Where do I begin?

Well, let me say that I am obsessed with Thanksgiving and have been planning and recipe testing the “perfect” turkey, sides and desserts for over 15 years.

If you enjoy yummy Southern cuisine and just yummy food in general this is the menu for you.

I will share how to manage it all AHEAD of time so that you can ENJOY the day with your family & friends!!

smoked turkey


I was a huge fan of  frying UNTIL we SMOKED!

OMG a whole new level.

SO first if you haven’t bought a turkey yet (3 days out) you MUST get a FRESH NOT FROZEN!

Now, make the brine below on Monday night and allow turkey to set for 2 days in the brine.

Then pull it out and dry it, place all the leftover peels, veggies and herbs inside the cavity, then put on smoker and smoke for 6-7 hrs.

We start EARLY in the morning so Tom can “rest” after the smoking process.

***YOU MUST LET YOUR TURKEY REST*** min of 20 mins


HERE is the  Brine,

full of citrus & herbs!

So good that we are doing it again this year!!

Thanks to Rhee Drummond for the inspiration!


My tried and true Birdie’s Best Ever Dressing that has been tweeked and tinkered with for over a decade!

I put it ALL TOGETHER and then place on rimmed cookie sheet on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Pull out and pour a stick of melted butter over top prior to cooking.


My  families all time fav Sweet Potato Goodness, it’s so good cause it’s full of sugar, butter & eggs. How can you go wrong?!

This year I am trying the addition of Sorghum Syrup, I will keep you posted for future recipes!

I also make this Tuesday or Wednesday.

Mama B’s Harvest Salad I just have to have a BIG fresh salad with a meal! Don’t you?

SO Easy throw together on Thursday morning, I do however make the dressing at the beginning of the week and roast the potatoes Thurs am.


GRAVY, never have I had great success but let me tell you this ONE from Ina Garten is FAB and I will use her recipe every year! Thanks Ina!

Ina swears you can make this days ahead, I am going to try it!

My favorite Cranberry Salad and yes it has jello in it, but even the jello “haters” (My Hubs) has NO idea and loves this!!

Yep, you can make this ahead too!


From my dear family friend who is watching over us, I share with you her family blessing. I share with you and ask that you share with your loved ones.

“Our Heavenly Father, we thank you for the food before us, the roof above us, and for this family.

Help us remember that a family is for growing up in, for going away from and for coming back to.

It is for loving concern, for helping each other through happy times and sad.

With Your blessing, this family will always be together in our hearts and in our memories,

giving each of us the strength to live our own lives and to be our own persons. Amen.” 

Sandra Bender

Gobble till ya Wobble {Thanksgiving Menu}


I say this every year, but seriously HOW IN THE WORLD is THANKSGIVING in 2 1/2 WEEKS??? Really? How? How fast can the time fly by?  THANKSGIVING is upon us!! 

You ask WHAT in the world am I planning on serving? Well, I have a list of traditional favs that I have put my own little twist on to make perfect and  I am sharing all my yummies today. 

Christams 028

No Thanksgiving is complete without and AMAZING Bird. Thanks to Aunt Jan, who made the rub for the first ever fried turkey I had that I am sharing the TOM TERRIFIC TURKEY RUB it is sure to be a HIT!
And last year I did a BRINE and OMG it was insane! So moist and yummy!!

Cranberry Orange Pineapple Salad is to DIE for and everyone, even Hubs who claims to hate any sort of gelatin loves this!!

Birdie’s Best Ever Dressing really is the BEST EVER! I worked on this recipe for about 5 years and it is PERFECT!!

Sweet Potato Soufflé another FANTAB side that can’t be passed up!!  It really isn’t the same ole sweet potatoes

Brussels Sprouts, I know everyone turns up their noses but, they are DELISH!!! Follow these easy steps and even your picky bro-in-law will gobble them up!!

Mama B’s Salad  roasted sweet potato, greens, cheese, you can not go wrong!!

What are you serving this year for Thanksgiving?
xoxo. Mama Bird

Brining a Turkey


Typically I do a Cajun rub on my turkey but,after seeing Ree’s (the Pioneer Woman who I speak of as if we are on a first name basis, cause we would be if she knew me!) turkey brine I had to try it!  My MIL bought a beautiful ORGANIC bird and I thought this would be wonderful to keep it super moist and full of flavor.

I used what I had on hand and as her recipe was my inspiration I did stray a tish. If you have 3 cups of apple juice go with that or use some orange or extra water. It will be great!!

Bonus it makes your house smell yummy!!



Turkey Brine:

2 cups apple cider

1/2 cup juice from a can of mandarin oranges

1/2 cup juice from a can of pineapple

1 big handful of black peppercorns

4 cloves of fresh garlic

6-8 whole sprigs of fresh thyme

1 1/2 cup kosher salt

2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 gallon of water (that is all my pot would hold! she uses 2)

Put it all in a HUGE pot and bring to boil. Cover, cool completely and pour over turkey.


xoxo, Mama Bird

Antiques Fair Soup & Sammie

This is a tried and true classic recipe! I think it started back in the 60’s when the Service League started doing their annual Antiques Fair. Of coures back then it was held at the Foundation Center, which is now a YMCA and the Antiques Fair has now been replaced by the Kitchens and more tour. Times they are a changing… But, this recipe is a great “old school” favorite of everyone in town. How can you bet the classic Vegetable Beef Soup and Chicken Salad Sandwich?

Antiques FairVegetable Beef Soup
Must make ahead! (Makes apx 1 gallon)

1lb lean stew beef
1 lb potatoes, peeled & cubed
1/2 lb onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 (20 oz) pkg frozen mixed veggies (whatever you like)
1 (28 oz) can tomatoes, chopped
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
seasonings to taste
Brown meat, drain & rinse, cover with water and simmer until very tender. Add remaining ingredients
and simmer for several hours.

Cooking note: if you want to make this in the crockpot you easily could. You also may need to add beef bullion, broth, or V8 to thin soup.

Turkey Salad
5 cups cooked turkey, cubed (reserve 1/4 c stock) {you can use chicken}
2 cups celery, finely chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs, grated
1/8 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
mayonnaise to taste

Start with a cup or so of mayo, if the turkey  is moist you will not need all of this. Mix all ingredients EXCEPT mayo and including stock then add mayo a bit at a time until you get the perfect spreading consistency.

Both recipes are from one of my all time fav cookbooks Market to Market. Thanks to the Hickory Service League for the recipes!

Happy Cooking!!
xoxo, Mama Bird

Cabbage Wraps

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I have never made or eaten cabbage wraps, but this week in my goal to make a different dish everyday I thought, WHY NOT? My original inspiration was a deconstructed crockpot version. After reading it more closely I decided if I was going to make the dish then I should DO IT! The real way. All I knew was that it was a meat mix rolled in cabbage leaves and cooked. I found further inspiration from a Martha recipe as well as Smitten Kitchen. In true form I took a little from each and made my own. Here goes!

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 apples, diced

2 T olive oil

1 lb ground turkey

2 T tomato paste

1 c rice, cooked

salt & pepper to taste

2 t paprika


1 head of cabbage

1 28 oz can tomato sauce

Remove core from cabbage and place in large bowl and pour boiling water over top, cover with towel, allow to steam/cook for 10 mins. Add 1 T olive oil to a deep/wide sauté pan; sauté veggies and place in bowl. Brown turkey; add to bowl. Stir in tomato paste, rice, spices.  Remove cabbage leaves, one by one and dry between paper towels. Roll meat mix in leaves. Place back in sauté  pan, top with tomato sauce. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 mins.

This was actually really quit tasty! I was really surprised.


Mama Bird


I think it was my freshman year in college the 1st time I had a FRIED TURKEY and oh my goodness I fell in love. So much so that when I started hosting Thanksgiving I made the fried turkey part of MY families tradition. My aunt makes her own rub and I have to say it is tasty!

1 box of salt
2 oz (4 TB) of each of the following:
chili powder
crushed red pepper
black pepper
garlic powder

Mix all the above in a gallon ziploc bag & shake well. This will make enough to season 3
10-12lb turkeys.
olive oil
Wash turkey good & pat dry. Coat turkey with oil & rub seasoning into cavity & all over the entire bird. Place in plastic bag (I use a trash bag) marinate in fridge OVERNIGHT!!
Heat oil to 250-275. Cook 5 mins per pound.
Remove from oil & drain and as my Aunt always said “grab your baseball bat to keep your bird from being attacked and eaten immediately! DELICIOUS!!