Traditional homemade holiday recipes

by Megan Finley, Contributing writer (Recipes from

Making the “perfect” turkey is essential: It’s the main course that your guests look forward to every year plus it needs to be up-to-par with leftover football-frenzy food standards. No pressure right?

Keep it simple yet impressive this holiday season and create a traditional holiday meal with these recipes to impress your guests and have them going back up for seconds. Canned cranberry sauce and creamed corn? No way throw the canned goods out the window this year and see how easy and delicious it is to make your holiday meal from scratch.

Perfect Turkey

Start to finish: Overnight prep time (about 4 hours cook time)

Servings: 24

One 18-pound turkey

2 cups kosher salt

1/2 cup butter

2 large onions

4 carrots

4 stalks celery

2 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

1 cup dry white wine

Rub the turkey inside and out with the kosher salt. Place the bird in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Place in the refrigerator, and allow the turkey to soak in the salt and water mixture for 12 hours overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 F. Rinse turkey, and throw away the brine mixture.

Brush the turkey with 1/2 the melted butter. Place breast side down on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan. Stuff the turkey cavity with 1 onion, 1/2 the carrots, 1/2 the celery, 1 sprig of thyme and the bay leaf. Scatter the remaining vegetables and thyme around the bottom of the roasting pan, and cover with the white wine.

Roast uncovered 3 1/2 to 4 hours in the oven, until the internal temperature in the thigh reaches 180 F (85 C). Carefully turn the turkey breast side up about 2/3 through the roasting time and brush with the remaining butter. Allow the bird to stand about 30 minutes before carving.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 11

12 ounces of cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup orange juice

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Sir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Serve with your perfect turkey

Sweet Potato Casserole

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: 8 to 12

4 1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup milk

1 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup butter

1 cup chopped pecans

Heat the oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish

In a large bowl, mix together mashed sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup butter, milk, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs. Spread sweet potato mixture into the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and flour. Cut in 1/3 cup butter until mixture is crumbly, then stir in pecans. Sprinkle pecan mixture over the sweet potatoes.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Creamed Corn

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 8

2 packages frozen corn, thawed

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a skillet over medium-heat, combine the corn, cream, salt, sugar, pepper and butter. Whisk together the milk and flour, and stir into the corn mixture.

Cook stirring over medium-heat until the mixture is thickened, and corn is cooked through.

Remove from heat, and stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted. Serve hot.

Pie Crust

Start to finish: 20 minutes prep time (at least 30 minutes hands-off time)

Servings: Makes 4 single or 2 double pie crusts

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups shortening

3 tablespoons white sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 egg

1/2 cup water

In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, shortening, sugar and salt. Blend together with a pastry cutter until crumbly.

In a small bowl, mix egg with water. Blend into flour mixture. Form dough into 4 equal balls, wrap in plastic wrap or place in a zip-close bag.

Chill in refrigerator for about 30 minutes and up to 2 days, or until ready to use.

Make your favorite holiday pie.