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The Ultimate Thanksgiving Prep Series: Allergy-Friendly

Allergy Free Thanksgiving Series

Recipe cards flying, magazines being dog-eared, recipes from favorite bloggers being bookmarked.  Yes. It is my favorite time of year again. Thanksgiving preparation is in full effect.

And, yes, once again I am the host of this fabulous family-and-friend-centered food event.  It is the one holiday meal that I request as my responsibility every year.  And this marks the eighth consecutive year that I have hosted and the eighth consecutive year that I have that same feeling of excitement as the planning commences.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I feel like I have this baby down.  I am not up at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving morning. I am not running around like a mad-woman while the rest of the family is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I am not wondering if the turkey is over-done or if I can get the potatoes mashed before the turkey needs carving.

Why? Because I made a plan years ago.  And (here is the kicker)…I STICK TO IT.  It took some major mistakes to learn this was very important for me.

Well, most of the time. Except the year that my husband got a little ambitious in the traditional Thanksgiving morning father-and-son flag football game and ended up in the Emergency Room and requiring a long surgery that involved lots of metal. Spending time in the hospital that Thanksgiving morning put a major kink in my mojo that year. But the rest of the time? …I am on the ball.

I try not to fall off that “to-do” wagon because if I do, then I know that I will be up on that Thursday morning at three a.m. running around like that mad-woman I try not to be, wondering if the turkey needs mashing while the mashed potatoes are carved.  And instead of us all sitting around and giving thanks for each other, I would instead be giving my family a major pain in the you-know-what without much thankfulness involved.  

Yes. I know I have to stick to my schedule. If for no other reason than the sanity of my family.

So I am going to try and help all of you who may want a little more organization to your Thanksgiving preparations.  Then you can leave your family wondering how you managed to pull off the gig so seamlessly when you were watching that parade of floats on television right along with them instead of slamming cupboards in the kitchen.

I will provide you my menu, including all of the recipes that typically grace our family table (all with allergen-friendly variations, of course).

I will give you my schedule.

I will provide many tips to go along with each of the recipes I will be posting from my menu.  Including tricks of the trade for: perfect mashed potatoes, a gravy that is so rich and smooth you will want to eat it with your spoon, the juiciest and most perfectly cooked turkey, and a carving method to prevent you from mutilating your sweet bird that you worked so hard on.

And last of all, I will give you my MASTER shopping list (if you were to use my menu).

But, first up will be my menu and the schedule.

Thanksgiving Prep Series


Cranberry Citrus Cider Sauce

Cold Green Bean and Shallot Salad

Simple and Delicious Crock-pot Mashed Potatoes – a method to not leave you doing the well-known Thanksgiving jig called the Last Minute Potato Mash

My Homemade Gluten-Free Cornbread Recipeto use for the stuffing and a variation on the recipe to make the muffins to serve with the meal.

The Family Favorite Gluten-Free Cornbread and Crusty Bread Stuffing Recipe with Apples, Sausage, pine-nuts, golden raisins, and a secret ingredient that knocks this one out of the park.

Cider Glazed Brined Turkey with Apple Brandy Gravytrust me when I say you will be eating this gravy with a spoon (a perfect reason to make a lot of it)

Toffee Pecan Caramel Apple Streusel 

Crustless Pumpkin Streusel Pie


(at least this is what works for me)

Two weeks before the Big Day:

I order my Fresh Free-Range Turkey from my local Whole Foods.  I make up my shopping list.  I assign my guests their dishes they are going to be bringing.

One week before the Big Day:

I shop for all of my dried-good staples.

Saturday or Sunday before the Big Day:

I shop for all of my perishables.

Tuesday before the Big Day:

I pick up my pre-ordered turkey.

I set my table and  I get out each serving dish and serving utensil that I will be using and label what goes in each (so guests can help without having to ask what goes where).

I make my Cranberry Sauce and refrigerate it.  I make my cornbread to use in the stuffing – it is actually better the more stale that it is.

Wednesday, the day before the Big Day:

I prep my brine and place the turkey in it.

I make my Individual Toffee Pecan Streusels (up until the point of baking them).

I make my Crustless Pumpkin Streusel Pie.

I make my stuffing (up until the point of baking it).

I make the cold green bean salad (it is actually better when it has a chance to sit overnight).

Then I go partake in one of my favorite parts of this long weekend – the traditional flag-football game and chili event with our family and good friends that has now been passed down to our sons. Since, after my husband’s incident, it was decided that the dads are a bit too old to be continuing in this tradition, the dads are now the coaches and the moms are now the cheerleaders.

Thursday morning of The Big Day:

NOTE: We eat between 3:30 and 4 pm on Thanksgiving afternoon typically so you would have to adjust according to your eating schedule.

8:00 a.m. – I make my second batch of cornbread, this time for the muffins I will be serving.  I make my mashed potatoes to go into the crock pot.

9:00 a.m. – I take the turkey out of the refrigerator (usually about a 21 pound bird).  I drain the brine and rinse the bird thoroughly.  Then I let it sit out until I am ready to put it into the oven at 11:30 to truly bring it to ROOM TEMPERATURE and allow the skin to dry (so that it will crisp better) before placing it in the oven.

10:00 a.m. – I prep the turkey.

11:30 a.m. – The turkey makes it’s way into the oven.  I turn on the potatoes in the crock pot.

12:30 p.m. – I shower  (or, maybe not).  I get my gravy stock going.

1:00 p.m. -I occasionally baste the bird with my Cider Glaze and I watch a little football with my pig-skinned obsessed family.

2:00 p.m. – Guests show up. Wine is poured. Children start running amuck. Laughter is shared. Oh, and at this point I also take the prepped stuffing out of the fridge to bring to room temperature before placing in the oven. I bake the stuffing after the turkey comes out and is resting before the carving.

3:00 p.m. – Turkey comes out of the oven.  Stuffing goes in.

The Green bean and shallot salad and the cranberry sauce come out of the refrigerator and go on to the table.

Gravy is finished off.  Mashed potatoes are placed in the serving dish and topped off with all of the garnishes. I enlist the help of guests to fill water glasses on the table.

3:30 p.m. – Stuffing is placed on the table with the green beans, cranberry sauce, cornbread muffins, and potatoes.

Turkey is carved.

Toffee Pecan Apple Streusels go into the oven during dinner (just set that timer so that you do not forget about them while you are busy entering your food coma).  Those streusels will be done just in time to top off the meal with a sweet ending.

Now go gorge yourself until you have to open up that top button (or better yet, just wear elastic).  And tell yourself that the calories eaten today will not matter because you are going to work out really hard tomorrow (even though you know you really won’t).


Keeping sane and calm during the holidays is the best way to remain grateful. Did you know that according to research from the University of California at Davis, that people who write down five things that they are grateful for every week have fewer physical ailments such as headaches, stomach aches, and joint pain?

Why not start today? What are you grateful for?

This post is linked to:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Hearth and Soul Hop

Gluten Free Wednesdays

  1. On November 8, 2010 nicola @ gfreemom said

    Wow. You really do have this one down! Sharing your plan for being organized is a fantastic idea. Thank you.

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Nicola! THanks! I thought that I would just share what has taken me years to learn and maybe help someone else get through hosting the holiday without going quite as crazy! 😉

  2. On November 9, 2010 Michelle @ Italian M said

    Great post! I found you through the daily food blogs email. Even though we don’t have confirmed food allergies in my family, the prep tips alone are so helpful to me. I really want to be more relaxed this year around the holidays and meals. I’ll be sure to check back for more recipes as I am interested in the cornbread stuffing recipe most.

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Michelle! I am so glad that you found the tips helpful even without having to worry about food allergies. I will be getting the rest of the recipes up over the next week and a half. The stuffing recipe is one of my favorite dishes of the meal!

  3. On November 9, 2010 Celiacs in the House said

    You are the Goddess of Thanksgiving Planning. I am in awe.

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Wendy, I am sure that this makes me look like I am an insane planner, but the truth is I am not so much so in other areas of my life. LOL I just figured out years ago that if I was going to be hosting this holiday to ensure that my family could eat everything on the table, then doggonit I was going to find a way to make sure I got through it with my sanity still intact! 😉

  4. On November 9, 2010 Miz Helen said

    Great organizational skills and tips for making it happen! It’s all in the planning that is what I believe. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us.
    Miz Helen

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Miz Helen! THanks so much! Yes, I totally think that for this event, planning is the key! 😉

  5. On November 9, 2010 Lexie said

    Wow! All I can say is WOW! You’ve got it covered. A ready-made feast plan and how-to’s. I am facebooking this one. Very nice and HELPFUL post : )


    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Lexie, too bad we are a few states away! I would love having your family at my Thanksgiving table! 😉 Thanks so much for sharing it and for the kind words! I am not normally this over-planned and nutty. LOL

  6. On November 9, 2010 Hallie @ Daily Bites said

    You’re Thanksgiving Super Woman!! I’m so excited about this series. 🙂

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Hallie! THanks so much! I mentioned to another commenter that I just figured that if I was going to host Thanksgiving to ensure that my family could eat everything on the table without worrying if it was gluten free or not, then I better find a way to enjoy it. This was how I had to do it! 😉
      By the way, thanks so much for helping to share it today!

  7. On November 9, 2010 Diane said

    YAY!!! This is so fabulous!! I am using this, definitely!

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      HI Diane!! Thanks so much! The recipes and shopping list will all go up over the next week and a half!

  8. On November 9, 2010 Alisa Cooks said

    This post so doesn’t surprise me Kim, you are the queen of organization! It all sounds so amazing. Can I just come to your house for Thanksgiving? That sounds like a much more efficient schedule on my end 🙂

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Alisa, I think there may be certain areas of my life that I have the organization thing all figured out, but there are other areas that I have missed the boat on. I figure I just better run with the ones that I have mastered! LOL And yes. You can definitely come to my house! AZ and Tahoe are not THAT far apart! 😉

  9. On November 9, 2010 gluten free easily said

    Oh, baby, you are the bomb! What a totally delightful and helpful post! Oh, how I wish I was hosting Thanskgiving for my family this year, but it will be spent with hubby’s family. Immediately after, we’ll go have dessert with my family and then head out on another mini-vacation. 😉

    Okay, off to share this post with the world … you rock, my dear! Love the “real” notes that you share, too. Oh, if only elastic was cool in public (she says as she sits in pjs with an elastic waist). LOL


    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Shirley, too bad you are not doing your AZ road trip over Thanksgiving! You and Mr GFE would have top billing at my table. And you could meet my Uncle Norm (not sure if you read my post at Tia’s). Anyway, I just have to stay this organized to pull off a sit-down meal for 20 every year. I just finally feel like it is “my thing” now. 😉

      Oh and I must have missed the memo that elastic is not cool in public (says she that wears yoga pants everywhere she goes). LOL


  10. On November 9, 2010 Maggie said

    You are a superstar! I’m not sure what I’m more impressed with – your organization or this post! I love it. I especially love the tip about putting a note on all of the serving plates. SO SMART! Can’t wait for the rest of the posts Kim! I also really love the little poster/button thing you made to announce it! So cute.

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Maggie! Hmm! I could get used to being called a Superstar! LOL
      Yup. The tip about putting stickies on all of my serving dishes was something I decided to do a few years ago when I got tired of everyone asking where everything went as I was trying to just keep track of the ten things I had going on myself. I am so glad that you like my badge that I made for this – I love doing those kinds of things. ;0) Guess I better get to working on one for my Gingerbread house contest!

  11. On November 9, 2010 InTolerantChef said

    What a lovely idea to share your schedule. Timing is the most import of any event. Looking forward to seeing your recipes too.

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Thanks so much, InTolerantChef. Yes. Timing is totally the key to getting a meal like this on the table without too much stress and anxiety! 😉 Recipes are coming over the course of the next week and a half or so.

  12. On November 9, 2010 Ali@NourishingMeals said

    Wow, Kim you must be the most organized person I know! This is a fantastic timetable for planning the big meal! -Ali 🙂

    • On November 9, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Ali, that is too funny! I actually am not really that organized in the other areas of my life, but I just figured out that to host this meal so that my immediate family could eat every dish on the table, I just had to learn to get it done and enjoy it instead of being a crazy woman! LOL And for the record, the first few years I was a TOTAL crazy woman. Plus, by hosting Thanksgiving, I get out of hosting a lot of the other events since the rest of the family is just so glad not to have to be responsible for Turkey day. hehe.

  13. On November 10, 2010 Linda said

    Great post, Kim! What a terrific resource. I’m looking forward to seeing the recipes, especially the crock pot mashed potatoes. Thankfully, Thanksgiving is not crazy for me. My brother does most of the cooking and enjoys the chance to do so. I prepare a few things, especially things that are more challenging to make gf, but it’s really a relaxing holiday for me.

    • On November 10, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Thanks so much Linda! How nice that you get to have a relaxing holiday! Thanks for letting me share it this week on Gluten Free Wednesdays. Got that crock pot mashed potato recipe coming up in the next couple of days! 😉

  14. On November 10, 2010 Applegate Farms said

    Great ideas to help those with allergies during the holidays! We have a few versions of gluten-free and milk-free turkey if anyone wanted to make a holiday sandwich for those allergic to what and milk! These are all also casein and dairy free too!! Not to mention low in fat!

    Applegate Herb Turkey –
    Applegate Honey & Maple Turkey –
    And good old-fashioned Applegate Roasted Turkey Breast –

    Happy Holidays to all you Celiacs & Lactose Intolerants!

    • On November 10, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Applegate Farms! Thanks so much for visiting! We love your products. Thanks for sharing them with us here.

  15. On November 10, 2010 Butterpoweredbike said

    Holy cow! You even set your table ahead of time!!!! Now that’s organization. Maybe you should consider coaching (like a professional sport or something). Too funny. I think since you’ve got this thing down, I’ll just show up at your house this year. I do great dishes. Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

    • On November 10, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      HI ButterpoweredBike! Did you say you did dishes?? You table place is set! Consider yourself invited. Thanksgiving dishes are where my whole plan just falls apart! LOL

  16. On November 10, 2010 Heather said

    You are really organized. A woman after my own heart! You don’t have OCD, do you??? Just kidding. 🙂 But my family thinks that I might… being gluten-intolerant and mother of two little ones might just be enough to make me OCD anyway. I can’t wait to see your Thanksgiving recipes. They seem to have a little gourmet twist to the classic feast.

    • On November 10, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Heather, maybe we need to start an OCD support group for mommas of little ones that are also dealing with dietary restrictions… LOL Sometimes you just have no choice but to be organized. But, unfortunately this organization does not translate to all areas of my life! 😉

      • On November 11, 2010 Heather said

        well that’s just because there isn’t enough time in the day… which is sometimes why i lose sleep at night. oh well, i think i have to learn to let go in a few areas of my life. 🙂 it looks like you have your priorities straight.

        • On November 11, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

          Heather, not sure if you would call it having my priorities straight. LOL But I just have learned what I need to stay organized with in order to keep me sane! And, yes, there are many nights that I chose getting things done over sleep! 😉

  17. On November 15, 2010 Tia said

    What a great post! We usually go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving, but I can’t wait to check out some of the recipes to bring. And, if the hosting duties ever fall to me, I know where I am coming to get organized. I love organization. I just wish I could do it better.

    I like how you are so humble when it comes to the organization compliments. I guess I know that you have some areas where you are highly organized (this blog, for one) and other areas, not-so-much (uh, directions, anyone?) 😉

    On to get caught up on more of your posts. Whew! One down. Many, many more to go.

    Tia 😛

    • On November 15, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Ha! Tia, how right you are, my friend!! My organization falls desperately short when it comes to directions! Just be glad that we didn’t end up in the worst part of town and out of gas (that has actually happened to me). And, I will just stick with my story that I was just trying to create funny memories for us for years to come! Hehe. We needed Diane in the car with us. That would have solved all our problems.

  18. On November 22, 2010 Lauren said

    Thank you so much!! I love your prep series and can’t wait to get started on it tomorrow. I’m expecting the rest of our gluten free family for Christmas this year for the first time, so this will be a great practice run 🙂

    • On November 22, 2010 Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Lauren! Thanks so much for your kind words about this holiday series! I cannot wait to hear how you meal went. How wonderful that you will be able to share a gluten-free meal with your family at Christmas! I truly hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and look forward to hearing back from you! 😉

  19. On November 23, 2010 Nancy @ TSP said

    Kim – you are so very organized. My sister hosts Thanksgiving Dinner and we all contribute to the meal. Still, even though it’s well thought out and improved upon each year, it is a bit chaotic. I am going to send her your link! Happy Thanksgiving.

  20. On November 10, 2014 Sharon said

    Love the recipes….but can you tell me how many adults they are supposed to serve?

    • On November 19, 2014 Kim-Cook It Allergy Free said

      Hi Sharon, these recipes all will each serve at least 10 adults and 4 kids, if not more. 🙂

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