If you're looking for a way to enjoy some simpler times this holiday season, forgo the fine table linens, polished silverware and fancy china. Then stoke the fire in a rustic retreat and serve your family a country-style Thanksgiving supper.

Let the flavorful aroma of Herb-Glazed Turkey roasting in the oven take you back to Grandma's cozy farmhouse kitchen.

Then round out the down-home dinner with such hearty sides as Wild Rice Stuffed Squash, Cherry Cranberry Sauce, Citrus Spinach Salad and Mini Butter Biscuits. Use the Menu Planner shared below to prepare this delicious holiday feast.

Bittersweet Bouquet

If you're planning an informal, country-style Thanksgiving dinner, select a rustic table topper to match the mood. With brightly colored orange and yellow berries, bittersweet is a natural choice for your autumn table.

You'll likely discover bittersweet blooming in abundance in autumn. But if you can't find it growing wild, order some from your local florist.

Bittersweet BouquetTo make the bittersweet arrangement shown here, cut floral foam to fit a crock or vase. Then carefully add the bittersweet branches one at a time. (The more dried out the branches, the easier the berries will fall off, so handle them as little as possible.)

One of the great things about using bittersweet is that because the branches are wiry and unmanageable, there's no pressure on you to make a perfect-looking arrangement. So even folks who avoid having to arrange flowers can make this easy, beautiful bouquet.

When set on a table in an entryway or on a sideboard in the dining room, this simply spectacular arrangement will generate many compliments.

A note of caution: Bittersweet berries are poisonous and should not come into contact with food. Also keep away from children and pets.

Thanksgiving Day Timetable

A Few Weeks Before:

  • Prepare two grocery lists—one for nonperishable items to purchase now and one for perishable items to purchase a few days before Thanksgiving.
  • Order a fresh turkey or buy and freeze a frozen turkey
  • Make Bittersweet Bouquet.

Four to Five Days Before:

  • Thaw the frozen turkey in a pan in the refrigerator. (Allow 24 hours of thawing for every 5 pounds.)

Two to Three Days Before:

  • Buy remaining grocery items, including the fresh turkey if you ordered one.

The Day Before:

  • Set the table.
  • Make the rice mixture for Wild Rice Stuffed Squash; cover and refrigerate.
  • For the Citrus Spinach Salad, make the dressing; cover and chill. Wash and dry the spinach; refrigerate in a resealable plastic bag. Section the oranges and julienne the onion; store in separate resealable plastic bags and chill. Toast the almonds and sesame seeds; cover and keep at room temperature.
  • Prepare the Cherry Cranberry Sauce; cover and refrigerate.
  • Bake Pecan Pumpkin Torte; chill.
  • Wash the broccoli for Herbed Broccoli Spears and cut into spears. Refrigerate in a resealable plastic bag.

Thanksgiving Day:


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