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Your Cooking Coach’s Pep Talk (below)

Managing Thanksgiving Pre Party Anxiety (PPA)

Channel your inner child.

Touch. Smell. Hold. 

Sign up for FREE Coach’s Playbook to download by following the link, and enter your email address. Renata will take care of the rest and get you her FREE Coach’s Playbook to download link emailed back to you while you plan your Thanksgiving meal.

Renata’s Thanksgiving Playbook is your Cooking Coach’s helpful guide including planning, menus, recipes, and a few top coaching tips. 


Learn how to cook the bird!
Learn how to cook the bird!

Sign up for FREE Coach’s Playbook to download by following the link, and enter your email address. Renata will take care of the rest and get you her FREE Coach’s Playbook to download link emailed back to you while you plan your Thanksgiving meal.

Renata’s Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

*Coach’s Tip: Don’t panic! We have the recipes, an the links to everything you need to cook and order!


The Thanksgiving Menu

Crudites (sliced fruit and veg) with Renata’s Italian White Bean Dip. I also put out some easy or inexpensive chip or crackers.

*Coach’s Top Tip: A beautiful platter of fruit takes seconds to throw together, and only 15 minutes to digest. You want your customers  to come to  the Thanksgiving Table HUNGRY! A bunch of red grapes, a bunch of white grapes, a pile of baby orange carrots, and some sliced cucumber look gorgeous, and won’t ruin your kids’ appetites. 

I make a meager set of appetizers,  but that is how I roll in Renata’s Kitchen! I can’t STAND when everyone fills up on a gigantic gobs of melted cheese and stodgy bread, then nobody can face my glorious meal.  Basically I hold them hostage so they are forced to love my food.  Hunger is the best ingredient for a delicious dinner!

Roasted HollyHock Hill Farms Turkey (Free-range, local, exceptionally delicious, but not technically certified organic.) If I forget to order in advance, I get a free-range one or organic, but man they are expensive, so only if budget permits. On years I can afford it, I get an organic or free-range turkey. When I can’t afford that, I try to get a fresh turkey.  I buy a disposable turkey timer that comes in packs of two, and costs $2 or so. It helps me when I am drinking wine to just gaze inside the oven and see if it has popped up. 

My Mashed Potatoes Always organic…organic potatoes don’t cost too much more and make amazing difference! Organic milk and butter…darnit, those are more costly. My Momma taught me to make my mashed potatoes with a hand mixer. I have tried it many other ways, and this is the best!

Renata’s Thanksgiving Thyme for Sage Sausage Stuffing made with Enzo’s sausage or local Jake’s Country Meats. The most important thing about the sausage is that it is NOT seasoned with herbs! I want to add my own herbs, not someone else’s! 

Renata’s Vegan Stuffing Vegans and vegetarians have to share this one. They don’t want to cause harm to another living creature, so they shouldn’t be bothered that you weren’t hurt by killing yourself with separate stuffings. Can double as gluten-free by using Udi’s GF bread.

Roasted Seasonal Herbed Veggies Dish doubles as full vegetarian meal coupled with vegan stuffing.

String Beans “a la Baba” My dad’s nick name is “Baba”; this is my Italian nod.

Grandma Nita’s Home Made Italian Bread: You know her. You love her. You want to meet her.  Grandma Nita makes her bread in the bread maker and it’s phenomonal. You can too!

Cranberry Sauce I hate cranberry sauce. There.  I said it.  I always delegate this one to store-bought, and usually forget to serve it. If you have a cranberry recipe that you are sure will change my mind, please send it to and I will be happy to include it on my Wall of Fame! 

My Sissy’s Whipped Sweet Potato Casserole Whipped up with canned sweet potatoes with pecans, grand marnier, sugar and raisins, and covered in fluffy marshmallow peaks.  Our “Typical Americana” nod, as my Italian dad loves to say. I notice he always gobbles these up and goes  back for seconds!

The Gravy Mom and I usually fight over who is going to make it, and always spill drops down the fronts of our shirts while we blame each other for making mistakes. If the gravy turns out good, naturally we change lanes quickly and fight over who takes credit for the whole thing. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Pies

Pies on our family are INSANE.  We select our panel of pies in a dangerously attended conference attended sometime in late October or early November.  There are debates. There are dramas.  There are indulgences.  Wars are created. Alliances are formed.  We are nuts.  We need help. We need to be collectively checked into a 12-step program for over-indulgence in half a dozen variety of pies which are always more than we can make, bake, eat or serve.  We have always done it this way.  We are doing it this way now.   It will be this way forever and ever, amen.  We are flawed.  I don’t recommend anyone following us. But if you do….SLURP! Banoffi pie tastes SO good for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving. A quick Google search (in parentheses) will produce your recipes. 

  • Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream (All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book)

  • Pecan Pie (The Joy of Cooking)

  • Vegan Chocolate Pecan Pie (Your Vegan Mom) —

  • Apple Pie (with caramel drizzle and vanilla ice cream) (All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book) + “Yes you CAN” caramel (Renata’s Kitchen)

  • Banoffi Pie (

  • Chocolate or Vanilla Cream Pie (The Joy of Cooking)

DRINKS: You are serving a big group. Save the big buck wines for nights in front of the fire with your sweetheart!

Champagne is the official “post-Turkey Trot” drink of champions.  Of course, when I say Champagne, I mean whatever sparkling wine is cheapest. My Italian mom and dad usually complain if I don’t get Prosecco.  Dad is already pouting because I haven’t continued the tradition of serving a 12-course Italian Meal on the side of the Traditional Thanksgiving Meal.  I usually break down and get them Prosecco. It is often quite affordable, especially if purchased well in advance.

To bring costs down, I sometimes blend sparkling wine with orange juice (decanted into a jug so no one can see I go the cheap one!) , and announce my cheaper drink with a splendid announcement “Mimosas!”  Delivery is everything, baby. You can serve 25 cents worth of anything in a champagne glass and people feel so special.

Red Wine–usually a Pinot Noir. Delegated to the richest guest well in advance. When I say “richest”, I mean the person who has no kids and is accustomed to purchasing wine without thinking how many boxes of diapers they could have purchased instead.

White Wine–usually a Chardonnay. Delegated to the richest AND most organized guest well in advance.  It needs to arrive chilled! Don’t let Uncle Harry bring the white wine if he is always three hours late, and stops at Walgreens on the way over for warm wine.

Non-Alcoholic Beverage

Grandma Nita’s Fizz: Pour 7-UP or Sprite into a large container, add splashes of cranberry juice and slices of lemon or lime.  Serve as is to kids and non-drinkers.  

Grandma Nita’s Fizz can also be served alongside any wine for custom-made spritzer. 

All beverages always serve in cutest glasses. Even kids get champagne or martini glasses on Thanksgiving! 

Until then, here is Your Cooking Coach’s Pep Talk!

Now you listen to me.  You are wonderful, and I won’t listen to you talking about my good friend the way you are talking right now when you are getting all nervous and jittery about your Thanksgiving Dinner. 

Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. 

Remember this.  There is only one woman who every got all her dinners and house decorated perfectly with every trimming hand made and beautifully presented. 

She ended up wearing an orange jump suit and teaching prisoners how to brown their own turkeys in 5-7 years!

So. Have we got perspective?

A friend called me up recently and told me she was trying a farm-raised local turkey this year after Renata’s coaching. She sounded like she just signed up for an ironman decathlon! I get it, I really do.

In order to become relaxed at something, you need to have done it a million times.  Thanksgiving comes around only once a year, and half those years you may not even cook a bird or even host!

So Renata FORBIDS you to be  hard on yourself.  

In the absence of preparation, therefore, you must rely simply on faith. 

For those without faith in themselves, I give you my faith in you! I just know you can do it. 

And if you fail, and you may, what’s the worst that can happen? 

Coach’s Top Tips if something does go wrong: 

1.You can always just blame the whole thing on Renata, and pour extra wine. 

2.You can’t please all of the people all of the time.  Your niece got a nose ring at college and decided she only eats non-GMO foods? I hope she brought her own lunchbox! 

3.Hold your head high, no matter WHAT! You tried.  When you try, you are left unpredictably vulnerable.  When you are vulnerable, there is a chance that someone may point and stare.  I advise you to have no shame, and FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT, BABY! Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry, you cry alone. Whoever said that didn’t have a house full of turkey-stuffed guests! Don’t worry, you won’t be alone.  

The PERFECT mashed potatoes.
The PERFECT mashed potatoes.

Sign up for FREE Coach’s Playbook to download by following the link, and enter your email address. Renata will take care of the rest and get you her FREE Coach’s Playbook to download link emailed back to you while you plan your Thanksgiving meal.


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