The Perfect Thanksgiving Feast


By Heide Brandes

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones and friends to give thanks for all we have in our lives. This distinctly American tradition usually comes with the traditional roasted turkey and fixin’s, and this year, we’ve asked some of Oklahoma City’s notables to share their perfect holiday recipes.

From sophisticated side dishes to simple desserts and cocktails, Oklahoma City’s chefs, local celebrities and news personalities gave us their favorite Thanksgiving recipes, so now is the time to get cooking!


The Turkey

SPLURGE! OKC turned to our friends at Whole Foods Market for advice on cooking the perfect turkey.

Whether you’re a seasoned turkey roaster or you are cooking your first Thanksgiving bird, roasting the perfect turkey can be a challenge. Whole Foods can help you roast a perfectly moist, tender and naturally delicious turkey, every time. Here is Whole Foods’ Golden Roasted Turkey recipe:


Golden Roasted Turkey

  • 1 (14—to 16-pound) turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • Coarse sea salt, for brining solution
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups gluten-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Brine turkey overnight (at least 12 hours) by submerging it completely in a salt water solution made from a ratio of 1/2 cup salt to 1 gallon of water. (Alternately, you may brine the turkey for 4 hours using a ratio of 1 cup salt to 1 gallon water). Rinse turkey well and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine thyme, carrots, celery and onions together in a medium bowl. Stuff turkey cavity with the vegetable mixture and scatter any remaining vegetables around the bottom of a roasting pan. Pour broth and wine over vegetables.

Arrange a rack over vegetables in the pan and arrange turkey on the rack, breast side down. Brush half of the butter over turkey, then season with pepper. Reserve remaining butter for later use.

Roast turkey for two hours, breast-side down, basting once. Remove from the oven and turn turkey breast-side up, being careful not to pierce the skin. Brush turkey with remaining butter and season again with pepper.

Return turkey to the oven and continue roasting until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F, about 2 hours more. Set turkey aside to let rest for 30 minutes, then carve and serve, drizzled with the pan drippings.


Side Dishes

What is a Thanksgiving feast without all the delicious sides? We turned to Sen. Stephanie Bice, Oklahoma City First Lady Terri Cornett and award-winning chef Jonathan Stranger for their favorite Thanksgiving sides!


Mimi’s Cornbread Stuffing


Sen. Stephanie Bice

Senator Stephanie Bice was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 2014. She represents District 22 which is comprised of northern Oklahoma County and eastern Canadian County, including parts of Edmond, Deer Creek, Piedmont and Yukon.

While still in her first year in office, her leadership skills and abilities soon garnered state and national attention. Senator Bice was chosen as one of 52 legislators across the U.S. for the States Legislative Leaders Foundation Emerging Leaders Class of 2015. She was also selected as a GOPAC Emerging Leader for 2015 and received the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce Rising Star award. Stephanie was also selected as a member of the Governing Institute Women in Government Leadership Class of 2016.

“This recipe was passed down from my grandmother, who we called ‘Mimi.’ Although many families enjoy bread stuffing, I was raised enjoying cornbread stuffing on Thanksgiving Day. The first year I celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, my mother-in-law served bread stuffing and it just wasn’t the same. So, the following year I offered to make my Mimi’s cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner, and my father in law LOVED it. So, now I am the designated stuffing maker for Thanksgiving dinner!”


How to make:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • one small onion, diced
  • 6 cups cornbread, crumbled
  • 3 cups white bread, diced into 1inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 11/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 48oz. chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 13x9x2 inch baking dish. On medium heat, melt butter in pan and add celery and onion. Sauté until celery is soft and onions are translucent. Set aside to cool. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine cornbread, white bread, sage, pepper and salt. Add celery onion mixture to cornbread mixture, then mix in eggs and chicken broth. Blend well. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 45-55 minutes until the top is golden brown. 


Sweet Potato Casserole


Terri Cornett

Terri Cornett is a development consultant with Allied Arts and is married to Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. She avidly enjoys cooking, entertaining, decorating, the arts, traveling and meeting people. She moved to Oklahoma City from Tulsa after her marriage two years ago to Mick, and she has fallen in love with the city and its people.

“My mother and I always make an extra casserole for a neighbor, as it’s become a favorite of theirs,” Terri said. “I love the holiday season and getting together with family at Thanksgiving makes it special and heartwarming. We enjoy great food and engaging conversations. It’s one of the best days of the year.”


How to make:

  • 3 cups sweet potatoes (about 3 medium), baked (be sure to bake and not boil)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

Peel cooled, baked potatoes (can be baked ahead); place into a large mixing bowl. Mash potatoes and add other ingredients, except the topping ingredients. Mix very well until mixture is fluffy. Pour into a casserole dish. Mix toping ingredients; it will be crumbly. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.                     

Serves 8


Duck Confit Gnocci Casserole


Chef Jonathon Stranger

Chef Jonathon Stranger developed an interest in cooking early on. As a child, he spent weekends at his family’s farm in Chandler, Oklahoma, where he would help his grandma prepare dinner using items found out in the country.

Those fond memories stoked a lifelong passion that took Jonathon from the food mecca of New York City—where he worked under two of the world’s finest, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and David Burke—to Germany, Houston and Oregon before eventually returning to his hometown of Oklahoma City.

He is the chef and owner at Ludivine Restaurant, owner of the The R&J Lounge and Supper Club and president of Oklahoma Farm and Food Alliance.

“I have been making this for my family and in restaurants during autumn for almost a decade. It is always a crowd pleaser and who doesn’t love a gourmet mac and cheese? This dish will also be making an appearance on the Eagle Milling Co. menu when we open,” he said.


How to make:

Duck Confit:

  • 6 Duck Legs
  • 1 orange sliced
  • 1 bunch Fresh Thyme
  • 1 bunch Fresh Rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Black Peppercorn
  • 1 quart Duck Fat (pork fat or evoo can be substituted)

Heat your oven to 280 degrees F. While the oven is warming place 1T of the duck fat into a sauté pan.  Season the duck legs with salt and over medium heat brown the duck legs on all sides. When they are done place them in a shallow baking. Warm the rest of the fat so that it turns to a liquid. Cover the duck with the orange slices, fresh thyme, rosemary and the black peppercorns. Cover with the duck fat and seal tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Place in the oven and cook for 1 and 1/2 hours or until the duck is very tender. Let cool and remove the duck legs from the pan. By hand pull all the meat from the legs and set aside. This can be done up to 3 days in advance.  

Ricotta Gnocchi:

  • 1 cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 ea. Egg
  • 2 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 ea. lemon, zest
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt

In a bowl whip together the ricotta cheese, egg, lemon zest, and salt.  When everything is well mixed together add the flour 1/2c at a time mixing by hand.  When all the flour has been incorporated you should have a nice sticky dough.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Turn the dough out onto a flour surfaced.  If the dough is too sticky knead in a but more flour and make sure the dough is still nice and soft.  Divide the dough into 5 pieces and roll into long ropes until the rope is about 3/4 inch think.  Cut the dough into 1 inch long pieces.  When you have all of you gnocchi formed cook it in batches in the boiling water.  When the gnocchi float remove them from the water and set aside.

The Sauce:

  • 1c Fresh Goat Cheese
  • 1 cup Brie, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup Blue Cheese
  • 2 ea. Shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 ea. Garlic Clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 ea. Lemons, zest and juice
  • 1 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1Tbsp. Fresh Thyme, chopped
  • 1Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 1Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon, chopped
  • 4Tbsp. Butter
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream

In a sauce pot add the butter over medium heat.  When bubbles begin to form add the shallots and garlic and gently simmer until translucent.  Add the wine and reduce by half.  Add the herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, goat cheese, brie, and blue cheese.  When the cheese begins to melt add the cream and reduce the heat to low.  When you can see that the rind of the brie has begun to melt and the duck confit and gnocchi to the pot and stir everything together.  Turn off the heat. Place the mixture into a 9 inch glass baking dish and let cool. Once it has cooled you can begin to finish.

The Casserole:

  • 1 cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Melted Butter

Turn oven to 350F. Mix all the ingredients together until everything is incorporated and all bread crumbs have been touched by the butter.  Take the casserole mix from the refrigerator.  Cover the casserole with bread crumbs evenly and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove and serve.



Million Dollar Dessert


NEWS 9’s Lacie Lowry

In September 2013, Lacie Lowry made the journey down the turnpike to co-anchor First at Four with Robin Marsh on News 9. Lacie joined News On 6 as a reporter in July 2010 and was promoted to weekend anchor shortly after that.

Lowry is an Emmy-nominated anchor and has received numerous awards for her reporting in Breaking News, Continuing Coverage and Deadline Editing. In her downtime, Lowry loves to play and watch sports, as well as attempt to train her rescue dog.

“This is a super simple recipe that goes by numerous names, but it is the only dessert that gets entirely gobbled up at every Lowry Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoy it and Happy Thanksgiving,” Lowry said.


How to make:

  • 1 stick of oleo/butter
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup of sugar
  • 8 oz. of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup of cool whip (thawed)
  • 3-oz. package of vanilla instant pudding
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  • 13x9x2 inch cake pan
  • Chocolate shavings (optional)

Melt butter/oleo, then add sugar, stirring until dissolved, then add the flour. Mix well, then press into a 13x9x2 inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees until light brown, which is about 15 minutes. Let cool. Mix together 8 oz. softened cream cheese, 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 cup of cool whip and spread onto the cooled crust.

Mix one 3-oz. package of vanilla instant pudding with 3 cups of milk and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Once it’s well mixed, spread the mixture over the cream cheese layer. Top with cool whip and chocolate shavings/curls, then refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.


Prairie Wolf Spirits’ Pumpkin White Russian

Hunter Merritt


What’s a holiday gathering without a special holiday cocktail? We turned to Hunter Merritt, founder of Prairie Wolf Spirits of Guthrie, for his expertise with all things delicious and drinkable.

“As the distiller, we had to go with a cocktail recipe,” he said. “Prairie Wolf Spirits is owned and operated solely by the Merritt family. We’ve been doing business in Oklahoma since the Land Run of 1889 and we still own the 160-acre plot the family attained during the Run.”


How to make:

  • 1 oz DARK All-Natural Coffee Liqueur
  • 1.5 oz Prairie Wolf Vodka
  • 1 oz Heavy Cream

Generous sprinkle of all-natural pumpkin spice (We like this one: Frontier Natural Products, Pumpkin Pie Spice)

Mix and enjoy!




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