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Don’t make these Thanksgiving mistakes! 7 recipes that are fool proof

You can avoid these Thanksgiving mistakes.

It’s the biggest dinner you’ll make the entire year! While you hope it all goes off without a hitch, cooking mistakes are bound to happen.

Chef Todd Leonard says there are a few common errors people make on Thanksgiving—maybe it’s lumpy mashed potatoes, dry turkey, or a soggy casserole. But he’s got your guide to fixing the flubs! He shares his expertise, and how to avoid the mistakes altogether.

Chef Todd teaches classes at the UVU Culinary Arts Institute. Find more information on Instagram, @uvu.cai, or at


Thanksgiving Rolls

Recipe By: Chef Todd’s Leonard CEC
Serving Size: 36
Preparation Time: 2:20


  • 1 cup Water
  • 4 tablespoons  SAF instant yeast
  • 1 cup  Sugar
  • ¼ pound  Butter – melted
  • 2 tablespoons  Kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 cups  Water
  • 5 cups  AP Flour (plus 6-7 more When mixing)


  1. In the mixer add the 1 cup water, yeast and sugar mix and allow the yeast to blum and to ensure it is active.
  2. Add the butter, salt, water and 4 1/2 cups of flour and mix well, slowly add 6-7 cups more of flour.
  3. Mix on low speed using dough hook for 8-10 minutes or until nice dough as formed and developed.
  4. Allow dough to rise for 45 minutes to an hour or until double.
  5. Weigh and measure out the size of rolls you want and form into balls.
  6. Place on buttered sheet pan and butter the tops. Allow the Rolls to rise again by double and a little!!!
  7. Pre heat oven to 350 and bake rolls for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown, brush with butter when they come out.
  8. For bread, follow same procedure except form into loaves and place into prepared pans!


Agave and Cinnamon Scented Spaghetti Squash 

Recipe By: Chef Todd Leonard CEC
Serving Size: 4


  • 1/2 each Spaghetti Squash — about 10 ounces, skin on cleaned
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon  Honey
  • 1 tablespoon Whole Butter
  • Salt and Pepper — to taste


  1. Place butter inside squash and dust with cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  2. Wrap with foil and bake or steam for about 45 minutes
  3. Unwrap and scrap with a fork to get the spaghetti like squash out of the shell.
  4. Drizzle honey into squash and stir, adjust seasoning as needed.


Braised Carrots and Parsnips

Recipe By: Chef Todd Leonard CEC
Serving Size: 8


  • 2 each carrots — oblique cut
  • 2 each parsnips — oblique cut
  • 1 tablespoon ginger — minced
  • 1/4 cup orange flavored brandy
  • 2 tablespoons  honey
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Butter to swirl in at the end


  1. Cut carrots at a two angled cut.
  2. Pre-heat a rondou to braise.
  3. Sear the carrots in the pan to caramelize.
  4. Deglaze with the brandy.
  5. Add the honey and ginger and simmer for 1 minute.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until reduced and carrots are glazed. (uncovered) If it reduces before the carrots are tender add a bit more stock.
  7. Season and swirl in the butter.

Yield: 2 pounds


Garlic Herbed Mashed Potatoes 

Recipe By: Chef Todd C. Leonard CEC
Serving Size: 12
Preparation Time: 1:30


  • 2 1/2 pounds  potatoes — peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/4 cups  whole milk
  • 3/4 cup  heavy cream
  • ¼ pound  butter
  • 1/8 cup  basil — cleaned and chiffonade
  • 1/8 cup  parsley — cleaned and chopped
  • 3/4 tablespoon  rosemary — cleaned and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons  garlic — minced
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons  kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon  white pepper


  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1 inch thick pieces and place in perforated pan.
  2. Steam the potatoes until tender, around 50 -60 minutes.
  3. In a saucepan warm the butter, garlic, herbs, garlic and milk together to steep the flavor.
  4. Put potatoes through ricer or food mill.
  5. When potatoes are smooth mix them in a mixer on high speed until light.
  6. Add the Hot milk/cream and butter mixture to the potatoes and mix in slowly.
  7. Add the salt and pepper and whip on high.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.


Maple Cinnamon Mashed Yams 

Recipe By: Chef Todd Leonard CEC
Serving Size: 52   


  • 10 pounds Yams — peeled and cut into chunks or leave whole to roast
  • 3 cups pure maple syrup
  • 2 ounces whole butter
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Steam the yams and then put into oven for 5 minutes to dry them out a bit. Or Roast the yams whole until tender and scoop out center, either method works the roasted method will leave the yam dryer and have a little more flavor.
  2. Put through food mill so they are perfectly smooth.
  3. Add half the butter and maple syrup and stir in.
  4. Add the salt and pepper and taste, add the butter and maple syrup as needed to loosen or to adjust the flavor.


Turkey Brine 

Recipe By: Chef Todd Leonard CEC


  • 1 10–16-pound thawed turkey
  • 1 1/2 cups  salt
  • 1 1/2 cups  sugar
  • 1 cup chopped rosemary, sage and parsley — fresh and equal parts
  • 1 tablespoon garlic — minced
  • 1 each yellow onion — diced
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 quart apple juice
  • 1 quart cranberry juice
  • 4 quarts  water


  1. Combine all ingredients together into a bucket, set the turkey into the brine.
  2. Add more water if needed to ensure bird is fully covered.
  3. Swish the bird around to make sure brine is mixed well and all over the bird.
  4. Brine for about 6 hours before roasting.
  5. Roast the bird after brined by drying the brine and then rubbing with oil, seasoning and stuffing cavity with aromatics.
  6. Roast until internal temperature hits 160 degrees.


Mushroom Sage Stuffing 

Yield: 10 lbs. (approx)


  • 2 loaf white bread (28oz ea) 56oz
  • 1 loaf rye bread or any other (28oz ea)
  • 4 cups 32oz 2lbs Button Mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp Sage finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Chopped Garlic
  • 2 tbsp Chopped Shallots
  • 2 cups 16oz diced yellow onions
  • 2 cups 16oz diced celery
  • ½ lb Butter 8oz
  • 1 quart 32oz Turkey stock
  • 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper


  1. Cut all your bread the day before and let sit uncovered stirring it from time to time.
  2. In a large roasting pan on high heat, sauté the onions, celery, garlic, shallots, and sage with the butter.
  3. After a few minutes add the mushrooms and mix together.
  4. Add the turkey stock, salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Cool and then mix well with the bread.
  6. Place in shallow Pan and bake in oven at 350 F for 15 minutes or until stuffing becomes crisp and golden brown.

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