Can you tell I’m excited? I guess my healthy eating kick has really built up the momentum for this day of excess!
For those of you who are hosting Thanksgiving, I have a few tips for making this a non anxiety-ridden event. (For those of you who aren’t cooking- read all that goes into it to have compassion for your hosts!)
Actually, I’m type A and neurotic, so I just love the planning and organization that goes into this big feast. I actually typed the order in which everything should be prepared and printed out copies for us 4 girls who are cooking. I hope I’m not driving everyone crazy, but I think this kind of craziness makes the day go much smoother.
If you aren’t cooking with others as I am, then you definitely need to make sure you are especially organized. There is a ton to cook, and you have to know what can be prepared in advance (desserts, cranberry sauce, salad dressing) and what needs to be done last minute (gravy, mashed potatoes). You need to know how much room your oven has, and what can be baked simultaneously.
This depends greatly on your menu. Up to 5 days before, you can make and freeze cheesecake for example. You can also make cranberry sauce this far in advance. (Avoid the canned stuff if you can- real cranberry sauce takes minutes to make and is soooo good. You can add chopped apples, walnuts, raisins, candied ginger-any combo you like).
Up to a few days before, you can make your dressing.If you are making homemade pumpkin pie, you can make the puree days before baking as well.
Bake your pies the night before. Don’t stress yourself out this the day of, while you have a ton of savory dishes to assemble and bake.
Also make giblet gravy the night before. Take the giblets (excluding the liver!) from inside of your turkey, and put it in a pot with chicken stock, a few carrots, celery stalks an onion, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour- drain through a sieve, and you have a great stock that will make an amazing gravy. As far as flavor goes- canned stock just doesn’t cut it. And gravy is such an essential part of the meal!
Some people assemble the stuffing before baking the night before, but I don’t do this for fear of a soggy result. Prepping the vegetables and bread, though, is definitely a good option. In fact, you can prep most of your veggies for whichever dish you make the night before.
On Thanksgiving, do things like setting the table and straightening up while the turkey is in the oven. Multi-task. Delegate. Accept help from others.
I really recommend having all your recipes in front of you so you can see what can be done early and what you need to leave for a few hours before the guests come. Write out the order. Once there is a list, a lot of the stress goes away, because you know exactly what needs to be done. Be familiar with your recipes. Don’t wait until the moment you’re preparing the dish to read them. This way you can gauge the active cooking time.
And don’t get dressed until right before guests come or you may end up receiving guests with a gravy stained top!
Here’s a Checklist that will reduce stress!!
(obviously this is a mock list and can be adapted to your specific menu)
14 Days Before: Guest list and Menu Choices
9 Days Before: Write out your Ingredient list
8 Days Before: Buy your turkeys- figure out when it all needs to be defrosted
1 Week Before: Make anything than can be frozen and defrosted, such as Cheesecake or Giblet Stock. Also you can make pie crust and freeze (this can be done several days before this, if desired).
6 Days Before: Grocery Shopping
5 Days Before: Cranberry Sauce
4 Days Before: Salad Dressing, Pumpkin Puree
2 Days Before- Brine Turkey
1 Day Before- Prepare Desserts
Chop up veggies and bread for stuffing- or for any other veggie dish.
If you don’t have animals or small children, you can set the table from now- otherwise move this to Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Day! Assemble and Bake Stuffing and all Casseroles, Turkey, Potato Dish, Gravy, Enjoy!!