I am going to include as much information as you could possibly need for a traditional and smooth thanksgiving day celebration. All the Websites that I've searched and recipes that I've used for thanksgiving will all be included. So stop surfing for hours to make your thanksgiving work. I've already done the work for you. If you enjoy a traditional meal with a bit of a twist yet still simple this is the guide for you. The Holiday is about having family and friends and sharing what we are thankfull for, so I like to spend as much time visiting and enjoying company just as much as I enjoy the food.
If your the host of thanksgiving this year your going to have to get the meal ready and in good timing if you also want to enjoy your guests. Let's face it, cooking and cleaning last all day and if your not prepared you may be eating thanksgiving dinner way into the late dark night. It is also important for the holidays that you set a time when dinner will be served. If you live in the same area as your family you know they may need to house skip between parents. And if family is driving in you want to be considerate of others schedule for the holiday. Or even if your just having friends over for the big day, let's be prepared. If you say dinner will start at 5:00 then start dinner as close to 5 as possible. Here's how it's done.
1.) Gather all you favorite recipes before you make your trip to the grocery store. Are you tired of calling your mother for her recipes again? I mean, "I know I had that recipe somewhere!" Try searching for your favorite recipes online. I love Allrecipes.com you can find almost any recipe that you desire you can search for recipes by name or ingredients. I love to read the reviews because they always have some new and fun ways to spice up traditional recipes. Turkey is definately the main event, unless your into tofu turkey and then you are reading the wrong blog. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com, Homestyle Turkey, the Michigander Way. I likes this recipe because it wasn't to difficult and few ingredients but yet still delicious. For the turkey we bought a roasting oven and I stick it in there in the morning and then just let it roast. It is a great way to keep your oven free for all those side dishes. Or instead of a roaster and if you don't already have a double oven you could reconsider a remodel to include one. :) Speaking of side dishes here are a few of our favorites.
- Grean Bean Casserole; from foodnetwork.com by paula dean Yummmmmy!!!
- Candied yams (Of course with mini marshmellows); from allrecipes I made the sweet potatoes from scratch last year and not a can but it was a lot faster and easier to use a can, and they tasted just as good. And I have made them healthier as well but I figure if I get to splurge on a holiday, what they hey!
- Mashed potatos; I just peel and boil the potatos until soft with a fork and then I use a potato masher and add milk, butter, and/or sour cream to the consistancy that I like and then I also add garlic powder, salt and pepper and any other spices that you might like.
- Rolls; this year I am buying them or frozen rolls are great too you get them warm freshly baked rolls without all the rising and time that takes to make them fresh, although I have to say homemade rolls are great too here's a recipe if you need some help with that. It's from Betty Crocker, I haven't tried it yet but it looked like a good one. So attempt at your own risk. I've made my rolls out of a bread recipe before and I didn't really care for it so this one should be better.
- Cranberry-orange sauce; From food network Tyler Florence This recipe was pretty tart but I didn't have a cinnamon stick so I just used cinnamon spice and I don't think I added enough orange either but if you like homemade from scratch cranberry sauce this is quick and easy! And I would use a stick of cinnamon and make sure you put in plenty of orange and give it a taste test.
- Stuffing: I love Mrs. Cubbison's Cubed Stuffing mix and then I used the recipe on the box and did the cranberry and spinach option it was delicious I highly recommend it even if the recipe did come from a box. I'm using this recipe again and cutting out the cranberry sauce this year, to simplify my dinner. *See update below*
- Pumkin Pie; This year I made them from scratch, (This website has all the information you could need from A-Z) But if your looking for just the recipe and short instructions here is another recipe. I made them after Halloween with some pumkin pie pumkins and then I stuck them in the freezer so that I would be ready for the big day and have less to do. I used the first website for imformation because I had never made pumkin pie from scratch before and not a can and then I used the recipe from the second website because it was easy with few ingredients and had the measurements for the from scratch pumpkins. (I did have extra filling so I just baked it as a crustless pie and it was fun to snack on.) You could freeze any pie you like or if you really need a quick pie you could buy one from the store or ask one of your guests to bring pies.
You never know how your holiday season is going to go from year to year. So don't set yourself into such rigid traditions that they can't be altered a bit to fit the time you have each year, it may require a few store bought items. Don't skip the tradition alltogether just alter it. The holiday can still be great! Pick the few things that are your families favorites that you make and them go from there.
These recipes I've included aren't necessarily the healthiest recipes but I just figure that we don't get to do this very often so we're going to enjoy the fat and good food, and then go out and play football or go for a run with our loved ones. My Husband is hosting a Turkey trot (5k run/bike/walk) so we've got the exercise built in this year. The event includes a thanksgiving memory game and prizes for the winner. Search your local town or city for an event like this one.
2.) Once you have Gathered your recipes you need to...
- make a Grocery list. Make sure to look at all of your recipes and include everything you will need for your recipes, including any changes you want to make.
- Clip coupons, there a lot for these specific foods this time of year. Your going to be buying a lot so save a lot too.
- Include in your shopping lists snack foods. For instance, if you eat later in the day your guests may be trying to save room for the big meal that they might skip lunch but they'll need something to tide them over. So a nice simple relish tray, or chips and dip. Is a nice easy way to do that. You don't want to be cooking a lot of snack foods because there will be a lot of other cooking going on. Or once again this could be a good thing to assign guests.
- So make your List and Get Shopping! (I didn't include a list because I hate premade lists because half the time I end up editing the list so much that it would have been easier for me to make my own list. Because I have to take things off that I already have and I have to take things away that we don't like, and I have to add specific things that are my families traditions and add things that I wanted to add to a recipe so I'm going to let you make your own list.)
3.) Before the big day: Make as much as you can before hand. Anything you can do days before the big day is a big help. i.e.
- peel and cut the potatos, and then put them in water in the pot your are going to boil them in and stick them in the refridgerator. If you don't put them in water they will brown...and then you'll have wasted your time.
- Bake Rolls, or even just start them rising the night before
- Make any cold salads and put them in the fridge
- I personally like to wait till the day of to make the hot sides but if your short on time you could even make the hot sides, cool them off, put them in the fridge, and then reheat them the day of.
- #1 thing: Defrost the Turkey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here are some safe ways to do that. If you are dethawing in the refridgerator you will need 24 hours for each 4-5 lbs so plan ahead. My Turkey is 11.58 lbs so I have to get mine out of the freezer on Monday! You have got to have days of time to do this so think about it now!!!!!
- Make any decorations that you would like on the table or place cards. Family Fun had some cute ideas. Also check your pinterest account for some fun ideas. I'm going to get a white table cloth and put out some fabric markers and have kids and adults write or draw things that they are thankful for. This idea was from family Fun.
- Don't forget to invite Guests!
4.) You will need to make a cooking/oven schedule because if you don't you will not have dinner when you plan on it. I was planning dinner at 12/12:30pm and pies at 6:30. And I did have everything ready on time (Except I had to get dressed still :) I was busy the whole day so if you wood like a little wiggle room asjust accordingly. Here is my example for the recipes I have above...
- 7:00am: Get dressed and get ready, if you don't do it before everone gets there you wont have time later. :) Make sure your turkey is dethawed.
- 8:00am Turkey and Stuffing Prep (Oh once you get that celery and onion going on the stove it starts smelling delicious already and you are already ready to eat. :)
- 8:30am Cook Turkey and Stuff turkey (This year I'm just going to bake the stuffing I still worry about stuffing it without mixing with raw turkey juices but I know that you can.) For safe turkey stuffing see this site. My turkey was 11 lbs to temp 165 for 3-3.5 hours.
- 8:30 Prep Rolls (the roll recipe above is different then the one I used but I didn't like the one I used last time so I wanted to give you a different one, but the timing is the same.)
- 9:00am Bake Sweet potatos, peel russet potatos chop and put in water in the fridge, rolls rising
- 9:30am Make Cranberry-Orange sauce on stovetop cook 20 min and refridgerate, Start Boiling potatos too
- 10:00 Punch and Shape rolls Watch the Parade!
- 10:15 take sweet potato's out of the oven and peel and prep casserole
- 10:45 Prep Grean bean Casserole
- 11:15 Bake Rolls, Grean Bean Casserole, and Sweet potato's (Candied Yams), Mash Potato's and add wanted ingredients to them.
- 11:30 check/remove rolls
- 11:45 Remove Candied yams and Green bean casserole
- 12:00 Check Turkey and Stuffing for 165 temp (ps don't forget to baste the turkey throughout cooking as well)
- 12:00/12:30 Eat!!!
- 2:00 Prep pies (take out of freezer, I used store bought freezer pies last year, and I think a quick pumkin pie with a pre-made crust)
- 2:30 Bake While the pies were baking we went out side and played dodgeball, it was a lot of fun!
- 4/4:30 Remove pies
- 6:30 Eat pies!!!
I also included fun things that I wanted to do with the family to my schedule otherwise I could easily miss out while I was in the kitchen. Some other fun things we've done is talk or act out the thanksgiving story, watch football, and play games.
5.) Enjoy your guests and make sure you remember to ask everyone what they are thankful for!
***UpDate: I am feeling like quite a dork. I did use the box recipe for Mrs. Cubbison's stuffing as a guideline for the amount of bread crumbs to liquid and vege's ratio but I just bought my box for this year and there is not a Cranberry spinach option. So now I am remembering that I added these ingredients to the staple recipe. When your sauteing your onions and celery and they are almost soft, add in the spinach and wilt it slightly. Then when you add the cranberries you don't need to cook them first you can just add them when you add the stuffing from the box. The cranberries come out the perfect doneness this way. Make sure you use the Oven Casserole Directions not the Top-Of-Stove Directions.
*** How could I forget the Gravy!!! Here is a video on how to make the gravy with your turkey stock.