Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My 5 Best Thanksgiving Tips

     I don't know about you, but I am tired of reading post after post about how to handle Thanksgiving or extensive lists of great new recipes.  I have my family favorites and a plan of action to make it all work.  And I am willing to bet that you do, too.  I thought I would share a quick rundown of some quick and easy tips that might help make Thanksgiving just a tiny bit easier.

1 - Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator.  This requires a little bit of planning ahead, but it's totally worth it to avoid the crazy styrofoam cooler and ice water madness that you will encounter next week.  Simply be sure that your refrigerator is set to 40 degress or less and give the bird one day for every four pounds.  My turkey is 20 lbs, so he will be going in the refrigerator on Saturday afternoon. 

2 - Create a time schedule for Thanksgiving Day in the kitchen and post it prominently on your refrigerator or note board.  We eat in the afternoon, so my schedule reads something like this:
  • 8:30am Preheat Oven
  • 9:00am Turkey in Oven
  • 10:30am Side Dish place in crockpot and turned on
  • 1:00 pm Start Mac & Cheese and place dressing in Oven
  • 1:30 pm Turkey Out of Oven
  • 1:30 pm Mac & Cheese in Oven
This will give you a nice schedule to follow and make sure nothing is accidentally running late.  It also helps you to find possible conflicts between dishes that need oven time early so you can  find a solution.

3 - Use your other kitchen appliances to free up the oven as much as possible.  There are fantastic recipes online to make mashed potatoes and other side dishes ahead of time and then cook them in the crockpot.

4 - Do absolutely everything that you can possibly do before Thanksgiving.  My family loves a recipe for spicy creole dressing.  Unfortunately, it involves making cornbread from scratch, chopping a mountain of vegetables and peppers, assembly work, plus an hour of oven time.  Instead of stressing myself out about it, I chop the vegetables days in advance and freeze them.  I also make a mini tupperware filled with all of the seasonings used in this dish, pre-measured and ready to go.  I make the cornbread on Wednesday and use all of the prepared ingredients to assemble the dressing quickly and painlessly where it can be stored in the refrigerator until time for the oven.  This works great for things like pie crust, which can be prepped and stored in the freezer until you are ready to roll it out.  The mashed potatoes are prepared on Wednesday and placed in the crockpot dish to await time to be pulled from the fridge and heated on Thanksgiving.

5 - Relax.  Don't stress yourself out with unreasonable expectations.  This is the real world and things are going to go wrong.  Last year I burnt the bottom of the dressing because I was cooking in a new oven and found out that the location of my shelves needed to be adjusted from what I was used to.  These things happen.  Don't let them ruin your day.  Just remember to thank the LORD for all of the things that do go right. 

     Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed day.

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