November 25, 2013 by caitlinvaclark
Stop whatever you are doing and start making a list. Here comes a whole lot of tips and tricks to help you have a relaxing, stress-free Thanksgiving. Taking the time to organize what you need to get done and when is the only way to make Thanksgiving week easy breezy. Be sure to include what other people are doing/bringing and when making your timeline, don’t forget that they might need to use the oven to warm their dishes too.
I like to start with my list of what I can do the days leading up to Thanksgiving and then a set schedule for the day of. Some of the highlights on my lists are: being sure to bake cornbread and cube baguettes a few days before so they are stale for stuffing; including house cleaning tasks throughout the week; building in a little time to exercise on Thanksgiving day before everyone arrives; and not forgetting that cleaning dishes and chopping things takes time too! I also add little reminders to get the silly things that you can randomly forget like flowers and ice.
A few days before Thanksgiving, I layout all my serving dishes and use post-it notes to mark what I’ll serve in which dish. This way I can make sure I’ve covered all your bases.
The night before the meal, I also chop and label all my vegetables and store them in ziplock bags so that I don’t have to worry about crying over onions or cleaning green beans at the last minute.
Some other things to think about that might slip your mind:
- Make sure you have lots of plastic wrap, foil, and ziplock bags on hand.
- This should hopefully go without saying but leave yourself plenty of time to thaw your turkey if you get a frozen one. Like it takes days in the fridge. Oh and on the turkey topic, make sure you check for the little plastic baggie of giblets in the cavity up your turkey.
- Start with a clean kitchen and strive to keep it that way. Take breaks to wash dishes as you go.
- Clean out your fridge before you do your big grocery shop.
- Don’t forget to chill your booze and beverages in advance. If the weather is cold (but not below freezing) you can set everything outside overnight.
- Get your flowers at least one day before so that they have a chance to open up in the arrangement.
- Sharpen your knives.
- Mop your kitchen floor after you finish prep the night before the big day. It will suck and you won’t want to do it but you probably won’t have time to worry about all the garlic peel and flour under the cupboards once people start arriving.
- Decide what you are going to wear in advance. You will not have time to try on 87 outfits.
- Wear an apron.
I realize that everyone has different traditions and styles of serving Thanksgiving dinner, so your schedule and to-do’s will vary based on your personalized holiday. For us, Thanksgiving has always been about a day of cooking (and drinking) then sitting down to a long meal. Guests usually arrive around 3 for hors d’oeuvres and cocktails and we eat at about 7. While I don’t have a big enough table to serve family style at the table, I like to set up my buffet nearby so people don’t have to go to far for seconds and thirds and fourths.
I do like to set the table a little formal, because it’s not that many times a year that you can! And definitely set the table the night before. Not only is that one less job to worry about but it prevents people (i.e. my husband) from leaving all their random books and dirty dishes and work stuff out and about.
It’s nice to set up a dessert station so that people can see what’s to come and maybe not completely over do it with the mains. Along with my Pumpkin Cognac Cheesecake, I usually make Cooking Light’s Oatmeal Pecan Pie. I at least double the amount of pecans used so maybe a bit less light, but this recipe is so easy and the oatmeal adds an awesome texture to the pecans. This year I decided to change it up though and make Oatmeal Pecan Pie Cookies. They are killer. I use lots of nuts but also add caramel or toffee so that you get the little bites of gooey goodness that mimic pecan pie.
Oatmeal Pecan Pie Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup caramel or toffee pieces, small diced
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Cream together the sugar and butter with a handheld blender. Add one egg at a time, beating until well mixed. Mix in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl sift the flour, salt, and baking soda. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, 1/3 at a time, using the blender to mix. Once combined, use a wooden spoon to stir in the oats, pecans, and caramel. Form dough into 1-inch balls and place on greased baking sheets, 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes on the center rack of the oven.