Thanksgiving should be spent with family and friends reminiscing about all the things we’re grateful for. And part of the enjoyment of Thanksgiving is shared over a special meal, which sometimes is a
gut-wrenching meal for the hostess. OK, I finally said it!
I truly do love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner as much as the next person. May sound crazy, but I like preparing it myself, rather than going the pot luck route (does that make me a control freak?). But I’m finding that the older I get, perhaps the less
I enjoy parking my butt in the kitchen all day. Yes, people peridocally pop in and out, usually the guys are getting a “cold one” out of the fridge while watching the football games. And if you have a small kitchen, how many people can be in there without
getting in your way? It can be total chaos in the kitchen when everything needs to come together right before the meal is placed on the beautifully-decorated table with your best china and silverware.
That lovely bird that started roasting at the crack of dawn and is now resting after coming out of the oven needs to be carved. Those gorgeous pan drippings need to be expertly transformed into rich, luscious gravy. Those perfectly-cooked potatoes need to
be mashed. The rest of the side dishes need to be plated. The freshly baked rolls need to come out of the oven and put into baskets. Somebody needs to open the bottles of wine. Don’t forget there will be dessert, so be sure to start the coffee brewing.
And then there’s the clean-up after dinner. Whew!
A game plan is essential, so my approach this year was to see if I could simplify Thanksgiving dinner by doing as many dishes as possible in advance but not at the sacrifice of a fantastic meal. I started on the Sunday before the big meal and did a little
each day. Here was my Thanksgiving menu:
Butternut Squash Bisque
Cranberry Stuffed Turkey Breast
Home Cooked Pole Beans
Addictive Mashed Potatoes
Patti’s Triple Cranberry Sauce
Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
Sweet Potato Rolls
Pumpkin Honey Butter
Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Pie
The bisque, cranberry sauce, gravy and pie were prepared early in the week and put into the freezer (now there’s something “I’m” thankful for, a full-size freezer in the garage). The sweet potato rolls and pumpkin honey butter were prepared on Tuesday. The
pole beans and the mashed potatoes were cooked the day before this annual feast and refrigerated. The boneless turkey breast was butterflied and pounded out on Wednesday and stuffed the next morning. I used the microwave to reheat the bisque, gravy, and
the pole beans, and the mashed potatoes went into the slow cooker to warm up and stay warm until meal time.
I boldly tried a couple new recipes which did not turn out exactly as I would have liked, but they weren't total failures, either. One is not a candidate for warming up, and the other was totally off on the cooking time, but that can be modified in the future.
I'll be doing reviews on them if you're interested.
The house is now quiet, all dishes have come out of the dishwasher and are put away. So how did things go? They went perfectly, the weather even cooperated and was gorgeous (sunny and mid-70’s), the meal was wonderful and enjoyed by everybody, and the cook
had a totally stress-free and enjoyable Thanksgiving! I am thankful and respectful for that. Can only say that this is the path I’ll follow in the future.
Sure, you always can go out for Thanksgiving dinner, but I think you miss some quality time with friends and family by doing that. And yes, you can purchase the “Turkey Dinner” with all the side dishes to be reheated at home, and I totally appreciate that
there are times when that’s the only option. I’m just recently retired, so I completely understand demands on leisure time. It wasn’t so long ago that I dreaded spending all day cooking and then cleaning up on Thanksgiving, my work-free (?) holiday.
I now know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for a less stressful Thanksgiving meal if you plan ahead, set your menu and a time table. We all know that there is a sense of satisfaction that comes with sharing a totally homemade meal, particularly
if it’s a good one, with your friends and family, so give it a shot.
The non-commercial Thanksgiving holiday is all about sharing and being grateful for so many things in your life. Perhaps it’s something big that’s being appreciated this year, or maybe something as small as just being able to splurge on a small bouquet of
fresh flowers for the table.
I truly believe that being grateful and thankful can change your attitude and make you a happier person. So I hope you enjoyed your
Respect the Bird day as much as I did. And I hope each of you and your guests also
respected the cook for that tasty, homemade meal that was shared today.
I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position), and I'm not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com. Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in
this blog are purely the sole opinions of Pat Bernitt, AKA lutzflcat.