Monday, November 21, 2011

Last Minute Thanksgiving Day Prep

Turkey Trots/Thanksgiving Day road races are almost as popular as pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. I've often thought about running in one, but decided I'd rather be running around in the kitchen than on the pavement. I will definitely need some running shoes in the kitchen this Thanksgiving seeing how I am way behind in all matters of Thanksgiving.

So for anyone hosting this year's feast and looking for some last-minute tips, look no further than this known-procrastinator and time-starved (and just plain starved) mom.

Saturday & Sunday: 
  1. Plan menu and make shopping list. Here's our menu this year with design help from my kids.
  2. Ask guests to bring something. We like asking folks to bring a dessert or appetizers - one less thing to stress out about!
  3. If you are of the brave sort, shop for non-perishables. I avoid grocery stores the weekend before Thanksgiving at all costs. I'd like to keep my sanity before the holidays... before I lose it again a month from now.
  4. Make sure there's room in the fridge.
Monday:
  1. Shop like the wind. I will go first thing in the AM after I drop-off the kids at school. Everything will be fully stocked and crowds will be less ornery. 
  2. Prep linens, platters, centerpiece, place cards, etc. 
Tuesday:
  1. Make cranberry sauce. The sauce will benefit from being in the fridge for a couple of days where the flavors can develop.
  2. Cut and cube bread for stuffing and leave out in a single layer on baking sheets.
  3. Caramelize onions for green beans dish.
Wednesday (Eeek!):
  1. Make stuffing.
  2. Peel carrots and parsnips and store in zip-lock bag wrapped in moist paper towels.
  3. Peel potatoes and refrigerate in a pot of cold water.
  4. Wash and trim green beans.
  5. Pick up turkey and brine turkey if you plan on using a brine. 
T-Day:
11am: Set table
12pm: Remove turkey and allow it to sit at room temperature for up to 2 hours
1pm: Preheat oven, prep and stuff turkey
2pm: Put turkey in the oven and cook at 500 degrees for 30 minutes
2:30pm: Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast for 2-2.5 hours for a 14-16lb turkey. Roast carrots and parsnips at the same time.
3pm: Take cranberry sauce out of fridge and bring to room temperature. Remove parsnips and carrots.
**More than half way there - pour yourself a drink.
3:30pm: Make mashed potatoes and keep warm when finished.
4pm: Make green beans and keep warm when finished. Bake stuffing.
4:30pm: Take out turkey and let it rest (thickest part of the breast should be 161 degrees F). Remove stuffing from oven. Reheat carrots and other sides as necessary.
5pm: Chow time!
Last bit of advice: Make sure you delegate as much as you feel comfortable doing. And the most important piece of advice (next to enjoying this time with family) - make sure your dishwasher is empty Thursday morning!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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