Tuesday, November 11, 2014

10 Tips for Thanksgiving EXCELLENCE

thanksgiving tips

Last November, B and I decided it was time to start doing Thanksgiving at our house. (You can read all about it here) Normally, we would split our time between multiple families and houses... and although it's great to squeeze in seeing your entire family (on both sides), it's also super nice to just be able to enjoy your own home for the Holidays and not mess with travel. Plus, you now have the option to invite said family members to your place for a nice change of pace. Especially if you've recently purchased your own home.

Sometimes, I think, Thanksgiving gets a bad wrap, especially if it's to be held at your house.
I honestly think, Thanksgiving should be embraced, especially if it's to be held at your house.

I mean, is cooking, eating, drinking, and being festive with family and loved ones really all that bad after all?!

No, of course not! So back to last year... Although Thanksgiving "our way" was an exciting gesture, I still had some pretty big shoes to fill. I pondered about what dishes to make. How to prepare them. Who to invite. Would it even be any GOOD???! The list went on and on.

So in my reflection of last year, and my eager anticipation of doing it all over again this year. I decided to come up with a list of 10 tips to help anyone (newbie or novice) during the craziness of the Thanksgiving season. So sit back, relax, and let's have some Thanksgiving FUN.

10 Tips for Thanksgiving Excellence

1. Decide what you're cooking. Then decide what you're not cooking (i.e. picking up and/or having guests bring). Make a list of items to be served throughout the day and delegate items to guests if your "Thanksgiving to-do list(s)" starts to become overwhelming. Also, if you know you're not the best, at let's say: baking an Apple Pie, then don't stress over baking one. Ask a family member or friend to bring one (homemade or store bought).

2. Compile (and file) ALL of your recipes to be used in one folder/ notebook/ file. This is so that all of your Turkey Day recipes are all readily available to flip back in forth when you're cooking "on all four burners".
(here's a hint: buy a notebook from the $ store, pick up some page-protectors, found here, and compile a system full of recipes you'll be using within the binder. Then, put them in order of what's being cooked & served first, if you have time)
Compiling & Filing Your Recipes serves two purposes: First, it helps to "protect" your printed recipes from greasy-fingers or food splatters. Next, it also helps to be able to quickly flip back & forth between recipes. Tip: Start compiling those recipes into one place, NOW!

3. Make a cooking timeline. Anything that you can make ahead of time (Wednesday night) do it. Then work backwards. If you know the Turkey needs to thaw out and then cook for 5 hours, plan your schedule accordingly. This will help you determine when to throw your casseroles in the oven, and when to start boiling those potatoes, without waiting on things to cook or cause any delay. Remember, you'll have to adjust cooking temps too, so try to pair same cooking temp items together, if possible.

4. Chop your vegetables the day before you begin cooking... anything. Literally, the night before you begin cooking chop the veggies you picked-up. Then store them in large freezer bags. Save a few stalks of celery, pieces of onions and/or a carrot or two carrot if you want to make them an addition in cooking your turkey. Now, once you begin cooking you can simply measure out how much 'chopped' celery, onion, peppers, etc you need and then GO! This will shave off SO much prep time, as well as clean-up from your Thanksgiving cooking preparation. Easy storage, easy access, and easy if you need a pinch more here and there.

5. Make arrangements to order AND pick up your turkey - I know this might seem like a no-brainer, but seriously Turkey's sell-out.. & fast. So at least order it (if possible) before they're all gone, like maybe today. Then make sure you have time in your cooking timeline to go get it, or send the hubby and brother to pick it up (like yours truly). AND
Remember, make sure you have space to store (and thaw, if need) the turkey. I thawed ours in large, wrapped, disposable tins in our garage where temps were cool enough to persevere it.

6. Make a grocery list & pick everything up the weekend before Thanksgiving week. If you're anything like me you'll forget something from the store, but won't be rushing out last minute to find that all the cornbread stuffing (that you NEED) is sold out. Use the week to gather any extra items left off the list and do your best to avoid the crowds.

7. Invest in some "inexpensive" food storage - Food Storage Containers, freezer bags - all different sizes. Do this well before Thanksgiving prep to ensure you have enough storage for chopped and sliced veggies (like mentioned in #4) and other items made ahead of time. You can also use these to send home leftovers with guests without worrying about using you're "good" storage containers. This way your guests won't need to return these.

8., Use disposables - Especially, if you're uninterested in lots and lots of clean up. (No judgement here) But let's face it: Thanksgiving clean-up is the pits. It's okay to not use every single casserole dish in your cupboards. Use disposable baking tins, like these and simply toss them out once you're finished cooking in them. You can always plate things on your fancier dishes later.

9. Deep clean your Kitchen. Sanitize your sink. Clean your oven. Wash all of your dishes and put them away so they're readily available and your dishwashers is free for dirty dishes, then * load as you go *

10. Lastly, Enjoy yourself!! - Realize that somethings may not turn out as planned. Don't stress! The holidays should be a fun time among those you love. Don't panic if you burned your "biscuits" (or dinner rolls). Understand that glasses get broken, bowls get shattered.. and that's perfectly okay! Also, keep in mind, schedules may get thrown off a little (guests hit traffic, or your wine consumption distracts you - as Juan Pablo would say: iss okayyy). Sit back, relax, and enjoy Thanksgiving.

So how are YOU spending Thanksgiving this year? Are you hosting or going? What tips do you have to offer?

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PS - Tomorrow is the LAST day to sign up for our #WineWednesday Wine Glass Swap. All the details and registration can be found here.


Also, a very special THANK YOU to our Veterans. Thank you for your service and scarifies so that we can live in freedom in this beautiful country. I appreciate you today and everyday. Thank you.