Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thanksgiving Meal Plan

As I'm looking over the most insane To Do list I've ever had in my life, I keep reminding myself that I can't lose sight of one very important fact: I am hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year.  *insert face-paling look of panic here*

Last time I hosted the single most amazing meal known to food-dom I was newly pregnant.  And not just "oh you're GLOWING" newly pregnant, rather the kind where any smell that I'd previously taken comfort in was suddenly betraying me and turning my stomach upside down and inside out.  I remember that Thanksgiving vividly and it's not necessarily with fondness.

That was seven years ago.  I've been that afraid to host again.

But now I'm over it!  Now I'm ready to host this giant turkey feast again.  AND I'm ready to do this with hardly any baking on Thanksgiving.  Oh yeah, you read that right. I'm making my dinner ahead of time!!  Because honestly the only way anything ever gets done around here is with some advance-prep.

So here's what's on my menu and approximately when I plan on making it:

Any Day Now
Cranberry Sauce.  Actually this is already done and in the freezer.  And if you try and tell me that you're just going to pick up the canned, gelatinous mass and will actually enjoy eating every last bite of it I might have to call for an intervention.  Cranberry sauce is THE EASIEST dish that will every appear on your Thanksgiving table.  It also has the potential to be the biggest WOW.  Who ever expects this dish of crimson goodness to be, well, good?!  And not just good, but kick-ass good.  So good you are actually reconfiguring your dinner plate layout so you can allot a larger area for this.  Don't believe this recipe is that good?  Make it.  This weekend.  I dare you. ;)

Weekend Before
Mashed Potatoes.  Yup, I'm going to be boiling up potatoes ahead of time and mashing them with some cream cheese and a whole lot of butter.  They'll stay happy in a casserole dish until they hit the oven shortly before Meal Time for a quick reheat.  And if Rob asks me nicely I might even top them with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon.

Two Days Before
New Recipe! Brined Citrus Turkey.  Last year I experimented with brining a turkey.  I will never make turkey another way again.  It is pure, glorious, HEAVEN.  And honestly it's not difficult to do at all; it just needs a little pre-planning.  This one needs to soak about 24 hours before roasting.  So yes, I am roasting the bird the day BEFORE Thanksgiving.  No, I'm not going to Foodie Hell for this.  I'm going to spend my Thanksgiving Day relaxing and playing games with my family, and knowing my turkey is safely warming in the slow cooker, ready to eat when we are.
Pumpkin Pie. I cannot eat warm pumpkin pie.  Ew.  This baby's going to bake while my turkey begins it's bath.

Day Before
New Recipe! Herbed Oatmeal Pan Bread. Yes, I'm making up some old-fashioned yeast bread, in addition to everything else.  Time-consuming?  Sort of.  Difficult?  Not really.  Totally worth it because it can sit in the fridge for 24 hours before baking?  You betcha!!  And I'm going to be honest: you have not lived until you've had my mother-in-law's oatmeal pan bread.  Dinner's at 4:00.  I'll look for you about 3:30.  Be here. Eat this. You're welcome.

Guests Are Bringing (One of the biggest rules of hosting a dinner party of any kind is DON'T make all the food yourself if you don't have to.  And since side dishes are usually my stumbling block, my fantabulous parents will be bringing these wonderful delicacies)
Green Bean & Corn Casserole
Mandarin Orange Spinach Salad with Sweet & Sour Vinaigrette
Extra dessert, possibly something with apples or pears

And there you have it!  That's what we'll be enjoying come Thanksgiving Day.  There's been talk too about various appetizers to munch on earlier in the day but I'm not too worried about that right now.  All I'm focusing on is the few minutes of effort in the days leading up to this meal.  Because with those few minutes of advance-prep, I will have an almost completely stress-free holiday! :)
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

This Week's Menu

With this whole craft business thing, you could say that I've returned to the Working Mom world.  Even though the hours are supremely flexible and my office totally ROCKS, I'm working to balance deadlines and family again.  And when it comes to crocheted items, the next few weeks is high season for me!  So you're going to be seeing even easier, faster recipes in my meal plan for a while.  And if it's something that takes a bit longer than 30 minutes, it's probably something I've stored away in my freezer for only the craziest of nights.

Because I always have, and always will believe that eating delicious, healthy, homemade food does NOT have to be difficult or stressful.  It's all in how you prepare. :)
  • Thursday: Leftovers. This is probably the fastest meal ever.  And with my tendency to cook especially big over the winter, this means I can often have leftovers 2-3 times a week.
  • Friday:  Yes, I'm doing the same thing, but I'm playing around with different crusts.  Mostly because my trusty breadmaker pan is busted and we haven't replaced it yet.  I think I've got a new one just about figured out and will share soon!
  • Saturday: Polla alla Cacciatora, and rice.  I tend to stock up on chicken thighs when I see them on sale.  It's time to use some of them!
  • Sunday: Between the CSA and my parents, I found myself inundated with bell peppers recently.  So I picked up a flank steak and added two gallon-sized bags of New Recipe! Steak Fajitas to my freezer.  And yes, I'm already going to pull one back out to cook up.  
  • Monday: Out latest CSA delivery (and yes, I know I need to catch you up on those) included spinach.  So of course I have to make Chicken-Mushroom Quesadillas!  Just one recipe makes up at least four meals for us.
  • Tuesday: Rob might be on his own with the boys for dinner.  So I'll give him a break and just tell him he's making sandwiches.
  • Wednesday: Looking over this spread, yup, I think another night of leftovers is in order!
Happy planning!!
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