With Thanksgiving only one week away, it's time to seriously start panicking. Especially if dinner is at your house and you still need to clean and make the menu. If you sense a bit of panic on my part, well you're absolutely right. Ahhhh!
So, back to the menu. Generally the menu will include some appetizers, the turkey, sides, and dessert. Thanksgiving usually ends up as almost an all day event in that people come early, munch and play all day then enjoy the feast. So, for all day we'll usually have nuts or chips around. Something that doesn't need refrigeration and something that can be picked at. Then we bring out the appetizers around mid-afternoon. In the past, we've gone overboard on the appetizers, making 4 or 5 different things. This was then followed by everyone being way to full to fully enjoy the turkey and sides. So, this year, I've decided to limit the appetizers to maybe 2 things. This year, we're going to have spinach dip with veggies, chips and bread, and bagel chips, cream cheese and lox. They can be prepped that morning (at least individually) and just stay in the fridge til we're ready for them.
While the oil is heating , you can prep/cook all of the sides. I go pretty simple on sides and pick the ones that take only a little bit of time to set up then just goes into the oven. This let's you spend some time enjoying the day with your family. After all, that is the most important part of the holiday. For sides, we're going to have stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and creamed corn as well as some dinner rolls and well... rice (just in case, I am filipino after all).
You'll want everything to be pretty much ready to go by the time the turkey is resting. That's a big tip on it's own. Never serve the turkey right after you finished cooking it (taking it out of the oven or fryer). It needs to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before you even carve into it. This allows all the juices to go back into the meat.
Last of all... Dessert. Depending on the dessert, they can usually be prepared a day or two before. I like doing this because then you don't have to worry about it at all on the day of Thanksgiving except to remember to serve it. This year we plan to make a pumpkin roll the day before and just leave it in the fridge til it's ready to serve. If I have time, I also would like to make some iced pumpkin cookies because even though you're probably full from the big huge dinner you just had, one little cookie doesn't seem like too much. :-) Also, these things go well with coffee, which would be good to combat the sleepy side-effects of turkey.
Okay, snap back to the present (just one week before the big day). Now that you've settled on a menu, you have to take into account that your guests need to be entertained. Not that watching me running frantically around the kitchen isn't entertaining... but you know. So, be sure to have something available for all of you to play. Here are some ideas.
- Game console of choice (PS2, PS3, Wii) and games (Guitar Hero :-) )
- Board games
- DVD trivia
- Bolo golf (also known as ladder golf... I'm hoping to post about this soon – stay tuned).
- DVD movies
These are good ideas for before and after the dinner if people are still there and awake. :-)
Okay so here's the menu
- Deep Fried Turkey (with Creole seasoning)
- Sweet Dinner Rolls
- Awesome Sausage Apple Cranberry Stuffing
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potato with Applesauce
- Green Bean Casserole
- Creamed Corn
- clean house
- proof bake dinner rolls
- shop for groceries if you haven't already
- take the turkey out of the freezer and into the fridge.
- Organize all the recipes you're going to use.
2 days before
- make dessert
- make gravlax
1 day before
- make spinach dip
- cut veggies (better yet, get baby carrots... done)
- make croutons for stuffing and prep other things for stuffing
Morning of Thanksgiving
- put champagne in fridge
- buy newspaper :-)
- set up sweet potato in slow cooker (will make the house smell great by the time the guests come)
- check defrosting of turkey and start drying/draining
- peel potatoes and keep in water
- put out nuts and chips
- last minute cleanup
- set up games/activities
- cut gravlax
- prep the dinner table
- prep appetizers
~ 2 hours before dinner
- start heating up oil
- cook all the sides
~ 1 hour before
- cook rice
- start cooking turkey
- cook mashed potatoes
~ 20 minutes before dinner
- rest turkey
- brown dinner rolls
- turn off slow cooker and place all the food on the table or buffet counter.
- Give dogs their thanksgiving treat so they're busy while we eat
- take champagne out of the fridge
- light candles
- and call everyone to eat
Eat, Drink & be Merry!
Don't forget the desserts.
Okay good. I plan to use this schedule myself so I hope I'm not forgetting anything. :-)
Good Luck with the planning.
Update [11-24-08]: I've decided to try making my own gravy this year. Without the pan drippings this might be a bit of a challenge. So, I googled it. I found this site that has a decent description of how to go about making gravy without pan drippings. Basically, you start with chicken stock add some of the parts of the turkey that is generally unused and some choice veggies and simmer some to reduce and concentrate the flavors. Then add some red wine (yum) and some thickener like cornstarch or flour (side note: be careful with the cornstarch... a little goes a long long way). Anyway, I'll post all the results after thanksgiving. :-)