Thanksgiving Prep: 24 Hours to Go

posted in: Holidays, Thanksgiving 2015 | 0

Thanksgiving Sides Sweet Potato Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

Okay, we’ve reached the point in our Thanksgiving preparation posts where, if you haven’t done anything and you’re hosting, it really is time to panic. Or at least get your ass in gear — and to the grocery store! If you really haven’t done a damn thing, get caught up here. If you have been keeping up, there are just a few things left to do.

Thanksgiving To-Do: 24 Hours to Go

Here’s a final checklist before the big day.

1. Make a plan.

We know you’ve been planning all month, but go into your kitchen (right now!) and go through everything you’re going to cook on Thursday and what you’ll cook it in/with. Do you have all of the ingredients you need? Stock pots? Pans? Serving spoons? If not, get them — now.

2. Finish all of your shopping. RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

No, don’t put it off one more minute. You’re already going to be trapped in line at the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving, when you should be spending the day enveloped by delicious cooking aromas in your kitchen. Make a list (including bread and all of the greens you couldn’t buy last week), check it twice and grab a grocery cart. And pick up some extra wine while you’re out. And maybe whipped cream. And coffee. 

3. Double (or triple) check with your guests.

Are all of your guests still coming? Even the one you’re counting on to bring the pies? Make sure anyone you’re depending on for any part of the meal plans to be there well before you start carving the turkey.

4. Prep as much as you can.

Use today to get as much prep done as you can. Chop vegetables, boil potatoes and brine your turkey. You can even make the cranberry sauce and most of your sides and refrigerate them for rewarming tomorrow. 

5. Relax and have fun.

You’re well-prepared for Thanksgiving. There’s no reason to worry. Relax, drink some of that wine you bought. And if, after all of this preparation, something goes terribly awry, at least you have lots of wine and bread. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Styling Your Thanksgiving Table

posted in: Holidays, Thanksgiving 2015 | 0

Affordable DIY Thanksgiving Table Styling Tips

Think it’s too early to start planning Thanksgiving dinner? Think again! November 26 may seem like a long way off, but you guys, it’s less than one week away! It’s time to panic!

Just kidding. You don’t need to panic — especially if you’ve been following along with our Thanksgiving preparation tips. If you’re already on it, maybe you’re thinking about how you’re going to style your Thanksgiving dinner table. And if inspiration is what you need, here are some of my favorite affordable, DIY Thanksgiving table styling tips from a piece I put together for BuzzFeed last year.

Affordable DIY Thanksgiving Table Styling Tips

Cheap DIY Thanksgiving Table Styling

Arrange Mismatched Dishes Like a Pro
Don’t have a full set of autumnal China? Work with what you’ve got (or hit your favorite thrift store)! While it may seem logical to pair like with like, you actually want to evenly distribute dishes that match while alternating other patterns and colors around those pieces. Tie everything together with matching napkins.

Affordable DIY Thanksgiving Table Styling Tips

Dress Up Paper Towels
No fancy linens? No problem! Wrap up silverware in a paper towel folded lengthwise, tie it with twine and, if you’re assigning seats, use a gift tag as a place card.

Affordable DIY Thanksgiving Table Styling Tips

Create an Edible Centerpiece
Arrange fresh sage in a vase or milk jug for a fragrant, beautiful — and even edible! — centerpiece.

Thanksgiving Table Styling Cheap Affordable DIY

Pick Up Sticks
Gather fallen branches of a similar length and girth. Sand them if they’re rough, then add a festive pop by painting a few of them white or gold. Arrange horizontally around a centerpiece or upright in a vase.

See the rest of this post, including five more tips, over at BuzzFeed

In between our Thanksgiving tips posts, we’ll also be sharing some of our favorite original Thanksgiving recipes, and some tips on styling your Thanksgiving table on the cheap, so stay tuned or be sure to follow us on Facebook, or you know, whatever works for you.

How do you start prepping for Turkey Day? Tell us in the comments!

 

Thanksgiving Prep: One Week Out

posted in: Holidays, Thanksgiving 2015 | 0

Thanksgiving Preparation Tips Planning Recipes and Styling

Think it’s too early to start planning Thanksgiving dinner? Think again! November 26 may seem like a long way off, but you guys, it’s one week away! It’s time to panic!

Just kidding. You don’t need to panic — especially if you’ve been following along with our Thanksgiving preparation tips. And if you haven’t, this post will help you get caught up.

The majority of these tips aren’t exactly new. But they’re still relevant today. Many moons (okay, six years) ago I was a regular contributor to Slahsfood, AOL’s now-defunct food blog. One of my favorite assignments was to prep readers for my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving! Thanks to the Wayback Machine, I’ve located the posts, edited them a bit for, er, modern times (I’m a grown-ass woman now), and am sharing them here.

In between our Thanksgiving tips posts, we’ll also be sharing some of our favorite original Thanksgiving recipes, and some tips on styling your Thanksgiving table on the cheap, so stay tuned or be sure to follow us on Facebook, or you know, whatever works for you.

Thanksgiving To-Do: One Week Out

By this point, you should have gotten a head count, ordered your turkey, and planned your menu. You also should have asked your guests to bring something, purchased some non-perishables (or not not-too-perishables) and figured out how you’re going to seat everyone at your tiny table. If you’ve already done all of those things, great! If not, there’s still time, you might just need to rush. But first and foremost, order that bird!

So, with the majority of your shopping done and your house filled with mismatched chairs and borrowed stock pots, what is left to do?

1. Practice, practice, practice.

While you certainly don’t need to practice roasting a 12-pound turkey (that could get expensive and it would take up too much room in your already packed fridge), if you’ve never roasted poultry before, it might be worth your while to get a small chicken or turkey from the grocery store and brine it, baste it and taste it. And if you’re planning to make some crazy side dish, why not try it out a week ahead of time?

2. Keep shopping.

By now, it’s safe to buy almost everything you’ll need for your Thanksgiving dinner, including:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Garlic (keep it in the fridge)
  • Onions

You’ll want to hold off on things like Brussels sprouts, green beans and whatever other fruit and green or leafy vegetables you’ll be using. But you can also pick up cranberries and make your cranberry sauce ahead of time. 

Oh, and buy more wine. You’ll thank us later.

3. Clean.

This one might seem like a no-brainer, or might not apply to everyone. But you’re going to have a lot of people in your home — maybe your parents will be there, or worse, your in-laws. Start cleaning now, so you’re not tripping over a mop bucket to get to your turkey on Thanksgiving morning.

4. Check in with your guests.

Is your mom still bringing pecan pie? Is your sister still making her green bean casserole? OK, just checking.

How do you start prepping for Turkey Day? Tell us in the comments!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple, Pancetta, and Pecans

 

Roasted Brussels SroutsThink it’s too early to start planning Thanksgiving dinner? Think again! November 26 may seem like a long way off, but for the holiday host, it’s right around the corner. And for anyone counting, it’s only 10 days away. But don’t panic. This month, we’re bringing you preparation tips to ensure your Thanksgiving is as smooth as your gravy (should be).

In between our Thanksgiving tips posts, we’ll also be sharing some of our favorite original Thanksgiving recipes — like these decadent roasted Brussels sprouts — so stay tuned or be sure to follow us on Facebook, or you know, whatever works for you.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple, Pancetta, and Pecans

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Sriracha
6 ounces diced pancetta
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stemmed and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, syrup, and Sriracha and set aside.

In a large saute pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate, and reserve two tablespoons of the rendered fat.

Toss the Brussels sprouts with the reserved bacon fat and the olive oil, then season with the salt and pepper. Spread them evenly, with the cut side down, across two large baking sheets. Cook until the Brussels sprouts are barely tender and just beginning to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the Brussels sprouts with the sauce.

Return to the oven and cook for five more minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer the Brussels sprouts to a serving a platter, and top with the pancetta and pecans.

Thanksgiving Prep: Mid-November

posted in: Holidays, Thanksgiving 2015 | 0

Roasted Turkey Photo Injected with Beer Feed Me Creative

Think it’s too early to start planning Thanksgiving dinner? Think again! November 26 may seem like a long way off, but for the holiday host, it’s right around the corner. And for anyone counting, it’s only 14 days away. But don’t panic. This month, we’re bringing you preparation tips to ensure your Thanksgiving is as smooth as your gravy (should be).

The majority of these tips aren’t exactly new. But they’re still relevant today. Many moons (okay, six years) ago I was a regular contributor to Slahsfood, AOL’s now-defunct food blog. One of my favorite assignments was to prep readers for my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving! Thanks to the Wayback Machine, I’ve located the posts, edited them a bit for, er, modern times (I’m a grown-ass woman now), and am sharing them here.

In between our Thanksgiving tips posts, we’ll also be sharing some of our favorite original Thanksgiving recipes, so stay tuned or be sure to follow us on Facebook, or you know, whatever works for you.

Mid-November Thanksgiving To-Do

By this point, you should have a head count and have already placed an order for an appropriately sized turkey. You may have made an outline of your menu. Now it’s time for the heavy lifting. Try to do some of this over the weekend. 

1. Finalize your menu.
You should have a rough idea of what you’re going to serve for the holiday meal. Now it’s time to decide how many pounds of Brussels sprouts you’ll need and how you’re going to prepare them. Are you going to brine your turkey? What kind of rolls are you serving? Salted or unsalted butter? Are you making pies or asking someone else to bring them? Now is the time to make all of those decisions, and then make a shopping list based on the recipes for each dish.

2. Get help.
Unless you’re independently wealthy and happen to employ a full-time garde manger, no one expects you to prepare the entire Thanksgiving dinner yourself. Doing so would take away from the spirit of Thanksgiving anyway. Remember that it’s more than okay to ask your guests to bring something.

If you’re afraid of outright asking, tell your friend’s girlfriend that your Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn’t be complete without her creamy cauliflower puree. And ask a family member who can’t cook to bring a bottle of wine and a store-bought pie (or a French pumpkin tart!).

Even though you probably don’t employ full-time kitchen help, and you’re doing this solo, asking a close friend or family member to come over in the morning and help you prepare is well worth the cappuccino and croissant you’ll buy her in return. Not only can she help you with prep work, she can also make last-minute trips to the store, lest you forget to buy butter or run out of salt.

3. Shop till you drop.
You don’t want to be cursing locals at the liquor store the day before Thanksgiving, do you? (I mean, that’s cool if it’s your thing…) Get as much shopping as you can done now, while you can still do it with equal parts ease and dignity. Load up on non-perishables and, more importantly, booze. The last thing you want to run out of on Thanksgiving is beer and wine. Seriously.

Once the food runs out (or people have eaten as much as they can, in the first round, anyway) your guests will want to sit around and drink for as long as you will let them. And while it’s absolutely acceptable to ask each one to bring a bottle of wine, as host or hostess you should have some stashed away. Plan on at least a bottle of wine per adult, and don’t worry about getting expensive stuff. Your guests will bring that, and after a few bottles go down wine is wine, right?

What else you can buy now:

  • Butter
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Cranberry sauce (if you’re using the canned stuff, but it’s so easy to make fresh)
  • Paper products (paper towels, napkins and, yes, extra toilet paper)
  • Candles
  • Broth/stock
  • Dried spices and herbs
  • Bag for your turkey if you plan to brine it

4. Beg, borrow and steal.
Okay, maybe don’t steal, but is your home equipped with everything you need to prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner? Are you sure? Do you have a stock pot big enough for boiling 15 pounds of potatoes? Or enough plates for dinner and dessert? What about wine glasses, chairs and serving pieces? Though a gravy boat is optional, if not antiquated, you’re going to need all the rest. If you don’t have a large stock pot, borrow one from your mom or a co-worker or neighbor. And if you find you can’t borrow everything you need, think about hitting thrift stores for kitschy, vintage finds.

How do you start prepping for Turkey Day? Tell us in the comments!

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