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I am hosting 16 and will NOT have all day Thursday to put it together....AND...I have a 15 month old...so I am relagated to cooking during naps and late at night.... I need to make everything ahead...starting on Tuesday...doing a dish at a time..... any thoughts? (besides get a babysitter! lol)

I'll start....

Mashed Potato Cake...

I basicly saute a bunch of sweet onions, mash them into the baked potatos w/ butter and cream, salt and pepper and then pat the whole mess into a springform pan. I refridgerate up to 2 days before an event and then bake (warm) just for serving. I sometimes top w/ more sauteed onions.... It's yummy and everyone always loves it. Serve in slices...like cake.

*I was thinking of making it a layer cake for Thanksgiving...have one layer of mashed white...and one layer of mashed sweet.....

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  1. I always make ahead....and it is still lots of work! I make fresh turkey stock, to make gravy, and refridg it several days ahead. I roast turkey parts to get the brown bits needed to make a rich gravy, which I then add to the Turkey drippings.

    I also make the mashed or any other potato dish ahead and refridg. I also make the stuffing, and prefer to bake separately, as it isn't as soggy, ahead. Vegetables such as green beans (no not one of those casseroles!)can be partially pre cooked... and brussel spouts I also make ahead,roasting or sauteeing... but keep a bit crunchy, as I sautee them in some butter, shallots, etc., at the last minute, which continues their cooking. I microwave the potatoes, and reheat the stuffing in the oven once the turkey is out. Or, I do the turkey on the rotisserie, thus the need to make stock/gravy ahead of time using turkey parts, that I will then disgard.

    IF I had to do this all on one day, I could simply not manage.
    I always purchase desserts...Thanksgiving and Christmas is the time my family gets to indulge in their fav bakery items. Breads, rolls, etc., can be warmed for a few minutes in the oven.

    I do hope you will get some of your friends/family to pitch in and help you get it all out on the table or buffet! And, in the kitchen afterwards!

    To be honesty, the last few years, we have gone out to Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas Eve, coming back to a fab dessert party. But this is how I did it for many, many years!

    I personally think much of Thanksgiving, even with a twist on the old classics, can be made ahead, and still be marvelous.
    And, with your baby, what are the possibilities of some of these guests contributing a dish? That's how my sister does it, everybody has something special they make, a glorified, but fancy pot luck, as she has the lovely serving pieces, etc., and sets a beautiful buffet!

    I also have a huge assortment of chafing dishes, warmers, etc...so all can be served warm and kept warm for seconds!

    Setting your own pace is the most important thing, especially with the baby! You can even start the stock/gravy on Monday...it will be fine! I have even done it weeks ahead and frozen the stock until time to make the gravy!

    1. not to sure about layering the two potatos. What if a guest doesn't like both?

      1 Reply
      1. re: koriekiss

        Good point...I'll make seperate spud dishes...

      2. I need to make everything ahead...starting on Tuesday...doing a dish at a time..... any thoughts?

        My local newspapers have a Wednesday food section, every year they run a "Thanksgiving special". Some times they have a count down, what to do when and recipes and cooking tips. I only purchased one of two newspapers I usually read, but the San Jose Mercury Food Section's headline is: The Do-Ahead Thanksgiving/Your Easiest Holiday Ever.

        I don't know if people don't read newspapers, my newspapers are not the only ones that run Thanksgiving issues, or if people just want someone to commiserate with (on the internet).

        1. I have a recipe for a make-ahead mashed potato casserole - you can make it 1-2 days ahead of time. I've made it and it really is very good. If you'd like the recipe, let me know and I'll post.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Petitpois

            I second the mashed potato casserole recommendation. It sounds like a recipe I make and it is perfect for make ahead situations.

              1. re: Susanbnyc

                Here you go -

                First here, is the link to the Mark Bittman stuffing article:

                Make-ahead mashed potatoes
                Serves 8-12

                5 lbs baking potatoes
                1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, cut into chunks, room temp
                1 cup sour cream
                1/2 cup heated milk
                chopped chives or parsley (optional


                - Peel potatoes, cut into chunks, and boil in salted water until tender.
                -Drain potatoes well and return to the warm pot. Add the cream cheese. Using an electric mixer (hand-held) mash the potatoes until the cream cheese melts. Beat in the sour cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a buttered 9x13 baking dish. Cool completely. The potatoes can be covered tightly and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
                -When ready to serve... Preheat oven to 375. Bring potatoes to room temp.
                -Bake until heated through, 30-40 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with chives or parsley.

                1. re: Petitpois

                  Thanks for the link....but which one is it? There are 4 or 5 recipes there....

                  The mashies sound very good and rich!

                  1. re: Susanbnyc

                    Well, yes, must admit the potatoes are quite rich. Combined with Mark Bitttman's stuffing (by the way, I love the recipe for Bread Stuffing, but I just took a quick look at all the recipes in the article and you can also make the Whole Grain stuffing w/ Kale and dried fruit, or the rice and nut stuffing days ahead of time, too) and you've got your fat grams for the rest of the year! However, I have made the mashies with low-fat sour cream and cream cheese with good results. Good luck!

                  2. re: Petitpois

                    That's the one I use. I got it from an old Sunset cookbook. The only difference is that Sunset called for a minced clove of garlic, which I double or triple. I've also done the low fat version with good results too.

              2. I do my Thanksgiving meal ahead of time and reheat at my MIL's house. If you have a crockpot or can borrow one you can make stuffing and also get a jump on the gravy by making a good stock. I've even bought and roasted turkey wings in advance to make gravy but prefer gravy made the same day. Any cranberry sauce keeps a week or more. You can parboil veggies a day or two ahead. If you make you own rolls or pie crust you can make the dough ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate. As mention before the mashed potato casserole is a great make ahead dish and is always a crowd pleaser. Good Luck!

                1. Also, in this week's NYT dining section Mark Bittman has a recipe for bread stuffing, which he says can be made three days ahead! On a side note - the recipe is the same as one he published in his Minimalist column several years ago, I've used it every Thanksgiving and can vouch for its deliciousness (it is v. rich, though).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Petitpois

                    Very rich is what Thanksgiving stuffing is all about! Do you have a link?

                  2. I've been making Thanksgiving dinner for years and am doing so again this year. I have it all pretty much down to a science so that I have less and less to fool around with on THE day. This year I'm making an Apple Sausage Stuffing recipe from Epicurious.com that is baked outside the bird. That'll get put together on Wednesday as will Emeril's Cornbread and Andouille Dressing (from Food Network.com) and warmed while the turkey is resting. My Mom does the cranberries, my MIL does a mashed potato casserole similar to the one posted above. I'm also doing some glazed sweet potatoes that can be put together in advance. The pies will be made ahead. Only thing that's left is the roasted green beans will shallots which will be a cinch to throw together.

                    I honed this plan of attack when my boys were little, but I agree with someone else that asking people to bring a dish is a great idea. Most everyone wants to contribute anyway. Go through your recipes and if something can't be made in advance, then find a substitution.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kwe730

                      Care to share the glazed sweet potatoes recipe?

                      1. re: Susanbnyc


                        Here's the link to the sweet potato recipe. I'm taking it for a test drive this year, but it got such good reviews that I don't anticipate any problems.


                    2. Our dinner will consist of smoked/grilled turkey, romaine salad with beets and oranges, cabernet cranberry sauce, rice and nut dressing (from this week's NY Times), roasted winter vegetables with maple-ginger glaze from Fine Cooking, and pumpkin-cranberry rolls from King Arthur if I have time this weekend. The menu needs to be completely dairy-free and mostly gluten- and nut-free.

                      This is what I'm planning to do ahead:

                      This weekend: Bake and freeze rolls

                      Tuesday: Pick up turkey (a fresh kosher bird), cook beets, make cranberry sauce

                      Wednesday: Make rice/nut dressing and refrigerate. I'll make this in a nice baking pan and probably reheat and serve it in the same pan on Thursday. I'll season the bird and leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry. I need to look at the roasted vegetable recipe to see if I can make or at least prep the day before. Slice the oranges and beets, maybe prep the lettuce, make the vinaigrette.

                      Thursday: Cook the turkey, assemble the salad, reheat the rice/nut dressing, make or finish the vegetables, heat the rolls...

                      Rolls: http://kingarthurflour.com/shop/recip...
                      Dressing: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/din...
                      Roasted Winter Vegetables with Maple-Ginger Glaze: http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/re...