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Nov 13, 2009 08:37 AM

Thanksgiving Angst

Due to many reasons, I'm experiencing massive worry and disappointment about cooking this year's meal. While usually enjoy cooking and preparing favorites for my family, this year I'm working the three days before Thanksgiving, have not set aside any time to shop and don't have a set menu, other than I'm not roasting a turkey.
Does any one have any easy, foolproof recipes that are your go-to for holidays? Preferably, ones that can be prepared in the morning, then re-heated or otherwise non-fuss in the moments before serving?
I was planning on grilling steaks, but now realize I can't count on that due to uncertain weather. So now all is up in the air and I feel inertia about menu planning.

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  1. how about something you can make now & freeze? I am thinking lasagne, but there are other options. That way you could pull it out & bake, have some nice bread & a green salad, and keep it really easy for yourself.

    4 Replies
    1. re: elfcook

      Not sure how many your feeding or your family's favorites, but here's some ideas.

      Plan to shop on the Sunday before, but since you are don't plan anything that requires super fresh ingredients. Suggestion is Turkey, dressing/stuffing, make ahead mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, gravy, store bought cranberry sauce, and roasted brussel sprouts or asparagus. Or another green veggie suggestion is overnight green beans cooked in a crockpot with bacon, apple vinegar, and brown sugar.

      If making stuffing/dressing, wash and cut up your veggies on Sunday. Wash all your veggies before storing.

      On Tue evening, make a pumpkin or pecan pie, they'll be fine until Thur, though may not be as fresh for Friday left overs. Or make a carrot cake, one of our family tradiions because its actually better after its set for a day. Bake your cornbread (if using conbread for dressing) or tear up your stale bread.

      On Wed, mix up your stuffing. Cut up for veggies for roasting. Start the green beans if doing those. Start brining turkey if you brine.

      On Thursday all you have is putting the turkey on, cooking your roasted vegies, making the gravy, and the mashed potatoes

      1. re: elfcook

        This always eases my angst when I'm feeling the pressure of a tight schedule. We're having turkey (or chicken) potpies with my side of the family this year. Ina's recipe is super good and freezes beautifully.

        1. re: Katie Nell


          Jfood is a huuuuuge fan of IG's pot pie recipe. If he could offer a suggestion. Think about cooking it without the crust pre-freezer. Then defrost, assemble with the crust and baked. That way you have a beautiful fresh crust on top.

          Just a thought.

      2. how many people will you be feeding? won't most be disappointed by steaks for thanksgiving? at some point you'll need to shop, right?

        my thanksgiving has morphed into a pretty small affair and we usually do a movie before dinner, so roasting a big bird just isn't feasible. i do duck confit and will start it tomorrow. it's mostly hands off and just needs time to sit. it can be reheated easily.

        hors d'ouevres whie i cook will be cured meats, olives, truffled deviled eggs and shrimp with lemon aioli. all do-ahead.

        will make dauphinoise potatoes, portobello caps stuffed with escargot and garlic butter. the potatoes take hours, so will be done in the morning and reheated, the caps will be assembled in the morning too. will do dry-fried green beans with bacon (having cooked the bacon ahead and using bacon fat from my freezer)

        at some point this week, i will make gingersnaps and almond cookies. we will have cheese and fruit for dessert.

        something like chicken marbella or a lamb or veal braise could be made ahead too. again, hands-off simmering that you can do one night after work.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          If it is too much to roast a whole about a stuffed turkey breast? It can be prepared the night before and just popped in the oven Thanksgiving day...or even the night before. Ina Garten's recipe is just amazing. And you end up with turkey and stuffing in a beautiful roll you just slice. ( any stuffing will work. just fine) Add a nice salad, some cranberry sauce and buy a pumpkin pie and you are set.

        2. Another thought is something in the crock pot. How about apricot chicken?

          1. I don't enjoy cooking *or* eating the normal T-Day fare. When I have the dinner, I cook a large beef brisket, low and slow in the oven and buy a Honey Baked ham. The sides are a make- ahead potato dish, fresh cooked veggies and that retro make-ahead salad with lettuce, bacon, Parmesan cheese, celery & onion. Pies come from a wonderful bakery with the best ice cream I can buy. Oh, I also buy French bread & slice a bit for each person with sweet butter.

            1. If turkey is out, how about a rib roast? I ask the butcher to "Newport" the bones. He cracks them and re-ties them back on making the roast super easy to slice.

              You can make cranberry applesauce (cranberries, apples, boiled in water, sugar added, then mashed and strained) a week ahead and it will be fine. Potatoes, carrots and parsnips can be bought several days ahead of time and cooked the day of serving. Quick breads like pumpkin or cranberry also have a nice shelf life. Can't make fresh rolls? Buy some frozen ones and reheat them, no biggie. Can even keep in the refrigerator. A pumpkin or cranberry cheesecake will last several days in the fridge also.