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Thanksgiving Ideas, recipes & hints to make the day perfect

cstout Oct 21, 2012 07:10 PM

Yeah, we all know it's going to be either ham or turkey or both. That is pretty much a given. So now let's get down to all that other stuff that goes with it.

Do you have any special recipes that you dig out just for the occasion? Once a year yeast rolls, cookies that develop the best flavor over time? Scalloped corn oozing with cheese, yam casserole reeking of spices & carmalized brown sugar or the pie that sends everyone into a swoon?

Make ahead dishes are a big plus for everyone. Yep folks, a few more days & we start planning, cooking, cleaning & generally going crazy. If you have a great recipe you would like to share, post it here so we can ooh & aahh & put it in our repertoire of all good things for the holidays. Also, if you have any suggestions to make this whole business a little less stressful, please share.

Blessings & good tidings to all of you. I have eaten well, thanks to you.

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  1. h
    Healthyfoodie121 RE: cstout Oct 21, 2012 08:44 PM

    I have had a surplus of butternut squash at my house and have been going crazy with it. Butternut squash is really versatile when it comes to dishes and it is perfect as a fall dish! Its much like a combination of a pumpkin and a sweet potato taste wise if you have never had it. But anyway moving on to the ideas. You can make a simple butternut squash soup which always fills people up and puts a smile on their face. Or you could sautee cubed butternut squash and some vibrant herbs in a mixture of butter and a flavorful oil like walnut oil, avocado oil, or olive oil (not extra virgin).

    21 Replies
    1. re: Healthyfoodie121
      cstout RE: Healthyfoodie121 Oct 21, 2012 09:11 PM

      I have never cooked butternut squash...would love to find butternut squash soup recipe or maybe do something with it like you would sweet potatoes. I was thinking about doing a yellow squash casserole & here you came up with butternut. Your idea sounds great. Thanks.

      1. re: cstout
        Healthyfoodie121 RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 07:10 AM

        I'd imagine a casserole would work well with butternut squash but I highly recommend a nice soup. I'll look up some recipes and post them later if you don't find any to your liking.

        1. re: Healthyfoodie121
          gingershelley RE: Healthyfoodie121 Oct 22, 2012 10:19 AM

          A dish I first made in 2010 as a vegetarian TKgvg entree, and hearty side for the meat eaters, was this F&W butternut and poblano gratin;

          From now on, Thanksgiving will not be the same without it! The combo of squash, cream, and the mellow heat of the roasted chilies is just fabulous. DO NOT skip the toasted pumpkin seeds. They add just the right crunch contrast (I buy mine already roasted and salted at TJ's).

          My sister-in-law is a vegetarian, and she serves this all winter now after my bringing it to Tday those couple of years ago.

        2. re: cstout
          Terrie H. RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 09:43 AM

          I have a recipe for leek, potato and butternut squash soup that might fit the bill. It's basically the standard leek and potato with butternut or pumpkin added.

          1. re: Terrie H.
            cstout RE: Terrie H. Oct 23, 2012 03:22 PM

            leek, potato & butternut squash soup sounds wonderful Terrie...I will try it for sure. Thanks for the idea.

          2. re: cstout
            biondanonima RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 10:25 AM

            This butternut squash, leek and goat cheese gratin has been a favorite at Thanksgiving chez moi a few times: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            I usually use walnuts instead of hazelnuts, but I forgot the nuts entirely one time and no one complained - the dish is really delicious with no nuts at all.

            1. re: biondanonima
              cstout RE: biondanonima Oct 23, 2012 03:23 PM

              Thanks for the link to yet another good recipe.

              1. re: cstout
                pine time RE: cstout Oct 31, 2012 07:47 AM

                I love butternut squash, but don't like peeling it. Any tips (other than buying it already peeled/cubed)?

                1. re: pine time
                  jvanderh RE: pine time Oct 31, 2012 08:34 AM

                  You can roast it whole.

                  1. re: jvanderh
                    melpy RE: jvanderh Oct 31, 2012 08:44 AM

                    I roast mine cut in half. Work face up or down and you can still cube it one it is cooked if you don't want it soft/mashed.

          3. re: Healthyfoodie121
            Berheenia RE: Healthyfoodie121 Oct 24, 2012 06:15 AM

            We found this recipe last fall when we made a field trip to the first giant Wegman's Supermarket in Southern New England and now it is an official TG dish. To paraphrase toss cubed butternut squash and chopped red onion with a mild oil and some salt and pepper and bake in the oven on a sheet pan in one layer at 400 for 25 minutes (move it around once in the middle of cooking) and then the squash is tossed in a bowl with a bag or two of baby spinach and a handful of dried cranberries. It is delicious and an easy peasy last minute dish to make after the bird has cooked. We used to always have mashed butternut and it was just one too many mashes on the plate.

            1. re: Berheenia
              gingershelley RE: Berheenia Oct 24, 2012 03:43 PM

              I do a similar 'toss' but with currants instead of cranberries (have to try that!), and a splash of good Spanish Sherry vinegar besides. Wonderful!

              1. re: gingershelley
                Berheenia RE: gingershelley Oct 25, 2012 05:12 AM

                Like the sherry vinegar- I own such a bottle. Actually using reduced sugar craisins (dried cranberries) this year.

                1. re: Berheenia
                  gingershelley RE: Berheenia Oct 31, 2012 06:19 PM

                  I use low/no sugar crans when I want those in a dish. The fully dried/sugared ones are too sweet IMO.

                  1. re: gingershelley
                    mcf RE: gingershelley Nov 5, 2012 06:48 AM

                    I try to find unsweetened ones, but no avail except in huge quantities. I soak the lower sugar ones in warm water to remove as much as I can.

            2. re: Healthyfoodie121
              chicgail RE: Healthyfoodie121 Nov 1, 2012 01:59 PM

              Tonight I am making a savory bread pudding (in muffin cups) with butternut squash, onions, peppers and smoked gouda. Can't wait to see how it comes out.

              1. re: chicgail
                sunshine842 RE: chicgail Nov 1, 2012 02:08 PM

                isn't 'savoury bread pudding' stuffing?

                1. re: sunshine842
                  sandylc RE: sunshine842 Nov 1, 2012 02:10 PM

                  Ha! I have often thought the same. Physical form, flavorings/ingredients, and holiday status seem to determine what to call it.

                  I make one in the spring with onions or leeks, asparagus, mushrooms, gruyere, and thyme. Very rich and earthy.

                  1. re: sandylc
                    sunshine842 RE: sandylc Nov 1, 2012 02:15 PM

                    when I do my annual "What is Thanksgiving" lesson for my ESL students, I finally settled on "savoury pain perdu" as an answer for "what is dressing/stuffing?" -- 'pain perdu' is the French term for what we Anglophones call bread pudding or French toast -- and it is - stale bread, eggs, liquid, and flavorings, cooked until set...

                    They rather like the idea when I explain it that way -- as well as describing the Green Bean Casserole as a mixture of green beans, bechamel, mushrooms, and fried onions (which do exist here and are used fairly often).

                    They still really don't get the concept of putting marshmallow on sweet potatoes (one of the few traditional dishes that doesn't show up on our table, because nobody likes it -- we roast the sweet potatoes with some maple syrup and nutmeg, but we draw the line at marshmallow!)

                    1. re: sunshine842
                      sandylc RE: sunshine842 Nov 1, 2012 02:30 PM

                      I am very familiar with pain perdu - and that is the perfect explanation! Same with the GBC, which is very good when made from scratch (bechamel, etc.).

                      I agree with the marshmallow thing - yuk. I don't like them in anything at all. Sweet potatoes are much better as a savory or maybe mildly sweetened dish. My son made a savory streusel for them last year that was very good.

                2. re: chicgail
                  sandylc RE: chicgail Nov 1, 2012 02:11 PM

                  Be sure to report back!

              2. sunshine842 RE: cstout Oct 21, 2012 10:46 PM

                First and foremost -- accept that it won't be perfect. No telling what it will be, but something will go off the rails, and your day won't be perfect. And that's okay. I drove myself crazy trying to make everything perfect my first Thanksgiving, and I've seen way too many new brides and first-time hosters work themselves into a frenzy trying to make every dish picture-perfect, and the house photo-perfect, and all the relatives on their best behavior. It's not going to work...so do the best you can do, and that's all you can do.

                Don't try a brand-new recipe just for the event -- if you have a new recipe that sounds great, make it ahead of time for a dry run, when you have time to recover if it's not as good as you thought it would be.

                Don't hesitate to enlist or accept help, especially in that final "crunch time" when everything's coming together at the same time. Just help in putting things in serving dishes and getting them to the table can make a huge difference.

                Make a list and tape it to the front of your cabinet doors, right at eye level -- list all the things that have to go on the table. This will eliminate finishing dinner and finding the bowl of cranberry sauce sitting on the window sill where it was put to chill....(ahem).

                And relax -- it's a time to enjoy family and friends and the blessings we have -- and THAT is more important than garnishing the turkey or having the perfect toast or what the best dessert might be.

                1. mcf RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 07:28 AM

                  I've always made my husband's family's traditional dishes, and I'm making a change this year from twice baked potatoes to a gratin recipe I served to them once that had them scraping out the serving dish and licking the utensils. They're all on record as dreaming about it for T'day... I've used this recipe successfully with lower carb subs like rutabaga, turnip and celery root, but for the big day, I make it as written. I lean toward things I can easily make ahead and reheat before dinner, and this is one. I can't describe how savory, luscious and wonderful this dish is, and it has a rustic beauty to it, especially in a round baker with distressed edges I've been using: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... My other best tip, if you're up for it, is to get someone to deep fry your turkey outside; keeps the whole oven free and the kitchen less crowded, too. I make lists of what to buy well in advance, shortly ahead, and what to pick up last minute as fresh as possible. I start prep and some cooking two days before (sweet pot and apple casserole, stuffing, dry brining bird, dips, mashed rutabaga, savory cranberry sauce, cooked and chopped giblets for gravy...) if they're better or no worse, IMO, after two days of melding (no egg in stuffing til T'day, though). And I keep a timeline to cross stuff off of for cooking day due to myriad distractions and my own feeble memory.

                  Having my timelines posted on the fridge allows guests who are so inclined to jump in to help with what's up next. Oh, and a cluster of grapes at either end of any meat or cheese platter amps up the beauty with almost zero effort and cost.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mcf
                    sparky403 RE: mcf Oct 23, 2012 01:11 PM

                    sounds great - I really like doing my turkey on the grill lots of fun and keeps people out of your way..

                    1. re: sparky403
                      laliz RE: sparky403 Oct 24, 2012 01:35 PM

                      OTOH, the one time we deep fried a turkey, there was no delicious aroma of baked stuffed turkey wafting through the house, and I missed that. As well as the fact there were no drippings for gravy and no one (my sister) made stuffing.

                      1. re: laliz
                        mcf RE: laliz Oct 24, 2012 02:24 PM

                        The house smells really good when it comes in to rest, and there are lots of other great smells. It just simplifies the kitchen juggling enormously.

                        1. re: mcf
                          laliz RE: mcf Oct 25, 2012 05:02 PM

                          Not at all the same to me ~~ not even close; but I understand it is preferred method for some people.

                          Just like last year we had a smoked turkey my nephew proudly brought. I discovered I don't care at all for smoked turkey for Thanksgiving, but I know people who do prefer it.
                          Everyone is different and has differing expectations and traditions.

                          No grilled, deep fried, or smoked turkey for me, thanks.
                          Also no cornbread stuffing. No cornbread.

                  2. c
                    cstout RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 09:27 AM

                    Sunshine842 & mcf, these are great hints. I too plan to make as many dishes ahead of time as I possibly can. My dilemma is my built in double oven (standard size) & 4 burner electric stove top. The turkey will take up all the room in one oven & the ham will be in the other one just to warm up the meat. I plan to have several dishes that need to bake, plus I want to serve homemade rolls (about two dozen) & I want everyone to have them piping hot. How in the world am I going to have them baking when I am needing to heat up all those do ahead dishes?

                    Bottom line is, I can cook for up to 10 people without a hitch. This year I have invited double that & now I am wondering how in the heck can I pull this whole thing off with everything being sent to the table nice & warm???? I do not want to go out & purchase a convection oven or another crock pot or two. I cook for mostly one or two all year long so it does not make much sense to invest in these things for once a year use.

                    Anyway, this is what I am worrying about. I have never cooked for this many people before & truthfully, I have butterflies already.

                    43 Replies
                    1. re: cstout
                      mcf RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 09:36 AM

                      Looks like you hit send too soon?

                      One more thing: set the table with serving pieces for all your dishes/platters the night before.

                      Hang onto take out containers or deli containers to send home care packages if you like to do that.

                      It's fun to plan a T'day leftovers party with a friend who also hosts, a relaxed evening at one of your houses to share what you've cooked with them and they with you, but no pressure.

                      1. re: mcf
                        sunshine842 RE: mcf Oct 22, 2012 10:11 AM

                        I go down to the local Asian grocery and pick up a stack of cheap takeout containers. It's like a 5 for 20 or 25 of them, I don't want them back, and they're big enough to hold a serving or two.

                        1. re: sunshine842
                          mcf RE: sunshine842 Oct 22, 2012 10:29 AM

                          I try to recycle stuff I get from restaurants, I don't use plastic storage containers at home otherwise, just glass. I think the paper takout containers are a great idea, too!

                      2. re: cstout
                        gingershelley RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 10:28 AM

                        Cstout - could you borrow a crock pot or countertop toaster oven or convection oven from a friend or a guest who is attending?

                        Agreed it is (well, wasteful) to purchase equipment for use once a year.

                        Another option I have used, which is an old catering trick (tho then I would have the real deal stainless chafing dish) is to go to the party supply store, and purchase a disposable chafing dish set up or two, and extra sterno. Heat 1-2 sides early, and put in the foil chafer to hold while other items go in the oven. Your ham could easily be done earlier, sliced, and reheated for last hour in a foil chafing pan.

                        Also, agree with comment to sort out all the serving pieces; platters AND serve-ware like tongs, etc. SEVERAL days ahead - that way if you need to borrow some (from guests attending hopefully) you can organize that ahead. Party supply stores also have very decent large serve-ware like big forks and salad tongs for very cheap. Or, cruise thrift stores starting NOW.....

                        1. re: gingershelley
                          Jersey Girl227 RE: gingershelley Oct 22, 2012 11:05 AM

                          Do you have a BBq? I use my BBQ as a 3rd oven. The casarole type dishes get warmed up cooked in there. <----- meant for Cstaout's oven question. lol

                          1. re: gingershelley
                            cstout RE: gingershelley Oct 23, 2012 03:30 PM

                            Cruising the thrift stores is great for finding large spoons & extra bowls. I just found a wonderful large glass serving bowl that is perfect for showing off a layered salad of some sort. Never thought to go to the party store. Excellent idea.

                            1. re: cstout
                              jvanderh RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 08:03 AM

                              Check the appliance aisle too! I've seen really cheap Crock Pots.

                          2. re: cstout
                            biondanonima RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 10:32 AM

                            You definitely need to make a schedule for your ovens. I use an excel spreadsheet to do this every year, with columns labeled in half hour increments and rows labeled with oven racks/stovetop burners. Remember that both your ham and turkey (especially the turkey) will need to rest a good 30 mins before carving, so you will have 30 minutes+ right before serving time where those ovens will not be occupied. That's when your rolls get baked, your stuffing gets heated through, etc.

                            Another space/time saver is to spatchcock your turkey - cut out the backbone and flatten it. It will cook much more quickly and take up only half of the oven, so you can (if you want to) fit another dish in there at the same time.

                            1. re: biondanonima
                              sunshine842 RE: biondanonima Oct 22, 2012 10:39 AM

                              cook your dressing in your crockpot -- best new tradition I've ever started.

                              1. re: sunshine842
                                biondanonima RE: sunshine842 Oct 22, 2012 10:48 AM

                                I've been considering this method - I just worry that I won't get any crispy bits that way. My stuffing is a loose, rustic style dish with big chunks of bread and the buttery, crispy top (and bottom, since I cook it in an aluminum dish on the bottom rack) bits are the best part. Have you ever scooped yours out of the crockpot for a quick run under the broiler for crispness?

                                1. re: biondanonima
                                  mcf RE: biondanonima Oct 22, 2012 10:59 AM

                                  That would work for the top, I think, as long as you're okay with it being much moister than usual underneath, or adjust the liquid content. Still, one year I did yams and apples in the slow cooker (got rid of mine since) when we lived in a house with a very small oven and it really helped to have the extra space.

                                  1. re: biondanonima
                                    sunshine842 RE: biondanonima Oct 22, 2012 11:30 AM

                                    The entire outside edge of mine gets brown and crispy, as well as the bottom. That's part of why I like it!

                                    1. re: biondanonima
                                      miss louella RE: biondanonima Oct 22, 2012 02:53 PM

                                      Last year I made stuffing in muffin pans--lots of crispy bits and a fun way to serve.

                                    2. re: sunshine842
                                      tcamp RE: sunshine842 Oct 22, 2012 02:14 PM

                                      That's a good one.

                                      I also use a crock pot to keep the mashed potatoes warm.

                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                        cstout RE: sunshine842 Oct 23, 2012 03:30 PM

                                        Dressing in a crockpot....love love that idea!

                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                          Berheenia RE: sunshine842 Oct 24, 2012 03:23 AM

                                          I grabbed a free crock pot at the office yesterday based on your post. It is a big one and the former owner says it works fine but they were given a larger one and decided to pass it on. I am cooking for twice as many people as usual - there will be 12 to 15 of us and in a borrowed kitchen so am looking for specifics for this. How long does it take to get the crusty top?

                                          1. re: Berheenia
                                            sunshine842 RE: Berheenia Oct 24, 2012 09:43 AM

                                            It won't get super crusty on the top -- but it will be beautifully brown and crusty on the sides and bottom.

                                            I cook mine for one hour on high, then 4-5 hours on low, or until it registers 160F on an instant-read thermometer.

                                        2. re: biondanonima
                                          Wtg2Retire RE: biondanonima Oct 23, 2012 10:36 AM

                                          biondanonima, would you mind sharing your Excel spreadsheet with me. I am not good at using Excel and this would be extremely helpful to me. TIA.


                                          1. re: Wtg2Retire
                                            biondanonima RE: Wtg2Retire Oct 23, 2012 10:59 AM

                                            I'll email a copy to you now - hope it's helpful! I have different tabs for my shopping list, menu (along with who's bringing what, if there are guests), prep schedule and day-of schedule.

                                            1. re: biondanonima
                                              Wtg2Retire RE: biondanonima Oct 23, 2012 01:53 PM

                                              Thank you so very much for your willingness to share.

                                              1. re: Wtg2Retire
                                                gingershelley RE: Wtg2Retire Oct 24, 2012 03:46 PM

                                                Oh! I have the same problem with Excel (tho am a crackerjack with Powerpoint:) - can you pass that on to me, wtg

                                                Much appreciated; shelley@butler-did-it.com

                                                1. re: gingershelley
                                                  Wtg2Retire RE: gingershelley Oct 25, 2012 12:52 PM

                                                  Sent e-mail to you.

                                                  1. re: Wtg2Retire
                                                    aching RE: Wtg2Retire Oct 25, 2012 04:32 PM

                                                    I just sent both of you my spreadsheet - hope it helps!

                                                    1. re: aching
                                                      Wtg2Retire RE: aching Oct 26, 2012 09:18 AM

                                                      Thank you so very, very much. With the help of you, gingershelley, biondanomima, and TorntoJo, my Thanksgiving is going to be wonderfully well organized this year.

                                                      1. re: Wtg2Retire
                                                        gingershelley RE: Wtg2Retire Oct 31, 2012 06:22 PM

                                                        ME TOO! I am excited about the planning for oven space, platters, and where everything can land from this info....

                                                      2. re: aching
                                                        gingershelley RE: aching Oct 31, 2012 06:22 PM

                                                        Thanks SO for the spreadsheets!

                                                        I hope to finally get into them after Halloween tonight when I face the countdown to T-day, and talk to my folks about who/where/ what we are doing this year. They have been out of the country alot, so nothing figured out about who is hosting yet. I am hoping it is moi for a change, so I can invite more of my friends to loosen up the dinner conversation a bit:)!

                                                        1. re: aching
                                                          walker RE: aching Nov 27, 2012 08:14 PM

                                                          Could I please have a sample spreadsheet, too?

                                                          last_ghia@gmail.com (that's a "G" in ghia).


                                                          1. re: walker
                                                            aching RE: walker Nov 28, 2012 07:47 AM

                                                            I tried to send you mine, Walker, but it bounced back! I sent it to last_ghia@gmail.com - is there a different address I should use?

                                                            1. re: aching
                                                              walker RE: aching Nov 28, 2012 12:51 PM

                                                              So sorry! It's last_ghia@yahoo.com (got confused by my other email acct.).

                                                  2. re: biondanonima
                                                    holypeaches RE: biondanonima Nov 1, 2012 03:56 AM

                                                    Biondanonima This my first post so I hope it is in the right place. I would love to have a smoother, ie more organized Thanksgiving this year. The spreadsheet looks helpful. Please email me at rebeccahholycross at gmail com. Thanks in advance.

                                                    1. re: holypeaches
                                                      biondanonima RE: holypeaches Nov 1, 2012 08:42 AM

                                                      I just sent it to you, holypeaches - I hope it's helpful!

                                                      1. re: biondanonima
                                                        holypeaches RE: biondanonima Nov 2, 2012 05:39 AM

                                                        Thanks, I just took a glance and its already helping me sort things in my head. I'll definitely spend more time later.

                                                        1. re: biondanonima
                                                          holypeaches RE: biondanonima Nov 22, 2012 05:07 AM

                                                          Thanks again biodanonima, due to schedules we celebrated yesterday and I had a relaxing day with my family, enjoying the weather then stress free dinner at 7.

                                                      2. re: biondanonima
                                                        ellen27705 RE: biondanonima Nov 11, 2012 09:37 AM

                                                        biondanonima -

                                                        May I have a copy as well please? Thanks so much!

                                                        and TorontoJo - thanks for sharing yours!


                                                        1. re: ellen27705
                                                          biondanonima RE: ellen27705 Nov 11, 2012 02:42 PM

                                                          Just sent it - hope it helps!

                                                    2. re: biondanonima
                                                      Wtg2Retire RE: biondanonima Nov 1, 2012 07:34 AM

                                                      I will be glad to share with anyone what I have come up with so far. It is still a work in progress, but progress is being made. Just let me know if you are interested.

                                                    3. re: cstout
                                                      ninrn RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 10:57 AM

                                                      This may not be an option for you, but the best Thanksgiving meal I ever had was a potluck with about 20 people attending. The hosts made the turkey and everybody brought a side or dessert agreed upon in advance. Since no one had to multitask too much in the kitchen, every single dish was perfect, and we could all relax and enjoy the food and each other so much more than if a few of us had worked ourselves to exhaustion making everything.

                                                      Another thing we've done for the past several Thanksgivings is braised beef short ribs. They take nearly five hours to prep and cook, but you can make them up to a week in advance (just cool them down properly before refrigerating/freezing, and heat up thoroughly before serving). They only get better and better with sitting, and even though they're not a traditional TG dish, they feel festive and warming and make people very happy.

                                                      1. re: ninrn
                                                        aching RE: ninrn Oct 23, 2012 06:36 AM

                                                        I'm doing a potluck this year - I'm really looking forward to not killing myself in the kitchen!

                                                        1. re: ninrn
                                                          Savour RE: ninrn Oct 23, 2012 10:39 AM

                                                          That's pretty much how my family handles Thanksgiving. Of course, we end up with 6 different vegetable dishes to feed 10 people, but we are all great cooks.

                                                          1. re: ninrn
                                                            cstout RE: ninrn Nov 14, 2012 02:01 PM

                                                            Yes, I am encouraging a potluck Thanksgiving...but as usual, there is one who won't bring anything but her/his special dish & unfortunately, another person has the same thing that they want to bring...& on & on. Hard to get get the old timers to try something new...am still working on it. Thanks ninrn.

                                                          2. re: cstout
                                                            sr44 RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                            One thing I find indispensable when cooking for a lot of people is a really big stainless steel bowl. You don't have to spend a lot of money on it, but get the biggest you can. Now that I've got one, it's useful at other times as well.

                                                            1. re: cstout
                                                              lcool RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 05:06 AM

                                                              Your ham doesn't have to hog an oven.Modern,wet cure supermarket hams hold beautifully hot,warm and wet in a dutch oven or stock pot,butt or shank in or not an oven bag,very low heat,maybe none.Bone in ham holds heat for a long time.

                                                              1. re: cstout
                                                                betsydiver RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 08:24 AM

                                                                nothing wrong with serving ham at room temp maybe accompanied by rolls and a good mustard for appetizer type little sandwiches... kind of serve yourself... would open up a whole oven for you....

                                                              2. gingershelley RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 10:55 AM

                                                                Oh, and you can NEVER make enough gravy. :) Especially if you want to give some away with leftovers. I make a whole batch of turkey stock a week or two ahead with purchased leg/wings, and freeze to supplement.

                                                                Then, when the fridge(s) are running out of room with both raw and cooked or partially prepped ingredients, I can stash my turkey stock in a camping cooler to thaw slowly with items that just need to stay cool, and I can put those in with my giant turkey-stock 'ice pack' until it thaws out!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: gingershelley
                                                                  mcf RE: gingershelley Oct 22, 2012 11:00 AM

                                                                  I use the cooler in my garage for the turkey brining and storage of stuff that would make life difficult by filling up the fridge, too.

                                                                  1. re: gingershelley
                                                                    jvanderh RE: gingershelley Oct 24, 2012 08:06 AM


                                                                    And the best thing about making the turkey stock ahead is that you have turkey fat for making the roux.

                                                                  2. d
                                                                    Dcfoodblog RE: cstout Oct 22, 2012 01:40 PM

                                                                    The best revelation was how to time the turkey so it comes out piping hot. I make sure that the turkey comes out of the oven an hour and fifteen minutes before serving. I tent it with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes. At that time I am heating everything else up. A half an hour before dinner is served I slice the turkey and put it on the serving platter. I pour a bit of chicken stock all over the sliced turkey and cover it with foil. Then I put the whole platter into a 300 degree oven 10 minutes before serving.

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                      cstout RE: Dcfoodblog Oct 23, 2012 03:43 PM

                                                                      Dcfoodblog, I never thought to slice the whole turkey & pour stock over it to keep moist...your time line is great.

                                                                      Don't laugh anyone, but I jut thought about digging out the old heating pad, disguising it with a colorful thanksgiving cloth, & setting the turkey roaster on there (tented) to keep warm. Don't know if it will get warm enough to keep things heated.

                                                                      1. re: cstout
                                                                        gingershelley RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 03:47 PM

                                                                        Cstout - done this! Great for things that just need warming - doesn't get hot enought to 'heat' anything, but will keep a platter warm, and works for roll baskets, etc. too.

                                                                      2. re: Dcfoodblog
                                                                        cstout RE: Dcfoodblog Oct 24, 2012 05:09 PM

                                                                        If I sliced the whole turkey ahead of time & poured stock over all of it, wouldn't the crisp turkey skin get soggy.....just asking?

                                                                        1. re: cstout
                                                                          mcf RE: cstout Oct 25, 2012 06:32 AM


                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                            sunshine842 RE: mcf Oct 25, 2012 11:13 AM

                                                                            but having slices laying on a platter under foil is going to steam all the crisp out of the skin anyway.....

                                                                          2. re: cstout
                                                                            biondanonima RE: cstout Oct 25, 2012 11:27 AM

                                                                            Yes, but if you have a broiler safe platter, you can quickly recrisp the skin. Actually, what I would probably do is carve the turkey and put the pieces on a sheet tray, skin side up. Just before serving, stick the sheet tray under the broiler to recrisp the skin (and heat the turkey a bit), then transfer to a warm platter with a little hot stock in the bottom of it. That way you get the best of both worlds.

                                                                            1. re: cstout
                                                                              Dcfoodblog RE: cstout Oct 30, 2012 04:05 PM

                                                                              Good point. I am completely indifferent to crisp skin. My main bugaboo is moist meat so that method works perfectly but yes there is the drawback of the soggy skin.

                                                                          3. aching RE: cstout Oct 23, 2012 06:32 AM

                                                                            Another Hound turned me onto this cranberry sauce recipe a couple years ago - it is truly the most superlative cranberry sauce you've ever tasted - it's AMAZING.

                                                                            CRANBERRY COMPOTE WITH PORT & DRIED FIGS

                                                                            1 2/3 cups ruby Port
                                                                            ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
                                                                            ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
                                                                            8 dried black Mission figs, stemmed and chopped into ¼-inch pieces
                                                                            1 6-inch-long sprig fresh rosemary
                                                                            ¼ t. ground black pepper
                                                                            12 ounces fresh cranberries
                                                                            ¾ cup granulated sugar

                                                                            • Combine first six ingredients in medium saucepan.
                                                                            • Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
                                                                            • Mix in cranberries and granulated sugar.
                                                                            • Cook over medium heat until liquid is slightly reduced and berries burst, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
                                                                            • Cool. Discard rosemary.
                                                                            • Transfer sauce to bowl; chill until cold.

                                                                            Makes 10-12 side servings.

                                                                            Note: Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.

                                                                            Adapted from Bon Appétit (November 2001).

                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                            1. re: aching
                                                                              biondanonima RE: aching Oct 23, 2012 08:11 AM

                                                                              That may have been me - this has been my cranberry sauce recipe for years and I've shared it here several times. It is AWESOME. I mean, ridiculously delicious. There's something about the rosemary and balsamic that just takes it over the top.

                                                                              1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                sunshine842 RE: biondanonima Oct 23, 2012 10:08 AM

                                                                                I saved it to my recipe file last year, where I promptly forgot about it...glad it's come back to the forefront -- I may have to try it this year!

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                  mcf RE: sunshine842 Oct 23, 2012 10:17 AM

                                                                                  Here's another one, savory. It's from a pork recipe, but made without the pan scrapings, it's still amazing: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... The whole dish is delicous, but scroll down for the sauce. I use a mix of sweeteners to keep it really low sugar.

                                                                                2. re: biondanonima
                                                                                  Wtg2Retire RE: biondanonima Oct 23, 2012 10:35 AM

                                                                                  I am going to make this this year. It sound divine.

                                                                                  1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                    aching RE: biondanonima Oct 23, 2012 02:10 PM

                                                                                    All that booze might also have something to do with taking it over the top! =)

                                                                                    P.S. Sorry not to remember who gave me the recipe - but if it was you, Biondanonima, I really owe you one!

                                                                                    1. re: aching
                                                                                      biondanonima RE: aching Oct 23, 2012 02:18 PM

                                                                                      LOL, yes, the port helps! I actually use a little less port than the recipe calls for - I didn't have enough the first time I made it and it came out perfectly, so I figured why mess with success. I probably use a cup and a quarter of the port while keeping the rest of the recipe the same (actually, that would be 2.5 cups since I ALWAYS make a double batch).

                                                                                    2. re: biondanonima
                                                                                      gingershelley RE: biondanonima Oct 24, 2012 03:50 PM

                                                                                      Sounds great! I saved this to make this year too - exciting (esp. since my mom makes that kind of boring ground fresh one with orange in it every year. Sigh. Now we can have 2!).

                                                                                    3. re: aching
                                                                                      aching RE: aching Oct 23, 2012 02:16 PM

                                                                                      I forgot to mention - another great thing about this cranberry sauce is that it's gorgeous. Just plop it in a bowl with a sprig of fresh rosemary and it's photo-ready.

                                                                                      1. re: aching
                                                                                        mariacarmen RE: aching Oct 25, 2012 05:12 PM

                                                                                        i made that a few years ago - it's really good ( i didn't stop making it because we didn't like it, just haven't been cooking the last couple years for the holidays.)

                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                          lcool RE: mariacarmen Oct 26, 2012 06:30 AM

                                                                                          Me,wishing you and your dad a lovely holiday.

                                                                                        2. re: aching
                                                                                          magiesmom RE: aching Oct 26, 2012 06:46 AM

                                                                                          I made this and used only 1/4 c granulated sugar and it was plenty sweet imo, just in case any of you like a less sweet sauce like my family does.

                                                                                        3. limonay RE: cstout Oct 23, 2012 09:21 AM

                                                                                          We always have a lot of butternut squash too; and my family loves it in soups. I usually make roasted butternut squash soup with either pears or apples. You can definitely make this ahead and reheat!

                                                                                          1 medium butternut squash, about 2-3 lbs.
                                                                                          2 pears or apples
                                                                                          5-7 dried sage leaves (or about 1 tsp crushed/powdered dried sage)
                                                                                          1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
                                                                                          1 small garlic clove, smashed
                                                                                          1/2 small yellow onion, diced
                                                                                          4 cups chicken broth
                                                                                          olive oil
                                                                                          black pepper

                                                                                          1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
                                                                                          2. Peel the squash, remove the seeds and membrane. Cut squash into 2″ chunks.
                                                                                          3. Peel and core the pears. Cut into quarters.
                                                                                          4. Toss the squash and pears/apples with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and sage. Place in roasting pan.
                                                                                          5. Roast the squash and pears/apples in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until they are very soft.
                                                                                          6. In a pan, heat some olive oil.
                                                                                          7. Add the diced onion.
                                                                                          8. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is transparent, about 5-7 minutes.
                                                                                          9. Working in batches and filling the blender no more than halfway full, place in the blender some of the roasted squash mixture, onion, and chicken stock. Pour into a large soup pot.
                                                                                          10. Puree the rest of the ingredients in batches until smooth.
                                                                                          11. Heat through and serve.

                                                                                          1. j
                                                                                            jules127 RE: cstout Oct 23, 2012 12:59 PM

                                                                                            A few years ago I did a trial run of the meal a few weeks ahead of time so that I could finalize my recipes for the actual day. I cooked it on a Sunday with the football game on, and we had a friend over to help taste test. His wife had recently given birth to their second child and I sent him home with the works and they were so grateful to have a prepared meal in the fridge to eat for days. It might have been a bit overboard to have a trial run, but it helped me to solidify my menu and to reassure me a bit too for the actual holiday.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: jules127
                                                                                              sunshine842 RE: jules127 Oct 23, 2012 01:02 PM

                                                                                              that's an awesome suggestion, especially for a new host/hostess.

                                                                                              1. re: jules127
                                                                                                iluvcookies RE: jules127 Oct 24, 2012 10:16 AM

                                                                                                Terrific idea, and so generous of you!

                                                                                              2. k
                                                                                                kseiverd RE: cstout Oct 23, 2012 02:31 PM

                                                                                                My first piece of advice would be to prep as much stuff as you can AHEAD of time! Growing up, help out a lot when my grandmother was getting turkey ready, so by the time I was doing my OWN T-day dinner... was pretty much unfrazzled. Thinking most people have a problem with not enough space... cooking, keeping warm, etc. You can prep all veggies the night before and put in a cooler... ready to just be cooked the next day... make sure potatoes are coverd with water.

                                                                                                I'm in NJ (grew up in SE PA) and it's usually pretty chilly by late November. Prepped stuff can sit in an unheated garage or in cooler.

                                                                                                Personally, I don't do ANYTHING that has a rigid timetable... like ya have to serve/eat immediately... why stress?

                                                                                                1. c
                                                                                                  cstout RE: cstout Oct 23, 2012 03:46 PM

                                                                                                  Hey everyone, your suggestions & recipes are great...thanks for taking the time to post. These ideas can be carried over to ANY occasion.

                                                                                                  1. s
                                                                                                    Sam D. RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 01:27 AM

                                                                                                    Starting with a couple of turkey wings, I make the gravy a day or 2 ahead. I also make the cranberry sauce in advance.

                                                                                                    As a side dish, for the past 4 years I have been making Brussels Sprouts With Mustard, Apples and Caraway, a recipe that I saved from the NY Times. It has been a continual hit with my Thanksgiving guests and it can be made ahead. Here is the link:

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Sam D.
                                                                                                      cstout RE: Sam D. Oct 24, 2012 06:38 AM

                                                                                                      Thanks Sam for the Brussels Sprouts link, I will make a small batch since I don't know how popular they will be, but I sure do like them. Roasted with olive oil is the only way I have eaten them.

                                                                                                    2. l
                                                                                                      LilyB RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 05:06 AM

                                                                                                      New this year to keep stress at a minimum with 25 folks coming: Turkey on the Big Green Egg (not smoked) and mashed potatoes in the slow cooker. Lots of oven space for reheating and roasted/topped sweet potatoes. Other people bringing dessert and stuffing.
                                                                                                      I am hoping our only last-hour tasks will be gravy, carving, and sauteeing green beans in olive oil and adding toasted marcona almonds. Oh, and I bought festive PAPER plates for dessert because who wants to wash all those dishes in between?

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: LilyB
                                                                                                        cstout RE: LilyB Oct 24, 2012 06:33 AM

                                                                                                        Turkey on the Big Green Egg - do you split the turkey in half or just leave whole? Also, do you use the Egg a lot?

                                                                                                        Those mashed potatoes in a slow cooker sounds is a great idea.

                                                                                                        1. re: LilyB
                                                                                                          pluralofcow RE: LilyB Oct 24, 2012 08:15 AM

                                                                                                          I want to hear how you do the turkey in the big green egg. I'm considering doing the same.

                                                                                                          Spreadsheets and lists are really key. I usually take the day before Thanksgiving off of work and prep as much as possible ahead of time. I break down each recipe into the required tasks and create my lists based on tasks more than recipes. So I'll have everything chopped for my stuffing on Wednesday even if it's not baked until Thursday.

                                                                                                          Soup, cranberry sauce,and some desserts are made ahead and stored in the fridge overnight.

                                                                                                          1. re: pluralofcow
                                                                                                            LilyB RE: pluralofcow Oct 24, 2012 11:15 AM

                                                                                                            Reply to the above two questions -- My husband is in charge of the Big Green Egg and the turkey generally. He brines it, then also makes a rub for it, and does it whole on the egg, very low heat. We did a test run a few weeks ago and it was fantastic. Pretty sure he found the method by googling "Turkey on Big Green Egg" and picking what looked good to him.

                                                                                                            1. re: pluralofcow
                                                                                                              Floridagirl RE: pluralofcow Nov 1, 2012 06:09 PM

                                                                                                              I do turkey on the BGE on a stand. Don't do it for TG because there's no drippings. However, if you're having a big crowd and one turkey isn't enough, a second turkey or a ham on the BGE are great. I have the large BGE and you can only cook maybe a 12-13 lb turkey on it. I don't like ham normally but on the BGE, is so good.

                                                                                                          2. TorontoJo RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 07:58 AM

                                                                                                            It's all about the prep and schedule! As another poster mentioned above, I also rely on my trusty excel spreadsheets. Here are screen shots of two of the worksheets for last year's Thanksgiving for 25 people. There is also another sheet where I create the grocery lists and break them out into the days I will be shopping for them.

                                                                                                            Anything you can make in advance and freeze is wonderful. My biggest timesaver is to make a gallon of gravy the month before and freeze it.

                                                                                                            Other tips:

                                                                                                            All veggies prepped and washed and in ziplocks the day before.

                                                                                                            Cranberry sauce the week before.

                                                                                                            Mashed potatoes the day before and stored, then warmed in the crock pot the day of.

                                                                                                            Prep all the components of side dishes the day before if possible, then they just need to come together in the recipe the day of (e.g., I caramelize the shallots for my brussels sprouts a couple of days before and julienne the brussels sprouts the day before).

                                                                                                            Dry brined, spatchcocked turkeys cook super fast and let me use the ovens before they go in. The holding/resting time for turkeys is long enough to roast or heat other items in the oven after the turkey comes out. Just tent with foil and throw a towel over the foil.

                                                                                                            Warming trays and chafing dishes are your best friends.

                                                                                                            If someone asks to bring something, ask for a dessert. For my T-day parties, I never make dessert and we always have a lovely dessert buffet for people to pick at after dinner.

                                                                                                            But the bottom line is to have fun. It's ok if a dish isn't perfect -- people are there to enjoy each other's company and share a festive meal.

                                                                                                            26 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                              biondanonima RE: TorontoJo Oct 24, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                                                                              A GALLON of gravy? My husband officially wants to come to your house for Thanksgiving! : )

                                                                                                              1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                KSlink RE: biondanonima Oct 24, 2012 11:20 AM

                                                                                                                Hey, don't forget me!!! ;)

                                                                                                                1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                  TorontoJo RE: biondanonima Oct 24, 2012 11:29 AM

                                                                                                                  Heehee, yes. I have a fear of running out of gravy, and I LOVE gravy personally. And with 25 people doing 2 or 3 rounds of eating, a gallon is quite necessary. And hey, I'll cook for my fellow chowhounds any day! :)

                                                                                                                  1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                                    biondanonima RE: TorontoJo Oct 24, 2012 11:33 AM

                                                                                                                    Oh wow, 25 people is a lot - if one of them was my husband, you'd probably need two gallons! ; ) He too has a fear of running out of gravy - I think it's partially because I screwed up the gravy BIG TIME for our first Thanksgiving and now he's always worried that I will mess it up again. He even buys cans of it and sneaks them into the pantry just in case, LOL. I have never screwed it up since the first time, but I don't know how many home runs I'll have to hit to erase his memory of that one strikeout!

                                                                                                                    1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                      TorontoJo RE: biondanonima Oct 24, 2012 11:45 AM

                                                                                                                      No gravy really IS a tragedy. ;)

                                                                                                                      Perhaps if you made him his very own pot of gravy and put a bow on it, he'd forgive and forget?

                                                                                                                      1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                        Berheenia RE: biondanonima Oct 25, 2012 07:42 AM

                                                                                                                        Many years ago I went to a TG dinner where a couple showed up really late (and hungover) and while we were waiting for them the gravy must have cooked down because when it was passed to the woman the boat was empty! I'll never forget the look on her face. After that TG I always bought a jar of Heinz turkey gravy "just in case". This year I may splurge on a jar of Williams Sonoma Turkey Gravy Base if I make it to the outlet before the holiday. Not going near that place after TG.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Berheenia
                                                                                                                          gingershelley RE: Berheenia Oct 31, 2012 06:25 PM

                                                                                                                          OOOHHhhhh the terror of not-enough-gravy. Worst Tday mistake ever. Again to the wing-stock earlier in the month, and a VAT of gravy made. You can always use it in a pot-pie later if it's not all put on tater leftovers or open face turkey sandwiches (yum!)

                                                                                                                          1. re: gingershelley
                                                                                                                            pine time RE: gingershelley Nov 11, 2012 11:38 AM

                                                                                                                            Love lots of gravy, too, but have a question: how long do you keep leftover gravy? And, do you re-heat the whole panful or just a serving at a time? Was raised to believe that gravy only kept a couple of days, but I grieve to toss out what may be perfectly fine leftovers
                                                                                                                            I do sometimes buy a can of cranberry sauce or gravy as emergency back-ups...have never needed either, so I also then donate the cans (plus cans of chx stock, which I always buy too much of) to the local food bank.

                                                                                                                            1. re: pine time
                                                                                                                              jvanderh RE: pine time Nov 12, 2012 10:01 PM

                                                                                                                              If it's thickened with a roux, you can freeze it.

                                                                                                                              1. re: jvanderh
                                                                                                                                pine time RE: jvanderh Nov 13, 2012 10:01 AM

                                                                                                                                Yes, roux-based, so I'll freeze it in serving size portions this year. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                1. re: pine time
                                                                                                                                  jvanderh RE: pine time Nov 13, 2012 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                                  my pleasure :-)

                                                                                                                  2. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                                    Wtg2Retire RE: TorontoJo Oct 24, 2012 12:32 PM

                                                                                                                    Toronto, would you also mind sharing your Excel with me. As I stated above, I am not good with using Excel at all. Between you and biondanonima sharing spreadsheets, I think I can get a better grasp on a plan. The print on the pages you posted is too small for me to read, even though I increased the size. TIA.


                                                                                                                    1. re: Wtg2Retire
                                                                                                                      TorontoJo RE: Wtg2Retire Oct 24, 2012 01:20 PM

                                                                                                                      Hi Wtg2Retire! I think I actually sent it to you last year, but I'm happy to send it again. It's on it's way. :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                                        Wtg2Retire RE: TorontoJo Oct 24, 2012 01:24 PM

                                                                                                                        Thank you so much. I had a very bad computer virus that destroyed everything in my old computer, so don't have your spreadsheet now. I thought I remembered you sending it to me. Thanks again. I truly appreciate it.

                                                                                                                    2. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                                      jvanderh RE: TorontoJo Oct 24, 2012 09:59 PM

                                                                                                                      TJ, did I understand correctly that you put the refrigerated, cooked mashed potatoes in the crock pot at 11:30 to be heated through at 7? About how many mashed potatoes is that for?

                                                                                                                      1. re: jvanderh
                                                                                                                        TorontoJo RE: jvanderh Oct 25, 2012 02:56 AM

                                                                                                                        That's correct -- it was a 6-quart crock pot, fully loaded. It was 8 lbs of potatoes for 25 people. The crock pot ended up completely empty by the end of the night, so I wondered if I needed to make more, though apparently everyone had plenty of first servings and many had seconds.

                                                                                                                        And based on tips I picked up here on chowhound, I sliced up a stick of butter and put it on top of the potatoes in the slow cooker. The butter slowly melted and I just gave the whole thing a good stir just prior to serving.

                                                                                                                        1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                                          jvanderh RE: TorontoJo Oct 25, 2012 09:50 PM

                                                                                                                          Thank you kindly.

                                                                                                                          If I'm doing the potatoes, I do 15 or 20 pounds for 10-15 people. People always say it's overkill, but I can't abide Thanksgiving sandwiches without mashed potatoes, and several others are also unreasonably disappointed if there are no leftovers :-D

                                                                                                                          I forgot to ask, was that on low or high?

                                                                                                                          1. re: jvanderh
                                                                                                                            macca RE: jvanderh Oct 26, 2012 02:49 AM

                                                                                                                            Love the way you think!!! I am dong 20 poounds for 25 or 26- last year only did 15 and did not have leftovers- need my leftovers, too!

                                                                                                                            1. re: jvanderh
                                                                                                                              TorontoJo RE: jvanderh Oct 26, 2012 03:59 AM

                                                                                                                              On low, since I put them on early enough to warm all the way through.

                                                                                                                              And yeah, more potatoes next time, though I did also have chipotle roasted sweet potatoes and I always worry about too many starchy dishes. Silly me, it's Thanksgiving! :)

                                                                                                                              1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                                                jvanderh RE: TorontoJo Oct 26, 2012 09:07 AM

                                                                                                                                You're right, our plates are probably 90% starch- and people don't, in fact, die if they can only have 1 or 2 helpings of mashed potatoes instead of 3 or 4. A few times, we've kept the meal simple and fairly balanced, and it was actually very pleasant. There's nothing wrong with a few indulgent meals, but some years, I can actually feel my blood sugar start to rollercoaster some time in the middle of Christmas cookie season.

                                                                                                                              2. re: jvanderh
                                                                                                                                sunshine842 RE: jvanderh Oct 26, 2012 08:43 AM

                                                                                                                                that's the way I am with dressing...everybody knows that I make a boatload of dressing because I will eat dressing (preferably with leftover gravy) for a couple of days -- I make too much for dinner because the leftovers make me happy.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                  TorontoJo RE: sunshine842 Oct 26, 2012 10:19 AM

                                                                                                                                  Oh, the dressing, that's another story. I can happily skip the potatoes, but I make probably 4 times the dressing necessary, because it's my favorite part of the meal. I have to ensure that I have enough leftover dressing and gravy to keep me going for several days after Thanksgiving. And if my gallon of gravy runs out, I just make another batch with the turkey carcass. :)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                                                    sunshine842 RE: TorontoJo Oct 26, 2012 10:29 AM

                                                                                                                                    (and my family unit knows better than to touch my dressing! )

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                      TorontoJo RE: sunshine842 Oct 26, 2012 10:36 AM

                                                                                                                                      My husband, too.

                                                                                                                                      Hands. Off.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                                                      biondanonima RE: TorontoJo Oct 26, 2012 10:43 AM

                                                                                                                                      Same here with dressing. DH loves it too, but he knows that I have first and last dibs on leftover dressing. He's happy with potatoes as long as there's enough gravy anyway.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                        gingershelley RE: biondanonima Oct 31, 2012 06:27 PM

                                                                                                                                        I am on the leftover dressing train - and the gravy train.:)

                                                                                                                          2. c
                                                                                                                            cstout RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 08:58 AM

                                                                                                                            Just wondering....what do you all feel is easier or maybe I should say which to do prefer - buffet style or a formal sit down dinner? Guess it would depend on how many people there are too?

                                                                                                                            Check your spices for expiration date. I always have a can of poultry seasoning left over from last year & hate to purchase another one since I don't use very much...best just to toss & start over I guess.

                                                                                                                            I see so many spices at the Dollar Store - are these worth getting or is it best to stick with the box stores spices?

                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                              iluvcookies RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                              I'd like to say that I prefer the formal sit-down meal, but that never really happens on a holiday. So far, it has worked out best to say something like "Be here at 3, turkey will be served around 4" and then have snacks/apps for the guests in case dinner runs late.

                                                                                                                              I have not had luck with Dollar Store spices... they don't have the same pizzazz. But 99% of my spices are from Penzey's now.

                                                                                                                              1. re: iluvcookies
                                                                                                                                cstout RE: iluvcookies Oct 25, 2012 06:32 AM

                                                                                                                                Thanks for the tip on Dollar Store spices...I will just stick to name brands. There are some things just not worth trying to save on.

                                                                                                                              2. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                sedimental RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                                I do a hybrid-style of "dinner service" :)
                                                                                                                                I like the table to only have a few items on it (like a few cranberry sauces and gravy) so we can not feel crowded. I usually do up a nice centerpeice and set the table with lots of "fu fu stuff" ;)

                                                                                                                                I set up an app table with wine and drinks in the living room so they stay out of the kitchen during the last minute rush and everyone can help themselves.

                                                                                                                                A dessert table on one side of the kitchen where either I can dish it up or again, they can pick and choose what they want. Coffee, tea nd brandy is served from there too.

                                                                                                                                Then I set up the food *buffet style* on the smaller dining table or (last year) on the kitchen counter. I would have normally turned this table into a buffet table but we turned it into a "Christmas ornament making table" for the kids (not just the kids enjoyed this).

                                                                                                                                So, essentially, I had "stations" that really helped traffic flow and less work for me!

                                                                                                                                1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                  biondanonima RE: cstout Oct 24, 2012 11:20 AM

                                                                                                                                  Yes, check your spices - but don't be too quick to throw things away. If you store them in a dark and cool place, many spices will last longer than a year - their flavor may not be AS good as if they were fresh, but you can always just use a little extra or supplement with fresh herbs. Whole spices will last WAY longer than a year - three to five, easily. As for poultry seasoning and that sort of thing - I would just make my own from what I had on hand rather than buying a container of something that I only use once a year.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                    gingershelley RE: cstout Oct 31, 2012 06:29 PM

                                                                                                                                    Best to go to a store with BULK spices - dirt cheap by the lb., quickly rotated, and very much fresher and more potent! Just do the small plastic bags they give you, and refill your containers with fresh spices for 1/4 of the cost!

                                                                                                                                  2. macca RE: cstout Oct 25, 2012 04:55 AM

                                                                                                                                    I host Thanksgiving every year- this year we expect 26 people. Organization is the key. We move all of the furniture- except the table- out of the dining room the day before. Then we put another large table in the dining room. We have a fold up table for the kitchen that will seat 6. Appetizers go on a card table! We have 5 celiacs in the family, so i make their gravy and stuffing the day before to avoid cross contamination. I also cook two birds just to be safe.
                                                                                                                                    Mashed potatoes have to be served piping hot- and that was always the hassle to drain and mash just before dinner- especially as I am cooking 20 pounds of potatoes ( lots of teenage boys!). Now I cook the potatoes in the morning, and put them in two crock pots. i put a dish towel over the top before I put on the crockk pot lid, and set to simmer. Perfect! No condensation, and hot potatoes at dinner.
                                                                                                                                    I do as much as I can the day before- peel squashes, potatoes and carrots, pick over the green beans, make the cranberry sauce, dips and pires. I store the pies in my grill. Cold enought outside, and protected from critters that way! Set the tables, make the fruit bowl centerpiece, etc. Lots of work, but so much fun- and now that we have a system , it all goes well!

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: macca
                                                                                                                                      isabellacat RE: macca Oct 30, 2012 04:26 PM

                                                                                                                                      Just want to say that's an AWESOME idea for storing pies (on your grill)!! Love all this creative use of space.

                                                                                                                                    2. t
                                                                                                                                      tardigrade RE: cstout Oct 25, 2012 10:21 PM

                                                                                                                                      Make sure your oven works the way you think it should! I once lived in a place that had a stove with a double oven: when only used the smaller top one, but since we were doing a big turkey we used the bottom one for the first time one Thanksgiving. It ran hot: the turkey was done 6 hours before people arrived.

                                                                                                                                      Otherwise, do as much prep work as possible before the day. I start my stuffing (yes, I do stuffing. So there) a week before so the cornbread has time to get dry enough. Pare and cut up any veggies you can the day before - cover with plastic wrap and keep in a cool place if you don't have enough fridge space. Get out all the pots, pans, plates, flatware and make sure you have enough. If any of the guests offer to bring their special side dish, or dessert, take them up on it: it's one less dish for you to deal with.

                                                                                                                                      And remember that the whole point of the day is to spend it with people you like.

                                                                                                                                      1. m
                                                                                                                                        magiesmom RE: cstout Oct 26, 2012 06:47 AM

                                                                                                                                        since I am the gravy queen in our circle I make a nice turkey stock from wings a week before and freeze it.

                                                                                                                                        1. b
                                                                                                                                          betsydiver RE: cstout Oct 26, 2012 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                          i used to make creamed onions every year until most of our digestive systems got too old to process! i would bring ingredients to destination and make there (after prepping and boiling pearl onions at home, so that temp fluctuations would not separate cream sauce)

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: betsydiver
                                                                                                                                            macca RE: betsydiver Oct 26, 2012 10:53 AM

                                                                                                                                            Love creamed onions- and creamed cauliflower. And the only time I eat them is on Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                                                          2. w
                                                                                                                                            walker RE: cstout Oct 26, 2012 05:36 PM

                                                                                                                                            This is my favorite tool to separate the fat for the gravy:


                                                                                                                                            Here is my very favorite bourbon cranberry sauce from Food & Wine: (So easy!



                                                                                                                                            1. c
                                                                                                                                              cstout RE: cstout Oct 30, 2012 10:08 AM

                                                                                                                                              To those of you who mentioned catering supply stores for cheap items - you are absolutely correct! I went online & the first thing that popped up was webstaurant.com. I could not believe the reasonable prices. I was looking for serving spoons & now I see so many other things that makes entertaining so much easier. Thanks a bunch for the tip.

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                                gingershelley RE: cstout Oct 31, 2012 06:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                Oh! Glad that helped Cstout. I will check out the online resource - I have just gone to local 'Party City' if I needed such things in a pinch. Bet the online source is much more like real catering items/ quality.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: gingershelley
                                                                                                                                                  pine time RE: gingershelley Nov 11, 2012 11:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Our CostCo has a business store that has a restaurant supply section--wow, huge serving pieces, cheap. Bought a bunch of large bowls there (also found a few giant ones, cheap, at Ikea).

                                                                                                                                              2. c
                                                                                                                                                cstout RE: cstout Oct 30, 2012 04:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                Does anyone have a great pumpkin pie recipe they would like to share??? I am tired of the one off the back of the pumpkin can - would like to jazz it up a bit.

                                                                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                                  sunshine842 RE: cstout Oct 31, 2012 01:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                  my all-time favorite is the one from Joy of Cooking -- I use 2 eggs instead of 3, and the taste difference is surprising (much more pumpkin-y!)

                                                                                                                                                  You might also try Camille Glenn's Bourbon Pumpkin Pie from The Heritage of Southern Cooking.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                                    biondanonima RE: cstout Oct 31, 2012 06:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                    I'm not a pumpkin pie fan, but I started using this Bourbon Pumpkin Pie recipe from Epicurious a few years ago and my husband and guests were so impressed that I've stuck with it ever since: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                                    It calls for only two eggs instead of the typical three, which, as sunshine842 said, seems to make a huge difference in the finished texture. I have also used spiced rum instead of bourbon with great success. It makes enough filling for a deep-dish pie, though, so if you want to make a standard pie, there will be some leftover.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                                      cstout RE: biondanonima Oct 31, 2012 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                      biondanonima & sunshine842, both your recipes for pumpkin pie sound great - I definitely think 2 eggs is the key here. Also, this year I will measure my spices more accurately. Last year the pie tasted too much of spice.

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for sharing - now which one to make?????

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                                        sunshine842 RE: cstout Oct 31, 2012 04:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                        the only caution I'll throw out is that the boozy version MUST be made the day before, in order to give the alcohol time to evaporate.

                                                                                                                                                        My bourbon pie was vile the first day (on Thanksgiving, of course) -- but was stellar by Friday....the bad news was my family hated it and made me promise to never make it again; the good news was i had the whole pie to enjoy by myself!

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                                          biondanonima RE: cstout Nov 1, 2012 08:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                          I always make my pies a day before so I've never run into the booziness issue sunshine842 described...I doubt my husband would complain about too much booze anyway! I like the moderate spicing (no cloves, thank goodness - I think I increased the cinnamon a bit and added some nutmeg, though) and the slight tang from the sour cream in the Epicurious pie (even as a general disliker of pumpkin pie).

                                                                                                                                                          I'm having a hard time finding the original Camille Glenn recipe online but the knockoffs I've found include 3 eggs and only one cup of pumpkin, which seems like not nearly enough pumpkin to me.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                                            sunshine842 RE: biondanonima Nov 1, 2012 09:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                            this wasn't so much boozy as make-your-eyes-water-and-don't-light-a-match raw fumes. I used good bourbon, so that wasn't the issue, but it was ridiculously harsh and unpleasant on the day I made it.

                                                                                                                                                            (I tend to make pies on the day they'll be eaten, so the crust doesn't end up gluey)

                                                                                                                                                            The Camille Glenn recipe is indeed 3 eggs and one cup of pumpkin -- which is fine. The Joy of Cooking recipe that I use and swear by is 2 eggs and one cup of pumpkin.

                                                                                                                                                            The three eggs gives you a very soft filling, two eggs gives you a firmer filling with a much more pronounced pumpkin flavor. Counter-intuitive, I know, but that's how it works.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                              biondanonima RE: sunshine842 Nov 1, 2012 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Hm, very interesting. I don't have my copy of Joy with me, but Google has turned up a couple of different versions, one of which calls for two cups of pumpkin (one can) and the other calling for 1.5 cups. I've never made any recipe that calls for less than a full can of pumpkin.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                                                sunshine842 RE: biondanonima Nov 1, 2012 12:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                sorry -- I was going off of memory (which **surprise!!** was faulty) -- the Joy recipe is 2 cups of pumpkin and 2 eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                                  biondanonima RE: sunshine842 Nov 1, 2012 12:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  No worries - I just thought that one cup seemed like not very much pumpkin. That the Joy recipe uses two cups makes me even more suspicious of the Camille Glenn recipe, although as I said I can't find the real thing online. Who knows, as a general disliker of pumpkin pie, I might prefer it with only one cup of pumpkin!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                                                    sunshine842 RE: biondanonima Nov 1, 2012 01:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    it's been a long time, but I remember it being a really good pie after it had "aged" a day.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: biondanonima
                                                                                                                                                              sandylc RE: biondanonima Nov 1, 2012 01:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                              I usually like pies best the day they are baked - but I will agree here that pumpkin pie is MUCH better the second or even third day, especially with booze in it. My preference is for vanilla extract and dark rum.

                                                                                                                                                      2. p
                                                                                                                                                        PotatoPuff RE: cstout Nov 1, 2012 01:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                        In the past I have made the bread into a fun shape, like a bundle of wheat (make breadsticks, snip the top edges with a scissors, and use another breadstick make a "bow" to gather them together). it makes an awesome and tasty centerpiece.

                                                                                                                                                        1. chicgail RE: cstout Nov 1, 2012 04:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                          My best advice is Stuffing; no Dressing. Cook that stuff outside of the bird and you don't even need to bother eating it.

                                                                                                                                                          If you follow common sense and basic rules of food handling, you are not putting anyone at risk. Store it refrigerated outside the bird and stuff it immediately before roasting.

                                                                                                                                                          I find the fear mongers on this one to be way out of line.

                                                                                                                                                          I know this will spark detractors so let the fun begin.

                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chicgail
                                                                                                                                                            sunshine842 RE: chicgail Nov 1, 2012 04:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                            this is being discussed on another thread (stuffing vs dressing) --

                                                                                                                                                            Just because it's cooked outside of the bird doesn't mean it's dry or flavorless or in any way substandard.

                                                                                                                                                            That's fine if you prefer to stuff your bird....but don't suggest that those of us who opt out should get stuffed, either. ;)

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                              sandylc RE: sunshine842 Nov 1, 2012 05:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Plenty of eggs and good chicken stock make the inside nice and moist.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                                chicgail RE: sunshine842 Nov 2, 2012 06:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Sorry if I'm on the wrong thread.

                                                                                                                                                                I didn't mean to suggest that anyone else's choices were wrong for them. I know dressing doesn't have to be dry if it's not in the bird, I just personally really prefer the flavor of stuffing with the turkey drippings in it.

                                                                                                                                                                And my favorite part of Thanksgiving is after dinner in the kitchen - shamelessly picking at the carcass with the bits of stuffing that adhere to the bones. Can't do that with dressing cooked in a separate dish.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chicgail
                                                                                                                                                                  sunshine842 RE: chicgail Nov 2, 2012 07:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  " Cook that stuff outside of the bird and you don't even need to bother eating it. " was the pretty clearly-phrased sentence that led us all to believe that you feel we (the non-stuffers) are all completely in the wrong and incapable of making edible dressing in a dish.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                                    chicgail RE: sunshine842 Nov 2, 2012 08:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    I used the wrong pronoun and it made my post unclear. How bout this:
                                                                                                                                                                    "cook that stuff outside the bird and I don't [won't] even need to bother eating it."

                                                                                                                                                                    You can eat whatever you want, sunshine. You can enjoy whatever you want. No problem. I just won't eat it.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chicgail
                                                                                                                                                                      jvanderh RE: chicgail Nov 4, 2012 10:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      There is, mostly, an understanding on this forum that dramatic statements regarding food are intended as tongue-in-cheek, with the implicit assumption that preferences are silly and personal. I feel more connected by the fact that other people feel so strongly about food than disconnected by the fact that other posters have different tastes. It's hard for me to get offended about someone else's likes and dislikes, which are probably a function of their genetics and experiences, and, in any case, make no recommendation about my personal worth and have zero impact on my life. All this to say, don't lose any sleep over it.

                                                                                                                                                            2. h
                                                                                                                                                              HappyHattiesburgr RE: cstout Nov 4, 2012 05:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Cornbread dressing is a requirement. I adore Thanksgiving and time spent contemplating things one is thankful for, remembering great people now gone who were once part of it, appreciating the ones one is with.

                                                                                                                                                              For less stress -- don't try to be with people you don't get along with, only those you do. Don't forget to photograph the people and the food. So many great meals and so few were photographed!

                                                                                                                                                              1. c
                                                                                                                                                                cstout RE: cstout Nov 5, 2012 06:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Does anyone make their giblet gravy ahead of time & freeze it? If so, would you share your recipe/technique?

                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                                                  TorontoJo RE: cstout Nov 5, 2012 06:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  I don't use the giblets, but I always make my gravy ahead of time and freeze it. I start with roasting a bunch of turkey parts (which could, of course, include the giblets), then making stock with the parts (adding the usual suspects: onions, carrots, celery, garlic, peppercorns). Chill the stock, remove and save the fat.

                                                                                                                                                                  For the gravy, I start by make a roux with the turkey fat and flour -- I like my roux to get really deep golden brown before I start adding the hot stock. Whisk while adding small amounts of stock at a time to ensure no lumps. Add pepper to taste. I also use a combination of soy sauce and salt instead of just salt, which gives a better umami in the gravy then just plain salt. My other important ingredient is roasted shallots, which I roast to a deep golden brown, then puree and mix into my gravy.

                                                                                                                                                                  Once the gravy is cool, I transfer to several smaller containers rather than one large one, as the smaller containers thaw faster and are also easier to store in my freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                                                                                                    cstout RE: TorontoJo Nov 11, 2012 07:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    TorontoJo...thanks so much for your gravy recipe. I am going to make this today & freeze it - one less thing to worry about. All this is making me very hungry!!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                                                      pine time RE: cstout Nov 11, 2012 11:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I just can't with giblets. Time after time, I've cooked them, chopped them, then tossed them. Can't even use the cooking water. Altho' Mr. Pine does like turkey liver for breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                2. a
                                                                                                                                                                  amazinc RE: cstout Nov 5, 2012 07:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  Oh Oh Oh Wtg2retire, please send that spreadsheet to amazinc@windstream.net and I'll promise
                                                                                                                                                                  to dance at your next wedding. Thanks a ton.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. c
                                                                                                                                                                    cstout RE: cstout Nov 14, 2012 01:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Needing table space? I picked up a folding table & cover for it at Wal Mart.

                                                                                                                                                                    Here is what I got & am very pleased with both.

                                                                                                                                                                    Mainstays brand 6 foot fold-in-half table - dimensions are 72in W x 30in in D...has carrying handle which makes it easy to carry. The 5ft one may work better for other folks.

                                                                                                                                                                    6x9 ft canvas drop cloth heavy weight 7oz (in the paint section). Fits perfect on the table.

                                                                                                                                                                    I took it home & washed it & it came out very soft...was quite surprised. I intend to go & get another canvas drop cloth to make some curtains for my screened in back porch. Also would make a great shower curtain if you are inclined to sew. Actually, this size lends itself to many uses. I think there is one size larger that would work for many projects. Am wondering if the fabric would take to dying it.

                                                                                                                                                                    I searched for a table runner to add color to the table, but no good selections. A quick one could be made from some purchased fabric.

                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry I got "off topic", but if you are needing a folding table, you better get to the store fast....buying frenzy on tables & folding chairs.

                                                                                                                                                                    Am cooking up a big pot of broth using turkey wings, turkey gizzards & a small package of chicken gizzards & the usual veggies & seasonings. The poultry seasoning in there is smelling up the whole house & really getting me in the mood for the big day. Thanks to you all, I have gotten some great pointers & tips on how to organize, plan & cook ahead. Also, the recipes on here are amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. c
                                                                                                                                                                      cstout RE: cstout Nov 27, 2012 10:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      Well, the big day has come & gone & I just want to say all your tips, recipes & suggestions helped me to make it one of the most pleasant days ever! I had a timeline & schedule to follow & that was the one thing that helped the most. I have made a folder with things I need to remember for next year & dishes I may or may not repeat again.

                                                                                                                                                                      Here's hoping your day was a great as mine!!!

                                                                                                                                                                      Now let us move forward to Christmas....

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout
                                                                                                                                                                        walker RE: cstout Nov 27, 2012 11:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Can anyone post that timeline and schedule as a sort of sample others could follow?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: walker
                                                                                                                                                                          lcool RE: walker Nov 27, 2012 12:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          early in the post
                                                                                                                                                                          biondanomina 23 October & aching's 25 October post .......... are the spread sheet many used

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