Thanksgiving is getting closer and closer! Your turkey is still frozen; you don’t know what sides you’ll serve. Did you accidentally get fresh cranberries instead of cranberry sauce?
Relax, we’ve got your back.
It pays to plan
Give yourself some time to plan, even at the last moment. It is definitely worth your time. Set aside at least an hour and start planning from the ground up. Make sure to have a list of things you need including ingredients, utensils, or miscellaneous items that might come in handy. Determine your menu and stick to it. Also, it is perfectly fine if you need to make multiple grocery store trips. In fact it might be easier for you since you won’t have to carry so many bags at once.
If you are working with a frozen turkey make sure it is completely thawed before you even think about putting it in the oven. It will take a little longer in prep-time but the cook-time will make up for it. The easiest way, but also the most time consuming is to thaw it in the fridge.
To thaw a turkey in the fridge, place it breast side up on a pan to catch any juices that might leak, and allow a full day for each 4-5 pounds. You can also thaw it much quicker in cold water, but you must make sure the water temperature stays below 40°F. Using the cold-water thawing method only takes about 30 minutes per pound, but requires more attention. Dangerous bacteria grow between 40°F and 140°F so it is very important to thaw completely, always under 40°F.
Prepping side dishes
Start cooking today! Your entire meal preparation will feel like nothing if you prepare some things ahead of time. The Food Network has an excellent list of recipes for a whole feast (including whipped cream!) you can make ahead of time and freeze. If you don’t like freezing a whole dish you can always prepare veggies or portion out ingredients, which will make cooking a breeze!
Baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, tater-tots, potato chips, and hash browns? You could probably just pick one of these and still have a successful Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re in a crunch, don’t overload yourself with tasks.
Oh, and when it comes to cranberry sauce, there is no need to worry. Take the cranberries, and add a little bit of orange juice, some sugar and maybe a cinnamon stick. Just simmer the cranberries (about 10 oz) and sugar (1 cup) mixture until it cooks down and the cranberries pop. If it ends up too think, add orange juice to thin it down a little. Just remember it is easier to thin it down than to thicken it up.
Oops, it burnt!
We have all accidentally burnt something in the oven or on the stove. If your first reaction is to turn on all the fans and open the windows you are on the right track. Give it a few minutes and if the smell is still there, then it might be time to get resourceful. Here are a couple things you can try:
– fake-bake: pre-heat your oven to about 200 °F and throw some sugar, cinnamon and about a tablespoon of butter on a cookie sheet. Turn off the oven after the butter starts to melt and let it sit for a while. Your home will smell like you just spent hours baking cookies.
– lemon & clove tea: bring some water to a boil and drop in a thinly sliced lemon and a few cloves. Let it gently simmer for 10 to 20 minutes. You don’t have to drink the lemon-clove tea, but it will make everything smell citrusy & spicy.
Wrap it up, you’re almost done…
Everyone’s bellies are stuffed, and now comes the hardest part. Cleaning up. Try double or triple lining your trash cans the day before. As soon as one bag fills, the next one is right there ready to go! Soaking stations can save you lots of time and effort. If you are not washing something right away remember to soak it. Do the dishes you can, fill up your dishwasher, and soak the rest. That will give you time to have some coffee and pie with your guests without having to worry about the cleanup later.
Wrap up leftovers for your guests to take home and save some for yourself so you can make a Thanksgiving leftover turkey pot pie. The Chicago Tribune published a list of recipes for your Thanksgiving leftovers that you might want to check out. After all, some say the best part of Thanksgiving is leftovers!
If this all seems like just way too much work you could always have a non-traditional Thanksgiving. Order some lobster in garlic sauce and a few side dishes. No prep, no mess, no trouble.
However you decide to spend your Thanksgiving day, we hope you make it a good one!