It is countdown to Thanksgiving (and Christmas really). We are so excited for a real Thanksgiving around here. Last year we enjoyed a very small gathering and while that was nice, we missed our larger get together. I have learned through the years that the way to peaceful and enjoyable holidays is for mom (me:) to prepare ahead. So, today’s post is about my Thanksgiving countdown and prep!
We always kick off Thanksgiving with a Friendsgiving the night before when we get together with my college room mate and her family. We are actually lucky enough to go to a relative’s gorgeous home for Thanksgiving day. As much fun as that is, I have to have turkey and the trimmings for leftovers so we started the tradition years ago. I have so many fond memories of Thanksgiving hosted at my house growing up. I have to have the pumpkin bread and butternut squash exactly as mom made it. Those memories and flavors are a must! So through the years I have created a Thanksgiving countdown and prep to make our Friendsgiving day go smoothly.
Thanksgiving countdown and food prep
Ok, so one of my most favorite things to do is to sit on the couch on a leisurely Saturday or Sunday and plan menus. Pinterest is my go to and I also look back on previous menus which I usually jot down post holiday. I recommend doing this one to two weeks ahead of time or if not your thing, you can make our menu from last year:). I make myself try one new recipe every year to keep it fresh and keep experimenting. This year, a leek and potato gratin is on my list. I like how it is not too fussy – chunks of potato, leeks and of course cheese all cooked up to melting yumminess. I hope it tastes as good as it sounds.
I also always make home made cranberry sauce which is easily frozen ahead of time – not sure why canned cranberry even exists. This recipe could not be easier and the tart cranberries are such a great accompaniment to Thanksgiving fare.
Lastly, I make pumpkin bread. I usually make my own recipe, but this year, I made Smitten Kitchen’s version with some adaptations. I did not use the entire amount of sugar – 1 2/3 cup of sugar in one loaf is just too much (hello blood sugar?). I also use the prepped pumpkin pie spice which is just the necessary spices pre-dosed. The loaves came out amazing so I highly recommend the recipe! I particularly like her technique of mixing the baking powder etc. before you fold in the flour. Over mixing flour is never good with quick breads. I may need to update my own recipe.
Last year, this menu was a hit largely because the stuffing is so good. Do yourself a favor…make the stock ahead of time. If you forget, you can always use the store bought bricks, but trust me, home made stock is soooo much better and of course cheaper.
I use Alison Roman’s recipe, but I make mine in the Instant pot. After roasting some turkey parts (easy to buy at the super market or ask the butcher), I put everything in the Instant pot, cover with water, add bay leaves and spices and put on saute mode. After bringing to a boil, I simply put on the slow cooker mode and let it cook for 12 hours. So easy (but make it ahead – facing home made stock the day before or day of is a no-go for me!). I taste it after it cools. Today I decided to add some Better Than Bouillon and put it on saute mode again to boil down a bit. The result is fantastic. I froze it and can’t wait to use in the stuffing next week. Here is a photo (my photography skills are pathetic…at least you know this is a real woman behind the blog!). Those little glittery bits are what will make your gravy and stuffing divine…
The start of holiday shopping
About two weeks before Thanksgiving I ask the girls to give me their lists. This is admittedly easier now that they are older (years ago it was always last minute for Santa…). I like to buy ahead for my own peace of mind and of course to take advantage of the pre holiday sales.
Normally, I would have ordered the holiday card by now. This year, no. Why? We did not have a good photo. Good friend will be snapping some shots of the family once college girl is back. I will likely head to Costco. We send out about 75. How about you? We used to send more but cut back in recent years. It seems others have too?
Lastly, my favorite day of the year is this weekend too. We go to a local farm to cut down our Christmas tree. Hopefully I will have more time to share that with you. Here are a few notes from last year’s tailgate where we grilled some sliders which were a huge success.
So Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I hope you enjoy cooking (if you like cooking) and eating a delicious meal with family and friends!