Friday, November 16, 2012

If you Invited me to Thanksgiving Dinner (And tips for hosting)

There's a lot of planning going on in cyberspace for the most awesome holiday of the year.  I thought I would give you some menu ideas.  Are you attending a dinner?  Have you been asked to bring something?  Or are you hosting yourself and need some tips?  You can't be too prepared so I thought I would share some of my tips for Thanksgiving.

If you asked to bring rolls to Thanksgiving dinner, I would bring these:

If you asked me to bring mashed potatoes to Thanksgiving dinner, I would bring these:

If you asked me to bring a green salad to Thanksgiving dinner, I would bring this Apple Bacon Salad with Craisins and Poppy Seed Dressing.

If you asked me to bring a side dish, I would probably bring this:

If you asked me to bring a drink, I would bring this Homemade Sparkling Cider
If you asked me to bring dessert to Thanksgiving dinner, I would bring one of these desserts:

Oreo Cheesecake (I'd probably do the mint-twist but that's up to you)

Can you tell dessert is my favorite part?  It is.  

Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving.
♥  Don't be afraid to ask people to bring things.  I think the best dinners can be when everyone brings something because when people only have to focus on one thing it's less stressful and everything is made with extra care. (And that makes it extra delicious)
♥  Do yourself a favor and get a roaster oven (like THIS ONE )  It's so worth the money and it will save your sanity and oven space.  Also, they cook the most juicy turkeys you've ever had.  Even if they didn't save on oven space, I would consider them necessary.  I would cook a 20 lb turkey and it would be done in 3 hours and amazing.  Just be careful not to lift the lid too often to check on it and don't put more than one turkey in there, it's disastrous (yes, I did that one year).   Also, make sure the turkey you buy will fit in the roaster oven you have.  
♥ Use your crock pot!  The last few minutes of getting the turkey on the table is pretty hectic.  Pulling rolls out of the oven, getting things on the table, making the gravy and ten million other things.  Making a side dish in your cock pot frees you up in the last few minutes because it's already to dish up when dinner is ready.  Like the Candied Yams with Apples and Cranberries (above) or these delicious Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes or this Creamy Corn.  It's one less thing you have to worry about during crunch time!
♥  Make desserts the day before.  All of the desserts listed above (with exception of the pie) are just as good, if not better the next day.  Make them the day before so you can just pull them out of the fridge when you need them.  The caramel for the caramel pecan pumpkin pie can be made the day before, stored in a storage container in the fridge and heated in the microwave when needed.  If you really need a pie, consider putting it together the day before and sticking it in the freezer and putting it in the oven about 2 hours before you're ready for it.  (Your cook time will be about 1/2 hour longer than usual) 
♥  Have a schedule written down and be very lenient with times.  For instance, if you know your turkey will take 3 hours to bake, then plan on starting it at least 4 hours before dinner time.  It will take you a few minutes to get it ready in the oven and you will need to take it out before eating to collect your drippings for gravy and let the meat rest before cutting.

This is an approximate schedule for our meals in the past, assuming dinner is at 2.
The day before, make all desserts
The day of:
8:30 start cooking mashed potatoes
9:00 whip potatoes and put in crock pot, preheat oven or roaster oven
9:15-9:30 am get turkey in the roaster as well as add giblets to stock pot with celery, onions and carrots
10:00:  Start rolls and get dough ready for the first rise
11:30:  dump roll dough out and let it rest for 30 minutes
12:00 shape rolls and set aside to raise (takes about 20 minutes) for an hour
12:30 prepare any other side dishes
1:30  remove turkey and put rolls in the oven to cook
1:40 remove dripping and stain stock.  Make gravy.
1:50  Remove rolls from the oven
2:00 carve turkey and serve.

This schedule assumes you will have people helping set and take things to the table.  If not, you will need to adjust your schedule and add those things to the time table.  

Which leads to my last piece of advice (which I need to take for myself sometimes):
If dinner doesn't go exactly as planned, it's okay.  Be thankful for what goes well.  If it's a complete disaster and you end up eating tacos on the beach (which is what I think we are doing this year), it's okay.  Breathe and be thankful for what you have.
If dinner isn't done right on time, don't freak out and start yelling at everyone to help you.  Take a breath and be thankful.
Don't let Thanksgiving dinner ruin your day.
Thanksgiving dinner should enhance your day, not rule it.
Be thankful.
For whatever you can think of.

As far as I'm concerned, if dessert goes well, that's all that mattes. ;)


  1. Drooling from the look of your photos already!

    1. Thanks! It truly is the best holiday!

  2. Thanks for this post! I am hosting for the first time this year. Great tips! And I can't wait to try making those mashed potatoes!!!

    1. Michelle, I can't wait to hear how it goes!

  3. hahaha, i laughed out loud at: "don't start yelling at everyone to help you"...I do that anyway. you are amazing. so you want to come out for thanksgiving? heehee, we can go to Breaking Dawn!!!!
    Miss you guys!

    1. That would be so fun! I was just thinking the other day that I can't believe it's been a year since we've seen you guys. It doesn't seem right! We miss you too, have a great Thanksgiving, tell everyone hi for us!

  4. Amanda! I am making the sparkling cider and crock pot yams again this year! You are the best!

  5. Aww!! I love your words at the end! Poetic! :)
    Great advice, great recipes, thank you! :)


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