Monday, November 19, 2018

{ Getting ready for Thanksgiving - Tips and Recipes }

Thanksgiving is 3 days away.  3 DAYS AWAY!!!

I always love this time of year, the cooking and baking, planning and getting the house ready for guests.  I don't let it stress me out because I look at it as a fun time and the anticipation of family and good food, but if I don't get myself organized it can be a bit overwhelming.

Let's face it, no one wants to be stuck in the kitchen during the holidays, while everyone else is having fun.

Before I give you all some tips and tell you my menu and so forth, if you haven't yet taken your turkey out of the freezer, RUN, don't walk, RUN and pop that baby in the fridge.  I shared this graphic the other day but here it is again, just as a reminder.

Mine has been in the fridge since Saturday morning and Wednesday night it will be straight into a brine.

Our Thanksgiving this year is going to be smaller, there will only be 9 of us, and that's quite alright with me, as much as I love big get togethers, sometimes I miss the days where it was just the 4 of us.

As for the menu, it is pretty much the same very year although with a few changes, or rather a few additions to accommodate dietary needs and changes.

Thanksgiving Menu

Deviled Eggs
Baked Biscuit Wreath Dip
Veggie Tray
Fried Turkey
Parmesan Garlic Tilapia (my brother in law does not eat any meat, only fish)
Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Green Salad
Sweet Potato Casserole
Cranberry Sauce
Roast Turkey Gravy
Dinner Rolls
Pumpkin Pies
Pecan Pie Bars
Banana Pie (Dairy free for my brother in law and daughter)
Milk Tart

We always do a deep fried turkey.  It's been years since we've roasted one, and that's not to say that I don't like roast turkey, I do, but since frying we haven't gone back.  Whether you brine or not, that is your choice entirely, but I prefer to brine to make it juicier and tender.

Here's the brine I use:

1 ½ gallons COLD water (6 quarts)
1 ½ cups Kosher Salt
1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
10 cloves
3 tablespoons freshly cracked black peppercorns
1 tablespoon dried sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme (or 5 to 6 fresh sprigs)
4 to 6 bay leaves
3 to 4 tablespoons of minced garlic

Brine for at least 12 hours, but I leave mine for about 24 hours.

This year we are switching it up slightly, I actually am using one of the Tony Chachere's Injectable Butter Marinade.  I've heard good things about it, and hubby and I decided to give it a try this year.  I'll definitely let you know what I think after.

Fluffy Dinner rolls 

I always make Dinner Rolls too and these are a huge hit every year.  I actually had one of the family members ask last year if I was making the rolls, before they accepted the invitation to dinner.  Hahah

When it comes to the Pies, I always make them from scratch, there's nothing like a good homemade pie.

Here are a few variations for you.  If I have a lot of guests, I often do a big sheet like bars, instead of just a small pie, it tends to stretch a bit more.

Pumpkin Pie Sheet Cake

Pumpkin Pie Sheet Cake

Miss Kay's Honey Pecan Pie

Miss Kay's Honey Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie Bars

Pecan Pie Bars

Now that we have the food out of the way, let me give you some tips on getting prepared for the big day without rushing, and without leaving everything to the last minute.  There are certain things, and quite a few of them, that you can make days ahead.

Set the table the night before including all decorations etc.
The minute I am done with dinner on Wednesday night, I start preparing for Thanksgiving.  I insert my table leaves, grab all the extra chairs, and start decorating and setting the table for the next day.  It's one less thing to worry about when I'm in the kitchen getting things finished.  I also find that it helps me take some time to see if I like what I decided to do, or if I want to change something up.

Divide up the meal plan among the guests
I always split the meal with family so that I make some of the things and everyone else contributes too.  It's much easier than leaving the whole meal up to you.

Prepare the veggies ahead of time, all that chopping can be done days prior
A day or two before, I chop all the veggies and place them in ziploc bags, mark them with a sharpie letting me know which recipe it is for and place them in the fridge.  It's one less thing to make.  I do the same with fruit (if I'm making a fruit tray).

Make the desserts the day before
I always bake my pies the day before, and the only ones I refrigerate until the next morning, are the Pumpkin Pies.  The pecan pies I just cover with foil and leave out on the counter.
If you're doing appetizers, you can also make them ahead of time, like the deviled eggs.
If you have slow cookers, USE them.
I have one of those small 3 piece slow cookers, and I use it for keeping food warm throughout the day.
Gravy, rolls, any kind of casserole or dip.  I set the slow cooker on the buffet table and everyone is able to just pop open the lid and serve themselves.

Set up a drink and dessert table
I actually usually have 3 areas, one with the main dishes, one for the desserts and the third for drinks, cups, napkins etc. It makes it a lot easier than having people in and out of the fridge or kitchen and causing huge crowds where you need to move around freely.

Make sure you have containers for leftovers
This may seem like a silly tip, but from personal experience, when it comes time to put away all the leftovers, I'm often left scrambling looking for tupperware big enough or one that actually has a lid for it.  I go through my tupperware cupboard a day or two before, pull out the plastic tubs I need and if I don't have enough I still have time to run to the store and grab a few.

Pull out the appliances you will need for the day
I always bring all my appliances out and make sure they are working and clean.  Sometimes sitting in storage or in the back of a kitchen cabinet, means they are dusty, so two or three days before Thanksgiving I check on them all and give each a good wash.

Be creative with your leftovers
Unless you're fine eating the same Thanksgiving dinner for the next two or three days, use your leftovers in new recipes to change things up a bit.  One thing I love doing is a big casserole, a Thanksgiving Pot Pie if you will.


You can do Turkey Soup, or the usual and more common Turkey Sandwiches.  Add the turkey or ham to scrambled eggs for breakfast or make leftover mashed potato pancakes.  The possibilities are endless.

Over all, just remember that this is a time to celebrate family and give thanks for everything we have.  Don't let the holidays stress you out, go with the flow and try to enjoy it all as it comes :)


  1. terrific ideas... I'm going to check out your pumpkin sheet cake and the honey pecan pie and bars! LeeAnna

  2. Thankfully, I am not having to do the meal myself this year. Actually, we are having two meals this year, and I'm am making homemade rolls for the first one. Others are bringing pies, so no homemade pies needed this season either. I'm looking forward to two nice family get togethers.


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