Are you new at hosting Thanksgiving dinner and are stressed out? Is everyone, giving you countless tips on what you should do? Fear not, I’m not one of them. Instead, here are 7 things you should NOT do.
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There is a reason Thanksgiving is associated with turkey. Ask any pilgrim. Ever since they served four (wild) turkeys at the first Thanksgiving it has become a tradition. Unless you’re vegetarian, turkey is the only way! Don’t need a whole bird? Then buy a turkey breast, or leg, or whatever your favorite part is. Mine happen to be the butt, but you can’t get those in bulk. Darn.
NO FROZEN TURKEY
Unless you won the bird at your local turkey bowling tournament (I’m making this up, maybe), then go with fresh turkey. Granted, it costs a little more but it’s worth it! I order it from my butcher and pick it up a day before Thanksgiving. It doesn’t crowd your refrigerator for days and it doesn’t end up swimming in its bloody juices. Or even worse, the bloody juices don’t leak all over your refrigerator.
NO CREATIVE MENU
Keep it simple. Trust me on this one. It is easy to get wrapped up in the holiday spirit and wanting to deliver the 10-course menu you saw in a magazine. I slaved over Turducken once for almost a week. Turducken is turkey stuffed with a whole duck that is stuffed with a whole chicken and has layers of dressing between them and in them. Of course, I had to make the dressing from scratch too. All that work and the flavor was just MEH.
NO NEW TRICKS
Don’t try a new recipe the day of thanksgiving! My daughter says: “I made a cauliflower head with a creamy cheese dressing for thanksgiving but it was the first time I tried it and the dressing ended up chunky as well as watery. (How’s that for a combo?) Nobody touched it, and it ended up going to waste.
NO LAST MINUTE PLANNING
Don’t wing it. Even a simple meal requires some planning and prepping or it’ll end up a disaster. Make your list and shop early. Have all your ingredients in one place. And management is a must! Figure out what to cook when. Other things you can do a day or two ahead:
• Chop vegetables. Keep them in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag.
• Cube bread for stuffing.
• Make pie dough. Or bake the entire pie.
• Prepare cranberry sauce.
Got a bunch of leftovers, but you’re sick of eating the same meal again? Don’t throw it away! Have some Tupperware ready to send off with your family or repurpose your meals. Make turkey and cheese sandwiches with leftover turkey, or throw the veggies into a pan with eggs for a breakfast hash.
Too many times we get caught up in the perfection of the meal and stress about our home being clean etc. Remember Thanksgiving is about family, being together and being thankful for what we have. So sit back, pop open a bottle of bubbly, and enjoy the holiday season.
Sometimes my turkey dinner comes to me. Although, our yard is fenced dozens of wild turkeys fly in to eat our grapes and spilled bird food. Some are so brave they don’t flee when we let our dogs out.
In case you’re deciding not to make the same side dishes as before and want to try something new, I would highly suggest roasted butternut squash with pecans and blue cheese or crispy roasted sweet potatoes. Both recipes are super easy to make and fail-free. To use up leftover turkey my two go-to recipes are turkey tacos and kickasserole.
Invest in a roaster. It’ll pay for itself. Disposable aluminum pans are too weak and risky for a good size turkey. I own this particular one and I love it. It is light in weight, non-stick, and easy to wash. It is dishwasher safe, but I always wash it by hand. It’s a breeze.