Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Surviving Thanksgiving - A Guide to Keeping Your Sanity

Thanksgiving is Almost Here!

And with it our desire to host the most Martha Stewart picture perfect dinner despite the chaos of arriving friends and family, children running around, in-laws watching like hawks for us to fail. No wonder half of us lose our minds! 

To avoid the chaos that is Thanksgiving, here are some helpful tips and tricks to not only surviving, but having a
successful Thanksgiving even the stodgiest of
 mother-in-laws can be proud of.

Plan Your Menu
Know ahead of time what you want to serve and write it down!
Not only will this keep you organized, but you will avoid the disaster
of forgetting Uncle Bob's favorite cranberry sauce (which only
he eats).

Make Sides Early
Green bean casserole, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce and 
many others can be made ahead of time and either cooked 
that day or just warmed up for serving. Especially cold dishes 
like salads and appetizers are great to just pull out and serve.

Perfect Gravy?
Want guaranteed lump-free gravy? Practice your recipe out on 
an earlier turkey or chicken dinner.

Prep Dough Ahead of TimeAre you really going to try to master the perfect pie crust on
Thanksgiving morning with so many distractions? NO!
Make that dough ahead of time and just pull it from the freezer
the night before, roll out morning of and fill.

Make What You Love
Secret to creating truly memorable food? Make it your own!
If you are a taco lover, set out some tortillas and let everyone make
a turkey taco with cranberry sauce, or prep a couple simple
fixin's ahead of time.

Bring Travel Friendly DishIf you aren't hosting, offer to bring a side already prepared
in a travel friendly dish that can be heated up in the
oven, or better yet, the microwave!

Try a New Cooking MethodAlways have turkey straight out of the oven? Mix it up this year with a
deep fried or rotisserie bird. Just make sure to know what you
are doing. Remember the practice run for the gravy? Practice run you new
cooking method as well!

Jazz Up Boxed StuffingSave some time and get boxed stuffing, but make sure to put your touches
on it. Add the celery, secret seasonings and pinch of salt
and your family will never know the difference. 

Upgrade Favorite StaplesIt doesn't cost or take much to take that green bean casserole or sweet
potatoes to the next level. Look through your mound of spices
to add some extra punch to dinner time staples. 

Skip the OvenWherever you can, make items on the stove top rather than in the oven
since so many dishes need to flow through that overworked space today.
Or skip the hot cheesy broccoli casserole all together and serve a cold broccoli dish.

Put Oven on Double DutyWhen items HAVE to go into the oven, plan all same
temperature items to go in together. (350 degrees anyone?)
Just make sure to add a couple extra minutes to each
cooking time to allow for extra openings of oven door.
Have a Drink for All AgesMake sure to keep everyone happy with a holiday
drink appropriate for all. Punches are great since you can
make large batches and everyone can serve themselves.

The Apple MattersWhat apples do you need? Doesn't matter?! WRONG!
Make sure to get the apple the recipe calls for since they
will affect the overall taste and texture of the dish.
Embrace Store BoughtUnless you are Martha Stewart with a score of minions doing
everything behind the scenes, save yourself the headache and
time and pick up some store bought items. Rolls, for one. 

Offer an AppetizerHangy. Hungry and Angry. This is how people become
when they are forced to smell the amazing aromas wafting from
your kitchen but are not allowed to eat yet. Keep the masses
happy without ruining dinner with some simple appetizers
you can make a day or two ahead of time.

Cocktails Anyone?Half the key to surviving any family gathering is keeping
them mildly sedated with a nice cocktail. Something made in a
big batch so you aren't caught playing bartender while
burning the cranberry sauce. And not too strong or Grandma will
be sleeping in her gravy.

Activities for KidsChildren are often found underfoot in the kitchen begging for
food because the are staaaaarving. Avoid this with activities or crafts
they can complete out of the way and with a chosen adult's
supervision. Make it something they can take home and they will
love you forever. 

Finish on a High NoteSuper simple yet festive and amazing desserts will wow your
guests without sending you to the loony bin. Anything you can make
ahead of time is a bonus!

Creative LeftoversTurkey Noodle Soup, Turkey Tacos, Turkey Meatloaf....
Make sure to know what to do with all that leftover turkey!

Come Bearing GiftsSend your guests home with a goodie they can enjoy
after the holiday has passed. Horseradish Jelly,
Homemade Vanilla or a scented candle can all be packaged
in a cute little jar. 
Here's to a Happy and Safe (and Fun) Thanksgiving to All!

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