Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Planning for Thanksgiving

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. No compensation was received for this post.

Are you the host for Thanksgiving? When I am planning for an event, I love to be able to get as much done ahead of time as possible.

For the past 8 years, I have done a traditional turkey dinner for my daughter's birthday and the realization quickly set in that with only one oven, the only way to pull it off is to work ahead. For me, this starts with roasting my turkey the night before the event. Once roasted, I can let it cool before carving. This is great because it reabsorbs much of the cooking broth in the process, resulting in moist turkey. Plus, I can get the turkey cleaned and the carcass thrown out and get the kitchen cleaned up. I place the turkey into a 9x13 (or a little larger) glass pan, add a small amount of broth, cover tightly with aluminum in set in my refrigerator. The next day, I put it in the oven with my other dishes and cook it for about 30 - 45 minutes to cook it through. I also gather the remaining broth and set in the refrigerator to use to make gravy the next day.

I also like to prep my side dishes. The first I always do is next day mashed potatoes. I boil the potatoes and mash them with some added ingredients, like cream cheese, and put in another glass pan. The potatoes take about 45 - 60 minutes to cook the next day. I also do my sweet potatoes, because I do a mashed sweet potato casserole. They take about 45 minutes to cook the next day. I also prepare my stuffing, although I suppose since it never sees the turkey it is technically dressing. I usually use a few pieces of the carved turkey and a little of the cooking broth in the preparation of my stuffing...which I can only do if I prepare the turkey the day ahead.

I also do all of my cutting and chopping for my fruit salad and vegetable tray. Then, the day of, I can quickly set out the vegetables and have plenty at the ready for refilling the tray. I assemble the fruit salad day of, in order to keep things fresh.

I typically prepare my vegetable dishes the day of the event and put them in the oven along side the other dishes that are cooking. I like to do a broccoli and cauliflower dish, but this year I think I am going to try the Bacon and Green Bean Casserole Deluxe featured on the Hormel site.
It is much like the traditional one, with a kick of bacon bits - after all, everything is better with bacon. We don't do mushroom soup, so I will swap in cream of celery or onion to give it a good creamy texture. Best thing is, you can make this one the day ahead and then simply warm and serve.

This year our celebration will just be the immediate family, so we are trying out the Jennie-O Oven Ready Turkey Breast. I must say, I am intrigued by this one, it "goes straight from your freezer to your oven". I am so used to thawing. It comes in an oven ready back and you simply pull out of your freezer, remove from the outer bag and put it in your oven in a roasting pan. I will have to let you know how it goes. I also will not be prepping the sides, because I will not need a full casserole of mashed potatoes and can just make up a small pan day of.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some product and some of the information and images for this post.