Archive for the ‘Thanksgiving’ Category

Thanksgiving Entertaining Made Easy

November 10th 2010

th Thanksgiving Entertaining Made Easy
Thanksgiving is a very important holiday to a lot of families. It is a time when distant relatives get together for a meal and share old memories and make new ones. It is also one of the more stressful times for you if you happen to be the one hosting the get-together.

You want everything to be perfect so you bring out your fine dinnerware and WMF flatware for the occasion. You bake your old standbys and clean your home until it sparkles. Once the event is over you are left with a mountain of leftovers and dirty dishes to clean up.

Make things easier on yourself. You deserve to enjoy the holiday too rather than being strapped to the stove. Here are a few tips to make Thanksgiving entertaining go a little easier on you:

  • Cook in advance. You can cook most of the foods you will be serving in advance and simply warm them up right before meal time. Spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving cooking and freezing foods so you won’t be so worn out on the big day.
  • Ask for help. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Ask relatives to cook side items or if they can’t do that, ask them to help you serve or clean up afterwards.
  • Plan the day ahead of time. Even if you have years of Thanksgiving entertaining under your belt, it is always a good idea to plan the day well in advance so you have enough dinnerware and won’t need to dash to the store for a forgotten recipe ingredient.
  • Go easy on yourself. You are probably the only one who expects you to be perfect so relax and enjoy your day as much as possible. Who really cares if you burn the biscuits? The food isn’t what is important about Thanksgiving, it is spending time with your loved ones and you don’t want to miss it because you spend all your time in the kitchen.

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Don’t Forget the Centerpiece

November 24th 2009

sm fallcenterpiece Dont Forget the CenterpieceThanksgiving is growing nearer and I’m confident that you have your menu ready. You’ve already arranged to get extra chairs, folding tables, and even silverware if you need it. But have you put any thought into your table centerpiece yet? Don’t get me wrong, the food is the focus of this holiday, but it’s always nice to add a special touch on the table as well.

You can go the traditional route and have some Indian corn cobs, or a basket filled with the season’s beautiful winter squashes. Of course, whatever you pick needs to go with your table linens. You could try a tall rectangle glass vase filled with autumn leaves and pine cones. You could get a square glass vase and fill it with popcorn and a pillar candle. You can even get colored popcorn for a more unusual display. Remember, if you add anything in with a candle; make sure what you add not flammable.

Another vase idea is to find some branches in your own backyard and put them in a large vase. You can add in some flowers as well, to make it a spectacular addition to your family’s meal. Hollow out mini pumpkins or gourds, then add a votive inside. They are delightful candle holders.

Don’t forget about your houseplants. They can go on your favorite Noritake dish surrounded by leaves or mini pumpkins. Use a cake plate to raise it up from the table. Doing this gives any center piece more dimension, and catches the eye more readily. Fresh flowers are always a welcome sight on the table. Try for warm orange colors if you can find them. Also don’t be afraid to get some poinsettias early and use them as well. The white ones are my favorite to have before the Christmas holiday kicks in.

Big trifle bowls of apples, pomegranates, and pears is another dynamic center piece. Plus it’s one you can eat for dessert too! A bowl of citrus can be pretty too, especially when you add in some kumquats and satumas. My favorite functional ‘center piece’ is sliced oranges, limes, and lemons in big glass pitchers of drinking water. It add great flavor and is amazing to look at too.

Try mixing and matching some of the ideas above to create your own master piece. You could create a vase of white roses in a clear vase lined with kumquats. Or add a houseplant into the center of a bowl of Indian corn. Mix dried leaves in with mini pumpkins and pears. The possibilities are truly endless.

Posted by Myriam under Decorations & Fall Entertaining & Holiday Entertaining & Thanksgiving | 1 Comment »

Turkey Alternatives for Thanksgiving

November 17th 2009

dinnerware turkey Turkey Alternatives for Thanksgiving

Sometimes a tradition seems like a perfect fit, but it’s always ok to stretch your culinary muscles. Some families do ham instead of turkey, but I want to get you thinking about a few main dishes that are less ordinary. In fact, they’re so delicious you’ll want to serve them all year round.

One reason to skip the turkey this year is to avoid all the leftovers. If you are just a couple or small family, you’ve probably had enough of turkey sandwiches and tetrazzini to last a lifetime. While you can always freeze turkey for another time, you could choose something less expensive and put that money towards holiday presents.

You could stick close to the usual theme and cook up some turkey cutlets. Rachel Ray cooks up some Turkey Cutlets with Corn, Sage and Prosciutto Stuffing. Or try Bon Appétit’s Turkey Cutlets with Brussels Sprouts and Dried Cranberries to pack all the flavors of the holidays into one dish.

Make a vegetarian traditional dish, stuffed winter squash. You could use your favorite stuffing, add your favorite sausage (meaty or veggie), apples, and celery in butternut or acorn squash. Take a look at this recipe to get a few ideas, Acorn Squash Stuffed with Wild Rice, Hazelnuts and Dried Cranberries.

Pot pie is an American favorite. You can fill it with minced poultry meat or leave it just veggies. Add in a cream sauce, cheese, or mushroom gravy to top your filling and sandwich it in 2 pie crusts. Meat loaf is another cheap and easy option. This Turkey Meatloaf with Mushrooms and Herbs is a step above the everyday meatloaf.

Make a stew in a pumpkin, a seasonal risotto, or try a pumpkin lasagna out. You don’t have to be without gravy for your mashed potatoes. You can even buy organic turkey gravy in the soup section of Whole Foods, and you can make mushroom gravy with no meat drippings. Why not try some stuffing muffins to go under all that tasty gravy? You can eat a couple and then freeze the rest for another meal.

Don’t forget your side dishes. If you do lasagna or pot pie, you will need to skip the mashed potatoes. But you can still make an assortment of vegetables, and without spending all that time on the turkey you’ll have time to make some new favorites. Add a spinach salad, cooked greens, Brussels sprouts to the traditional sweet potatoes and green beans. It’s your Thanksgiving. Start some of your family’s traditions this year.

Posted by Myriam under Holiday Entertaining & Seasonal Entertaining & Thanksgiving | No Comments »

Plan Your Way to an Easier Thanksgiving

November 13th 2009

dinnerware pumpkin with autumn corn Plan Your Way to an Easier Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming up fast, so you need to start thinking about it now. No matter how busy you are now, it will only seem worse the closer to turkey day that you begin. Making a plan isn’t doing all the work at one time. You will be making a chore list to make your life easier.

The first order of business is to order a turkey if you want a fresh one. You can try local farmers to see if they still have any organic ones. They may cost more, but the taste is worth it. If you’re not interested in a fresh turkey, go ahead and buy a frozen one. Don’t wait too long, or you may find yourself without a turkey on the big day!

Make a menu plan for the big day. If you are having guests bring something, make sure that they tell you what they want to bring now. This way you can fill in any holes yourself. A typical menu would look something like this:

  • wine – I suggest a mix of red, white and rose to give everyone something they’ll like.
  • soda, sparking water, juice
  • slow cooker pear delicata squash soup or other winter squash soup
  • field green salad with chopped apple and dried cranberries
  • turkey
  • cranberry sauce
  • stuffing
  • mashed potatoes
  • green bean (regular or in casserole form)
  • sweet potato (baked or in casserole form)
  • creamed corn
  • dinner rolls
  • pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or another of your favorite desserts

Make a shopping list so you don’t find yourself running out to the store at the last minute. Include baking supplies, seasonal vegetables, stuffing mix, and add some Indian corn and mini pumpkins to decorate your table with. Order the list by each store you need to go to make it easier.

Make a list of anything you may need to rent or borrow from friends. I always borrow a few extra chairs and a card table myself. Think about silverware, serving platters, and dinnerware too, are you sure you have enough? Now is a perfect time to bring out you best Noritake plates, and your best silver.

The day before give the bathroom a thorough cleaning and vacuum and mop all the floors. Go ahead and make your pie(s) and soup if it will reheat well. You can even begin to set your table if you don’t have cats that are likely to nap on your clean pressed linens. Take your frozen turkey out of the freezer and put in the fridge for the night. Chill the white and rose wines.

You can setup to have a separate kids table, like the one we all knew growing up. If you do it separate or together cover the tables with matching tablecloths to add some extra ambiance to your dinner. Make a center piece by scattering the Indian corn and mini pumpkins on various places on your table. Go ahead and put wine glasses and coffee cups on the table, so you have less running around to do during your dinner party.

The morning of Thanksgiving cook the Turkey, stuffing, and other dishes that need to be made the day you eat them. Set the table early if you didn’t set it the night before. Open the red wine to breathe. Go ahead and open the chilled wines as well and put them in an ice chest to keep it cool.

Most importantly take a half hour before your guest arrive and enjoy the feeling of having everything ready before the last minute!

Posted by Myriam under Decorations & Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Seasonal Entertaining & Thanksgiving | No Comments »