Turkey Day! It’s All in the Planning

Turkey Day! It’s All in the Planning

Thanksgiving is here AGAIN!

If you want to enjoy Thanksgiving as much as everyone you have invited to dinner, a little advance planning is the key.

Let’s take the stress out of the meal.

Here’s my sure fire guide to making sure that this year’s Thanksgiving is sooooo much FUN for everyone…especially you! Start early.

If you breakdown a complicated meal into smaller parts, you’ll finish your tasks ahead of time.

Two Weeks Ahead

Make your meal plan.

Make a list of the dishes you plan to cook, those you’re going to pick up, and those that others are bringing to the party.

Make a grocery list of the ingredients you need. Sort your list by departments: dairy, produce, pantry staples, meats, and poultry.

|This makes your trip to the grocery store a lot easier to maneuver.

 Take stock of your bar and include wine, mixers, and garnishes on your list.

 

After your grocery list is prepared, check your pantry to see which items you’ve already stocked and cross them off your list. (You’re already making progress!)

 

Now, place any orders you need to make. The turkey, of course (I like to order a fresh turkey), bakery goods and specialty items.

Hey! If you are thinking about some Brussels Sprouts in your turkey day meal plan… watch out for next week’s video!

One Week Ahead

Plan your tablescape.

Take stock of your china and flatware to make sure you have enough. Same goes for glassware and crystal. Don’t be afraid to mix and match china patterns. There’s creativity in designing a pretty table.

 

Look for festive placemats, table runner or tablecloth cloth. A simple throw blanket can double as a cloth on your table. Locate candlesticks and votive candles. Don’t be afraid to experiment with those cute twinkle lights wrapped around pillar candles for some real tablescape sparkle!

 

 Create place cards (a great craft to do with kiddos) assemble your centerpiece and collect décor for platters. Pretty twigs and stems and whole fruit are good for decorating. I love to include food as part of my tablescape centerpiece. I place artichokes alongside pears and limes for a green experience.

 

 Add a few branches, pinecones, and a gourd or two and you have an organic look that is perfect for the occasion.

Saturday Before Thanksgiving

Shopping Day!

If you are farmer’s market shopper, get up early and visit the market you love. Purchase all the fresh produce items that you need.

Stop and smell the coffee beans. Remember this is not a race. Take time to enjoy your stroll through the market. Smile at the people you pass and greet your favorite farmers.

This is the season to be thankful for the growers! Slow down long enough to enjoy a festive cup ‘o Joe while you double check your list.

 

Finish up at the grocers to purchase anything you were not able to find at the market.

Sunday Before Thanksgiving

Get Your Apron Out!

Make the dishes on your meal plan that are easily made in advance, like chutneys and relishes.

Really, you can make almost everything in advance, freeze and thaw!

Lay out serving dishes and utensils.

Tuesday Before Thanksgiving

It’s Prep Day! 

Chop and prep all the ingredients you will need. If you need onions for three dishes, chop a bunch. Same goes for apples for pie and potatoes for mashed potatoes. Here’s a trick. Submerge potatoes in cold water ian the pot you will use to cook them in and place them in your fridge. They will be fine until you’re ready to boil.

Set your table! Prepare your centerpiece. Get those place cards placed! If you are hosting a crowd, a buffet table is the way to go.


Set up your bar. Did you remember to make extra ice?

If you have a frozen turkey, let’s get it on its way to thawing.

Wednesday Before Thanksgiving

Prepare your desserts. Bake your pies.

Prepare your casseroles and sides. You can bake most of these todays and simply warm them up tomorrow.

Make your gravy. It will be even better if you chill it over night and then warm it up tomorrow.

Prepare dough for breads or rolls. Letting dough rise in the fridge overnight is a good thing.

Cover everything with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until tomorrow. You can place the baking dishes on top of each other to save space. Use a heavy piece of cardboard or a thin baking sheet to separate the dishes.

Thanksgiving Morning

It’s Show Time!

Get that bird ready to roast. Organize your oven racks and preheat so that you’re ready to bake and warm. 


Before Your Guests Arrive

Just a Few Last-Minute Details!


Prepare mashed potatoes. Save the potato water to help thicken your gravy. 


Set out appys. 


Get the ice in the bucket. 


Pour yourself a glass of wine…. you’re doing great!

The Big Ta Dah!

Pull the turkey from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. While he rests, encourage friends and family to help you get the casseroles and side dishes to the table.

Pour gravy into boats, carve the bird, say a prayer of thanks…. And enjoy your family and friends!

 

Here’s a recipe to help you jump start your turkey day prep!

Servings

A Crowd

 

Ready In:

30-minute prep cuisine with roasting, simmering

Good For:

Holiday Entertaining
Fall/Winter

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 heads garlic, halved
2 medium onions peeled and cut into chunks
4 large carrots, trimmed and cut into chunks
6 celery stalks, cut into pieces
4 large turkey wings, about 3 pounds
2 (or more) tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons course black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Drizzle the olive oil onto a baking sheet with lip. Place the vegetables and turkey wings into the baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and roast until the turkey wings are golden brown, about another hour. During that time, check to make sure that the veggies are not sticking to the baking sheet. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom and add a little water to loosen everything. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly. Pour everything into a large pot or Dutch oven. Place the pot on the stove. Add 1 cup dry white wine and simmer over medium heat until most of the liquid disappears, about 5 minutes. Cover the vegetables and turkey wings with water, about 1 quart. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the stock until it is reduced by half, about 1 hour. 

Pour the stock through a wire mesh colander and into a medium size bowl. Use the back of a spoon to push the veggie and turkey pieces into the bottom of the colander to push through all the juices. Place the bowl with the stock into the fridge to chill for up to one hour or for several days. (You can sift through the colander and gather enough turkey meat for a couple of yummy hot turkey sandwiches!)

To make gravy from stock, remove the bowl from the fridge. Use a large spoon to skim off and discard the thin layer of fat from the top. Transfer the stock into a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk together 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. As the stock slowly boils, stir in the cornstarch slurry. The gravy will begin to thicken. You can add as much thickener as you like to get your desired gravy consistency.

Reduce the heat to low and let the gravy simmer slowly. Season the gravy with sage, salt, and pepper, stirring in just a bit at a time and tasting while you stir.

Holiday Gift Idea!

Need a little holiday gift to bring the grandkids, or a thoughtful way to entertain your guests’ children at your upcoming feast?

Purchase “Embarassing George” by Kimber Fox Morgan with cute illustration artwork by Jessica Kwan, available direct from the author herself or through my Amazon link!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Counting Down to Christmas with Jorj’s Chicken Rolls

Counting Down to Christmas with Jorj’s Chicken Rolls

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you still have plenty of time to pull off another awesome SUNDAY BEST Dinner! Here’s my recipe for Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Rolls with a Side of Tahini Squash. Busy shopping weekends require an easy chicken dish that comes with a special side; in this case, it’s squash made with tahini sauce! This chicken dish works as a guideline to help you create your own favorite dish; you can literally put anything you like in these sumptuous chicken rolls. ROLL WITH IT BABY!

If you want to customize your dinners, so that your family wants even more, my book is full of ways to do that. There are plenty of recipes in SUNDAY BEST DISHES that allow home cooks to easily create other great chicken dishes during this busy holiday season…which ain’t over until somebody sings in Times Square. Order your copy with my autograph before the year is done. Love ya all!

This recipe photo of your next great December dinner, are how my chicken rolls look right before they go in the oven:

Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Rolls

with a side of Tahini Squash

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

 

Chicken

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons butter

½ pound fresh assorted wild mushrooms, sliced, about 2 cups

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, preferably purple basil

½ teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

4 (1-ounce slices) Provolone cheese

Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of parchment paper.  Use a meat mallet to gently pound to ¼-inch thickness.

Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the basil and herbs de Provence.  Season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Brush both sides of the chicken breasts with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place the bread crumbs into a shallow bowl.  Dredge the chicken breasts in the bread crumbs. Pressing the crumbs into the chicken.  Lay each onto your work surface.  Place a slice of cheese in the center of each breast.  Top with mushrooms.  Carefully roll up the chicken breasts around the filling.  Place, seam side down into a baking dish, coated with vegetable oil spray. Bake the chicken until the tops are just golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.

————————————————————————————————

Squash

1 medium acorn squash, seeded, cut into 3-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon tahini paste

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon Ponzu sauce

4 to 5 green onions, cut diagonally, thinly sliced, about ½ cup

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

            Preheat oven to 400°. Place the squash pieces onto a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until the squash is just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Whisk together sesame oil, tahini paste and ponzu sauce. Stir in green onions and crushed red pepper. Pour the sauce over the squash and place the pan back into the oven. Cook until the squash is very tender, about 5 minutes more. Serve alongside your stuffed chicken rolls and enjoy!