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!


A Crowd


Ready In:

30-minute prep cuisine with roasting, simmering

Good For:

Holiday Entertaining


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.

My Q&A with a Certified Health Coach: Somebody Set the Table!

My Q&A with a Certified Health Coach: Somebody Set the Table!

Photo credit: HealthyChangeWithAmy.com

As a cookbook author, it’s my business to understand good nutrition and garner opinions from lots of people, including wellness experts. My cousin, Amy Magner, is a certified health coach trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. We discussed some of the myths and misconceptions about healthy eating, and what home cooks can do with the right information.

Jorj: Thanks for lending me your expertise on cooking more healthfully, Amy. Guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Each in our own way clearly has a passion for studying food!

Amy: Oh, it’s my pleasure to help. I think it’s great you’re writing about the importance of The Family Dinner, and guiding home cooks in how to prepare everything more healthfully and more often. My first and best tip is to do all of your prep work for the coming week on Sunday night. I hope you’ll do a blog soon, documenting a step by step on exactly what this looks like—but it won’t be for me. I’ve been doing Sunday night pre-prep FOREVER!

Jorj: Yes, my readers can look for that in my next blog post! With the right short cuts and insights into more nutritious meal prep, I think many home cooks would stop second guessing themselves and feeling overwhelmed.

Amy: Overwhelmed is a good word for it. So many of us are confused about what “healthy food” really means. One day butter is bad and the next day it’s good. One day eggs are the villains, and the next day they‘re nature’s perfect food. It’s the same with high-carb diets, low-carb diets, and just about any other trend you can name.

Jorj: Stop—I’m getting exhausted. Is there any good news?

Amy: Yes, and it has to do with fat! But not all fats are created equal. Healthy fats are not to be feared – they’re to be embraced. Your body needs dietary fat and cholesterol in order to produce any and all vital hormones. I’ve seen your cookbooks, Jorj and they are chock full of healthy ingredients, like avocados, olives, coconuts, wild salmon, organic eggs, nuts and seeds and their butters….I could go on. But the take away message is clear: avoid processed foods which contain large amounts of unhealthy fats.

Jorj: Is there anything that health coaches like you think we should be eating a lot less of?

Amy: Refined sugar for sure. This is a far greater threat to our health than fat ever was. Sugar contributes to inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Jorj: Sounds ideal…however, my upcoming cookbook is hopefully going to feed a lot of kids, and kids love sugary sweetness. What should their parents do to help them dial back on candy, juices—all that stuff?

Amy: I think the best solution may be the most obvious one: don’t buy packaged desserts and ice creams to begin with or at least scale back. Focus on meals and snacks comprised of satiating foods containing healthy fat, fiber and protein. For a sugar rush, prepare lots of fresh fruits for your kids instead. A study from the Cornell University Food &Brand Lab found that the average person who has a fruit bowl in their house weighs 8 pounds less than someone who doesn’t.

Jorj: That’s pretty cool….now, last question, promise. What is your take on organic produce vs. conventionally grown? Is organic really better?

Amy: The real advantage of organic food is that it doesn’t contain chemical additives, pesticides or drugs. However, any kind of fruits and veggies is better than none at all. As a health coach I can’t stress that enough. Make sure the majority of your food dollar gets spent in the produce aisles!

Jorj: Thank you, Amy and I look forward to getting more of your input as my latest book project moves forward.  Eat well, be well!