Thanksgiving Countdown & Menu

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Thanksgiving DinnerMenu:
Apple caramel coffee cake, turkey and stuffing, ham, twice-baked potatoes, gravy, spoon bread, cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, green beans, succotash, raw vegetable tray with olives and pickles, Sister Shubert’s Rolls (found in the frozen food section of the grocery store), mystery pecan pie, Southern sweet tea.

November 5: Make November appointments.
* Hair cut and color, pedicure and manicure, dogs to be groomed, carpets cleaned, special order meats and pies.

November 6: Create guest list.
* Write down menu and dish assignments for each guest. Depending on the number of guests you are inviting and their culinary skills, it is generally easier for the hostess to cook the turkey and dressing, provide coffee, set the tables. Assign each guest something to bring. This makes everyone feel they are a vital part of the dinner. Even single guys can bring items such as chips and salsa, soda, and bags of ice.
* If you have a large family with several tables, ask each family to decorate their table. Ask them to use their imagination and natural elements for a no-cost centerpiece.

To avoid disappointment, hurt feelings, or not enough food, follow these tips:
* Be specific on the number of people attending so they can plan accordingly. Let them know if they are the only one bringing the assigned dish or if others will be providing the same items.
* If you want a certain brand or size brought, tell them–they are not mind readers.
* Assign guests with a tendency to arrive late desserts instead of appetizers.
* Let guests know if you will have refrigerator space for their dish or if should they bring it in a cooler.
* Let guests know if there will be oven space to heat items or counter space to prepare dishes on site.
* Be specific on arrival time and what time dinner will be served.
* Do not ask guests to just bring a vegetable. You might end up with three green bean casseroles.
* Assign guests food they enjoy cooking.

November 10: Call or send invitations to guests along with their assigned dishes.

November 12: Clean out pantry and refrigerator.
* Buy ahead of time: butter, pickles, olives, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa, flour, Crisco, hot chocolate, toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, paper plates, cups.

November 14: Plan seating arrangements.
* Make plans for renting or borrowing tables and chairs if necessary. Plan for the kids’ tables by borrowing Little Tike tables from friends for young guests. Seating the children on the outside patio (weather permitting) or having a large plastic table cloth under their tables will save on clean-up. Teenagers usually prefer to have their own table. Sometimes you can intersperse the children with the teens so the parents of young children can enjoy their meal at the adult table.

* Make place tags. This may sound unnecessary with family but it helps to make everyone feel welcome. Disperse adults evenly around the table with guest to make for good conversation flow. Do not stress over the place tags. You can assign a creative teenager this job. A simple tent card is all that is needed. You can be more elaborate by tucking a name card in a pinecone that is placed at each seat. Tie the name card into your tablescaping.

November 17-20: Begin cleaning house.
* Take one room each day. This is a good excuse to get little projects completed that have been sitting on the back burner. Don’t forget to clean out the coat closet–guest will need a place to put their outerwear. Take the time to do some deep cleaning in areas such as: baseboards, ceiling fans, heater vents, and the top of the refrigerator.

November 21: Yardwork.
* Take a good look at your house from the street. What are your guests going to see when they arrive? Walk up your front walk and enter through the front door. Take note of cobwebs and leaves that need to be cleared away. Place a fall wreath on the door and pots of flowers on the porch. Cut the yard and do edging if needed. Trim the bushes back from the walk and front porch.

November 22: Plan activities.
* Think about activities for the children who will be in attendance. Plan age-appropriate toys and games for both inside and outside. Choose a movie to have on hand so that children can watch. This will keep everyone busy while the men watch football.

November 23: Set the table.
* Set the dining room table. Lay out the serving dishes and utensils.
* Pull the turkey out of the freezer and start thawing in the refrigerator.
* Make the cranberry relish.

November 24: Pick up ham.
* Pick up Honey Baked Ham. Don’t wait until the last minute–the line can get long.
* Make the Apple Caramel Coffee Cake. Cover and refrigerate.
* Clean the guest bathroom and set out clean hand towels. Ask the family to avoid using this bathroom.

November 26: Cooking day.
* Make mystery pecan pie.
* Make strawberry pretzel salad, spoon bread, sweet potato casserole, twice-baked mashed potatoes, and prepare veggie tray. Cover and store dishes in refrigerator.
* Thaw turkey the rest of the way in cool water. Remove the giblets, liver, heart, neck. Spread butter on top and put turkey in a baking bag. Place turkey in the refrigerator for roasting in the morning.

November 27: Happy Thanksgiving!
* The trick is having everything ready at the same time in order to serve a hot meal. Calculate your cooking time. I write a timetable and place it where everyone working in the kitchen can easily refer to it.
* Put green beans in crockpot to simmer for 4 hours.
* Cook succotash.
* Give your turkey plenty of cooking and cooling time before carving it. I generally plan putting my turkey on to cook six hours before we want to eat. If you will be serving ham, carve and place it on a large platter and cover with damp paper towels.
* Put the ginger sweet potatoes in the warmed oven when you take out the turkey. Bake the sweet potatoes for 1 hour on 350 degrees. Thirty minutes before eating put the mashed potatoes in the oven with the ginger sweet potatoes.
* Now it’s time to make gravy using the turkey drippings. Add gravy in the jar to your drippings and no one will ever know your secret to lump-free gravy.
* Pop the rolls in the oven the last 20 minutes. Remove the rolls, sweet potatoes, and twice baked mashed potatoes just after the blessing has been said.

Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

Apple Caramel Coffee Cake
2 sticks butter at room temperature, 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 3 eggs, 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 large Granny Smith apples peeled and cut into chunks, 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, 2 1/4 teaspoons of vanilla.

Caramel Topping: 4 tablespoons butter, 1/3 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup heavy cream.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl use an electric mixer to blend the butter and white and brown sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Beat after adding each egg. In a separate bowl add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Blend the apples, pecan, and vanilla into the flour mixture. Next add the sugar mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick. Scrape mixture into a buttered 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

In a sauce pan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add white and brown sugar, stirring frequently until sugars are dissolved. Stir in cream and bring to a boil. Cook for two minutes. Remove from heat. Drizzle the caramel topping over the cake while it is still warm.

Sweet Potato Casserole
5 medium sweet potatoes wrapped in foil and baked at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until fork easily slides in.

Topping: 1/3 cup butter, 1/3 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

Unwrap baked sweet potatoes and peel off the skins. With an electric mixer, blend potatoes, salt, butter, sugar, eggs and spices. Pour mixture into casserole dish.

Topping: combine all the ingredients and sprinkle on casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes
Peel 5 pounds of potatoes for mashing. Place in cooking pot and cover with water. Cook until potatoes are tender. Pour off the water and mash. Add: 1 stick of butter, 1 cup Ranch dressing, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 5 strips of cooked and crumbled bacon. Spread in a casserole dish and heat 30 minutes on 350 degrees before serving.

Green Beans
1 large can Swanson’s Chicken Broth, 2 large cans green beans, 1 finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon.

Saute’ chopped onion in 1 tablespoon of oil until tender. Dump all remaining ingredients into a crock pot and simmer for three hours. Drain the broth and serve.

1 large package of Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing, 5 stalks of thinly sliced celery, 1 onion, 1 stick of butter, 1 can of chicken broth, 1 lb sausage browned and drained (optional), 2 cups of water.

Saute’ the celery and onion in one stick of butter until the vegetables are clear. Stir in the chicken broth and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. In a large mixing bowl, blend the herb stuffing and sausage. Pour the broth and vegetables on top of the stuffing mixture. Mix well. Spoon into a 9 x 13 pan and cook for 45 minutes.

Fresh Cranberry Relish
1 16 oz bag fresh cranberries, 1 naval orange, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of chopped pecans.

Coarsley chop cranberries and naval orange (include the peel – remove the seeds) in food processor. Stir in sugar and pecan pieces. To get the full flavor, make it two days ahead and refrigerate.

1 frozen bag corn, 1 frozen bag baby lima beans, 1 can of chicken broth, 5 tablespoons of butter, salt and pepper to taste.

In a sauce pan, over medium heat, heat chicken broth with the frozen corn and lima beans until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in butter and salt. Turn down the heat to low and let the beans continue simmering for another 15 minutes. Add pepper just before serving.

Spoon Bread
1 box of Jiffy cornbread mix, 8 oz sour cream, 1 can drained kernel corn, 1 can creamed corn, 1 stick melted butter, 2 eggs, 1 cup grated cheese to sprinkle on top of casserole after it has baked.

Dump all the ingredients (except grated cheese) into a mixing bowl and blend together with a wooden spoon. Pour mixture into an 8 x 10 casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. The top will be lightly brown. Sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven until the cheese has melted.

Mystery Pecan Pie
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 egg, 1 and 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 1 pie crust.

Topping ingredients: 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup light corn syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla, and egg. Blend well. Spread into pie crust. Sprinkle with pecans. Mix together topping ingredients. Gently pour topping over pecans. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until center is firm. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Easy Southern Sweet Tea
Bring 3 cups of water to boil. Add 4 family-size tea bags (my choice is Tetley tea). Boil water and tea bags for three minutes. Turn off the heat. Remove and discard the tea bags. Immediately add 1 1/2 cups sugar to the hot tea, stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour the tea into a gallon sized container and add enough cool water to fill up the container.

Hints: For a clear honey colored tea, remove the tea bags while the water is still hot. To avoid the sugar from settling on the bottom of the pitcher add the sugar while the water is hot. To avoid a bitter or acid taste, add a pinch of baking soda to the boiling water.

“But as for me, I will always have hope, I will praise You more and more. My mouth will tell of Your righteousness, of Your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim Your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim Your righteousness, Yours alone. Since my youth, O God, You have taught me, and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds.”
~ Psalms 71:14-17

About Loi Palmer

Loi and her husband Chuck have been married 22 years and have a revolving back door with three teens. She has a successful direct sales business, and is involved in a thriving mentoring ministry to women--Mom to Mom. Loi's passion is cheering on young moms in their vital role as godly wives and moms.

Encouraged? Share this post...

Loi Palmer

Loi and her husband Chuck have been married 22 years and have a revolving back door with three teens. She has a successful direct sales business, and is involved in a thriving mentoring ministry to women--Mom to Mom. Loi's passion is cheering on young moms in their vital role as godly wives and moms.

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