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A Stress-Free Thanksgiving

On Monday, 5 inches of snow-covered Seattle. As I drive a Mini that needs new tires and has no chains, I was snowbound and working from home Monday afternoon through Thanksgiving.

I decided to take advantage of my at home status and start the Thanksgiving prep early. Monday night I diced the celery and onions for the two types of stuffing I was serving, put them in separate Ziploc bags and added the respective spices to each. Tuesday I made the cranberry sauce.

Wednesday I made banana bread for Thanksgiving morning breakfast (recipe will be posted on Monday), made the batter for cranberry bread and made the sweet potato souffle, doing everything but cooking it and adding the butter to the topping. As a result, when Thursday rolled around I had very little to do. Perfect.

Thursday morning I made the cranberry bread and the dough for an apple gallette and my brother-in-law made the rolls for Thanksgiving dinner and we all had breakfast. At 2:15 p.m. Dave put the Turkey – an all natural brined Turkey from Trader Joe’s – into the oven, using Alton Brown’s Good Eats recipe. And then, we pretty much had nothing to do for hours. It was a drastic change from my 8 hour in the kitchen cooking hell that was last Christmas.

At 4:30, I whipped up the Cooking Photographer’s Corn and Cheese Pudding with Green Chiles. At 5, I put it in the oven.

Then I finished off the sausage-cranberry stuffing and the herbed stuffing – I had a lot of helpers for this part and our friends Pallavi and Ash arrived and I was on my third glass of sauvignon blanc soooo . . . I forgot to add the chicken stock to the stuffings – hello, Thanksgiving croutons!

At 5:30 pm the Turkey came out and the Sausage-Cranberry Stuffing (Croutons) and Sweet Potato Souffle went in. I then started making the sherried green beans.

Sweet Potato Souffle

When the green beans were done, it was time to make the apple gallette for dessert (thanks to Dave we also had pumpkin and chocolate-pecan pies). With help, it took a whopping 10 minutes. As the stuffing, corn and souffle came out of the oven, it slid in and cooked while we dined.

The result was an extremely relaxed Thanksgiving that gave us plenty of time to spend with friends and family.

I’m looking forward to putting a similar pre-planning attack into place for Christmas – we’ll see how it turns out 😉

What’s your strategy for making holiday cooking stress-free? Any favorite make ahead dishes?


6 Responses

  1. Alton’s Good Eats recipe is the best! I’ve been using that for the past few years and the turkey turns out wonderfully moist.

  2. When I first read “stress free” I thought you went our to a great Thanksigiving spot or somebody else cooked. Prepping ahead and being organized can go a long way as well. I realized that no matter how prepped or organized I am I always take on too much. No wonder why I didn’t think of this option for stress free!


  3. You handled your Thanksgiving meal so well! I love prepping and planning ahead. It makes the big day so much more relaxing. You can enjoy the food and the company! Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you have a wonderful Monday!

  4. I loved the snow, because I got most of my shopping done early, and less people were at the market. Always a plus. Did you get some black truffle from Oregon yet? They still have some at Frank’s produce. Glad you had a good day 🙂

  5. Sounds stress-free and delicious! I’ve never hosted a holiday feast, but I would imagine that I’d do most of the prep ahead of time as you did. How fun that you got snow, sometimes I miss it here in CA.

  6. The est way to enjoy Thanksgiving. I definitely prep ahead of time – the chopping and stuff, label everything so the morning of, I just have to pull out and cook! I wish we had 5 inches of snow.

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