With the sweet smells of snickers and blow pops fresh in the air and face paint still smudged on the bathroom counter, polyester webs sadly drooping about, it is hard to believe that it is already time for that much anticipated, highly fretted over celebration of both life and poultry-Thanksgiving. It is time to once again remind ourselves why some family members are only visited with once a year, to play “who left the gizzards in?” and to eat too much of everything that we don’t even bother eating the other 364 days of the year (okay, more like 359 when you factor in the left overs). Thanksgiving can definitely start to overwhelm us all, so we gathered so quick tips to help make cooking you family’s Thanksgiving feast a bit easier.
The moment my kids were old enough to handle small cooking tasks, I let them. This keeps them occupied, keeps us all in the same room and then they smile from ear to ear when their Thanksgiving dishes get high praises.
[box type="shadow"]Some kid friendly dishes my kids handle are: Pigs in the Blanket (using lil smokies), making the stuffing, buttering the rolls, rolling sausage balls, mixing ranch dip, making cheese and cracker trays. (If you are interested in any of the recipes, let me know! Super easy!) You know your children’s abilities, so if they’ve never helped in the kitchen before start with something easy-and always watch your kids in the kitchen! (But you already knew that-because you are one the the best moms!)[/box]
Plan your Thanksgiving meal
…like today. Write down what you plan to prepare for Thanksgiving, think of the time the dishes take and think about what didn’t get eaten last Thanksgiving. No need to waste that time if it isn’t getting eaten!
Buy it in a box
In my household there are some foods that if I were to make, boxed, there would be some serious complaining (mashed potatoes and baked macaroni to name a few). Luckily, there are some other Thanksgiving dishes that I can get away with the using the prepackaged boxed versions of, with a little love. To make the boxed food seem less boxed, I add in extras. For instance my stuffing is usually Pepperidge Farms or Stove Top made with a mixture of chopped celery, onion and breakfast roll sausage that I cook together ahead of time. In the place of water I use chicken stock and top it with some chopped walnuts. It is still really easy, but it tastes like I spent a long time making it even though I didn’t.
Prep your ingredients
One thing I learned in all of my years working in restaurants was that prep is the key to cooking stress free and quickly. One or two days before you can chop all of your veggies, peel your potatoes (be sure to cover them in water inside the fridge until you need them). Don’t wash and cut mushrooms (just buy sliced), strawberries or lettuce/spinach (again, just buy it chopped or sliced) to avoid wilting. Everything else is going to be okay.
Remember your Serenity Prayer
[box type="shadow"]God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. [/box]
This is my biggest tip of all. There may be a Thanksgiving dish or two that haunts you each year that you haven’t mastered and that always flops. If so, maybe it is time to accept it and move on. Opt to buy what you can’t make. If that is just not something that you are willing to do, then start practicing now. Make that Thanksgiving pie or casserole this week, see how it turns out, make any changes and make it again. By the time Thanksgiving is really here you may be sick of eating it but you will have a much better shot at having perfect results.
I hope you try these tips this Thanksgiving. I use them myself and love the holiday, and I’m sure you will, too. If you have any Thanksgiving questions, let us know and we will do our best to help as many people as we can.