As much as I tell my cooking class students to be organized and to prep ahead of time, I’m not feeling very together. We are enjoying a brief holiday visit to New York with my two daughters and my sister and her two girls. We are eating, walking, shopping and generally just enjoying ourselves. My girls and I head home in a couple days and there will be plenty of time to prep and cook for my small group this year. But if you want to do anything ahead, here are some ideas:
Set Your Table
Plan the Centerpiece
Buy the Wine and Drinks
Shop for Food
Order and Pick up Extras
Make Cranberry Sauce
Put Out Serving Pieces
Wash and trim vegetables
Truth be told, I don’t usually do much of anything ahead. I do like to have an organized prep list of *everything* that needs to get done, down to how many onions need to be chopped. I like to wake up early, make some strong coffee and start baking my pies while the rest of the family is asleep. Then it’s stock, stuffing, potato prep, stuffing assembly (which really could be done a day ahead), corn spoon bread assembly, popover dough, etc. There’s so much more to say on the whole Thanksgiving subject, but I think the most important thing is DO NOT STRESS. It’s just dinner. And it’s one spent with family and friends who want to help and be included (if they don’t, give them a job anyway!). Buy menu items that aren’t your strong suit, and think of the turkey as a big roast chicken. The meat thermometer is your friend, use it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
We are eating dinner at Upland tonight, which happens to be the name of the town my sister and I grew up in. The chef grew up in our home town and the food is California seasonal cool. If you’re cooking at home, think easy and low cleanup quotient. Grill burgers and toss a salad if the weather is good. You could also make this grilled tri tip with Chinese black bean sauce if you’re feeding house guests. It takes all of 5 minutes to prep the meat with a flavorful umami bomb of store bought black bean sauce. Look for it in the Asian aisle of your grocery store.
We will still be in NYC, but if you’re home I’d suggest a crock pot of slow cooker chicken tortilla soup. You could also make the soup with leftover turkey next weekend.
We get home late, and I want to cook something from ingredients in our pantry. Spaghetti cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) sounds perfect. I have Pecorino and Parmesan in our refrigerator and spaghetti in the pantry. For a vegetable, I’ll check our crisper for broccoli or grab some arugula from our garden for a salad. For a healthier main dish, opt for spaghetti squash cacio e pepe.
Honestly, this is probably the biggest takeout night of the year. If you have leftovers, eat them up and get them out of your fridge. I’d be happy with a fried egg sandwich or cheese and crackers, but I know I’ll have to feed my people. If I’m feeling motivated, I’ll make a variation of this chicken noodle soup or grilled cheese and tomato soup.
You can do it! Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
Leftovers all the way. If you want to dress them up, try adding turkey to this kale and white bean soup. Or try any of these leftover turkey recipes from Cooking Light. We don’t get fancy at our house, give me all the turkey, mayo and white bread!