This post has been edited from the original which was published on November 17, 2011.
It’s always hard to accomplish your Thanksgiving tasks when you don’t know how many people you’re having over or what your menu is! The menu is done and I think I have the final count and we’re going to be 26 people this year, including my two daughters who will be coming home. I am so excited to have all my kids in the kitchen this year prepping and cooking with me. I had a stroke of genius seven years ago, which was to tack my Thanksgiving to-do list on the refrigerator and have everyone sign up for three tasks. Even my husband helps out!
My last class is today, and then I am going to hit the prep hard! I have done most of most grocery shopping other than a few items which need to buy purchased when I pick up my turkey. I plan the days leading up to Thanksgiving pretty carefully so I don’t forget anything and also so that I have a list to cross things off (that makes me feel so accomplished!) I think about regular meals and activities, too. Here’s what my schedule will look like from Sunday until we eat on Thursday at 4:00 pm (-ish). This shouldn’t make you feel exhausted, but merely show you what you can do ahead for your own Thanksgiving! The Chalkboard Mag published a really great blogpost three years ago with tons of tips from lots of food experts (including me!) I highly recommend giving it a quick read.
As if I hadn’t already told you, my Thanksgiving ebook is available for only $10!
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Here’s my menu for Thursday and after that is my timeline so you can see how everything can get done. This just to give you some idea to plan your menu.
Streusel coffee cake (I’ve been making this for 20 years, but it’s from an old, out-of-print book. It’s not healthy. Not even a little. Recipe is in my e-book.)
(My Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal would also be a great choice – you can prep it the day before and bake it in the morning.)
Apple Bourbon Cocktail (hubs is in charge of the bar and all beverages)
Crispy cauliflower (weird, I know, but my husband and kids MUST have it and I don’t have the bandwidth to make it for Thanksgiving dinner)
DINNER ( I think this is too much food, but no one will let me take anything off the menu!)
2 Roasted Turkeys and Gravy (16 pounds each) I will be spatchcocking them this year, which is a technique I taught in my in-person and online cooking classes last year. It’s just the best, easiest method. I am buying them already brined from GROW in Manhattan Beach, so I will not be doing anything else to them prior to roasting.
Cranberry Sauce (x2)
Mashed yukon gold potatoes (8/9 pounds)
Stuffing (mushroom and leek) (x2) I’ll do without mushrooms since GB casserole has mushrooms.
Persimmon and Brussels sprout salad from my ebook (x2)
White Balsamic Braised Root Vegetables from last year’s cooking class (x 3) or Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple-Sherry Glaze from this month’s class
Green Bean Casserole (x2)
Fresh Fruit Platter (my M-I-L brings)
Grocery shop (I’m already done) for everything that hasn’t been purchased other than turkeys and herbs, lettuces, Brussels sprouts
Arrange tables & chairs
Make cranberry sauce and applesauce
Make salad vinaigrette
Make 2 qts. ice cream
Dry mix for sweet potato casserole with a note about adding butter
Make pastry dough for all pies (watch this how-to video)
Dinner: naan pizzas, salad with Everyday Salad dressing #1
Parent-Teacher Conferences at Mr. Picky’s school
Buy and arrange flowers (last year I made arrangements with white hydrangeas, flowering kale, roses, and snapdragons)
Wash and dry greens
Shred cheese for tart, salad
Toast pumpkin seeds for salad
Dry bread cubes for stuffing
Chop onions for soup, stuffings, roasted veg tray
Defrost turkey stock and chicken stocks
Make apple caramel sauce
Dinner: slow cooker chicken tacos (aka, the easiest dinner on the planet!)
Make butternut squash soup
Steam cauliflower; bread and refrigerate
Make sweet potato casserole
Clean mushrooms and slice for bean casserole
Make stuffings (I actually made and froze 1 already)
Prep Brussels sprouts
Blind bake tart crust
Prep vegetables for salad and roasting
Blanche green beans
Make pumpkin pies
Make pecan pie
Make pumpkin cake and frosting (store separately)
Set up coffee and tea service
Check powder room
Uncover turkeys (makes the skin crispier)
Leave butter, eggs and sour cream out for cake
Dinner: tuna patties, kale salad with quinoa, avocado and whatever else I need to get rid of in my fridge! I have 4 great kale salads on my site that would be work – citrus dressing, lemon dressing, Harvest kale salad, and kale Caesar.
Before bed: make sure garage refrigerator door is closed! (Nine years ago, I left the door open to my extra fridge in the garage all night long. OMG. Nightmare! Needed to buy two new turkeys on Thanksgiving morning!)
6 am Wake and take a 30-minute walk
7:15/7:30 Instagram LIVE
Make coffee cake
Make apple pies – All pies must be out by 10:45AM
10:00 Take turkey out of refrigerator
Roast veggies for salad
Get dressed and do hair
Bake bread pudding in small oven
Make crispy onions for bean casserole (I always make extra because they get stolen while they’re sitting out)
Prep coffee machine for after dinner
12:00 roast vegetables
Herb oil for tart
1:15 bake corn pudding in small oven
Remove sweet potato casserole, stuffings, salad dressing and Brussels sprouts from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temp
Prep gravy ingredients
Add melted butter to sweet potato topping
Assemble fruit platter and cheese board (my daughters do this for me)
2:00 Put turkeys in oven (spatchcocking makes the cook time much shorter!)
Peel potatoes; make mashed potatoes; keep in bowl over simmering water
2:15 Bake tart in small oven
2:30 make cauliflower and serve hot
3:00 sweet potato casserole in small oven
start green bean casserole
3:15 Take turkeys out to rest, oven to 350
Reheat stuffings at 450
3:30 remove foil and add topping to sweet potatoes
Add green bean casserole to oven
Consolidate roasted vegetables and reheat on one sheet pan
Sear Brussels sprouts
Light candles, water in glasses, butter, cranberry sauce, and applesauce out, assemble salad
3:45/4:00 Carve turkeys
After dinner: whip cream, coffee and tea, sparkling water
After everyone leaves, write notes for next year!
Make turkey stock
Start holiday shopping!