Thanksgiving Dinner – blow-by-blow

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Dining Room

Getting Thanksgiving Dinner to the table is the hardest part. How do you time all those dishes and get it all on the table at once?

I’ve been doing Thanksgiving Dinners for the better part of 30 years. So if you need help, I’ve put together a step-by-step plan with everything I do from the time I get up, until dinner is on the table…

Wednesday night –

____ Finish any baking.

____ Make sure turkey is thawing nicely. If not, put it in the kitchen sink in cold water for a couple of hours. Move it back into the fridge before going to bed. DO NOT leave it out.

____ Wash the good dinner dishes, silverware, and glasses. Put them on the dining room table. Don’t forget serving dishes and coffee servers. Cover with towels so they will stay clean.

____ Make any jello molds and cold salads.

____ Cut up any fresh vegetables. Store in zip lock bags.

____ If you make your stuffing from scratch, prepare bread.

____ Do a once over on the house. Vacuum, dust, wipe down the bathroom.

____ Get a good nights sleep.

I know, a lot of people make more ahead and reheat. To me, that’s like eating


Thursday Morning

Here is the real test of character. Getting the big meal prepared and on the table and still having enough energy to enjoy it!

Here we go-

The time you have to get up depends largely on the size of your turkey. I cook a 24 lb. turkey. It has to be in the oven by 9 for dinner around 4. 15 minutes per lb. If you have dinner earlier, people will be hungry again.

I’m not a morning person, so I get up at 7 so I can putter and wake up. Have to have my coffee and quiet time. Do check to make sure the turkey is thawed. If not, put in a clean sink filled with cool water to finish thawing.

8 am-

____ Turn on oven.

____ Wash turkey inside and out. Clear water only!

____ Prepare stuffing.

____ Stuff Turkey.

____ Put in roasting pan. If you are using a foil pan, place a large cookie sheet under it for support. It will be easier to maneuver.

____ Coat turkey with melted butter. I use at least ½ lb. at this point.

____ Put turkey in oven uncovered. (I know, everyone else tells you to cover it first. Try it my way. You will never have dry turkey again!)

____ Peel potatoes.

____ Put them in pot of water. You don’t have to cook them just yet.

____ Peel sweet potatoes.

____ Put them in pot of water.

____ Check Turkey every half hour. Baste. Most of our ovens don’t cook evenly. You may have to turn the turkey every so often to brown it evenly.

Geez, it’s only 9:30, take a break!

____ Are the wine and pop in the fridge? No room? If you live in a colder climate, put them outside. Otherwise, move them to a cooler.

____ Prepare sweet potato dishes. They will reheat nicely. Don’t put the marshmallows on yet.

____ Put carrots in pot of water. (If you use baby carrots, you won’t have to peel and cut up.) Boil until tender. Drain. Glaze with butter and brown sugar. Cover and set aside.

____ Put Cranberries, olives, and so forth, into their serving dishes. Cover with saran.

____ Check turkey every half hour or so. Give it a good basting. Only when it is nicely, evenly brown do you cover it. Give it a really good basting and cover roasting pan with cover, or if you are like me and use a foil pan, cover pan completely and securely with foil.

____ Set table.

____ Wash all of the dishes that have accumulated to this point.

Take a shower. Get yourself ready, except for final clothing change.

1 hour before turkey comes out:

____ Make mashed potatoes.

____ Make Gravy.

____ Make green bean casserole – set aside

____ Make corn casserole – set aside

½ hour before turkey comes out:

____ Change clothes. (an apron comes in handy now)

____ If you are making the mashed sweet potato dish, reheat and top with marshmallows.

____ If you’ve chosen fresh green beans with almonds instead of the green bean casserole – Steam Green Beans until crisp-tender- about 15 minutes. Watch carefully and do not overcook. Take the beans out of steamer basket and put directly in pot. Melt about 1 tablespoon butter and toss to coat well. Toss in almonds. Cover to keep warm.

The Final Dash

____ Take Turkey out. Set aside for at least 15 minutes before attempting to cut.

____ Put Green bean and corn casseroles in oven

____ Start warming up all of the foods so they will be served hot.

____ Put sweet potatoes in oven to brown marshmallows.

____ Put rolls in the oven. (I like croissants because you don’t have to do this!)

Time to start getting it on the table!

Recruit help

____ Remove stuffing from turkey. Put in serving dish.

____ Have someone carve turkey.

____ Have others put warm foods into serving bowls and bring to table.

____ Have others take cold items to the table.

____ Have someone fill glasses.

Sit Down, Say Thanks. Let’s Eat!

You’ll have to adjust this schedule according to what you’re serving. You might want to copy and paste this checklist into word, make any changes you need according to what you are serving, and print it out. Then you can keep on track. Follow this recipe for a stress free holiday dinner.

Hey, I want to know: Was this helpful?

I’d love to hear how things turned out. Got any stories you’d like to share?

Have a great holiday weekend.

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