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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thanksgiving Made Simple - Tips to make it enjoyable for the hostess too!! - Part I

Hello friends! I haven't forgotten about you! It's just that I've been pretty busy! WIth my girls, with church, cooking and baking! I even participated in a small (but very funny) skit in our "Ladies Bible Study" in church... So I thought I would share a pic with you:
I am the one with the crazy hat!

As I said... I will be dedicating my posts to fall! this includes: Soups, Desserts and all fall recipes... But also Thanksgiving... That's an important part of fall... isn't it? I already shared with you my basic Thanksgiving Menu , some ideas for Fall Decorations and even talked to you about fall and shared some beautiful Fall Quotes that I hope have inspired you to embrace autumn, its colors, cooler temperatures and just festive feel to it!

Today I just want to let you know that YOU can do your own Thanksgiving Dinner! Honestly... It is not as hard as it might seem! The most important thing about it is not to aim for perfection but for a good time! have fun cooking! It's about being thankful and sharing with the family so... before I start sharing my recipes for that special Occasion I am going to share with you some of my very own tips for you to enjoy Thanksgiving and not just try to "get it all over with!"

1. Be Thankful! ... But truly thankful! A grateful heart really doesn't find much time to complain! I suggest you to start thinking about those things that you're really thankful for... If you can write 100 items in your list that would be awesome! Exercise thankfulness everyday! Start with it each morning! Honestly most people don't appreciate what they have, take it for granted or feel entitled to it! When actually every perfect gift comes from above! Directly from God.

2. Make a list/Start shopping - I shared my menu with you... You can do the same, plan your menu, create your grocery shopping list, and each week (from now) you can start adding "Thanksgiving Items" to your cart! This not only will help you have everything you need in hand with time, but it will also avoid you a "long time" in the store to buy the stuff for your Dinner, it will be very nice for your pocket too because you will not feel the "expense" all at once. There are things you can buy and store, especially pantry items!

3. Make things ahead! There are things that you can probably prepare ahead of time! Like cookies, which can most of the time be frozen and stay good for even a few weeks! Even pie crusts! You can make the dough, freeze it and then just thaw and roll it out to make the pies one day before "The Big Day"

4. From Scratch? Not necessarily! Yes, we all want to make it all from scratch! I do make my Turkey, Cookies and Pies mostly from Scratch... But... I buy Gravy from jars! Just buy a good quality gravy, according to Serious Eats (Taste Test) the best jarred Gravy is from Heinz and Campbell's was the runner up! You can also buy frozen pie crusts if you want! I mean... any "aid" is valid... you are still MAKING Dinner... you're not killing the turkey either, are you? So... it's ok to have some "help".

5. Create a schedule: Ok... you have done your shopping, you know what you'll bake, you even have some cookies in the freezer, now what? Make a schedule! What needs to go first to the oven? What needs to go later? How many hours is the turkey going to be in the oven? -this depends on the pounds of your turkey- Last time (My first time hosting Thanksgiving) was a total success, I had the ideas and tips from hubby's family and  I wasn't going to try to re-invent the wheel! Here is a chart that will show you the "Turkey Roasting Times" - per pound! (in a preheated oven at 325F)

Now... if you use an "Oven Bag" (which I highly recommend) the baking time will be reduced significantly! For example: A 20-24 pounds Un-stuffed Turkey will bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours at 350 F. Remember that the internal temperature of a turkey should reach 180 F, when you use an oven bag you don't need to add water or keep basting the bird while baking! You just need to season and add 1 tbsp. of flour to the bag! I season the bird with paprika (this will add a beautiful color because when baking in an oven bag it doesn't get that brownish/reddish color on its own), salt and pepper and just add some fresh herbs in the cavity of the bird! You can rub it with dry thyme too!

Cooked to perfection! Juicy and delicious!
Last time when I baked my turkey I got it in the oven at 11 in the morning! You have to remember that you need to allow it to rest for about 45 minutes before carving so the liquids redistribute and the meat is not dry!

You will see! This all seems like a lot of work but I am trying to help you with it! Trust me! You got this! You can do it! It's not that hard! I will be sharing more tips in the following days! For now I will let you chew on all this! Making the Thanksgiving Dinner can not only be enjoyable but also can help you create tons of beautiful memories (and not bitter ones that you just want to forget!)

Don't forget our "Coffee Friday" this week! Hopefully you've mentioned coffee in any of your posts of the week so you can link up!

Let's make Thanksgiving TOGETHER! Bookmark it for easy access and share, pin or tweet it... especially if you know friends would benefit from it!

 © Paloma K.

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