A Savvy Week: Thanksgiving 2013

Alternate title: How to prep Thanksgiving dinner so that you can serve an elaborate Thanksgiving meal and still get a long break in the middle of the day.

I am so READY for Thanksgiving. I’ve made my menu, using my own handy flowchart, and my grocery list is ready to go. Plus, Heather is coming to spend a very Savvy Thanksgiving with Dan and I! And, um, I may have gone a little overboard with my menu. I mean, three vegetable side dishes for three people?  We might have some leftovers. But that’s okay! I love this holiday because it means I get to cook for people I love, and having lots of leftovers is an awesome bonus. If I’m going to spend so much time cooking, I might as well get a few meals out of it, right?

So here we go.  An awesome Thanksgiving menu, perfect for 5-8 people (or, ehrm, 3…), and how to cook ahead so that you can relax and enjoy the day. You even get a 2 1/2 hour break in the middle of the day to sit down with your guests, a glass of wine, and some snacks!

Savvy Thanksgiving

 

Turkey photo from Tim Morris/Bon Appetit.

A Savvy Week: Thanksgiving 2013

To Drink: Double batch of Rosy cheek in the morning, wine with dinner.
While I’m Cooking: Mexican hot chocolate roasted pecans. And Savory pumpkin dip (from Gimme Some Oven).
Main: Roast heritage turkey with bacon-herb and cider gravy (from Bon Appetit)
Stuffing: Spicy chorizo cornbread sage dressing (from Boulder Locavore).
Make-Ahead Side: Ginger-glazed carrots.
Make Day-Of Side: Pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans and Romano cheese.
Another Make-Ahead Side, Because I Like to Overcook for Thanksgiving: Mashed root vegetables with bacon vinaigrette (from Bon Appetit).
The Potatoes: Caramelized onion mashed potatoes (from Daily Garnish). Because, caramelized onions.
The Bread: Pumpkin yeast bread (from King Arthur Flour).
The Gravy: Turkey gravy using this tutorial from How Sweet It Is, but using apple cider instead of water.
The Cranberries: Mom’s wineberry salad.
The Dessert:  Caramel apple & pumpkin pie (from Zoe Bakes).

On Sunday:

Make the Mexican hot chocolate roasted pecans. Allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight jar.  Try not to eat them all before Thursday!

While the pecans cook, caramelize the onions for the mashed potatoes. Cover and refrigerate, once they are cooled.

On Monday:

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Using tongs or a slotted spatula, transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, and carefully pour the bacon fat into a glass jar.

Make the bacon, dijon and herb butter for the turkey. Cover and refrigerate the extra bacon and the bacon fat separately.

On Tuesday:

Make the wineberry salad. While you are waiting for the Jell-o to soft set, beat the whipping cream with a little sugar (between a teaspoon and a tablespoon) until it forms whipped cream, which you can fold in to the wineberry salad. The cranberries can be refrigerated, covered, until Thursday!

Butter and season the turkey as instructed.  Cover and refrigerate.

Prepare the pie dough. This is my favorite recipe.

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A Savvy Week: Sausage and Black Beans

I love this week’s menu.  Like, I think it may be one of my all-time favorites. It might be all the cheese, since I am a Wisconsin girl at heart.  Or maybe it is the fact that I got to use some crazy-delicious Italian sausage from Sarah at Autumn’s Harvest to make the lasagna and sandwiches.  Or maybe it is because it features recipes from two of my favorite bloggers: Lauren, who I’ve hung out with on several occasions and love, and Kiersten, whose blog I started reading a few months ago.  Now, I never miss one of her posts.  Maybe I love her recipes, writing and photography so much because we were both Wisconsin Badgers at the same time, and never knew it until recently? Whatever it is, this menu is 100% awesome, filled with hearty lasagna, a quinoa-chicken skillet, tortilla pie, and meatloaf sandwiches…all comfort food that is perfect for autumn!

Sausage BlackBeans jpg

Photos from me, Kiersten at Oh My Veggies, and Lauren at Healthy. Delicious.

A Savvy Week: Sausage and Black Beans

Monday: Veggie-Packed Lasagna Bolognese with Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Tuesday: Smothered Chicken and Quinoa Skillet (from Healthy Delicious) with side salad
Wednesday: Meatloaf Sandwiches with Pickled Onions and Aioli and Carrot-Cranberry Salad (from SparkRecipes)
Thursday:
Tortilla Pie with Black Beans and Zucchini (from Oh My Veggies) with side salad

On Sunday:

Make the bolognese.  It takes a few hours, but you will have enough for the lasagna + extra to freeze for later.  Allow the extra sauce to cool completely before packing it into freezer-safe containers with about 1/2″ air space on top (to allow for expansion as the sauce freezes), label the containers, and stick them in the freezer.

Assemble the lasagna, cover it tightly with the foil, and wait to bake it until tomorrow.  Let the pan come to room temperature, or close to it, before sticking it in the hot oven, especially if the pan is glass – you don’t want it to crack!

LasagnaBolognese2.jpg

On Monday:

Bake the lasagna. Again, let the pan rest on the counter for 15-20 minutes to come up to room temperature before baking.

While the lasagna bakes, make the brussels sprouts and shred the carrots for the salad (if you are using whole carrots rather than pre-shredded).

New cook and prep time: 45 minutes.

ChickenQuinoaSkillet

On Tuesday:

Make the smothered chicken and quinoa skillet.  While it is under the broiler, mix the meatloaf ingredients together, and slide the meatloaf into the oven to cook while you eat dinner.  You can also make the pickled onions for the meatloaf sandwiches now, or do it in the morning.

Serve with a side salad.

You can also put the carrot salad together tonight, if you want to save time in the morning!

New cook and prep time: 50 minutes, plus some inactive cook time while tomorrow’s meatloaf cooks.

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