Archive | Thanksgiving

3rd Annual Thanksgiving Cooking Timeline Printable

Every year I go on and on about how I don’t have double ovens, and then every year I do this post because it’s so helpful.  If you only have one oven like me, then you need this oven rotation cooking timeline printable.  It will save your life!  One of these days I’ll get double ovens, even if I do only use them on Thanksgiving, ha!

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It’s so helpful because it allows you to plan out when and how you’re going to put things in the oven to make sure everything gets cooked and is still hot when it’s time to eat.  Just click here or on the picture above to download and print out your free cooking timeline printable.

You can see the last two years printables here and here. Looking back I think my design skills have improved a ton too!

Tips for Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Here are a few of my top tips when it comes to cooking Thanksgiving dinner:

  • Always cook things with the highest temperature first, so there is less time for the oven to cool down rather than heat up
  • Be sure to thaw your turkey WELL in advance
  • Brine your turkey so you can cook everything else while it rests and it won’t get dried out (brine recipe I used last year)
  • Do as much prep work as possible in advance (chop, cut, mix things the day before)
  • Bake pies a day in advance, they can sit for 24 hours and still be delicious
  • My favorite Thanksgiving recipes here
  • Check out last week’s post about a stress free Thanksgiving

What are your top tips for cooking Thanksgiving dinner?  Is there a favorite dish you must have? Please share in the comments below, I love seeing what you have to say!

I sincerely hope you have the happiest Thanksgiving surrounding a table full of delicious food that brings back memories and surrounded by those you love and those that love you!  I’ll be taking a little blogging break this week to spend time with my family.  I hope you can do the same!

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10 Ways to Host a Stress Free Thanksgiving

We’re a week away from my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving!  Is anyone else as excited as I am?  I know some people get really stressed around the holidays though.  They can be stressful because of family, all the cooking, and gift buying, or expectations for everything to go right.  Well I’m here with a great list of ways to host a stress free Thanksgiving this year.

If it’s your first time ever hosting Thanksgiving, you’re in the right place to calm those nerves!  I’ve been doing it for almost ten years and while it does get easier with practice, you can have a great holiday even as a novice.

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1. Menu plan

If you’ve never hosted Thanksgiving before, or aren’t a very seasoned cook, the menu can be daunting.  Be sure to plan out your menu at least a week in advance.  Go over recipes, make a list of ingredients you’ll need and be sure to plan when you’ll need to start thawing the turkey.  Making a list is key!  You can get more menu planning tips here, including a great shopping list.

2. Set up oven rotations

Again with all the cooking, planning out what goes in the oven, when, and for how long can be consuming.  If you are like me and only have one oven, it’s a juggle all day!  Figure out how long everything needs to cook and at what temperature then you can plan when you’ll bake your dishes and in what order.  Try this oven rotation printable to help.  I’m also planning on making another one for you next week, just in time to start planning your oven rotation.

3. Celebrate with a potluck

If all the cooking and planning is just too stressful, then celebrate Thanksgiving with a pot luck!  Make the dish you’re most comfortable with, then ask everyone to bring everything else.  Pot lucks work best when there is a theme or assigned dishes for everyone to bring.  Be sure to let your guests know how many people (adults and kids) will be eating so there are enough portions for everyone.

4. Have a separate kids activity area/table

Hosting a variety of people can cause stress too.  If there are a lot of kids attending your Thanksgiving, give them their own space.  Setting a kids table is a great way to get them all in the same area.  Having activities to keep them busy when things are still cooking or after they get done eating will help keep them entertained.  Try having a small craft for them, or some special toys, a group game is a great way to keep them occupied.  Click here for lots of ways to entertain kids at a party.

5. Multiple TV’s

My husband and I always jokingly argue on Thanksgiving about who gets the TV.  I love to watch the Thanksgiving day parade, and he loves to watch football.  If you have multiple TVs there won’t be any arguing!

6. Exercise!

If you’re feeling extra stressed, exercise is a great way to reduce it.  Especially on a day where you’ll be consuming extra calories, getting a little exercise in benefits you in multiple ways.  There are so many ways to get in a workout when the gym is closed.  Try to find a Thanksgiving Day 5K, organize a football game, or do a circuit workout with the whole family.

7. Plan the seating chart

If family drama is typical on Thanksgiving, plan for it.  Be sure to sit people next to others that won’t start a family argument.  Telling people where to sit reduces the possibility of an argument breaking out and your stress level.

8. Limit alcohol

Sometimes the family drama can be fueled by a few too many glasses of wine, so be sure to limit how much is served.   Buy only enough alcohol for everyone to get a limited quantity.  Another way to limit alcohol is to make a signature drink so you can be sure how much alcohol is in it.  Cut back on how much liquor is in the drink and no one will even know!

9. Stick to a budget

Once you start planning your menu and preparing to serve a lot of people it can be overwhelming to see how much everything costs.  If spending the money is stressing you out, be sure to set a budget you’re comfortable with and stick to it.  If there are things that are out of your budget see if you can ask someone else to contribute financially, or get creative with things around the house to diy if necessary.

10. Be realistic

In the end, reduce your holiday stress by being realistic with yourself.  It’s ok if everything isn’t perfect, in fact, it probably won’t be.  And that’s ok.  Mishaps make for great memories!  As long as you’re with people you want to celebrate with and you can find something to be happy about, then the day is a success.

I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving, aren’t too stressed, and get to eat lots of turkey and gravy.  Be sure to come back next week for your printable oven rotation sheet.  Happy planning, be sure to use some of the links above to get a head start on your Thanksgiving plans!

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Tablescape Tuesday: Eucalyptus Centerpiece

Well folks, Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  Who is excited?  I love the holiday because it’s all about the food and just being together.  It’s such a cozy holiday with friends and family gathered around the table.  No party decor necessary.  But, I can’t let a holiday or get together go by without some sort of decor. Enter an inexpensive bunch of eucalyptus to pull this tablescape together.

Thanksgiving is a great time to put all your effort into the tablescape.   You’ll be spending a lot of time eating delicious food around the table anyway.  So today’s Tablescape Tuesday is an inspiration for your Thanksgiving table.

Thankgsiving tablescape with eucalyptus leaves, eucalyptus and pumpkin thanksgiving centerpiece, thanksgiving pumpkin table centerpieceI made this centerpiece for less than $15 and I am completely in love.  I bought the pumpkins and gourds to use as part of my fall front porch several weeks ago.  The bag full was less than $5.  Thank goodness the random hot fall days didn’t make them go bad.

Thankgsiving tablescape with eucalyptus leaves, eucalyptus and pumpkin thanksgiving centerpiece, thanksgiving pumpkin table centerpieceI later got the biggest bunch of eucalyptus from Costco.  You should have seen my face when I saw that they had eucalyptus.  I thought I had won the lottery, because a massive bunch was only $9.99.  Almost every bunch they had came home with me, but I restrained myself a bit.

I used what I needed from the bunch for an event I was planning, then had a lot left over.  So, right before we hopped on a plane for a quick trip to our hometown for my son’s baptism, I put this tablescape together.  Nothing like a deadline to make you jump into action.

Thankgsiving tablescape with eucalyptus leaves, eucalyptus and pumpkin thanksgiving centerpiece, thanksgiving pumpkin table centerpieceI laid the eucalyptus down the center of the table making sure all the stems were covered with leafy areas.  Then I placed the pumpkins and gourds randomly on top of the eucalyptus.  I wish you could have smelled the centerpiece.  So delightful and refreshing.

Thankgsiving tablescape with eucalyptus leaves, eucalyptus and pumpkin thanksgiving centerpiece, thanksgiving pumpkin table centerpieceI like that this centerpiece is low so you can still converse with all of your guests.  There is also plenty of room around the eucalyptus to place your favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

Thankgsiving tablescape with eucalyptus leaves, eucalyptus and pumpkin thanksgiving centerpiece, thanksgiving pumpkin table centerpieceThankgsiving tablescape with eucalyptus leaves, eucalyptus and pumpkin thanksgiving centerpiece, thanksgiving pumpkin table centerpieceFor the place settings, I used my trusty white everyday dishes and some neutral cloth napkins.  Although, looking back at the pictures it would have been a lot nicer had I ironed them first.  But you know, that whole plane to catch thing had me cutting corners.

I loved the touch of tying a name card onto a sprig of eucalyptus.  It ties into the centerpiece, but could also be a cute way to label leftovers for everyone.  Just tuck the stem with the name card into your wrapped up leftovers.  Last year I bought to go containers for Thanksgiving leftovers and they worked so much better than a bunch of paper plates wrapped in aluminum foil.

Thankgsiving tablescape with eucalyptus leaves, eucalyptus and pumpkin thanksgiving centerpiece, thanksgiving pumpkin table centerpieceThankgsiving tablescape with eucalyptus leaves, eucalyptus and pumpkin thanksgiving centerpiece, thanksgiving pumpkin table centerpieceWhile my husband was loading up our luggage I was feverishly snapping pictures to share this tablescape with all of you.    Does this make you want to run out and buy all the eucalyptus like I do?  I’m probably going back to Costco to see if there is more before Thanksgiving.  My only complaint is that this tablescape doesn’t last very long.  If the eucalyptus isn’t in water it dries up pretty quickly.

I hope you have a great Tuesday, and be sure to keep your eye out for bargain eucalyptus!

 

 

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How to Create a Signature Thanksgiving Cocktail

A couple weeks ago I was “stranded” on an airplane for over five hours without wifi, ahhhhhhhhhh! Total definition of #firstworldproblems. I really don’t mean to complain, but I had planned to get a lot of work done and couldn’t, so when reality didn’t meet my expectations it was a bit of a let down.

Needless to say, since I couldn’t work, I started watching a free show on the in flight entertainment. I had heard of the show “Dinner at Tiffani’s” but had never watched it, so I indulged. The show takes place in Tiffani Thiessen’s house where she cooks for all of her celebrity friends. Who knew Kelly Kapowski was such a good cook and has so many interesting, cool friends. I really enjoyed the show, specifically her cocktail concoctions.

I was majorly impressed with her ability to just come up with cocktail combinations that not only sound delicious, but are beautiful and easy to do. I’ve always had to kind of follow a drink recipe for fun cocktails or only drink basic combinations, but not anymore.

Click here for a light, refreshing, and delicious cocktail perfect for Thanksgiving! Plus a FREE recipe card!Tiffani demonstrated a very easy way to mix up new cocktails with interesting flavors. In multiple episodes she infused simple syrups to create different cocktails. Genius! All you need is sugar, water, and herbs, fruit, or even candies like peppermints.   There are so many combinations.

Click here for a light, refreshing, and delicious cocktail perfect for Thanksgiving! Plus a FREE recipe card!Today, I created a special Thanksgiving cocktail using this genius method of infusing simple syrups. Try this cocktail to wash down turkey, cranberry sauce, or just to deal with your family on Thanksgiving.

Thyme Infused Cranberry Vodka Soda

Cocktail Ingredients:

1 oz. Thyme infused simple syrup
1 oz. Vodka
3-5 oz. Club Soda
Splash of Cranberry Juice
Garnish with a sprig of thyme and a few frozen cranberries. It will be so pretty and stay cold because of the frozen cranberries.

Steps:

  1. Make a simple syrup by combining 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water in a pot and heating until clear, and the sugar is dissolved.  Be sure to stir periodically.
  2. Add a handful of chopped up thyme leaves to the simple syrup, and heat for a minute or two.
  3. Remove simple syrup from the stove and let it cool, while the thyme steeps for about 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, strain thyme leaves out of syrup.
  5. Combine cocktail ingredients over ice and stir.
  6. Garnish cocktail with a sprig of thyme and a few frozen cranberries

Click here for a light, refreshing, and delicious cocktail perfect for Thanksgiving! Plus a FREE recipe card!Click here for a light, refreshing, and delicious cocktail perfect for Thanksgiving! Plus a FREE recipe card!This cocktail is quite refreshing which is a change of pace with rich Thanksgiving food. Plus, it’s pretty light in calories (especially with sugar free cranberry juice) and flavors for all of those heavy dishes.

Click here for a light, refreshing, and delicious cocktail perfect for Thanksgiving! Plus a FREE recipe card!Click here for a light, refreshing, and delicious cocktail perfect for Thanksgiving! Plus a FREE recipe card!Click here for a light, refreshing, and delicious cocktail perfect for Thanksgiving! Plus a FREE recipe card!The options are endless. Try an orange and lemon infused simple syrup with bourbon for an updated take on an Old Fashioned. Or how about rosemary and lemon gin and tonic? Use the peppermint infused simple syrup for a festive Christmas cocktail.

Click the photo below to get your Thanksgiving cocktail recipe card. Print it off and keep it handy all season long. Or print it out on some nice paper and tie it to a jar of simple syrup for a homemade hostess gift or party favor. Perfect for the person that loves a delicious cocktail.

Click here for a light, refreshing, and delicious cocktail perfect for Thanksgiving! Plus a FREE recipe card!I’m in love with the idea of making a ton of different infused syrups putting them in canning jars with some cute labels and having them ready to go for gifts or every day use.

Did I convince you to join the infused simple syrup bandwagon?  If not, maybe Tiffani Thiessen can.  Her show airs on The Cooking Channel.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with good food, friends, and family.  Take some time to reflect on what you’re grateful for then enjoying celebrating the day.  I’ll be back next week to start the Christmas celebrating!  Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

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2016 Thanksgiving Hostess Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again, the gift giving time.  Why don’t we feel the need to give gifts all year long?  Either way, it’s a great idea to give a hostess gift to the person hosting you for Thanksgiving, even if it’s your mom.  Your Thanksgiving hostess goes through a lot of work and preparation to feed you.  Showing your appreciation is easy with this Thanksgiving hostess gift guide.

There is something for every kind of host here, and they all will make Thanksgiving so much easier for your hostess.

  1. Help with the Clean Up

Gifting your hostess with this very practical dish soap set on Thanksgiving will make clean up a breeze.  Bonus that the soap and cleaner smells divine.  An even better gift is doing the dishes for your hostess.  It’s the least you can do since they cooked everything!

2. Help Set Their Table

Bring your hostess this cute vintage turkey table runner and they will be set for this Thanksgiving and all Thanksgiving’s from now on.  Who knows they may even want to clear the table and lay Mr. Turkey down before you eat.

3. Help with Entertaining the Guests

Bringing a football to the Thanksgiving celebration will help your hostess more than you think.  You will help get all the guests outside for a quick game while leaving the kitchen available for the cook to finish up without people right under foot.  That’s kind of priceless with all of the cooking that goes on for Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Help with the Planning

Help your hostess plan for Thanksgiving, and weekly groceries by gifting this simple categorized shopping list.  Add a nice pen and tie it up with ribbon for an easy gift presentation.  I can’t talk enough about how amazing categorized grocery lists are.  #lifechanger

5. Help with the Drinks

Give these really practical wine glass markers to your host to help keep everyone’s glass from getting mixed up.  There’s nothing worse than pouring a drink, taking a sip, setting it down, then not remembering where it is or whose it is.  These would also be fun for kids to draw on their cups!

6. Help Display the Pie

This is a top notch hostess gift.  Although a little more expensive, this is great for the host that goes above and beyond, you know, like your mom.  This makes a great display for whatever pie you have on Thanksgiving.  Plus it will be used throughout the year with the simple, classic design.

7. Help Decorate for Fall

I’ve seen these velvet pumpkins on other blogs for several years and have never bought them, but love the texture they add to any Fall decor.  They aren’t super cheap, but they are just so cute.  Give your host these pumpkins and they’ll be able to decorate for fall for years to come and will always think of you when displaying them.

8. Help Decorate the Christmas Tree

Help jump start your hostess’ Christmas decorating with these letter ornaments for their Christmas tree. I always recommend buying ornaments in pairs.  It’s just something I always do, I think my mom told me this a long time ago.  Buy a bunch of different letters for people you know always host a holiday party and you’re set for every occasion.

There you go!  Eight great ideas for any hostess, especially whoever is cooking your Thanksgiving meal.  Which gift do you think works the best for your hostess?  Tell me in the comments.

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Celebrating everyday!