Stress Free Thanksgiving Day……

Many of us have to really juggle what to make and when because that big bird takes up so much space in our ovens. Refrigerator space could be an issue as well, consider making some of these items ahead and putting into gallon size zipper plastic bags, they will fit much easier than a large bowl. If you are in charge of most of the cooking I would recommend making the following a day ahead:

1) Pie baking & baked goods- Pies actually taste better when they sit for a day. Consider serving pies that do not need refrigeration; apple, pecan, blueberry, etc. Refrigerate pumpkin.
2) Dressing, especially if you are going to stuff the bird, remember, cold stuffing into cold bird.
3) Cranberry sauce-if you want to make the sauce, which is very simple, you could even do this two days ahead.
4) Mashed potatoes- I’m not suggesting you actually whip them a day ahead, why not peel, slice, and put into cooking pot, cover completely with water, let sit on the range over night, then add salt & boil when you’re ready. I like to have completed the potatoes 1/2 hour before guests arrive, leave in the cooking pot and cover tightly with a lid. Also drape a heavy kitchen towel over to retain heat. (of course towel away from any flame!)
5) Salad-you can make the entire salad ahead. I put all the yummies in the very bottom of the bag, top with the clean and dry greens. (instead of diced tomatoes, you could use grape tomatoes to cut down on moisture in your salad) Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready.

Consider resting time as cooking time. For birds 16 lbs. or smaller, rest 20-30 minutes, 17 lbs. or larger rest 30-40 minutes. Remember to use a large piece of aluminum foil to “tent” or loosely cover your turkey. Your oven is free for enough time to warm the following:

6) Sweet potatoes
7) Green bean casserole
8) Dinner rolls

When you’re organized and much of the work is done ahead, it makes for a more relaxing holiday!

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