My best advice for Thanksgiving: Plan Ahead! Most things you need to do can be prepared in advance. Make your guest list, plan your menu, write your shopping list and your to-do list.
Chop vegetables days before and store them in the fridge. Peel potatoes and keep them in a pot covered with water in the fridge. Make and freeze pie crusts weeks before. Even whole pies should be prepared beforehand, (bake or leave in the fridge ready to bake the morning of). Prepare the turkey in the baking pan so on Thanksgiving morning you can pop the bird into the oven.
Clean your house. Have your kids make special name cards for each guest and set the table. Hang a sign that says, “Do Not Touch!”
Don’t do it alone. Guests will be happy to make a last minute run to the store. If you have guests who cook, ask them to make a side dish – be specific.
Keep or create traditions. Simple traditions matter and are the ones you remember! We have a funny family tradition that the newest guest (usually an unsuspecting new boyfriend or girlfriend) gets – in my father’s opinion – the best part of the bird. We all get a good laugh when my father singles out the newest guest and presents them with the turkey butt!
My parents are responsible for cooking the “Guest-of-Honor” and my three sisters and I are responsible for side dishes and dessert. I make the bread stuffing. Here’s my easy recipe, and it can be prepared days before. Make a chicken stock by covering 6-8 chicken wings with water; add a peeled onion, a bay leaf, a stalk of celery, and one whole unpeeled carrot. Boil two hours; drain through a sieve. Discard the solids; cool the stock before putting it in a container in the fridge or freezer. You will need one quart for this recipe. Cut bread into cubes (you will need six cups) and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, place the bread in the oven, turn the oven off and let the bread dry in the oven overnight. The next morning, bag the bread cubes. Chop two onions and ten celery stalks. Warm the stock. Place bread cubes in a bowl. Saute the onions and celery in 1/2 pound of butter (no substitutes, please). When onions and celery are translucent, pour mixture into the bread cubes and stir completely. Pour chicken stock over bread and stir together. Add two eggs to mixture, two teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; stir until liquid is absorbed. If mixture is dry, add a bit more stock. All bread should now be moist but you should still be able to see the shape of the bread cubes. Press the mixture into a baking dish and cover with foil. Put in the fridge and bake on Thanksgiving morning 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Be Grateful and Stay Sweet!
Susan O’Keefe has been baking since she was a little girl. With a passion for baking and a background in marketing and sales, she opened Baked by Susan right in the heart of the little river town of Croton-on-Hudson where she lives with her husband and three growing boys. Visit Baked by Susan at 163 Grand Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY or at Bakedbysusan.com. Like us on Facebook and Instagram!
Baked by Susan Inc., Voted 2015 Winner Best Bakery and Best Cupcakes by Westchester Magazine!
163 Grand Street Croton on Hudson, NY 10520 914-862-0874 bakery 914-525-9639 cellular