Thanksgiving Dishes I Always Make the Day Before
The day before Thanksgiving is really the big day for me. There are a few things I have already done by the day before, like the menu plan and all of the shopping (minus one last-minute trip for extra ingredients) and defrosting the turkey. Today is all about prepping side dishes and baking desserts so that on Thanksgiving Day I can spend more time with friends and family and less time stressing over the big meal. It's also a great way to cut down on dirty dishes the day of.
From appetizers to side dishes and desserts, there are so many things you can prep ahead of time to ensure you have a stress-free holiday. You can also prep the table and serving dishes ahead of time as well. When you've got a turkey in the oven and gravy bubbling away on the stove, it's not the time you want to be searching hi and low for the turkey platter.
Things like roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, and stuffing are best left for the big day; but dishes like cranberry sauce, cheese dip, casseroles, and all of your desserts can be made in advance. I keep that in mind when planning my menu. For example, I pick appetizers like spinach dip or stuffed mushrooms that can be either prepped or completed at least a day ahead of time. I pair those with a few store-bought snacks like a veggie tray or pretzels, leaving plenty of time to finish the side dishes on Thanksgiving, with time to spare for a cup of coffee and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Freshly-baked pies and cakes don't have to take up space in the fridge. A homemade apple pie or layer cake, for example, can stay at room temp. If it's a cheesecake or has cream cheese frosting, on the other hand, you'll need to make sure you have room to chill those in the fridge. If you're making homemade pie crust, you can make and store that in the fridge a few days in advance.
I also save time by planning a few shortcuts into my menu, like the store-bought snacks I mentioned above and things like (gasp) pre-made pie crust. Readers are often surprised to find that I take shortcuts, but that is the mark of true success in the kitchen - knowing when to take shortcuts and managing your cooking time properly, knowing your strengths and your weaknesses. If pie crust isn't your strong suit, buy it! If you would rather claw your own eyes out than peel 5 lbs of potatoes, use gold or red ones that don't need to be peeled. If you suck at homemade rolls, get them from the bakery. My point is, pick your battles when it comes to the holiday dinner. You can't make every single thing 100% homemade, especially not on the day of. At least, you can't do that AND have a stress-free time. So cut yourself some slack, get prepared as much as you can a day or two before, and just have a GOOD time. Who cares if it's perfect as long as you have a loving family and yummy food. Happy Thanksgiving.:)
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