Thanksgiving Dinner Lessons Learned

ThanksgivingMany people have sent emails inquiring how my Thanksgiving dinner turned out, so I have decided to share my experience with everyone. I am happy to report the meal was a success! I didn’t under cook or overcook anything, but did learn some valuable lessons for future holiday meals. Instead of slaving in the kitchen all day long, these tips will help in the future.

  1. Prepare in advance whenever possible. Instead of waiting until the big day, chop vegetables and prepare some dishes in advance. This inexpensive vegetable chopper came in handy when preparing onions and celery for my San Francisco Sour Dough Stuffing!
  2. Don’t cheat. I bought a Sara Lee apple pie and frozen dinner rolls. I am very disappointed that I didn’t trust in my cooking abilities enough to at least attempt these items from scratch. Next time, I am not taking the easy way out!
  3. Giblets are inside the turkey! I cannot believe I am admitting this BUT I didn’t realize there were giblets inside a baggy which was somehow in the turkey breast area. I didn’t discover them until after I was cutting the cooked turkey. I did find some giblets in the cavity area before cooking the turkey and never expected to find more!
  4. Use a Pop Up Indicator. I was afraid of overcooking or undercooking my turkey but thanks to this clever little pop up indicator, I knew exactly when to take it out of the oven.
  5. Reynolds Bags Rock! I used a large Reynolds baking bag for my turkey and it worked out great! My turkey was moist and delicious.
  6. Let someone else pick out the wine. I let my husband pick out our Thanksgiving beverage since he is a wine guru (check out his blog). He choose some great bubbly from Virginia which paired perfectly with our meal. I only wish I would have had a drink while preparing the meal because I was nervous something was going to go wrong.
  7. Put hubby on daddy duty! It is impossible to cook such an elaborate meal with a toddler hanging on your leg! I felt guilty for neglecting my son most of the day and would stop what I was doing to go play with him. Next time I am cooking all day long, my husband gets full kid responsibility!
  8. Clean up along the way. Instead of letting dirty dishes pile up, wash them in between preparing food. This was the only way I was able to stay sane. I get overwhelmed when dishes are piled high so my dish washer was in full use.
  9. Let someone else clean up the big mess. My husband volunteered to clean up the kitchen, but I did it myself. I should have let him because cooking all day and then eating a huge holiday meal is exhausting.
  10. Follow directions, but make necessary adjustments. For some recipes, I changed ingredients to satisfy our tastes. Also, cooking times indicated need to be adjusted to how you like your food. I prefer my stuffing to have a crunchiness to it, so I baked it longer than the recipe called for.
  11. Take a photo of the end result. I’m glad I took a photo of the food so I can always look back and remember my first holiday meal that I cooked by myself. I have a lot more appreciation for the time my mom and grandmother used to spend in the kitchen slaving for us!!

I am already preparing my Christmas meal shopping list! I cannot wait to start cooking again.

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