I love planning dinners – thoughtfully deciding on the menu and picking drinks and appetizers. I also love not stressing out when the event comes so I can actually enjoy my guests and the food I have been planning for days (weeks if you are like me and starting pinning recipes weeks ahead of a big holiday or event.) I thought it would be fun to share some tips for making Thanksgiving Dinner easier. The goal here is to make it a day you can spend at least a little time relaxing and enjoying!
- Figure out what you can make ahead. There are lots of food items that can be prepared ahead of time. Mashed potatoes, gravy and desserts come to mind, but you could even cook the Turkey the day before (gasp!!) and reheat it in the gravy or some chicken broth. Its totally up to you and the type of dinner you are hosting, but I always like to make as much ahead of time as possible (this also helps with #5.)
- Use your slow-cooker. You know that your oven is going to be maxed out either cooking a turkey, baking rolls or reheating the food you made ahead. So, it is a great idea to use other methods for heating and cooking your food. I make my stuffing in the slow-cooker and tomorrow I will share a yummy sweet potato casserole that can be made in your slow-cooker. Plus, what is easier than putting something in your slow-cooker in the morning and not worrying about it until dinner?
- Outsource. Don’t feel like you have to make everything yourself. You can either ask guests to bring something to pass (give them a specific item) or don’t be afraid to buy some items at the store. Head down to your favorite bakery and pick up some bread or a homemade pie. Many places will want you to order ahead for Thanksgiving so a little planning goes a long way here.
- Stick with what you know. I have found that it isn’t a great idea to make something you have never prepared for a dinner party or holiday. There are a few reasons for this. 1)Sometimes recipes can be more complicated than you first thought. Who needs the added stress when you are hosting a big dinner? 2) What if it doesn’t turn out like you had hoped? If I haven’t made something at least once then I probably won’t make it on the big day.
- Help out your tired, after-dinner self. This might be taboo depending on who is attending your dinner, but when we have a holiday or party with lots of littles, I’m not afraid to bring out the paper. Let’s face it, after the wine and carbs and turkey, doing dishes for a huge crowd can be a buzzkill. How cute are these customizable Thanksgiving dinner plates? I’m not saying this is right for every occasion, but sometimes its ok to give yourself or your guests a little break from all the dishes! Maybe your place settings must be your good china, but how about cooking your turkey in disposable aluminum versus a roasting pan that needs to be scrubbed? We also try to do as much of the dishes before dinner as possible. Again, just trying to help our post turkey tired selves out as much as possible (clean as you go)! This is also where #1 comes in handy!
- Make your other meals simple – If hosting for the holidays means you have other meals to feed guests, make things as simple as possible. Order takeout the night before and make an egg casserole or this sour cream coffee cake for the morning (both can be prepared ahead of time.)
I love this sour cream coffee cake and it is definitely a great make ahead treat to have on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning. You could even make it the weekend before and freeze it. It just becomes more moist (thanks to the sour cream) and tastes better if made a day ahead. This is another Ina Garten recipe (sorry I am on a roll) and it is really easy to make. Ina uses walnuts in her recipe but I used pecans because I always buy lots of pecans in November. If you have a nut allergy in your household you can definitely just leave them out. She uses a maple drizzle on top which I didn’t do only because I was out of powdered sugar from the last batch of buttercream I made. I will definitely do the drizzle when I make this again for Thanksgiving though!
Enjoy, and if you have any tips for streamlining your Thanksgiving dinner please share in the comments below!
Source: Food Network
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups sour cream
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the streusel:
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
- For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
- Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
- For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
- Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.