As of yesterday morning, our refrigerator is loaded, our pantry is stuffed to the gills and our freezer is uncharacteristically full. All of these facts can only mean one thing: Thanksgiving is around the corner. I am pumped.
For all of my fellow planner-aheaders and list-makers out there, Thanksgiving is like the ultimate holiday, right? I mean, there are menus to decided on, grocery lists to make, and then there’s that incredible shuffle that comes with trying to fit everything you purchased for a single meal into a much-too-small cabinet with much too little shelving. No? That last one is just me? Humph. Where’s my dad’s trusty larder when I need it?
Part of the planning process for me involves a whole lot of half-baking ahead of time. My freezer is rarely stocked with much more than ice cream, frozen corn and a few teething rings, but when holiday time comes around, I take advantage of the space. There are tons of baked goods that do really well in the freezer post-mixed but pre-baked. Here’s what we’re rocking so far this year:
Sure, sure, it’s a whole lotta baked goods (and a whole lotta butter), and yes, we’ll have plenty o’ pie coming our way come Thursday, too. But most frozen baked goods can hang in the freezer for at least a month, so there’s no pressure to bake everything immediately if our tummies run out of space. (My pre-baby prep before Beany looked remarkably similar, actually. And though we had very little premade meals to speak of in the weeks following her birth, we had homemade cookies galore).
So the freezer is doing its part, and the rest of the meal prep will get rolling in the next few days. I’m planning to use this Mark Bittman recipe for make-ahead gravy (I’m not a gravy fan, so I shall trust my husband’s tastebuds for this one). And this easy cranberry sauce can pull together days in advance, too. Pies will do their thing on Wednesday (apple and pumpkin because we’re cool and traditional like that). Oh, and our turkey will be chilling in the refrigerator in a dandy dry brine this year (this one to be exact). Yes, I know I’m quite reliant on the New York Times this time of year, but the peeps there know their stuff.
Other than that, our menu is looking like an amalgamation of the usual fare and a few new spins. In lieu of traditional mashed potatoes, I’m making this mashed potato casserole with sour cream and chives (which can be made in the morning, conveniently enough, and heated up right before the meal). We’re going old-school sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (Martha Stewart to the rescue!), which can be made the day before and kept in the refrigerator overnight. Then there’s green bean casserole (nothing fancy schmancy here; we’re trusting our pals at French’s), hashed Brussels sprouts (lest we forget the food group called “green”), the fruit salad my mom’s been making for as long as I can remember and a new sage dressing recipe from the November Bon Appétit.
Come Thursday, we shall eat and eat and eat. And eat and eat. And it will be grand!
I’d love to hear how the planning/prepping is going in your neck of the woods. What’s on your Thanksgiving menu? Any new recipes? Tried-and-true favorites? Any deep-fried turkeys?!? Do tell! ‘Tis the season for sharing, after all.
Looking for a bit more Thanksgiving inspiration? Here are a few of my favorites from years past: cranberry chutney, mini apple and brie quiche, spicy roasted cauliflower with lemon, roasted carrots, salt and vinegar potatoes, French caramelized apple tartlettes, mini maple cream tarts.