Thanksgiving leftovers are serious business in my family. We all carefully pack up food to enjoy throughout the holiday weekend.
I have had fun decorating leftover containers in the past, but last year I decided to focus on really organizing them so it would be easy to pass out to everyone as they headed home.
First, was the realization that I should pack leftovers ahead of time. We make everything, but the turkey, the day before Thanksgiving. So it finally occurred to me, if you cook it the day before, why then reheat it all the next day?
Instead, when each dish was done cooking, I filled smaller serving dishes for us to use during our Thanksgiving meal and then filled a take-home container of each item for each person. That way what would have been leftover anyway hasn't been cooked twice. The additional bonus to this plan is all my serving dish sizes are much smaller, making it easier to heat up everything in the oven together once the turkey comes out to rest. The next additional bonus is that one more step of work has been taken out of Thanksgiving day, packing up all the leftovers.
The thing I needed to keep in mind with the pre-portioning is that some people want this and not that or one item is their very favorite and they would love extra. So out came the washi-tape color coding. Each family member was assigned a tape design and all of their leftover portions could be easily identified in the fridge. I also had more empty labeled containers ready to fill with turkey and pieces of pies my sister bakes.
Thankfully, last year the plan worked perfectly, so it will be a new washi-tape organized tradition.
I am guessing you never realized how long someone could write about a Thanksgiving leftover plan, but like I said, my family doesn't mess around with this dinner. If it doesn't seem completely crazy to you, hopefully it will help your Thanksgiving efforts go a little more smoothly.
I sent an invitation last week and today was our third annual turkey day with our nephew and nieces (2013 & 2014). I am hoping they will want to continue the tradition into their twenties and thirties.
The "Auntie Nora" Pinterest board was stuffed with turkey ideas (pun intended) and we ended up making turkey bowling to play this Thursday, pom pom turkeys and cocoa rice krispie turkeys (although I didn't get a picture until after the carrot legs and reese's pieces eyes were gobbled). Sean used the cake batter recipe again and they were darn good.
Everything was set this afternoon with all the usual party stuff...washi-taped tealights, flowers, fabric tossed on the table and paper plates. This year includes candlesticks, hand-cut letters and wired ribbon to make super quick napkin rings.
Okay back to cooking...five side dishes down, three to go tonight.
Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Last year was the first official turkey day...not to be confused with Thanksgiving. Our nephew and nieces come over for turkey crafts and snacks, because they have learned that Thanksgiving is Auntie Nora's very favorite holiday. Tomorrow is turkey day, so their invitation was mailed last week. We are going to make turkey wooden spoons...kind of a combo between these and this. We're playing bingo with prizes and having a fruit turkey and turkey cranberry pinwheels (minus the feta). Can't wait...
It's late on Thanksgiving Eve and most of the to do list is checked off. All of the side dishes are made, the house is clean, and the table is set (the kids picnic table too). Our nephew and nieces came over today to make turkey crafts which included decorating cups for everyone to sip out of tomorrow. In the morning we'll cook the turkey and we'll be all ready to celebrate my favorite holiday.
Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too.
I had this idea on the 4th of July. I was packing up leftovers, like potato salad and baked beans, in random ziplock containers we had amassed and getting them organized into leftover grocery bags for our friends and family to take home. I ran upstairs to grab some office tags to tie onto the bags to keep everyone's leftovers straight and it occurred to me, by the time Thanksgiving rolled around this year, that I could make this whole leftovers endeavour a heck of a lot cuter. I raided Smart and Final a few weeks ago and came home with huge stacks of several different kinds of containers. We have hosted a few get-togethers this month and have already found this container supply super handy to have on hand.
I shared this project on Eighteen25 at the beginning of the month and shared a download of this "little more Thanksgiving" tag in case you want to print some out just in time for this week's celebration.
In addition to teaching me to use holiday paper plates, my mom also has awesome recipes. They can be made ahead of time, are pretty darn easy, and people usually love them. Her best recipes don't have official measurements, but I have done the best I can to estimate after making this stuffing for over ten years.
Easiest Thanksgiving Stuffing
Melt the butter in a very large saute pan. Add onion and celery with a sprinkle of salt (not the entire teaspoon) and poultry seasoning (again not the entire amount). Cook the onion and celery, stirring often, for five to ten minutes. Add the cubed stuffing to the pan, sprinkle with remaining poultry seasoning, salt and sugar. Poor chicken broth over the stuffing mixture until it is very damp, but not so much that it pools at the bottom of the pan. Sometimes we add some stuffing, dampen it with broth and then continue to add the dry stuffing and broth so that it all does not tumble out of the pan and onto the stove. When the stuffing looks sufficiently damp (it should look just a little too wet to eat) remove from the pan into a 9x13 buttered baking dish. At this point you can cool the stuffing, wrap it tightly and store it in the fridge for the next day. Cook stuffing covered with tinfoil at 350 degrees for 40 minute. Remove stuffing from the oven, stir it, and return it to the oven uncovered for an additional 15 minutes or until it has browned on top.
One of the best things my mother ever taught me was to use cute paper plates at holiday gatherings. There will be more than plenty of dishes to wash from cooking, no need to add to the pile.
I set the Thanksgiving table with them in 2011, 2012 and will next week too. This time I also used paper to make little place card pouches. I took some kraft wrapping paper off the huge roll I have, cut it down to fit a napkin and silverware, stitched it with orange thread, and stamped it with each person's name.
Can't wait to see all these paper plates filled with our families favorite recipes.
This might actually be the first recipe I futzed with enough to call it mine. It started out years ago as a butternut squash soup then I read a few more recipes and combined ingredients. This soup is made once a year for our Friendsgiving celebration...it has a lot of ingredients and steps, but I promise it's worth it.
Pumpkin Apple Bacon Soup with Caramelized Croutons
Roast the garlic tossed in a little olive oil to keep it from sticking in a tinfoil pouch for about 45 minutes in a 400 degree oven...it should be lightly browned and mushy. You can do this a day or two before and keep the cloves in the fridge.
The night before you can also toast up the croutons. Mix together the softened butter with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread the mixture onto the bread slices and bake in the oven until slightly browned and crispy...approximately 5 minutes at 400 degrees, but keep an eye on them. Croutons can be stored in the fridge, but take them out in advance to come to room temperature before serving the soup.
Use a big soup pot (I love my Le Creuset) to cook up the bacon, I usually cut it into pieces before cooking as opposed to keeping it whole and crumbling it after, but either way would work. Cook until crispy, take out all the bacon, and some of the fat carefully reserving enough just enough fat (about 3 tablespoons) to cook the chopped onion and apple in until it is softened. Add the salt, sugar, nutmeg, cloves and poultry seasoning.
Add the roasted garlic and the some of the chicken stock and some of the apple cider; SLOWLY not all 32oz of broth or 8oz of the cider, just enough to cover the onion, apples and garlic and then see if you need more. Allow mixture to simmer until soft enough to puree with an immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender and then back to the pot.
After you have a smooth consistency add the pumpkin puree, the Better than Bouillon and then slowly add some of the cream until you have the consistency and creaminess you want. If the soup is still too thick at this point you can thin it out with a little more chicken broth. You can continue to let the soup simmer for about twenty minutes before serving.
Serve the soup with a crouton floating in the middle and a sprinkle of the crispy bacon bits.
Making cranberry sauce, a silly deer bottle opener that found a new home by the stairs, our traditional chocolate croissant and shopping ads before getting the turkey in the oven, watching the Macy's parade together, carving the turkey and making gravy, the kid's table, plates full of food, and coloring turkeys.
We were so fortunate that every Thanksgiving detail was pretty much perfect...hope your holiday weekend has been too.
The binder is out for turkey referencing, the flowers are waiting to be arranged into little vases, and the cooking supplies are all ready. I am very thankful that my mom has taught me simple recipes for Thanksgiving that can all be made in advance so all we have to worry about on the big day is the turkey and gravy. Oh and fresh whipped cream for all the homemade pies my sister brings.
Hope all your preparations are going well too.
I've said before that Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday, so then it would make perfect sense that I would craft up some napkin rings days in advance, right?
Yes, I couldn't help but put them together late this afternoon. I put some thick grosgrain ribbon around the bundle of silverware and napkins then used fabric tied paperclips (an idea that I actually recycled from my 12 Tags class) to attach little name tags. After the napkins were put together I may or may not have started setting the table.
One of the half dozen gatherings we hosted a couple of weeks ago was a fall dinner. It was planned with my mom's best friend's daughter in the height of summer, when we were dreaming of all things fall. Our menu included a cheese plate with cranberry sauce and honey, apple cider marinated grilled chicken with an apple and sausage hash on a bed of cheesy orzo, cheesy beer bread, homemade apple sauce, apple bread with cream cheese frosting and fresh fried apple fritters with peanut putter caramel sauce.
This definitely needs to become a tradition.
And we couldn't have a fall dinner without a little table decorating, so I grabbed a few jars, tore some strips of fabric and got out the scary glue gun. I knotted together the strips of fabric and wrapped the jars using a little glue to hold it in place where it needed it. Add a few washi tape tea lights and you've got yourself a party.
This was our eighth year celebrating an early Thanksgiving with one of our groups of friends...we have hosted Friendsgiving in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Again this year we looked forward to having our dining room table full of friends. Since it's potluck we only had to make a turkey and a couple other easy dishes...that left plenty of time to come up with a color scheme and to craft up some napkin rings.
For the napkin rings I sliced little strips of fabric and cut them into uneven pieces that I sewed together with a very cooked, messy zig-zag stitch. I then took the long piece of sewn scraps, wrapped them a few times and knotted it around the bundle of silverware. It was fun to have so many colors and patterns involved.
We also have a tradition of making a new playlist each year and then a CD of it gets sent home with each family.
Here is both a Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving version of the CD covers in case you want to put together some music to share for your celebrations this month...
Can't believe Thanksgiving is in just about two weeks...it's my very favorite holiday of the year so I am looking forward to it so much!
Last year I decorated some jars for our dining room table at the last minute before Thanksgiving. They were promptly packed away the next day to start getting ready for Christmas. This year they are being recycled as decorations on our mantle...
It is no exaggeration when I say that half of the visits my blog gets each day are due to posting a recipe that I scanned in from a Phyllis Hoffman Celebrate magazine that I had purchased years ago to read while I waited for Sean to have nose surgery.
I guess a snack mix called Scarecrow Crunch is just too cute. And it came in handy when we wanted to have little party favors for Mac's friends to take home from his pumpkin carving get together on Friday night...
Here is the recipe from the magazine...
I use M&M's instead of the peanut butter candy it calls for. All you do is mix it together which is super convenient when you don't have time to cook something up. It also leaves you a little more time to package it up...
I made these Halloween tags for Mac's party...and I couldn't resist making up a Thanksgiving one too. You can download a sheet of both of them here...Download Halloween Tags & Download Thanksgiving Tags
Hope they might help you package up a little scarecrow crunch or anything else you're whipping up in the next few weeks.
In the back of our big recipe binder I had a page protector bursting with Thanksgiving notes since I have kept the last few years of to-do lists and turkey cooking times. I can't remember why we started tracking turkey temperatures so carefully, but it has come in surprisingly handy when planning cooking times each year. So to keep these notes safe and have more room to grow, I decided that the page protector needed to become it's own cute little binder...especially since Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday.
It has ribbon tied on the binding with a little tag.
I changed around the mantle a little last week to fill it a little more with fall now that it actually feels that way around here. I also added the light-up pumpkins I had to have last year...
Unlike when I first decorated the mantle in September it was finally chilly enough to turn on the fireplace this past week...I love this time of year.
Half the side dishes are made...the house is rearranged a little to make plenty of room for extra guests...and another simple version of napkin ring/place cards are all crafted up.
I have to admit my heart is kind of heavy tonight though. I screwed up last week and said something that I shouldn't have. Now there is some fall out in my family that I can't seem to fix quite yet, despite trying. It would be insincere of me to talk about trying to make cute napkin rings and just leave it at that.
As always, Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday so I'm hopeful it will be a day full of blessings and togetherness...and that I can keep my big mouth shut.
Having a teenager makes me an anomaly since now pretty much all of my friends have little kids.
It's to the point where I have actually thanked my sister for having three adorable children in less than three years. It allows me to live vicariously through the parenting and have a remote chance at offering something in conversations with my friends about all of these little kids.
So on Friday night we had our annual Friendsgiving and no one brought their little kids. During dinner it was mentioned numerous times how nice it was not to have to chase anyone around or worry about anything...just eat and talk without a care in the world.
I was really happy for them, but again I'm the anomaly. I don't have to chase McIntosh and I can just eat and talk with him and not have a care in the world. Now granted I worry about everything with him, but that's a post for another time.
So I discovered this no-little-kids event had one bonus detail for me...I could light candles with reckless abandon...on the table...around the dining room...on coffee tables.
The tealights were out in full force.
I would have gotten a photo of the house all glowy, but that would have taken a tripod set up shortly before everyone was arriving...and I had to make turkey gravy instead.
I do have photos of the table though...with some candles...and my version of place card/napkin rings...and little flower arrangements...oh and our wedding "china" (Crate & Barrel circa 1999)...
I mentioned the other day that I always make CDs for everyone to take home and I accidentally made one extra. I'd love to share it with my friends here...please leave a comment if you'd like it...