Thanksgiving Tips, Take 2.

I can not concentrate, I want it to be Thanksgiving today. There is snow outside on the ground, I finally broke out all my winter wear, and my cat is snuggled up on the bed behind me. I cannot wait to wake up on Thursday, watch the parade in my pajamas while listening to The Splendid Table's Turkey Confidential on MPR and dream about the meals ahead of me. In the meantime, I guess I will just eat this slice of pumpkin pie and share a little more.


Do not be afraid. This is really easy. Ready?

- Make bread into smaller pieces (tear, cut or snip with scissors). Dry them out naturally or in oven at a low temperature (200s). Saute vegetables (traditional: butter, healthier: 1/2 butter, 1/2 olive oil), combine with bread. Add herbs. Add stock until desired consistency. Put in 9x13, bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

- The night before the big day, I put a pot of water on the stove, add: couple bay leaves, 4 sprigs parsley, salt, peppercorns, garlic, moderate sized pieces of onion, carrots, and celery; bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer while I tear up and toast bread crumbs and chop up my veggies for the next day. I use the veggie stock in my stuffing and whereelse it's needed.

- 1 loaf bread = about 6-8 cups which is good for 6-8 people.

Combinations I like:

Traditional: wheat/white bread, sage, parsley, thyme, oregano, carrots, celery, garlic, onion

Cornbread, jalapenos, bell peppers, onion, corn, celery, a little cheese, cilantro, cumin, garlic, chili powder, oregano (non-veggie: add some chorizo)

Rye and wheat bread, sage, parsley, thyme, carrots, celery, quartered mushrooms, onion, garlic (non-vegan: add parmesan)

Adding chopped apples, craisins, pears, or all 3 can lend to a simple and delicious variation

- Check your stuffing during its cooking to make sure it's not too dry.

Green Bean Casserole

- Off brand french fried onions are never as good, stick to French's.

- I make my own cream of mushroom soup. Saute about a pound of mushrooms (whatever you want to use), again I use half butter/half olive oil, add some onions and garlic and let it sweat for awhile. Stir in 1 T. flour, then add 2 c. milk and 2 c. stock, simmer. You can either puree or not.

- Mix green beans (french cut are the best), cream of mushroom soup, some parmesan, and 1/2 c. of french fried onions together. Put in pan, top it off with the rest of the onions and bake 30-45 minutes depending on what's in your oven and the temperature.

- If you're using canned beans, let them sit in a strainer for a good while (20 min) to get rid of excess water.

Sweet Potatoes

- Sweet potatoes are not yams, and yams are not sweet potatoes. But most people don't know the difference.

- Orange juice, butter (if you want), a little brown sugar, little molasses or maple syrup, a tiny amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, and add a little salt and ginger

- Spread in an oven proof dish and top with marshmallows. Either bake to reheat, or broil to brown marshmallows.

Mashed Potatoes

The secret to my mashed potatoes is that my husband makes them. He's a potato master.


- Martha Stewart's pie crust recipe is the best. Always use it, always have a great crust - except don't add water to the food processor. You need to work it into the dough a little bit at a time yourself so that you can tell what your consistency is.

- I use about 3-4 pounds of apples in a pie. Apple-licious. Use both brown and white sugar, even if it just calls for one. I also add a little ginger into my apple mix with the cinnamon. Also, I like a crumb top on my apple pie. Mix together some flour, sugar, and butter - sprinkle over the top.

- Pumpkin: I use the can recipe, but add the milk at the end a little at a time to make sure it's not too runny. If you fill your crust and have extra, bake a little pumpkin delight in a ramekin. It's my favorite treat.

- Whipped Cream: 1 part heavy cream to 1 part powdered sugar, a little vanilla. Use a mixer or immersion blender and in 5 minutes you have homemade whipped cream. It's that simple. Seriously.


One more tip I forgot - plan out what dish is going to be cooked and served in what beforehand. I put notes in the dishes so that people helping don't guess or get it wrong. Also, this helps you remember something you forgot. Like that jello salad sitting in your refrigerator the whole meal. Or the sweet potatoes you put in the oven in a plastic dish and forgot until that funny smell... 

Mmmm... Thanksgiving. What a delicious holiday.