My Thanksgiving Menu Recipes, and Plan (and a download of Martha Stewart's Planner)

By Julie Sews - 12:12:00 PM

I am hosting Thanksgiving this year (for the forth year) for 8 people.  I am currently planning my week prepping for Thanksgiving.  I  do a little every day, so all I have to worry about is the turkey and a few things on the day of Thanksgiving.  I lucked out the first year I hosted I found Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving planner (download it here).  By looking at her Thanksgiving schedule I realized "Hey you can make things ahead a time?"  Wow am I glad I realized that!  Thank you Martha Stewart.  That has made hosting Thanksgiving so much easier! I have since learned that cooking is really 80% planning.   Her 2004 planner is so complete it even has place cards, table arrangements, and leftover recipes.  It's also nearly impossible to find on the web.  I also found Cook's Illustrated's (of America's Test Kitchen) Thanksgiving planner

I am trying a few new recipes this year I always try a few to keep things fresh.  I figure if they don't turn out we have plenty of food, no big deal.   Here's my menu:

My Menu

Snacks (always good to have in case the turkey takes to long):
raw unsalted nuts, and peanut butter pretzel chocolate bites

Organic Crockpot Apple Cider
Naturally Sugar free Berry Iced Tea
Sparkling Organic Juice (purchased from Whole Foods, it was the same price as Cub's but organic.

sides Asiago, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet and spicy mashed sweet potatoes, butternut squash mushroom bread pudding, stuffing, carrots
bread sweet potato biscuits, cherry cranberry mint sauce, and cinnamon apples
Main Brined Turkey with spiced butter (from Martha Stewart's Planner)
Gravy (purchased from Seward's Co-op) I make the real deal the next day for left overs, it's too much too do the day of since I have guest to host n'all)

Raw pie crust, filled by organic chocolate pudding pie mix and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings

My Weekly Planner
Take Turkey out of freezer and put in fridge of bought before Sat/Sun (be aware of possible blood leakage)
make bread for bread pudding and filler for stuffing (10z isn't enough)
cook ¾ cup of mashed and cooled sweet potatoes (for biscuits)
Make peanut butter filling for chocolate, peanut butter, pretzel bites  and make pretzel "sandwiches" and freeze 
light cleaning (so it's not so bad on Wed)

Fill all ice trays we have
Take sausage out of freezer
Mince onions, and mushrooms (for stuffing and bread pudding)
Chop up about 2 lbs of carrots and squash and put into a plastic bag
Make Spiced herb butter (3/4 of a stick)
Make raw pie crusts and freeze
Dip pretzel snacks in chocolate and freeze

2 days before (Tues night)
Make sweet potato biscuits and freeze
Pick up any remaining ingredients from the store
Make cranberry sauce
Make cinnamon apples
Fill pantry items and salt and pepper shakers
Do all dishes (make sure serving-wear is cleaned), clean kitchen
pull out table

Day before (Wed)
Brine the Turkey: according to Cook's Illustrated If you have room in your refrigerator, brine the turkey this afternoon, dry it off, and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight (at least 8 hours). Roasting an air-dried turkey makes for exceptionally crisp skin
 Take out bread from freezer to fridge
Make Sweet potatoes and place in a dish to heat in oven
Make Stuffing
Make butternut squash bread pudding
Chop up potatoes and put in water
Clean roasting pan and put tin foil down
Do all dishes, clean kitchen
Take out trash and recycling
Set up card table in kitchen for food buffet (napkins and paper plates, plates, candle, etc.)
Clean Mr cat’s litter box
Make sure drinks are in the fridge or basement
Make sure room for peoples shoes
Clean bathroom
Vacuum, set up table, clean coffee table
juice apple juice and clean juicer put juice in crockpot in fridge
make iced tea in pitcher

Thanksgiving day 

(Note: our Turkey is 14 lbs stuffed it should take 3-5 hrs depending on your source my experience in past years is that it took 5 hrs with a stuffed Turkey on 350 degrees to reach 170 degrees, so I am assuming 6 hrs this year and if it starts getting close to being done to early I will put the oven on low or warm.  I'd rather have it ready on time then have hungry guest waiting for hours to eat)

6:00 take out Turkey from refrigerator take out neck and gizzards (keep for making Turkey stock) Pre heat oven
Make coffee for me.
6:30 Take stuffing out and add eggs, and stuff Turkey, add carrots and broth or water to bottom of pan and tinfoil
6:45 – 7:00 put Turkey in oven as soon as you can (425 for first hour 350 after) basting every hour, keep adding water or broth if necessary
12:00 check Turkey temp if close to done. (According to Cook's Illustrated when the thickest part of the breast should register 165 degrees and the thickest part of the thigh 170-175 degrees).  If it is done bring temp of oven to 300degrees or lower depending on how close to done it is.
12:30-1:00 should be done (6 hrs of cooking time if it is done or close to being done bring temp down again)
2-2:30 start cooking mashed potatoes, depending on when guests are arriving, reheat sweet potatoes and bread pudding in small oven on low (we have a double oven)
3:00 (I gave 2 hr lean way time if done early just have on warm) start carving turkey, and reheat gravy on the stove and mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and mushroom bread pudding, and stuffing in the oven on 325 degrees for 30 min.
3:30 should be ready to eat. Notes from prior years: (2010: I would tell people 2:30-3:00 for when we will eat. 2011: I think I will tell people 3-3:30 to be on the safe side since we have a larger bird, even though I'll be putting it in the oven 1 hr sooner. 2009 and 2010 I aimed for 1:00 told people 2:00 and we eat at 3:30. Keep in mind you can drop the oven to warm.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I will be writing non-food related posts soon I promise.  I have super cool gardening and important health news posts waiting in the wings for you to read while your in a turkey-coma so check back soon!

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