My thanksgiving Menu and Plan (Plus Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving Planner)

By Julie Sews - 6:58:00 PM

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I am hosting Thanksgiving this year (for the 5th year) for 10 people.  I am currently planning my week prepping for Thanksgiving and starting on things I can freeze.  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 use to always try to make something different every year (that means experimental), but I've learned it's usually not worth the effort to go to far from the basics.   Also it's better to just make a lot of the basics, rather then having lots of dishes to chose from.  It's a lot less work and less overwhelming for guests. 

 Here's my menu of what I'm serving this year:

My Menu

Snacks (always good to have in case the turkey takes to long):

raw unsalted nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds) and olives (for my niece).  I did chocolate pretzel peanut butter bites last year and they we're actually to big of a hit, everyone filled up on them before diner and were not very hungry for the huge feast I made.


Organic Crockpot Apple Cider

Naturally Sugar free Berry Iced Tea


Asiago, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet and spicy mashed sweet potatoes, , stuffing, carrots and squash, cherry cranberry mint sauce,
  sweet potato biscuits, 
Main Brined Turkey with spiced butter (from Martha Stewart's Planner)
Gravy I plan to make it from scratch but bought some from Whole foods as a back up just incase


Raw pie crust (same as in my raw cheese cake recipe), filled by organic chocolate pudding pie mix and topped with  chocolate shavings (recipe will be posted soon) 

White Chocolate pie

My Weekly Planner

Wed  (the week before) Make Sweet potato Biscuits and freeze

Thursday  (the week before) Make pies and freeze

Fri  (the week before)
make bread as filler for stuffing (10z isn't enough) I use a bag mix from local health stores and add some of my own bread I make to it as filler
Shopping Buy 16 lb Turky and place in fridge (it takes 4-5 days to defrost) (be aware of possible blood leakage)
light cleaning (so it's not so bad on Wed)
Fill pantry items and salt and pepper shakers

Pick up any remaining ingredients from the store 
 Fill all ice trays we have 
Take sausage out of freezer
Mince onions, and celery (for stuffing )
Make Spiced herb butter (3/4 of a stick) and cinnamon honey butter spread
2 days before (Tues night)
Chop up about 2 lbs of carrots and squash and put into a plastic bag
Make cranberry sauce
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 biscuits from freezer to counter
Make Sweet potatoes and place in a dish to heat in oven
Make Stuffing
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 for crockpot cider and clean juicer put juice in crockpot in fridge
make iced tea in pitcher

Thanksgiving day 

Here's what I wrote last year: (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 ovenMake coffee for me.

6:30 Take stuffing out and add eggs, and stuff Turkey, add carrots, squash 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.
Set table before guest arrive.
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)
12:30 start cooking mashed potatoes, depending on when guests are arriving, reheat sweet potatoes  in small oven on low (we have a double oven).  Start whisking broth, butter and flour as a base for gravy and add drippings as soon as I can.
1:30 (I gave 2 hr lean way time if done early just have on warm) start carving turkey, and reheat gravy on the stove (if I have to use my back up store bought) and mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and stuffing in the oven on 325 degrees for 30 min.
2:00 should be ready to eat.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I'll be adding more Thanksgiving recipes soon so check back often.

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