Most of that help comes from family and friends -- the kinds that make you signs that say "don't panic," in an effort to minimize freak outs. Other help is situational -- like working on a home project or recipe that doesn't turn out as planned, but also does not negatively impact forward motion of anything else. I have been a bit absent on the blog this past week because of such hiccups. I have been frustrated with myself for not posting and worrying about when the next post would be ready. But then I really thought about it and found myself realizing, everyone has things that go awry or make them worry. Last week we tried to make southwestern chicken baked egg rolls, but they just didn't work out. And it is all good and not a big deal. Worry controlled.
Balsamic roasted sweet potatoes
Green bean casserole
Sweet yellow corn
Apple pie with vanilla ice cream
House drink - red sangria
1. Get your menu together early. This will help you to determine if you are missing any required tools or equipment -- like a roasting pan, in our case. It will also help you to plan for grocery or specialty store shopping. And, planning your menu will provide you with flexibility to best prepare for vegetarians or guests with other dietary restrictions. I focused on making all the side dishes vegetarian (no meat broths) so that the only flagged item was the turkey itself.
2. Plan for the week ahead. Consider what items can or need to be prepared before the day of your event. In our case, we baked the cornbread days in advance so that it could dry out a bit before being used as stuffing. I baked the pies the day before so that they would be out of the way as well. Finally, we prepped the sangria the evening before.
3. Prepare an order of operations for the day of the dinner. There are a lot of peeling and slicing in your future, so plan accordingly. My order of operations included:
1. Get the bird in the oven.
2. Peel and slice all potatoes.
3. Chop pecans and cook with onions for stuffing. Mix with cornbread, cover and set aside.
4. Cook sweet potatoes in balsamic reduction until soft. Spread on greased cookie sheet, cover and set aside.
5. Slice onions and mushrooms. Cook broth, mushrooms, and cream for casserole base.
Mix with beans and onions, cover and set aside.
TAKE A BREAK
6. Remove the turkey from the oven to rest.
7. Replace with stuffing, casserole, and sweet potatoes.
8. Bring water to a boil and get potatoes going potatoes.
9. Cook gravy with turkey drippings.
10. Prepare crescent rolls.
11. Carve turkey.
12. Remove sides from oven and cover.
13. Bake rolls.
14. Cook corn in the microwave.
15. Mash potatoes.
PLATE ALL DISHES AND SERVE
16. Put pies in oven as it cools so they will be warm to serve.
1. Plan jobs for people to help with. Friends are great when they offer a hand, but often you can be caught off guard or not have a good task on hand. So be prepared with a few jobs like drink duty, table setting or food plating.
2. Clean up as you go. Especially if you are working in a small kitchen, this will make moving dishes, serving, and end of meal clean up much less haphazard.
3. Stop if you are not having fun. Take breaks when you need to. Plan to ask for help on things you really don't enjoy or have trouble with.
And it went well! Turkey was good and its leftovers are still good -- with nothing to worry about!
PS. And then I stood up and found a tick on my skin. Worried again.