Trying to find the perfect chili dish to serve a large crowd for this weekend's Super Bowl? This guide of 10 great chili recipes gives you options of stovetop / crockpot and meat / vegetarian recipes -- find what works for your football fans.
The pressure is on now, Thanksgiving is happening this week, whether we are ready or not. So let's go ahead and be ready. We are excited to welcome our family to our first Thanksgiving in our new home. We are keeping the menu traditional and somewhat simple so that we can focus on some fun details and on our company. We will have a total of 1 vegetarian, 6 adult turkey-eaters and 1 kid turkey-eater. Here's what we have planned...
Served at 3:00 PM
Baked Raspberry Brie
Served at 5:00 PM
Oven Roasted Turkey (14 lbs)
Turkey Dripping Gravy
Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugar Crumble
Green Bean Casserole
Individual Spinach + Artichoke Macaroni Bites
Sweet Yellow Corn
Crescent Rolls with Cinnamon Butter Spread
Mom's Pecan Pumpkin Pie
Apple Carrot Cake
My friends gave me the opportunity to do a dry run of a turkey dinner earlier in the year, so I am feeling good going into my first Thanksgiving hosting experience. Worrying is controlled because I have a plan. I asked my guests to bring some items and I will have jobs for them to do in the kitchen to keep things on schedule for Thursday's dinner. With only a few days to go before the big day, here are some tips from my home to yours.
1. Set It Up
Give your table setting a dry run to make sure that you have enough plates, serving dishes, napkins, utensils, and glasses. It may seem unnecessary, but it easy to over-estimate what you have on hand.
2. Plan for Surprises
There's no need to cook more than you need -- but it is best to have enough for one or two more in case of surprise guests.
Make sure you have a few extra place settings too.
3. Get Brewing
Set up the coffee maker before you sit down to dinner so that you can have hot coffee ready as soon as you hit your dessert course.
4. Brown Paper Packages
Before your dishes move from the kitchen to the table, be prepared for them to return to the kitchen. Try to clean up prep space as you work. Then, lay out the leftover packing supplies. If you have guests heading on their way after dinner, wrap up a serving or two for them to take home.
5. Be Thankful
Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of burning rolls and mixed up seating arrangements, we can forget to be thankful. Or the family sits down at the table and plays and awkward game of who's going to say the blessing. No need to put anyone on the spot, prepare a prayer or poem card for each of you guests that the group can recite together.
I cannot think of a year that I had more to be thankful for. I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings and look forward to seeing how you will be celebrating this year (Instagram @themostcolorfulone). HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
I enjoy having people around -- it is great to share our space, meals, to break out the board games, or turn the living room into a dance club. We have proven our love for having people around by hosting 26 overnight guests since we moved into our house...less than three months ago. Whew, I am exhausted just thinking about that idea, but it has been a great summer.
When I was younger, I would prepare our parents' house for guests as a not-so-make-believe Full of Love Hotel. Working with my sister, this would entail itineraries, room keys, turn down services, branded soaps, and big breakfasts.
Now that my husband and I are in our own space, we have created a new Full of Love Hotel property that I call the Y at Forest Hills. And I am all for hospitality, especially when you invite friends or family to stay with you. But, when the hotel is not charging, there have to be some limitations on the hospitality. It is also my opinion that hospitality goes both ways. Things don't always go according to plan; I am not always successful at pulling all the pieces together, but here are a few of my tenets for the two way street of hospitality:
1. Make your guests comfortable. Try to prepare all of the elements of their stay so that they don't have to ask for anything from water to blankets, to hair dryers.
2. Treat your guests as they would like to be treated. If you guests don't like to be catered to, give them their own space. If they want to help, try to have tasks ready for them to lend a hand with.
3. Treat your host as they would like to be treated. If you host is shy or modest, don't make a big deal about things. If your host has things under control, listen to them when they say they don't need help.
4. Do what you gotta do. If you need people to bring their own towels or sheets, ask. If you need to run out to get extra ice while your guests are enjoying their stay, run out.
5. Have a signature drink. It may be water, it may be mint iced tea, or it may be sangria -- have lots of it on hand in pitchers for guests to grab on their own when they are thirsty.
6. If something gets broken or stained, let the host know -- you don't have to offer to replace it, but keep them informed and apologize. And as the host, don't make a big deal out of broken items, especially in front of other guests.
7. Make breakfast. If you are staying at my house, there will be breakfast. We don't have to talk about it; you don't have to eat it; but it will be there if you are hungry.
8. Brew coffee. Not a coffee drinker? Me either, but everyone else is.
9. Set the table. Having the table set will bring order to your space and help guests organize themselves without your supervision.
10. Send them off. Have water bottles on hand, offer to drive guests to the airport, continue to make your guests comfortable as they head on their way.
It's all in the personal details when it comes to hospitality -- guests should know what they are going to get when they arrive or be pleasantly surprised with the extra touches they find.
I do a lot of worrying. It is something that I cannot seem to overcome. Worrying has helped me along the way. My consistent urge to worry means that I am usually prepared for fear of being unprepared. But it also means I get especially flustered when thing don't go as expected, or my preparations don't serve as planned. I have filled my life with almost as many things as possible to worry about for the next few weeks, but I have some really great help to keep me in check.
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.
The worry is also controlled by trying new things and sharing them. As I mentioned a few weeks back, we planned a turkey dinner and rummage sale with some friends. This provided me with my first experience cooking a turkey and preparing a full holiday meal. There couldn't have been a better way to practice such an event and there was minimal panicking involved -- you know except for the usual concern about leaving the house with the oven on and not getting the potatoes to cook though in any sort of timely fashion. I have been worried about coordinating a turkey dinner since a time when most were worried about selecting an AIM screen name. It all came down to a menu and a plan. The following notes are as much, if not more, a guide for myself as they are (hopefully) helpful tips for you -- sorry.
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.
We're moving! And we have a lot to move. In an effort to cut back and get our move underway, we have decided to invite some friends over for a rummage sale dinner party. We hope to bring new light to a Sunday night family dinner and neighborhood garage sale all in one.
Here's the plan: guests will enjoy a turkey dinner while perusing our apartment for tagged items. They will be encouraged to make offers of what they can to help us make our move, but our pricing will be flexible. Tagged items will be noted as available to be taken on the spot or for pick up at a later date. We will still be around here for a bit longer and will need to hold onto our furniture and lamps for that while longer. There will be furniture, books, dishes, and home decor items available for the taking. Leftovers will probably find their ways to Goodwill, but we would love to see our items getting used by friends.
With all of the hype around Macklemore's Thrift Shop, the time feels right to turn our apartment into a secondhand shop. We are using Facebook to get people together because it is easy. And it will allow us to post previews of items for sale as we get ready for the event.
Life is crazy right now, planning for our move, finishing my thesis, trying to pull a new life together in a new city. Brainstorming for this event and putting together the little details really is my escape. It is so much fun to put the pieces together and create a fun night to celebrate all that is great with some of our friends. More updates are to come on getting the night together -- including my first turkey cooking adventure -- let's do this!
who : becky yannes.
where : easton, pa.
what : making, hosting, sharing.
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