Tag Archives: dinner

Turkey Day Countdown: The Timeline

turkeyIn most families, there’s no diverging from the classic Thanksgiving menu of turkey and all the trimmings.  And we say cheers to that!  With many of the beloved foods gracing the table just once a year with this sort of fanfare, replacing them with untried and newfangled creations could be a disaster.  In our family, it’s the recipes that have been passed down for ages that tend to be the biggest crowd-pleasers.  And with just over a week to go until the much anticipated turkey day, we’re hoping to help you out with some of our best tips and tricks for a delicious and enjoyable day of giving thanks!

It’s not to early to start on the preparations for the big day.  Now’s the time to get your timeline in place and plan the menu.  Here’s our rough overview for planning out the days until Thanksgiving.

T-Minus 7-10 Days

  • Plan the menu – Put together your list of what you’ll be serving along with any dishes that other guests have offered to bring.  And hopefully, you’ve already ordered the turkey, but if you haven’t yet, hurry!!!
  • Purchase the non-perishables – if you buy them now, they’ll be in your pantry and if you forget something, you can still pick it up when getting the last minute items.
  • Make pie dough – If you’re making pies, it’s a great time to make the dough.  Roll it out, put it in the pie dish, wrap well and freeze.  For slabs of dough to top a pie, perhaps apple, press into a 1″ thick round disk and wrap well in plastic wrap then freeze.

T-Minus 4-6 Days

  • Purchase any alcohol – Might as well stock the wine shelves and liquor cabinet now.  It’s one less stress for later.
  • Polish silver – If it doesn’t get much use, chances are your silverware is in need a little buffering.  Don’t leave it until the last minute or it won’t happen.
  • Begin defrosting the turkey – Depending on the weight of your bird, if it is frozen, it’s best to allow 4-5 days to let it defrost in the fridge.  You’ll need to allot 5 hours for every pound of turkey.

T-Minus 3 Days

  • Cranberry sauce – Go ahead and make this.  It keeps well in the fridge and if you’re including other flavors, such as orange zest, the flavors will meld better after sitting a couple of days.

T-Minus 2 Days

  • Iron the linens – Wash and press your linens.
  • Set the table – It’s a good idea to begin to set the table a couple of days before.  Whether it’s locating your missing crystal vase or purchasing an extra set of China, don’t leave it to the last minute.

T-Minus 1 Day

  • Flowers – Pick up or put together your table arrangements.  One day of sitting out will allow the flowers to open to be a little fuller.  Be sure to water them well as flowers are always thirsty after changes in temperature.
  • Give the turkey some attention – Prep the turkey (but do not stuff), and store in the refrigerator. If brining, begin the process this morning.
  • Shopping – Pick up all perishables and any other products from the grocery store… Chances are the later you go the more madness you’ll encounter!
  • Desserts –  Defrost pie dough; assemble and bake pies along with preparing any other desserts.
  • Potatoes – If mashing, peel and store in a large pot of cold water in the fridge.
  • Salad – Clean and dry salad greens, and store in a resealable plastic bag.
  • Wine – Put in the fridge or wine cellar to chill.
  • Side dishes – Prepare anything that can be put together and chilled in the fridge until baking tomorrow.

Thanksgiving Day!!!

  • Breads – Start the day by whipping up your bread dough.  Bake by lunchtime and then just warm while making the gravy.
  • Turkey – Remove turkey from fridge 2 hours before putting in the oven to bring to room temperature.  Bake until the temperature of the turkey at the thigh, which is the thickest part. If the thermometer reads 180 degree.  After removing from oven the turkey will need to sit for 30 minutes (just enough time to make gravy) to let the juices settle into the meat.
  • Stuffing – Prepare and put in turkey immediately before putting turkey in the oven.
  • Side dishes – Prepare anything that couldn’t be prepared the day before.  Bake and keep warm until the turkey is ready.  This includes cooking and mashing the potatoes.
  • Gravy – Prepare while turkey is resting.
  • Enjoy!  Grab a glass of wine and enjoy dinner with your family and friends!

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Filed under entertaining, Food, holiday, How To, Tip of the Day

Simon Pearce’s Shepherd’s Pie

A while back I told you about Simon Pearce, one of my favorite places to visit when in Vermont and since my parent’s were there last weekend and continue to rave about their Shepherd’s Pie (which is also one of my favorite things on the menu), I thought I’d share the recipe as it’s perfect for eating while snuggling up and watching movies on a rainy day!


Simon Pearce’s Shepherd’s Pie

1 lb ground lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sized red onion
1 teaspoon Raz el Hanout
1 cup beef gravy
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1 1/2 cups frozen sweet peas, thawed
1 1/2 cups carrots, cubed small and blanched
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
3 Tablespoons butter, cubed

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An Easy Fall Dinner in Less than an Hour

If you’re short on time and guests are arriving soon, quickly swing by the store for the following:

  • pork loin
  • sage
  • pancetta
  • little red potatoes
  • apples
  • puff pastry

and even you’ll be amazed at what you can whip up with less than an hour in the kitchen.  Here’s the menu of what you’ll be serving:

  • Roasted Pork Loin with Pancetta and Sage (see recipe below)
  • Oven Crisped Potatoes with Thyme
  • and for dessert – Tarte Tatin

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Filed under dessert, Food, Healthy, Recipes

A Blast from the Past – Homemade Meatloaf

meatloaf.jpgLast week I was striving for something new in the comfort food department while putting together our grocery list when my mom reminded me of my dad’s meatloaf. He would make it when my mom was busy taking care of one of the thousand things she managed to do when we were kids and we always loved it! He would bake it on a cookie sheet rather than in a loaf pan, which resulted in this delicious “crust.” Give it a try – you might just be surprised by this blast from the past!

Dad’s Meatloaf

(makes enough for dinner and sandwiches for lunch the next day)

5 slices white bread, turned into crumbs in the food processor
2 1/2 lbs ground beef (you can use half beef and half pork or veal as a variation)
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 large egg
1 cup ketchup
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tbsp coarse salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – it’s simply a gastronomes nirvana… A bird as the main course, 10 different side dishes and at least 3 desserts… and this is all at home with the comfort of couches and ottomans for letting food settle before going back for leftovers.thankstable1.jpg

I started preparing the menu a couple of weeks ago by digging out my “holiday” binder of favorite recipes and realized the Thanksgiving section was bursting at the seams, yet I hadn’t made a majority of the dishes which are a mix of everything from old family recipes to cutouts from the NY Times and I realized the reason behind this… No matter how much I try to put a twist on the dishes I am serving for Thanksgiving, everyone wants the classics! As a cook desperate to try new dishes for such a big culinary holiday, I find this both frustrating and comforting. Though I want the cornbread stuffing with cranberries, squash and pumpkin seeds, everyone else wants the tried and true bread stuffing with sage and onions.

So this year, I decided to put an end to everyone’s demands for the classics and just give them a bit of both in hopes of selling them on a new take on one of the must-have dishes. Now, I am not going to make all of this on my own… The plan goes something like this…

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