Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Let Mom Experience the Holidays, Too!





As an adult, I have this new respect for my mom and my grandma who worked in the kitchen the whole day on Thanksgiving and even on Christmas to make sure that everyone had a favorite dish to eat on Thanksgiving. For one thing, food is EXPENSIVE and for another thing, it can take a long time to make those dishes.

Now that I'm hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, I realize how time consuming it really is. I felt that I missed most of the Christmas cheer and celebration, last year, so this year, I vowed that it wouldn't happen again.

How Do You Give Yourself Extra Time?


  • Prepare Dishes ahead of time- Prepare any dish that you can the night before. A few weeks ago, I posted 7 different Easy to Make Thanksgiving dishes. Almost every single one of those can be prepared the night before. Then, about 30-40 minutes before the meal is to be served, slip those in the oven (If that's where they go) and voila, you have most of your morning to do what you want to do. 

Related- How to Have an Easy Thanksgiving with These Easy-to-Make Side Dishes


  • Do take out- If your family is happy with ordering out there may still be restaurants open that day, but before deciding to do that, check around your area to see if any of them do offer that. 
  • Don't prepare so much food- I know this seems silly because Thanksgiving-especially- is about being thankful, but also the food spread. If you can find just a few dishes that everyone likes, do that instead.
  • Potluck style- You're already offering your house as a place to gather. Make the turkey and have guests or other family members prepare a dish. As your kids get older, involve them in the cooking.
  • Already Prepared Food- Not everything needs to be homemade. If you can throw some frozen vegetables in the microwave and you want to, do it! Buy that pie that's already made! 
  • Take Turns to Host- If you always host and you don't mind giving up the title to someone else, ask someone else to take over from time to time. If you feel guilty, bring a dish to pass.
  • Use Fake Dishes- Did you know that you can buy fake china? I discovered some Premium Plastic Plates at Sam's Club a few years ago. They look like the real thing, but you don't have to wash them. Just recycle them. I know this can be wasteful, but it really does save you time and you don't have to worry about whether or not you have enough dishes or silverware to serve your guests. 

Prepare Your Food Station Ahead of Time

There's nothing more frustrating than figuring everything out at the last minute. Figure out your game plan! What will you do when it's time to eat? Do you have a place for the food to go?


  • Make room for food- We have a dining room. We try to fit the main dishes in the middle of the table, but it doesn't fit all of it. We end up putting a card table to a side with less foot traffic and put desserts and side dishes on it. If there isn't enough room, put the dessert in the fridge or some other place that's safe from animals and people bumping into it. 
  • Move things around- If you are having guests, the house can get easily crowded. If you can, temporarily move your furniture around so that there is ease of moving around. 
  • Ask Someone to Set the Table- We use our dining room table for everything including socializing. It's difficult to play games or talk when you're doing it over empty dishes. I usually put out a nice tablecloth, maybe some pretty centerpieces, and then leave the rest of the table open. When I know the food is just about ready, I ask my kids to help set the table. Since we have family and friends, I really don't care too much about how it looks after because they still love me for me.
If you have a plan, you don't have to hurriedly scramble things together and keep your wits about you.  


What to Do With the Extra Time that You Get?

Do what you love to do with your family.

Examples:


  • Play board games- My kids are just getting to the age where they can enjoy and understand some of my favorite board games. We're not quite ready to play Monopoly yet, (maybe Monopoly isn't the game to play on a day when you're supposed to be thankful) but Battleship is pretty easy to play. 
  • Make Crafts- Construction paper is really one of my favorite things to use for crafts. You can make hand turkeys or pilgrim hats. Last year, I cut out a tree trunk and then a base for leaves. Then with red, yellow, and orange construction paper, I cut out tear drop shaped leave and each of us wrote five things we were thankful for, then taped them to the tree for a thankful tree.








































We made Turkey puppets, this year. We have Peg Leg Joe, Princess Turkey, Bat Turkey with a cold beak, and Turkey Robin.
  • Watch Movies- It doesn't have to be a Thanksgiving movie or a Christmas movie, just find a movie that you, the kids, and the rest of the family enjoys and pop it in. 
    • Pop some popcorn and add some M&Ms for a special treat.
    • Snuggle up with warm blankets.
    • Drink some hot cocoa! My favorite is Land O' Lakes Hot Cocoa. 
  • Play Some Games with the Adults- It's ok to NOT do everything with your kids. If they are busy watching their own movie or playing without killing each other, play some card games or other games that you don't get to do normally. Moms and Dads- you spend so much time with your kids, it's ok to have adult time. Some of my favorite, and sometimes not appropriate games to play are:
    • Cards Against Humanity- not suitable for children or playing with your grandparents, unless they're dirty minded or politically incorrect.
    • Apples to Apples- This is family friendly. There is a judge who either gives you a word or a description and everyone else who is playing either plays the word or description that they think fits that word best and the judge picks which one is best. 
    • Risk- Like Monopoly, this can cause your family to be estranged. 
    • Scrabble- This is a game that your kids can play if they aren't competitive. It teaches them how to read, spell, and learn new words for their vocabulary. 
Eat!


If you made a turkey or ham, it's going to be done cooking between 3-5 hours. (perhaps more if it's very large). It's going to need some time to cool, so after you take it out of the oven, throw in your other side dishes that were prepared ahead of time. I know some recipes give different times and temps. What I usually do is find the middle ground and adjust the time accordingly. As long as you're not preparing other meat items, what we're mostly looking for is that the dish is warmed through.


Have your kids set the table and then have everyone sit down and eat.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Remember, this is the time to be Thankful, although we should always be grateful for what we have, but relax. Take it easy and enjoy the ones you love!

Don't let the busyness of these holidays ruin your quality time and enjoyment of the day!



Monday, November 12, 2018

How to Have an EASY Thanksgiving With 7 Easy-to-Make Side Dishes





Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday (political things put aside) to celebrate each year with your family and friends. When I was younger, we would all go over to my Grandma's and we'd eat until we were too stuffed to move.

Now, as an adult with my own home and dining room, I like to host my own Thanksgiving dinner. The very first year we were in our home, we invited my husband's and my side of the family to come celebrate with us. I don't remember the number for sure, but I think we had 18 people to feed. We had our long dining room table and added a long folding table at the end and we fit snuggly, but we still fit!

We haven't had as many people come since that first one, but we still have a pretty big turn out and with that comes a lot of food and each person has that one special thing that they like to eat for Thanksgiving.

As a parent with young kids, hosting Thanksgiving can be a bit chaotic, but bringing your kids to another person's house can give you more anxiety than hosting Thanksgiving dinner, so I just choose to host it.

So how do you make it work for you? If you are hosting a multi-family Thanksgiving, cooking can be expensive and overwhelming. This is what we do in our family.

POTLUCK Style!!!

Usually, my mother-in-law will make the turkey, and I will make a ham. From there, we make a list of the dishes that we would like to have and we divide the list in half- or if there are more people joining us, we ask them the chip in by bringing a dish or two to pass.

If this appeals to you or if you are just looking for dishes to make even though you are cooking for your family by yourself, here's a list of our easy-to-make dishes that never seem to fail us.

You're going to notice a trend and that trend is, if it isn't easy to make, it's not making this list. 

Breakfast Pizza- What some people forget when it comes to big holidays is that we still need to eat earlier on in the day unless you're going to eat everything around noon, but we usually do our Thanksgiving dinner around 4 or 5 in the afternoon because some of our loved ones still work that day. An easy way to feed everyone is to make this Breakfast Pizza. It's super delicious and very easy to make. 
Click Breakfast Pizza for recipe. 

Green Stuff- Ok, the name sounds really weird and it's not very descriptive, but growing up, my grandma made this Jello salad (made with cottage cheese and Jello) that was absolutely delicious. It's not quite a dessert so we sometimes ate it with the food or we sometimes saved it for dessert time. This is a dish that you can and SHOULD make the night before so it has time to set. 

Click Green Stuff for recipe. 

It's super easy to make and you can make it several ways. For instance, in the pictures, I made it with strawberry jello instead of lime. 


Strawberry Jello Graham Cracker Surprise-  Since we just introduced a dish that should be made the night before, here is another one. 

This dish was a complete accident when I came up with it, but the accident turned into a marvelous creation. If you like Jello Pretzel dessert, you'll probably like this too. With everything blended together, it gives a rich, smooth taste with your favorite jello taste and the fruits added make it somewhat healthyish, right?

It's not a pie or a sea foam salad, but it's still absolutely delicious and easy to pass around your table.

Click Strawberry Jello Graham Cracker Surprise for the recipe

Corn Bread Casserole- With very few ingredients and even fewer instructions, this is the perfect side dish to add to your Thanksgiving meal. Cornbread is such a great comfort food and having it mixed with these other ingredients, your taste buds will be sure to love you. 


Click Cornbread Casserole for recipe. 

Green Bean Casserole-  This dish is probably my favorite in the side dish category. The dessert category is a whole 'nother thing. Before I moved on my own, my mom always made this casserole and I always thought that it must have been really difficult to make since it tasted so good. I was completely wrong. I kind of feel like maybe my mom had this smart idea to make cooking seem hard so that we felt thankful for her and to show our gratitude, we did the dishes. Who am I kidding, the dish washer did that for us. 
Click Green Bean Casserole for recipe

Candied Sweet Potatoes-  As long as I can remember, I have always loved sweet potatoes. My mom, who didn't cook often, would make this dish every Thanksgiving meal and if it didn't get made, I protested. 

Sweet potatoes, which are already sweet, hence the name, become even sweeter with this recipe. The ooey, gooey marshmallows add a great flavor and texture and the pecans can be optional- When I make it, I add them to one side so those who don't like the nutty flavor and texture can enjoy the potatoes without them. 

Click Candied Sweet Potatoes for the recipe.
Garlic Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes-  When I asked my brothers-in-law what side dish they wanted and had to have for Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes was the number one answer. Although I leave my mother-in-law in charge of potatoes and she makes hers a little differently, you still can't go wrong with this recipe. 
Click Garlic Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes for recipe. 
Conclusion

There are SOOOO many more dishes that you can make for Thanksgiving, but this is the easy list. Everything else that gets made for our family goes up in difficulty and I leave those dishes to my mother-in-law because she has the recipe and if it isn't easy, I don't want to make it. 

Thanksgiving is a time to feel thankful and I know that for me, it's hard to get into that mindset when I spend the whole day in the kitchen while the rest of the family is somewhere else in the house. 

You can prepare many of these dishes the night before and warm them up in the oven usually about a 30-45 minutes before the meal is to start. 

Just remember, that when making these dishes, make sure that you have time to prepare them and also have fun with your family.

Because these are so easy, don't stress out and enjoy the day.

If you want desserts, order a pie or something else that is already pre-made and only needs to sit on the counter to thaw.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and to be with family. If you're too stressed out, you're doing it wrong, so do it right. Enlist some help! Have your kids set the table. Include them so that the feel responsible and like they had a part in making this celebration. 

Most importantly, Have FUN!!!!!

Also, because I'm so grateful for every single one of you, I've made this FREE Thanksgiving checklist just for you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Garlic Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes




Mashed potatoes is definitely one of those dishes that is considered a comfort food. You can't even go to KFC or Popeye's without being asked if you'd like some mashed potatoes with that and that's fine with me.

I love mashed potatoes, but unfortunately for me, my husband and kids don't like them, so Thanksgiving is the only time I get to really have them unless we've gone out to a restaurant and I can get my own single serve side of them. It's really a sad thing, but it makes Thanksgiving that much better.

Related- Things I had to Give Up When I Became a Family

If you really want to go easy, I suggest you find yourself a good, flavorful box of instant mashed potatoes, but if you want the real deal, here's a recipe just for you!

Ingredients

More pictures to come


  • 3 pounds of brown potatoes- peeled
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 2 tbs of garlic salt

Instructions


  • Grab a big large pot of water and boil it.
  • Peel and dice potatoes- it's easier to cook all the way if cut into smaller pieces.
  • Carefully add potatoes to the large pot of water and boil for 15 minutes or until potato is tender. 
  • Once tender, drain potatoes and place back into the pan.
  • Mash potatoes with a masher or a hand mixer. 
  • Melt butter and add to the potatoes with remaining ingredients. 
  • Blend well, transfer to a nicer dish, and serve
If potatoes are clumpy and dry, add a little more milk until smooth and creamy. Not too much or the potatoes will be runny.

What's your favorite side dish?



Candied Sweet Potatoes




I said before that green bean casserole was my favorite Thanksgiving dish, but that has to be a lie because I absolutely love Candied Sweet Potatoes. Perhaps they can tie, although, I really do love me some regular mashed potatoes.

Since sweet potatoes are already sweet, there really isn't a need to doctor them up, but when you make it this way, it just really enhances the flavor. It takes a regular side dish and makes it into a dessert and really, who doesn't love dessert. (Keep your hands down you naysayer!)

My motto for Thanksgiving is "If it isn't easy, I'm not making it" and this is certainly, a very easy dish to make.

Ingredients


  • 4 16oz cans of sweet potatoes (drained)
  • 1 1/2 cups margarine or 2 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups of marshmallow


Better pictures to come
Instructions

  • In microwave safe bowl, melt butter then mix with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add 2 cups marshmallows, stir. 
  • Pour mixture over the sweet potatoes. If you wish for smaller bites, you can mash them, but I usually don't and bake for 20 minutes. 
  • Carefully pull sweet potatoes out of the oven and sprinkle remaining marshmallows over it and put back in the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes or until marshmallows begin to turn golden. 
Pull out and wait a few minutes before serving. It's super easy and delicious!

Have you tried your sweet potatoes, this way? Did you love it or was it just not for you?

The Beginner's Bible

Disclaimer- I received this Bible in exchange for an honest review. Although I was asked to review this product, all reviews are my honest...

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