Easy Way Gourmet: Get Ready Now for a Great Thanksgiving!

Nov 19, 2019 at 09:00 am by Easywaygourmet

Wow! Next week, you and yours will all be sitting down to a big dinner.

No matter how you usually celebrate Thanksgiving, this is the week to get ready—and there's no time like today to get going! But I want you to have one of those holidays where you get to relax, too.

You may need to do a little bit every day between now and then. But wouldn't it be a holiday miracle if you could actually have a bubble bath before Thanksgiving dinner this year?

Work with me and let's see if we can't have the most relaxed holiday ever. Go ahead and assign beverages to your family wine connoisseur or your spouse.

This is just one way to delegate—and you don't need to cook dinner and be pouring drinks too! If you have friends who cook coming, you might even assign different menu items for them to bring.

Regardless of your delegating plan, start today organizing your menu and grocery shopping.

If you don't already have your turkey get it now! For frozen turkeys, you have to start thawing soon—food safety experts recommend four hours per pound of thawing (not including the day you will cook the turkey!)

If you plan to have ham, you can still order a Heavenly Ham before this Saturday. If you really want to relax, you can actually get everything from there—pies, sides, the whole shebang. Then you can just heat and eat next week.

If, like me, you just can't resist cooking a bit, plan ahead and make it easy. For your side dishes, you can get most of the shopping out of the way this week also. Refrigerated items like cheeses, cream, butter and most produce will hold also—just check those sell by dates! So shop today for everything but salad greens, tender produce and bread or rolls. Pick up last minute items next Tuesday or Wednesday after work, but get everything else now.

If you need a starting point, here's my family's Thanksgiving menu for this year. I am trying out a few new recipes which I have tested with friends. They made the cut by being both yummy and super easy to prepare. Regardless, enjoy a healthy and happy holiday!

Easy Way Gourmet 2019 Thanksgiving Schedule


Bacon Wrapped Butternut Squash
Roast Turkey
Giblet Gravy
Sausage Pecan Dressing
Corn Casserole
Brussels with Bacon and Balsamic
Apple Butter Acorn Squash
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Pumpkin Cheesecake

My shopping list for this week looks like this:

Produce Section
Chopped pecan pieces
Sweet Yellow Onions
Green Bell Pepper
Fresh Mushrooms
Sweet Potato
Fresh Cranberries
Brussel Sprouts
Acorn Squash—figure ½ small or ¼ large per person
Butternut Squash

Staples and Canned Goods
Chicken Stock
Cornbread Mix
Canned Pumpkin
Herbs and Spices
Flour, Sugar and Honey
Graham Crackers
Bread Crumbs
Apple Butter
Balsamic Vinegar

Dairy Section
Cream Cheese
Cheddar Cheese
Heavy Cream
No-Fat Sour Cream
Refrigerated Pie Dough

Meat Department
Ham (if you plan on one)
Breakfast Sausage

Freezer Department
Corn Kernels
My preparation schedule looks like this:

One week ahead
Grocery shopping (starter list above)
Figure out centerpieces

Saturday Prior
Make, chill then freeze cheesecake
Make biscuits or cornbread for dressing
Check on turkey cooking and thawing times based on turkey size

Sunday Prior
Set Table
Get turkey thawing in the refrigerator

Monday Prior
Scrub and roast sweet potatoes for biscuits
Cook off sausage for stuffing

Tuesday Prior
Check on turkey progress
Assemble Corn Casserole and refrigerate

Wednesday Prior
Make Pie
Remove cheesecake from freezer to refrigerator
Chop celery and onions for dressing, refrigerate
Check and buy any other groceries needed
Get breads out and open to dry for dressing
Assemble Butternut Squash with Bacon and Acorn Squash, refrigerate
Peel and half Brussels Sprouts

Thanksgiving Thursday
Make Dressing
Make and Bake Sweet Potato Biscuits
Start Roasting Turkey
Take that bubble bath
Bake Butternut Squash Appetizers and arrange for serving
Bake Acorn Squash, Bacon and Brussels, Corn Casserole
Remove Turkey to rest
Make gravy
Serve dinner!

The Recipes

Bacon Wrapped Butternut Squash Appetizers

1 small butternut squash
½ pound thin sliced bacon

Peel the squash and cut into ½ inch slices. Wrap a half slice of bacon around each slice of squash. Lay the slices out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400oF for twenty minutes or until the bacon is browned and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Corn Casserole

2 cups cooked corn kernels
3 Tbs. Butter
1 /4 cup chopped onion
1 /4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 /4 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 Tbs. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. ground pepper
3 /4 cup milk
1 /2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 /2 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbs. butter, melted

Melt the 3 Tbs. butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and peppers to the butter and cook them until the onion is translucent. Add the flour and blend thoroughly. Cook the mixture another four minutes, then whisk in the milk. Cook until it is boiling, turn the heat down and add the cheese. Stir in the corn and seasonings. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a buttered casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs and sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. At this point, you can refrigerate the casserole for up to two days. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until browned on top and heated through. Serve hot.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic

2 pounds fresh brussels sprouts
½ pound bacon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Trim the ends and edges of the brussels sprouts and cut them in half. Dice the bacon. Toss the brussels sprouts and bacon together. Lay them on a heavy rimmed baking pan in one layer. Roast for ten minutes at 350º to 400ºF. Stir the mixture, to turn the sprouts over and roast another ten minutes. Drizzle the browned brussels sprouts with balsamic and return to the oven for a few minutes, or put in a casserole dish and put on a warmer until service.

Apple Butter Acorn Squash

(This recipe is for 8 people, but you can easily adjust it to fit your number of guests

4 small acorn squash—figure ½ small squash or a quarter of a large squash per person
½ cup apple butter

Cut each small acorn squash in half, scrape out the seeds and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Dock each piece with a fork. In the seed cavity of each squash portion, put 2 tablespoon of apple butter. Roast the squash at 350-400ºF for 40 minutes, until the squash is soft inside but the shell isn't collapsing. Let them rest for a few minutes and serve.

Easy Sweet Potato Biscuits

(You can make these gluten free by using gluten free baking mix.)

8 ounces buttermilk style baking mix (such as Bisquik, Jiffy or Krusteaz)
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
3 TBS sugar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 cup mashed sweet potato
1/3 cup milk, cream or orange juice just enough to moisten the dough
1 tsp. sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Mash the sweet potato in the bottom of a bowl. On top of the sweet potatoes, mix the dry ingredients together with a fork. Stir everything together with the milk, cream or orange juice until you have the sweet potatoes incorporated and you have a stiff dough. Gently pat the dough out on a floured board, making sure it is about an inch thick all around. Cut the dough into biscuit sized pieces with a knife or biscuit cutter—for Valentines you could use a heart shape cookie cutter. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and sprinkle with a touch of sugar. Bake 15 minutes and serve hot with butter!

Ginger Pumpkin Cheesecake

The key to making this ahead is to let it cool gently—first on the counter just out of the oven, then in the refrigerator until it is chilled. Finally, wrap it in two layers—plastic wrap and then foil—and freeze it.

For the crust

1 1 /2 cups gingersnap crumbs
4 Tbs. melted butter
2 Tbs. ground pecans
3 Tbs. Sugar

For the center

1 lb. cream cheese
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
16 oz. pureed pumpkin
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 /2 tsp. each ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves
dash of salt

For the crust, combine ingredients well and press into the bottom and sides of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. For the center, mix the cream cheese and sugar thoroughly. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour into the crust and bake for 50 minutes at 350oF. Cool and then chill completely.

Turkey Thawing

Thaw frozen turkey in the refrigerator. Depending on how cold your refrigerator is, allow at least four hours per pound—not including day of cooking. Here are sample times to start thawing for different size turkeys:

12 lbs. 48 hours, Monday night

16 lbs. 64 hours, Monday morning

20 lbs. 80 hours, start Sunday morning