holiday dinners en-US Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-ahead-thanksgiving-dishes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Three girls cooking with cranberries" title="Three girls cooking with cranberries" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="137" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Thanksgiving can be stressful enough &mdash; lots of relatives in town, too much food to cook (in one tiny oven), and of course, timing it all to be ready at just the right moment. Thankfully, one of the best ways to decrease stress on Thanksgiving day is to make dishes ahead of time. (See also: <a href="" title="Five Last-Minute Thanksgiving Fixes">Five Last-Minute Thanksgiving Fixes</a>)</p> <p>Rather than rely on my relatively few years of experience preparing Thanksgiving, I called the ultimate expert in make-ahead Thanksgiving dish advice &mdash; my mom. My mom has always managed to pull together an amazing Thanksgiving feast where the only thing not homemade is the cranberries (my brother prefers the jelly cranberries in a can) despite working full-time and juggling two hectic kids' schedules.</p> <p>So, what are Mom's tips for dishes to make ahead? She offered her top three dishes in terms of time savings and what was least likely to affect the taste of the dish, along with several other make-ahead dishes and information that is just as important &mdash; what <em>not</em> to make ahead.</p> <h2>Top Three Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes</h2> <p>These three dishes require a fair amount of work, and the taste isn't overly affected if you make them ahead of time.</p> <p><strong>Apple Pie</strong></p> <p>Apple pie can be made a week or two ahead of time and frozen. When you bake it the first time, don't bake the pie all the way through. When you reheat it in the oven, the pie will finish cooking. Also, put some bread crumbs in the bottom of the pan under the crust &mdash; this way, when you cook the pie again after it has thawed, the breadcrumbs will absorb the extra liquid.</p> <p><strong>Stuffing</strong></p> <p>Stuffing requires a lot of peeling and chopping. But dressing (as in a dressing casserole, not a kind you make in the turkey) can be made the day before and reheated on Thanksgiving day.</p> <p><strong>Mashed Potatoes</strong></p> <p>Mashed potatoes can be made the day before and microwaved on Thanksgiving day. They are <em>almost</em> as good. (Mom's words, not mine. In fact, she always makes hers the day of, but if you need extra time due to the amount of work required to peel potatoes, they can be made ahead of time.)</p> <h2>Other Make-Ahead Dishes</h2> <p>While the following dishes might not be quite as good made ahead as the above three, they're still great. Do these next if you need to save more time.</p> <p><strong>Cranberries</strong></p> <p>Homemade cranberries should be made one to two days before and refrigerated, so that they are cold in time for the Thanksgiving feast.</p> <p><strong>Turkey Breast</strong></p> <p>If your family eats a lot of turkey breast, bake a breast separately (in addition to the full turkey). You can bake it the day before and store in the fridge in some turkey juice. It will absorb the juice and not dry out when you reheat it.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Rolls</strong></p> <p>Dinner rolls can be made one to two weeks ahead and wrapped tightly in tin foil and frozen. When you reheat them in the oven, be sure to keep them in the tin foil, as this will trap the steam and prevent the rolls from drying out.</p> <p><strong>Sweet Potatoes</strong></p> <p>Sweet potatoes can be made one day ahead of time and reheated in the microwave. Just wait to add any marshmallow topping until the dish is almost hot. Otherwise you will end up with exploded and sticky marshmallows coating the inside of your microwave.</p> <h2>Don't Try These Ahead of Time</h2> <p>There are a few dishes to always make on Thanksgiving day.</p> <p><strong>Turkey</strong></p> <p>There's just no way around it &mdash; you need to get up early and put your turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving morning. Besides the wonderful smell and better tasting meat, a <a href="">turkey made on the day of Thanksgiving</a> reduces the risk of food poisoning.</p> <p><strong>Pumpkin Pie</strong></p> <p>Pumpkin pie doesn't freeze well because it's a custard. The only exception would be if you own a commercial freezer that will flash-freeze the pie. But like with the turkey, the smell of freshly baking pumpkin pie is a staple of Thanksgiving.</p> <p><strong>Veggies</strong></p> <p>Every family has their own unique Thanksgiving vegetable. Whether it's salad or green bean casserole, it is best made on Thanksgiving day.</p> <p><strong>Whipped Cream</strong></p> <p>You can whip your cream most of the way on Thanksgiving morning and then finish whipping it right before serving. But you don't want to make whipped cream too far in advance, or it will turn&nbsp;back to liquid.</p> <h2>If You Do Nothing Else, Do This</h2> <p>Even if you can't or won't make dishes ahead of time, do these three things to save money and stress on the big day itself.</p> <p><strong>Take Stock</strong></p> <p>Two weeks before Thanksgiving, take stock of your cupboards and dishware. Determine exactly what dishes you'll need, so that if you need to borrow from a friend or family member, you can give them advance notice. Also determine which recipes you are going to use, and make lists of the ingredients you'll need. Chances are as the time gets closer to actually go shopping, you'll remember items you might have otherwise forgotten.</p> <p><strong>Set the Table</strong></p> <p>You can set your Thanksgiving table up to a week in advance. To easily get the wrinkles out of your tablecloth, spray a very fine mist of water on the table cloth. By Thanksgiving morning the wrinkles will fall out. (Don't spray too heavily, or you will mold the table or turn it white.) You can also put out all the silverware and dishes you'll need a week ahead of time.</p> <p><strong>Make Your Centerpiece</strong></p> <p>Either order your centerpiece in advance, or make a cheap centerpiece a few days to a week before Thanksgiving. A clear glass bowl of different colored apples is a favorite cheap, easy, and festive centerpiece.</p> <p>With these tips, you'll be on your way to a stress free Thanksgiving. For great make-ahead recipes for anytime of year, also check out <a href="" title="5 Awesome, Easy to Freeze Meals">5 Awesome, Easy to Freeze Meals</a> and <a href="" title="9 Make-Ahead, Freezable Breakfasts">9 Make-Ahead, Freezable Breakfasts</a>.</p> <p><em>Is there anything I've forgotten? What tips do you have to save stress on Thanksgiving day?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Elizabeth Lang</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Turkey Alternatives That Won&#039;t Break Your Holiday Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">11 Thanksgiving Recipes You Can Make in Your Crock Pot</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">15 Cheap and Delicious Punch Recipes for Holiday Parties</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Kick-Ass Alternatives to Canned Cranberry Sauce</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Mashed Potatoes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink holiday dinners make ahead food meal planning Thanksgiving Tue, 13 Nov 2012 10:36:51 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 955474 at Surviving the Holiday Season: Entertaining (and Being Entertained) on a Budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/surviving-the-holiday-season-entertaining-and-being-entertained-on-a-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src=" on a budget.JPG" alt="holiday entertaining" title="holiday entertaining" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">With the holiday season upon us, invitations to dinner parties &ndash; and expectations of reciprocating invitations &ndash; are on the increase. You bring a nice bottle of wine or bouquet of flowers (or even a Christmas present for closer acquaintances) to every home you visit. And you whip up a marvelous meal for those who visit you. Before you know it &ndash; without even starting your <a target="_blank" href="">Christmas shopping</a>, you have blown your holiday budget. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p></o:p>So how do you navigate this season of dinner parties and other seasonal cultural expectations without going broke at the end of the day? The answer to this question is as much a mystery to me as it is to anybody else. But here are a few ideas:<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h2>Gifts for your Host<o:p></o:p></h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Common etiquette prescribes that we bring along a gift when invited over for dinner (or lunch, or tea, or whatever). But what to bring? <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Scrap the Flowers</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">Cut flowers are pretty and all, but they don&rsquo;t last, they shed petals and pollen everywhere, and are bloody expensive to buy. Your host will appreciate them for about the first two days and then it will just be more of a nuisance than anything else. Save your budget &ndash; and think of something else to bring along as a gift. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">If you insist on bringing something living, a potted plant can sometimes be a better bet, less expensive, and will last longer. This is ideal if you know your host enjoys cultivating plants, and may even wish to transplant it to their garden. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Know Your Wine</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">If you don&rsquo;t know your wine, and/or your host does, your attempt to be budget friendly by buying the cheap stuff will be foiled and tacky. But how much <em>do</em> you spend on a bottle? This largely depends on the circles of friends you keep. I believe that a $15 bottle would be more than acceptable for most people. It still ain&rsquo;t cheap, but it&rsquo;s a quick fix for a last minute invitation. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">And what about the wine bags, which add an extra few bucks to the price tag? Unless you have a stack saved from bottles previously given to you, do your wallet &ndash; and the <a target="_blank" href="">environment&nbsp;</a> &ndash; a favor and find alternate forms of wrapping up your bottle if you must wrap it at all. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Sugary Sweets</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">Wildly popular during holiday time are <strong>home-baked goods</strong> and other candies. These are often a good bet, most people love them (even if they&rsquo;re on a diet &ndash; it is the holiday season after all), and it shows that personal touch which goes a long way beyond even pricier store-bought gifts. The down side? You have to bake. Hopefully you&rsquo;re good at it. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Scrumptious Savory</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">For a twist on bringing bad-for-you cookies and cakes, you could <strong>bake a loaf of bread</strong> instead (made fancy with nice herbs or other flavors), or even concoct a <strong>cream cheese dip from scratch</strong>. Try this one: whip up some plain cream cheese with a little lime juice, add green onions or chives, then spread it in a (recycled) plastic container (the kind you get from the deli). Top it with sweet chili sauce, and you have a dip that will make you a hit at parties for a fraction of what you would pay to buy the manufactured stuff. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Other Consumables</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">Don&rsquo;t know what to get the host with the most? Join the club. Stop guessing and simply get (or even better &ndash; make yourself) something consumable. Do you have an herb and flower garden that is on its last legs? Make a dried <strong>loose leaf tea mix</strong> and give it to them in a nice bottle with a tea strainer (both purchased at a dollar store or equivalent). Can&rsquo;t cook to save your life? Then make up a <strong>gift basket</strong> if you must. Fill it with inexpensive but nice staples and wrap it up nicely. The basket and bows can be purchased at the dollar store, and the contents don&rsquo;t have to be extravagant. A total purchase price can even be under $10 if you&rsquo;re smart about it and your host will appreciate this creative grab bag of goodies. They may even be able to turn around and serve those crackers you gave them at their next dinner party. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h2>Entertaining<o:p></o:p></h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">This is where being budget minded can get a little more tricky. You want to put on a good show &ndash; crackers and cheese (and wine) to start, then a two or three course meal (with more wine), and all of a sudden you spent the entire day in the kitchen, spent a small fortune on ingredients, and have one hell of a mess to clean up. Sounds like enough to turn your stomach from entertaining any day. A few tips to reduce your cost and burden:<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Simple Snacks</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">Buying just two or three nice cheeses and crackers could cost you $20 if you aren&rsquo;t careful, and you haven&rsquo;t even touched upon the drinks or the actual meal to be served. Instead, placing out a <strong>bowl of nuts</strong> (bought in the bulk section &ndash; they&rsquo;re cheaper) can whet the appetite just as well. Serve the <strong>kind of nuts that need shelling</strong> (like pistachios or even walnuts for a treat), and your guests will be nicely occupied and won&rsquo;t fill up on the pre-dinner stuff. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Easy Apps</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">Unless you keep company with high-brow folks (in which case you will always have a problem satisfying both your budget and your friends) your guests won&rsquo;t be horribly offended if you skip the appetizer course altogether. <strong>Go straight to dinner if you can</strong>. Otherwise, choose ingredients you can whip together easily and inexpensively. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Done Like Dinner</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Pasta</strong> is always a great bet for a budget-friendly main course: it fills your guests up, is inexpensive, and can be presented in a very luxurious manner. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Delicious Desserts</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">Unlike appetizers, rarely can you skip serving dessert without at least a few raised eyebrows. <strong>Baking something yourself</strong> is usually the least expensive and shows the most care and personal flair. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <h3><strong>Drinks</strong><o:p></o:p></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">Serving drinks all night is where you can end up spending the most money. Stocking up with wine, beer, and other beverages in an attempt to anticipate what your guests might like will fill your fridge, but empty your wallet. Get a bottle of wine to serve with dinner, and stick to non-alcoholic drinks for the rest of the occasion. Before dinner, you can prepare a <strong>non-alcoholic cocktail</strong> of various fruit juices and soda water for fizz. Serve it up in a big punch bowl with lots of ice and nobody will notice the lack of alcohol and will come back for seconds and thirds. <strong>Tea or coffee</strong> after dinner is the perfect way to compliment dessert, cap off the night, and stop the drinking in its tracks. This is also good protocol for guests who have to drive home&hellip;<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">This is a simple collection of ideas on how to keep your holiday entertaining budget to a minimum. But we want to hear from you! <strong>What are your tips, techniques, and recipes for getting through the holiday entertaining season financially unscathed? </strong><o:p></o:p></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Throw a Fabulous (and Frugal!) Dinner Party</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">15 Tips for Hosting Holiday Houseguests</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Wisdom from My Favorite Frugal TV Character - Julius Rock</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Seven Ways to be the Life of Every Party</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Healthy Changes You Can Make Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Lifestyle Art and Leisure dinner parties entertaining holiday dinners holiday gifts holiday guests Thu, 04 Dec 2008 00:01:16 +0000 Nora Dunn 2620 at