Falling into Fall: Thanksgiving Recipe
Autumn is such a lovely time of year. Who doesn’t love tramping through the leaves, breathing in fresh air, and building up an appetite for the comfort food that’s synonymous with the season? To me, one of the best parts about Autumn is that Thanksgiving is right smack in the middle. What better time to show our gratitude for our family, friends, and fortune than during a time of fresh starts?
For many, though, preparing Thanksgiving dinner and entertaining a crowd can be an intimidating prospect. Life’s busy already, but add in planning a menu, coordinating family, decorating a table, and the timing of actually getting the meal on the table, and well, WHOA.
But I’m here to tell you that you CAN be the hostess (or host) with the mostess. As the veteran of plenty of huge family dinners (I’m the proud owner of three children, six siblings and extra parents), I promise you that with a little planning you can not only show your culinary skills off to perfection, but also sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Here are my tips for an enjoyable Thanksgiving celebration:
1. Don’t be shy to ask people to bring something. While I’m known to be a menu control freak, I always ask my siblings and other guests to come with a dessert, side dish, or even some wine or nibbles. These additions definitely take the heat off, (especially when they’re brought in a serving dish.) The flexible storage in the Whirlpool 28 cu ft. 4 door refrigerator means that there will be a spot for every odd shaped dish, bottle, and container that they can carry. And the AccuFresh Dual Cooling System will ensure that all the goodies are at the right temperature until it’s time to heat or eat.
2. Make lists. Ok fine. I’m not known as the most routine-oriented person around. But when I’m making a big dinner, I become a bit Type A with my note-making.
Step 1: create a menu.
Step 2: go through your recipes and list out everything you’ll need (one column for what to buy and another for what you have. That way you only have to make one (or so) giant trip to the store. The FreshStor Refrigerated Drawer on the Whirlpool 4-Door Refrigerator is perfect for keeping items you’ll need over and over handy, like herbs and veggies. When you’re done cooking, use this convenient space for chilling drinks.
Step 3: make a schedule of what you have to prepare, in order, noting items that can be made ahead. I’ve even gone so far as to schedule oven time.
3. Get organized. Set the table the day before. Yes, it’s a bit granny-like, but it’s a real time-saver. Next, get your serving dishes and utensils out and lay them on the kitchen table. Match up the utensil with the platter or bowl, and then, using post-its or little slips of paper, WRITE DOWN what goes in the receptacle. I know it sounds weird, but just do it. You’ll thank me later. Don’t forget to put out your storage containers for leftovers too. Searching for lids when the turkey hangover is about to kick in is no fun at all.
4. Stay tidy. This is where I falter, but as my mother says, If you clean up as you go, the clean up at the end goes way easier. With the new Whirlpool dishwasher line, you’ll save lots of time. It’s focused cleaning technology, TargetClean™, scours away baked-on foods to save you from soaking and scrubbing. Plus the extra jets in the TotalCoverage Spray Arm, guarantees that each load comes out sparkly clean.
So you see that with a few easy adjustments and a little planning, you definitely can pull Thanksgiving dinner off without a hitch. Especially if you make our all-time favourite side, this super easy and totally delicious Sweet Potato Gratin. Decadent from the praline pecans, tons of butter and the requisite marshmallows on top, this vegetable that eats like a dessert is sure to become a tradition in your family.
Sweet Potato Gratin (serves 8+)
Note: You can make this a day ahead and do the last step right before serving.
4 -5 large sweet potatoes
½ cup cold butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
½ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup small pecan pieces
Wash the sweet potatoes and place in a large pot of boiling water. Cook until the potatoes are just tender. Don’t overcook them. Cool in cold water and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the brown sugar and butter. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, combine until crumbly. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and pecans and stir to combine.
Preheat oven to 375.
Slice the sweet potatoes in ½ inch rounds. Place around the bottom of a 9 x 12 inch baking dish, forming the first layer. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the pecan mixture. Repeat two more times until you have three layers. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and top with mini marshmallows. Broil until the marshmallows are golden brown.