Thanksgiving Game Plan!

It’s a week away, people. Maybe you’re ready. Maybe you’ve got your plan. Perhaps you’re already cooking.

Or maybe you’ve done nothing and are paralyzed by impending turkey doom.

If you’re in Camp Turkey Panic, let me help. Put aside your fears. You can do this. It’s just another meal, and a lot of it can be made ahead. Just click the link below and see. It’s a Thanksgiving Game Plan I created for myself years ago, and it works. It’s a great menu with updated favorites. I’ve included a shopping list (generally in order of how most grocery stores are laid out); a To Do timeline of what to prep and cook when, and recipes that are broken down by make ahead and make day of. SaveGourmet Thanksgiving Game Plan

Take a deep breath. We’ve got this covered. Any questions, email me at savegourmet@gmail.com.

(PS YES this omits an actual turkey recipe. I go really simple on the turkey itself and I don’t stuff mine. Roasted turkey is about weight and math. Read and do THIS. This is a classic case of keep it simple.)

Menu 17 – Real Weeknight Dinner

Evenings are hectic. We start with the best of intentions, but then the kids are tired, everyone’s starving, the milk spills. It’s a weeknight.

Do not be discouraged. Even with a messy house and tired kids, you are still minutes away from a good tasting, healthy meal on a weeknight. Yes, you are. The answer is not McDonalds. The answer is fish. Don’t assume your kids won’t like it. On this we must remain firm – they won’t like it if it never appears in front of them. We must try. I’ve seen mine eat it and my fully formed opinion is that they want to dislike it more than they actually dislike it. How can I expect them to develop their palates if I cave at their resistance? Besides, I have a secret weapon. Soy sauce. In general, soy sauce conquers all. Tonight, we cook a healthy fish meal that is ready in minutes for tired, hungry, backpack dumping kids (thank you, Melissa Clark).

When we get home the first thing the kids do after dumping their backpacks is open the fridge. I will be ready. Raw vegetables and dip…Asian inspired dip which you (yes) made ahead. This is a tactic I regularly employ – a bowl of cold vegetables for them to pick at while I cook. They are starved and it’s a great time to work the vitamin chain. While they eat that, I will quickly steam mild tasting flounder and greens. I usually have rice cooked ahead and tonight is no exception. If you still think this won’t work, offer dessert (it’s not a bribe…it’s an incentive.). A little green tea mochi (they are cute and fun) keeps the Asian theme going and provides a great bribe incentive for kids to clean plates.

Give this a try Monday or Tuesday.

Menu 17 - 11 13 2015

Tips and Notes

Asian Style Dip (add the liquids less than recommended – if it needs more you can always add more later)

Flounder with Ginger and Garlic Mustard Greens

For the mochi, check your freezer section. A little handheld ice cream fun.

Menu 16 – Baby Care Package

One of the things I vividly remember about having a new baby is the sense that all of a sudden you are one-handed. Everything needed to be done with half the usual hand/arm resources. I am not sure why it didn’t occur to me at the time that the baby could be put down (maybe I just didn’t want to). It’s nice to hold a baby.

Yet you still need to eat. And for new mothers, this often means you need to eat A LOT. I was famished. Breastfeeding takes it out of you. This week we are preparing a care package for a friend with a new baby (or, as the case may be, babIES if twins arrived!). Fork and finger friendly foods are the way to go here. It’s also nice to provide basic items that are a godsend at 3PM or 2AM…already cut up fruits and vegetables; soup that one can drink from a mug; a vegetable pasta great hot or cold. Also, make a frittata that can keep easily in the fridge and precut it for her – what a great way to start the day after you’ve been up all night. Seriously, you need sustenance. And yes I am suggesting you cut up fruit and raw vegetables and put them in containers for your friend. TRUST me, she will be grateful. Boil some eggs while you’re at it (9 ½ minutes is perfect).

I had a lot of ideas here, so preparing this may take a bit of time…but think of your friend who just dealt with nine months of baby prep. And, if you double everything, you’ll have a stocked fridge too. Not so bad 🙂

Menu 16 - 11 4 2015

 

Tips and Notes

Baby was up all night, Frittata

I need a quick lunch that I can drink…Broccoli Soup

The witching hour is coming I need a SNACK to get me THROUGH DIP

Did we make it another day? QUICK pasta dinner while the baby sleeps!

Menu 15 – Post Trick or Treating “Stopping by” Goodies

I’m not really sure how it happened, but last year our house became a landing pad for several trick or treating families. Maybe it was the open door, the surprisingly cold weather and the open bottles of bourbon. I expect this year will be no different – but THIS year I will be prepared…with more than just, you know, bourbon. After everyone is trick or treated out, the kids can watch Hotel Transylvania and count their candy. The adults can grab a slice of lasagna, a bowl of soup or a wedge of pasta pie (EPIC). Nothing particularly Halloweeny or Spooky about those, but it’s all delicious. The lasagna is a family recipe – from Kansas (yes, Kansas) with a lot of meat. The bucatini pie will have no meat – so everyone should be happy. The soup just sounded good on a cold night. And last but not least, a lot of garlic bread. At least that will keep the vampires away. Have your friends bring their favorite drinks. But open your own bourbon. Somehow Halloween doesn’t seem complete without it.

Menu 15 - 10 29 2015

Tips and Notes

Look how cool this pasta pie is…http://food52.com/blog/14299-why-pasta-pie-is-the-make-ahead-recipe-and-leftover-you-ve-been-seeking

And this farro soup). Page down, you will find it. Make ahead. Perfect on a cold night.

This internet is FULL of garlic bread recipes… this one looks pretty delicious.

Last but not least, my family lasagna recipe. I don’t claim to be a recipe writer – so email savegourmet@gmail.com with any questions! Kansas Lasagna

Menu 14 – Apples All The Time!

So you went apple picking…and now you’re feeling overrun. What on earth are you going to do with 85 apples? It seemed so fun at the time. The web is filled with ideas for apple overflow (pies, sauce, butter). But maybe you want to create a meal, or, surprise surprise, a menu out of your apples! There is a restaurant near us called Applewood that hosts theme dinners where an ingredient is highlighted throughout the meal. That is what I am doing here. Bring on the apples!

We start with a cocktail. Forget apple martinis – we are going hard cider here with The Pork Chop from Miami’s Yarbird. Next, a big bowl of a crisp salad from Eye Swoon (click, it’s gorgeous – and do not skip the basil, it makes it). Because you called 10 friends to join you, you need a huge pork shoulder like the one from Pioneer Woman roasted with apples and onions, and smartly paired with wild rice (we need more wild rice in life). To finish, you’re taking everyone to Russia with a simple and gorgeous Apple Sharlotka from The Smitten Kitchen. Happy eating!

Menu 14 - 10 21 2015

Tips and Notes

But first, a hard apple cider cocktail…The Pork Chop

and then, this lovely crisp SALAD…served alongside Pork Shoulder With Apples and Onions and wild rice.

To finish, this gorgeous Apple Sharlotka

Really? You still have apples? Ok. Pickle some (http://food52.com/recipes/16743-quick-pickled-apples) and serve cold the next day with leftover pork. Chop them and mix them with breakfast sausage (more pork!) and freeze. Infuse some vodka and make this cocktail: http://www.whatkatieate.com/recipes/apple-ginger-and-cranberry-vodka-cocktail/. Mix up apple pie filling, freeze it and use in pie, a galette or over pancakes.

Still more? Jeez. Drop them in brown paper bags, create a cute drawing and give them to your dinner party friends as parting gifts (look at you the creative host).

AND then there’s THIS great idea – use the apples for the table! Look at this gorgeous table design from the super talented Little Green Notebook!

Menu 9 – End of Summer Deck Dinner, for Two

Deck eating really is the best. We especially love it after the kids are asleep – a peaceful evening for 2. Fall is coming but there is still time to enjoy eating outside. We are dreaming of Tulum this week and are inspired by Mexican cuisine. Tuck those kids in and get going…

A michelada is the perfect start. This is not a drink for the faint of heart. If you like bloody marys, you will love this…if you don’t like bloody marys, well then can’t be friends. Tomatoes are still glorious so start with chili spiked crab salad stacked on an heirloom slice. The asparagus dish has a “put hair on your chest” chili topper, so let’s keep the lamb chops simple with salt and pepper. Now that the sun has set and the grill is cooling, finish the evening with Mexican chocolate pot de crème and a nice big spoon.

9 17 2015

Tips and Notes

The Michelada! There are a lot of recipes out there. I like THIS one. This is not a Corona drink – use Negra Modela, Bohemia, Pacifico, Dos Equis, or Tecate.

Asparagus. A little involved but the pasilla cream can be made ahead.  Oh and where to get the chilies? Amazon of course.

Pots de Crème, oh my.

Menu 8 – Cabin on a Lake Weekend

Still not ready to give up summer, so you get a cabin for a night or two on a lake and keep the spirit alive. So many meal opportunities. There will be pancakes and bacon, strong coffee, BLTs with avocado, chips (with ridges!), smoked trout on crackers with cocktails, and of course ice cream. For one dinner you might go cabin style and do a Chili Night. Make the second dinner a plated affair. In the morning, blend the gazpacho and create the icebox cake. Assemble your potato foil packets. Go hiking then swim in the lake. Around dinnertime, get your grill going. Have someone mix together sour cream, capers and dill. Someone else mixes up cocktails and sets the table. Once the salmon and potatoes come off the grill, dinner is served.

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Tips and other notes

The Gazpacho – so many recipes – this one looks great.

Potato/Spinach packets, consider THIS for inspiration.

Classic Icebox Cake, because you don’t need to spend time baking this weekend.