From table to turkey, holiday hosts and hostesses are putting their Thanksgiving finishing touches on all that reigns holiday supreme.
This past Friday as I was planning and primping the decorative details of our Thanksgiving gobblepalooza, an unfortunate event in the Places In The Home Thanksgiving holiday celebration occurred. I was in the dining room putting the Thanksgiving finishing touches on the sideboard and tablescape decorations, and as I always do, I asked my mother to come and see the progress. Stocking feet and hardwood floors make a hazardous combination, just ask my darling Mother. It was the fall heard round the house, and over the river and through the woods to the emergency room we go. Several tests and x-rays later the ER doctor delivered the unfortunate news, fractured kneecap. She’s one tough bird and a pretty good patient however, the attention to decorating detail has now shifted to total healing detail. We’ve rearranged our Thanksgiving dinner plans and re themed the Places In The Home Thanksgiving celebration. We are a grateful, not graceful people.
What decorating I accomplished before the fall will have to be as good as it gets. No formal place settings, adorned placemats and table runner, silver flatware, crystal goblets or formal china patterns this year, but with a pumpkin here and a turkey figurine there it festively all came together.
The dining room redo is not quite finished, but far enough along to give a glimpse of things to come.
I am thrilled with the leopard print accent chairs as the choice for captain’s chairs.
One change in placement and one edit took the look from “this just isn’t working” to “that’s it!”
I’m looking forward to a thankful and grateful group of loved ones coming together and the next round of holiday decorating.
As we enter the Thanksgivinghomestretch, take a moment to admire the Thanksgiving finishing touches and the Home for the Holidays beauty you’ve created. It’s one of the best parts of holiday decorating season.
This week’s A Most Fetching Friday is dedicated to dessert, the art of baking (and no-baking), and the edible works created, admired and deliciously celebrated as the grand finale of the holiday dinner.
Home is where the heart and a mighty holiday hunger is. People get ready, there’s a holiday coming, and holiday side dish recipes are on the menu. The Places In The Home gang holiday side dish requests are noted and the recipes selected. I like to bring at least one new or improved upon recipe with the accent mark on easy to the holiday table. This Thanksgiving I am paying homage to my great-grandmother by serving two of her favorite dishes.
Country Living Magazine provides the recipe for English Pea Salad and Martha Stewart comes through with the recipe for Glazed Pearl Onions. Southern Sweet Potato Casserole is a must have, must serve at our holiday dinner table, and if it’s Thanksgiving, it is definitely cornbread dressing time at our house. I am most intrigued with a new recipe from the Kitchn, Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole. I considered eliminating one of the starches but reasoned it out with simple math. Starches + tryptophan= full, satisfied and sleepy husbands, fathers, sons, brothers and nephews, and that means guilt free Black Friday shopping, keyboard style.
English Pea Salad
2 large hard-boiled eggs, whites chopped and yolks crumbled
1 (½ cup) yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
2 ounce(s) (½ cup) Cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup(s) mayonnaise
½ cup(s) sour cream
3 tablespoon(s) dried basil
2 tablespoon(s) finely chopped red onion
2 teaspoon(s) chopped pimiento
1 teaspoon(s) apple-cider vinegar
1 teaspoon(s) sugar
1 teaspoon(s) soul-food seasoning or seasoned salt
1 teaspoon(s) granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
2 dash(es) hot sauce
60 ounce(s) (four 15-ounce cans) early peas (such as Le Sueur), drained
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the peas, mixing well. Then stir in the peas. Refrigerate the salad for at least 10 hours or up to overnight. Serve at room temperature.
1 pound frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry
2 teaspoons sugar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried)
Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onions. Cook, tossing occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar; season with salt and pepper. Add 2/3 cup water and thyme; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
3 pounds small russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 whole bay leaf
4 (3-inch) thyme sprigs
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream (full-fat)
¾ to 1 cup whole milk, warmed
1 teaspoon seasoned salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits and chilled
Generously butter a shallow 2 ½-quart gratin dish or baking dish.
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water to a depth of 2 inches. Add the kosher salt, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Do not let the potatoes break apart or become waterlogged. Drain well and let stand until the potatoes steam dry and their edges look chalky, about 3 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and thyme stems.
Press the hot potatoes and garlic through a food mill or ricer into a large bowl. Alternatively, mash them as smooth as possible with a hand-held potato masher.
Add the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and ¾ cup of the milk to the warm potatoes; stir until smooth. The mixture will firm up as it chills overnight, so at this point it should be slightly softer than you want to serve it. Season with seasoned salt and pepper.
Scrape the potatoes into the prepared dish and smooth the top. Dot the top with the bits of chilled butter. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days ahead.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are heated through, about 1 hour. Serve warm. Serves 6 to 8
Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until top is browned. Serves 6 to 8.
Home for the Holidays comes with its joyful share of pulling out all the decorating, baking, entertaining, and celebrating the season stops. Here’s a few holiday household hints and tips that may prove to come in holiday handy, and here is a few more holiday hints and tips from holiday posts past. I’m all about kicking off the holiday season in a no problem November zone.
Remove wax drips from candlesticks by placing them in the freezer for thirty minutes. The “drips” will come right off.
Garlic belongs in the gumbo, not on your hands. Handling garlic and onion goes with the culinary territory and with that comes the smell that is left on your hands. Rub your hands on a stainless steel surface such as the kitchen faucet to cut the smell.
Remove coffee stains from a glass coffee carafe with a simple recipe of 1 tablespoon salt, a handful of ice cubes and 1 tablespoon of water. Add salt, ice and water to the cool carafe and swirl until clean. Rinse well with water and dry.
Cloudy vase? Fill vase with luke warm water and drop in a denture cleaner tablet. Let the tablet do its thing overnight. Pour out solution, wash vase with luke warm water and dry. Do not use hot water- it can cause the vase to crack.
Gunk, funk and baked on junk left behind on roasters and baking pans is not my idea of a welcomed holiday leftover. Baked on will be gone in two simple steps. Grab a couple of dryer sheets from the laundry room. Fill the pan half full of warm water and place the dryer sheets in the warm water. Soak the pan overnight.
Pack guests a parting piece of pie in these deluxe Wedge-Shaped Pie Box Kits from A la Modo on Etsy. The kits include:
Decorative options are a lovely thing! It’s those options that allow us to take a slight step or total turn from traditional and/or expected decor choices. The holiday table begins as a blank canvas ready to reflect a personal interpretation of holiday style and splendor. Setting the tone for holiday magic begins with setting the Thanksgiving table.
Traditional colors, shapes and accents associated with the Thanksgiving and Christmas tablescape have lead the way for years as the hallmark of holiday distinction.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term casually elegant? Beautifully understated? Comfortable? Cozy? Warm? Inviting? Simple sophistication?
Stunning does not have to be expensive or labor intensive. Simple is the whole point behind the concept of simple sophistication. The above examples demonstrate how free, inexpensive and clever ideas produce elegant results. Craft paper makes a super easy table cover. Use a Sharpie to write heartfelt messages or quotes on the craft paper to be read by your guests. I love the free place card template from Martha Stewart. Martha is such a giver! Now you know I couldn’t do an idea post without mentioning the Dollar Tree. The free wheat bushel and ornate frame printable from The Graphics Fairy will make a wonderful header for a printable Thanksgiving menu. Type it up, place it in a Dollar Tree decorative frame, and place it on the table or sideboard as an informative accent.
It’s T-be here before you know it days until the first leg of the holiday season, Thanksgiving. Speaking of a holiday leg, are you thinking Thanksgiving turkey yet? Local grocery stores are preparing large areas in the freezers for the arrival of this traditional dinner star, and I’ve got my eyes out for the sale circulars. Timing is a big consideration in regards to the Thanksgiving turkey. We time the purchase, defrosting, roasting and serving of the bird.
In this pre-Thanksgiving dinner calm before the storm period, I am utilizing my time to gather the roasting pan, carving set, kitchen essentials and necessary information. I thought I might offer a few suggestions to lend a holiday helping hand. Let’s talk turkey.
Roasting the Bird
Roast/bake the turkey at 325 °F using the chart as a guide for approximate roasting times. The turkey is done when the internal temperature reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F for safety.
I’m a fourth generation fan of the granite ware oval roasting pan. Traditions rule in the Places In The Home holiday kitchen, and roasting a turkey like my great grandmother, grandmother and mother did requires a granite ware oval roaster. It speaks holiday to me…
Time saving multitasking marvels of kitchen efficiency are my kind of holiday helping hand! Equally as important as a well-stocked holiday pantry is a well organized holiday baking, cooking and entertaining kitchen.
A cook is only as good as the kitchen and cooking essentials, tools and accessories he or she uses.
Time to mull over the There’s No Place Like Home for Holidays dinner holiday checklist. Festive gets a lot of mileage at our house, and why not? It’s a wonderful time of year that should be embraced for what it is- a time to celebrate with family and friends that are like family. Decorative tablescaping and delicious times are upon us, and some of us need a holiday helping hand. From the kitchen to the turkey to the table to the tinsel to the tree, things are beginning to get busy. The more holiday helper help and hints I can offer, the merrier and less holiday rushed things will be. It’s never too early to begin the holiday checklist plan and prep. Here’s holiday hoping the There’s No Place Like Home For Holidays dinner holiday checklist comes in holiday handy.
2 weeks to go:
Plan menu and guest list.
Find out from guest who would like to help what dish they would like to bring.
Take inventory of pantry stock and recipe ingredients.
Make out grocery list.
1 week to go:
Plan tablescape theme. Traditional? New Traditional? Vintage?
Take inventory of place settings making sure to have enough on hand. Placemats? China? Crystal? Flatware? Linens?
Time to go to the grocery store for the turkey and non-perishable food items. When deciding on how big of a turkey to purchase, allow 1 to 2 pounds of meat per person.
Make sure roasting pan is large enough to fit turkey. Consider using a meat thermometer to help take the guesswork out of when the bird is done. Now is the time to purchase these items.
Let the dessert planning begin! How about adding a new or vintage cake or pie plate to this year’s holiday finery?
Take a beverage inventory. Stock the bar. How about a new beverage dispenser or vintage pitcher for an impressive look with a nod to convenience? Stylish convenience works!
5 days to go:
Prep dishes, flatware and stemware.
Take a chair inventory. Uncle Joe and Aunt Betty don’t want to sit in the kid’s beanbag chair.
Fill salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowl and sweetener dish.
3 days to go:
Turkey Time! Remove turkey from freezer and place in refrigerator to begin the thawing process.
Company is coming! Clean house accordingly. Helpful hint: Decorative baskets and storage cubes come in mighty handy as a stylish storage solution. All eyes on the decorative basket= a clutter distraction.
2 days to go:
Take inventory of holiday hospitality guest room essentials. Clean and stock guest bedrooms and bathrooms with fresh linens and paper goods.
You know that lightly damp dishtowel left over from last night’s KP duty? On your way to the laundry room with it, hit the holiday table and chairs dusting high notes. Two tasks taken care of with one swipe.
Set out candles, arrange centerpiece, set table with linens, placemats, chargers and place cards.
Chop vegetables and store in Ziplock bags in refrigerator.
Let the dessert baking begin! Cakes really do taste better the next day after baking. All the flavors and spices do their thing and the result is next day taste fabulous.
Fill soap dispensers and paper towel holders in kitchen.
Set out dinnerware, glasses, serving pieces, dishes, bowls and platters. Turn over or cover with dishtowels until next day.
The Big Event!
Take turkey out of refrigerator, season to taste, and place in roaster. Approximate roasting time for a thoroughly defrosted 12-14 lb. unstuffed turkey is 3-3 ½ hours roasted at 325°F until done.
About a half hour before the turkey’s finished, take it out of the oven. Insert a meat thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. You are looking for a temperature of 165 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer simply pierce the turkey with a fork. The juices should run clear. Allow the turkey to set 20 to 30 minutes before carving to allow juices to saturate the meat evenly.
Prepare other side dishes, salads and desserts while turkey is roasting.
Prep coffee maker for after dinner coffee.
Above all, remember to enjoy the beauty, food, fellowship and fruits of your holiday labor of love!