Thanksgiving Leftover Inspiration

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers! We purposely cook for 3 times as many people as we have just so we can have enough leftovers to last us until December. And I could probably eat the leftovers just as they are….plate after plate of turkey and stuffing. However, sometimes it’s fun to mix it up with the leftovers and make something a little different. Here are a few tips on organizing your leftovers and then a few recipes I found online that are creative ways to use up all that extra food!

Organizing Leftovers:

-After Thanksgiving dinner, do a brief fridge assessment. Is there anything you can get rid of, consolidate, shift around? Make sure the fridge is as clean as possible. This will create space for leftovers and also allow you to see the leftover containers better.

-Use clear storage containers or get your tape and marker ready. If you can’t see the food in the fridge, you are much less like to eat it or even remember what is in there!

-Try a new recipe using your leftovers to mix it up a little!

-If you make recipes that will last a while in the freezer, make several meals that you can freeze for an easy meal on a later date.

Turkey Pot Pie – A great use for both the turkey and leftover veggies. It’s also good if you were ambitious and planned to make a cherry pie and then decided not to, leaving you with 2 pie crusts (not that I know from experience)

Southwestern Turkey Soup – serve this with some leftover cornbread you might have from making stuffing.

Thanksgiving Leftover Wontons with Cranberry Salsa – Oh.My.Stars. My one Black Friday purchase this year will be Wonton Wrappers so I can make these.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and feel free to share any leftover recipes you have!

~Erin

 

Thanksgiving Dinner Preparations!

It’s almost time for Thanksgiving here and I’m ready! I love food….not so much cooking….but the promise of Thanksgiving dinner makes me cook. With 2 kids running around, I need to make sure I’m well prepared for Thanksgiving because there’s just not a ton of extra time around here! Also, we live in a VERY small community with no grocery store, so there’s no running to the store for a forgotten item. I have to make sure I have everything I need ahead of time. Here are some of my tips and timelines for a stress-free Turkey Day!

3 Weeks Before (If you’re counting, we’re already heading into 2 weeks before, so do these things NOW!):

Finalize the menu. – This is a pretty easy one for me because we have all of the ‘old reliable’ recipes that we make every year. Sometimes I’ll throw in a new dish or appetizer, but for the most part, the menu stays the same from year to year. Last year I started making Holiday Binders to hold all of my info for each major holiday. For my Thanksgiving Binder, I had a section where I put all of our go-to recipes. That way, I never have to search for the recipes, they are all kept together:

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-Finalize the Guest List – We are doing a small Thanksgiving dinner this year, so it’s much easier, but there were 13 of us at our house a couple of years ago, so it’s always good to pin down what you’re getting yourself into!

-Do an inventory on Chairs, Tables, Dishes, Glassware, etc. – Do you need a kid’s table, an extra crock pot, more wine glasses? If so, try to buy or borrow these things a few weeks out. It’s too stressful to be worrying about buying chairs 2 days before Thanksgiving…..but you don’t want Aunt Kim sitting on the floor. I’m a big fan of the dollar store for extra glasses, plate charges and small serving dishes. Ikea is another great spot for some kitchen and serving basics.

-Grocery shop for non-perishables. – I don’t like to go over budget on groceries, but it’s hard not to when it comes to large holiday meals. The way I stay under budget is to start purchasing a couple weeks before. That way I can go a little light on that week’s regular purchases to make room for Turkey day fixings. I have already bought any non-perishables, such as cream of chicken soup and canned pumpkin.

2 Weeks Before

-Clean out and organize the fridge and freezer. I continue to use up what we have for meals and I also rearrange, toss anything that’s past its prime, and clean the shelves.

-Grocery shop for frozen items – 2 weeks out is when I buy things like frozen broccoli for a casserole I make, the rolls we serve and of course….the turkey! I don’t want a turkey sitting in my freezer for weeks, but if you wait to long, you might not be able to find the perfect size you need. Keep in mind that if you special order a turkey or ham, you may have to place the order much earlier than this.

-Evaluate Decorations. – I don’t have too many Thanksgiving decorations, but I have a few things I put up. By this time, many decorations are on sale, so if you need a little something extra, it’s a great time to pick it up.

-Do any Hosting or Hostee (that’s an official term) Tasks – If you are hosting, you can do things like make placecards, set out linens for overnight guests, or attached wine glass charms. If you’re going somewhere, you could write a thank you note, buy a small gift, or set out your dishes and recipe if you’re bringing something. Doing this ahead of time will make sure you don’t forget any small details.

Week of Thanksgiving

-Buy all perishable foods – Get everything else you will need to make your dinner.

-Thaw the turkey. Remember, it takes about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. The first year I hosted Thanksgiving, I COMPLETELY forgot to thaw the turkey. One day before and I had an 18 pound block of turkey ice in my freezer. Somehow, we made it work. Last year, I threw away the wrapper of the turkey when I started defrosting it….then I forgot how much it weighed. This was our solution:

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How to properly weigh a turkey

-Set out the serving dishes you will use for each recipe and put a sticky note with the name of the recipe.

-Do one more fridge clean out so you’ll have room to put leftovers (my real favorite part of Thanksgiving!).

-Make cooking a joyful experience. Pour a glass of wine, put on some great music and remember that things will never be perfect, so go with the flow! When I was little, our sheepdog ate our entire turkey that was sitting on the counter. It happens!

-If you have kids, either give them some crafts or involve them in the cooking. Either way, they will be occupied!

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-Be Thankful! -Remember, the message of the holiday is not just to eat a bunch of food. It is about reflecting on the things in our lives that we are truly grateful for.

Of course, there are countless other ways to organize for a large holiday meal. I have just found the above tips to be helpful for our family. What other ways to you keep yourself prepared for big holidays?

~Erin

After Halloween…..

As much as I LOVE Halloween, on November first, I am ready for it to be OVER! I’m like that with Christmas too. I get mentally ready to move on to the next thing and I want to get all decorations from the recent holiday put safely back in their places. I used to have one large bin for my Halloween decorations, but that started to overflow with skeletons and pumpkins, so I had to add a bin this year. Instead of throwing everything in, I categorized just a little bit. One bin holds only costume items:

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I have a giant bin to hold all of the other decorations. Inside that bin, I have a smaller storage container for Halloween craft items.

IMG_2198This is full of construction paper, googly eyes, purple yarn and other creepy craft items. I also put in my construction paper bats that I had taped to the wall. That way they won’t get bent and I can use them again next year.

I also laminated the signs I put on the doors during my Halloween party so I can use those again too and they won’t get ruined.

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Another thing I laminated was my costume photo banner:

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I also ordered photos of this Halloween to put in our Halloween photo album. I try to do this right after Halloween each year so that I stay caught up.

I really do love Halloween and I’m already planning next year’s festivities, however, I am now in Thanksgiving mode!!!!

~Erin