It’s THANKSGIVING TIME! Do you have your stretchy pants on? Are you recipe-ready?? We’ll help you get there – STRESS-FREE!! This is an episode *stuffed* with #protips that will help you eat well and be grateful (for dishwashers, foil, and outsourcing help). #thankful 

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Show notes for episode 30 – A Relaxing Thanksgiving: 

We had ourselves a little Thanksgiving dinner! 

We’ve got notes and SO MANY #protips for you! 

Outsource what you can or what you just don’t consider a priority. (i.e. Rolls – not everyone cares so much) 

Think about what you really LOVE about Thanksgiving and try to capitalize on that! 
Get Kristi’s Thanksgiving PACKET here!! 🙂 Thanksgiving 2016 Planning 


Darlene’s Thanksgiving Cooking Schedule: 

1 month out: 

Plan the meal – who’s going to (probably) be there and where it will be. If you can decide the day and time. I say this because with a large mixed family, we rarely are with everyone on the SAME day. 

Side note: if you want to bail out of this whole Thanksgiving thing – you can. If you want someone ELSE to cook it for you, or go to a restaurant, you CAN. 

Think about what you really need, and communicate it. People will fall in line and it will give others a chance to pick up and run with it this year who may be really excited to do it. 

Start brainstorming what you want to have, if there’s a twist on anything or  if you are making any new recipes (don’t make more than 2 new recipes)

>> I also have friendsgiving the day after or some other day that weekend. I plan that at the same time. 


Look to see what you can make even NOW and freeze. Here’s some ideas: 

Rolls (or buy, but like I said, I love to make) 

Pie. You can freeze a whole assembled apple pie and cook from frozen.

Cranberry sauce. If you make your own from whole cranberries, or if you want to try it but don’t have time later in the month, it is the easiest thing ever to make, and freezes like a dream. Left over cranberry sauce can be used to make my jam bars. (sub cran for the berry, obvi) 

Pie crust 

Pie filling (fruit – not pumpkin or pecan) 


Turkey stock – if you want to make this far in advance you need to get a turkey wing, or leg to roast in the oven. Freeze. 


2 weeks out: 

Start thinking about what you can make ahead, what your cooking schedule will be, and what others are bringing. 

Shop for non-perishables, order the turkey or research where you will get one, look at budget!! 

Buy some of your booze. (There is less sticker shock when you spread out the shopping). 

Do you need new decor? Do you want to go out and find some corn husks? More pumpkins? Do all this well in advance. 


1 week out: 

Make apps: 

Spiced nuts (make or buy) 

Tartlets (reheat in the oven a little bit) 

Buy things like olives, pickles, or raid Trader Joes

Shop for produce – green beans, onions, garlic, boxed chicken or turkey stock, ect. 

Turkey: DON’T get a huge turkey. It’s better to buy two smaller turkeys and cook one ahead of time or the next day. Large turkeys take forever, are too big in the fridge, and the texture isn’t that great. 

12-14lbs seems about right for us – that way you can have ham too or something non-traditional like salmon. 

Is your turkey frozen? Thaw that out and figure out how much time you need to let it safely thaw. 

Dig out all the serving platters and actually put on a sticky note what foods are going to be made in what dish. This really helps you avoid one last-minute decision and wishing you had saved a platter large enough for the turkey. 

Two Days Before: 

Brine the turkey

Make stock 

Make/assemble stuffing if needed 

Make/assemble green bean casserole 

Mashed potatoes can be made ahead (ps. Have you tried mashed sweet potatoes from Cooks Illustrated? They are the BEST. you cook the potato with butter and little water and you mash w/o having to drain omg so good)

Set the table – yes, I leave it all set and find the napkins, cups, silver for everyone etc. 


Day Before: 

Make gravy – google make-ahead gravy and stock – there are some different methods out there but I like to roast the turkey neck with giblets and veggies, make the stock and then use some of that + drippings from roasted parts to make gravy. 

Make pies/desserts if they are not already made

Assemble (don’t dress) salads or veg to throw in the oven

Assemble any other sides that are not being supplied/outsourced. 

Cheese plate (assemble the night before or even two days if you have the fridge space and wrap it well)

cheese plate at thanksgiving

Also check out:

I am going to precook my turkey this year (because I brine it and spatchcock it and it is super moist but very smoky to cook, and I don’t want to smoke out my guests again like I did last year) 

Get ice? For a cooler full of drinks


Day of: 

Let all the sides reheat in the oven OR some other method (microwave, slow cooker, instant pot, griddle….) 

Gently reheat turkey on a platter (this one needs less time than denser sides) 

Reheat gravy on the stove

Set out all the apps (if doing) 

Set out all your drinks in a way that guests can help themselves – I set up a “bar” area somewhere and make everything available so no one has to ask for a corkscrew

Pour yourself a beverage, because you just rocked Thanksgiving! 


Take a Thanksgiving Quiz!

Which side dish would you choose? And what does it say about you?? 


Trouble Shooting thanksgiving: 

Dietary Restrictions: 

Gluten, Soy, Dairy:

Things to be careful of:  dressing/stuffing (gluten, soy), gravy thickeners, green bean casserole additives, and nuts! Because a lot of times gluten-free sides or mains will use nuts as a way to add texture or flavor and if folks have nut allergies, that’s not good. 


Watch out for pie fillings – make sure those are GF and get / make GF crust. An easy swap is Apple Crisp with a little GF flour (easier than pie crust and tastes just as good, everyone will love it) 

Also, watch out for the fried onions on top of green bean casseroles, and for EGG FREE folks – avoid that marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole. 

Alternative main dishes: 

Vegan/Vegetarian: wild rice pilaf or marinated tempeh 

Don’t want to do Turkey:

Salmon, Roast Beef / Prime Rib or even a chicken (we are doing Friendsgiving this year and I’ll probably make one of these instead

Turkey – call the Butterball hotline.

I would use a thermometer to make sure its cooked all the way, and give yourself EXTRA time. If it’s not cooked all way, push the apps and drinks and ask everyone to hang in there 🙂 

Stick in the thigh, look for 165 (degrees)


If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the dressing; it should be 165 degrees F (75 degrees C)

If not: Put pieces on a baking sheet and cook at 375, until 165


How to thaw a frozen turkey

Dry Turkey: 

Add more gravy or spoon some stock over it. To avoid: flat roast, brine, or cook breast side down. 

I am a fan of flat roasting for this reason, it cooks more evenly. 

Reheating/heating up sides! Don’t forget to use the other tools in your kitchen. 


Instant pot

Slowcooker (great for mashed potatoes or gravy) 


Veggie steamer

Griddle – my stepdad once cooked a salmon on a griddle while other stuff was heating up as a “side meat” and it was awesome! 

Split Decision Pie Pan



Flat whisk – for gravy making – love this anytime of year

Roasting pan or pan and rack for turkey 

Turkey claws

Gravy separator 

Large white oval platter I got at Target for turkey 

Foil. Just foil. 

Other items to reheat food: 

Food processor/immersion blender / Kitchen Aid mixer for desserts, whipped cream, etc. 

Extra freezer or fridge. 

Good knife OR electric knife for carving the turkey 

Casserole dishes that have lids are the best! 

THANKSGIVING FRIDGE HACK! Cooling rack that has little legs that stand up – makes an extra shelf in your fridge to stack casseroles, cheese platters, ect. 

Dishwasher. Because there have been years I didn’t have one. 🙂 #thankful 

Just buy your dinner from Trader Joe’s 



spatchcocked turkey


And MORE in Kristi’s packet:  Thanksgiving 2016 Planning
Here’s the one from 2012:

Thanksgiving 2012


From Darlene’s blog: 

alternatives to pie ideas for thanksgiving

Alternatives to Pie for Thanksgiving – see them all here!

Cranberry Sauce

Butternut Squash Hummus

Spiced Nuts

Food for thought:


Focus on the important things about the holidays. We are gathering to give thanks for the things we have. If we forgot something, don’t stress about it. Focus on being grateful for the foods you did remember.


Thanksgiving pro-tip: Have guests write down what they are grateful for. Kristi loves to take packing paper and roll it out over the table. Then put sharpies out on the table and have everyone write out the things they are grateful for – the more the merrier! 




Thanksgiving leftovers? Turkey pot pie, turkey soup, turkey tostadas… just don’t mix it all together (ha!) 


What’s for dinner? 


Chicken, mashed potatoes and corn. We are simulating a “near” Thanksgiving meal. 

Darlene is having snack dinner. 


Where to find Darlene

Pickle Jar Studios website
Pickle Jar Studios on Instagram
Tough Cookie on Instagram

Where to find Kristi:    

kristi coughlin

Effectual Nutrition website
Effectual Nutrition on Instagram