Here are seven of my past Thanksgiving fails and how you can avoid them!
1. Not Delegating / Making EVERYTHING From Scratch
When we first started having Thanksgiving at our house, I wanted to cook the whole thing myself (with some mom and sister help) from scratch! If I were to plan everything out perfectly, I would have to cook day and night and with work nowadays, it's just not possible. Now, I delegate more! First of all, I don't eat pork, so it would be impossible for me to make a ham myself. I have tons of family who always offer to bring a dish, so why not let them! Also, I have to let go of the fact that not everything is going to be made from scratch, so I ignore my inner perfectionist. When my aunt brings us a pre-made ham, I'm just happy to see her and celebrate the holiday!
2. Cooking Dishes Because I'm "Supposed" To Make Them
My family is funny. They decided long ago that my sweet potato casserole is their favorite dessert and they wouldn't eat apple pie or pumpkin pie, even if you bribed them. It's just not their favorite, even when I bought storebought pies the next year. I thought we HAD to have pies because it's what you do on Thanksgiving. Basically, if you know no one will eat it, don't bother make it! Same thing for cranberry sauce, it just never gets eaten. It's off the menu!
3. Serving an Untested Dish
From the Thanksgiving Menu Ideas post, you read about how I searched for stuffing recipes until I found one I liked. For two years, I served loser stuffing dishes: the Apple-Sage Stuffing on the left and the Wild Rice & Cranberry stuffing on the right. If I tried them out, I would have substituted a simple rice pilaf, but instead I served these "eh" dishes. At least now, I have my Corn Bread Stuffing with Country Sausage recipe, and I'll never serve an untested recipe again!
4. Planning Too Many "Oven Dishes" or "Stovetop Dishes"
When there are too many dishes competing for limited burners or ovens, it's like juggling hot potatoes! This sweet potato pie above, although popular, was knocked off our menu, not because it wasn't yummy but because it requires both a burner AND an oven. Sorry sweet potato pie fans; not this year. :( If you're still heavy on the "oven dishes," make sure you avoid...
5. Not Planning Oven Timing
So you did your best to split up the dishes into oven and stovetop, but you end up pressed for time with a line of dishes waiting for the oven. Nooooo!!! All you have to do to avoid this disaster is do some math and work backwards for your serving time. If you have five dishes that need to be in the oven for an hour, add the times together plus a buffer of about 15 minutes per dish. I do this just in case I need to change temperatures or the dish needs just a bit more cooking/crisping/browning. I had to rush one year, so the apple crumble above was just a bit limp and undercooked. Sad. You know I love my crumbles!
6. Not Checking (And Rechecking) Your Shopping List
Now, it's time to start grocery shopping with all of your dishes planned. What fail did I make with the spinach dish above? I kinda forgot to buy something important... the spinach. Yep, multiple trips to the grocery store is just not a good idea on Thanksgiving Day when you're already pressed for time!
7. Doubling a Recipe (The Wrong Way)
It is inevitable, especially with a large family, that you will need to double (or triple!) a recipe. The fail I made this time was doubling all of the ingredients for these scalloped potatoes and putting them in the same sized dish. It TOTALLY affected the cooking and although it was pretty cooked and brown on top, the inside was completely raw. If you double a recipe, use a dish double the size or use two dishes. Duh!
It's a good thing I have been writing all of these Thanksgiving posts because it is less than a week away. Eep! I still gotta get cracking on my shopping list to avoid #6!
What's your worst Thanksgiving fail? I hope I'm not the only one...