By News Canada | www.newscanada.com/
Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be a daunting task for any seasoned chef. But with a few simple planning techniques and the right amount of help, you’ll focus less on the details and more on enjoying the process and a tasty outcome.
Here are five easy ways to make sure your Thanksgiving dinner goes off without a hitch:
1. Plan ahead. Without a clear plan of attack, festivities can easily get off course and create stress and distractions. Sitting down in advance to outline what you’ll need and when you need to do things will make your dinner prep a smoother process from start to finish. Tip: Make sure any allergies or dietary restrictions are on your radar prior to developing the menu.
2. Keep it simple. Forget the complicated recipes and over-the-top decor you found in a magazine and stay focused on classic staples. Thanksgiving is not the day to experiment, so think about what can realistically be done in the amount of time given and stick to what you do best.
3. Prepare what you can in advance. Cooking a large dinner is all about timing, and capturing the right cadence between each dish can be tricky. Eliminate some of the pressure by setting the table early or preparing part of the meal ahead of time.
4. Enlist the help of others. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t mean having to do it alone. Asking guests to bring a small dish of their choice not only takes some of the pressure off you, but also helps guests feel that they’ve contributed to the meal. If it becomes too complicated, don’t turn down help when it’s time to clean-up either.
5. End on a sweet note. The end of the meal is just as important as the beginning, so treat your guests to a delicious cup of coffee.
Top 3 Thanksgiving hosting tips
1. Welcome guests with sights and scents that please. Before guests arrive, have pumpkin pie baking in the oven so that the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger greet them. You can also decorate your walkway, front door, or foyer with Thanksgiving-themed accents. Doing this will make guests feel at home quickly and spark conversations.
Traditional: Place a wreath in fall colours on your front door and decorate your front steps or foyer with ornamental corn or mini orange pumpkins.
Modern: For a funkier vibe, embrace a different colour scheme, like white, grey and silver. This neutralizes the tone of your decor while maintaining a fall feel. Paint mini pumpkins white with silver stems, or put a birch wreath on your door instead of an orange one.
2. Ensure your table has the basics covered. In the weeks leading up to the main event, count up all your dishes, mugs and cutlery to ensure you have enough for everyone. Don’t forget often-overlooked items like a pie slicer, a carving knife and a gravy boat. Next, plan your table’s theme to feel Thanksgiving-appropriate.
Traditional: Tie straw strings around the necks of mason jars, looping them into a bow. Arrange them down the centre of the table and fill them with sprigs from maple trees with the orange, red, and yellow leaves still on.
Modern: Pick up some ornamental corn (dried husks on), trim the husks to your liking and spray paint the cobs silver. Lay one at the top of everyone’s place — you can even write their name on the husk for a personal touch.
3. Plan for your littlest visitors. If children are going to be in attendance, plan something specifically for them. Both kids and their parents will appreciate your efforts.
Traditional: Greet your youngest arrivals at the door with a Thanksgiving-themed colouring book and crayons.
Modern: Set up an easy-to-reach dessert station with paper plates, sprinkles, whipped cream and pumpkin pie tarts — you can put tarts in the oven before guests arrive. Encourage kids to decorate the tarts to their liking and even serve them to others.
Easy As Pie
Canadians love their pumpkin pie. In fact, more than half feel a Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete until pumpkin pie is on the table. In addition, more than three quarters of those who think they won’t enjoy a slice say they’d re-try it if a friend made it for them. These facts make it clear that Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to bake and serve this Turkey Day staple.
If you’re looking for the perfect pumpkin pie to impress family and friends, try this rich and creamy recipe.
Classic Pumpkin Pie
Makes: 8 servings
- 1 can (354 mL) Carnation regular or 2% evaporated milk
- 1 pastry for 10-inch (25 cm) single-crust pie
- 1 3/4 cups (425 mL) pumpkin pureé
- 1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp (2mL) ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp (2mL) ground nutmeg
- 1/4 (1 mL) ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). On floured surface, roll out pastry to 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness.
- Fit pastry into 10-inch (25-cm) pie plate; press into bottom and up sides of plate. Trim overhang and flute edges.
- Whisk together pumpkin purée, sugar, eggs, flour, spices and salt in large bowl until smooth and well combined; gradually whisk in evaporated milk. Fill pie shell with evaporated milk mixture. Bake in bottom third of oven for 60 to 70 minutes or until set. Let cool completely on rack.
Tip: Pies can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to three days or frozen up to one month.