I pray that your Thanksgiving was a blessing! We had a wonderful time together as a family. The food everyone prepared was delicious. The fellowship was sweet. The memories made were priceless. Oh, and dessert was amazing!
It was a huge blessing to have help with the meal. My girls are both great cooks, and they made incredible contributions to our meal! That took off a lot of prep on my part as the hostess.
I did a couple of new things for this meal that I want to mark and remember for future gatherings centered on food. I hope they’ll be tips you can utilize as well!
- Gravy ~ Gravy is often difficult! I find it getting lumpy or being too thick! If you ever struggle with making gravy, you’re going to love this first tip! Is it just the south, or is it everywhere that gravy is really important? Without gravy, turkey can be a bit bland and sometimes dry. Mashed potatoes need gravy like peanut butter needs jelly! Even biscuits are better dipped in a little puddle of gravy! Maybe I didn’t need to convince you how important gravy is, but now that we have that settled, let me share my little hack I learned.
It’s all about making a gravy base ahead of time. I saw a video on Instagram by a chef from King Arthur Flour that suggested this method to make your holiday meal come together so much easier. Usually the gravy is made at the very last minute of the meal prep, and it can be stressful! Using their method, I made the gravy base on Tuesday! All I needed to do on Thanksgiving Day was add the turkey drippings to the base and whisk it together to produce a quart of gravy . Here’s how I made it.
- 4 Tbl butter
- 1/2 Cup flour
- 2 cups Chicken Stock
Melt the butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Whisk in the 1/2 cup flour slowly and incorporate it into the butter. It will be very thick. Slowly add the chicken stock and whisk constantly until all stock is added and the base is smooth. Turn to low and cook 25 minutes. Do not season. Stir occasionally.
Store in fridge. I froze mine, then thawed it out the morning I needed it.
To make the gravy – Add the base to pan drippings. Whisk to keep it smooth. Skim off fat. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
When I added the base, I was worried that it was going to clump, maybe because I froze it, but it did not! It was so easy! I will definitely do this from now on!! You could also use this method for roast by using beef stock!
- Half-sized desserts – The other hack I tried was with making smaller desserts. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes, asking why you’d want to make less dessert! Read on…
I love to make what everyone enjoys, but I also don’t want to have an abundance left over. One son-in-law loves the Pumpkin Crunch Cake and the other loves Pumpkin Pie, but we were also having Pumpkin Cheesecake and Kentucky Derby Pie!
Pumpkin Crunch Cake is basically a pumpkin pie filling on the bottom, with a cake mixture on top. But since the cake makes a 9 x 13 pan – and the pie would fill a 10 inch pie plate, I knew it would be more than we would eat. The solution? Divide the pumpkin filling and make two small desserts. Here’s how I did it.
I made up the base (pumpkin filling) for the cake and used half of it for a small pie. This is a 7-8 inch pan…
I poured the other half of the pumpkin mixture into a square pan for the cake, then I used half of a cake mix for the top of the Crunch Cake.
Both of those pumpkin desserts were gone by the time the weekend was over! That worked out beautifully!
It can be scary to change a recipe and try something that you think will work. I made one other change and that was to reduce the amount of sugar in the Crunch cake. It calls for 1 1/2 cups, but I noticed that a pumpkin pie recipe only requires 3/4 cup, so I decided to go with the lesser amount and it wasn’t even detectable! It was perfectly sweet! I’m sure the sweetened whipped cream might have also helped!
Whenever I find little hacks that helped, I try to write them at the front of a frequently used cookbook or in a binder that I use all the time in the kitchen. When I make any alterations to a recipe, I write it on the recipe card or in the book I’m using.
Did you implement any hacks while preparing Thanksgiving dinner?
I would also love to know if anyone struggles with making gravy?