I am so excited to have my family coming to our house for Thanksgiving this year.  It is my first year as a grandmother and I am really thankful. I am trying to get everything done ahead of time so I can spend the weekend enjoying everyone rather than cooking. Our family tradition is a fairly small Thanksgiving dinner and a large open  house on the day after Thanksgiving where friends and family that don’t live nearby can see each other and catch up.

When my grandson was born, I immediately started looking for baby equipment to keep at our house.  Luckily I had a cousin who was getting rid of a lot of her son’s early baby equipment.  She gave me a pack and play, a swing, a high chair and some baby toys.  The baby has never been in the swing or the high chair and only used the crib a handful of times.  In talking to other grandmothers, I have discovered that my experience is not unique.  If your grandchild lives within driving distance, it is much easier for you to travel to their house than for them to come to you.  Everything is already set up, baby proofed and familiar.

If you don’t live within driving distance, and your grandchild visits frequently, having some equipment at your house will make things easier for your kids so they don’t have to transport lots of stuff with them. Remember that some equipment like bouncy chairs and swings are only useful for a short amount of time so if you are investing in equipment, choose things that will last for awhile. A portable crib is a good idea and possibly a lightweight stroller. Check Craigslist and second hand stores but it is important to make sure that any used equipment you buy is safe and is not a product that has been recalled by the manufacturer. If you decide to go with new equipment, I really like the Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Reversible Napper and Changer and for a great lightweight stroller, Summer Infant 2015 3D Lite Convenience Stroller

The other thing that some of my friends and I do is share toys and equipment.  The babies are rarely at our houses at the same time so we pass around toys and equipment as needed. It is a great way to save money and provide new toys without having to buy them. We all wash everything down before we give it back so it is ready for the next little visitor.

I think the most important thing to have at my house is some small toys and books. I have a collection of books that I read to my kids when they were little and I love reading them to my grandson.  He is still trying to eat most of them but he really loves books and will sit and listen for a long time.

Now that I digressed from discussing Thanksgiving, here are some recipes that can be made ahead of time so you can spend the weekend enjoying everyone.

Thanksgiving Make Ahead Recipes

cranberry saucePerfect Cranberry Sauce- Make up to one week ahead and refrigerate- bring to room temperature before serving

Empty a 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries into a saucepan and transfer 1/2 cup to a small bowl.  Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest and 2 tablespoons water to the pan.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft (about 10 minutes).  Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and stir in the reserved cranberries. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cool to room temperature before serving. Source:   Food Network

 

sweet potato thanksgiving recipeSweet Potato Casserole Make ahead up to one day up to step 2. Serves 8

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 8), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows or chopped regular marshmallows
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water by 1 inch; salt generously. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, and return to pan. Heat over medium, stirring, until liquid has evaporated and a thin film covers bottom of pan, about 2 minutes.
    2. Remove pan from heat; add milk, butter, and nutmeg. Mash until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Transfer sweet-potato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Top casserole with marshmallows; bake until center is warmed through and marshmallows are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Source:   Martha Stewart

stuffingMushroom and Walnut Stuffing Cover and refrigerate 1 day ahead up to step 2. Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced small
  • 3 celery stalks, diced medium (about 2 cups)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 10 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 loaf crusty white bread, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (8 cups) and left uncovered overnight or toasted
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken or turkey broth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add onions and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil, mushrooms, and sage to skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are browned, 5 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, until wine is almost evaporated. Transfer to bowl with vegetables; add walnuts, bread, and enough broth to moisten (stuffing should feel moist but not soggy). Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
  2. Add eggs to bread mixture and toss well to combine. Reserve 4 cups stuffing for turkey. Spoon remaining stuffing into a lightly oiled 2-quart baking dish.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in upper third. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top, 30 minutes. (Leftovers can be pan fried and served with eggs for brunch) Source:   Martha Stewart  

Make Ahead Day After Thanksgiving Brunch Recipes

french toastOvernight Blueberry French toast

  • 12 thick slices of challah
  • 1 8 oz pkg of cream cheese (brick)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups milk

Blueberry Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Cut the bread into cubes. Spray the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish with vegetable spray and place half the cubes of bread in the pan.  Cube the cream cheese and put on top of the bread.  Distribute one cup of fresh or frozen blueberries over the cream cheese. Place remaining bread over the blueberries.  Beat the eggs, add the maple syrup and the milk.  Pour mixture over bread and cream cheese.  Place plastic wrap over dish and refrigerate overnight.

Bake the French toast, covered with foil in the middle of a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until it is puffed and golden. While the French toast is baking make the blueberry sauce.

Blueberry Sauce – Cook the water, cornstarch, sugar and 1 cup blueberries until it thickens. Then add the other cup of blueberries and the butter. Serve with French toast.  Source:  The Maples Inn

From our family to yours, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!