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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Holidays & Entertaining / Traveling with Thanksgiving Dinner...any ideas?
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    Traveling with Thanksgiving Dinner...any ideas?

    Chef Jean
    Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:39 pm Groupie
    This year my MIL has asked me to cook Thanksgiving dinner. My in laws are Asian and they pretty much fail Thanksgiving dinner every year( not their fault just not part of their culture). I think my MIL has realized this and with 5 American Grandchildren and one on the way I think she wants it to be more traditional this year.

    This is where I come in. I'm a chef, a baker and born and raised here is the US...sooo I fit the bill as the best person to cook the meal icon_smile.gif

    I have two problems that you might be able to help me with.

    1) I will be driving about 5 hours to get to my in laws home and will only be able to get there the day before Thanksgiving. I would like to do as much shopping and prepping as possible at home and bring it with me.

    Any ideas about side items that travel well and/or can be made in advance? I might bring my two crock pots with me and use those if needed. (I will have my MIL get the turkey and will roast it on Thanksgiving morning)

    2) I tend to go overboard. It runs the family! DH's fam will not care if we eat store bought mashed potatoes, jarred gravey and Wal-Mart pies (yes, this was last years menu), but I want them to see how much better homemade will be. I don't, however, want to spend days and days cooking knowing that they are easy to please.

    What do you think would be a bare bones yet impressive traditional menu?

    Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:38 pm
    Forum Host
    What is the weather likely to be? On the cold side so that things in the trunk will stay cold? Or warmer?

    Do you have some ideas of what you do want to serve, beside the turkey? I assume mashed potatoes and gravy. I find you need more gravy for larger groups and that is something you could make ahead of time - so many stores are selling turkey broth/stock these days - then freeze and bring with you. Potatoes I assume you will prepare the night before or the day of - they can keep in the crockpot for a longish time.

    Baked goods will all travel well, you can start making some of those now and freezing them.

    But what else are you interested in serving?
    Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:45 pm
    Forum Host
    This side would acknowledge the Asian heritage in your family, Gingered Roast Butternut Squash, veggies and sauce can be prepped ahead of time, it can bake while the turkey rests.
    Chef Jean
    Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:45 pm Groupie
    The weather will most likely be on the warmer side. I'm headed north, but I'm starting pretty far south icon_smile.gif

    I'm thinking turkey, gravey, mashed potatoes, maybe sweet potatoes (but that squash dish could be used in place of those!), stuffing(dressing) does that freeze and reheat?, maybe a homemade bread(something easy!), and at least two veggie dishes...these I'm stuck on.

    My MIL will make Chinese rice stuffing, and will have some other Asian dishes too. From what I can tell she really wants to do what she's good at, but add the American traditions as well icon_smile.gif

    I usualy make pumpkin and apple pie, and will probably make some quick breads since you mentioned that I could make them now! LOL

    There will be about 10 adults and 3 children and 2 babies.

    Thanks for your help and ideas!
    Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:25 pm
    Forum Host
    Stuffing/dressing generally freezes very well and reheats beautifully - some ingredients might not work as well as others, but generally it should be great.

    For breads, these rolls would be beautiful, Sweet Potato Yeast Rolls . I think it would be nice to have these along with white rolls, something like Buttery Yeast Rolls .
    You could make these the week before and freeze them. Reheat by covering with foil and reheating in a low oven - I think that works better than microwaving which I think dries them out too much. If there is some other flavor you'd be interested in, let me know, I am sure I can help you find a recipe.

    Are you going to have any kind of appetizers - I like to keep it simple when you are having a food fest such as T-day. Veggies with some light dips or spreads.
    Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:29 pm
    Forum Host
    Veggies - something the kids are likely to like , perhaps corn - a little chopped red bell pepper would dress it up but still appeal to kids. For adults you could do something more sophisticated - perhaps Brussel sprouts? I'll have to think about that.

    Depending on how cool it is where you are going, soup might make a nice appetizer - served with some nice quality crackers. You could do a simple broth with slices of fresh shiitake mushrooms and sliced scallions floating on top - an Asian touch, especially if you cook the broth with some ginger slices.
    Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:49 am Groupie
    Every year I do make ahead mashed potatoes. So much easier than doing them in the morning of. They keep for days in the fridge, a few hours out of the fridge won't hurt so just put them in her fridge when you get there and bake an hour before mealtime. I don't have my recipe posted, but here is one similar to mine, except I use butter, not margarine.Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes They are really good! Be sure to tell MIL to brine the turkey! Above all, have fun!
    Chef Jean
    Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:34 am Groupie
    Thanks so much for all your help! I love all the ideas and recipe suggestions icon_smile.gif

    I'm not usually a make ahead type of cook for holidays and events, so your help is very much appreciated!

    I will make the rolls (probably both types) this week and freeze them.

    The corn for the kids is a great idea! I was thinking of brussels sprouts or broccoli rabe for the adults also.

    I am going to check the weather to see if soup will work, it sure would be an easy appetizer. I think I will just do veggies and dip and cheese and crackers in addition to the soup.

    I'm starting to get excited about this icon_smile.gif
    Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:44 am
    Forum Host
    I don't really have a recipe for this, but you might like Brussel sprouts like this. Clean the sprouts and cut them in half, quarters if really large (I try to pick smaller sprouts, they taste sweeter). Cook - I put a little water in a microwave bowl, drop in the sprouts and steam them in the microwave - so much easier. They need to be crisp-tender, not mushy.

    Thinly slice some garlic - I take big fat cloves and a sharp knife and just thinly slice them - not chop. I don't know how many - two cloves when I'm just making it for the two of us, but it depends on how you like it.

    Melt some butter in a skillet or you could use olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and cook for about a minute, just until they start to get fragrant. Add the sprouts and cook briefly to glaze them with the butter (I really like butter for this - I usually have a jar of ghee or clarified butter in the fridge). If you want it a bit more savory, you could add a little balsamic vinegar to the pan, just before removing from the heat.

    This is really delicious and easy. You could prep the sprouts at home a day or two before leaving, slice the garlic the day before and wrap up very tightly or put in a sealed container. Then it will just take a few minutes to cook it. I don't like this one reheated as much, not that it stops me from eating it reheated, but it just seems best freshly made.
    Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:47 am
    Forum Host
    You can also make the gravy ahead (freezes well), saves having to do it at the "last minute". Just remember to add any additional (skimmed) drippings from the roasted turkey when reheating it! icon_smile.gif

    The Best (Do-Ahead) Turkey Gravy

    Do Ahead White Wine and Sage Turkey Gravy - 2007

    As for menus, I don't go overboard unless having extra company....if its just the 5 of us, it will be "the usual":
    Gravy (made weeks ahead and frozen)
    Stuffing (bread:mushroom and sausage - Mixed together just before baking - I keep the browned sausage in a small separate container when I make the stuffing a few days ahead)
    Whole berry cranberry sauce (recipe on back of bag of berries - keeps very well)
    Mashed and/or roasted sweet potatoes (family preference we don't do mashed white taters on T-day) - I know, its a sacrilege, LOL
    Brussel sprouts with bacon (cooked stove top on T-day)
    Green beans and almonds with ginger butter (cooked stove top, day of)
    Tossed green salad w choice of dressings (day of)
    Pumpkin pie and quick breads (cran/orange and a pumpkin/raisin one) made morning of, before the bird goes in the oven.
    A few bottles of Prosecco wine for dinner (and maybe some for chef while cooking icon_wink.gif )
    Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:32 am Groupie
    Your DMIL is making the rice stuffing and you are preparing the turkey Thanksgiving morning?

    Do you have a large cooler you can pack with ice pretty well? If so these potatoes taste so much like homemade and it is a very easy way to make them. I put two bags in my KA mixer (4 adults with probably enough for one more serving the next day) and add the butter and milk then whip the taters up. Just be careful with adding more salt, taste and add more according to what your family likes. Ore Ida Steam N' Mash Potatoes.

    If you use the jarred turkey gravy that will save a lot of time too. I always worry about lumps making homemade and stress so the jar gravy works for me. Sometime I add some of the drippings and that adds even more of a homemade flavor. The giblets could be chopped up, maybe some mushrooms, onions or garlic sautee'd, just about anything to spice up the gravy.

    For us Thanksgiving dinner isnt ready until there is corn casserole on the table. I havent made this member's recipe but it is the one I use every year.
    The Best Corn Casserole #379995

    These green beans are outstanding!
    Green Beans Provencale #91661

    For the cranberry sauce I usually make a jello based recipe but if I am in a hurry the canned cranberries work just as well.

    Buy some rolls from the bakery or grocery store and be done with that.

    Hope I gave you a little bit of help hon. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family! oxoxoxox
    Chef Jean
    Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:35 pm Groupie
    Thanks for your help Lauralie! I think I have everything set except for the veggie dishes! The green beans look great, simple yet special icon_smile.gif
    Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:10 pm Groupie
    Like you, in the past I had to drive 5 hours to reach my Thanksgiving destination. I worked the day before Thanksgiving, so always left really early to drive on Thanksgiving day. My mom always requested that I bring two vegetables, a salad, and a dessert. She didn't want me to use her kitchen, because she said it would be too crowded. But she wanted my hot dishes "hot" when I got there. So I purchased a converter for my car that I plugged into my cigarette lighter that had 3 outlets. I used two crockpots and usually made garlic mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, squash casserole, or sweet potato casserole in those. I basically cooked them in the car.....smelled great, but drove the dogs crazy!! (The third outlet was for my son's portable DVD player). I used a cooler to transport my salad ingredients, all washed and prepped. I usually made a bar cookie or buckeyes for my dessert, and of course a pecan pie. Just used a pie carrier for the pie. We survived about 6 trips doing that, and always had good sides!!

    This year, everyone is coming here.....and they aren't bringing a thing, because it is too far to travel with food! LOL.
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