Thanksgiving time sheet

Our Thanksgiving food traditions include Brian making brunch and me making dinner – for just the four of us. Every year after brunch, I sit with a list of what I will make, how much time I think each item will take, and create a timesheet for myself of when to do what. That way I know when I can hang, and when I need to be in the kitchen. And I don’t leave broccoli in the microwave for 2 days. What, like you never have?!

Here is what I did when, along with some of my notes to myself and some notes for you guys.

2012 Thanksgiving Time Sheet:


  • set out 1 Cup butter for homemade whipped buttercream frosting (more on this below)
  • frost the spice cake (this was canned frosting. I baked the cake during brunch because the oven was still hot from the bacon, and I used some crushed gingerbread cookies for decoration on top.)
  • cut up sweet potatoes

(photo from top left: frosted spice cake, bread butts defrosting for stuffing, brownies waiting for mint layer, butter thawing, edamame defrosting, cut up sweet potatoes.)


For years I bought a 5-6 lb. breast for 3 of us. Wendy doesn’t like turkey and usually requests pigs in blankets. When Alice discovered she preferred dark meat, I started buying whole, small turkeys. This year at just over 9.7 lbs, I made my largest turkey to date. The first year I made a whole turkey, I forgot about the gibblets and it baked halfway with the bag inside before I noticed it while basting. One year I did a sage turkey. One year I used too much lemon and orange. Now I sprinkle salt and pepper on top, use the broiling pan with rack that came with my oven, and at the halfway point add a tiny pat of butter. This lack of fancy-schmancy actually makes for better turkey! Then I take the liquid from the bottom of the broiler pan and use that as straight gravy – no corn starch or stirring. Easy-peasy!

** turkey went in oven at 1:45, check it at 4:30. When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and cover with foil. Allow it to stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving; this will make the meat easier to carve.


  • make frosting and frost brownies.

I was going to make my grasshopper brownies, and the mint layer calls for powdered sugar. I have used the same recipe for making these since I was 16, but this year I forgot to buy powdered sugar. Rather than admit that out loud to my family, I Googled frosting recipes made from white sugar and found I replaced the vanilla extract with peppermint extract, and voila! I hoped it would firm up in the fridge just like my usual mint layer. I had no reason to believe it wouldn’t, since that is the nature of butter. And it turned out great! Just “for pretty” I added purple food coloring.


  • start boiling water for mashed sweet potatoes

I wanted mashed sweet poatoes from scratch, and found this: I used skim milk instead of heavy cream, and they were great! I finished the leftovers Sunday.

** boiling at 2:24, 25 minute timer set.


  • Make the homemade stuffing

I like whole wheat bread from-scratch stuffing. Brian likes Stove Top. I made both! When we eat bread, Brian and the kids don’t eat the end pieces, “bread butts” we call them. I save the bread butts in the freezer for things like stuffing or bread pudding. I used a lot of butts on Thursday!

** in oven at 4:26. Bake at 350*F, covered for 20-30 minutes. If you want a crisper stuffing, remove lid of casserole dish for the last 5 minutes or so.

  • If buttercream layer is set on brownies, make chocolate topping now. (It was set. Success!)

(Note: I did not make this, but I came across the recipe while researching Thanksgiving, and I saved it for someday:


  • Make Stove Top Stuffing
  • Heat the rolls
  • Mashed potatoes (boxed, for my kids, who don’t like sweet potatoes. Used bacon fat left from breakfast instead of butter.)
  • Steam the edamame
  • Reheat leftover breakfast sausage for Wendy (she didn’t ask for pigs in blankets this year, but still doesn’t think she likes turkey.)


Mom, do NOT take my picture


  • take out turkey and kids set table.

This is the often the only day of the year we use my grandmother’s china.

*Note for next year, we took the rolls out of the oven too early. They were cold by the time the turkey was sliced.

And there you have it! 1 turkey, 5 (?) starches, 1 veggie, 2 desserts in between a few episodes of Dr. Who, some Facebooking and a few Wii games with the family. And all was yum with the world!

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