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Keep Thanksgiving simple with these hosting tips and a delicious vegetable dish. Tender and slightly sweet, these maple roasted carrots make the perfect side for simple Thanksgiving entertaining.
Thanksgiving is a day for family. As a child we always went to our grandparents’ homes for the big feast surrounded by a million cousins, eating delicious food, watching football, and playing dominoes. Making all or part of the Thanksgiving day feast is a big responsibility in my book. Growing up it was always handled by my grandmothers, aunts, and of course, my Martha Stewart level mom. As I’ve grown up I’ve stepped into the role of helping with Thanksgiving day preparations and while some aspects are intimidating, preparing for Thanksgiving as a host doesn’t have to be scary. Here’s how.
- Get your shopping done early. Did you know most turkeys take days to dethaw? They do. So beat the rush and get the bulk of your shopping done at least 3-5 days in advance. This will also ensure the produce and groceries aren’t picked over by the time you get there. If you want to earn fun rewards for your everyday grocery shopping, as well as holiday shopping, check out Shopkick! It is an easy to use shopping app and website that rewards you with gift cards! (<<always nice around the holidays!)
- Keep decor simple. Just by adding a few natural fall touches, like fresh greenery (plucked from my yard and trees) and mini pumpkins the table feels festive, but not overdone. I placed my foliage in some vintage bottles spread over a vintage tea towel…classic, yet simple and the only cost was a couple dollars in mini pumpkins.
- Prep some dishes ahead of time. Desserts are an easy thing to make the day before, especially pies since it is better to give them time to set up than have them hot from the oven anyways. For my feast I decided to be gracious to myself and go with a like-homemade choice and use Marie Callender’s Dessert Pie in the pumpkin flavor. It is so easy to just pop it in the oven and I had oodles of compliments on the flavor. I also grabbed a Marie Callender’s Loaf Cake in the Dutch Apple flavor for some variety in the desserts. I have such a weak spot for sweets, but these were both delicious and a great option to prep ahead of time. The day before is also great for cutting veggies or cheeses for a snack tray and pre-making some side dishes as well.
- Ask for help. My mama often said, “Many hands make light work”. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family to bring a dish, drink, or dessert for the meal. If I’m able to I always like to bring something and lighten the hostess’ load so I assume others want to do the same. And be sure to enlist help for clean up too! If you are doing most of the cooking, you should be doing the least clean up, in my opinion. A simple, “hey, can you help with washing the large dishes?” or “I’d love it if you could put the leftovers into the fridge for me” will help communicate your expectations and NEED for help! You can’t do it all, sister!
- Keep beverages simple. A few easy ideas are iced tea (sweet or unsweet), flavored water (just add some fresh lemon or lime and mint), and a simple wine option, like this Woodbridge Red Blend. It is rich and full-bodied with notes of blackberry, vanilla, and baking spices and should pair nicely with classic holiday dishes.
- Don’t be intimidated by the turkey. I did quite a bit of online research and chatting with “the experts”, aka my mom and a chef friend, and while there are a lot of steps, preparing the turkey wasn’t as hard as I imagined. First off, I was ahead of the game thanks to my Butterball turkey. Butterball turkeys are all natural and the highest quality so you can be sure you are putting something that’s going to be tender and juicy on the table. Plus they are the #1 brand of turkey in the USA! My whole turkey came infused with brine, pre-trussed, and with just a bag of innards and the turkey neck inside so it was super-easy to prepare. It also came with really clear directions for prepping, roasting, and even cutting the bird! You can also call, text, or live chat Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372) for help anywhere during the process.
- Quick and easy sides for the win. While your traditional favorites like mashed potatoes and stuffing will always take a bit of time, I love a quick and simple side like this recipe for Maple Roasted Carrots. They are seriously delicious and are so easy to make it is ridiculous!
You can’t beat a simple side that is nutritious and one of the tastiest ways to eat vegetables! For this recipe you just need a few fresh ingredients. I assemble this dish all on the baking sheet so I’m dirtying less dishes too!
- 12-14 carrots sliced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ cup fresh, chopped thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet (standard cookie sheet). Slice carrots. Place carrots on prepared pan. Drizzle olive oil and maple syrup over the carrots. Top with thyme, salt and pepper. Lightly toss carrots until carrots are coated in oil and syrup and herbs and spices are well distributed. Place in oven for 25 minutes. Turn carrots halfway through for even cooking. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
The roasting process really brings out the sweet flavor of the carrots and the thyme is such a nice complimentary flavor. Yum! These are seriously the best way to eat carrots! Using fresh herbs elevates this dish to “Thanksgiving level”, but it is easy enough for everyday dinners too!
Be encouraged if you are a first time hostess or just being “allowed” to bring one dish for the first time that you absolutely CAN do it! Think simple and keep the focus on time with family and friends and you’ll knock it out of the park!
How will you use these turkey day tips to make your Thanksgiving easier?! If you are a hostess this Thanksgiving what is your top tip for a newbie?