Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I hope this post isn’t too late to be at least a little helpful, but our (awesome, crowded) Thanksgiving was followed by an out-of-town visitor, and . . . I was a little tired. It happens!
But as I was cleaning up after Turkey Day, I realized your holiday entertaining post-game is just as important as your pre-prep–in fact, if you do it right, you can cut way down on your prep work next time. And with Christmas right around the corner, you can use your time now to reduce your stress then. Plus I’ve got some ideas for what to do with your leftovers!
Step One: Cleanup
First off: I know the cleanup after Thanksgiving is massive and arduous, so it’s tempting to rush right through it and half-ass it. Don’t do that. Instead of just putting things away, think of it as getting your things ready to use next time. It’s a subtle shift that can really help.
- Take stock of all your gear. Did it turn out you were missing some items (I’m somehow missing two forks and I’m really bummed about it!)? Try to find them now, or replace them before you forget.
- When you clean everything, make sure it’s all really clean. Take a moment. Are you putting away your rarely used china? Make sure it’s shined up. Wine glasses? Ditto.
- Put everything away in a way that will make them easier to use and access in the future. Did you have to scour your house to find stuff? Did your original storage spaces make sense, logistically? I realized the drawer I was using for my cloth napkins was just too small, which means they were crammed in there and got all wrinkled (negating the effort I made to fold them right out of the dryer). Try to store the things you use together in the same general area!
Step Two: Leftovers
Thanksgiving and holiday leftovers are legendary. They can also be kind of overwhelming–what the heck can you do with everything before it gets gross? Here are my suggestions:
- Turkey carcass: turkey broth, of course! I use my chicken broth recipe and double with vegetables, since a turkey is so much bigger. Freeze the broth.
- Turkey meat: the Pioneer Woman’s Turkey and Swiss Panini is to die for (I used havarti and just grill it in a pan). Turkey hash (again, I use my chicken hash recipe) is also a good way to use up leftover herbs. Or make Turkey Soup With Rice and stock the freezer!
- Veggie platters/leftover vegetables: with your stock, you can make “Free” French Vegetable Soup.
- Cheese and meat trays: a Big-Ass Quiche, of course (particularly if you have leftover cream)!
- Bread: Grand Central Bakery’s Bread Pudding Muffins are heavenly. Works best with crusty bread.
You can freeze many of these and have quick meals ready during the busy holiday season!
Step Three: Plan Another Holiday Party
What? Come on, it’s fun. Keep your momentum going, baby!