Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Project Management

I am a project manager by trade and also by personality. I love order, having a plan, and controlling chaos. So as you might imagine, I have A PLAN for Thanksgiving dinner.  We're hosting TJ's parents and Granny, so it's not a huge crowd. I am thrilled that we have enough dining room chairs and place settings of the fancy china his grandmother gave us.

Last weekend, I made a list of what we're going to eat. No small feat, since I'd like the meal to be mostly Paleo, to satisfy our New Way of Eating, dairy-free so that BabyT can have anything, and tasty so the rest of our guests don't feel like they've just entered some kind of Diet Boot Camp Thanksgiving.

Here it is:
  • Ham from Whole Foods
    • (yes, I'm taking the easy route, but you can't go wrong with the Product of the Pig.)
  • Mashed sweet potatoes
    • Substituting Earth Balance for butter here, but should be awesome either way
  • Spinach salad with pumpkin vinaigrette
  • My mom's recipe for green beans stirfried with coconut and spices
  • Roasted butternut squash + bacon
    • (hooray PotP!)
  • Cornbread stuffing from Trader Joe's
  • Vegan pumpkin pie
    • (yes, I know what you're thinking. I'm not sure either.)
  • Apple pie from Trader Joe's
    • (the first I've had since being pregnant with T and consuming no fewer than 10 pies during that time)
Manageable, right?  I even did the shopping for the non-perishable stuff last weekend. Tomorrow morning, I'll be at Trader Joe's when it opens, to avoid the craziness.

Tonight, I'll plan out the cooking schedule.  Last time we "cooked" a ham, we VASTLY understimated how long it would take, and ended up eating about 2 hours later than planned.  We'll do better this time.

I may be a PM, but I'm no perfectionist.  I'm perfectly happy to take some shortcuts.  The pumpkin pie recipe calls for a homemade crust, but some of the commenters said it came out really hard, so I was thrilled when I found a dairy-free graham cracker pie crust by Arrowhead Mills at Whole Foods. I've got my fingers crossed that it all works out, but I'm excited about BabyT tasting pumpkin pie for the first time.  It's my absolute favorite pie ever.

What are you cooking for the Big Meal?  Do you have a project plan?


  1. I've got a timeline. OF COURSE I DO. This year the boys helped plan the menu so everyone would have a favorite food.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  2. @LauraC - I love how everyone got to pick a favorite food! Great idea.

  3. Wow ... we're a lot a like in the PM world. I totaly just wrote about project managing my t-day dinner. = ) My t-day is all about tradition. In fact, I'm adament about not adding anything new or different to my meal. = )

  4. We've had a version of the vegan pumpkin pie (my dad had dairy issues) and it came out pretty good.

    We split up the meal duties, so we always plan ahead. We're also big on tradition, so we have the same basic items, just changed up a little.

    I think I am going to try the mashed sweet potatoes this year. They sound yummy.

  5. Do I have a project plan? Last year, I had a Gantt chart!

    This year I have more help, so I just have a timeline.

    We do the traditional turkey (I find that the brined kind are the hardest to screw up), stuffing, potatoes, etc.

  6. @Adrianne - we should compare notes on the sweet potatoes. I'm thinking of decreasing the amt of honey as they are already plenty sweet, or maybe use maple syrup instead.

    @Jenn and @Cloud, we are such geeks :)

  7. We had mashed sweet potatoes with no sugar (and no artificial sweeteners) this year-- just pecans, cinnamon, and butter. They were honestly just as good as the years when we put in brown sugar.

    I was really surprised at how good our no-sugar no-refined carbs Thanksgiving turned out. The only thing I really missed was cornbread in the stuffing (we had whole wheat bread stuffing instead, which I just don't like as much).

    We had baked apples for dessert, stuffed with butter, cinnamon, pecans, and raisins, and wrapped in whole wheat pie dough.

  8. @nicoleandmaggie - that sounds super-yummy! Since we were having guests, I couldn't do the experimental Paleo Thanksgiving I wanted to try, plus I really did want to make some kind of pumpkin pie my daughter could eat. It all worked out.

    ITA that sweet potatoes need no more sweetener. Next time I make Paula Deen's recipe, I'll skip the honey - they were plenty sweet already!


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