Thanksgiving Dinner Prep: Wed/Thursday

We had an extra day to complete our Thanksgiving dinner, since it was Friday to accommodate Navy schedules. This allowed me to use Thursday to knock out some of the advance prep work and a couple dishes for the main meal a day early. I tackled the Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish and Nonna’s Peas, both of which kept nicely until Friday’s dinner.

Backing up — on Wednesday night in my “get organized” stage, I planned to copy all the recipes I was going to use out of the magazines, so I wouldn’t be flipping through to find my next step. Garrett took it a step forward and suggested I ripped out my recipes and put them into plastic sleeves that I could keep in the kitchen. He knows I have a couple of binders full of printed & ripped recipes that I could add these to after the weekend. Genius! Having the recipes on hand, and protected from spills & food in sheet protectors was a huge help as I worked on two, three or four recipes at once.

Also on Wednesday, I started the Vanilla-Cider Panna Cota that I thought I would take to our hosts for Thursday. My first step Thursday morning was to create the cider reduction that would also be jelled (gelatin) and top the panna cota. (note: I didn’t make the ginger cookies that the recipe also uses.) I felt pretty good about the dessert, but forgot to make myself a small shot glass to test it before I took it to dinner. Reviews were mixed, with negatives about texture (its like gelatin, not a creamy custard) and positives for the flavors, especially the cider reduction. Not sure if I’ll do this one again, but it was fun to try out something new.

Next up was the Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish that I first sampled at a “Pom-Party” at the home of Ashlee from Veggie by Season. She gave a small jar to all her dinner guests to take home, and we were nearly out of our supply so I had extra motivation for making this for Thanksgiving dinner!  Two pounds of cranberries boiled & simmered in cran-pom juice (I couldn’t find Pom Wonderful on the shelves, unfortunately), with lemon zest, cinnamon sticks and lots of sugar. The recipe was quite easy and I had no problems with sugar sticking in my new Calphalon Unison Nonstick Dutch Oven (bonus to our wedding set of Tri-Ply Copper cookware). I may have used a bit too much lemon zest though, because this batch was much more tangy than what Ashlee made. I definitely recommend this recipe, enough that I may have to take a canning class to preserve my next batch!

While the cranberry sauce was cooking, I prepped the onions and other ingredients for Nonna’s Peas. The recipe comes from my Italian great-grandmother and is a family tradition for holiday & family meals. My first Thanksgiving in Jacksonville was also my first with Garrett, and he helped me make the peas for our “Navy family dinner”. We’ve made them together every year since and I think he loves them more than I do now! The recipe is much like the others in the family cookbook — a list of ingredients and simple instructions, with little detail on quantity, temperature & time. But I still can’t post it here, because my mom, Gramma and cousins all read my blog and would ban me from future dinners if I start sharing family secrets.  I do have a picture though…

Nonna's Peas at Thanksgiving


Our Thanksgiving Day dinner (Thursdsay) was hosted by a good friend of Garrett’s, at the Callari household. These two are originally from Philly and their Italian heritage influenced dinner, from the bruschetta & antipasti during the afternoon to the pumpkin ravioli first course. Our peas fit right in with dinner and we had a great night with these two and their friends. Thanks for having us!

Thanksgiving Dinner Prep: Wed/Thursday