I absolutely love this quote from Simple Abundance by Sara Ban Breathnach (as she quotes from the bible and adds her own last line):
"In the beginning was the Word.
And the Word was with God
And the Word was God.
Might I have a word?"
The author was talking about women, about prayer and whether you believe or not, we send out prayers everyday - whether we are kneeling or standing. It reminded me that as a cook in the kitchen preparing a new dessert, hors d'ouevres for a holiday party or the main meal at a holiday that you send prayers up into heaven. Can't you just hear yourself saying - "Please dear God let this souffle rise". Or, "dear Lord I hope I have prepared enough stuffing to feed everyone".
For Thanksgiving, one thing you could do to ease your mind on whether you have enough, is to put your dressing in muffin tins. Give a good mound in each one and that is probably enough to equal one serving portion. By doing that you know that you have enough and the other benefit is that it takes less time to cook the dressing. So when the Turkey has been pulled out of the oven and is resting and the gravy is being made, pop the muffin tin in the oven and your timing should be about perfect.
Start your potatoes prior to the Turkey coming out of the oven. Once the potatoes are mashed they will stay warm in the pot for a while and can be transferred to an oven proof casserole dish covered with aluminum foil and put in a low oven to stay warm.
While the Turkey is resting and the gravy is being made, cook your stuffing. When that is just about done, add the potatoes to the oven to get warmed back up. Timing for other vegetables depends on what you make. Figure out the cooking time for each vegetable or vegetable casserole you are making ahead of time and try to plan accordingly. For instance, you've made a butternut squash casserole - it takes 45 minutes to cook. Cook it on a rack along side of your Turkey.
If you are blessed with two ovens - you have it made. One oven, that's where planning ahead comes in to play. I make a list of what has to be cooked, at what temperature and for how long and then I strategize from there to make sure that everything is cooked at about the same time or can be kept warm while something else is finishing.
To make sure that you will have ample gravy for everyone and gravy with lots of flavor, add celery, carrots and onion to the roasting pan with the Turkey. Baste the Turkey with turkey broth which is now available in grocery stores or with chicken broth. Using these two tips will assure you of ample gravy that tastes great. On this blog site I give an explanation of how to make the Turkey Gravy in my post Roasted Turkey Dinner and Beyond. Be sure and check it out.
Making a list and checking it twice - prep as much as you can a day or two ahead of the holiday and as I said make a plan for what time something will go in the oven or when something should be started on the stove top. Trust me, it helps.