Every year my family jokes we should start our holiday meals with dessert first. After a brigade of appetizers, sides and main course, the table once again disappears under a blanket of cakes, cookies and pastries. Apparently, Italians are always prepared for an army to drop in for dinner.While it seems decadent to start dinner with a caramel pecan pumpkin pie, it’s totally the way to go when prepping for the big day. Pie crusts can be made up to a month in advance and stored in the freezer. Just wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, pop into a ziptop bag for extra protection against freezer burn. Let them thaw out the night before you’re ready to get rolling.
Here are a few more tips for a sweet and stress-free ending to Thanksgiving:
Chopped and toasted nuts can be prepped a month in advance and stored in a tightly sealed bag in the refrigerator so they don’t go rancid.
If you’re making homemade pumpkin puree, now’s the time to get roasting. The smaller sugar pumpkin variety is best. Just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds (Gluten-Free Girl has a great recipe for them) and place them cut-side down in a roasting pan. Bake in a preheated 400ºF oven until tender when pierced with a paring knife or fork.
Stick to recipes you know. There’s nothing worse than trying a new one on the big day and having it flop. Making a test dinner is becoming popular among food bloggers, who want to take new recipes for a spin to ensure success on turkey day.
Desserts should always be fresh made, so while you can prep many of your ingredients in advance, the actual baking should be done the day before or same day, unless otherwise directed in your recipe. Cookies can be a made a day or two advance. Pies are best tasting a few hours out of the oven, but you can always make it the night before and set it to cool overnight on the kitchen counter. The aroma of fresh pie is tempting, though, so you might want to sleep with one eye open.