And get a FREE turkey from Butcher Box!
If you’re hosting a holiday meal this year, minimize your stress with these simple tips that will help you enjoy the day and focus on what matters most.
Simple Thanksgiving menu ideas
My top rule for hosting is to minimize number the items that you cook from scratch. Are you known for your signature pecan pies? Make those and 1-2 other items. Any other things on the menu can be purchased, or you can ask others to bring them.
My two signature dishes are my gluten-free candied yams (aka sweet potato casserole) and bacon-wrapped green bean bundles. Both of those can be prepped the day before, which is even better! If I have time, I’ll make a dessert too, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to purchase something from a local bakery.
I absolutely love homemade cornbread dressing, but I know how much work it is to prepare that dish. One holiday side dish I love to make is either roasted Brussels sprouts or broccoli. These require minimal hands-on effort, add a healthy dose of green to the meal, and are a great option for the host to prepare. Not everything has to be home made! I promise, your family would rather see you happily enjoying the holiday than having a picture-perfect meal on the table.
Your family would rather see you happily enjoying the holiday than have a picture-perfect meal on the table.
I’m very grateful that Mr. Bayou takes full responsibility for the turkey. Here in Louisiana, there’s only one way to cook turkey — fried! I know it’s not the healthiest option, but it’s definitely delicious.
Before you fry a turkey, it MUST be fully thawed. There are hundreds of videos that show how dangerous it is to fry a frozen turkey. We usually opt for two 14-15 pound turkeys fried in peanut oil. Mr. Bayou recommends injecting the turkey at least one day in advance. He likes Tony Chachere’s Creole Style Butter or Butter and Jalapeno injector kits.
Avoid over-filling the pot with oil. If you’re unsure how much oil to use, put the the wrapped turkey into the pot with water. Remove the turkey, and mark where the fill line needs to be. The oil will “grow” a little when heated.
When injecting the turkey, make sure to push the seasoning in as you remove the injector, so the flavoring is evenly distributed. He recommends injecting throughout the turkey, but when possible, try to go at an angle to avoid puncturing the skin. This will keep the meat from drying out.
Heat the oil to 375 degrees before frying, and try to maintain the temperature between 325 and 350 degrees throughout cooking. Once you add the turkey, the temperature will drop, but it will come back up as the turkey cooks. Here is an affiliate link to a similar deep fryer to the one Mr. Bayou uses.
One way to make cleanup easier is to use two large disposable metal pans — one for thawing, and one for the cooked turkey. This also helps avoid cross contamination since large turkey pans are difficult to wash safely in a kitchen sink. If he is cooking two turkeys, he will use four of those pans.
Finally, if you really want to make life simple, you can even have a gorgeous, free range, antibiotic free turkey delivered right to your door! Butcher Box is running a sale for a free turkey for new customers. I am always so impressed by the quality and the expert packaging. Even in our Louisiana heat, the meat still arrives at my door fully frozen.
Simple fall decorating ideas that create a big impact
I recently heard this amazing advice from home-decor guru, The Nester on her podcast, “Focus holiday decorating on three spaces.” For me, that means the front door, the table, and the mantle. Below are some simple ways I added a little fall decor into my home.
On the mantle, I brought in richer color with pampas grass I scavenged and burgundy grass and filler from Amazon. The little vase is from my favorite antique store in Florida. I love to go thrifting while on vacation! I added this cute, inexpensive brown plaid rug to my front door this year for a little autumn color. In the dining room, I cut a huge branch from the back yard to add a focal point and gorgeous greenery (below).
I added even more autumn ambiance with new scents in my Pura diffusers (affiliate link). These smart diffusers use an app on your phone to customize which scent to use, the strength, and when you’d like the diffuser to run. It’s so simple to set up and program, and it’s a lot safer than lighting candles all over your home — especially with kids around!
I hope you learned at least one tip that you can use this year to make your holiday hosting a little less stressful! Did I forget something? Leave a comment and share your favorite ideas.
Remember, that serving your family doesn’t mean running yourself ragged. Find simple ways to make the most impact and embrace a perfectly imperfect holiday focused on the people who make it special.
Happy fall y’all!