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November 14, 2010

Count Down to Thanksgiving

Twice Baked Bourbon-Hazelnut Sweet Potatoes.


Thanksgiving can be a little overwhelming for first time hosts. Heck, Thanksgiving can cause anxiety in award-winning chefs...don't feel bad if the thought of it gives you hives!  Here are some helpful tips to get you off on the right track:

1. Pour yourself a glass of wine before you start planning.

2. Design a traditional Thanksgiving feast, but let your creative juices flow on the side dishes.

3. Organize the meal with your cookware, oven, and range in mind. How many sauce pots, pie pans, and baking dishes do you have available? Assign them to your dishes. Take the number of ovens and burners you have into consideration. That might help you decide between mashed sweet potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, or sweet potato pie!

4. Write down your menu, gather your recipes, then make a thorough grocery list. You don't want to be running back to the store at the last minute!

5. Make a checklist of dishes to cook, and other preparations to be made. Try to plan what you are going to do on the days before, so your checklist isn't as daunting Wednesday night!

6. Whenever anyone offers to bring an item, be ready to hand something off with a big "THANK YOU!" Some good items to delegate (or buy pre-made WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF GUILT)...
Your rolls! Homemade rolls or biscuits are wonderful, but if you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner on your own—this is one area to save time and work.
Desserts! If you have a GOOD bakery nearby, buying your pies is a real time saver. Guests bringing food often like the idea of making dessert...so let them!
Appetizers. Put light snacks out to keep your family/guests happy, while you’re wrapping things up in the kitchen.

7. Completely clear the table of all dishes from previous courses before serving dessert. That way, after dessert you can RELAX!


Here is the order in which I usually undertake Thanksgiving dinner...

4-6 Days Before-

Shop and put the turkey in the fridge to thaw. DO NOT WAIT TO THAW YOUR TURKEY!

2 Days Before-

Brine the Turkey. That's right, BRINE IT! People, even so called experts, may try to tell you this is unnecessary, but from my experience (which in fairly substantial in the turkey department) you can't get a bird as juicy and flavorful, with a GREAT crispy skin, without brining it. Don't argue, just trust. *wink* I usually buy a brining bag, then put the whole bagged turkey in a bucket--a precaution against looming holiday disaster!

Prepare Sweet Potatoes, Make Cranberry Relish, Make Pumpkin Pies, Cut bread cubes for homemade stuffing and let sit out uncovered to dry

1 Day Before-

Remove the turkey from the brine a full 24 hours before roasting, so the skin can dry out. Place it in a roasting pan in the fridge uncovered to speed up the drying process. Dry skin = crisp golden skin!

Clean the house. (Or hire someone to do it!)

Set the table.

Prepare the stuffing.

Make some iced tea, or other beverages.

Thanksgiving morning-

Pour yourself a glass of wine...yes at 7 am or whatever time you start! It's one day a year, people, and it will help keep your stress level down.

Prep the Turkey EARLY and get in the oven (Don’t forget to turn and baste!)

While the Turkey is Roasting-

Prepare any side dishes that needed to be made fresh.

Pull out any items that may need to be reheated, and let them come to room temperature.

Remove Turkey from Oven, COVER, and- 

Bake the side dishes.

While side dishes are baking make-
 
Gravy, Green Veggies, and warm pre-made items.

SIT DOWN AND ENJOY YOURSELF! And secretly revel in the fact that you pulled in off and everything looks lovely, AND is hot at the same time!

Last, a favorite sweet potato recipe that is quick to put together (other than the roasting time). It's a GREAT make-ahead. Plus it's nice to have some side dishes that are prepared for individual servings--they just look pretty that way!


Twice Baked Bourbon-Hazelnut Sweet Potatoes

2 Tbs. veggie oil
3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 round, not skinny)
½ cup crème fraiche or cream cheese
6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
¼ cup chopped hazelnuts (or pecans, walnuts...)
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil the sweet potatoes and roast on rimmed baking sheet until very tender, 1 to 1 ½ hours. (You can nook them in the microwave to speed the roasting time!)


 Cool slightly. Cut each potato in half and place the flesh of the top halves in a bowl—it should just fall out of the skin. Gently scoop the flesh out of the bottom halves and add it to the bowl, leaving a little around the edges for stability. Mix in the crème fraiche, 4 Tbs. butter, syrup, bourbon, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 3/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Using a hand mixer (or immersion blender), puree until smooth.


Scoop the potato puree back into the bottom halves. Mix the remaining 2 Tb. of butter and ¼ tsp. nutmeg with the panko and chopped nuts. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the mixture over the tops of the sweet potatoes. Bake another 15-20 minutes until warmed through and golden on top!


* These can be made 2-3 days in advance. If coming out of the fridge, bake 30-40 minutes--until warmed through or cheat and rewarm in the microwave. *smile* I won't tell!


Twice Baked Bourbon-Hazelnut Sweet Potatoes on Foodista

55 comments:

  1. Guess it's time to start planning! Love this time of year, but I'm definitely behind. Sitting and enjoying is key.

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  2. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Greece but I will sure try these potatoes. They look very appetizing.

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  3. I love sweet potatoes and those look wonderful. Bookmarked!

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  4. This is a great time table. Those sweet potatoes sound amazing. I love the crunch you put on top.

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  5. The sweet potatos sound wonderful. I saw a couple of fabulous recipes, one for Rolled turkey breast stuffed with dressing (Ina) and anotehr for stuffed pumpkin with bread and cheese (Dori). I was momentarily tempted to create these show off dishes, but decided the old standard would be much less stressful. I love Thanksgiving, but it does have it's moments. :-)

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  6. Wow, those sweet potatoes look so yummy!

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  7. delicious presentation of sweet potatoes yummy

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  8. Step #1 is so key!! Sweet taters look amazing! Thanks and cheers!

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  9. Your sweet potatoes look sooooo good! I'm definitely going to make them but without hazelnuts (I'm allergic). Mmm I seriously could eat all of those.
    I love your Thanksgiving tips too, very very helpful! :)

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  10. THUD.


    I fell out of my chair over this one. It is amazing.

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  11. I made twice-baked sweet potatoes a few weeks back and thought they would be a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving. The hazelnuts are just the piece de resistance... I was gifted with a huge container of local ones last month. :)

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  12. All these tips are excellent! Thankfully I don't have to think too hard this year because my sister is hosting Thanksgiving and we're not getting to her house until late, late WEdnesday night. But I love your idea of serving a traditional meal but going crazy/creative with the side dishes. I'll keep that in mind for the year it's my turn to host . . . =)

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  13. You are wonderful! Thank you for all the planning tips. I always need help in that "organizational" area of my life! Beautiful sweet potatoes... a must dish for this time of year!

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  14. Your planning tips are so helpful. My house is always a disaster as me and my mom try and finish everything on time and about the same time as everything else. The sweet potatoes look fabulous as well!

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  15. The twice baked sweet potatoes look flavoursome and delicious!

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  16. Great timeline! I particularly like that pouring yourself a glass of wine is #1. Definitely what I do! :)
    Your sweet potatoes look really delicious. I'm always trying to come up with new and interesting ways to serve them, and this sounds perfect.

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  17. great post and your right planning takes some stress away

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  18. Great tips (and funny!), and a truly wonderful sounding recipe. I'm drooling over here!

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  19. It's amazing how breaking an overwhelming task down as you did significantly lowers stress and anxiety. Your wine advice sounds great to me.

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  20. Great post Sommer! I completely agree about the glass of wine. Absolutely essential!

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  21. Fun posting Sommer (love the wine and will follow. the sweet potatoes - wow - you've taken them to new drunken heights. But I don't brine. Don't ask. I won't tell.

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  22. Just started working on our menu and am very tempted to add these...though trying to stick to Italian theme :)

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  23. I'm with you a glass of wine helps take the edge off. Your twice-baked potatoes look delish! I've made twice- baked before but never with a sweet potatoe. Thanks for the great idea!

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  24. I am quite lucky that my mom ALWAYS hosts Thanksgiving, and we all just bring the side dishes. This year all of my family is in town, and mind you, I am the youngest of 5 - we're all married - and there are now 10 grandkids for my mom to feed as well. There will be 23 people at my mom's Thanksgiving feast this year. 23! I do not envy her.

    The sweet potatoes look amazing. I really hate that my husband loathes them as much as he does. Sigh...

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  25. Bourbon and sweet potatoes! I am loving this recipe!!

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  26. Your planning tips are so great, you are a party planner. I never hosted a party and cook, that would be too much for me, maybe in few years
    The sweet potatoes recipe sound delicious, must try it, thanks for sharing

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  27. What a wonderful list of tips and advice for the big day. I know that Thanksgiving can get overwhelming very quickly, so I appreciated all of these steps to take to ensure a more calm and relaxed Thursday. Thank you for sharing, love. May peace and beauty shower down this week!

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  28. loved the bourbon sweet potatoes recipe-- great stuff!

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  29. Good tips for keeping it easy on Tgiving! Your potatoes look almost like dessert, they looks so lovely.

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  30. Haha, like Tip #1. Just posted my turkey recipe for this year, next side dishes! Your twice-baked sweet potatoes sound divine!

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  31. i am already in love with this recipe... thank you for sharing it with us and i love the tip too..

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  32. Fabulous recipe. Love the flavors.

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  33. Okay..wine, brine, hire a cleaning crew...and serve these poatoes..oh Sommer great tips..I am the worst holiday cook, mess everywhere and sometimes I do weep a bit..lol

    sweetlife

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  34. These are really delicious-looking sweetpotatoes. I like the crunchy nuts and the little bourbon kick!!

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  35. I too like to plan ahead and organize. This can be an overwhelming holiday but your tips are certainly helpful. Your recipe looks awesome and one that I will definitely add to my menu.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Joanne

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  36. Excellent idea! I like to keep it reeeeeally simple this looks like perfect recipe, simple yet tasty and makes a pretty presentation!

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  37. Great tips, and Oh my god those Sweet Potatoes look heavenly!

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  38. great tips and even tho I don't have to worry about thanksgiving all the tips hold true for Christmas as well

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  39. It's all in the planning and a little bourbon never hurt either:) Beautiful spuds, I would like one of these for Thanksgiving all to myself:)

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  40. Oh, you are so organized it is killing me! I wish I had this gift. The potatoes sound amazing, Sommer - If I get delegated this dish (I don't exactly pick... but I do bring extras just for fun, and I don't have to host so I am not complaining) I will definitely give these a try!

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  41. What a great post. These look super tasty. This time of year is great for all the food posts. You should share this recipe over at www.dishfolio.com

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  42. Wonderful, commom sense advice and so very applicable! I especially love tips 1 and 2 ;) I don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but for Christmas, I find that I can't get by without a list, though many seem to prefer winging it then later find themselves in the middle of an impending melt down, an hour before guests arrive :P Need my list, for sure!!

    Love the way you made the sweet potatoes!!

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  43. I love sweet potatoes. This looks very tempting!

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  44. I totally agree about letting your creativity flow into the side dishes - they are the most fun, part to me. And, ahem, I LOVE bourbon!

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  45. Sommer! These potatoes look completely decadent! Stressful holiday preparations and schedules need tips like yours. Thanks and thanks for your chai recipe of a couple months back ... I would like your permission to post a link to your recipe for folks who read The Spice Garden ... it has become one of my favorite 'stress reducers' of late.

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  46. Nice way to prepare sweet potato...love the bourbon and the nuts on top of the potatoes...like the idea of the smooth texture with the crunchy ones...yummie!

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  47. That's a holy cow kind of recipe, Sommer. Of course if it has alcohol in it, I'll love it, but the hazelnuts put it over the top. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  48. Hey Sommer, for some reason your blog looks so skinny and small on my screen-weird. Maybe it's my computer?!
    Anyway, these stuffed sweet potatoes look wonderful, and love all of the tips for an organized Thanksgiving...!

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  49. I am in love with this recipe. The hazelnuts are a unique idea. I grew up with rum being added to sweet potatoes, but the bourbon is a great alternative.

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  50. ooh! i might try this as a side for our first time thanksgiving at our place this year! one question - does the topping get less crunchy if you make them ahead and put them in the fridge for a day or two? would it work to put the topping in before the final re-heating instead?

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  51. These are delightful and I love the presentation,
    so pretty!

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  52. This looks like a great idea! I've long outgrown the candied yams with toasted marshmallows, and this is definitely more my speed.

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  53. These look very good. I showed them to my wife and we both want to give them a shot. Thanks for sharing them over at dishfolio.

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  54. Great holiay schedule. Happy Thanksgiving to your family from ours!

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  55. This is how I plan every year! Great post. And those sweet potatoes look divine.

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