To wrap up our four part series of “Throwing the Perfect Dinner Party”, we have provided Susan’s actual Thanksgiving menu and a 3-day game plan to help you become Entertainer of the Year.

Tips:  Instead of baking bread, take help from the bakery and purchase your yeast rolls.

Use canned peaches if you don’t have access to fresh.  Of course fresh peaches will yield the best results but they take way longer to cook.  Using canned peaches will reduce your cooking time but be careful not to overcook the peaches on the stove because they will cook in the oven during the baking process.

Use store bought pie crust if you don’t have the time to make your crusts from scratch.

Use bagged greens instead of the loose greens.  This will save you tons of time with cleaning and prepping your greens.

Every great event should have a signature drink and the host should always look flawless.  Create a signature drink and serve it to your guest as they arrive with other delectable treats such as veggie crudités and dip or maybe a salmon pate and crackers.  You don’t want the treats to be too heavy so your guests will have room to eat your scrumptious meal and desserts.  You may also want to have a variety of red and white wines on hand for those that don’t want the signature drink.  This way everybody is satisfied.




Candied Yams

Kale Greens

Macaroni & Cheese

Sweet Corn Pudding

Cornbread Stuffing/Dressing

Rice & Gravy

Potato Salad

Rolls & Butter

10 – Sweet Potato Pies

1 – Chocolate Layer Cake

1 – Peach Cobbler

1 – Pound Cake

Game Plan

Day 1:  Pre-Cooking Prep

Make all of your pie crusts and set aside in the fridge

Chop all of your vegetables and placing them into labeled plastic bags

Baking your cornbread for the dressing

Day 2:  Baking/Cooking/Turkey Prep

Note:  Take your butter, eggs, and milk out of the fridge at least 2 hours before you need to use them to ensure the butter is soft and all ingredients are room temperature.  If your pie crust recipe doesn’t need to rest before using it, I would start the day an extra hour earlier and make the crusts but if your recipe calls for your crust to rest, I would make it on Day 1 and remove it from the fridge on Day 2 at least thirty minutes prior to using to bring it to room temperature. I started at 3:30pm and finished around 9:00pm 

Mix the ingredients for the pound cake and put it in the oven (should take about 1 hr. & 50 minutes);

While pound cake is baking wash sweet potatoes for the pies and let them boil;

While sweet potatoes are boiling, roll out your pie crusts for the sweet potato pies and peach cobbler and press them into your pie plates and cobbler pan and set aside;

After prepping your pie and peach cobbler pans, mix the ingredients for the chocolate layer cake, pour batter into cake pans, and cover with foil so a skin doesn’t develop and set aside;

After making the chocolate cake batter, work on the peach cobbler filling by draining the canned peaches and seasoning them with your spices, sugar and butter and put them on to gently boil so flavors meld.  After filling is done pour it into your cobbler pan and put your crust on top and set it aside;

By now you should be ready to remove the pound cake from the oven and make the sweet potato pie filling;

After removing the pound cake from the oven, check your temperature and adjust it for baking the chocolate cake and put them in the oven;

While the chocolate cakes are baking, make the chocolate frosting for the cakes and set aside;

After the frosting is made, remove your eggs from the fridge; wash and dice your potatoes and put them on the stove to boil for the potato salad;

While the potatoes and eggs are boiling, make the sweet potato pie filling and pour it into your pie pans (this will have to be done in batches unless you have a commercial mixer) and cover them with foil so a skin doesn’t develop and set aside;

Remove the chocolate cake from the oven and put in the peach cobbler;

While the peach cobbler is baking, season your turkey (I always brine my turkey) and put it in the fridge until the next morning.

After you remove the peach cobbler from the oven, put your sweet potato pies in (this will have to be done in batches unless you have a commercial or multiple ovens…I did it in 2 batches…6 the first batch and 4 the last batch);

While the batch of sweet potato pies are baking, your chocolate cake should be cool and ready to be iced and your potatoes and eggs should be done for you to make the potato salad and put it in the fridge.

Day 3: Thanksgiving/Christmas Cooking Day

Note: Rise and shine at 6:00am

Remove Turkey from fridge and take it out of the brine.  Pat the turkey dry and lightly season with your favorite spices (brining will impart flavor so don’t over do it with the seasoning) and set it aside;

Remove the ham from the fridge and bring it to room temperature.

While the ham is getting to room temperature, make your glaze, score the ham in a triangle pattern and massage your glaze onto the ham and set aside;

Prepare your stuffing using the cornbread you made on Day 1 and put it inside the turkey and bake the turkey according to the instructions.  Make sure you add about 30 minutes of extra cooking time due to the stuffing being inside of the bird;

While the turkey is baking, rinse off your smoked turkey and place it in a pot of water to boil for cooking the greens;

While the smoked turkey is boiling; clean your greens and put them in your boiling water and season them with your favorite seasoning;

While the greens are cooking, wash, peel, dice and season your sweet potatoes and boil them on top of the stove to make your candied yams;

While the yams are cooking; boil your pasta for the macaroni and cheese;

While the yams and pasta cook, shred the cheese and beat your eggs for the macaroni and cheese and set aside;

Mix the ingredients for the sweet corn pudding and set it aside;

By now your turkey should be ready and can be removed from the oven;

After removing the turkey, put the ham in the oven and bake according to the instructions;

Once the ham is in, your pasta for the macaroni and cheese should be done and you can proceed with mixing the macaroni and cheese and set it aside (cover with foil until you are ready to bake to avoid skin from forming) and your candied yams should be done and you can turn the burner off;

Once you take the ham out of the oven, you can bake the macaroni & cheese and sweet corn pudding together;

While the macaroni & cheese and sweet corn pudding are baking, put a pot of water on to cook the rice.

While the rice is cooking, make your gravy using the pan drippings from the turkey, chop up the gizzards and add it to the gravy along with your other seasonings.

After all of this is done, the host needs to freshen up and transform into the “Entertainer of the Year” as you wait for the dinner guests to arrive and then it’s time to bless the food and eat.

Serving the Food

This is going to depend on your crowd, available space and the atmosphere you’ve created.  If it’s strictly family and informal no intro needed and have them to fix their plates in your kitchen and find a seat and make yourself comfortable.  On the other hand, if this is a more formal dinner party and you want to wow them, aside from the atmosphere you created, you should set the table and transfer your food from the pots and pans onto serving platters and into bowls with serving utensils in each dish.  You may also want to create a dessert bar and a self-service beverage station for your guest as this will free up your time and allow you to be the ultimate hostess.


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