Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Thanksgiving Dinner – Plan Ahead!

October 23rd, 2013 · 1 Comment


Halloween’s not even here yet, and we’re already talking turkey.

That’s because the planning for that once-a-year feast starts now.  If you plan ahead, you can pull off that turkey day dinner without monumental stress. There will still be a few last-minute adjustments, but having a plan like a pro (think how caterers work) makes it go much smoother.

Right now, it’s time to have your linens cleaned, carpets steamed, that wall patched and painted and the silverware polished. Assess your dishes, get together a rough guest list so you’ll have some idea of what you’ll need. For those ordering pies, fresh turkeys or custom-ordered foods and centerpieces  – get those things done by next week.

For my complete Thanksgiving Day planner, go here. Print it out, modify it for your own family’s plans, and check things off. You will thank me later.

Here’s a delicious recipe to start off your notebook that you’re keeping (nod your head up and down!). It’s a version of a soup I had at the lovely Serenity Garden Tea House in West Palm Beach. It can be served chilled or heated, and made with vegetable stock for vegetarians.

Pear and Squash Soup with Curry

  • 1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds (can use any hard winter squash)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 quart reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (use best quality, or make your own)
  • 2 large firm pears, peeled, cored and finely diced (apples may be substituted)
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half

Cut squash in half lengthwise then in half horizontally. Scoop out seeds. Place squash, cut side down, in a glass pan with 1 inch of water. Set in microwave and cook on high power for 10 minutes or until squash is soft. Remove and scrape squash from peel into a bowl; discard peel.

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, curry and seasonings. Stir until onion is soft, about 6 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Stir in squash and pears. Cook, uncovered, until pears are soft, about 20 minutes.

Use a stick-blender to puree the soup in the pot. Alternately, use a blender in small batches – add no more than 1/2 of the blender container at one time to the blender. Cover with lid and secure lid by covering it and holding with a kitchen mitt. Turn the blender to low speed, gradually increasing speed to puree. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Once pureed, return soup to large pot and stir in half-and-half. Heat over low heat and serve, or freeze in air-tight container. Soup is best used in 3 months.

Serve with sage cornbread or fresh crisp bacon bits.

Set a great Thanksgiving table

I’ll be showing off some dishes and linens I love for the holidays. I buy one neat thing each year to add to the table or house. Here are pumpkin bowls that set off a table’s first course:

I love soup bowls with lids – they keep the soup warm and it’s always fun to take a lid off for a small “reveal.” And – yay! – these are dishwasher safe.

These pumpkin bowls with lids are $13.99 from BigKitchen; click on the photo for more info or to find out how to order.*

Keep an eye on this website for more recipes and other cool items for your table and kitchen as we count down. Use the search field in the right hand box to find Thanksgiving and fall recipes already posted. And remember to share my planner with a friend.

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*Full disclosure: I earn a penny or two from Amazon if you click through a link from my site. I earn even more if you actually order something, even if it’s not an item I recommended. Trust me: It’s still not enough to support my website, but it does keep good coffee in my cup. I thank you for your support. – Jan Norris

Tags: Holiday cooking · Recipes · Thanksgiving recipes

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