Hello beautiful people,
Thanksgiving in Canada is just a short week away. I’m already excited for all the delicious food, the family, the ambiance of festivities… If you’re hosting, Thanksgiving can require quite a bit of cooking. I find that a little preparation and cooking a few days ahead goes a long way. It’s your best bet to not stressing out on the day of and to actually enjoy some of the celebrations. I love spending time in the kitchen, but when my entire family is over, I want to spend time with them, not in my kitchen, and enjoy some of the delicious food and great conversations.
So here’s a few tips I’ve gathered over the years of hosting (and this applies to any gathering or party or festivity you are hosting and that is more labour intensive than a potluck – although potlucks can be labour intensive…but that’s for another post!):
- Write down you’re entire menu, down to the very last bite of food. A cute little tradition we have in our family is that my dad will have my menu printed out on decorative cards and placed on each person’s plate. It makes for a nice little souvenir of the celebration and serves as a great memory card for me, the day of!
- Make sure there’s something for everyone on your menu. If someone you invited has a food allergy, intolerance or is on a special diet, don’t make them feel left out, have something on your menu they can enjoy. For example, in my family, a few people are gluten-free. So I make sure there’s a few dishes for them to enjoy. They are always very thankful for the kind gesture and everyone else get to enjoy the dishes as well…
- Also, make sure your menu contains items that can be prepared ahead of time and that freeze well. See item 6.
- Once your menu is written down, prepare the non-food related chores like decorating the house and setting the table. You can even go over your music playlist to make sure you have all your favourite tunes are lined up.
- As you write down your menu, write your grocery list. You don’t want to waste time going back and forth to the store because you keep forgetting something. Leave only the items that need to be “same day” fresh for last minute purchases like french baguette.
- Start cooking the freezable items on your menu, a few of days ahead. I always make a soup on Thanksgiving. Mainly because everyone in my family loves soup but also because it’s such a nice warming way to start a big meal. And it just feels very Fall-ish. And it’s easy to freeze. I also make my dessert a few days ahead like the crust to my pumpkin pie or my carrot cake. All that’s left for me to do on the big day is either fill my crust or ice my cake.
- Don’t stress out! Hosting a big gathering can be stressful but remember why you’re hosting and the reason for the celebration. And if everything is not perfect, that’s ok, nothing ever is!
For the longest time, in our family, Thanksgiving has been a brunch celebration. I can’t even remember the last time we had a Thanksgiving dinner, per se. But I’m perfectly fine with that even though it cuts my kitchen time quite a bit, the day of. I love the fact that everyone gathers early in the day so we can enjoy the entire day together.
This creamy Pumpkin Polenta with Caramelized Peaches and Butternut Squash is exactly the type of dish I’ll be making for Thanksgiving. It’s gluten free so it’ll please many members of my family, but it’s also creamy without being heavy and the caramelized peaches and butternut squash give it just the right amount of sweetness and decadence.
Hope you enjoy this dish and let me know some of your tips and tricks for hosting a big event by leaving me a comment!
- 1 Cup peaches, diced
- 1 Cup butternut squash, diced (I saved time by purchasing pre-cut frozen butternut squash)
- 1 Tbs coconut sugar
- 1 Tbs vegan butter
- 2 1/2 Cups water
- 2 Cups lite coconut milk
- 1 Cup medium cornmeal / polenta
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 ginger
- 1/4 all spice
- In a mixing bowl, add the peaches, butternut squash and coconut sugar.
- Stir with a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, add water, coconut milk and spices and set over high heat.
- Sprinkle the cornmeal and whisk at the same time. This will prevent clumping.
- When the mixture starts to boil, continue whisking and reduce to medium-low heat.
- The polenta will start thickening. Keep stirring frequently to prevent burning at the bottom of the saucepan and the polenta from clumping.
- Cook the polenta approximately 30 minutes to get a nice creamy texture.
- While the polenta is cooking, add your butter to a saucepan and set on high heat.
- Once the butter is melted, add the peaches and butternut squash mixture. Stir then allow the fruity mixture to caramelize, stirring only occasionally but keeping a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn, about 5 minutes.
- Once your polenta is nice and creamy, pour into a serving dish and top with the caramelized peaches and butternut squash.