Want ideas for ways to make hosting easy on Thanksgiving?
I've got 5 suggestions for you today plus lots of Thanksgiving recipes below and tips on making the basics! But first…
You guys… You've really got to try these Pumpkin White Chocolate Fudge Bars because… Pumpkin. Caramel. White Chocolate fudgy-liciousness. What else do you need to know?! Plus they're easy, just throw a few ingredients together and done.
Throw these together and watch your guest go WOW on Thanksgiving. Or try them another time, just try them for sure! They were inspired by a recipe we had when wine tasting up North recently (and paired with a white wine, oh myyyy), but I changed a bunch of it, as I do with most recipes. 🙂
See how they're fudgy, not cakey in the middle?
But before I share the recipe, do you want to know why hosting Thanksgiving is not a huge stress around here?
Here are 5 ways to make hosting easy on Thanksgiving…
- Pre-planning: I ordered our turkeys months ago when one of my favorite local farmers asked for early orders. For the rest I start planning a couple of weeks prior: figuring out what I'm making, what I need to buy at the store, and when I'm going to pick stuff up. This isn't tricky, but takes more planning as a real foodie since not everything is one easy trip to the local grocery. For example, the bread for the homemade stuffing… I need to either plan when I'll make the sourdough loaves or get some from our local baker. There are a few other extra stops but it's no biggy if I plan ahead, because I combine it with other errands.
- Get the kids to help: If you homeschool just give the kids less assignments the week-of and instead “let them” help cook and clean. Everyone is happy, and besides, it's good for them to know how to do this stuff! (I start cleaning on Monday and touch up Thursday morning.)
- Marry a great guy: My Hubs is the best. If I needed more help cleaning (I don't usually), he'd be all over it, plus he's always been my favorite toilet cleaner EVER. But the best thing is that Thanksgiving morning when it's our turn to host my family (every other year), we both get up early to get the stuffing and turkey going, with some coffee of course. He even likes doing this with me! As the lovely smells start filling the house, we work on the other food. (So excited for the first time to make potatoes in this baby, then just leave them in there to keep warm using the crock pot feature — only one dirty pot instead of two! See more tips and ideas for how I use this gadget here.)
- Make food ahead: This equals LOW stress on the day-of. The yummy dessert in this post I did on Monday then threw it into the freezer before baking, so that'll be fast and still freshly baked on T-day. Other parts of the meal I did ahead of time are squash, cranberry gelatin (my FAV recipe with turkey), and an appetizer that I'm trying for the first time this year (shrimp scampi dip with organic crackers, and if it's good I'll share the recipe). In the morning before everyone comes I'll get out plates, silverware, make up a pitcher of iced tea, set up an extra table and chairs, etc.
- Let guests bring a dish: My family brings food too, things like more desserts, more mashed potatoes (we like having enough to send everyone home with leftovers), green bean casserole, Mom's homemade rolls, etc.
So as guests arrive we'll just get everyone drinks and relax until it's time to make the gravy and serve it up!
What are your tips for make hosting easier?
Pumpkin White Chocolate Fudge Bars with Caramel Glaze (or Cupcakes)
- 4 ounces white chocolate — I used this kind since they had it at the store-- and while the ingredient label wasn't sparkly, it wasn't too terrible.
- 1/2 cup butter-- I use this butter from pastured cows.
- 1 egg-- best from pastured hens
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin-- pumpkin isn't on the dirty dozen so I don't buy that one organic
- 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 3/4 cup flour I use this kind mostly or sometimes this kind
- Pinch sea salt
- Makes one 8×8 pan, 24 mini muffins full, or 12 regular muffins.
- Preheat oven to 350*. Place muffin liners in your muffin pans, or butter an 8×8 baking panif you're using that.
- Melt white chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat until melted, whisk together. Add in sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin, whisk well. Add egg last and whisk that in. Fold in sea salt, spices, and flour without over-mixing. Spoon into muffin cups until full almost to the top, or pour into the pan.
- Bake an 8×8 pan for about 30 minutes, mini-muffins for about 10-15 minutes, and regular sized muffins about 15-20 minutes. Timing all depends your oven temp, so check when it's getting close and you'll know it's done when a toothpick comes out clean.
- While it's baking, work on the glaze… Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan, and let it brown just a little bit. (I do this by turning the heat on high and be ready to shut it off quick as it browns just a touch so it doesn't burn.) Add vanilla and powdered sugar, whisk well to get any lumps out. Add a few drops of milk as needed to get a nice consistency that will drizzle over the bars/cupcakes easily. Not too much or it'll be runny. This is so caramely and wonderful!
- When the bars/cupcakes are mostly cool, drizzle the caramel glaze over top. Drizzle extra on the plates, just because it's pretty, but also because it's SO delicious.
- I made these a few days ahead for Thanksgiving, so I put the dough into the muffin pan, covered well and froze them. Thanksgiving morning I'll pull them out of the freezer and later bake shortly before serving. I'll make the glaze that morning and later when it's time to drizzle it over the top, I'll heat it back up just a little, check the consistency, and add a bit more milk if needed, whisking well as you go so it's smooth and dreamy.
If you try these Pumpkin White Chocolate Fudge Bars, please let me know what you think! Make sure to share with your friends and family 🙂
More helpful Thanksgiving recipes here!
- Here is the BEST Cranberry Gelatin recipe, or here's a Fermented Cranberry Relish – this is so good that even those who aren't huge cranberry fans will love it. Also can be made-ahead.
- Homemade applesauce is a nice side dish with turkey.
- Green Bean Casserole with homemade crispy shoestring onions – a real food version! Can also be made-ahead and ready to bake later.
- Stuffed Acorn Squash – can be made ahead and bake later.
- Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts – a favorite around here, holiday or not. You can get it ready ahead of time, so you just need to roast them.
- Another good appetizer: Easy Bacon Water Chestnut Roll-Ups (Appetizer Idea)