Tick Tock, Racing Against The Clock


Good evening!

After my Luxury Dinner Party post, I received a few questions about preparation that I thought would make for a fun follow-up post.

Tick Tock, Racing Against The Clock


This was the first time I hosted a Thanksgiving meal and I admit I felt quite frazzled and overwhelmed at the thought of everything I had to prepare. I had flops, fails, kitchen disasters, gray hairs, long clean ups, mini breakdowns, you name it.

It wasn’t pretty.

You can think of me as your guinea pig who tested everything out for you. I’ll take one for the team if necessary!

Here is the breakdown (no pun intended) of last week and what I made on each day as I remember it, but I admit, things are a bit fuzzy. ;)

I am a strong believer in prepping ahead of time and I have nothing against making use of the freezer whenever possible.

Wednesday September 29th:  DAY 1

1) I made Wedded Bliss Soft Ginger Cookies and promptly froze them. To freeze them, I double wrapped them in saran wrap and placed them into sealed containers. They were fresh as ever when I took them out on Friday.


2) I also made Fluffy Pull-Apart White Dinner Rolls. I also promptly froze them. Contrary to common belief you CAN freeze bread if wrapped very carefully! I double wrapped the entire lot (minus two that I ate!) and stuck them in the freezer and hoped for the best. I was delighted to find that when I defrosted them on the counter on Saturday afternoon they were as fresh tasting as they were when I wrapped them up.


So on Day 1, I checked off cookies and rolls. Progress.

Thursday September 30th: DAY 2

3) First, I made the Vegan gravy on Thursday. I adapted the recipe from Eat Drink & Be Vegan Cookbook. This gravy was a HIT! Every single one of us raved about it and I honestly think it was the best gravy I have ever tasted. It is packed with flavour. After making it and allowing it to cool, I put it in a container and placed it in the fridge until Saturday. Just before serving the main course, I took the gravy out, stirred it, and heated it up for a minute or two in the microwave. Presto.


Vegan Gravy

Adapted from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan.


  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • ½ tsp agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


Directions: In a blender or food processor combine all ingredients and puree until smooth. In a pot on medium to high heat, add mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and stir frequently to thicken. Remove from heat and serve. Add additional agave, water, or vinegar if needed to adjust taste.

4) Next I made the Cranberry Sauce which was super easy. Place in container once cool and into the fridge. Remove from fridge about 30 minutes or so before you need it. Can be served warm or cold.


Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from Eat Drink & Be Vegan.


  • 1 ¾ cups fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions: In a pot on medium-high heat, combine the ingredients and bring mixture to a boil stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Once sauce has thickened, taste test, and add vinegar is desired. Serve warm or chilled.

5) Then I made the Twice Baked Bar Nuts! Bar nuts are awesome because you don’t have to worry about if they will stay fresh.


6) The last thing I made on Thursday was the Pumpkin Gingerbread with Spiced Buttercream. Note that I didn’t frost the gingerbread with icing until Saturday. After the gingerbread cooled, I double wrapped it and yes, you guessed it, popped it into the freezer until I removed it on Saturday morning. I stored the frosting in the fridge and I took it out 1 hour before I wanted to frost the gingerbread so the frosting could come to room temperature and be easier to spread.


That concludes Thursday prep work! Luckily these recipes made up my blog material for the entire week or I wouldn’t have been able to fit it all in.

Friday October 1st: DAY 3

7) I prepped the This Ain’t Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole, but I did not cook it until Saturday. I simply prepped everything, put it in the casserole dish, and then popped it into the fridge. On Saturday, remove it from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before cooking (you don’t want to crack the casserole dish from extreme temperature changes…trust me I have done it before!).


This dish was everyone’s favourite by a landslide, including mine. The kids called it ‘cake’. ;)

I also added vegan marshmallows during the last 5 mins of cooking.


8.) I prepped and pre-baked the Walnut Loaf. I didn’t cook it the entire amount of time because I knew I would be heating it up just before serving for dinner, so I cooked it about 80% and then cooked the rest of it, just before I served it on Saturday so it would be hot and crisp. This walnut loaf was good, but I would not serve it without the vegan gravy. The vegan gravy made the loaf. I also added a glaze on this loaf from the Clean Food Cookbook. This link also has a recipe for another type of Walnut Loaf that has received great reviews. I think I will try that one next time. For the recipe I made, see my document attached.


9) Next up were the Candied Pecans! Recipe here.


My first attempt was a bit of a fail. I also didn’t follow the steps of the recipe correctly.


Note to self: Do not tell yourself you are simply leaving the kitchen for a ‘minute’ when you have precious and vulnerable nuts in the oven. They will incinerate and a tiny piece of you will die inside.

My entire house also reeked of smoke! ahhahah. FAIL.

10) I cooked the potatoes for the high protein garlic mashed potatoes. Once the potatoes cooled off, I placed them in the fridge and finished making them on Saturday.


11) Pumpkin Pie brownie Cupcakes were made. Yummy.


On Friday night, I also hit up the Dollarstore and grocery store and prepped the goodie baskets.


Inside each goodie basket I included: 3 Wedded Bliss Soft ginger cookies, a Glo Bar, a Pumpkin Pie Brownie Cupcake, and Power House Glonola.

Saturday October 2nd: THE DAY OF!

I admit, this day is a huge blur.

I got up around 6am and did not stop prepping food until my dinner guests arrived at 5:30pm. It was a long, crazy day. I strongly suggest seeking out help if you are going to tackle a Thanksgiving Dinner! After a week of squeezing in prep whenever I had free time, I was totally wiped out and had it not been for the challenge I would never have made it out alive.

As soon as I got up, I removed everything from the freezer so it could defrost…rolls, gingerbread, etc. I also removed things like the Sweet Potato Casserole and cooked potatoes from the fridge so they could come to room temperature.

Next, I baked the Pumpkin Pie Brownie in a Pecan CrustRecipe here. I also baked the Sweet Potato Casserole, finished the mashed potatoes, prepped and roasted the veggies, and finished cooking the walnut loaf as it got close to dinner time. It was really crazy trying to time everything and what I realized is that you can never time everything perfectly. There is no such thing. At least not in my world! Just do your best and that will be good enough.


Don’t forget all the recipes from the dinner party can be found here.

I also set the table while I waited for things to cook.


For the table setting I used:

  • 7-8 gourds
  • 3-4 mini pumpkins
  • Fall leaves (real and fake)
  • Fresh cranberries scattered about
  • Bright green Dollarstore placemats– Bright colours pop off the table
  • No tablecloth– I love the warm feeling of wood for Thanksgiving dinners
  • Dollarstore baskets and napkins– The napkins were 25 cents each!!
  • A clear vase + fresh flowers OR you can fill a vase with cranberries and other brightly coloured fruit like lemons or granny smith apples
  • A homemade menu on scrapbooking paper
  • For the name tags: Pears, apples, mini pumpkins, scrapbooking paper, and string


The place settings were my favourite part. Of course, Martha came up with the idea…not me.


We also dug out our wedding china from boxes for the very first time. ;) Who knows how long it would have stayed in the box if it wasn’t for this challenge.

So there you have it.

A crazy and wild week filled with a healthy dose of trial and error and a determined spirit to overcome any obstacle.

I recommend bribing family with treats to help you along the way. ;)

Also never forget, laughter is the best medicine…


Let's get social! Follow Angela on Instagram (@ohsheglows + @theglowspot), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica @ How Sweet It Is October 4, 2010

I still can’t get over how incredible your dinner party was! Congrats to you – that is a huge success!


Emily October 4, 2010

Angela you are amazing! Thank you so much! I will be re-creating this for my own Thanksgiving. When are you going to publish a cookbook?!?!


Joanne October 4, 2010

I’m not sure that’s legal in the food blog world to have that many knock out photos, delicious beyond comprehension recipes as well as a fantastic write up. I was completely transfixed on those mouth watering pictures.
Then I get to your table setting and….well, speechless. Perfect!


Kristina @ spabettie October 4, 2010

I *LOVE* those black pecans… made me giggle a second time… :D

this is undoubtedly a success !!


Bethany @ More Fruit Please October 4, 2010

It really looks like the dinner party was a huge success! I especially love how you showed where some of your inspiration came from. Not everyone has to be as creative as Martha as long as they have access to her website!


Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat October 4, 2010

The amount of work you put into this is SO Thanksgiving, but better! From the decoration to the food, you definitely rocked this one. I think I see another Foodbuzz reader’s choice coming your way!


Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine October 4, 2010

This seriously looked so perfect…it’s inspired me to host a pre-Thanksgiving dinner of my own! Not sure if it will happen, but if it does, I can only hope it turns out half as well as yours did. Looks flawless!


Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman October 4, 2010

That’s a huge undertaking–it came out great. I love the tablescape, too. It’s understated but so festive!


Lisa October 4, 2010

Your table setting is beautiful! I love the feeling of fall so much! =)


Freya October 4, 2010

Wowzers, who would’ve thought so much effort would need to go into one dinner party?! I always underestimate how long it all takes..o i seriously admire you! I struggle to cook one course for 3 people, let alone multiple courses…you sooo deserve to go to the next round :)


Lisa Eirene October 4, 2010

Everything looks excellent! This will be the first year I’m cooking Thanksgiving (with the BF’s help of course). We’re having an Orphan Thanksgiving — basically inviting friends over that don’t have family nearby. I hope I can pull it off! I will try these recipes for sure.


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 4, 2010

You are a party planning pro!! I’ve been sharing the treats with my roomie and one of my friends at work – they’re pretty sure you’re a culinary goddess too! :)


lindsay (goodiesgalore) October 4, 2010

i’m dizzy just thinking about all of this. good work ang.


Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 4, 2010

The thought of hosting a dinner party like that scares me because I’m terrible at time management! :P Kudos for pulling it off so smoothly!


Hope October 4, 2010

Angela, you are so amazing! What a lot of work you put in!!
I only just noticed Frank’s giant pearly-white smile – thanks for the giggle!
What a wonderful dinner party…those cupcakes make my heart skip a beat everytime I see them! Must.make.soon
Colours in your photos are gorgeous as always


claire October 4, 2010

you really have influenced me to have a vegan thanksgiving before my family thanksgiving (or bring some of these goodies)! love all of this! Thanks for the tips too!


Cindy October 4, 2010

You did an amazing job with the dinner party. Question: I have noticed that a lot of your recipes call for blackstrap molasses, but I really don’t like any molasses and can almost always taste it in any food that I use it in. Are there any alternatives?


Cara Craves... October 4, 2010

You will have to ask for more help next time…though you did do a more than marvelous job on your own! I sometimes find it hard asking for help, especially when it comes to food prep…I guess I get a little protective.


Christine October 4, 2010

You’re right that the timing can never be perfect, but a trick I use is to work backwards!

That is, if you know you are serving at 6, count backwards from there to figure out what time everything needs to go in the oven. Then use that to figure out what time you should turn ON the oven, and back and back as far as you can.

I agree with doing as much as you can in advance! I was prepping a full week in advance when I did Christmas for 21 people last year.

Anyway, spectacular dinner!


stacey-healthylife October 4, 2010

Great tips, especially with the holidays coming.


Faith @ lovelyascharged October 4, 2010

Ange, the blow-by-blow here was really helpful. Every time I cook multiple course meals, I worry that my timing is off. I’m always afraid the warm dishes will get cold too quickly or that I’ll muss up in the oven…I think what this really shows is that with lots of pre-planning there’s not *too* much to worry about in terms of everything coming together for a fab end result!


Amanda October 4, 2010

I’ve burned nuts in the oven before too. Been there, done that. It ain’t pretty. And it doesn’t smell good.


yummiee cupcake October 4, 2010

your table decor is very simple and pretty, me likie!!


Mary @ Bites and Bliss October 4, 2010

Sooo much yummy food. I’m definitely going to use some of these recipes for Thanksgiving :)


Kristen @ That Hoosier Girl October 4, 2010

First of all…Frank is awesome! Your dinner party was gorgeous!

And thank you so much for showing the incinerated nuts :) One kitchen disaster per meal prep is status quo in my house so I could definitely relate!


Jen October 4, 2010

Thanks for the info! I think it is great that you can laugh at your kitchen mishaps. I tend to place too much pressure on myself due to underlying cooking insecurities I have, and get too upset when there are inevitable flops in the kitchen. Far better to laugh it off!


Liz @ Tip Top Shape October 4, 2010

All of this looks SO good!!! I need to throw a Thanksgiving dinner now just so I can make all of these recipes!


elyssa October 4, 2010

your photography gets more and more spectacular every day, angela!


chelsey @ clean eating chelsey October 4, 2010

Thanks for your detailed schedule! It is seriously so much work to throw a dinner party! Holy cow!!


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday October 4, 2010

Oh shit. I gasped a little when I saw the charred pecans! I would have been pretty devastated. I guess you can’t help but have a few mess-ups in the kitchen

…everything else looks awesome though!


Babs October 4, 2010

The vegan gravy looks finger-licking good. I want to eat buckets of it with mashed potato….yum


Andrea October 4, 2010

Amazing. That dinner party took a LOT of work! But it looks like it was well worth it, and you definitely had it under control :) I think I’ll make that vegan gravy for Thanksgiving this weekend- looks tasty! I made the pumpkin gingerbread yesterday, and oh my stars it is fantastic! Love it.


Bridget October 4, 2010

Okay, after seeing these recent posts, you definitely need your own “ohsheglows” magazine. It would sell like hot cakes !!! Thank you for continuing to inspire me with your creativity :)


Holly @ couchpotatoathlete October 4, 2010

Frank is by far my favorite part of the dinner table :) I love his cheesy grin!

Angela this post gives me hope that maybe one day I too can host Thanksgiving at my house — and what I like is that you made stuff ahead of time — I wouldn’t want to spend one day ALL DAY in the kitchen — better to break it up to be able to take your time with each dish and make it perfect!


Moni's Meals October 4, 2010

so that is how you did it! It looked like perfection!


Allie (Live Laugh Eat) October 4, 2010

You sure made the whole dinner party seem effortless! I didn’t know if I was going to move on so I didn’t even begin thinking about it until Friday! I guess I should have more faith in myself :)

The freezer is the best invention ever, huh?


Elena October 4, 2010

Your ginger cookies looked so good I saved the recipe to make them sometime soon.


Amykinz (foodie4healing) October 4, 2010

What are and where can you find Vegan marshmallows?


Allison @ Food For Healing October 4, 2010

Ooo i love thanksgiving


Gypsy October 4, 2010

I’m always afraid to freeze stuff – that’s good to know that cookies and bread freeze well and still taste fresh once it thaws.
how long did the pie take you? It looks amaaazing


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