The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade heralds in the Christmas Holiday season. It’s one of the most famous holiday events in the world. Over three million people line the parade route to get a glimpse of celebrities, marching bands, floats, and the huge floating balloons—Snoopy, Spiderman, Big Bird, Hello Kitty, and friends. 50 million people are expected to watch it on TV as part of their annual Thanksgiving tradition.
This parade has been a part of my life forever. I watched is as a child perched high atop my father’s
shoulders. When we relocated to Hawaii we woke up early Thanksgiving morning to watch it on TV, when I had my own kids we did the same, and now the grand kids watch it every year. When my youngest child was in her high school’s marching band they marched in this parade. At that time Pearl City High School had a standing invitation to march in the parade every couple of years, they still may. This parade is definitely part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we miss the parade, live or on TV.
For those of you who will be lucky enough to watch it live this year here are a few tips to help you out.
1. The fun doesn’t have to begin on Thanksgiving morning. A pre-Thanksgiving tradition on the Upper west side in watching the balloons get inflated. For many kids watching the balloons “come to life” is more fun than watching the parade itself.
This Thanksgiving eve event is on November 26, 2014 beginning at 3:00 p.m. It takes place
along the perimeter of the Museum of Natural History, on 77th and 81st streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.
2. The 88th. Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on November 27, 2014. It begins at 9:00 a.m.
The parade route starts by heading south down Central Park West from 77th Street, east along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue and then south along Sixth Avenue to West 34th Street. It ends in front of Macy’s in Herald Square.
3. Arrive early and bring folding chairs, they will make the wait more comfy. Crowds start gathering along the route as early as 6am. You’ll want to stake out your spot before 7am if you want the kids to be close enough to be able to see.
4. Check the weather and dress accordingly. From the time you stake out your spot until the last float passes by you could be standing out in cold weather for more than 5 hours. Make sure the kids are dressed warmly and have hats and mittens. Layering would be a good idea, you can peel them off if it gets warmer as the day wears on. Bring umbrellas if there is a chance of rain or snow.
5. Bring essentials such as snacks, camera, extra sweater, a lap blanket may come in handy. I’d take it easy on drinks, hot or cold, bathrooms may be difficult to get to.
6. Choose your spot wisely, a spot as far north as possible would be good. Once the parade starts it takes 90 minutes for the last float to pass by. If you’re near the beginning of the route you could be done before 11:00 a.m. If you choose a spot near the end near Macy’s Herald Square you will be waiting much longer and be fighting larger crowds.
There are public viewing spots along Central Park West, on the both sides of the street from 70th Street to Columbus Circle to 65th Street and continuing on the west side of the street down to Columbus Circle. You can try further south along Sixth Avenue between 58th Street and 34th Street
It would be a good idea to stake your spot near a coffee shop or department store, this is a definite must with young kids, you can nip into the shop for a bathroom break when needed.
7. Know your kids limits. There’s no harm in bailing out early if it gets too cold or the kids get cranky. Watching part of the parade is better than nothing, and better than bringing home sick or upset kids.
8. Treat yourselves to a Thanksgiving Feast, after standing out in the cold for hours you’ve definitely earned it. For NYC restaurants offering special Thanksgiving meals click here!
9. Enjoy the other sights and events this city has to offer. The Christmas Season is one of the most wonderful time of the year to visit the Big Apple. For a list of NYC Christmas events click here!
Tomato sauce, red bell pepper, and the perfect combo of spices elevate ordinary white rice to a restaurant-worthy side. (It pair perfectly with our chicken fajitas!) Don’t skip toasting the rice! It adds a ton of flavor.
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 c. long grain white rice
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. tomato sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and pepper and cook until softened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, tomato puree, lemon juice, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, and cumin. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
2. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let rest for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove lid and fluff rice with a fork. Top with cilantro and serve immediately.
The Thanksgiving table can get very crowded. What with the turkey, side dishes, gravy, and sauces, there’s no place for anyone to actually sit down and eat! I solved this problem long ago by setting up a Thanksgiving Buffet Table for all the food and having an adult table as well as a kids’ table.
Depending on the space you have and the number of guests you are expecting this could take some doing. You might consider setting up different stations or bars; appetizer, sides, desserts, and drinks; or any combination there of. If you’re limited on space your stations may have to do double duty after dinner; appetizer station can be converted to dessert bar.
You may have to think out of the box and re-purpose furniture pieces to hold food and tableware. You will more than likely have to rearrange furniture to accomplish your goal. However you decide to set up the meal it will require advance planning, so much easier to move furniture without a ton of guests milling around.
Here are a few tips to help you set up a Thanksgiving Buffet Table.
1. Plan your serveware. Know ahead of time what dishes you will be using. I usually do this as soon as I’ve planned my menu, making a note beside each dish what I will be serving it in. Be creative, make your buffet interesting by adding height, this also creates space.
I love tiered stands and racks, but you don’t have to spend a fortune buying them. Stands can easily be made from dollar store items with very little time and effort. Check out Savvy Nana’s DIY Hurricane Vases & Lamps to learn how to make your own tiered stands.
You can also stack platters on upside down stemware or bowls to create height. Or use books or boxes wrapped in pretty paper. If you don’t have time to wrap books or boxes, just place them where you want them on the table and cover everything with a large tablecloth. You can even set Plates on pumpkins to create varying heights
For some great ideas on how to set a buffet table watch Kid’s Smart Living‘s video tutorial
A table in the middle of the room allows several guest access to the table at the same time, in this case taller dishes should be placed in the middle of the table. If the table needs to be set up against the wall meaning it will be front serving then taller dishes should be in the back.
2. Once you know which serving pieces you will be using you need to decide what you’re going to put them on. Breakfast tables, sideboards, baking racks, kitchen islands and counters work well as long as at least 2 people can serve themselves at the same time without blocking the way for everyone else. You may have to move furniture to accommodate the this traffic and arrange your serving ware accordingly.
Consider setting out trays of appetizers on coffee tables and end tables in the living or family rooms. This frees up space on the buffet table for the main event.
If you don’t have enough room on the table for plates and eating utensils consider setting up another table, shelf or rack to place them on.
Dinner plates stacked neatly on a chair will work![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
Make use of all the flat surfaces in your house. Setting up a bar on the mantle works well![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
3. Keep eating utensils neat and within reach by placing them in mason or apothecary jars, or on trays.
4. Decorate your buffet or bar with centerpieces and even a backdrop. You don’t need table cards but they’re a nice touch as is a framed photo or sign. You can hand write your own on card stock or use one of these printable.
The key for this stuffing recipe is making your own buttermilk cornbread. This way, you can control the moisture and sugar levels, and it also makes your whole kitchen smell like a buttered corn muffin. Cubing and lightly toasting the cornbread preps it for maximum flavor absorption without compromising its sturdiness.
9 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided, plus more for pan
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ lb. hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 bunches collard greens, stems and ribs removed, leaves torn or cut into 2″ pieces
1½ cups heavy cream
2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat oven to 300°. Cut cornbread into 1″ cubes and divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets.
Toast, turning over halfway through, until outsides are dried out and some of the sides are golden brown, 45–55 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 350°. Lightly butter a 13×9″ baking dish. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Arrange sausage in a single layer in pot and cook, undisturbed, until browned underneath, about 4 minutes. Break up into bite-size pieces with a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer sausage to a large bowl.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add 8 Tbsp. butter to same pot; swirl to melt and to coat bottom of pot. Add onion, celery, garlic, rosemary, salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened but not yet browned, about 5 minutes. Add collard greens and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Add cream and 1 cup broth and bring mixture to a bare simmer. Cover pot and cook until greens are softened, 7–9 minutes.
Add vegetable mixture to bowl with sausage; mix in remaining 1½ cups broth, then eggs.
Add cornbread and carefully toss once (don’t break up pieces). Let sit 5 minutes, then gently toss again.
Let sit until almost all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes more. Transfer stuffing, still being gentle with it, to prepared baking dish. Dot surface with pieces of remaining 1 Tbsp. butter and cover with foil.
Bake stuffing until hot in the center when pierced with a paring knife, 20–25 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until surface is deep golden brown and there are some crispy bits of sausage and greens on top, 25–30 minutes more.
Do Ahead: Cornbread croutons can be made 2 days ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature. Stuffing can be assembled but not baked one day ahead; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Collard Greens
It’s important to follow the measurements for the salt and to use a low-sodium stock (or, better yet, a homemade one) for this recipe—otherwise, the gravy could wind up being too salty.
Mix brown sugar, spices, pepper, and 3 Tbsp. or 4 ½ tsp. salt in a small bowl to combine; sprinkle all over surface and inside cavity of turkey. Place turkey on a V-shape roasting rack set inside a large roasting pan (if using a disposable pan, place it on a rimmed baking sheet). Chill, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
Let sit at room temperature 1½–2 hours.
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 450°. Smear butter all over outside of turkey. Arrange turkey wings (if using), neck, and giblets, then onions, celery, and garlic around turkey and pour in wine. Roast on center rack until skin is golden all over, 25–35 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300° and continue to roast turkey, rotating 180° halfway through, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast registers 150° (temperature will rise as the bird rests), 1½–2 hours. Carefully transfer turkey to a cutting board and tent with foil.
Increase oven temperature to 450°. Push vegetables, neck, giblets, and wings (if using) into center of roasting pan and sprinkle flour over. Roast until flour is very lightly browned in a few spots, 12–15 minutes. Scrape contents of roasting pan into a large saucepan. Add thyme and broth. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by nearly half and gravy is thick enough to coat a spoon, 25–30 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan; discard solids. Stir in soy sauce; season with more salt if needed. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat while you carve the turkey. Thin with a bit more stock if needed.
A warm and healthy Beef and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie loaded with so many beautiful flavors….where do I start? The beautiful beefy filling? The crispy Parmesan cheesy top? Or the creamy layers of pumpkin?
This recipe has been handed down to me by my one and only mother. I may only ever change a couple things, but really, this is perfection.
The beef mixture inside this Beef and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie is like beast mode a la Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator of Shepherd’s Pie…or Cottage Pie. Whichever one rocks your socks. So much happening it may not be like your normal average Shepherd’s Pie, but since when are we normal anyway?
One slice of this mountain of glory and you’ll be so full and fulfilled in every way possible, you won’t want a nothing else after it.
1 kg | 2lbs butternut or kent pumpkin , washed, peeled seeded and cubed (I usually use 1/2 a kent pumpkin)
2 tablespoons gravy powder , whisked in 1/4 cup boiling water (until free of lumps): or you can substitute the gravy
powder with cornflour/corn starch.
4 cups baby spinach leaves , washed
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 200C | 400F. Combine pumpkin and potatoes with just enough water to cover them, in a large saucepan/pot over medium heat, and boil until tender. Alternatively, microwave or steam them until soft. Drain well, add the butter/spread and mash until smooth and creamy. Season with salt to suit your tastes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a separate large pan over medium – high heat. Add onion, carrots and capsicum, and cook stirring for about 5 – 10 minutes, or until onions become transparent. Add the garlic and cook stirring again, for about 2 minutes. Add beef and fry until meat is browned on all sides (break up all lumps with your wooden spoon). Add the tomatoes, cover pot with lid, reduce heat and simmer until tomatoes soften. When tomatoes are soft, add the peas, salt and vegetable stock powder, and simmer again covered with lid for about 10 minutes, or until all vegetables are soft and cooked through. Add gravy powder or cornflour/corn starch mixture. Cook stirring to combine all ingredients together until a sauce forms, reduces and thickens. Stir the spinach and parsley through, and take off heat.
Evenly spread half the pumpkin/potato mash into a large oven proof baking dish. Spoon the beef mixture over the top, and spread remaining pumpkin mash over the top of the beef.
Sprinkle evenly with parmesan cheese.
Bake until the top of the pie turns a golden brown and sauce is bubbling underneath (about 20 minutes).