I wasn’t planning on hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year. Because my family is in Texas and my husband’s family is up here, we alternate holidays each year. This year we were going to spend turkey day with his family, and originally, our plan was go out to the coast and spend a few days with Kellen’s parents. Instead, Kellen’s parents ended up scheduling their flight for their annual trip to Mexico the day after Thanksgiving (oops!), which meant they’d be in Portland instead of on the coast. We needed a back-up.
I volunteered to host at our apartment. Our place is tiny, but we have a great kitchen, a table for 4, and with the addition of our new recliner to the living room, just enough seating for Kellen’s parents and us.
I’m super excited about it, but I obviously have my reservations. For one, I’ve never cooked a turkey before, and I’ve certainly never cooked the bulk of an iconic holiday meal. Also, my father-in-law is diabetic, which means I’ll have to modify the carb-heavy menu so that he’ll be able to enjoy the full spread. So I’ve been scouring food blogs, magazines and recipe books to see what I can come up with for our Thanksgiving menu.
If you don’t already subscribe to Real Simple magazine, I highly recommend it. While I enjoy their tips for home and life organization, my absolute favorite thing is their recipes. They provide a ton of practical recipes for normal people who like good food, but don’t necessarily have hours to spend on making dinner…or scouring specialty stores to find obscure ingredients. My husband also downloaded their No Time to Cook app for his phone, and it has been so worth the money, because on night when we’re totally stumped for meals, we can whittle down the selection based on protein, prep time, etc., and usually find something fast, easy and tasty to make. Plus, it’ll give you the grocery list, so it’s easy to translate into shopping.
Their November 2011 issue contained an entire menu for Thanksgiving dinner, along with a prep list(!!!), and I think we’re going to end up using most of the items from this menu: the cider glazed turkey with bourbon gravy, sausage and apple stuffing, scalloped potatoes, and their sauteed Brussels sprouts with poppy seeds. They also have a fig and cranberry compote that looks delicious. To share my Southern and family heritage, I think I’ll probably also make a small dish of the cornbread dressing that’s been served up in my family every year for generations. (I’ll post the recipe closer to Thanksgiving.) I’m asking my MIL to bring fresh veggies for a salad.
I’m going to give my MIL a call probably tonight to chat and get her thoughts–see if there is anything I should add or take off the menu, or if there is anything in particular I should take into consideration for my FIL. I was thinking about doing my grandmother’s heavenly sweet potato casserole, but it’s basically brown sugar, marshmallows, and butter with a teensy bit of sweet potato thrown in, which might be overkill for him, so I think we’ll nix it for this year. I also kind of wanted to try some sort of squash soup or maybe Cook’s Country‘s creamy root vegetable soup, served up in tiny pumpkins, but that may be getting a little ambitious…and may be too much food for one meal. (Although isn’t that the whole point?) Maybe I can just do the soup and not the whole pumpkin thing, because I love a nice hot bowl of soup.
On the whole, though, I think we’ve got a solid menu for our first Thanksgiving at home, and I am so relieved to have a resource like Real Simple, which really dumbs down the whole process so that even a novice like me can figure it out without having to make 20 trips to the grocery store on Thanksgiving day or breaking down sobbing in the corner of my kitchen, covered in pumpkin puree and turkey parts. (Seriously. If you ever cook, clean, or have a house that you put things in, you should get this magazine.)
Next weekend, we’re cleaning the place top to bottom and getting the last of our photos hung on the walls (we’ve only been in this place for 7 months–no reason why we shouldn’t still have framed photos stacked up in corners waiting to be put up!) I’m also going to try to take off the day before Thanksgiving. I’ve worked 8 hours over the last two weeks, and already have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Wednesday morning (another fetal ultrasound, which means we should only be there for 3-ish or so hours), so it would be nice to have the whole day free to do battle in the grocery store for last minute ingredients. It’s a lot to get done, but I think we’ll manage to have a nice little family Thanksgiving…with plenty of time to recover at home afterward, even if it is a disaster.
What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year?