This was my first year ever hosting Thanksgiving! I was so excited to make all of this delicious food, have all of these people fill our little home and create new memories and traditions for our family.
About a week before Thanksgiving I started researching blogs and recipes looking for great ideas that were gourmet and creative but still traditional. I wanted to have a menu planned that would be cohesive but still fun and adventurous to make.
I started cooking on Tuesday. I decided on a pecan pie (my Mom’s favorite that she’d make every year) and a pumpkin pie. Lets just say I’m not a baker. I leave that for my best friend, Tara. This Thanksgiving the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cheesecake was a hit and the whipped cream that I tried to make from scratch with my Vitamix (that I overheated) was not.
I did have fun making the pies though!
This is my Christmas jam. The best Christmas compilation Starbucks has put out in the longest time.
Now the Thanksgiving dinner, on the other hand, turned out absolutely delicious if I do say so! By the time we sat down to eat I was so exhausted from working and cooking all week. Making the dinner was such an event, such an experience, that I actually miss it. It was so rewarding to have a house full of people talking and laughing – that’s my favorite part. I just love Thanksgiving!
Here is the menu and the recipes that I referenced to make our first Thanksgiving dinner:
An Apple Shallot Turkey that I got a little creative with by adding freshly squeezed lemons and tangerines. We’ve had a lot of produce on-hand since we got our Vitamix so I wanted to make sure those didn’t go to waste and I thought the citrus would add a fresh touch.
I did a lot of research before cooking my fresh turkey and actually diverted from the recipe and started it two days earlier. I had my neighbor come over and help me pull out the insides (no joke), rinsed it, dried it, (squealed a lot…so gross) and literally used a whole jar of sea salt to rub it down.
What I learned is that adding all of that salt, you’d think it would make your turkey really salty but if you do it a couple of days ahead of time and leave your turkey uncovered in the fridge, you’ll find that it actually increases the “water retention” leading to a juicier, more flavorful bird.
Now, I do remember the Apple Cider gravy I made being too salty…oops. That’s something I’d do differently. After the turkey was done roasting, we plated it, let it rest and then poured the juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan. I also cheated and added about 16 oz. of Turkey Stock that was jarred for me at my favorite local cheese shop. I added a little spiced cider and apple cider vinegar, going along with the recipe, but thought it was too acidic so I tried cutting it with some salt. In retrospect I probably should’ve chosen to add a little truvia and more chicken broth…
I had decided not to stuff the turkey with anything other than fruit and root vegetables. Apparently the juices from the fruit and the sweetness from the roasted root vegetables make the turkey sweet and juicy while allowing it to cook more evenly.
Instead, I made the stuffing (my favorite part) from scratch. I decided on a recipe that added a creative twist to the traditional recipe. The fresh herbs and toasted hazelnuts made my kitchen smell amazing and it turned out really delicious but if I did it again I’d choose something other than prosciutto.
I also made the cranberry sauce from scratch (my other favorite part). I made up my own recipe using fresh cranberries, orange juice, truvia, tangerine zest and my favorite Tennessee honey whiskey.
As bad as they are for you I just couldn’t help but try out Martha Stewart’s Mom’s recipe for the mashed potatoes. I thought I could use the Vitamix to mash the potatoes but I should’ve let them cool first. Instead, the heat from the potatoes and the fast blades of the Vitamix caused the appliance to overheat and stop working completely…until it cooled off (thank God!).
At the last minute I decided to make a side dish of buttered carrots and onions. I used a little nutmeg and cayenne pepper to spice up that quick and easy side dish.
We had so much more food than what I listed (made by our amazing friends, none of which were Minnesota natives) but I just thought I would include the recipes I used for those of you that asked!
Also, if you already have “Holidays Rule” I highly recommend buying “A Very She & Him Christmas” by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward.