Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Facing The Culinary Giant.

I am cooking my very first Thanksgiving dinner for Husby's side of the family this year. Husby works on Thanksgiving (sad face!), so we are having everyone over the night before to celebrate and give thanks. I couldn't let the year pass without celebrating this day of thanks with both sides of the family, and I couldn't let Husby not get a Thanksgiving dinner! That's just so un-American!

I feel like this feat is going to initiate me into being a true woman. I'll soon be graduating to married lady and mommy, to professional Thanksgiving dinner host and chef. Guys. This is huge in my book. What a great thing to add to my little tricks-of-the-trade book. Hosted and prepared Thanksgiving dinner? Check! (Well .... almost.)

I am making my list (and checking it twice), and I am trying to figure out how this one oven thing is going to work. Those of y'all with two ovens - YOU ARE BLESSED. And on Thanksgiving Day, if your family goes around the table and says what they are thankful for, you better say, "Today I am thankful for my two ovens and that is all, goodnight." I know I would. One day, I hope to have like 5. Ha! I've cooked several dishes FOR Thanksgiving, but I've never been the one to cook it all. You guys better add me to your prayer list. Better yet, just go ahead and get a prayer chain started for me. Call everyone you know.

Of course, people will bring things and that will be a huge help, but I am responsible for the majority of it. I am half freaked out and half excited. I'm freak-cited. And if I burn it all and turn the rest to mush, we can always make a trip to the dump and high-tail it to Cracker Barrel. Mmm ... Cracker Barrel. I wonder if they cater?

Husby's family: YOU DID NOT SEE THAT.

So. I need you to weigh in and help a sister out. I want my first Thanksgiving dinner to be a yummy hit with everyone, and with my pregnancy brain, I'm sure to leave something out. Like the turkey. I'll probably forget the turkey.

Clean and brown and baste and whaaaa?

What is the one Thanksgiving dish that you simply can't live without? If you even want to throw a few tried and true recipes my way, get with it sista!

38 comments:

  1. Good luck!! It will be great :)

    I'm nervous enough about Thanksgiving because I have to make a FEW things to bring to my husband's family's dinner. It will be a while before I'm prepared to take on the whole meal, much less in my home!!

    My favorites are the staples - turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. I can never get enough on Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pie!! No question, pie is the Thanksgiving staple I couldn't dream of missing. The turkey is great, I'm a fan of the baked beans, but the pie... oh, I'm going to need chocolate AND apple for it be Thanksgiving!! Good luck with dinner! I'll be praying for you!

    www.thefrillylittledetails.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my goodness, I love hosting Thanksgiving. I did my first one at 17, the last Thanksgiving before moving away for college. My Hub-B always says I make too much but that just means more yummies in the freezer. It all comes down to planning it out and trying to prep as much as possible the day before.

    My standard spread is cheese, crackers, ranch and veggies, and a hot appetizer like crostini. Something easy that you can prepare the night before. Then dinner is mashed potatoes, stuffing, Turkey, corn, greens (green beans and brussel sprouts), cranberry sauce, rolls, and pumpkin cheesecake.

    The easiest Turkey I have made is super delish as well is to make a compound butter. I make a panchetta and sage butter that I make the day before. Then just salt and pepper the turkey then spread the butter underneath the skin and all over the top. Makes it super juicy and you don't have to baste, just oven that sucker!

    Good luck with dinner and I will be praying for all the ladies and gentlemen hosting the grand dinner! It is a ton of work but totally worth it to see your family light up with joy in their tummies!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had the honor of cooking for both sides of my family two years ago on thanksgiving and I loved it. I took Wednesday off of work, watched every thanksgiving episode of FRIENDS while I prepared all the side dishes that could be refrigerated overnight so that all I had to do was pop them in the oven on thanksgiving day. I also started the turkey that day since it takes so long to cook and I didnt want it hogging the oven all day. It helped tremendously. Oh and I also had my sister bring the pies so that was one less thing for me to cook.
    The menu was:
    Turkey
    Gravy
    Cornbread dressing
    Green bean casserole
    Squash casserole
    Salad
    Rolls
    Cranberry sauce
    Pies (Apple, pecan, pumpkin)

    Good luck! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have cooked the last two years and have loved it. My family has insisted that I take this year off because I am 9 1/2 months pregnant! However, my advice is to prep as much ahead of time as possible and you can warm most of your sides while the turkey is resting! Good luck and you will feel so accomplished--it really does feel like and induction into "real" homemaker-hood! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. You will do GREAT ... no worries! One trick I learned a few years ago is that you can fix your mashed potatoes and keep them warm in a crock pot for a couple hours. I get out all my crock pots and keep veggies warm in them so I don't have to do so much at the last minute. And if it stresses you out too much, know that we love Cracker Barrel! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Totally agree with the previous poster about the mashed potatoes being done ahead. I actually make mine the day before and then warm them up--just be sure to add sour cream and cream cheese (along with butter and half and half) when you mash them so they keep that creamy consistency. You may need to add a little more milk when you warm them up but they are absolutely delish and a time saver.

    I also make my gravy ahead. Buy turkey wings (2-3 large) and separate the joints. Brown them in a few tablespoons of butter in a heavy pot, then remove. Add a large carrot (coarsely chopped in chunks), quartered onion and stalk celery (coarsely chopped) and sautee until they start to carmelize. Deglaze the pan with white wine or chicken stock, then add about a quart of stock, add the veggies/wings back in and simmer for 2-3 hours. Strain out solids and refrigerate (I do this a day or two before). The day of strain off fat that will be on top, reheat and thicken with a cornstarch/water slurry and/or maybe add a T or two of compound butter (will thicken and add a silkiness). It's important to carmelize the wings and veggies really well and deglaze, as that's where most of the "color" for your gravy will come from--you can also add a bit of Gravy Master (sold with seasonings) if it needs a little boost at the end.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Broccoli and Rice Casserole and pumpkin roll:) Broccoli and Rice casserole you can make the day before and refrigerate. Pumpkin roll is a great way to have pumpkin without making another pie! You'll do wonderful:)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake, Pecan Pie and Hashbrown Casserole. Mmm...can't wait for Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's just not Thanksgiving with out some kind of sweet potato dish. I love 'em roasted, mashed, candied, or souflee'd (is that a word?) You will do great!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I could have written this myself! Promise you'll post your menu once you said it? Back to scouring my recipe books...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Pumpkin pie . . . yummy.

    I always host Christmas night with my husband's family. I've never done a turkey, but I've done a ham with all the sides. The one oven thing is a pain, but it's doable. One day when I build my own house, I'm putting in two ovens.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good luck with your Thanksgiving Dinner. I have been cooking for many years. This will be the first in a long time that I don't cook. I am 14 weeks pregnant and just not feeling up to it. One thing I do sugguest for your turkey is a turkey bag. I have used one every year and my turkey never comes out dry and you don't have to worry about basting. I make my pies the night before and cook as many things as you can in crock pots or ahead of time. You will do great! Please be sure to let us know how it worked out for you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Mmmmm! Just one? I love Thanksgiving. Turkey, dressing (no stuffing in Georgia!), mashed potatoes and/or macaroni and cheese, a variety of peas, rolls (brown and serve!), brown rice, creamed corn. Mmmm...I'm drooling a little. At 28 weeks pregnant, I'm thankful for all those foods!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Homemade dumplings are a must at our house (and they don't require the use of an oven!!) Prep the night before by making your dumpling dough (flour, milk and a splash of oil... put the flour in a big bowl, carve a crater in for your milk and oil in the middle, stir until thick enough to knead (you may not use all flour)...then roll out on counter overnight and cut the next morning(be sure to prep with flour or its a big sticky mess!). The next morning, boil a chicken (you can do a whole chicken or just chicken breast or you can subout with cream fo chicken soup...then pull the chicken out and drop the dumplings in while water is still boiling...you can tear off the chicken meat and put back in, turn low to simmer, salt and pepper to preference and wahlah!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have two ovens that I will not be using the night before Thanksgiving--you can come over and utilize them if you want to! I am definitely VERY thankful for them!

    This year I'm in charge of the sweet potato casserole. I couldn't be happier. However, there is a chance that the casserole will not make it from my house to my in-laws'. Sweet potato casserole in the hands of a preggo is a dangerous thing! Good for you for undertaking such an endeavor. You'll do great! (I have absolutely no idea how to roast a turkey, if it makes you feel better. Josh always fries one for the family. YUM.)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Green bean casserole and stuffing are my two Thanksgiving faves! My mom was always a genius when it came to hosting Thanksgiving without the ideal equipment (think cabin in the mountains with a finicky oven and partially broken stove top). What often saved our meals was her crazy planning ahead and her crockpots! She would make what she could ahead of time (mashed potatoes, pies, green bean casserole w/o the topping, cranberry sauce) and that stuff she would just throw in the crockpots to reheat. That left her able to focus on the dishes that had to be prepared the day of.

    Just a suggestion! We're in an apartment right now, but I dream of having a house with a double oven someday...

    ReplyDelete
  18. Deep Fried Turkey is fantastic! Do you own one of those larger fryers? That will free up a lot of oven room =)

    And mashed potatoes can stay heated in a crock pot on low for a little over an hour.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dressing! Yummy! Suggestion...definitely make use of your crockpot(s)! We use turkey breasts in my family (no carving whole turkeys at the table in my family since we are scattered all over my grandmothers house eating) and they are cooked in 2 big crockpots. So moist and delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  20. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com has several crockpot thanksgiving recipes that could save you. Also, make things in advanced, it'll help the chaos. If all else fails, CrackerBarrel does in fact offer full thanksgiving plates for under $10/person!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Freak-cited Haha! That's a good way to put it.

    I'm hosting my family's Thanksgiving this year and I'm a bit on the freak-cited end too!

    However, I don't have to make all of it (whew!) Just the ham (company ham from The Hamlet so I really only have to heat it up! ...but I assure you, I could potentially mess that up) and then the rolls, a veggie tray with homemade ranch and the dressing.

    One of my favorite dishes for Thanksgiving is creamed corn. Not the cream corn in a can. Barf-a-roni.

    But Slow Cooker Creamed Corn from Allrecipes.com. So good!!!

    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/slow-cooker-creamed-corn/detail.aspx

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I don't have just one.. here is what I am looking forward to my mama making this year.

    Potato Salad
    Ham
    Turkey
    Deviled Eggs
    Collard Greens
    Pineapple cake
    Pumpkin roll
    AND ROLLS!

    I think you will do great! You are a great baker/chef as I can see from your blog. GOOD LUCK and TAKE PICS! Plus your setup alone is worth it ;)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I've done it the past 5 years, and If I can do it, you will far out do me! Best tip I have is make sure you thaw the bird. Give it a day extra then they say just to be safe(and dont forget to remove everything inside!) Im cooking that night too, so I'll be thinking of you as I cook too.

    ReplyDelete
  24. You can do it! I hosted last year while pregnant. (and usually host at least one of our families yearly) Check and see if a neighbor has an oven you can use if you have logistics problems! My fav dish is mashed potatoes, but you won't forget that!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I cooked my first Thanksgiving for my family two years ago and tried to do WAY too much. My advice is:

    #1 Brine the turkey-it seriously makes all the difference in the world, it's so much more juicy and flavorful, and isn't as intimidating as it sounds.

    #2 Don't try to do too much and make things harder on yourself. Stick with recipes you're comfortable with and/or that your family has every year. You don't want to be stressing out about whether something is going to turn out well the first time you make it when you have lots of people coming over.

    #3 Make pies, desserts, anything else that can be made ahead of time a day or two early so you can free up your oven the day of.

    Good luck, I'm sure it will all be fabulous!! :) Oh, and I seriously dream about the day when we'll have double ovens! haha

    ReplyDelete
  26. I bet you'll be a total rock star at it. I did it for the first time when I was about thirteen, and if a thirteen year old can do it, so can you! Some people just have that domestic gene in their soul and you have been blessed with it too. I wanna see pictures of your table!!!

    I like the basics - Turkey, STUFFING (made in the bird, that's why it's stuffing), gravy, corn, mashed potatoes (usually roasted garlic and parmesan, yum), rolls, pumpkin pie slathered in mounds of Cool Whip... dang now I'm hungry!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Your dinner will be great! A year ago I had just moved to Canada from Atlanta, didn't know how to cook at all and decided to tackle Thanksgiving for 19 people just because I was desperate to have a Southern Thanksgiving because these Canadians celebrate it in October! It was such a success that I'm doing it again this year - making every ounce of food by myself again - I must be crazy! Anyway, I learned a few things but most of it is covered in all the other wonderful comments your readers have left. My must have? Sweet potato casserole. No question. My other two favorites are pumpkin cheesecake and pecan pie (a huge hit in non-southern towns, I've discovered). The best thing you can do for yourself is make as much as possible the day before; casseroles, pies, cranberries. I too dealt with a one-oven situation and solved it by making the casseroles and delivering them to friends with baking instructions the night before. That way they showed up with fresh out of the oven casseroles just in time for dinner. When the turkey came out of the over I put all 5 casserole dishes in to keep them warm until the turkey was ready. But my best tip? Set your table the day before too. Also, set out all the serving plates and bowls you plan to use. I like to put a sticky note in each piece that tells me the food I plan to put in it. That way I know I have enough of everything and I'm not scrambling to find a pretty bowl at the last minute. And don't forget to make sure you have enough serving forks and spoons for all that food! Oh, and if you're having a really big group, be sure to put out 2 gravy boats, 2 butter dishes, 2 salt and pepppers...that way no one ends up with cold turkey while they wait for the gravy to get passed around! Whew! That was a lot. Sorry for the overload that was probably common sense to you!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm hosting Tday for the second time this year, and I'll tell you my secret! I make almost everything in advance and freeze it before baking. Just last night I made cranberry sauce, dressing, and sweet potato casserole. Today I made rolls, and tomorrow I'm baking a chocolate pecan pie. I'll make the pumpkin cheesecake the day before and the green bean casserole the day of. My other secret is that my in-laws always order a smoked turkey from Greenburg Smokehouse (they were on Oprah's favorite things one year) so all I have to do is sides and desserts! But seriously...make ahead and freeze! Then just set the casseroles out to thaw and you can bake most things at once in one oven!

    ReplyDelete
  29. It's not thanksgiving without green been casserole, my nanny's noodles and deviled eggs! and the turkey and dressing of course...but that's a given. good luck! i can't wait to hear all about it!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Make as many dishes as you can the day before. I make the mashed potatoes on Wed. and put them in the crock pot container in the fridge. Thursday morning put the crock pot container in the heating unit on low. After a while add a little milk if the potatoes are too stiff. I also mix my cornbread stuffing on Wed. then bake it 30 minutes before.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Easiest turkey recipe ever:
    1. Turkey
    2. Salt
    3. Optional: onion, butter

    Take out yuckies from turkey, rinse, pat dry. Put in roasting pan, breast up. Salt liberally. Stick an onion in the cavity and rub some butter on the skin, outside and in, if you feel fancy. Roast until done; tent with foil if it seems to be browning too much. Yum. If you're doing everything, keep it simple. This works for a chicken too. I also save the bones for chicken stock, but that's after Thanksgiving, so don't even think about that yet. :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. I did my first real solo thanksgiving for my husband's family last year (meaning no help from mom this time!) at 23 years old - i was nervous! The best tip for a turkey - use a turkey bag! You just throw it in there with some spices and a little butter, and the bag keeps it moist - no basting! Just get it in there nice and early. Have fun!

    ReplyDelete
  33. For our wedding we were given a wonderful countertop roasting oven! I love it! It's like a massive slow cooker. I always roast my turkey in it, freeing my oven for other things. You can get them anywhere-WalMart. Thanks to one of your commenters...Next time I do a turkey, I think I'll try roasting it in a bag in my roasting oven!
    You have gotten lots of good tips and advice! One thing I will second because it is CRITICALLY important is that your turkey be completely thawed. If not, it will take forever to cook, and the rest of your meal (and your guests) waiting...

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hey Whitney - no worries - take a DEEP BREATH and relax - you will do GREAT! I have a VERY SIMPLE AND EASY recipe for your turkey that will make your day EVEN BETTER and ESPECIALLY EASIER! You cook it in a brown paper bag IN THE OVEN and NEVER have to baste it, or do anything at all to it. Let me know if you would like the VERY SIMPLE recipe! I PROMISE you will be SO happy to have done it that way. Not only is it easy - but it is juicy and falls right off the bone. My husband prefers this over his own mom's turkey each and every year. It is perfectly seasoned as well. Again, no worries - no stressing - from what I've seen so far in your young years - you will be AWESOME at your first hostess of the Thanskgiving dinner. Big hugs! :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. I came across your blog a little while ago from Megan(in this wonderful life) but I have never commented before. Let me start by saying how much I enjoy reading your blog and can relate, especially with having a little girl the same age as your son. The other reason I had to comment is because I had to share my best Thanksgiving tip that is a life saver! Everyone worries about having a dry turkey or having to baste it the whole time it is cooking. Well, my Mom has always used Reynold's cooking bags for the turkey and it comes out so delicious and moist and there is no basting involved at all! Just put the turkey in the bag, put it in your roasting pan, stick it in the oven, and forget about it until the timer goes off! You can find they usually at Walmart or your grocery store with other plastic bag, near where you would also find the crock pot liners(those things are a life saver!). The best part is when it is done cooking, you just take the turkey out, snip the side of the bag and drain all the goodness out to use for gravy or whatnot. Hope this helps you out and I will be praying your Thanksgiving goes off smoothly!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hands-down, best apple pie ever created is PW's Dreamy Apple Pie. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/11/dreamy-apple-pie/

    ReplyDelete
  37. You will do great! When we do holidays at my parents, we always have the main dish (prime rib/turkey) catered ... it makes it so easy to do all the side dishes without having to worry. Most of the time none of the guests even know ... my mom gets it delivered thru the side door and puts it straight into the oven! Its a pretty awesome set up! :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Whit: You probably already know but something I learned from Emily Barnes seminars is to make your list and set your table the day or two before with all serving dishes--place a note inside each dish stating what goes in that dish and put the serving utensil with it also. Wow, it saved so much time and--I still have my list and cards and used them year after year...Helps not to forget items.
    You will do great. I can't wait to see photos.
    Happy Double Thanksgiving to you.

    ReplyDelete

May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails