Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Planning and Menu

This year is a bit different for Nick and I - rather than showing up with an appetizer or dessert at a family member's or friend's house for Thanksgiving, we are hosting for the first time! This won't be anything too crazy - only 9 of us total - but I think on Thanksgiving the standards are a bit higher. Not only is the gathering bigger than what we have done before, there are a lot more courses to tie together!

Source - hopefully mine comes out that well!

When our guests asked what to bring, we did try to provide them with some direction (appetizers or dessert, with some mild coordination to make sure no one was bringing the same thing) so that it would be helpful for us but allow them to get somewhat creative if desired. That said, I cannot resist making my Dutch Apple Pie!

Dutch Apple Pie
Nick and I reviewed a number of websites, but found this William-Sonoma blog post especially helpful. So far to prepare we have ordered a turkey early from our neighborhood Whole Foods. It may be a bit more expensive than a frozen bird or a fresh bird from a "regular" grocery store, but not terribly so, and when you factor in the cab ride or Zipcar rental price for us, it's probably even a little cheaper. Two weekends ago we sat down and wrote out our menu, chose the specific recipes we wanted to make and created a shopping list from there. We also made an ideal schedule starting on Tuesday evening through Thursday evening. It was helpful for me (yes I am THAT type-A) not only to map out when to start some of the dishes, like the bread in order to allow enough time for it to rise, but when to set the table (the night before) and thinking about which serving pieces we want to use. For me, I wanted to have a good handle on it all so that on Wednesday Night and Thursday I can actually enjoy the day rather than worrying about how I am going to serve the mashed potatoes. So yes, this itinerary is all on a Google document that Nick and I co-drafted while enjoying our morning coffee - it's a wonder he puts up with me!

No-Knead Bread
Since this will be our first time hosting Thanksgiving, we are trying to keep things a bit more straight forward. Our hope is that the timing works out so that everything is served warm (lukewarm depending on how the day shapes up!). The rest of the menu will include mashed potatoes, homemade bread, an apple and pear sauce, cranberry sauce, green beans, butternut squash, and stuffing/dressing (in and out of the turkey). Stuffing is my favorite part of the dinner and, in my humble opinion, the best stuffing is cooked inside the turkey.  I just assumed this was normal until I met Nick. He is firm believer in the going the dressing route (to avoid "salmonella bread pudding," as we read in a magazine). I get it, but remain a diehard, in-the-bird stuffing type of girl :).

After Thanksgiving, I will have some posts about certain dishes we made, including the turkey, because I feel like that may be an adventure worth sharing here. Wish us luck!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? And are you Team Stuffing or Team Dressing? 

11 comments:

  1. I wish we were staying in this year - but no one can host! As urban dwellers we simply don't have the space. But in those years where we can host, we are every bit as organized as you are. So kudos!

    My favorite Thanksgiving dishes are the turkey (dark meat), the stuffing (which is always in the bird), and the homemade cranberry-orange relish which we sweeten with maple syrup the we make ourselves every springtime when the sap starts to run.

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  2. I have to say - I'm team dressing (though I still call it stuffing). I've been to people's houses on Thanksgiving who actually make both, which I think works well for everyone!

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  3. We're doing two Thanksgivings and I'm hosting on Saturday. My family will be there to help prep, which is a good and bad thing. So much easier to have people bring dishes than have all of us in the kitchen at the same time! I'm trying to get as much done ahead of time too. I'm not a fan of mushy stuffing (or potentially overcooked turkey) so I'm a dressing girl... but really I go for the mashed potatoes.

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  4. I am also hosting in ctown! super excited. enjoy the festivities!

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  5. Back in the day, I was definitely a stuffing-in-the-bird kind of girl. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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  6. The first time I hosted, I decided that I needed to do everything myself. It was exhausting. The next year, people asked what they could bring and I handed them a sign up sheet.

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  7. I grew up with stuffing in the bird, but now I make dressing because I am too scared that I won't do the stuffing correctly!

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  8. I totally agree. Anytime I'm hosting I like to pre-plan even including serving dishes, clean up, etc. It makes it much easier and faster when guests are around. Hope everything went well!

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  9. How did it go?! I went WAY overboard the first time we hosted... hopefully the straightforward approach worked better for you guys!

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  10. It actually turned out pretty well! Keeping it simple and doing loads of prep on Sunday and Wednesday totally help. Everything arrived on the table warm - a little later than expected, but warm nonetheless!

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