Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How My First Time Hosting Thanksgiving Went

Well, my first time cooking and hosting Thanksgiving dinner turned out to be a success. Everything came out tasting good, nothing got burned, I made (almost) everything I wanted to make, and absolutely no one left my house hungry! We had my parents and our friends and their son over and everyone contributed something. My dad made the gravy, my friends made sautéed beets and rice and beans with turkey, my mom made candied yams, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and brought a pecan pie, and I made the turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole, stuffing, and pumpkin cheesecake. Paul cleaned up :)

For starters we had a platter with spicy cold cuts like carrots and cauliflower, mozzarella with proscuitto, olives and cheese, accompanied- of course -by crackers. I also finally got to make these delightful-looking mini apple and brie quiches I'd been wanting to make ever since I saw the recipe in Eating Well last year. They came out very yummy and everyone enjoyed them!

So delicate and easy to make!

Handling a cold, sticky, strange-feeling, very dead and hairless turkey for the first time was an eerie experience indeed, at least at first. After I got over having to pull the neck out from inside the carved-out bird (I’m embarrassed to say I did not find the gizzard bag until after the turkey was cooked!) and got past a mini meltdown, things were pretty smooth sailing from there. I had expected my parents to arrive a bit early so they could assist me with preparing the turkey since I felt a bit clueless, but suffice to say, they did not arrive when I thought they would, so I had to “wing it” (Haha, get it? Get it??). I stuffed the bird with crumbled cornbread, chopped gala apple, fresh cranberries, turkey sausage, celery and a variety of herbs; I smothered it with canola oil, orange juice, lemon juice, and mixed herbs including oregano, rosemary, and sage; then, I let it sit in a trough of water with added orange and lemon slices and fresh sprigs of tarragon, rosemary and marjoram. 

The bird after 2 hours. Here's the recipe used

It didn’t take as long to cook as I thought it would, and when it was done it was beautiful! I never thought I could be so proud of something I cooked. The squeals of delight and mouths singing “mmm” around the table was enough to let me know I’d done it right. Honestly, I thought it could have been juicier, but for my first time, it turned out even better than I had imagined.

The stuffing was my “bold” dish, as it was inherently fruity and contained an interesting blend of herbs and spices. The one thing I was disappointed in about it was (and this was my error) I felt I added too much lemon juice, although everyone else said they thought it was just fine. I really liked having the gala apples in it though, I must say.

The stuffing was based on this recipe

The green bean casserole was the traditional Campbell’s recipe, so no surprises there. The rolls were…as much as I hate to admit…Pillsbury, only because I wanted to keep that simple due to lack of oven space. The mashed potatoes I also kept classic and simple, making them with Idaho potatoes, butter, chives, garlic, salt and pepper. The gravy was light (in a good way), but very tasty and disappeared quickly. The beets were Lily’s favorite and very tender, and the turkey with rice and beans my friends brought was quite a treat since I don’t normally have that type of dish on T Day (I was glad they left the leftovers with us!). 

This was always my favorite growing up

You can't go wrong with mashed potatoes

Basic buttermilk rolls

I believe- other than the turkey –the candied yams were the star of the show; everyone loved them (except Lily, who was in a picky mood and decided to eat only fruits, rice and yams throughout the day) and they went quickly as well. Half of what Paul ate consisted of the yams. They were really buttery and sweet and topped with lots of marshmallows!

Yummmm...I wish I'd gotten a shot of the bright orange sweet potatoes underneath

For dessert, I only had the pumpkin cheesecake I made and I was mostly pleased with that. It tasted very good, albeit a little dryer than I wanted since I think I let it bake a little longer than I should’ve, but the other pies looked great too. The apple pie seemed to be the most popular; it had the most delicious golden crust and cranberries which made it extra sweet and tangy. We truly ate like kings and queens for this blessed day.

Mom's cranberry apple pie glistening in the sunlight

We enjoyed red Carter wine chilled with sliced oranges, a sweet white Qualitatswein, and a heavy red Italian wine my friends brought that made quite sleepy after only a few sips. I had four glasses and somehow managed to not even get tipsy (if only a bit tired).

The Qualitatswein- MERROW!

It was quite a day with Gozilla vs Mothra and Elmo in Grouchland on the tube to entertain the guests, gorgeous sunny weather, and lots of good people. Lily and my friend’s son, Louis, looked adorable in their holiday clothes! (Sorry to say i did not get single decent shot of them together!) I have so much to be thankful for, and I just wanted to share my gratitude with my readers and my experience in cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully I will get back on my A Game and start regularly posting again, so check back soon!

P.S. If you wrote an awesome post about how your Turkey Day went, please post a link in the comments! I would love to read all about it!

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