I’m finally coming back to reality after a great Thanksgiving holiday. We didn’t have to travel far, because Baelson and I hosted the family (well, the local portion) at our new house. It was a bit of a squeeze fitting everyone into our dining room along with all of the food, but we made it work!
Our Thanksgiving dinner was on Friday instead of Thursday because my sister’s in-laws had staked claim to them on actual Turkey day. Bael and I had a Thursday mini-celebration with my parents (no turkey, but Peking duck) at a Chinese restaurant. It was very good, but felt decidedly not like Thanksgiving, so I was extra pumped to get cooking on Friday.
I am so grateful to have started showing signs of life with a few days to spare. A week earlier, I had an oral surgery procedure which very unfortunately coincided with me coming down with a mean ol’ nasty cold. I was stitched up, plastered over, stuffed up in the head and completely laid out. It was not cute.
Suffice it to say that I started to get worried. I was still deep in it by the weekend and mom was trying to give me a pass on Thanksgiving dinner. No way would I let this nonsense ruin the first Thanksgiving in our home! I managed to plan a menu and carve out the timeline for the prep work leading up to the big day. I dragged my butt to the grocery store (well, ok, my husband took me), Purell-ing my hands as we shopped to prevent any spread to innocent victims.
Wednesday and Thursday I was feeling more and more like a human being. My stitches came out, I came off of painkillers, could eat mostly normal and blow my nose less.
Thank goodness for the game plan taped to my fridge, because I could see what needed to get done at a glance. The tasks were color coded by the dish they belonged to, and checked off along the way. When asked “how can I help?” as I was counting tablespoons going into the pot and the oven timer was going off, that list made it easy to put helpers to good use. The write-in item “Polish glasses” makes me laugh. When my sister saw it she asked “What are Polish glasses?” 🙂
Me and Mom
To salvage room in tummies for the feast, we tried to choose lighter snacks to graze on. Here is lox with dill caper yogurt sauce served on cucumber rounds instead of carbs. There was a cheese plate, because everyone is just happier with delicious cured meats and cheese around. Oh, and wine. Of course there was wine.
I tried the spatchcocking method (or, if you want to say it the boring way, butterflying method) on the turkey this year. Want to see me awkwardly flatten the bird while trying not to smash my head into the cabinets? You’re in luck…
The technique allows you to cook a big bird in only about 80 minutes (our 10.75 pounder took less than an hour!). You get nice crispy skin, and juicy meat because (unlike traditional whole birds) the flattened shape allows the white and dark meat to come to their desired (and very different) internal temperatures at about the same time. I’m sure you can guess that I used my tried and true Thermapen for the task.
Here’s our snap before digging in. We hadn’t seen my parents in months because they were travelling in Asia, so it was extra special to have everyone together. Having lived two states away until last year, that is weird to say, but we’re spoiled now, I guess. Our table wasn’t big enough to fit all the grub, so the rest of the sides were on the kitchen counter a few feet away.
I swear my nieces were smiling .25 seconds earlier!
My sister, Karen, is usually in charge of mashed potatoes (one of the few tasks she was allowed since we were kids, besides grating things). Unfortunately, she didn’t make the trip back from Shanghai to spend Thanksgiving with us this year. Karen would have been over the moon about these potatoes — three full heads of roasted garlic went in and a very yummifying secret ingredient from ThePioneerWoman.com (shhh… it was cream cheese, but you’d never know!). The potatoes were so light and creamy, but had a pronounced mellow garlic flavor. The kind that makes your mouth water just thinking about it. I think this is my new mashed potatoes recipe. Makes me miss my sister!
As promised, we had Savory Bread Pudding instead of stuffing, with its deep comforting flavors and that golden crispy top. Sautéed green beans with caramelized shallots and roasted butternut squash topped with arugula and toasted pistachios were a nice counter to the other rich sides.
My nieces treated us to a very cute dance interlude in matching princess pajamas. (Yes! Caught them smiling!)
Dessert was pumpkin éclairs with bittersweet chocolate sauce, candied pecans and candied ginger. Since none of us are big sweet tooths (teeth?), it didn’t even occur to me to make extra servings. Lesson learned. The dessert was such a hit that everyone wanted more, so we just happily devoured all the leftover pumpkin spice pastry cream and toppings without shells!
Hope you had a very happy and delicious Thanksgiving.
What was the best thing you ate?
Did you discover any new recipes or techniques?
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