Thanksgiving Dinner for two or ten

I hope you enjoyed the previous post :) But I wanted to do an extensive Thanksgiving post and boy did it take me a while. Almost the entire way to Brewton, AL!

So…. Enjoy and have a happy (2 days after) Thanksgiving/Iron Bowl Day!

Last week I consulted with a great (she is above good!) friend (Jaclyn) on whether I should surprise David or not with a home cooked Thanksgiving dinner for just us. We have so many wonderful things to cook with and serve the food on… SO she encouraged me to go for it! We decided it would start a nice tradition.

David and I are blessed with wonderful families and look forward to spending many holidays together with them, but I wanted to start something special for just us. I wanted to make our first Thanksgiving as a married couple a special one, so I washed our new China and flatware and set the table for two. Keep in mind that my decision came last Friday… the day before leaving for Asheville (amazing city!)… so here is how I did it all in one day before dinner time!

How I surprised David with Thanksgiving Dinner ;)


Here is a step by step list of how I landed on what to do for dinner and how I did it:

  1. Hunt for recipes.
    This was the fun part! I wanted traditional, simple, and delicious :) I decided I wanted to do a WHOLE turkey, dressing/stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and something green. Oh and a pie! Wanted pecan pie, but it turned into pumpkin pie. Anyways, after skimming many recipes from my favorite blogs/websites, I printed out the chosen ones ;)
  2. Create a menu.
    This would assist in the grocery list making. And the budget making. I made any notes on ingredients I had or could replace with what I had to help with the budget. I decided I wanted to do a Thanksgiving dinner for $100. I could have easily made it cheaper with Cornish hens or chicken, but I knew David would enjoy this while I was gone so I went ahead and made it like I was cooking for more than two.
  3. Create a grocery list. Go shopping!
    Ha I did this in the parking lot of Publix! I will spill the grocery list after this.
  4. Unload the groceries and decide on a game plan.
    Thanksgiving dinner isn’t (technical-wise) difficult, it is just a matter of planning when and how long things will occupy the oven or prep space. I am not going to lie this was the hardest part! I will give the game plan after the grocery list.
  5. Start cooking!
    Ha this sounds silly but it took courage to START cooking! I knew once I started there was no going back… I pulled my hair back and wrapped my apron around me. I pinned my printed recipes on the fridge in the order I needed to do them (great way to keep them visible and out of fire danger or raw turkey!)… stuffing was first on the list. Oh and I poured me a little wine… ;) Helps with the nerves and I needed to taste what I was cooking with!

When choosing recipes I made sure to pick some “different” ones with lots of fresh and bold flavors. I figured I can start a Thanksgiving folder and every year I can try different recipes and we can make notes on the ones we like.


Prepare yourselves for some major list making :)

  • Menu with recipe link:
    Rosemary-Lemon Turkey from Martha Stewart
    (I didn’t have fresh, I used the rosemary from my spice stash!)
    Mushroom-Walnut Stuffing from Martha Stewart
    (I only did half of the onion.)
    Caramelized Brussels Sprouts from Eat Live Run
    (The brown sugar made these pop!)
    Mashed Potatoes from The Pioneer Woman
    (I cut it in half because I only had a smaller baking dish left. I would like to do an entire bathtub full though. Just sayin.)
    Cranberry Sauce inspired by the Oceanspray package recipe
    (I only did 1/4 cup sugar though and added some orange zest!)
    Pumpkin Pie from Paula Deen with Publix organic ice-cream
    (I only had 4oz. of cream cheese, but still turned out great!)

List break… I bought some flowers to do a quick centerpiece. Ina (love her!) always suggests picking one color for your flowers, so I chose a deep red (roll tide!). I got these (jumbo mums) beauties and wanted to cut them short and place in small mason jars on my long white platter. As I added more food to the table I ended up just scattering them on the table.


Now for the grocery list.

  • Grocery List:
  • 12 pound turkey
  • 5 pounds Russet potatoes (I call them brown baking potatoes)
  • celery
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts
  • lemon
  • 2 sweet onions
  • orange
  • cranberries (I got 1 bag of frozen Oceanspray berries)
  • organic pie crust
  • sage
  • vanilla extract
  • organic vanilla ice-cream
  • organic unsalted butter
  • organic half & half
  • 8 ounce cream cheese
  • walnuts
  • pecans
  • chicken stock
  • brown sugar
  • powdered sugar
  • sourdough bread
  • flowers (jumbo mums)
  • white wine (Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc)
  • potato masher (The Pioneer Woman said buy one. I did.)

List break… The potato masher put me over $100, but it was worth it! I plan to always use it for making mashed potatoes. The Pioneer Woman’s method worked great… no mixer needed! I think the trick was making sure the steam had escaped before putting in the ingredients.


Now here was my plan of attack.

  1. Stuffing
    I had to do this first since it would go inside of the turkey. I also needed to toast the bread, so it got the number one spot.
  2. Turkey
    I needed it in before 5pm, so it would be ready to come out around or a little after 8pm. I was so intimidated by this big bird, but I overcame the fear and just did it. I started by making the infused oil. Then I read my Butterball directions and Martha’s about 50 times and had a few mini quizzes mentally for prepping the turkey. I even remembered to tuck the wings (like Martha suggested). I seasoned it then got it in my roaster (love my All Clad piece!!).
  3. Mashed Potatoes
    I cut the recipe down by half to do a small dish. I used 2.5 pounds of the potatoes. Possibly the most time-consuming haha! It takes forever for a big pot of water to boil y’all. But it gave me plenty of time to scrub, peel, and cut up the potatoes. At this point, you are transitioning to checking the turkey every 30 minutes.
  4. Brussels Sprouts
    While the potatoes were boiling, I sliced the Brussels sprouts (in between stirring the potatoes) into little ribbons. Once potatoes were done and drained, I let them “de-steam” while I cooked the Brussels.
  5. Cranberry Sauce
    I love cranberry sauce and cannot have Thanksgiving without it :) I changed the Oceanspray recipe by cutting the sugar down and adding some orange zest.
  6. Bake stuffing.
    I took the stuffing out of the fridge on the turkey’s last 30 minute cycle. Once it was out of the oven and resting, I baked the stuffing 30 minutes.
  7. Warm potatoes.
    I had put this dish together and just needed to warm it, so I did in the last 10 minutes with the stuffing.
  8. Bake the pie.
    After realizing the pecan pie recipe I had chosen took FOUR HOURS of oven time I decided to let David pick a pie when he came in. I had pretty much everything needed to throw something together. He helped me assemble Paula’s Pumpkin Pie. We had to half the cream cheese and make a few alterations, but it turned out great. It went in as soon as the stuffing and potatoes came out.
  9. Set the table.
    Ah this was exciting! It was all coming together at this point and the reality of my plan working made me one happy and proud wife!
  10. Eat!
    I turned the knife over to David and let him carve the turkey ;)


It all turned out really pretty…

The turkey:


Stuffing:
*Side note, totally grew up with cornbread dressing but wanted to try something different and David loves sourdough bread!


Cranberry sauce:


Mashed potatoes:
*Side note, I loved taste testing these. Wanted to dive right in the bowl!


Brussels Sprouts:


A few shots of the plate spread.


Love Thanksgiving :) And I LOVE PIE!


Who knew I would be a pumpkin pie lover… but I am. Love it!


We got the cake cutter and ice-cream server from David’s (and mine too haha!) aunt and uncle. Loved getting to use them :) I mean once I realized that I was going to use the cake cutter I had to buy some ice-cream to test out the dipper!


Successful first slice of pie.


The pie took longer than expected (not near as long as the pecan pie!), but it was delicious.


Worth the wait… loved that organic ice-cream from Publix! I had high hopes of using our ice-cream maker to make some specialty ice-cream BUT wanted to save that for next year or maybe a Christmas dinner ;)


I think it is so important to get in the kitchen and try making at least one of your favorite holiday menu items. The way I look at it is this, I want to know what works and what doesn’t so when I get to host a Thanksgiving or bring a dish to someone’s dinner, I will be ready and prepared. It was fun too. I really had fun with it… felt so domestic and proud! I made sure to give my grandmothers (and Mimi!) an extra hug when I saw them because they have made MANY Thanksgivings for us :) It takes lots of thought and loads of love to make a delicious dinner. If you can do that, you are golden!

My friends are HOME from Uganda with their baby girl! Couldn’t be happier that they are here for Thanksgiving :) I cannot wait to meet their sweet precious baby!

Now I must get to my burpees before heading to the big game. Love this Saturday in college football with all the rivalries!

I had a great first Thanksgiving Day with the in-laws :) I have always felt part of the family, but now it is all official. The first Thanksgiving as a married couple has set the bar high!

Have fun cheering on your team (roll tide!) or decorating your tree (or both!)!

Happy Saturday,
Courtney

 

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