Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving: part I of many

I'm exhausted!

How do people create giant meals for big parties and not just sleep for the next two days afterwards?! I'll never understand.

I'm so tired because I decided to go all Martha Stewart on my clasmates's asses and create an entire Thanksgiving meal (for 14 people) from scratch. Why you ask? Two reasons: 1. I'm insane. 2. I love domestic/cooking/crafting challenges.

These past few years I've had this desire to make/host a nice Thanksgiving dinner. It's never possible for me to do such a thing in Chicago because my family is way too big for one person to prepare all the food. Plus, I'm rarely ever home for Thanksgiving. For me, like most of my classmates, family is thousands of miles away, which means not being around them for the holidays (tear). But the holidays are all about spending time with people you care about, and my classmates are my family out here in California. And so, with my classmates as my guinea pigs, my vision of creating a Thanksgiving meal from scratch would finally be realized!

I scoured my favorite cooking blogs to figure out the best/most efficient recipes to make. And while I take no credit for any of the recipes, I take credit for picking out such kick-ass foods!

The final meal (I made) was this:

Brie stuffed mushrooms

Herb brined and roasted Turkey
Mashed potatoes
Giblet gravy
Pull-apart dinner rolls
Classic stuffing
Cranberry sauce

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Some people also brought some delicious sides to complete the meal (green bean casserole, pasta salad, butternut squash topped w/ sugared nuts).

The table, in all it's glory. Not too shabby for a pool table!

Want tips/recipes/ideas on how to create this Thanksgiving feast all by yourself?

First thing you need is a bit of organization and planning. There's just too much to do, so the more you get done in advance the more you can enjoy the day without going insane.

I'm anal- can you tell?

Laugh all you want- but these two files are seriously the only reason that Thanksgiving was still completely enjoyable for me, even with all I had to do. I ended up taping my day-of-schedule and all the recipes on the kitchen cabinets so they were all there when I needed them. Worked like a charm!

Over the next week I'll be sharing the recipes I made with you. Lots of them were prepped in advance, which made Thanksgiving a breeze. Honestly, one of the "worst" parts was having to transport EVERYTHING to (my classmate) Dan's apartment (his place is much larger than mine and could accommodate everyone). Food, pots, pans, utensils, serving platters, etc ALL came with me. It took 1 hour to pack and 6 trips to my car to load up. : /

In addition to prepping the food, I wanted to set a nice table too. What good is it to have delicious food if it doesn't look good!?

The flowers, picked outside of Dan' apartment. Hot tip: place some fresh cranberries in vases for a beautiful and simple look. They float and are just a gorgeous shade of red.

The pumpkins/squash and leaves (picked from outside) on the other side of the table, for a natural table setting

I also made place-cards for everyone!

These were the cards I found online and used as inspiration. Their use of my name (albeit misspelled), played NO role in me copying the pattern... I swear

Veronica likes her place setting!

After ~8 hours of cooking, cleaning Dan's place, and setting the table (with help from Veronica and Dan)- I was able to finally relax and ENJOY everything!

Stay tuned over the next few days for all the recipes...



Ruth said...

yay Jackie! I think you cooked more food in two days than I've made in the last two months (: Congrats on a totally amazing meal!!

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