Nov 2011
Thanksgiving 101: Planning the Menu

Halloween has come and gone, and it’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just 2 weeks away!(Especially since we’ve been hitting temps into the 70’s here in western Pennsylvania…only a week after our first snowfall!) This year, I have the pleasure of working a 12-hour shift on Thanksgiving Day, so needless to say I will not be attending any Thanksgiving festivities. Since I can’t let November go by without gluttonous turkey dinner,  I decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner for our friends this weekend –  aka Friendsgiving!

While this will be the first year that I will prepare the entire meal myself, I’ve spent many years helping my mom cook Thanksgiving dinner for our family. My mom’s menu tends to be very traditional – which is fine – but I am hoping this year to try some different dishes and put a twist on traditional. (It took me weeks last year just to convince her to brine the turkey!)

As I plan our Friendsgiving, I thought I would share some tips and tricks with you that I’ve learned along the way. It takes a lot of work to plan such a large meal, but the more organized you are, the more time you’ll have to enjoy Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Planning the Menu
The first thing you’ll need to do is make your guest list. You’ll want to get a rough idea of how many people are coming so you can plan the menu accordingly. Once you have a rough idea of how many mouths you’ll be feeding, you can start planning your menu. Be sure to take into consideration any guests’ allergies or if they are a vegetarian. You want to make sure that all of your guests will be able to eat something at dinner.

Also take into consideration how much oven and kitchen space you have. When taking a look at recipes, you’ll want to vary the preparation methods so you aren’t overloading the oven. Look for things that can be cooked on the stovetop, in the microwave, or even the crockpot. My favorite tip for Thanksgiving is to make mashed potatoes the day ahead of time, and then warm them in the crockopt before dinner. They taste just as good as they do right off the stove, and there is so much less hassle and mess at the last minute to mash potatoes.

Here is my menu slated for this year:

Appetizers:
Crudites with Onion Dip
Mini quiches

Main Course:

Alton Brown’s Brined Roasted Turkey

Side Dishes:
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Herbed Cornbread Stuffing
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Green beans with breadcrumbs and shallots
Honey Yeast Rolls

Dessert:
Pumpkin Mouuse Parfaits
Dutch Apple Pie with Vanilla ice cream
Individual Cherry and Pumpkin Pie Pops

Our guest list is small, with only 6 attendees, so I am trying to avoid making too much food…although leftovers are the best part of Thanskgiving! Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing most of these recipes, as well as some tips for making a great turkey, so be sure to stay tuned!

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3 Responses to Thanksgiving 101: Planning the Menu

  1. What a great idea, and a fun menu! I have not even started to think about Thanksgiving yet. With our cross country move this weekend, I am too focused on that. Once we are there I will figure it out, but I am sure it will be just the 3 of us this year (first time ever). We will see how traditional I go :)

  2. Joanne says:

    I do alton’s brined turkey too!!! Best recipe hands down.

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