Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of all time.  I love planning my menu, grocery shopping, prepping, cooking and seeing my families smiling faces while eating a delicious meal.  Thursday was our fifth year hosting Thanksgiving.  It's crazy how fast FIVE years goes by.  I can't believe we've been in our house that long!  Dave and I are lucky that from day 1, our two families combined.  We don't run around from house to house on important holidays and we get spend the day with all the people we love.  Although I wish we did have bigger families or extended family lived closer, I do love that we have an intimate dinner of eight including both sides of the family.  Of course, we cooked like we were having about 20!  But leftovers are a good thing, right?
I'm also happy to report that prepping and cooking this year was DRAMA FREE!  I stayed relaxed and calm throughout the cooking process and really tried to go with the flow... if something didn't work out the way I hoped, I didn't get bent out of shape about it, I just moved on.  I will tell you I made WAY too many sides and it really seemed like the options were endless!

My appetizer menu changed quite a bit from what I posted the other day.  Instead, I made a savory Pumpkin Pesto Cheesecake inspired by Julia.
Made with eggs and cottage cheese, the recipe really interested me because I love cooking with Cottage cheese. I think its a great way to add protein and lower fat!  I used store-bought fresh Basil Tomato Pesto from Whole Foods and a few tablespoons of Pumpkin Puree from a can.  I also used Ritz cracker crumbs as the crust instead of breadcrumbs and I made the whole thing in an 8 inch cake pan, instead of 4 inch.  It was a huge hit!  I'll be blogging about this recipe later on!
My other appetizers were cheese and crackers and hummus and pretzel crisps.  Easy peasy, stress free.

My mom made our first course: Leek Soup.  I've tried making this recipe myself, but it never comes out as good as my moms.  I think the reason is because there really is NO recipe.  My mom cooks as she goes and this soup is my favorite!
I'm going to write another post about brining and roasting a turkey because Dave and I have become quite the expert over the years.  We love brining our turkey for at least 20 hours.  We think the turkey becomes so moist!  We also use a flavored butter on the bird itself.  Originally I made an amazing Chipotle Maple Butter and I LOVED it, but was worried it was a little too much for my families tastes. (Don't worry though, I used it later in the best GRAVY ever!) SOooo, I decided to make an herb butter instead.  The herb butter was made in the food processor - I combined a stick of butter with a bunch of fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and paprika then we rubbed it over the turkey.  And voila!
 5 hours ish in the oven and our turkey was done! And once it rested, Dave got slicing!
 19 Pound bird= way too much food for 8 people! 
Alright now let me give you a run down of the sides.
 Brown Sugar Glazed Baby Carrots and Peas.
 Hearty Winter Green Saute with Pomegranates and Pancetta.
 Cranberry Sauce with Orange Zest.
 Sausage Herb Stuffing
 Smoky Scalloped Potatoes
 Mashed Potato and Kale Cakes
 Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Pomegranates
 Chipotle Maple Butter Gravy (OMG! So GOOD!)
 Natalia was ready to dig in!
Dave's insane plate of food.. 
And he ate it all!  Pretty impressive stuff! 
 My delicious plate of food : )
After dinner, we rested for awhile and played lots of Wii.  
And then we finally ate dessert as well.  I feel awful, I forgot to take any pictures of dessert other than what I made!  My mother-in-law made Pumpkin and Apple Pie AND Chocolate Chip Blondies.  Everything was delicious.  I made Pumpkin S'more Bars.  And yes, they were as good as they sound!
I'll get all the recipes up on a Google Doc early next week for you guys to enjoy.  I'm also going to do separate posts of the dishes I feel were standouts.  

Overall it was such a wonderful day with family and I have a lot to be Thankful for.
Including the 3 babies coming in 2012!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipes of what I made listed here: Thanksgiving 2011


  1. If I had to eat Thanksgiving dinner at any other house, I'd want it to be yours! Looks like another great meal :)

  2. Your thanksgiving dinners never cease to impress. You have such creative dishes, that gravy sounds especially amazing!!

  3. That spread looks fabulous! Love all the greens with pomegranates

  4. Looks amazing, as expected! Really hoping I get to try a pumpkin s'more on Monday ;)

  5. Looks like a great holiday spent with family.

  6. Happy Thanksgiving! You look like an amazing hostess - great spread! :)

  7. that chicken is amazing i like that a lot.

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  8. What an amazing feast! I especially love the picture of Dave's plate... I always try to fit some of everything on my plate.

  9. Your dinner came out beautifully!! So I definintely thing we are going to brine next the past I've always had good luck with moist turkeys without brining, but wasn't as crazy about the bird this year. We also got a WAY too big turkey :) So awesome that you can host both families! ALl the driving over teh weekend does wear down on me after a while. Pretty soon you'll have to add a kids table :)

  10. You are so lucky! I wish we had a more leisurely thanksgiving, at home, not 6 hours away. It always feels very rushed with my husband's family, whereas my family is more like yours - laid back, playing games, etc. I miss it. Anyway, those pumpkin s'mores bars sound totally worth breaking my "diet" for - yum!

  11. the pumpkin pesto cheesecake looks to DIE for!

  12. happy thanksgiving!! loved the savory cheesecake i brought to elina's, so i'm intrigued by the pumpkin pesto one :) delicious spread, you are quite the hostess!

  13. What a feast! Looks fabulous (as always!) You and Natalia look gorgeous as well!