Our First Thanksgiving, part 1

Our November plans changed last week when Garrett was hurt in a soccer game. The injury, a deep contusion & large hemotoma to his right thigh, resulted in two nights in the hospital and prevented us from taking our Costa Rica honeymoon as scheduled. The bright side of this (we were both terribly disappointed) is that we’ll be in Jacksonville for Thanksgiving, with our friends.

Thanksgiving is the only holiday that G&I have celebrated together every year since we started dating. The past two years, we’ve done a “family” Thanksgiving dinner with his Navy friends and their girlfriends/wives. This year the families have expanded to include two new babies, so we offered to host the turkey dinner. Secretly I was hoping that one of the guys, who has made turkey the past two years, would do so again this year so I could focus on all the fun stuff (appetizers, sides, etc) instead…but no such luck. He’ll likely help me out if I need, but the entire Thanksgiving dinner will come out of my kitchen for the first time ever. Yikes!

On Sunday I broke out the Food & Wine and Real Simple magazines to start looking for recipes. Tuesday (yesterday), G&I chose the menu and made the shopping list. Today we braved the grocery store to fill the list, on the afternoon before Thanksgiving…novice mistake? I should note that our main supermarket is closed tomorrow, so I wanted to get all/most of my list crossed off a couple days early.

I should have kept better track of the many websites I’ve used this week to research how big of a turkey I need, how to cook a turkey, how to defrost a turkey, how to maximize my kitchen output with one small oven, four gas burners and a crock pot, and easy decorating tips for the house. Lets just say, there were a lot! A couple worth checking out are Butterball.com”s “How To” section, FoodNetwork.com’s Thanksgiving, and Real Simple’s Thanksgiving Prep List (amazing!).

I’m hoping that I’ll remember to take pictures and post updates while cooking, shopping and putting together our first turkey dinner to share…and that the effort will launch me as a semi-regular food & cooking blogger, since I have plenty to write about. I’d love to hear your Thanksgiving & entertaining tips, especially since I have an extra day to put them into action.

Here’s our proposed menu for Friday’s dinner, for 9-10 guests.

Dressed Goat Cheese, served with crackers (from Real Simple, Dec 2010)
Hot Ricotta Dip (RS Dec 2010 recipe calls for endive accompaniment, but my guests are mostly guys so I think crackers here too)
Spinach Dip Bread Bowl  (saw this in a Publix ad, lol)

DINNER:  (set as a buffet, since my table won’t seat 10 people)
Easy Roasted Turkey (12 lbs) with Basic Gravy (adapted from RS Nov 2010)
Sausage & Sage Stuffing (RS Nov 2010)
Mashed Potatoes with Crispy Shallot (Food & Wine, Nov 2009)
Spiced Veggies with Pomegranate Seeds (F&W Nov 2009)
Nonna’s Peas (top secret family recipe is also a G&L tradition, we’ve made it every year)
Pomegranate Cranberry Relish (from Ashlee at Veggie by Season)
Rolls (something has to be store bought!)

to be determined (I’m hoping our guests bring this part!)
**I have vanilla-cider panna cotta in the fridge, via Food & Wine Nov 2009, that I couldn’t resist trying to make, even though it won’t make it to the Thanksgiving menu. G&I will try it ourselves, or I may take it to our T-Day dinner with our fellow foodie couple tomorrow.

Did I miss anything in the menu planning? Next up, prep work and deciding how I want to decorate. Black Friday shopping for me will likely include table linens & decorations for the Friday dinner!

Our First Thanksgiving, part 1

4 thoughts on “Our First Thanksgiving, part 1

  1. Elysia says:

    Sounds delish! This is the first time we’ve not had a Thanksgiving meal…. ever.

    Your menu sounds perfect. How’d it turn out??

    1. Turned out wonderful, though my feet sure hurt by the end of the day. Also, I learned that as much as I love to cook, I need someone else to do all the cleanup after dinner. G and I tag-teamed, but we were both so tired at the end of the night.

  2. Pam Briscoe says:

    Lauren – the first time I cooked a turkey by myself I left all the stuff inside that comes with said turkey (ie – the neck, heart, ect.) AND I cooked it upside down. The breast meat came out nice and moist but squished. 🙂 And really, cooking the bird with all that stuff and paper inside didn’t hurt much either. So don’t worry honey, I suspect everyone is going to have so much fun that no one will care if the food isn’t perfect. On the other hand, if the food is awesome (which I suspect it will be), they’ll have a blast AND be well fed! Love ya!

    1. Pam, thanks for sharing your first Turkey experience. It sure took a little of the stress off — and I made sure to pull out the neck & organs before we did anything else! Hope you had a great T-Day as well 🙂

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