Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Dreaming

Happy Day-Before-Thanksgiving everyone! Are your turkeys thawed? Have you started cooking yet? Is your family in town? Do you have your stretchy Thanksgiving pants ready? This year, we'll be spending the day with my husband's family, our first Thanksgiving with family in 6 years! I can't wait! But as excited as I am, I'm a little bummed that we're not cooking this year. Gosh did I love hosting Thanksgiving in Boston, spending the day cooking, decorating the house, sharing the day with friends who were also a long way from home (or celebrating with just the two of us like last year). So to help scratch that itch, I decided to put together a Dream Thanksgiving, if you will. If we were hosting this year, this would be my road map, my inspiration, and my menu.

First let's decorate! How fun would it be to make these "I am thankful for..." placemats? And I  definitely would want to recreate these adorable rosemary place setting cards. When it comes to centerpieces, I love to use seasonal produce, greenery from the yard, and candles. They make for lovely and affordable decorations, and arrangements tend to be low and spread out so guests can still see each other. I also love this leaf garland for the dining room wall.
 1) Photo from Oh My Deer, 2) Photo from Apartment34, 3) Photo from Country Living,
4) Photo from Glitter Guide, 5) Photo from Garland of Grace, 6) Photo from A Texas Belle

Now for the food! Every year, I start with these Rosemary Roasted Cashews.  It's nice to have something to nibble on while I put the finishing touches on dinner, and these are light enough so folks don't ruin their appetites.  Also, they're delicious.
(Photo from Family Spice)
For dinner, the star of the show is a smoked turkey. We get up early to get the smoker going, season the bird with this simple but flavorful rub, and by dinner time, we have a beautiful turkey that left the oven free for side dishes. Speaking of side dishes, how good does this Cornbread Chorizo Cherry Pecan Stuffing sound? I don't know if I could branch out from our classic family cornbread stuffing, but this recipe makes it awfully tempting. I'm also itching to make these Mashed Potatoes with Mushrooms. What an ingenious idea. For something green, I love these Seared Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Lardons, which we made last year. And for something green covered in cheese, I like to make my great-grandmother's Green Pea Casserole rather than the more traditional green bean casserole. Finally, we can't forget the Cranberry Sauce! I make this super simple recipe from Sam Sifton, the man who literally wrote the book on Thanksgiving. It made me a believer in real cranberry sauce. In addition to the homemade stuff, I always leave a little room on my plate for a slice of "can", the canned jellied cranberry sauce that I will always love, regardless of stigma.
1) Photo from A Texas Belle, 2) Photo from The Bitten Word, 3) Photo from Joy the Baker,
4) Photo from A Texas Belle, 5) Photo from Serious Eats, 6) Photo from A Texas Belle

After dinner, I would serve theses Hot Ginger Apple Toddies. It's fall in a mug, perfect for chilly evenings. They're great with a generous splash of bourbon or cognac.
(Photo from The Kitchn)
Finally for dessert, I would stick with a classic pumpkin pie, but if I was feeling extra adventurous, I would love to try this Salty Pumpkin Spice Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting too.
(Photo from Libbie Summers)
As a side note, how lovely are these Thank You notes from Rifle Paper Co for thanking the host/hostess or thanking your guests for helping you celebrate? You could also use them for guests to put on paper what they're thankful for this year!
(Photo from Rifle Paper Co)

And let's not forget the day after! I would start the day with strong coffee and this Cranberry Orange Cake with Vanilla Crumble. If you feel guilty eating cake for breakfast, maybe call it Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake. That sounds more breakfast-y, right?
Then to use up all of those beautiful leftovers, here are some of my favorites: Cranberry Brie Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Thanksgiving Leftovers Couscous Salad, Turkey Terrific sandwiches, and Turkey Gumbo.

So there it is! There sure are a lot less dishes to wash this way. As much as I'm going to miss hosting this year, it's such a blessing to have family welcome us in their home and cook for us. I'm so thankful for our families, and I'm thankful to finally be able to share this holiday with them after so many years away from home. And hopefully someday it'll be my turn to return the favor!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

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