A (mostly) Effortless Thanksgiving
I love hosting meals. We finally have an adult-ish apartment. It’s a place where our variegated families and friends who don’t each other too well can gather and hopefully feel comfortable and welcome.
The problem with our place is that it’s just not meant for hosting big meals. Our oven sometimes doesn’t work, so I’m not comfortable cooking meat in it. We don’t have a dishwasher, which means piles and rounds of dishes after a big meal. We also don’t have a table that accommodates more than 6 people. But making our little place work for gatherings is half the fun of hosting!
Note this post is NOT called “homemade Thanksgiving”. A lot of the food is pre-made, or made in advance, because that’s all our kitchen will let us do. But I find it to be a nice balance of still pulling dishes of the oven, instead of out of a to-go box. The apartment still smells like someone has been cooking all day, the food is comforting, and you actually get to enjoy the company.
I’ve taken a shot at hosting two Friendsgivings, and will be hosting Matt’s family on Wednesday, and I think I finally have this ‘late-twenties-cohabiting-but-wanting-to-host-dinner-parties’ thing down to a science!
This seems like a no-brainer. But ask people to contribute to the meal! Most people don’t like to come empty handed, and it allows people to bring their favorites. I usually delegate the less obvious sides to people such as sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, dessert, stuffing, or bread!
I love cutting up rainbow carrots and serving them with a couple of different dips. They’re so pretty and very festive. And not super filling.
Turkey or Poultry
Two words: Pre-cooked (one word?) Last year I bought two rotisserie chickens at Costco, warmed them in the over and carved them up for serving. This year, I bought the pre-cooked bone-in turkey breasts from Trader Joe’s. Costco is much more cost effective if you can get there, but the Trader Joe’s turkey was tasty. Both I warmed based on the instructions on the package. Allow 90 minutes to get it just right!
Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes
I’m never doing mashed potatoes on the stove again, this was so easy! Peel and chop the potatoes, add water, salt and pepper. Every recipe I’ve read said to cook them on high for 4-5 hours, but I did mine on low for 8 since I had to work! When I got home I drained the water, added a little milk, butter and garlic powder and whipped them up in the crock pot!
It’s surely not as good as homemade gravy, but I added some of the brine from the turkey in the gravy to give it some flavor consistency.
Trader Joe’s really has thought of everything. They have a ‘stuffing starter mix’ that had freshly diced celery, onions and herbs. I also bought their boxed cornbread stuffing mix. I fried the veggies in a pan and then combined them with the stuffing mix. Since I already had the oven on for the turkey, I used the oven recipe for the stuffing (and I like when the top is crispy).
Again, Trader Joe’s. I just used the recipe on the back of the bag of cranberries, but I always add chopped apples so it’s not quite so bitter :)
Other quick tips:
- Give everyone one glass for everything. I like mason jars because I liked them before they were cool, but they can hold wine, water, cocktails, beer, whatever you want! All they need is a little rise in between.
- Buffet style. There’s just not enough room to put everything on the table!
- Do not put silverware on the place settings. Again, the real estate is precious on that table! I always put the sets in mason jars and put them on the table, or on the buffet. This also eliminates dishes because people only take what they need.
What do you do to keep your Thanksgiving easy? Any fun traditions? I’d love to hear from you!