A Time for Thanks and Giving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!  We sure did! We hosted our very first Thanskgiving in our home this year. I had been planning this for well over a year and couldn’t wait to bring both of our families together.  My parents and brother joined us as well as Chris’ mom, stepdad and siblings.  We had a great time being together and enjoying this wonderful time of the year!

I had the last 2 weeks off from work to give me plenty of time to clean, decorate and prepare for Thanksgiving dinner.  I had decided on my menu about a week ago and had gone food shopping on Saturday at our local ShopRite, boy was it busy and I don’t think I could have fit anymore food in my shopping cart!

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I changed a few of my decorations for Thanksgiving.  I bought a ‘Give Thanks’ burlap banner from Christmas Tree Shops and switched out my ‘Harvest’ banner for that.  It went perfect with my garland and orange lights.

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I had also bought a new tablecloth with embroidered gold leaves on it, very pretty!  A few years ago I had gotten 2 pairs of autumn-inspired crackle glass votive candles from Yankee Candle and thought they would go perfect with this tablescape.

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I had also added a ‘Welcome Friends’ wooden block sign that I purchased on sale at Michaels, to my TV stand and an ‘In Everything Give Thanks’ wooden plaque from Kirkland’s, as well.

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I had a table set up at the bottom of the stairs in the living room for the bar area.  When everyone walked in he house, they were greeted by a ‘welcome’ sign and a few autumn decorations. I wanted it to feel warm and welcoming when people came into our home.

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I decided to make a caramel apple sangria for everyone to enjoy before and during dinner and a caramel apple martini for after to enjoy with dessert.  While on Christmas Tree Shop’s website, I came across this pumpkin beverage dispenser that I had found for 50% off when their fall and Halloween items were on sale. It worked perfect for the sangria and I can use it again for Halloween.  The burlap doile I had also purchased on sale but at Michaels. They have a ton of great decorations as well!

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The sangria was pretty easy to make and the caramel flavored vodka really add a nice smoothness to it.  I cut up apples and oranges and added that to the cocktail as well.  Everyone raved about it and I will definitely make it again!

I had the table set before anyone arrived and even tho we ended up serving the food buffet-style, I still had everyone’s place setting made.

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When I was shopping in Christmas Tree Shop’s store, I came across these beautiful amber wine glasses with a white etched scroll design around the goblet. They were perfect for my Thanksgiving table!

I had all the appetizers set up on the island.  I like to have all the serveware out first and I place post-it notes on each one so I know where I want every appetizer placed. It really saves time when you’re trying to get the hor d’oeuvres out on the table.

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These cute pumpkin appetizer plates I had gotten on sale at Michaels. I am hoping that they will have these again next year because I was only able to get 8 plates.

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I used my 2 tier buffet plate holder to display the raspberry Brie tartlets.  They are so easy to make and my go-to appetizer for any occasion.

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I also made a cranberry orange cheeseball with crackers that I displayed on a wood slice plate.  This is pretty easy to make as well. It’s simply cream cheese, craisins, orange zest and powdered sugar that you form into a ball once it’s chilled and roll in craisins and pecans.

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I found this recipe on Pinterest for sausage and stuffing meatballs with a cranberry sauce and thought they’d be perfect for an appetizer before dinner. They’re pretty much a bite of Thanksgiving dinner all in one! They are a bit time consuming because you have to fry breakfast sausage and once the mixture of sausage and stuffing is ready, you form little meatballs.  But they are delicious and my father and brother even raved about them!

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Christopher’s mom, Mary, brought homemade pumpkin raviolis in a cream sauce and butternut squash soup that I displayed in shooters.  My brother and father loved these as well!

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We had a little bit of downtime before we had to start preparing a few of the side dishes. I had actually made a few the night before and in the morning before our families had arrived.  The night before I had prepared the green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole.  In the morning I started 2 dishes in the crockpot – cranberry sauce and stuffing.  Yes, that’s right, homemade stuffing in the crockpot, but more about that later 😉

For the turkey this year, we deep fried it. Yes, that’s right, we DEEP FRIED the turkey and let me tell you, it was delicious. So moist and tender, it melted in your mouth.  We used soybean oil, but a very popular oil to use is peanut.  Just make sure that you allow time for the oil to heat up on top of your cooking time for the turkey.

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A few tips on deep frying: 1) make sure you have ur bird thawing for a few days prior to placing it in the boiling oil. There have been plenty of news articles and stories about people that have put their frozen turkey in the boiling hot oil and an explosion occurs, 2) inject your turkey with melted butter.  It really brings out the flavor in your turkey and maintains its moisture, 3) season your turkey with a dry rub.  My boyfriend is very good with seasoning foods and this was all him and 4) make sure you deep fry in an open area in case there is a fire or something happens with the turkey.  And once our turkey was done, we let it rest for a bit before cutting it.

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And here we are with our very first turkey on Thanksgiving:

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And here’s Christopher carving the turkey:

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It’s a little tight where I have my dining room table set up and so I figured it would be better to have all the food set up on the island buffet-style.  Everyone grabbed their plates and food and we sat down to dinner.

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I made green bean casserole from the recipe on the back of the cream of mushroom soup by Campbell’s.  I like that recipe with the soy sauce instead of Worcestershire sauce.  I also made my grandma’s glazed carrots recipe which has been a staple at plenty of holiday dinners in my family.  It adds a citrusy flair to carrots.  My mom made my grandma’s pearled onions in cream sauce and homemade applesauce.  Her secret ingredient is cinnamon hearts.

I made a sweet potato casserole that I had made once before for a Christmas party with friends last year.  The topping is a mixture of corn flakes, pecans, brown sugar and butter along with marshmallows. The recipe can be found here.

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The cranberry sauce I made in the crockpot with fresh cranberries, my first time ever. It was pretty easy, however, the cranberries were very tart and I had to use a lot of granulated sugar to make it somewhat sweeter.  You can add anything to it as well such as walnuts or orange zest.

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To save some room in the oven, I thought it might be a good idea to try making stuffing in the crockpot.  I found a recipe on Pinterest and I’m not sure if I’ll make it again that way.  I am used to making Stove Top stuffing, but I wanted everything homemade for the most part, it is Thanksgiving after all.  So the stuffing was more mushy than fluffy and full of butter. Not to say that butter doesn’t make things taste good but it wasn’t what I was expecting.  Needless to say, people did tell me that they thought it was good.

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And here is everyone enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner:

After dinner, we waited a little while to have dessert. We were all so full from all the delicious foods!  I had the dessert set up on the island as well and offered coffee and the dessert martini. My mom brought pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting and Chris’ mom, Mary brought this delicious chocolate Oreo pie.  And I made my apple crisp again!

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The dessert martini I made was caramel apple.  I don’t have a shaker so I used a blender and they were delicious.  I couldn’t find apple schnapps, so I used a caramel apple liqueur and it was perfect. I used my Mikasa martini glasses again and rimmed each glass with cinnamon sugar.  My mom even tried a little bit!

As much as it was a bit stressful leading up to Thanksgiving, it was worth it. All I want to do is make my guests happy and ensure that they have a good time.  Both of our families have spent time together in the past and it was great to share in this holiday as well!

Xoxo,

Katie

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