Throwing My First Friendsgiving - Cupcakes & Cashmere

Throwing My First Friendsgiving

In partnership with Fossil.
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The holidays have always been my favorite time of year for the simple reasons that they provide me with an excuse to spend even more time with my family, and because I'm never one to turn down a tradition. Since G and I have hosted two Thanksgivings, we have our own traditions and the basics fairly established, with one major exception: I'd never cooked a turkey. Don't get me wrong, I've always served a turkey—each year my dad takes over the oven to prepare his favorite recipe, and we always order a smoked bird from Greenberg Smoked Turkey. While I consider myself to be a fairly competent cook, stories of undercooked or charred (not to mention exploding) turkeys always stopped me in my tracks. 

This year, I decided to do something of a trial run by serving a turkey at my first-ever Friendsgiving. By keeping track of the time and incoming notifications with my Fossil Q Hybrid Mini watch, I was able to pace everything out to serve it—turkey included—by the time my guests arrived, with minimal stress. That's not to say it wasn't incredibly busy and a little chaotic at times—according to my Q's activity tracker, I walked over two miles in my own kitchen!—but having a game plan helps. Here's a look at my first Friendsgiving with Fossil—and a timeline, below, to guide your own:

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Plan your menu. One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving each year is sitting down with my best friend, Rachel, and coming up with our respective menus. Since it can be a daunting task, we make it more enjoyable by opening a bottle of wine and setting out all of our old holiday magazines and cookbooks. Once we've finalized on all of the recipes, we create a master menu (you can scroll down to see the one I prepared for Friendsgiving) and a separate shopping list with every single ingredient we need to purchase. 

Secure your turkey. Either order a turkey (which you can freeze until two days before, at which point you'll want to move it to your refrigerator to defrost it), or reserve one from a grocery store or farmer to pick up two to three days before.

Solidify your guest list. Ideally, this is already set (so you know if you need to order more than one turkey!), but check in with guests to make sure you know who's coming and account for any plus-ones. In the case of Friendsgiving, this is also the time to delegate. I decided to serve all of the basics (turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and biscuits) and then just told my friends to all bring their favorite vegetable side dishes.

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Purchase non-perishables. Doing all of your Thanksgiving shopping in one round can be incredibly overwhelming. Instead, divy it up into two outings. Roughly two weeks ahead is when I'll purchase baking ingredients like flour and canned pumpkin.

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Clean your house. The last thing you want to be worrying about leading up to Thanksgiving are little messes, so do a deep clean ahead of time. Re-organize that kitchen cabinet, wash and fold dish rags so they're ready, and do your best to manage piles throughout the week leading up. Pro Tip: The Fossil Q allows you to change music from the watch, so I could keep the music going while I went about routine tasks around the house. 

Choose your linens and serveware. As you deep-clean, take note of your linens and serveware—if you're short several plates, now may be a good time to buy or rent more.

Go over your menu. To ensure there aren't any surprises, go over your planned menu one more time and then finalize where you'll be buying all of the ingredients.

Make your pie dough. Pie dough is one of the most stressful parts of Thanksgiving since it's so particular. Avoid the stress by making it ahead of time, then vacuum-seal each disc and put it in your freezer. The night before Thanksgiving, simply place it into your fridge to defrost before baking.

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Designate serveware for each recipe. Instead of looking for a bowl for mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts the day-of, take your serveware out the day before and place it in a room or on a table that's out of the way, with sticky notes on each platter designating the recipe that will go in it. 

Set out any cookware. In addition to serveware, take out large cookware, like a pan for sautéeing apples for your gravy and a large baking dish for your turkey, and place them on your counter for easy access.

Put wine in the fridge to chill. While you can quickly chill a bottle of wine by wrapping a wet dish towel around it and placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes, it's much easier to plan ahead and place several bottles in the refrigerator to chill. 

Brine your turkey. If you're working with a frozen turkey, place it in your fridge the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The day before, place it in a salt water brine, then refrigerate it for eight to 16 hours. See this recipe for details.

Prepare your stuffing. Since your oven will be largely commandeered by turkey and roast vegetables the day-of, I prefer to make most of my stuffing the night before—up until the point when it goes into the oven (see this recipe)—and allow the flavors to meld together overnight. 

Every Single Thing We're Cooking for Thanksgiving and How_Day Of
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The first thing I like to do is prepare the pie (using the dough I made the week before), especially if it's something that can be served cool or at room temperature like pumpkin pie. Instead of leaving it to last-minute, this crosses of a major item on my list while I'm still enjoying a cup of coffee.

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Before your turkey takes over your entire oven, get a few recipes out of the way—when I'm in charge of all vegetable side dishes (at our regular Thanksgiving), this is when I'll throw the Brussels sprouts into the oven and whip together the cranberry sauce. Since one of my favorite salads is very time-intensive, I'll also start prepping the vegetables at this time, roasting the butternut squash and garlic.

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Preheat the oven for the stuffing, and bake it according to your recipe's instructions. You can then set it aside to be warmed-up before serving.

Adjust the oven for the turkey and remove the bird from the brine. Place it in the roasting pan and prep it according to your recipe.

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Place the turkey in the oven—a 14-pound turkey requires roughly two hours of roasting, but you want to account for extra time to make sure it's cooked-through and let it cool slightly, or "rest" before carving. 

While the turkey roasts, start other stove-top recipes, like mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, and cranberry sauce (I prefer the relish, but since it's a little unconventional, I like to provide a classic option for guests).

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Prepare the biscuits—make the dough, then place them on a baking sheet and set aside in a warm area while you wait for the turkey to come out.

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One-hour out is a peek time, when everything starts to come together. This is the time when I make the gravy, put the biscuits in the oven, and warm up any vegetables I roasted earlier in the day. To minimize distractions during my Friendsgiving, I used the watch's filtered notifications feature, which alerted me when any of my guests texted or called me, from a list I'd created ahead of time on the watch's connected smartphone app.

As soon as the turkey comes out of the oven, use a meat thermometer to make sure it's fully cooked, then carefully move it to a serving platter and tent it with foil to keep it warm. Adjust the oven temperature, then put the biscuits, the stuffing (to warm it up a little), and then the vegetables you roasted earlier into the oven.

At this point, use the turkey drippings to make the gravy (I prefer this recipe!).

Put together the salad. Since the one I prefer uses a sturdy green (kale), I feel comfortable adding the dressing up to thirty minutes before serving, but it's safer to wait until last-minute, when the guests are seated, if possible, to avoid wilted leaves.

Then turn on some music, change into a new outfit, and pour yourself a glass of wine before your guests arrive!

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My favorite Turkey

The best Gravy

Horseradish and Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Perfect Cranberry Sauce

Spicy Red Pepper Cranberry Relish

Simple roasted Brussel sprouts

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Pomegranate

My friend Rachel's Biscuits

Sourdough Stuffing with Apples (I left out the raisins)

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

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The blog post was created in partnership with Fossil. All opinions are my own.