Food and Drink ThankgivingCollage

Published on November 22nd, 2013 | by Kailei Carr

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Thanksgiving Cooking Survival Guide for the First Time Hostess

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Don’t we all remember the days when it was mom, grandma or Auntie whomever making Thanksgiving dinner every year and all we had to do was show up? Oh, the memories…. But now that we’re getting grown, I know many of us are being called upon to host arguably the biggest dinner of the year on our own and it can be enough to make anyone crazy! I remember the first time I had to cook Thanksgiving dinner on my own for more than one other person. It was 2009 and I was freaking out. How could I possibly cook mom’s sweet potato soufflé like her? How was I going to know when the turkey was ready? And how do you make stuffing and gravy anyway? Luckily, Thanksgiving that year was not a complete disaster and I have some tips to make things easier for you:

1. Do a test run. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving day to try making every dish for the first time. Use the weekend before as a “trial run.” Granted, you may not want to make 2 turkeys, but you may want to use part of the weekend before to make some of the more complicated side dishes once to make sure you’re comfortable (even 1/4 or 1/2 of the portion, especially if the dish can be frozen and eaten at a later time).

2. Get help! Don’t think you need to cook everything yourself. Does Aunt Mary make the best mac and cheese? Ask her to make that one dish! Want to focus on nailing the dinner dishes? Ask people to bring dessert and/or a beverage.

3. Make the turkey cooking as easy as possible. I would suggest getting a turkey roaster (great investment — can use it every year for Thanksgiving and even for roasting for Christmas and throughout the year). Here’s a Roaster by Bella that you can order from Macy’s that can hold up to a 22 lb. turkey. Or, why not order a deep fried turkey from a local place and skip the bird cooking all together? Those are always a hit!

4. Recipes and More Tips. First of all, don’t think you have to replicate your family’s recipes. We all enjoy a bit of tradition, but since you’re the hostess, you have free reign to change things up a bit. Here are some dish tips and recipes that will help you mix some tradition with a modern twist:

Turkey Tip:  Something I like doing with my turkey is to put garlic butter and seasonings under the skin before cooking to make sure the meat is packed with flavor.

Dressing/Stuffing: Here’s a recipe for a traditional cornbread dressing and another for herbed dressing with sausage .

Mac & Cheese: I love this recipe for truffled mac and cheese.

Gravy: There are several ways to make gravy. Here’s one recipe using turkey drippings. Here’s a gravy recipe made with turkey giblets. And finally, here’s a gravy recipe made with just turkey stock.

Greens: You can make this easy, traditional collard green recipe and to make it easier, use any smoked meat instead of the ham hocks.

Sweet Potatoes: I found this recipe for maple roasted sweet potatoes that I love (they’re even Paleo diet friendly!). For a more traditional option, try this Ruth Chris Sweet Potato Casserole.

Mashed Potatoes: I haven’t made these yet, but these mashed potatoes sound amazing. Not for the lactose intolerant, but wow, I will have to put them on my list to try.

Cranberry Sauce: Here are some non-can versions of cranberry sauce with a twist: ginger cranberry sauce and jellied cranberry sauce.

Find more recipes on our Thanksgiving Pinterest board.

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About the Author

Kailei is the co-founder of The Vyne. She is an expert shopper, digital marketer and has conducted extensive research on African American women.



2 Responses to Thanksgiving Cooking Survival Guide for the First Time Hostess

  1. Lorri Dorce says:

    Tip #5…if you screw up a dish, DO NOT serve it. Throw it away! Your friends and relatives will never let you live it down. LOL! #funnymemories

  2. Pingback: Thanksgiving Cooking Survival Guide … from VyneWorld | The Yummy Librarian

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