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Friendsgiving Made Simple
Love it or hate it, Friendsgiving has become a thing the last few years. Perhaps you hate your family or you cannot afford the $2000 round trip flight back to your hometown to have some of Grandma B's infamous stuffing and you don't want to spend the holiday alone. You can now spend the holiday with people you enjoy being around, you know, the people you wish you were related to.
Now, you're probably thinking, "No way, Thanksgiving is way too much work! I can barely make a toasted cheese sandwich!" Fret not, friends. You can do it! If you happen to be reading this while sitting at your local watering hole, glance around at the people you're with—they, too have chosen not to go home and would probably love the thought of spending the day with their favorite drinking buddies noshing on some tasty food while watching the big game. We don't even know who is playing, we just know that there's a football game on that you're all dying to watch.
Since you've decided to avoid your family, pick yourself up some fancy invitations such as the ones posted above and put those in the mail to your favorite people, pronto. The geniuses at Emily Post suggest sending your invitations 3-4 weeks prior to any party you're hosting. If you're too cheap/lazy to purchase invitations, find a nice invitation to send via e-mail. NO FACEBOOK INVITES, GOT IT?!
We think it's usually a good idea to have every guest bring a dish, so if you happen to know someone who loves making pumpkin pie, ask them to bring one along. Have a salad wiz in attendance? Handled. Give everyone a specific dish (vegetable, starch, soup, appetizer, beverage) and you should have more than enough food to go around. If you're sitting there wondering about serving portion size and all of that fun stuff, The Food Network has that conundrum covered.
Now, for that pesky turkey problem...
Over the years, we've found that it's usually easiest if the host is in charge of the turkey and gravy. At first cooking a turkey sounds really intimidating, but if you're only in charge of a couple of things instead of everything, you'll probably find that cooking a turkey isn't so hard. If cooking a turkey is completely out of the question, consider a Smoked Willie Bird. They come pre-cooked so all you have to do is toss it into the oven and reheat it!) The last couple years, we've found that using some of these pre-made turkey brines are pretty awesome, as well as easy to follow. Simply buy your turkey, put it in a big bag, mix up your brine, pour it into the bag and refrigerate your turkey overnight. Just don't try to cook a frozen turkey, mmmkay? And if you do happen to purchase a frozen turkey (why, when fresh is so easily available?), thaw it in the 'fridge or cover it with water. Detailed instructions here.
If you're attending a Friendsgiving and don't know what to bring...
Not everything needs to be made from scratch, but that doesn't mean you're using ingredients exclusively from a box. Gourmet retailers around the web have pre-made mixes available for purchase (that are usually very easy to follow) and simply add them to your fresh vegetables. Williams-Sonoma offers an amazing Pumpkin Pecan Butter that can easily be transformed into mouth watering pumpkin bread, a trifle and even a pie (they sell crust mix + butter, too!) While it might not be your Grandma's recipe, and technically you may be using a mix, your friends will probably be thankful that you've chosen to cheat a little, otherwise everyone might be looking at eating the worst meal of their lives if everything is cooked 100% from scratch. Unless of course you've got Martha Stewart Junior in attendance. (If that's the case, let them do all the cooking!)
Some worthwhile dishes...
Over the years, we've gathered some really amazing recipes that we think are worthy of a holiday meal.
If you're hosting and feeling festive...
You've probably got tons of Halloween and Christmas decorations and not a thing that is remotely festive for Thanksgiving. Simply get some candles (or adorable candle holders), something to scatter around the table or in a vase and a few pumpkins and instantly it'll feel more like Thanksgiving.
and now, a showstopping dessert
10-inch cheesecake pan (ungreased) or springform pan with 3-inch sides (greased)
- 6 packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 baking apple, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 pecans, toasted and ground
- 1/3 cup unsalted melted butter
- Preheat oven to 350º
- To assemble the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, pecans and butter in a food processor. Whirl until combined. Press into pan and freeze for 1 hour.
- In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high until very smooth, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in chopped apple, orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and vanilla by hand.
- Pour over frozen crust, smoothing out to sides of pan. Bake until the top is light brown and the center has a slight jiggle to it, 60-75 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours prior to serving or decorating.
If you want to jazz up your cheesecake or hide any cracks that may have formed, here's a simple decorating option:
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- In a chilled mixing bowl fitted with the whip attachment, whip cream on medium-high until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, sprinkle with sugar and whip until firm peaks form.
- Ice top of cake with whipped cream, sprinkle with orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Serve with a sparkling wine, such as a rosé and enjoy!