Thanksgiving: Fake it? Or make it?

dinner table

I was shocked to learn this week that some families don’t do a potluck Thanksgiving.  This means that the hostess is cooking most of the dishes served.  If you’re one of those families that makes the meal together (sisters, aunts, grandmothers unite!) then that’s amazing, but this family that I was speaking to however, just all shows up at someone’s house who has cooked the entire dinner! The hostess in question happened to be a friend who was so nervous about the quest.

I’m kind of a purist when it comes to the Thanksgiving meals, but if I had to do it all myself, I could quickly relinquish some of the dishes to store-bought (or at least help from a box).   This got me thinking about which dishes I would still make and which I would fake. Of course the ‘faking it’ doesn’t have to mean straight up bought from a store in it’s complete form, it could mean anything from buying bread cubes for the stuffing instead of drying and cubing yourself.  Or it could mean using a frozen pastry crust instead of going from scratch.  What I’ve learned is that everyone takes help in some way or another – it all just depends on where their food allegiances lie!

fake it or make it

When it comes down to it, I would take this shortcut on cooking the turkey, make the stuffing using my favorite recipe, use the help of little potatoes and my crockpot for the mashed potatoes, make the pumpkin pie the day prior (using a pre-made crust, because homemade crusts are not worth the effort in my opinion).  The classic green bean casserole is an easy couple of cans to open, so all in all it wouldn’t be too bad.

So, this is pretty hypothetical because we’re having a potluck, which is what I grew up knowing. Still, however, I am making both the turkey and the stuffing for our friends giving, so I’ll still follow the exact recipes above.  I’d really like to know about your family traditions, short-cuts, or long-cuts, though!

Tell me…. What do you HAVE to have homemade and what do you cut corners on? I hope we can all get some great ideas with plenty of time to implement them!!

 

 

Images: Harvest Table Setting | Turkey | Stuffing | Potatoes | Green Bean Casserole | Pumpkin Pie

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Pumpkin Kahlúa Layered Dessert

kahlua trifle

Buckle your seat belts, guys… this dessert is off the charts. You already know I have an affinity for individualized attention when it comes to my parties, so making a sweet, after dinner treat that was single sized was my main focus when starting out here, but quickly took a backseat to the flavor explosion that happened.  Layers of pound cake, Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice Liqueur, pumpkin pie filling, whipped cream, and chocolate not only make this dessert a delight for the stomach, but also a feast for the eyes!  Look at those layers!

Something this seemingly intricate, however, is pretty darn easy thanks to the combination of store-bought ingredients. When I serve the dessert during our Friendsgiving, I’m going to set up a full Kahlúa ‘Bar’ with coffee, hot chocolate, cream, and a bunch of other mixers for guests to create the after-dinner-drink of their dreams.  In my opinion, however, for this dessert, you can’t go wrong with a classic Kahlúa and Coffee.

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It’s also a great recipe to make well in advance!  You can make it up to the night before your event and just stick it in the fridge! Easy instructions after the jump!  [Read more…]

White & Rust Traditional Thanksgiving

traditional decor with zazzle

Although I don’t host our family Thanksgiving, I do host a very special occasion in the week prior.  We gather to eat and celebrate with all of those who we choose to be our nearest and dearest – our friends. Friendsgiving has been something this group has been doing for almost 13 years.  Although one of our other friends used to host, as we’ve aged and our group has changed, I’ve begun hosting.  This will be my third year with the honor.

In the past, these gatherings have always been pretty informal – sweats, football, and a bonfire all encouraged, but I have fancied it up a bit… why?  Well, we get together all of the time for impromptu bonfires, patio drinking, and football watching, so I felt like this day should be a little more formal to show how much we cherish and celebrate some of our favorite people in our lives. I always dress up the table nicely like a sit down dinner party, but the food is potluck which allows everyone to contribute, something that I feel is so integral to the Thanksgiving spirit.  I make a turkey the traditional way, but the men all gather earlier in the day our in our yard to fry a turkey as well.  Meanwhile, I sit inside and pray that they don’t burn down our house (and the 100 acres of adjacent nature preserve).

This year, I was very inspired by the in-store display at my local Crate and Barrel store.  Everything was white and worn wood with just a touch of iron or rust.  It was so soothing and still very classic.  I decided to do my own take on this very traditional look.

The formal invites are from Zazzle and although I designed them from Scratch (which is one of the main reasons I use Zazzle), you can also buy my design (and customize) if you’d prefer not to design your own! Mine are simple with a red fox (which we have here on our property) and a plaid back.  I used the same plaid in a custom wrapping paper which I’ll use as a table runner. Lots of white serve ware and dinnerware will bring the light look to the table.  I love the very traditional turkey bowl and the black rimmed stock pot and some simple wheat as table decor (can’t have too much table decor with a potluck!)

Last year I did these fun little ‘thankful’ booklets for name cards, but this year, I’ll use another natural.  I’ve taken my inspiration from this walnut card holder.  For a personal touch, I am going to ask all of our friends to submit their favorite quotes and have them printed on these wooden coasters!  It will be a fun addition and something they can take home!

So far, I’m very happy with the initial plans.  Of course, I’ll be sharing a few of the DIYs along the way, so stay tuned for more Friendsgiving goodness!

 

5 Tips to Setting a Festive Tablescape

creating a fall tablescape

Creating festive table decor for our parties is actually my favorite part of the entire party!  It’s something that I love spending time playing with and experimenting with different set ups, but something that most people tell me they have trouble with.  I decided to put together my top five tips for creating a compelling table arrangement for your next gathering.

Let’s get started!  [Read more…]

The Sleepy Hollow Cocktail

halloween white russian

I have such a treat for you today! White Russians are a bit of a staple in our house and if you like them, you’ll love this little martini.  It’s basically a White Russian, but just a little deconstructed.  I love a sweet treat after dinner, and my favorite part about this take on the classic is that with each drink you get a little taste of the whipped cream followed by some cream laced Kahlúa – why cream laced?  That’s my secret! This recipe is a tad lighter than the regular recipe, but has all of the wonderful flavor.

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I named it the ‘Sleepy Hollow’ because as the whipped cream melts, it gives a spooky foggy look through the darker body of the drink.  The recipe is for one drink, but with so few ingredients, it’s so easy to make in a larger batch, adding the cream topping on each drink for a beautiful and delicious cocktail!

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The whipped cream vodka adds such a wonderful depth of flavor, and with just the topping of cream, it isn’t too heavy to drink after dinner.

Treat yourself this halloween to a spooky swirling drink and for more holiday drink ideas, visit Kahluaholiday.com (ps. take a look at the polaroid photo on the home page – haha!)

 

 

Disclosure: This post was done in partnership with Kahlúa and compensation was provided.  All recipes, photos, ideas, and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that allow us to bring you fresh content 5 days a week!