Tag cranberry sauce

Thanksgiving Dinner Test Drive

Contributed by Guest Blogger Julie Reitz

thanksgiving stuffing

I was the lucky gal picked to recipe test Parties That Cook’s Thanksgiving themed menu items.

I’m the (unexpected) perfect candidate for this assignment because: a) I love cooking and can follow a recipe, but b) I have no culinary training and have never cooked a Thanksgiving turkey, let alone an entire Thanksgiving feast in my life! Which means… if I can’t make these recipes work, they’re clearly not idiot-proof and should be re-written. And, with those disclaimers recognized, I said: Bring on the bird!

I shopped the day before our faux thanksgiving feast, prepared a game plan and began cooking at 9am on the big day. Everything was unfolding beautifully – no major snafus to note – just a couple of pandering kitties (“what about us?”). My goal was to avoid any accusations like “What have you done?!” from Executive Chef Bibby, who was keeping a curious eye on my cooking.

I started by baking the yams for the Smashed Yams with Maple Syrup and the garlic for the Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I then prepped ingredients for the simple Gratin of Spinach. I popped the gratin into the oven straight away and began to prep the Easy Breezy Cranberry Sauce. The kitties were getting restless and I too was starting to hear my stomach growl….

About 6 hours later, we had a table full of beautiful dishes and I called the master chef in to taste the goods. The menu included Brined and Roasted Turkey with Pan Gravy with Bourbon; Apple, Cornbread, Sausage Stuffing and Pumpkin-Gingersnap Tiramisu.

I held my breath, as Bibby pondered each taste test: “let’s put those yams under the broiler for a couple more minutes…”, “less alcohol in the cranberries, and a little more salt….” Several suggestions later, the recipes had been completely tweaked, and it made all the difference. Times like these make me wish there was such a thing as a “pocket chef!”

As a final test, Bibby suggested I prepare the giblets for her hungry kitties. “Giblets?” Even though I’m from Texas and love meat, its preparation and overall handling is not my cup of tea. In fact, the first time I roasted a chicken, I left the bag of goodies in the bird and the house filled with smoke!

Meanwhile, this turkey and I weren’t exactly on good terms- he simply would not listen to me physically urging him to tuck his wings under – after a brief wrestling match, Bibby came to the rescue. With a trepid look of fear on my face, I presented the kitties with boiled turkey innards, and endured suggestions from Bibby for the next day or two along the lines of: “How about giving the cats some heart today?”

In the end, my first Thanksgiving feast turned out fine and the test menu a success. My boyfriend and I got to celebrate an early Thanksgiving, Bibby and I enjoyed subsequent days of turkey soup, and I simply had the best time cooking those yummy recipes and snapping photos of the finished product.

But those giblets…