I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday. I really thought through my menu and preparations this year a bit differently because I was cooking for a few folks I had never hosted before. Here is a rundown of what worked well and what did not.

IMG_2713A Smoking Hot Turkey
Smoking the bird was a smart move this year because it freed up my double ovens for more sides. I concocted the brine in advance and immersed the turkey overnight in a big Gatorade cooler. Come morning all I had to do was rinse it off and place it onto my preheated smoker. The only hitch was my turkey reached optimal temperature sooner than I had calculated. The bird had plenty of time to rest and everyone raved about the delicious flavor. I just wish it had been a bit hotter by the time I served it.
Lesson Learned: Don’t overestimate cooking time!

IMG_2710Dessert Comes First
I made my pies the night before Thanksgiving this year. I know this is common, but I’ve always hesitated because some desserts taste so much better fresh out of the oven. Unfortunately I was up past midnight because my Heavenly Pie took much longer to make than I had planned for. Guest reviews were highly favorable!
Lesson Learned: Start earlier in the day!

 

IMG_2711

 

Too Many Sides Sink the Buffet
Because I wanted a nice variety of side dishes for guests, I may have gone a bit overboard. I prepared green beans, brussels sprouts, two kinds of stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, two kinds of sweet potatoes, acorn squash, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn casserole. It was a ton of work and even more dishes to wash! I think my friends were a bit overwhelmed by all the choices and walked away from the table overly full. Next time I will trim back the menu!
Lesson Learned: Sometimes, less is more!

Planning and preparation was fun this year since I knew I wanted to blog about my cooking. But in the future, I will cut myself a little slack. Either that, or I need to hire a home sous chef!

What were your wins this year around the holiday table? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts!

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