I'm hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year and slightly freaking out. By the way, I cook dinner at least 5 nights a week, prep and pack my lunches for work every day, and host parties fairly often. If I'm this nervous, I can't even imagine how my other first-time hosts (who don't cook quite that often) are feeling. The struggle is real, friends. Very real. Oh, and to add to that, my nephew who's only 16-months-old has a nut allergy, so absolutely zero nuts in this Thanksgiving meal. I have been scanning and double scanning recipes for any possible trace of nuts thinking, I cannot cause a family trip to the ER on Thanksgiving, I must not cause a family trip to the ER on Thanksgiving.
So, anxiety aside, what's my strategy? Just like everything else in life, I decided to step back, assess this situation, and start planning. Mainly because I have a largely type-A brain, and a having solid plan in place does my soul wonders. No stress (at least, not yet),--just questions answered, a meal plan, and a game day plan (A.K.A. Figuring out how the hell I'm going to have everything ready to serve on time).
And the place to start in building such a master turkey day plan is by first identifying what the big questions and roadblocks of uncertainty are, and seeking out valid answers that will lead you in the right direction. For my fellow first time hosts, I have outlined the top 10 questions I've encountered when really diving in to make my Thanksgiving day menu and schedule, along with the answers I found that will (or already have) help me to move forward. I salute your bravery and wish you all the best--you got this.
The 10 First-Time Thanksgiving Host's Questions--Answered!
1. Where and when should I buy my turkey?
3. Is there a dish that I can make in the slow cooker to save some space in my oven and on the stovetop?
5. Stuffing or dressing? Is there a difference? Do I need to make both or...?
A: Apparently, this all just depends on where you live.
9. I know that I'm supposed to include cranberry sauce, but that jiggly stuff in a can really freaks me out. Is there an easy fresh version I can make?
A: Thankfully, Time Inc. Food Studios Test Kitchen Director Katie Barreira has a gorgeous and foolproof Roasted Cranberry Sauce that only takes 10 minutes to make. It also incorporates rosemary, which is a huge win in our family. Boom.
10. I need a nut-free dessert that's not pumpkin pie (my husband hates it), what feels right for Thanksgiving?
A: I went to our resident pie queen and Editor of MyRecipes, Darcy Lenz for this one. Pie is serious business. And everyone remembers dessert. She knows that I'm no baker (like seriously), so homemade pie dough is kind of out the question. She offered to make me a few crusts-worth of pie dough in advance to pop in the freezer, which is amazing. But if you don't happen to have a Darcy in your life, you can use refrigerator pie dough instead. I'm going to use her crust and make this easy Rustic Apple Tart. It's nut-free, an elegant dish I'm sure everyone will enjoy, and looks relatively easy. Another option: this gorgeous Caramel-Apple Cheesecake. It does have nuts, but Darcy pointed out that I could eliminate those and add 1/2 cup more graham cracker crumbs instead. Sold!
To get even more Thanksgiving guidance, be sure to tune in to our Facebook Friendsgiving Day on Tuesday, November 22 at 10 AM (EST), where our sister brands will join us to answer more questions and show you how to master the art of Thanksgiving.