Through most of my life I have been a big fan of the holidays in every aspect from food to family to gifts. Over the years I have found my enjoyment of giving and receiving gifts has diminished. I used to spend $100 on each person (mom, dad, sister and Jason) even if it meant just buying things to reach that amount. The past few years Jason and I have scaled back and only spend about $30 on each other. My sister and I aren’t exchanging gifts this year, and I’ll likely only spend around $50 on each of my parents. While the amount of shopping has decreased, my desire to cook and bake for the holidays has increased.
My birthday fell on Thanksgiving, and Jason and I chose to stay home and cook for ourselves. We did this last year as well and made some tasty Cornish hens, but I wanted to step up the cooking and go more traditional this year. I found a recipe for stuffed turkey breast since making a whole turkey for two people seemed a bit unnecessary. I thought I would need to order a turkey breast but actually found my grocery store stocked with frozen ones. The recipe included a part about making homemade stuffing, but I chose to buy an organic ready made bag to use instead. I also found recipes for mashed sweet potatoes and corn casserole. I searched recipes for homemade dinner rolls, but those seemed like a lot of work so I opted to buy frozen ones. I also considered making a pumpkin pie since I’ve never made a pie, but I figured I was taking on enough and there would be plenty of baking for Christmas. The grocery store supplied the sangria, pumpkin pie, Cool Whip and a small $5 yellow cake with white buttercream icing as a birthday cake for myself. Normally I am a choco-holic but that cake just called to me.
Thanksgiving morning I continued my tradition of watching the Macys Thanksgiving Day parade. Since the turkey breast only required an hour to an hour and a half to cook I knew I could wait until at least 10:30 to begin cooking. Jason assisted me by slicing the turkey (I feared slicing the whole way through it) while I cooked the stuffing on the stove. He then stuffed the breast and into the oven it went. He also chopped the sweet potatoes for me as he’s much faster with a knife than I am. He returned to the living room to continue watching the parade while I started on the corn casserole.
I discovered why some people opt to have double ovens – the turkey and casserole were to cook on two different temperatures. The turkey had cooked at its own temperature for a half hour, so I chose to set the oven a bit lower to accommodate the corn casserole figuring the turkey could always cook longer if needed. I hadn’t made homemade mashed potatoes in quite some time and actually forgot how long the water would take to boil. I utilized my toaster oven for the dinner rolls to avoid resetting the oven temperature yet again. I did not expect to be able to use the turkey breast to make a homemade gravy nor did I actually want to attempt it. I have always been partial to packet or jarred gravy unless it’s gravy made in a restaurant. For those reasons I emptied a jar of turkey gravy into a serving dish to microwave before the meal was served.
I pulled the turkey breast out of the oven sooner than expected given it had cooked on a lower temperature for most of the time. The corn casserole took a few extra minutes despite cooking on a higher temperature. The sweet potatoes I had worried wouldn’t be finished in time, but once the water was rolling they cooked quickly. The dinner rolls took a bit longer, and I should’ve thawed them out prior to putting them in the toaster oven. They were the last item to go on the table.
All the food was finished cooking within 15 minutes of each other, something that I was incredibly proud of as I normally struggle to time multiple items. I had thought ahead and wrote a list with each item and its cook time and temperature and referenced that which I think helped. The turkey was a tad dry possibly due to having sat for longer than the listed 10 minutes. The gravy alleviated that though. I’m not a huge fan of sweet potatoes, but I ate more than usual because the flavor was very balanced with the seasonings. Jason, who is a big sweet potato fan, enjoyed them even more. To me the star of the meal was the corn casserole. Jason’s stepmom makes one that we always look forward to at Christmas, and I was happy that mine turned out equally as good.
Thanksgiving was the first I really pushed myself to try some “harder” recipes. I was a bit nervous about the turkey breast and putting stuffing it. I was also nervous about trying so many new recipes at one meal. I’m very proud of how well timed and delicious our meal was. I didn’t experience the stress that I expected to and may even consider making a large meal for my family in the future.
Please note I am not affiliated with AllRecipes. The fact that all the recipes listed come from their website is personal preference.
Did you cook for Thanksgiving? Do you get nervous cooking big meals? What tips do you use to ensure multiple items are finished in time to serve them together?