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It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since we bought our home. This year I’m looking forward to hosting our first Thanksgiving, and to creating our own holiday traditions. Like almost anyone hosting a holiday for the first time, I started out feeling the pressure of pulling off a perfect Thanksgiving meal.
The truth is, hosting Thanksgiving – or any holiday – shouldn’t be stressful. Although the food we serve is the center of attention, I’d rather be sipping a fantastic wine and spending the day with family and friends than wrestling with a complicated turkey recipe in the kitchen, wouldn’t you? So here’s a simple Thanksgiving Tutorial to make holiday hosting easy as pie (a frozen, ready to bake pie that is!)
1. Prepare For Turkey
Tackling the turkey is the first thing on any Thanksgiving list. The first step to pulling off a stress-free holiday is being prepared. Even if you’re a kitchen veteran, a turkey can be intimidating. I’m going to use a Butterball Turkey for my recipe. Butterball Fresh or Frozen Turkeys are all natural and come pre-brined, which is why Butterball is known for having tender, juicy turkeys every single time. Using my Butterball Turkey I know I’m getting all the benefits of brining without any of the mess! Plan to pick up your turkey ahead of time and leave plenty of time to defrost it if you’re buying a frozen turkey. Luckily, Butterball turkeys are easy to find at your favorite grocery store, and I was able to get the perfect turkey with ease. Depending on the size of your turkey you may need 3-7 days to defrost it, so plan accordingly!
Now let me tell you why I adore Butterball. They’re obviously turkey experts – either that or they’ve been in my kitchen listening to me argue with an uncooked turkey before – because they’ve completely done away with the most frustrating parts of turkey prep: brining at home, impossible packaging and that weird plastic piece that holds the legs together, but then refuses to come out. Each Butterball Turkey comes pre-brined in a an easy open package that you just pull and tear to open.
Literally. You just grab the blue dot and the yellow dot and give it a tug and you have an unwrapped turkey and no one had to search for the kitchen shears, or worse yet, raid the craft drawer for a sharp scissor. I was so excited that I took a picture of it!
They’ve also used the tuck method to keep the legs held together, which involves tucking one leg through the skin of the turkey to secure it. My grandmother has been cooking turkeys for more years than I’ve been eating them, and this was more exciting to her than single serve coffee or digital photos. If you’ve ever struggled with the weirdly sharp plastic pieces that sometimes hold turkey legs together, you understand why.
Butterball Turkeys also come with cooking and carving directions – or a turkey cheat sheet as I like to call it. It has defrosting suggestions, roasting times, carving instructions, a gravy recipe and even leftover storage advice all on one convenient sheet of paper.
And if you run into a question that isn’t covered on the sheet you can always call or text the Butterball Turkey Talk Line at 844-877-3456. It’s like having a little Thanksgiving Guru in your back pocket! It’s no wonder Butterball is the number one brand of Turkey in America!
2. Plan Your Sides
I chose to make a simple green bean dish, paired with some cranberry sauce and biscuits, we had a well balanced menu that came together quickly. Choose 2-3 sides that compliment each other. Don’t over do it – too many sides will become overwhelming not just in the kitchen, but on the dinner table as well. By preparing just a few complimentary sides your guests will get a chance to enjoy everything on the table, and still have room for dessert.
3. Pair The Perfect Wine
Don’t forget the wine! I love Woodbridge Wines because they are classic wines, crafted for over 30 years and perfect for every occasion. For this meal I chose my personal favorite, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet, and also served the Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Red Blend that so many of my friends have raved about. It was a hit with its rich flavor – full of blackberry, vanilla and baking spice notes and a long, smooth finish that pairs so, so well with our favorite holiday foods like turkey and mashed potatoes. This will definitely be a staple in our home throughout the holidays!
4. Make Dessert Fun Again
You’ve spent all day hosting, so by the time dessert rolls around you should be able to kick back and enjoy the evening as it winds down. I serve Marie Callender’s Dessert Pies because they go from freezer to table in no time, allowing you to serve a warm, delicious dessert that looks and tastes just like homemade, without the mess or the stress. I also love the easy cleanup because it allows me more time to spend lingering over coffee with friends. Our favorites are Marie Callender’s Dutch Apple Pie and Chocolate Satin Pie.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan Ahead!
Use this printable cheat sheet to plan all of the day’s details ahead of time. Pin the sheet somewhere in your kitchen and use it to keep on schedule all day long!
6. Get The Recipes
Now that you have a plan, you’ll need some recipes. This Citrus Herb Roasted Turkey will wow your guests, and you’ll be pretty impressed with the simple, 10 minute prep time! The Green Beans with Mushrooms and Crispy Shallots make a perfect, sophisticated side with minimal prep (to save even more time, slice and chop ingredients the night before and store them in the fridge!).
I chose to roast my turkey with a Citrus Herb Butter. The recipe is simple, but the results are fantastic – a tender, juicy turkey with crisp, buttery skin. The citrus and herbs add a delicious, bright flavor that is so easy to customize. The Citrus Herb Butter takes only a couple of minutes to prepare, which makes roasting your turkey virtually hands off! I suggest using all this extra time to find a comfy seat and a glass of wine while swapping stories with your guests!
For the turkey you’ll need:
- Butterball Fresh or Frozen Turkey
- 1 Stick Softened Butter
- 1 teaspoon Dried Rosemary
- 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1 teaspoon Dried Sage
- Peel of 1 Orange, cut into thin strips
If your turkey is frozen plan ahead and leave enough time to defrost it. A 10-12 pound turkey can take three days to defrost in the refrigerator, or a few hours to defrost in cold water.
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.
Remove the turkey from the wrapping and pat dry. Place it in a roasting pan and cover the entire pan tightly in aluminum foil.
Roast the turkey for 10 minutes per pound.
While the turkey is roasting make the citrus herb butter by mixing the softened butter, rosemary, thyme, sage and orange peel in a bowl.
When the turkey is done remove it from the oven and take off the tin foil. The turkey will still be pale at this point. Slather the turkey in the Citrus Herb Butter, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.
Turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees and place the turkey back in. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 180 degrees, basting every 30 minutes. Depending on the size of your turkey, this should take another 1-2 hours.
Once your turkey is finished cooking take it out and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving. If you’re making a gravy this is the perfect time to get that done, or put the finishing touches on any side dishes.
I’m also making one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides, Green Beans with mushrooms and crispy shallots, an all-grown up green bean casserole that has become a family favorite.
For the Green Beans with Mushrooms and Crispy Shallots you will need:
- 1 16oz Package of Frozen Green Beans
- 1 6oz Package of Baby Portobello Mushrooms, Stemmed and Sliced
- 5 Shallots, thinly sliced into rounds
- 1 tsp dried Thyme
- 6 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped
- 2 Tablespoon Butter
- 1/4 Parmesan Cheese
- Red Wine
- Olive Oil
Cook the green beans according to the package instructions and place in baking dish set aside. Heat olive oil over medium heat and cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Set aside.
Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook until all the liquid is gone, about 10-15 minutes. Add a splash of wine to the pan and scrape the bottom to deglaze and get all of those good, browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add butter, thyme, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until butter is melted, and mix into the green beans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and place the baking dish in the oven until cheese is melted.
Just like that, you can plan the perfect Thanksgiving meal and make the most of your day! Get more holiday entertaining inspiration here, or sign up for Shopkick to save on your favorite holiday brands!
Are you planning to host Thanksgiving for the first time? Are you a seasoned host who has some time saving tricks? Let me know in the comments!