Our Thanksgiving plans changed a couple of times this year. As a result we decided to throw a “Friendsgiving” tomorrow night. It’s potluck style and I’m providing the meat and rolls (and a few of my favorite dishes because I just can’t help myself). I’m pretty excited about it! I love cooking & hosting parties - and somewhere in my genetic makeup, God gave me an innate ability to know how to cook for large quantities. Need to feed pizza to 150 teenagers? I’m your girl. Need to plan a weekend of meals for 50 people? Got you covered. It’s a weird party trick (no pun intended), but I love it! I realize however, many people don’t enjoy all the prep and cooking involved for hosting lots of people. For many people it’s challenging to plan out all the elements of a large meal like Thanksgiving. Or maybe, like me this year, past traditions have changed and you need ideas on where to even start!
Below are my 4 all-time favorite holiday dishes. All of them can be done by kitchen rookies, but they are super tasty! I hope you try some this holiday season, and if you do, post a picture on social media and tag me in it!! Be sure to scroll all the way down for a couple of extra “tricks of the trade” that help me get everything out at the same time and hot.
**Also, full disclaimer, I’m not a super traditional food person so if you want dressing or cranberry sauce recipes, you'll need to keep looking ;) **.
Bacon Ranch Cheeseball
2 pkg cream cheese
Packet of dry ranch seasoning
1 cup shredded cheese
Cooked bacon - crumbled (bacon bits from the store work fine too!)
Soften cream cheese and lightly whip. Add ranch and cheese and mix thoroughly. Pour the bacon pieces onto a plate. Form the cheese into a ball and roll around in the bacon as a “crust”. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Serve with crackers.
Green Bean Au Gratin Casserole (serves 6-8 people)
(If you don’t like traditional green bean casserole, this one’s for you!!)
3 cans of french style green beans, drained
4tbs melted butter
1 cup sour cream
2 tbs flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup fresh shredded parmesan
1 1/2 cups crushed Club crackers
Combine everything but the crackers and parmesan into a greased 9x9 pan. Top with parmesan and crackers. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
Mimsy’s Corn Pudding (serves 6-8 people)
(This was my grandmother’s recipe)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 tbs flour
Dash of salt
Grease a 9” round cake pan. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt and flour. Add the milk, eggs and corn. Mix well and then pour into the pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until set.
Both of these sides, because of the pan size, can go in most ovens at the same time! So for time management, you could start the corn and set the timer for 30 minutes. Then, add the green bean casserole and set the timer for 40 more minutes! Win win!
Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
(My mom made this for every holiday as a kid.)
1 9” graham cracker crust
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 can of cherry pie filling, chilled
Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the milk, lemon juice and extract. Pour into the graham cracker crust and refrigerate for 3 hours minimum. When you’re ready to serve, top with the cherry filling. Refrigerate leftovers (if there are any!!)
Meat and rolls, while super tasty hot, can also be tasty when served room temp. So if you’re running out of oven space, cook these items first.
Pre-peel your potatoes the night before and let them soak in water. Prep your casseroles the night before too! It cuts way down on the mess and time crunch on the big day.
Dishes like casseroles & potatoes au gratin can actually be cooked in the crockpot to save on oven space. Plus they’ll stay warm for a while even once you turn the crockpot off! **you can also put your mashed potatoes in the crockpot on warm if you’re not quite ready to serve and don’t want cold taters…just add a little extra milk so they don’t dry out**
If you do use the crockpot, use crockpot liners to ease the clean up later! Also, for your meats, use disposable roasters (with handles!!!) or the Reynolds oven bags to make clean up easy also.
Inevitably, if you are hosting, someone will offer to help you. If you’re like me, delegating is hard! Post-its to the rescue! Set out the serving dish and utensil for each menu item. Then, put a post it note on it so you know which dish is for which item. Do another post it note on the table or counter where you want the dish, once full of food, to go. This reduces the questions, but allows your family to help you!
Regardless of your holiday plans, I hope you find time to be enjoy loved ones. Take the time to remember all that you have to be grateful for. And if the holidays are hard, which they definitely are for many, remember that God loves you and you’re not forgotten. Look for others who are also without family or are just having a hard time. Go beyond yourself, invite a few people over, or go serve the underprivileged. Regardless of our circumstances, we all have something to offer!!
Happy Thanksgiving friends!!!