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March 3, 2011 - 4:28pm

I Carved My First Turkey


Only half of the serving table

I think one of the hardest things for freshmen is leaving home-cooked meals and entering the world of the dining hall and campus food. So when I joined a service-based student group in my first year, I was delighted to hear we would be able to participate in a new-members-only Thanksgiving dinner. It was prepared and cooked by a few older members—the ones that didn’t mind skipping class to babysit a turkey in the oven all day. It was by far my favorite “bonding” event and I was desperate to organize it in the future.

So, a couple short years later, I was ready. On the Thursday before Thanksgiving, I single-handedly planned and organized a Thanksgiving dinner for 25 people. I did, however, have many helper bees, who were ready at any moment for “Chop this onion!” and “Do you smell something burning?” They also provided the two most important parts of the meal: the turkey and the pumpkin cheesecake (remember that? It’s back again…)

It took days of menu planning, shopping, chopping, peeling, and baking. I was strategically skipping class and comparing costs of sweet potatoes versus yams. In addition to prep work, we cooked all day on Thursday. It was unbelievably fun. I mean, who doesn’t love blasting Christmas music and mashing potatoes for a couple dozen people?
It was a huge success; everyone was stuffed. We even had leftovers, despite our fear of not having enough food. It was the perfect, cold night to hunker down under a blanket and pretend we were all at home. I think I'm ready for my picket fence, please.

Check out our menu:

--16 pound Turkey
--Mashed Potatoes
--Sweet Potato and Sage Gratin
--Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow and Brown Sugar
--Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
--Honey Orange and Ginger Glazed Carrots
--Homemade Gravy from Turkey Drippings
--Cranberry Sauce
--Green Bean Casserole
--Pumpkin Cheesecake
--Pumpkin Pie
--Apple Pie
--Caramel Apple Tart
--Sweet Potato Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

If you want the most delicious mashed potatoes ever, try my mom’s version. They were the first thing gone. They look basic, but everyone always asks: “Oh my, what are IN these?” Leave a comment if you want more recipes from the day.

Baked Mashed Potatoes

8-10 Idaho potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 oz Cream Cheese (NOT reduced fat)
8 oz Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper
2 T Butter
Lots of Paprika

Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain. Mash the potatoes, gradually adding in cream cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper. Whip them with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Put in a oven safe casserole dish. Top with pieces of butter and a lot of paprika. Cover and bake 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes to make the top nice and crispy! These are by far the creamiest potatoes you will ever eat—no gravy required!