I've been a part of a friend-based Thanksgiving for the past six years. Friends meet up in Philly from all over the East coast (and on occasion, farther away) and share the responsibilities of the meal. We eat a lot. We drink even more. Last year, we worked off Thanksgiving dinner with a dance party.
This will be my second year hosting. The turkey has been ordered from the Fair Food Farmstand at Reading Terminal Market. I recently purchased a dining room table with plenty of room for guests. I only have five chairs (for a party of 12), but I'll figure something out.
I always make at least one thing that I am 100% confident in (maple nutmeg cream pie) and then something else that I've never made before. Last year it was pigs-in-a-blanket, a simple but effective appetizer. I am still debating my new project for this year. We have mac and cheese, two kinds of stuffing, a yam souffle and cranberry sauce already on the dinner menu. Desserts are covered. Maybe another veggie side dish? I had roasted cauliflower with pine nuts last night at a new restaurant in town... it got me thinking about roasted Brussels sprouts with pine nuts and bacon...
If you are still looking for some inspiration, here are a few recipes that have served me well over the years...
Potato Leak Soup: In my childhood, my chef father always put together Thanksgiving meals that were gourmet to the hilt. Potato leak soup is the dish I associate most with Thanksgiving (yes, even more than turkey, believe it or not). Disclaimer: I have never tried this particular recipe, but of the ones on Epicurious, it was closest to what my dad would make.
Sage and Honey Skillet Cornbread: I made this a few weeks ago for a chicken fry. Golden, moist bread lined on the bottom with fresh sage leaves; it's also very simple to put together.
Pigs in a Blanket: An appetizer for pre-meal noshing is a must. I like these because they aren't too hard to make or too filling and are crowd pleasers (even if some people loathe admitting how much they love them). That said, Mike and I are planning on making homemade hot dogs (Mike) and dough (me), so we are upping the difficulty ante a bit.
Maple Nutmeg Cream Pie: this has been my Thanksgiving staple for the past three years. I was first drawn to it for how unique it is. While there is nothing wrong with apple and pecan pies, I like preparing something a little different for the end of the Thanksgiving meal. Now I love it for how simple and aromatic it is. Making the custard filling, full of fresh nutmeg and pure maple syrup, is almost as delicious as eating it.
Roasted Root Vegetables: A great and simple side dish, provided you have the oven to spare.
If you make any of the above recipes, send me pictures!