Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone!
Based on the responses from last week’s survey (it’s not too late to take it…I’d love to hear from you!), there’s interest in a little more talk about my personal life here on the blog. Given that feedback, I’m happy that I have such a fun activity from this past weekend to share with you!
Matt and I are very different in a lot of ways, but one of the things we do share in common is a love for Thanksgiving. We both get pretty excited about the holiday season in general, but Thanksgiving is definitely the favorite in our house. Thanksgiving was the first holiday we spent together when we started dating almost eight years ago (!!!!!), so if I loved it before, it definitely grabbed an extra special place in my heart after that.
We’ll be traveling home to Pennsylvania to celebrate the “official” holiday feast with my family later this week. One of the best things about Thanksgiving for me has always been the way the schedule allows me to be part of most of the celebrations on both sides of my family. My dad traditionally works on Thanksgiving day, so my stepmom usually waits to cook the full turkey dinner until Friday. This means that I get to spend Thanksgiving itself (and most of the long weekend, too) with my mom’s family — but I don’t have to miss out on the fun at my dad’s house. It means a lot to me to be able to attend both.
Since this is our first married Thanksgiving, Matt and I decided that we wanted to start some traditions of our own, too, so we put together a smaller version of the turkey feast for just the two of us on Saturday. We planned the menu together, went on a date to the fancy supermarket, and did most of the cooking as a team. Like most New York City apartments, ours is tiny. I was surprised at how well our reliable little kitchen held up, because we had it working HARD. Here’s what we made:
- Kale salad with pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds, and balsamic dressing. We try to keep things pretty healthy around here day-to-day, and even though I’m all about indulging in my favorite foods, it was important to me that we have a really delicious green option as part of our meal. Toasted pumpkin seeds might be my new favorite salad topping!
- Turkey — duh! Since it was just the two of us, we stuck to a big turkey breast instead of a full bird, but I’m still amazed by how much we ended up with! We’re now on day three of our leftovers (and I have a husband that eats a lot of turkey in one sitting).
- Stuffing made based on one of my family’s recipes, but with some of our own variations. We added in mushrooms and apples, which I would TOTALLY recommend.
- Brussel sprouts au gratin, which I made for the first time last year using this recipe. This is a cheesy indulgence, but is still a slightly better alternative health-wise to the version made with potatoes. When I made it last year, I threw in bits of prosciutto, which was a big hit with the Friendsgiving crowd.
- (Canned) cranberry sauce, because as much as I wish I liked the homemade variety, I just love the kind that comes from a can so much better.
- Gravy, made from scratch! It was really important to Matt that we make our own turkey gravy, instead of buying it pre-made. The process of making it was longer than I expected, and I was skeptical, but it was definitely worth it.
- Apple cider mimosas made with equal parts store-bought cider and prosecco. If you’re looking for a seasonal cocktail that won’t add a lot of extra work to your Thanksgiving menu, this is a great one!
- Chocolate cream pie, because YUM! We’re not huge fans of the traditional Thanksgiving desserts in our house, but I figured a fun twist on pie could be a great new tradition for us.
We dressed up the table with as many pretty things as we could make fit, and even though my beautiful china settings from our registry are still being stored at my parents’ house until we have space for them, it was fun to be able to use so many of our wedding gifts for our first Thanksgiving. We also got a little dressed up ourselves before sitting down to dinner. I’m usually a stickler for the “no holiday music until Thanksgiving” rule, but given the fact that the mood of the world is so icky lately, I decided we could budge a little bit with the James Taylor Christmas album while we ate. We also went back and forth throughout the meal sharing things we are grateful for, which, as you know, is one of my favorite things.
If you’re looking for opportunities to start your own traditions without cutting ties to your larger family celebrations, I think this is a great idea. Matt and I had so much fun being in the kitchen together, and it was really special for us to have quality time celebrating one of our favorite occasions. In case I haven’t said it enough lately, I REALLY love my husband, and I can’t get enough of hanging out with him.
Check out some of our photos below!
What are your Thanksgiving traditions? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!