Every Sunday I cook multiple meals for the beginning of the week. Typically I cook breakfasts, lunches, and I partially prepare dinners. So, when I decided to take on the task for a completely full Thanksgiving on my own, I figured it would be a breeze and may not even take long.
Six hours later, I realized it wasn’t like meal prep mornings AT ALL.
For the last three Thanksgivings, Jake and I have had a mini version of Thanksgiving since it is just us two on the west coast. We will roast a turkey breast, make potatoes, stuffing, and a dessert. It didn’t take long, and it was satisfying in a holiday-esque way. But being so far from family for the third holiday season in row, I was feeling a bit nostalgic. I wanted to capture that homey feeling in our one-bedroom apartment. I was craving all the sides, the tradition, and the smells of that legendary Thursday.
I had never before attempted a full Thanksgiving dinner. Most of us haven’t even done so after decades of cooking. Everyone in their family has “that house” that they go to, so the most they have to do for the day is bring a dessert or bottle of wine. Jake and I typically would have three celebrations since we became a little family. Two for his family, and one at mine. Every year for the past 15 years, everyone in my family gathers at my aunt’s house. She does it pretty much alone (including like 7 different types of pies and a cheesecake for me). Grandma makes her famous stuffing, and we all sit at a triple sized table that spans across the front of the house.
If you are an outsider looking in, I am not sure you could understand any of the conversations that are going on. We all shout over each other or laugh so loud it drowns out the person next to us. You have to learn early on to battle for the loudest voice (I am proudly one of the loudest), otherwise you sort of just sit there, trying to catch a word here and there. Plates are passed, seconds are had, and heckling each other is a past time.
Thanksgiving for both Jake and I is one of the most important days of the year. It doesn’t mean anything other than family and good food. I know that after our trip back home earlier this year, we were going to miss them during the holidays once again.
So I took on the task to bring us Thanksgiving-in full.
The only items I prepped before hand was drying out my bread for stuffing (for two days), and seasoning the turkey breast the night before. In hindsight, I would have at least made the pie the night before, but you live and learn.
I must admit, I have to pat myself on the back this year. I was like a machine. I went in with a plan, and I was succinct in my execution. Everything timed perfectly, I had the completed dinner on the table by 5 pm. This is why I only got one dark and grainy photo of the table. A) I was tired and B) The sun was pretty much set by the time everything was done.
But it was SO worth it. Every single dish I made was excellent. And while I may pretend to be quite cocky in person sometimes, I am quite humble about my food. It means so much to me and it can be hard for me to be overly confident about what I make. Even if I know it is spectacular.
I am going to shout it from the rooftops this time! MY DINNER WAS INCREDIBLE. Jake even stated it was the best Thanksgiving dinner he has ever had. And that is even with it being totally gluten-free! Which is the extra wow factor here. The stuffing tasted pretty much identical to a gluten filled stuffing (modeled after my grandmother’s famous dish which will change your life), and the salt and pepper biscuits were moist and tender, just lacking height. The cranberry sauce was tart, and sweet. Simmered with honey, rosemary, orange, and lime, it was the perfect accompaniment to the roasted turkey breast. The garlic butter mashed potatoes with sour cream were just like potatoes should be, thick, silky, and addictive. Blistered green beans were the crispy, fresh vegetable we desperately needed in the carb heavy meal.
The show stopper? The butterscotch pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream. The only item I didn’t make was the crust. I found an allergen free pie crust that tasted like the real thing. The butterscotch pumpkin pie was unlike any pie I have ever had. Deep, rich umami flavors blanketed the underlying classic pumpkin pie. Creamy, and perfectly cooked, I hadn’t been that nervous making a dessert in a very long time.
To tell you honestly, it was the first time I had made a regular pumpkin pie…I think. I can’t remember, if I did make one, it was a very long time ago. And it probably only happened once. If I am to be completely transparent with you, I can tell you I am not a pie person, so it was a shock to me that I wanted to make the pie in the first place. I would rather take a fork to a pan of cheesecake than drool over pie. But I wanted to do something different.
I love classic pumpkin pie, but I always felt it was lacking something. An oomph factor if you will. This pie is that. Completely, and utterly addictive. The type of addictive that it doesn’t matter if you are stuffed to the gills, you have to have one more slice. A flavor you do NOT soon forget.
A kind of pie that seductively crawls into your mind in the middle of target while shopping for pet vacuums. A dessert that makes you a little insane. Wondering how could something possibly be that good?
And these are thoughts from someone that doesn’t even really like pie. So if you are a pie lover, beware. When I release that recipe, make sure to have someone you trust in the room with you so you don’t lose your mind. Just sitting in your home, making pie after pie because you can’t get enough. I am prematurely giving you a pie-intervention.
It is that damn good.
Now that I have you dreaming of this magical, all healing, butterscotch pumpkin pie, I must leave you, as I need to spend the next hour trying not to think of pie.
I hope everyone had an incredible holiday! P.S. Yesterday marked 1 month until Christmas.
You're welcome...and jingle bells.