With baby on the way (my due date is the 23rd) my mindset for the holidays this year is to keep everything as simple as possible and just play everything by ear. Since we’re not sure when or where we will be eating our family T-Day feast, bringing together a group of friends weeks before for a Friendsgiving gathering at home was a definite must. Keeping everything as stress free as possible–from the meal prep to the decor–is usually always my hosting M.O. but now at 9 months pregnant, more key than ever.
A gray and rainy Sunday perfectly set the scene for an intimate Friendsgiving fall feast at home. My girlfriends and I were secretly excited that a storm was in the weekend forecast as it gave us the perfect excuse to spend the afternoon cooking away for our guys. They were so enamored with their football game (and had had a few drinks by this point) that they didn’t even realize until we were sitting down to our feast that a turkey wasn’t on the menu. After a few bemoaning remarks–”so where’s the meat?”–they started diving into the piping hot butternut squash soup and were pleasantly surprised at how tasty our non-traditional Thanksgiving feast was. A win for the ladies!
When I think of hosting a Thanksgiving feast on my own I feel very overwhelmed–mainly about cooking the turkey. And as much as I love a home cooked Thanksgiving meal, once a year is enough for me. So after getting inspired by a few fall-inspired seasonal dishes, my girlfriend Stephanie and I decided a simplified veggie-filled meal was in order. No need to stress about a turkey this go-around! She made the soup, and I threw together a couple of sides. (Cooking with your girlfriends is one of the easiest ways to relieve any hosting stress–don’t volunteer to cook the entire meal yourself!).
Decor Tip | Keep it simple (as seen here with this fall farm-to-fork meal). A pretty rust colored textile, rustic cutting board and cracked pomegranates set the scene for an unfussy and casual meal. In keeping the decor simple this also makes guests feel right at home, creating a more low-key vibe.
Of course any holiday meal isn’t complete without a signature drink and on a rainy day I can’t think of anything better than a hot cup of mulled wine. I didn’t partake this time around but am looking forward to making another batch around the holidays–very soon!
I roasted sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts in the oven with a drizzle of coconut oil and a little salt and pepper. They were quite the crowd pleaser and are again super easy to make. When thinking about simplifying your meal, the easiest way to do so is to choose dishes that don’t require a lot of prep or ingredients.
In keeping with the simplicity–I like to place all of the dishes on the table so everyone can serve themselves family style. I always worry about the varied temperatures of each side when cooking up a feast such as Thanksgiving but my girlfriend Stephanie reminded me, the veggies don’t have to be pipping hot, in fact they’re just as tasty at room temp so no need to worry about that. Your guests sure won’t mind.
Nothing makes me happier than getting a group of friends together around the table! Celebrating the start of the holiday season on a stormy afternoon with a cozy fire just made the day feel that much more festive!
Since groceries can easily add up–as an Amex Blue Cash Everyday card member I’ve loved the cash back perks which make hosting so much more cost effective. You can learn more about all of the perks of shopping for your seasonal feasts here. And for those who live in Sacramento, I’ve been obsessing over our new co-op where I purchased most of the food to prep for this meal. They have the best seasonal selection.
Stephanie’s Homemade Butternut Squash Soup Recipe |
1 yellow onion – diced
4 tablespoons butter
6-8 cups butternut squash, roasted
6-8 cups chicken broth
salt + pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Take your 1-2 squash (whole), stab them all over with a fork. Roast them in the oven, turning occasionally, for 45-55 minutes at 400 degrees
Once squash is done, peel/cut skin off, take out the seeds, and dice it into 1 inch cubes
In a large pot, melt your butter – then, cook the diced onions for about 4 minutes (until translucent and fragrant)
Add in cooked squash, salt and pepper
Add your broth
Bring it all to a steady, simmering boil for about 20-25 minutes
Use an emulsion blender to emulsify the goods
Once it’s a consistent texture, add your heavy cream! (This changes the taste of the recipe a LOT, don’t skip it)
Thanks to American Express for sponsoring this post!
Photography | Alexandra Gibbs