"My family canceled Thanksgiving on Wednesday because my aunt and uncle got sick. At 4pm the day before Thanksgiving I decided to host nine family members in my small Brooklyn tenement apartment."
Thanksgiving? Wasn't that a couple months ago? Well, yes, but when we received this great story from Amy on how she pulled off a last-minute budget feast for nine (in a small apartment no less!) we knew we couldn't wait until next year to show it to you. Here's Amy's inspiring story, and her whole menu too!
Amy's Thanksgiving Story
My family canceled Thanksgiving on Wednesday because my aunt and uncle got sick. At 4pm the day before Thanksgiving I decided to host nine family members in my small Brooklyn tenement apartment.
I cooked 12 dishes in 22 hours (researching recipes, shopping and sleeping included) using a tiny kitchen, with a small 1950s oven that doesn't go past 420 degrees and only has one rack. It came out perfect. No one could believe it could be done in my kitchen in that time.
Best of all, it only cost $120 to feed nine people a 14-dish Thanksgiving dinner. (This excluded the dessert since I was already planning on making it.)
How Amy Did It:
I made the pumpkin crème brulee, washed the spinach, shredded the Brussels sprouts, toasted and chopped the hazelnuts, made the soup and baked the brioche the night before.
I woke up the next morning and made the tart. While the tart was baking I mapped out how much time I would need for each recipe (see timeline above!) so I could choose which order since I only had one rack in my oven. It went like this:
• Cooked the potatoes for the appetizers while the tart was in the oven.
• Rolled the bacon in the potatoes and cooked (later warmed it up in a toaster oven in batches) in the oven.
• While cooking I prepped the sweet potatoes and then roasted.
• While roasting I fried the sage, cut the bread for the roulille, and boiled the water with the potatoes for the mashed potatoes.
• I then put the squash in the oven, made the salad dressing, soaked the cranberries and onion, drained the potatoes.
• When the squash came out, I put in the bread for the rouille, and rinsed the shrimp (I bought them pre-cleaned).
• I put the shrimp toasts in the oven and prepped them while making the red pepper sauce.
• Just as I was about to prep the Cornish hens, my first guest arrived to help (an hour early) and helped make the Brussels sprouts and I prepped the Cornish hens. She added the cream and butter to the potatoes and mashed as I made the salad, the hummus and reheated the bacon-potato appetizer. • When the guests arrived at 2pm (22 hours after I decided to host!) everything was ready except the Cornish hens that were still in the oven.
After dinner, my cousins took charge of the burning of the sugar for the crème brulee top. We did it tableside so everyone could watch.
My aunt brought the homemade cream puffs and my mother the fruit as seen in the picture, as well as a few extra dishes. Of course, we ended up having way too much food.
My mother called the next day to say it was the best Thanksgiving she ever had.
Amy's Last-Minute Budget Thanksgiving Menu
• Red Pepper Rouille and Shrimp Toasts
• Bacon wrapped potato bites with spicy sour cream
• Storebought hummus (I added diced tomato, red onion and paprika) and served with Turkish Bread.
• Spinach Salad with Bosc Pears, Cranberries, Red Onion, and Toasted Hazelnuts
• Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup
• Cornish Hens with Sage Butter
• Brussels Sprouts with Fig and Bacon
• Roasted Butternut Squash with Lime Juice
• Mashed Potatoes - 2 kinds: dairy and non-dairy
• Cranberry Sauce - 2 kinds: with and without refined sugar. Recipe from Ocean Spray package.
• Pumpkin Creme Brulee
• Apple Galette
• Cherry Chocolate Brioche (I had started this before I knew I was cooking Thanksgiving so the bread was already rising.)
We love post-feast recaps and stories, and this one is especially inspiring. There are a lot of good tips for more everyday potlucks and dinner parties, too. It's so inspiring to see someone turn around and throw themselves into such a festive, meaningful meal.
Thanks so much for sharing this with us all, Amy!
Related: The Last Minute Thanksgiving: Non-Traditional Menu
(Images: Amy via email)