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Critique my Thanksgiving menu

for 8 people....and want to have plenty of healthy options as well but want to cut down some of the apps especially down to about 2 or 3..

Apps:
Charcuterie & Cheese Board: Point Reyes Blue, Truffled Goat, Aged Gouda, Proscuitto Parma, Salami, Italian bread sticks, crackers, bread & hot pepper jelly & spicy mustard & fig jam

Relish Tray- Assortment of marinated olives, pickles (dill & the mini sweet ones)

raw crudités w a homemade ranch dressing and another basic olive oil and herb dressing

Chilled Oysters with Apple-Ginger Mignonette

Smoked Alaskan salmon & crème fraiche served on cucumber slices and black pepper kettle chips

deviled eggs with bacon

spinach artichoke dip & bread

Salad:
Frisee, Pomegranate Seeds, Toasted Pecans & shallot vinagrette

Biscuits, Bread & Butter

Dinner:
Roasted Turkey

Apple cider gravy

Cornbread stuffing

Lemony garlic broccoli rabe

Mashed Potatoes 2 ways: Black truffle or traditional yukon gold

Cranberry & blood orange sauce
(no additional sugar added, it's just cranberries cooked in fresh OJ so a bit tart but good)
Sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and marshmallows
(childhood favorite and non-negotiable to take off menu)
Roasted root vegetables with olive oil, sea salt and a tiny touch of maple
Roasted brussels sprouts in olive oil and a touch of balsamic

Drinks:
Sparkling apple cider, seasonal beers, iced tea, wine, mulled spiced wine, coffee, tea, cans of soda

Dessert:

Cranberry Sorbet
,Vanilla Ice Cream,
Pumpkin Ice cream (all of these purchased from whole foods)

Pumpkin Cheese Cake (purchased from a bakery)

Apple Pie

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  1. To my mind this is way too many things . Too much food for eight. I would start by eliminating the sweet potatoes with marshmallows, just have plain baked sweets if you need them and I would have one kind of mashed pots. Corn too? not seasonal and yet another carb.

    I also would not make so many apps. You don't need two salads, for instance, and I find deviled eggs a very rich starter for such a rich meal.

    But you may be into way more excess than we like.

    12 Replies
    1. re: magiesmom

      Hi Magies mom, thanks for the feedback.

      Ok- I cut the corn and the fennel salad to start.

      The sweet potato casserole won't be cut b/c it's my favorite and something I have every year just once a year. I am making a smaller dish of this since I am serving the roasted root veggies and brussels sprouts.

      Which apps sound the least appealing that I should cut first?

      I can see the apps being a little excessive, but most are very simple and for the most part pretty light. The dinner mention doesn't seem too excessive to me though.. I really want truffled potatoes but understand that many people want standard, so I am offering both but it won't add more than 5 minutes to cooking time. I tried to keep my menu pretty simple *in terms of actual cooking, prep and ingredients

      1. re: magiesmom

        I agree. When you go to that much trouble, your guests can feel uncomfortable-- that they've been a burden. Def cut out most of the apps -- will ruin appetites!; cut out the sweet potatoes, & make just 2-3 desserts max.

        1. re: thymeoz

          What about the menu would make someone uncomfortable? I'm totally confused by these responses.

          The icecream and sorbet are prepurchased..The cheesecake is coming from a bakery
          The apple pie will be homemade
          Cookies will be picked up from whole foods

          1. re: allthatglitters

            Allthatglitters, for starters, some people feel uncomfortable if they do not have room to try all of the food - they don't want to insult the hostess who has cooked for them, by having to refuse many of the dishes because they've gotten full trying the seven appetizers. You might want to go look at this thread on Thanksgiving appetizers which is also active today: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/876793 - comments such as "Every year we make too many appetizers and everyone fills up on those" and " I love making appetizers, but if there's anything too much, people complain that they ate too much of those, so they have no room for dinner."

            Second, I think thymoz makes a good point - when you slave over a meal, some people might feel beholden. Others might feel you would expect something similar when you go to their house - and they are not willing or able to go to such an effort. We have some friends who we used to trade dining with, but we had to stop because after I went back to work, I simply am too tired to put on elaborate meals such as she makes. She would serve us tarts handmade with blueberries she had grown herself, laced with homemade cassis no doubt - it was just too much, when I could not reciprocate.

            1. re: allthatglitters

              Since the day is so very food-focused, I try to limit my choices to things I don't get every day, like the stuffing and turkey. "Prepurchased" items, IMHO, are expendable and don't really add much to your festive table--those would be the things I'd delete, as well as cutting down on the apps. Just my 2 cents.

          2. re: magiesmom

            Agreed - you should trim this menu, then trim some more. You don't want people filling up on apps. Limit the pre-meal offerings to crudites with a ranch and a mustard dip. Scrap the salad entirely but have the remaining raw veg tray on the dinner table.

            No yams in the root veg unless you scrap the sweet potato. Get rid of the corn or the broccoli rabe or the brussels sprouts. Root veg and a simpler veg like green beans or glazed carrots is plenty. One mashed potato. Not every item needs special sauce or herbing. Let some of your dishes have clean flavors. You want healthy options - roast or mashed sweet potatoes without sugar or marshmallow. They are plenty sweet just plain.

            Drinks: sparkling cider and wine. Coffee and tea with dessert. Dessert: apple pie, vanilla ice cream, and for the health-conscious, cranberry sorbet. MAYBE pumpkin cheesecake but pumpkin pie would be better, since it's not as heavy. Those who want to gild the lily can have either pie a la mode, and I'd suggest caramel sauce as an optional topping.

            1. re: greygarious

              Hi Grey!

              Thanks for the feedback, I will scrap the yams in the root veggies..

              Corn is gone.

              I really want to do truffle potatoes (for myself!) but I do not want to force that on guests so want to do the plain. That's the selfish reason I am having two.

              For the roasted root veggies I should scrap the idea of tossing in a little maple syrup and just do EVOO and sea salt?

              I *hate* cooked carrots and it's one of the few veggies I dislike so it won't be making an appearance on the menu.

              1. re: allthatglitters

                I was not a fan of cooked carrots either until I started doing them julienned and tossing them in butter/peanut oil to cook lightly and then tossing them in plenty of freshly grated ginger and a small amount of honey. I leave them still a little crunchy. Your menu certainly sounds bountiful. I'd never make it past appetizers and, assuming there is some, a few glasses of Pinot Noir. I love the cranberry an blood orange relish.

                1. re: allthatglitters

                  You are cooking for 7 other people, not just yourself. If there are children, chances are they wouldn't touch broccoli rabe or Brussels sprouts or salad and perhaps not roasted roots either. Carrots and corn are, unfortunately, the only vegetables many children will accept. At least include some baby carrots in your root veg that the kiddies can pick out.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    "At least include some baby carrots in your root veg that the kiddies can pick out."

                    while I agree that the menu needs to be trimmed, I strongly disagree with this statement. My 4.5 year old granddaughter would eat mostly the salad from the menu above, along with turkey and stuffing. She isn't a big potatoes gal for some reason. My experience is that the idea that kids won't eat green is to some extent a self fulfilling prophecy. The OP could trim half the menu and there would still be plenty that kids would happily eat.

                    For the OP: no maple in the veggies, and of the apps that are left I'd definitely cut the salmon and the spinach dip. Maybe the oysters also, also though I love oysters. A cheese plate is ok if there will be lots of time between when guests arrive and dinner is served, but cut the salami,

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      " the idea that kids won't eat green is to some extent a self fulfilling prophecy."

                      Agreed. My kids, and a lot of kids that I know, eat brussel sprouts, broccoli rabe or broccolini, and roasted root veggies. I think the pendulum is swinging back to center and many parents, particularly CHers, are raising veggie-eatin' kids. :)

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        I agree. And it is so maddening to see a child ask about a good food and then hear the parent reply, "you wouldn't like that".

            2. Your menu sounds a lot like mine and I'm having 20. I would definitely cut the deviled eggs, spinach-artichoke dip and likely, the salmon. Charcuterie with some cornichons, oysters & crudite would be perfect for apps.

              I'd also bag the biscuits. You have a beautiful menu and there's no need for filler. Other than that, I think it looks great!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Christina D

                Thanks Christina! I definitely do want to cut some apps and appreciate you letting me know which ones you would cut.. :)

                1. re: allthatglitters

                  As a person who gobbles cheese and gets too full for the next course I would ditch the cheese and the devilled eggs too- another tempting item it's hard to eat just one of.

                2. re: Christina D

                  I agree, I would cut the same apps as you've suggested. And I agree w/ gregarious' suggestion to have a veg or two that is simply prepared - green beans and/or the brussel sprouts (as you've described them is perfect). And keep desserts to a minimum - apple pie, cheesecake and that is plenty.

                  Well done allthatglitters - you're going to have a lovely holiday with full bellies and happy guests. :)

                3. Ditch the soda.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MGZ

                    I don't drink soda but it's one of those things that I like to have to offer guests. I don't think Thanksgiving in the time to impose personal health preferences on others :)

                  2. I have to agree with magiesmom. This seems like the work of three hostesses, not one. Your guests will enjoy at least a salad, turkey and potatoes - everything else is nice but is not absolutely necessary because they will already be happy, so pare it down somewhat and save yourself stress.

                    I think my guests generally have a better time if I am sitting and enjoying and talking with them, rather than constantly setting out and removing dishes. You might want to keep it to two or three set-out apps (before going to table), and two or three appetizers at the table (all of your ideas are lovely but if I had to pick three, I'd say salad, bread(s), and the oysters or salmon).
                    The dinner menu also seems lovely. To streamline it -
                    - I don't think you need broccoli rabe AND brussel sprouts; you also have a salad, so just select one cooked green vegetable.
                    - you won't need two kinds of mashed potatoes AND root vegetables AND sweet potatoes AND corn. I suggest selecting one or two. You're already having sweet potatoes (I agree; tradition!) - you don't need numerous savory starches - just one. Again, just 8 people...
                    - The desserts also seem like a lot to prepare, unless you are purchasing most. And after a big dinner, including sweet potatoes (which is really a dessert - I love it too), you may find yourself with a lot of leftover dessert. I'd say make the pie, make or buy the cheesecake or one kind of cookie, buy one of the three ice cream/sorbet choices. Seriously, given just apple pie and vanilla ice cream, who would not find a choice they enjoy? The rest, as they say, is gravy. ;-)

                    1. the charcuterie and cheese can be very rich. it's expensive and i never like serving lots of cheese pre-meal. too filling, easy to over-eat and dulls the palate.

                      i like the relish tray because it's retro.

                      crudites, crudites, crudites -- yawn. it's at so many parties.

                      both the salmon and spinach dip involve dairy too.

                      i would just have the relish tray out, and serve oysters to start. nix all the other starters.

                      as long as the salad has a very sharp vinaigrette, i think it's a good idea to wake up everybody's appetite.

                      biscuits are not needed. as much as i love it, i'd skip the broccoli rabe and just keep the brussels. if you MUST have sweet potatoes and 2 kinds of mashed, have mercy on everybody and skip all the other starchy sides.

                      i'd skip the pumpkin ice cream too.

                      your dishes all look lovely!!! but as much i love to cook, and as much as i always go overboard, i am having 30 people and making fewer dishes than you are planning. :)

                      1. Personally, I wouldn't listen to all the naysayers to cut this and skip that. Make what you feel like making. I always cook in excess what folks can eat and if I have 8 for dinner I cook for 12. By now, people appreciate that I just love to cook, and I've never had someone feel "bad" or "guilty" because I put out a lavish spread. If you are going to put out so many courses just spread out the time. Invite them earlier and serve dinner later. Growing up in an Italian household, holiday feasts lasted for hours. There were all sorts of apps and finger foods. A roast beef, lamb or piglet, in addition to the turkey was not unusual, even for a small group of 8 or so. There was always an antipasto, a soup course, and a pasta course. And deserts were plentiful. No one was ever expected to finish everything. Leftovers lasted for a week. Some here have said, skip the sweet potatoes, even though you've mentioned twice that it's a childhood fave and non-negotiable. So why skip them? If you are feeding adults, let THEM police their own appetites and decide what to eat before dinner. Give them enough time and they will get hungry again.

                        Make what you want. I'd do your original menu and have a blast doing it, (or eating it as a guest) Go for it as -is! Happy Thanksgiving.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: CapeCodGuy

                          i too grew up italian-american and still love cooking bountiful spreads for loved ones. by now they all show up with smiles and empty tummies and yes, we eat and drink for many hours. even though i most often do buffet style service, it's courses throughout the event, so the food is always rotating.

                          that being said, i have finally come to terms with managing what i serve. i used to cook like the op, and ya know what? the left-overs most often wound up in the trash. my b/f and i don't have children at home and even with peeps taking food home after the party, it was always too much for the 2 of us to eat even after a week. it's a lot of time and $$$$ wasted.

                          so the choice is to make miserly portions of each dish, so everybody gets just a few spoonfuls, or to edit the menu. i've got about 30 people coming on sunday for a post t-day party. i am making 10-12 different savory items, plus desserts. the op has about 19 items before dessert for a group of 8. unless she has a family of 8 living at home, i don't see her plowing through much of that post-party.

                          ymmv.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            Love this take on it

                        2. WOYZA! That's for eight people? Keep both salads to maintain two fresh options but cut WAY down on the apps. One year we had so many apps we sent everyone home with their meals in tupperware. I love your intention of trying to keep some fresh veggie options. Here's what I would adjust. Cut - oysters, spinach artichoke dip, relish tray, crudite. Adjust - charcuterie and cheese board. You've got three big cheeses there. You may want a milder, creamy cheese like a d'affinois. I would add an assortment of pickled vegetables to the charcuterie tray to balance the richness of the meats and add sliced apples and pears to go with the cheeses.

                          1. I understand where all the posters are coming from...but, she needs the sweet potatoes, she wants the truffled mashed for herself, and I don't see the desserts as overwhelming. they are all purchased and can keep for leftovers. the broccoli raab...many think it's too bitter but she might have a reason for keeping it. also it and the other veg sides are great with pasta or leftover elses for leftovers.

                            I think the salad sounds great and as a southerner, I'd have to say only two breads is really minimalist. You can also do great things with leftover biscuits including using them for breakfast and lunch the next day with other leftovers.

                            she said she'd like to keep the apps to 2-3. I'd keep the relish and the crudities and maybe the board...especially if she has people coming in at various times. all of these will save for after T day. if oysters or smoked salmon are important to this group, keep one, not both; if not, eliminate (though I for one think of thanksgiving as having some kind of fish or shellfish). the dip and deviled eggs, too heavy...I'd use as a post thanksgiving gathering item for the leftover other apps. if she wants to have people over later on.

                            1. Way too much for 8 people.

                              Instead:

                              Decorate the table with clementines in bowls around candlesticks, so people have the option of eating something small and refreshing at any point in the meal; make clear they are for the eating as well as the seeing. Have some small bowls for peelings.

                              Apps:

                              Crudités w a homemade ranch dressing and another basic olive oil and herb dressing

                              Chilled Oysters with Apple-Ginger Mignonette OR Smoked Alaskan salmon & crème fraiche served on cucumber slices and black pepper kettle chips

                              Deviled eggs with bacon

                              [Move the salad to an after-main palate cleanser for them that wish one.]

                              Main

                              Roasted Turkey

                              Apple cider gravy

                              Cornbread stuffing

                              Lemony garlic broccoli rabe

                              Mashed Potatoes: traditional yukon gold only

                              Cranberry & blood orange sauce
                              (no additional sugar added, it's just cranberries cooked in fresh OJ so a bit tart but good)

                              Sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and marshmallows
                              (childhood favorite and non-negotiable to take off menu)

                              Roasted root vegetables with olive oil, sea salt and a tiny touch of maple OR roasted brussels sprouts in olive oil and a touch of balsamic

                              Salad: Frisee, Pomegranate Seeds, Toasted Pecans & shallot vinaigrette

                              Drinks:
                              Sparkling apple cider, seasonal beers, iced tea, wine, coffee, tea, cans of soda [add flavored non-sweetened seltzer if you can; dtiched the mulled wine, which is not good with a dinner like this]

                              Dessert:

                              Cranberry Sorbet

                              Vanilla Ice Cream,

                              Pumpkin Ice cream (all of these purchased from whole foods)

                              Apple Pie

                              A platter of fresh ripe pears (Comice if available would be ideal), dried tart cherries and roasted walnuts/pecans for folks who want something lighter to end the meal with. No more than three things: focus.

                              1. I agree with all those trimming the menu. I would also not serve the truffled mashed potatoes because that aroma can take over the table and I'd rather not have that be the main thing I'm smelling throughout the meal--but that's just me.

                                1. Since you are having a roasted turkey dinner I would definitely cut down on your hor d'oeuvres although each and everyone of them sounds great. I would not serve a meat hor d'oeuvres or the eggs it is too much protein for one sitting. I like your pickles and crudites and the vegetable platter leading you to your main meal and leaving room for the rest of your meal. Sounds like you are having quite a party hope you have a great day!

                                  1. She has an edited menu post, folks.