I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving. We certainly did. Family, friends, food, drink, babies, and more food. Thanksgiving is my mom’s favorite holiday, and Christmas has always been my fave. But now I think I’m starting to see where Diane is coming from. I’ve heard we turn into our mothers, so maybe this shift in holiday love is inevitable.

Now I recognize sharing our menu and recipes and tablescape after the Thanksgiving holiday has passed is not super helpful, but just keep this tucked away for next year. I can already sense that we’ll do a #tbt of this post in mid-November 2016. That is, if #tbt is still a thing. ☺️

Our meal was fairly traditional, so I won’t feature too many of those dishes. But our appetizer and dessert spreads are worth noting – not just for Thanksgiving but for any large dinner party. Guys, every day can be Thanksgiving if the love of eating large amounts of great food stays alive in your heart year-round. I know it does in mine.

I’m gonna start with desserts. Not because we ate them first (OK, we snuck a few bites) but because we made them first. We got together the day before Thanksgiving and had a baking party. Our friend Jenn came over as well, and worked on her cream cheese pumpkin rolls.

Jenn's pumpkin roll | thanksgiving desserts | a couple of amateurs

Chelsea freehanded some pie crust leaves for the pumpkin pie, and her skills are super impressive. You think you know a person, and then 5 years into your friendship you find out they’re a pastry artist. I tell ya.

I’m not even a huge pumpkin pie fan, but I think this was my favorite dessert. We used the filling recipe from Lee and Lou Cook and it was loads better than any pumpkin pie I’ve had before.

pumkin pie art | thanksgiving desserts | a couple of amateurs

We also made a flourless Meyer lemon cake (the view from great island) and pecan shortbread bars drizzled with salted caramel. Maybe I changed my mind about the pie… the pecan bars were my favorite. Chelsea cut them tiny so that everyone could try all the desserts without making a huge commitment. Which is sound logic, but I think most people had multiple pecan bars anyway.

pecan shortbread bars, flourless lemon cake, pumpkin pie and espresso brownies | thanksgiving desserts | a couple of amateurs

Not having any chocolate in our dessert collection would have been a crime in the eyes of my husband. He actually specifically requested these magic espresso brownies that our friend Nicola posted to her blog a couple of weeks earlier. We made them in mini-muffin tins because of that whole “people will need tiny dessert portions” idea.

pumpkin pie | thanksgiving | a couple of amateurs

flourless whole meyer lemon cake (by the view from great island) | thanksgiving desserts | a couple of amateurs

Speaking of my husband, Chris made us special Thanksgiving cocktails to drink while we prepped the meal on Thursday. These had a lot of seasonal cheer goin’ on: allspice dram, cranberry wine, apple cider. And vodka of course. That recipe is here.

thanksgiving cocktail | a couple of amateurs

For apps, we had a fairly simple spread. You don’t want everyone to totally gorge on snacks before the big meal. We debuted round two of our apple rose tarts – this time in mini form, and with BACON JAM. Because that’s how you take things to the next level. Somehow I failed to take a picture of the finished products, but you all know what these look like. Try your own – and make sure to replace the normal fruit jam with BACON JAM. Which must always be typed in all capital letters. I use Martha Stewart’s slow cooker recipe for BACON JAM.

mini apple rose tarts with bacon jam | thanksgiving appetizers | a couple of amateurs

This next app is my favorite – only because I finally got to use my giant Himalayan salt block. Well, and I love radishes and butter and bread together. If you need a super simple app that really classes up your spread, go grab one of these salt blocks. Apparently you can do a lot of other stuff with them too. I have a whole cookbook on it that I plan to read some day. The slices of radishes pick up salt from the block, as does the little mound of whipped goat cheese and butter. Be sure to use unsalted butter for that reason. And don’t put them on there too far in advance. By the end of the night the radishes were so salty I could have used them to de-ice the front steps.

radishes and butter on a salt block | easy thanksgiving appetizers | a couple of amateurs

Finally, Chels made crostini with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, and arugula. Oh, and a drizzle of honey. And a quick spin of your pepper grinder. I think that’s it.

roasted butternut squash crostini | thanksgiving appetizers | a couple of amateurs

These are pretty simple, and would be great for any fall cocktail party. Just cube the butternut squash, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast until tender. Then assemble with the above ingredients and serve. Bonus points if you serve it on a Thanksgiving-themed platter.

roasted butternut squash crostini | thanksgiving appetizers | a couple of amateurs

Now on to the main event. We had most of the traditional Thanksgiving fixins (I cut the sweet potato casserole, cause I just don’t understand it) plus a couple additional vegetable dishes. You know. To keep it healthy? Roasted brussel sprouts with butternut squash (plus some butter and brown sugar to get them nice and caramely) seemed to be a table favorite.

Our turkey was cooked on the smoker, giving it a super delicious smokey flavor which made it pair even better with the rosé on the table. And had the added bonus of not using any precious oven space. That in itself is enough reason to go buy a smoker.

thanksgiving table | a couple of amateurs

Chelsea made two stuffings – one “traditional” stuffing for the purists and a more exciting unique one for people who love all food. Cranberries, apples, sausage, and ciabatta… Am I missing anything? She’ll let me know when she writes up that recipe as a separate post. 😉

cranberry apple sausage stuffing | thanksgiving | a couple of amateurs

Look for that stuffing recipe as well as our cocktail in their own separate posts soon! And please use the space below to vent your anger over the sweet potato casserole omission.

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