Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Friendsgiving 2010

Every year, my friends Kevin and Jessica host Friendsgiving before actual Thanksgiving. As they describe it, "It's Thanksgiving - without your creepy uncle and wine-o aunt." It's a potluck Thanksgiving FEAST full of merriment, friends, and practical jokes. This year, there were 32 of us crammed into about 450 square feet of giving thanks space. Even Kevin and Jessica were surprised at how many people not only RSVPed, but also showed up!
Beginning of the night, and that's just part of the people and half of the space.

If you're a novice at Thanksgiving preparation, then Friendsgiving potluck is a great way to get your feet wet. By trying out a recipe, you get more comfortable with it before the main event and if you're making enough for 30 or so people, you'll find that you might have to make some more batches.
One thing I didn't need help with: my bottle of wine.

Knowing that several dishes would need to be heated up and warmed, I opted for bringing my legendary candied sweet potatoes in a crock pot. Best. Decision. Ever. I made up my ginormous batch earlier in the day in the oven and browned the marshmallows, then I slid the top layer off the candied sweet potatoes, scooped it into the crock pot, and then mishmashed the mallows back on top.

Yes, that's a lot of candied sweet potatoes.
When making the portions out in my head, I failed to calculate that people don't like candied sweet potatoes. I told myself it's one of three reasons: 1) That they have never had my legendary candied sweet potatoes, or 2) They are too afraid of looking gluttonous because they know of the legend, or 3) They are afraid of carbs.

My recipe is all to taste, so basically, here are my steps:

Ana's Legend-wait for it and I hope you're not lactose intolerant-dary Candied Sweet Potatoes
(These taste like the icing from Cinnabon/Cinnamonster and the cinnamon rolls.)

  1.  Peel and cut sweet potatoes into small-ish pieces (about 1" cubes) and put into a stock pot.
  2. Once the water is boiling, stir occasionally for about 15 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. With your massive guns and a potato masher, get to mashing those chunks into something resembling a frappe. (Side note: I learned from my Cooking Light magazine that starchy carbs like potatoes will become closer to paste consistency the more that you mash and whip them.)
  5. To offset the paste consistency that I inevitably will cause, I add some milk, a stick of butter (that's for a serving for 12, in this case I added 2 sticks since, well, there's twice as much, but you get the idea.), cinnamon and brown sugar.
  6. Mix all the ingredients well and taste a little. You can tell if you need more cinnamon or brown sugar, and if the consistency is still too thick, try a little more milk.
  7. Take some mini marshmallows and stir into your sweet potatoes. (For my normal serving size, that's half a bag, saving the other half for the topping, but in this case, it was a whole bag mixed in there.)
  8. Put into a casserole dish and top with remaining mallows. Spray the inside of the lid with non-stick cooking spray, put the lid on, and bake for 20 minutes at 400.
  9. After 20 minutes, take off the lid (you'll see why you sprayed the inside of the lid as the mallows expand in heat.
  10. Let the mallows brown for about 5 minutes, remove from the oven and enjoy!
Now, back to Friendsgiving.

Trashy canned cranberry with classy baked brie.
There was bountiful food from all sorts of backgrounds. There was couture green bean casserole with bread crumbs and parmesan to regular old green bean casserole to a Midwestern casserole-like dish with tots and ground beef. (That's right: Tater. Tots.) I will be making that last one instead of heating up green beans or begrudgingly making green bean casserole.

Midwestern Carnivore Green Bean Dish
  1. Take tater tots out of freezer.
  2. Brown ground beef with diced onions, drain.
  3. Combine with one can of cream of mushroom soup and some green beans in a casserole dish.
  4. Top with semi-thawed tots and cook according to tot directions, minus that whole turning bit.
I didn't get a great shot of all the food, but there was a whole lot! There was even quite the impressive spread of desserts for everyone to enjoy.

Pumpkin, strawberry rhubarb, and apple pies, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin loaf, chocolate chip pumpkin bars, and baklava....and that's just dessert!!
Once everyone was done eating, we moved a couple of the tables, kibbitz about, and then....Just Dance 2 was roared up on the Wii. That? Is a sight to behold. And so much fun to play! It's a great workout for those post-turkey, heavy on the carbs meal that we just had.
Getting it started...
The boys doing Jackson 5
Also throughout the night, Kevin had hidden "Ices" all around the house. If you're unfamiliar with what "icing" someone entails, go here. If you're familiar with icing or read Total Frat Move, then you already know that when you find an ice, you have to take a knee and cannot rise until you have chugged the whole gross, malted liquor bottle before you can rise. They were everywhere....the silverware drawer, the microwave, the back of the toilet, with the toilet paper, in the dishwasher, and with the Wii remotes. The best, however, was when the trickster Kevin didn't see it coming and someone iced him!

The host getting "iced".
All in all, it was a great time to share with friends before the Thanksgiving holiday. Hope that you and your friends will start the same tradition with your friends and do a potluck Friendsgiving to share with your friends that you are grateful for their friendship!

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