The season of gratitude is upon us, and with it comes the opportunity to host a get together with friends to celebrate and give thanks. Friendsgiving dinners have exploded in popularity in recent years, and are the perfect events for adding a unique touch to the Thanksgiving season. Planning on hosting Friendsgiving this year? Here are some innovative tips for throwing a gratitude get-together your friends won’t soon forget.
Grill Turkey Burgers
Turkey is a staple of Thanksgiving, but don’t labor under the assumption that you have to serve up a traditional roast at your Friendsgiving. There’s plenty of options for turning the traditional turkey on its head, but turkey burgers are your best bet thanks to their simple preparation and customization options.
You can either make the turkey patties by hand or buy a pack of them from the grocery store. Be sure to pick up a variety of buns as well, from white to whole grain and gluten free. Take off the grill covers and throw the patties and the buns on the grill for a delicious chargrilled flavor.
Allow your friends to customize their turkey burgers to a “T” with the help of a topping and condiment bar. This is where you can integrate classic Thanksgiving flavors with cranberry sauce, gravy, and even stuffing for your guests to add to their turkey burgers. Just be sure to take off the table covers before you set it up!
Ask Friends to Bring a Dish Special to Them
Both potlucks and Friendsgiving dinners share the spirit of communal meals. Asking your guests to bring their favorite Thanksgiving sides or entrees not only saves you the work of having to cook a full meal yourself, it also allows you to share beloved food traditions with one another.
Assign each friend to bring a different category to the dinner, such as breads, vegetables, appetizers, or desserts. This will ensure that there aren’t any repeats and you can all enjoy a full course meal. Got friends that aren’t fans of cooking? Ask that they bring their favorite Fall libations, from apple ciders to pumpkin juices.
Serve Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Put a twist on the traditional sweet potato casserole recipe with a delicious serving of twice-baked sweet potatoes. These spiced-sweet spuds are the perfect accompaniment to your grilled turkey burgers. You will need:
- 6 sweet potatoes, even in size & scrubbed
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F. Place sweet potatoes on a sheet tray and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from the oven and let stand until cool.
Split potatoes and remove the skin. Add potatoes to a medium sized bowl, reserving skins. In another bowl, add brown sugar, butter and cream cheese and all of the spices and mash with a fork or rubber spatula.
Add the butter and cream cheese mix to the sweet potato flesh and fold in completely. Add the filling back in the potato skins and place on a half sheet tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
You Can’t Go Wrong with Fried Mac & Cheese Balls
You’ll need something salty and savory to match the sweet and spicy of the potatoes. That’s where creamy fried mac & cheese balls come in: these scrumptious bites will be snapped up in a second by your guests. Gather up:
- 3 cups cooked macaroni and cheese, homemade or store-bought
- 2 cups vegetable oil, or more, as needed
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups Panko
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Place macaroni and cheese into the refrigerator until firm, about 3-4 hours. Heat vegetable oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Using a small cookie scoop, roll mac & cheese into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch balls, forming about 12.
Working one at a time, dip balls into eggs, then cover in Panko, pressing to coat.
Add balls in batches to the Dutch oven and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Serve immediately.
Invite Enough People for a Some Backyard Football
The big game day may not have arrived yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the football spirit going. Plan a backyard football game for your friends to help kick off the party.
Before your guests arrive, clear some space in your Fall backyard so there’s ample room to toss around the pigskin. This means placing your fire pit covers and chair covers before moving outdoor furniture to the side.
Assign two teams of five for your backyard football match. Plan on playing until you reach a certain touchdown quota, such as 6, or until it’s time to eat!
Finish Things Off with a Pumpkin Cake
Halloween may be over, but pumpkin is still all the rage. Bring everyone’s favorite Fall flavor to the table with this simple recipe for two-ingredient pumpkin cake. You’ll need:
- 1 (18.25 ounce) package spice cake mix
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
- Premade cream cheese frosting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix and canned pumpkin until well blended. Spread evenly into the pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool, then spread frosting. Serve with a side of vanilla ice cream for an extra sweet touch.