Friendsgiving—My Thanksgiving Tradition

Beer-brined turkey.

Beer-brined turkey.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is celebrated with family, but what about all those who don’t share our DNA?

It all started in 2008, the start of the recession, and I was one of its many victims. During this dark time, I realized career and the pursuit of money were a distant second to friends and family. I was grateful to have a full time job again and, as a perk from my new employer, we were all given a turkey for Thanksgiving. Since I didn’t need it for Thanksgiving Day, I thought to invite my friends over the day after and celebrate in our own style.

Since then Friendsgiving has evolved. New friends have come and old friends have slipped away. Last year saw the biggest and best Friendsgiving yet with 12 of our friends and two of their four-legged friends. More emphasis was placed on my new passion for craft beer, and I gave thanks to all the food bloggers and chefs whose recipes inspire me by.

Beer Brined Turkey—Inspired by the Beeroness, a female food blogger that makes recipes exclusively with craft beer. I used Southern Tier’s 2X Mas, an ale brewed with figs, orange peels and spices, two varieties of hops and four types of malt. I sacrificed two whole bottle of this beer for the turkey, but it was worth it as it was so beautifully spiced and juicy!

Italian Stuffing—Recipe by Fabio Viviani, from Top Chef. He creates great food with fresh ingredients and an Italian spin. This stuffing had some spicy Italian sausage, provolone and pecorino Romano cheese, sooooo good and sooooo moist!

Thanksgiving Nachos—Inspired by Half Baked Harvest, a food blogger that is only 20 years old. I have tried a few of her recipes and they are all good! Her blog is filled with creative comfort food recipes, and this was my spin on a comfort classic with the theme for Thanksgiving. Tortilla chips topped with diced sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, apple wood smoked bacon, homemade bourbon cranberry sauce, fontina and brie.

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Biscoff Crust Drizzled with Caramel—Inspired by Baker’s Royale, a food blog with the most beautifully sensual photos of food. I’m always going by her blog for inspiration. I did my thing and trimmed out some of the fat from her recipe using light butter, light cream cheese and some nonfat Greek yogurt.

Lastly, I created my own infusions: roasted cranberry vanilla vodka with local LiV Vodka and roasted-cranberry-infused bourbon. My friends also brought some of their own dishes, cocktails and craft beer to keep in the holiday spirit! Why not start a new holiday tradition to honor your friends? Ditch the Black Friday chaos and say hello to Friendsgiving!