So many people get ecstatic when the cooler months arrive. They are self-proclaimed lovers of fall (“Fall is my favorite season!”) or are obsessed with winter (aka let’s get that Christmas music going 24/7!). I’ve realized that I don’t play favorites with any particular time of year — each one is a charming change and brings its own awesome traditions, holiday dinner dates, activities, and outings to be enjoyed. One thing you’ll definitely find me doing around the holidays: having as many tasty meals as possible with family and friends (thank god it’s sweater season).
Each year it’s a tradition to do at least one big, festive get-together with some of my closest friends in San Francisco. Over the years, we’ve gotten busier and busier, making it hard to find time to schedule a holiday dinner, let alone the time to cook the necessary feast for all of us. This year I decided to host the meal and wanted to cut out some of the work of cooking a whole meal from scratch, deciding to pick up a bunch of holiday dinner dishes prepared by Whole Foods.
We went BIG. We’re talking a 16 pound roasted turkey, maple-roasted brussel sprouts with pepitas, butternut squash, sage sausage sourdough stuffing, organic creamy mashed potatoes, butterflake dinner rolls, and, of course, some delicious thick turkey gravy. And, for dessert, a bittersweet chocolate pecan pie.
Preparation Tips for Your Holiday Dinner
One of the best things is the meats are pre-cooked so you only need a fraction of the cooking time. For the turkey, we only needed about an hour and a half to heat it up, basting it every 20 minutes or so and keep it moist with a mixture of olive oil and spices.
When the turkey is done, take it out to let it rest for a few minutes and pop the sides into a few cooking dishes. Almost all of them only need 10-20 minutes so you can heat them all up together and just keep an eye on them. You can also start carving up your meats at this time!
Quick + Easy Tips To Decorate Your Holiday Dinner Table
While the turkey and sides are coming together, this is the perfect time to set your holiday dinner table! I like to use natural accents, like small apples, grapes, small branches of greenery, a burlap table runner, and gold napkin holders to create that classy, yet rustic California vibe.
The whole process is super easy since Whole Foods allows you to pre-order and customize all of the dishes you need based on the number of people you are serving and your preference for sides — and you prepay online so all you need to do is pick it up from the store!
Make sure to grab a few bottles of wine and some wintery beers (like this smoky Manzanita beer by Fort Point Beer Company that looks GORGEOUS on any Christmas or holiday dinner table).
And, of course, no holiday meal is complete without dessert! This semi-sweet chocolate pecan pie was literally several slices of heaven.
Everyone loved this meal (we all agreed this was the tastiest turkey we’d ever had!) and my friends and I had one of the best times, laughing, eating, and drinking. Truly the perfect way to take time and appreciate each other amongst all of our holiday parties, travel, and vacations.
Check out the Whole Foods e-store to help plan your holiday dinner or snag a side to bring to a feast!
This post was in collaboration with Whole Foods.