We are very excited to introduce our 2015 "ITK First Timer"

We selected Devin out of several very good cantidates.

We hope that you will be following her, as she prepares her very

first Thanksgiving dinner!



Hi everyone! My name is Devin and this year I’m the lucky person you get to follow

through a series on ‘First Timers Hosting’ and Thanksgiving! Before getting into the

nitty gritty of exactly what I’ll be plating up to serve on Thanksgiving, I wanted to let

you get to know me. 


As I already told you I’m Devin.  I’m 26 years old and grew up in Pittsburgh, spending

nearly every weekend in the Strip District for as long as I can remember.  With familial

roots in Lawrenceville and coming from a big Polish family I grew up with the Strip as

my backyard.  From Saturday mass at St. Stanislaus to my Saturday shift waitressing

at Café on the Strip through high school, and now my Saturday mornings spent with

my family getting pizza and coffee from Colangelo’s and La Prima, this little piece of

Pittsburgh has a big piece of my heart.


When I started working full time in Washington, DC I started baking as a form of mental

relaxation and mostly because I love cakes and cookies - and practically everything

with sugar in it. The feeling from baking slowly overflowed into other aspects of cooking

and it began to be about how many new things I can learn to make, be it dips, desserts,

or dinners.


Fast forward to 26 and I packed my bags to spend time between Copenhagen, with my

boyfriend Ulrik, and Pittsburgh.  While I love learning and exploring a new culture there

are some things I refuse to leave behind and Thanksgiving is one.  This year I decided

to host Thanksgiving in Denmark with/for our closest friends.  The goal is to give our

friends a truly American Thanksgiving but there are many challenges to tackle in the next

few days.  To start, our close group of friends consists of at minimum 18 people, excluding

ourselves.  But people, this is Denmark, and space is limited.  I’ll be spending part of my

weekend figuring out how exactly to seat 18 people in our cozy apartment while

simultaneously planning and prepping for Thursday.  Second, this is not America where

you can buy anything and everything and things like pumpkin puree and cranberry sauce

are sometimes impossible to find.  As a result, everything will be homemade and from

scratch from the dinner rolls to the cranberry sauce and everything in between

(well except maybe I might buy bread for stuffing! And the can of pumpkin puree

I had my mom bring me from home)


I’m over the moon excited to be hosting Thanksgiving and I expect not everything

to go as planned, like for instance the caramel vanilla swirl ice cream chilling long

enough before churning.  Or, the possibility that Ulrik and I may be sitting on the

floor eating since we ran out of chairs.  But between facetime and text messages

my two trusty women (mom and older sister) have helped me plan a meal I love,

with some flares, Danish taste and American traditions, that is simple – the theme

this year is ‘Keep it Simple Stupid’




Blog post #2

 20 hours until our cozy apartment is filled with friends and food. Stressed? I can't decide.

My goal was to get a big head start on the meal by doing a little bit every night leading up

until tomorrow. First up a look at our menu:



1.      Buffalo Chicken Dip cups and Whiskey Sours ( this is Ulriks favorite dip/snack/game day

treat so it was one of his few requests for tomorrow- this also became a fun thing to serve

since buffalo sauce is a rare find here...one of the bigger downsides in my home away from home :) )

2.      Brussel Sprout Salad with Pomegranate and Parmesan Crisps and a citrus,

shallot vinaigrette - playing into the veggies really in season right now and a fun night of

making homemade cheese crisps


Main Meal:

1.      Turkey - the most interesting challenge as of now, when we picked it up it was

         two times the size it was supposed to be and we have a little oven!

2.      Mashed Potatoes

3.      Stuffing

4.      Roasted Root Vegetables - a major Danish side dish

5.      Steamed Green Beans

6.      Romaine salad with toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmesan



1.      Homemade Italian bread with an herb butter

2.      Homemade Cranberry sauce

3.      Gravy



1.      Chocolate Mousse served with a pear-sauce and mint ( recently we had this for

dessert at our favorite restaurant and so I had to experiment!)

2.      Mini Apple Pies - Bourbon infused whipped cream

3.      Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl tart



1.      Wine and a Cranberry Mojito Mocktail


We have so much planned so as of tonight I've prepared my Chocolate Mousse,

Brussel sprouts, stuffing, salad dressings, cranberry sauce, bread, Parmesan crisps and

chicken for the buffalo chicken dip.  After a lot of research I've opted to use a dry rub on

my turkey in the morning rather than a water brine.


I've pulled recipes from Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, Alton Brown and of course my mom.

I even got my sister to let me in on her stuffing tips!



Ok, back to the kitchen! 


Blog Post 3 

 Phew....we survived! Last nights dinner went off...but not completely

without a hitch! Yesterday I woke up early and started cooking...but let

me be clear when I say early I mean; I unwillingly dragged myself half

asleep into the kitchen at 830. Once I was managed to keep my eyes

open I got started on the most important part of the meal- my pies!

Since I knew I wanted to serve my experimental chocolate mousse

and pear purée as a sit down and more formal dessert, I opted to make

mini Apple hand-pies and regular, no fancy add-ons, pumpkin pie.

Both were done with with ease and meant I could nibble on sweets all morning.


I had been avoiding addressing the bird in the room but I got over it and

decided to take a stab at a garlic and herb butter rub- it was the best decision

of the morning and gave us a flavorful crispy skin that I wish I had more to eat.

I stuffed the bird with lemons, garlic, sage and thyme and set it aside until it was

oven time. The next thing to tackle was the stuffing. Remember I mentioned

having made it the night before? Well it was a flop. I pulled it out Wednesday

night and it was too mushy and had too much chicken stock in it so I had to

re-make it. So a quick side story. To me there are two types of eaters.

The first refuses to combine fruit with anything other than itself and the second

is the one who loves it in salads, breads, desserts, sauces, meats you name it.

I'm the second but Ulrik well he's the first. The good thing though about Denmark

is that Thanksgiving doesn't equal a day off, so while I took the day off Ulrik left

for work giving me full control over the stuffing. Naturally it meant I chopped a

pear and an apple to add into the Ulrik 'planned' onions, celery and herb mix.

Once I popped that in the oven I felt a bit more in control of the day :)


The rest of the afternoon was filled with prepping buffalo chicken dip, setting the table,

cutting bread, popping the bird into the oven and prepping the vegetables. By 5pm a

girlfriend came to help with last minute things and Ulrik was back in the kitchen starting

whiskey sours. The rest of the night was a blur but a few things won our guests over:

Buffalo Chicken dip cups, the gravy, the stuffing ( even Ulrik told me he loved it