The first year my husband and I were married we volunteered to host Thanksgiving for his family. I should preface this story by stating that my husband is one of eight children with several handfuls of nieces and nephews. I believe we were expecting at least twenty guests that day. But I wasn’t overly stressed. I remember feeling calm- excited even. Had we hosted Thanksgiving the year earlier I would have been a frantic mess. But with wedding planning just a few months behind us I was armed with the skills to plan an event with minimal stress.
If you’ve ever planned a wedding, or any major event that involves hundreds of guests, you know all too well that it can become more stressful than you ever imagined. But I learned very early on in my wedding planning that I had two choices to make. I could give into my perfectionist personality, obsess over every decision, and get upset when things didn’t go as planned. Or I could make the conscious effort that I was going to make decisions easily and keep my focus on the only thing that really mattered. Because in the end we would be married, the people we loved would be there to celebrate with us, and everything else was just fluff. I’m not going to lie to you and say that stress was not involved in my wedding planning, but I can tell you honestly that overall I was a very calm bride. And I believe it was because I decided to be calm. I made the conscious decision to push away the stress.
I know for sure that my development of this skill, the ability to see life for what is really important and to push away unnecessary stress, definitely came from spending time with my husband. It is one of the things that attracted me most to him. He can make me look at any situation in a totally new and calm way. He has such a “what ever happens, happens, and we’ll make it work” attitude. I still struggle with this sometimes, but I am so much better able to approach important events and holidays this way now. Because in the end, we have more to be thankful for than we are ever able to realize and the stress only blurs that more.I do have to admit though that even with the conscience decision to reject stress, it easily creeps in surrounding the holidays, especially if you are the one hosting. Probably my biggest stressors in hosting any event is the food. Mostly because I have big ambitions about the quality and always want to impress. I have learned over the years that doing as many things ahead of time is key. Anything I can cook or prep in the days leading up to the event that will cut out time and dishes the day of is absolutely worth it. I have also learned to focus on just a few dishes that you want to stand out and keep the others more simple and traditional.
If your family is anything like mine, you don’t mess with the classics. For Thanksgiving Day we have the standard turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potato, yam, and yeast roll meal. To satisfy my more adventurous culinary side, I like to do something more fun with an appetizer or a dessert. In my experience, most people are more willing to try something new with these two courses when it comes to a holiday.
My thought with this tart was to do a more festive take on a brie en croute. I wanted something that could be served at room temperature and would look really lovely sitting out as guests arrive. Tarts always look impressive and the vibrant color of the cranberries contrasting with the pops of white brie sticking out is very striking. The cranberry relish can be easily made several days or even up to a week before hand. The crust can be baked the day before and assembled with the other ingredients. The day of, just heat the tart in the morning to get the cheese melted and then it can be left to sit out at room temperature while the rest of the cooking continues.
Thank you for joining us to virtually celebrate Friendsgiving with the VRAI Magazine team! We are very thankful to have each and every one of you with us. Here’s to you and your family! I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with amazing food, very little stress, and tons of love. Cheers!
Cranberry Brie Tart with Thyme and Pecans
This recipe is only available in the VRAI Magazine Seasons – a Sampling of Seasonal Recipes that Inspire, digital cookbook. Get it here.