Making a Thanksgiving dinner can be daunting for even the most seasoned cooks. My oldest daughter has talked us all into going out for Thanksgiving dinner this year. She has the biggest house to host a Thanksgiving dinner, but she tried it last year and now she makes the sign of the cross to ward off the evil Thanksgiving dinner demons. Many people feel as she does. There is no question that it is a lot of work. However there are shortcuts that taste delicious. I have made many Thanksgiving dinners, and no one has complained. It produced the desired result of feeling full and tired.
I am a huge fan of Sandra Lee of the Food Network. I love how she does things semi-homemade with beautiful results. The truth is I have been cooking that way my whole life. While I always fancied myself to be the next Iron Chef, I never quite pulled it off and that is okay. The fact that most of the people who have lived with me need to shed a few pounds speaks to my culinary expertise.
Thanksgiving dinner starts with the turkey. Many of the big food chains offer deals on turkeys. Admittedly, there are many name brands to choose from. I have no personal favorites. I buy what is the cheapest. You can also purchase just the turkey breast however, I usually buy a whole turkey. The cave man still lives and many people love holding that big turkey leg and munching on it. You will find the directions on the package. Remember, if you purchase a frozen one, you have to allot time for thawing. You can leave it in your fridge to thaw or in a pot of cold water. Remember to keep changing the water. Before I put the turkey in the oven, I put some butter and whatever spices I like. I add a little water in the bottom and off it goes. Basting it on and off, adds crunch to the skin. You don’t need a turkey baster, a spoon works fine.
In my book, there are no shortcuts to mashed potatoes. Peel and boil the potatoes. When the fork goes in and out easily, they are done. Salt, pepper and butter are the key ingredients. Don’t skimp on the butter. Thanksgiving dinner is not the day to start that diet. I buy Stove Top stuffing, it tastes great. You could add sausage or fruit to give it zest, but it stands alone just fine. My family is a huge fan of sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Purchase 4 or 5 big sweet potatoes. Peel and boil until soft. They will take longer than regular potatoes. Butter, salt and pepper are the key to these as well. Just before you serve, throw some marshmallows on top and broil for a couple of minutes. Keep and eye on them so it doesn’t burn. Open a few cans of corn, peas, and cranberry sauce and you are good to go. If your family is a fan of rolls, buy some, they are easy. As far as those pies are concerned, if you are lucky and people offer to bring something, tell them a fruit pie or a pumpkin pie is always a hit. If not Marie Callender makes a tasty pie. Many of the orchards and farm market are selling homemade pies with easy directions. My favorite part is the gravy. I take the juices from the turkey, packaged gravy mix, a little bit of Gravy Master and some corn starch and it is delicious. Don’t let the corn starch idea scare you. Put a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch and a little water in a small bowl and mix. You want it to be the consistency of liquid glue. You pour this slowly in the pan with the gravy mix, juices from the turkey and gravy master, stirring constantly. It will thicken pretty fast and you have your gravy.
The mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and stuffing can be done ahead of time and then put in the microwave. I clean as I go so after dinner there isn’t as much to do.
I am not surrounded by skinny people, so I must be doing something right. Don’t let Thanksgiving dinner scare you. Follow my tips and you will have a tasty Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy!