11 Ways to Make Thanksgiving Dinner Easier Than Ever

Food, Home & Family, Recipes
on November 10, 2014
Thanksgiving TIps and Recipes
Mark Boughton Photgraphy / Teresa Blackburn Styling
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Check out this master list of super-easy Thanksgiving tips and shortcuts that don’t skimp on flavor.

 

1. Spruced-Up Spuds

Heat a (24-ounce) container of prepared mashed potatoes in the microwave. Swirl in any of the following:

  • 4 ounces creamy blue cheese and chives
  • 1/2 cup soft goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  •  1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, rosemary, tarragon, thyme or oregano
  • 1/4 cup pesto

 

Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

Mark Boughton Photography / Teresa Blackburn Styling

 

2. A Berry Pretty Bird

Place your turkey on a platter and surround with 2 bags of frozen cranberries for an easy garnish.

Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

Mark Boughton Photography / Teresa Blackburn Styling

 

3. Embellish the Relish

To 1 (14-ounce) can whole- berry cranberry sauce, add 1⁄4 cup diced apple, 2 tablespoons each chopped celery and walnuts, and 1 tablespoon chopped chives. Chill and serve.

Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

Mark Boughton Photography / Teresa Blackburn Styling

 

4. Stress-Free, Lump-Free Gravy

Scrape the drippings and browned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan. Combine with store-bought gravy and heat. Add a splash of white wine or apple juice and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Simmer 10 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of butter for a silky finish.

 

5. Almost-Homemade Turkey

Dress up a store-bought cooked turkey or turkey breast by brushing with a mix- ture of 1⁄2 cup apricot jam, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, salt and pepper. Apply three times during the last 30 minutes of baking.

 

6. Gussied-Up Garlic Pull-Apart Biscuits

Start with 2 (12-ounce) cans refrigerated biscuits. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces, dipping each into a combination of 5 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon each garlic salt and oregano, and 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan. Spread pieces out evenly in a pan. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400°F for 35 minutes.

 

Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

Mark Boughton Photography / Teresa Blackburn Styling

 

7. Make-It-Special Sweet Potatoes

A crunchy streusel adds panache to mashed sweet potatoes. Mash 2 (15-ounce) cans drained sweet potatoes in light syrup with 1 egg, 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt. Mix 3 tablespoons each cold butter, flour, brown sugar and pecans with your hands and sprinkle on top. Bake 30 minutes at 350°F or according to your recipe’s instructions.

 

Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

Mark Boughton Photography / Teresa Blackburn Styling

 

8. Roast for the Most

To save valuable stovetop space, roast vegetables to serve on their own, or toss into salads and stuffing. Combine cubes of pre-cut butter- nut squash, sliced leeks, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 450°F for 45 minutes or until tender.

 

9. Pumpkin Pie Upgrade

Top a packaged fresh pumpkin pie with marsh- mallows and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes until golden. Broil for 1 minute. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and drizzle with maple or caramel syrup. If using a frozen pumpkin pie, bake according to package directions, adding the marshmallows 15 minutes before the end of baking time.

 

Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

Mark Boughton Photography / Teresa Blackburn Styling

 

10. Speedy Spinach Side

Thaw and drain 2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen spinach (do not squeeze dry). Add warmed cream and grated Parmesan cheese; stir well. Microwave spinach mixture until hot.

 

Easy Thanksgiving Recipes

Mark Boughton Photography / Teresa Blackburn Styling

 

11. Bag the Veggies

Use microwaveable steam-in-the-bag vegetables to save precious space on the stovetop. Then sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

 

Timeline Tips

• Shop in stages: Shelf-stable items that can be purchased a week or two ahead, then those that need to be purchased a few days ahead.

• To thaw frozen turkey, allow 1 day in the refrigerator for every 4 pounds.

• Serving soup? Use a slow cooker to save space on your stovetop.

 

Fast Flavor Bursts

• Add freshly squeezed orange juice to brighten up sweet potatoes, gravy, roasted vegetables or salads.

• Multitask with maple syrup: Brush on your turkey during the last hour of roasting, drizzle over Brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes, or splash into your gravy.

• Make a garlic butter to use on everything from turkey to potatoes to vegetables: Combine 1 stick softened butter with 2 large crushed garlic cloves, 1⁄4 teaspoon coarse salt and a handful of chopped parsley.

• Buy fresh sage, thyme and parsley to toss around the bird, into gravy, or over vegetables for a impressive flourish.

 

—By the Turkey Day troubleshooting team: David Bonom, Karry Hosford, Jill Melton and Katie Workman