So your mother is tired of cooking Thanksgiving dinner and your siblings have already taken their turns at it. This year, all eyes are on you. Your plans are….what, exactly? That’s pretty much what we thought, so today on RELAXnation we’re going to talk you through Thanksgiving dinner the RELAXnation way.
The first thing you need to do is get over the notion that pre-ordering a ready-to-eat bird is a bad thing. Oh, you weren’t thinking that? Excellent, because everyone from grocery stores to high-end restaurants offer pre-roasted birds these days. Order one. About a pound of bird per person is standard. If you want leftovers – and who doesn’t – order more.
With that taken care of, all you need are the side dishes. You can take the easiest route of all and ask each of your guests to bring a dish. Most people are only too happy to help out. But if you want to do things yourself, adding your own flair to ready-made foods will strike just the right balance between convenience and creativity.
For the appetizer. How about soup? A good-quality canned corn soup can be excellent with a few modifications. Say, some diced roasted red pepper (also available in jars) and some crumbled bacon on top.
For the dressing. There’s no shame in a boxed dressing, especially if you add a few of your own touches to it. Some cooked sweet Italian sausage and some toasted pine nuts, let’s say. Or maybe some dried cherries and a few toasted walnuts. You know what else is nice? Sliced, sautéed leeks. Another idea: chopped apples. Maybe even some chopped, sautéed chicken livers, hmm? Or, how about White Castle Stuffing, made with real White Castle burgers? We kid not: White Castle Stuffing Recipe.
For the mashed potatoes. These days, pre-made mashed potatoes, the kind you buy in tubs (not the boxed stuff) can be great. Add some of your own flair with some finely chopped chives. Another idea: a clove of finely chopped garlic and a few teaspoons of fresh minced rosemary. For the more adventurous, there’s always a few ounces of goat cheese. Heat and serve.
For the vegetables. Two vegetables are the standard. First, try thawing two packages of frozen spinach, then combine with one chopped, sautéed onion, about 1/3 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese, a sprinkling of salt and some fresh grated nutmeg. Heat it on the stove, over medium heat, until the cheese melts. Now how about some butternut squash? Melt and simmer about six tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan and keep it simmering until the white foam on the top turns brown and sinks – you’ve just made browned butter! Combine that with two cans of canned butternut squash, a teaspoon and a half of salt and a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves. Heat it through on the stove top. You are ready to serve.
Oh, and what about dessert? Pie is the classic, but why bake when you can buy? You were going to head to the bakeshop to pick up some dinner rolls anyway, right?