Last-Minute Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks
Whip up a fabulous holiday feast in a hurry.
I don't know how this happens every year, but before I know it, it's the
Tuesday before Thanksgiving! Suddenly, I'm stressing about how many side dishes
to make, the appetizers that no one really needs, thawing the turkey, making
pumpkin pie for the traditionalists plus "something else" for the
dessert rebels ...
But remember, the important part of this holiday is enjoying the company of
loved ones and taking time to reflect and be thankful. It's not about
spending hours making countless Thanksgiving dishes.
You know the saying, "choose your battles?" It works for
Thanksgiving dinner, too. When your time is limited, choose which dishes you
want to make yourself and which you can pull together using convenient products
from the supermarket.
Dressing Up Store-Bought Products
Here are some tips and tricks for dressing up store-bought products so that
they'll taste and look special to your guests.
Add punch to frozen or boxed mashed potatoes by:
- Adding some lower-fat sour cream and freshly chopped chives.
- Stirring in some reduced-fat sharp cheddar and turkey bacon bits (cook the
turkey bacon until crisp, then break it into bits).
- Stirring in roasted garlic cloves and fresh, finely chopped parsley while
you're whipping up the mashed potatoes with your mixer.
Instead of following the directions on the box, use 2 tablespoons of butter
or margarine to sauté some added vegetables (like 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2
cup finely chopped celery, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, and 1/2 cup finely
grated carrot). Then add the seasoning packet and 1 3/4 cups water and bring to
boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat,
stir in bread cubes from the mix, cover and let stand 5 minutes. (For a
healthier stuffing, check out the new low-sodium stuffing variety).
Buy a bag of French-style green beans, and you're halfway to a side dish.
Microwave them right before serving and dress them up in the serving dish with
any or all of the following:
- A sprinkle of one of the Mrs. Dash salt-free herb blends
- Some shredded Parmesan cheese
- Toasted slivered or sliced almonds
- A drizzle of olive oil or pat of butter/margarine (just enough to add a
slight glaze to the dish)
- Red pepper strips sautéed in canola cooking spray or a little canola oil,
olive oil, or butter/margarine
- Caramelized onions (thinly sliced onions sautéed in a nonstick frying pan
with a little canola oil, olive oil, or butter/margarine until golden
You have a few options here. You can buy a premade piecrust (available in
the frozen food section or as foldable piecrust in the refrigerated section)
and just whip up the pumpkin part. Or you can buy the pie already made at your
grocery store or a pie shop, then dress it up with some fun garnishes. If you
like to serve your pie with Cool Whip, buy Light Cool Whip and stir in a few
pinches of pumpkin pie spice and a teaspoon or two of maple syrup.