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Thanksgiving dinner: what do you "cheat" on?

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spkspk Oct 31, 2008 02:39 PM

My cheats:
cornbread - from a mix
pies - from a bakery
rolls - store bought
ham - from Honeybaked

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  1. TrishUntrapped RE: spkspk Oct 31, 2008 06:01 PM

    Although I make homemade cranberry applesauce, by popular demand by my guests (and my husband) I MUST serve canned cranberry sauce, clear, not whole berry. They need to see "the lines."

    This year I am attempting to make a 100% organic Thanksgiving meal. Wonder if there is an organic line of canned cranberry sauce?

    One other thing...After making a gazillion Thanksgiving dinners in as many years... I have come to the conclusion that Thanksgiving is NOT about the food. Oh yeah we all want the turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes... and pie for dessert... but simple is best if you don't want to get overwhelmed.

    There is no reason to go crazy nuts over this meal. It pains me to see cooks fuss over complicated recipes that consume a lot of their time and often don't turn out good. No one needs that angst. There is no edict that says you MUST make everything from scratch.

    Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family, friends and those we love. Make your life easy and enjoy the day.

    5 Replies
    1. re: TrishUntrapped
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      jpc8015 RE: TrishUntrapped Nov 1, 2008 12:33 AM

      I agree that Thanksgiving, and every other holiday for that matter is all about family. But in my family that means we are all in the kitchen together cooking up some serious dinners. My mom, my wife and I will spend the better part of three days in the kitchen getting ready for such an event. No corners are cut and no short cuts are taken. Nothing less than the best for my family.

      1. re: TrishUntrapped
        FoodChic RE: TrishUntrapped Nov 1, 2008 02:29 AM

        Here is your organic canned cranberry jelly.

        https://www.shoporganic.com/product/g...

        1. re: FoodChic
          TrishUntrapped RE: FoodChic Nov 1, 2008 07:32 AM

          Food Chic, thanks a lot!

        2. re: TrishUntrapped
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          emmisme RE: TrishUntrapped Nov 8, 2008 07:36 PM

          I have a very small family and we see each other often, at times too often, so Thanksgiving IS all about the food.

          1. re: TrishUntrapped
            jen kalb RE: TrishUntrapped Nov 15, 2008 07:16 PM

            Everyone has their own cut on this. I love the cooking and the specialness of the meal and want it to be the best it can be. the pleasure of the gathering is so enhanced by delicious food and wine. I like to serve in courses so people dont just fall upon the food and finish in 20 min.
            Having grown up in a home with high food standards and top flight baking, my bar for this meal is high. My husband complains that I sort of start where my parents were and go on from there. I take a day off to make it happen the way I want, so that I can bake the pies that I dont have time to make the rest of the year, etc. Making pie crust, cranberry sauce, broth etc ahead of time also helps.

            In terms of shortcuts, Ive stopped baking dinner rolls for this meal, just too much fuss and difficulty with oven access. I usually go to a good bakery for some bread these days. Some years I skip the cornbread in my stuffing and just use the Arnold's white bread.
            I make my cranberry sauce, but also buy the very good orange-cranberry sauce that Trader Joe's sell.
            I make braised pearl onions/shallots, but these days I use the frozen sambhar onions from the indian grocery for this rather than peeling for hours.
            I doctor up canned mincemeat instead of making my own.
            Above all, I let other people bring things if they want. That's been the biggest stress reducer since I used to need to do it all.

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            anni RE: spkspk Oct 31, 2008 06:22 PM

            cornbread from a mix for the dressing
            pies - pumpkin pie from Costco is wonderful, but I'll make the pecan pie
            frozen pearl onions for the creamed onions
            jellied cranberry sauce - my family only likes that *roll eyes*

            1. soypower RE: spkspk Oct 31, 2008 06:27 PM

              I suffered a cardiac arrest a couple months ago, so this year, I'm definitely taking some shortcuts...Instant mashed potatoes (i'll still add cream cheese, sour cream and chives). Gravy mix with homemade turkey broth...instead of green bean casserole, I'm just going to do a mushroom and green bean stirfry. Dessert will be storebought. I'll still do the turkey and stuffing from scratch.

              1. s
                smtucker RE: spkspk Oct 31, 2008 06:50 PM

                No cheats here. Full traditional New England Thanksgiving meal. Though this holiday is all about the family, the meal is worth the miles of travel!

                3 Replies
                1. re: smtucker
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                  chowmel RE: smtucker Oct 31, 2008 07:17 PM

                  2 years ago I hurt my back and couldn't cook. Last year I broke my wrist and tore my rotator - couldn't cook. Both years, I bought the entire dinner prepared by our local grocery store. No Whole Foods, organic, heritage or fancy smancy. Everyone was just as happy with it. It was good, it was easy. I'm doing the whole thing again this year. Bringing the tradition to the table my own way has been so important to me over the years. The last two taught me it was the gathering, not the meal that was importtant.

                  1. re: chowmel
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                    anni RE: chowmel Oct 31, 2008 08:18 PM

                    I agree 100%!!!

                    1. re: chowmel
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                      Pampatz RE: chowmel Nov 2, 2008 01:56 PM

                      Thank you for that perspective. Nine members of my family are going to Texas for Thanksgiving this year. My youngest brother (unmarried at 48) is providing the turkey and ham from somewhere. I've been obsessing about dried out turkey and salty ham when the important thing is the family being together and giving thanks for all our good fortune.

                  2. FoodChic RE: spkspk Nov 1, 2008 02:37 AM

                    I cheat on my rolls occasionally, and Honeybaked is a requirement at our house, but other than that I don't cheat on much. I make my pie crust a couple of weeks in advance, and cranberry relish is made a week in adavance. The stuffing is made the day before as are the pies. Usually, I'm the only one who cooks, and I tend to really enjoy the time in the kitchen. The extra effort is something I look forward too.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: FoodChic
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                      SSqwerty RE: FoodChic Nov 1, 2008 10:36 AM

                      I agree, FoodChic. I make my turkey stock and cranberry relish up to a month in advance and freeze them. I can't tell you how much time this saves on The Day. This year I'm going to try to make a piecrust in advance and freeze it.

                      1. re: SSqwerty
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                        amela RE: SSqwerty Nov 1, 2008 05:05 PM

                        I've never thought about freezing my cranberry chutney...SS, there's no loss in flavor or texture? Mine is chunky with pears, ginger and orange along with the cranberries. What a time saver that would be!

                        1. re: amela
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                          missbug53 RE: amela Nov 2, 2008 02:02 PM

                          amela, I would love your chutney recipe. thanks

                          1. re: missbug53
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                            amela RE: missbug53 Nov 7, 2008 11:07 AM

                            I just saw your request and went to get my recipe that I have been using for over 10 years and it is GONE! I am having a heart attack. I have no idea where I got it in the first place. If anyone has a cranberry chutney remotely similar, please post! It also had mustard seeds in the ingredients.

                            1. re: amela
                              Chocolatechipkt RE: amela Nov 17, 2008 08:01 AM

                              I haven't tried this, but here's one possibility?
                              http://www.bigoven.com/145185-Cranber...

                          2. re: amela
                            s
                            SSqwerty RE: amela Nov 11, 2008 06:05 AM

                            Truth to tell, amela, the freezing ahead seems to help the flavor by letting the dish "season" for a while. Your chutney sounds delicious! I'll bet it will freeze like a dream.

                            Here's the one I make and freeze. By the way, it's fabulous frozen and tastes like sherbet: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                      2. Veggo RE: spkspk Nov 1, 2008 03:13 AM

                        I max out on my oyster/ chestnut stuffing for my rare osceola gobbler this year. I will cheat on my red cabbage (I'm danish) with commercial made, cuz my whole kitchen will be busy.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Veggo
                          cassoulady RE: Veggo Nov 2, 2008 06:02 AM

                          Veggo, I would love your oyster/chestnut stuffing recipe.

                          1. re: cassoulady
                            Veggo RE: cassoulady Nov 2, 2008 07:33 AM

                            Cassoulady, I put it on your stuffing thread on Oct 29. Let me know if you need any other information.
                            Veggo

                        2. breadandcoffee RE: spkspk Nov 1, 2008 07:38 AM

                          My Cheats:

                          Pie crust - Tenderflake always gets rave reviews
                          Cranberry sauce - quick in microwave (1 bag frozen cranberries, organge juice & sugar to sweeten)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: breadandcoffee
                            chicaraleigh RE: breadandcoffee Nov 1, 2008 09:11 PM

                            you're cranberry sauce doesn't sound like a cheat at all.

                            "Cheat" for cranberries (at least in my mind) is when you pop open the can!

                            btw - sounds similiar to what we do with cranberries on the stove top. We like to add frozen strawberries to ours - simply thaw and drain the strawberries before adding.

                          2. hohokam RE: spkspk Nov 1, 2008 07:51 AM

                            Pie crusts-we buy the ones in the cold case at the grocery store
                            Pumpkin pie filling-not sure if this counts, but we use canned pumpkin instead of fresh
                            Rolls-we've had rolls once in the last 15 years, and those were store-bought

                            Part of the fun for me is trying out new twists on old favorites, so I really enjoy making most of the meal from scratch. :-)

                            1. m
                              Mellicita RE: spkspk Nov 1, 2008 10:53 AM

                              I make my own turkey stock, but I always keep a box of Kitchen Basics turkey stock on hand and have ended up using some of it when I ran out of homemade stock. I use a LOT of stock, between the stuffing, basting the turkey, the gravy, using it to moisten dishes, liked the baked leftover stuffing, so they dont dry out, etc.

                              Other than that, this is one of the few times when I don't use shortcuts!

                              1. JoanN RE: spkspk Nov 1, 2008 02:13 PM

                                Thanksgiving is pretty much a from scratch meal for me: quarts and quarts of chicken stock, do-ahead gravy, cranberry sauce and relish, savory chutneys and fruit compotes. But—she says, thoroughly abashed and not believing she’s admitting this—I use canned potatoes. My brother would *kill* me if his favorite roasted potatoes weren't on the T'giving table. So once a year I buy two cans of the whole ones, put them in a pan with an unholy amount of butter and plenty of S&P, and roast them for just about as long as I roast the turkey. They end up crispy (nay, hard!) on the outside, but still tender on the inside. I've tried it with *real* potatoes, but my brother says they’re just not as good. I have no idea how we first came by this "recipe," but I could forget the entire rest of the meal as long as lil bro gets his canned potatoes roasted into total submission.

                                1. chicaraleigh RE: spkspk Nov 1, 2008 02:42 PM

                                  I personally cheat in the baked good area. Rolls and pies are all store bought simply because I have never mastered dough. I'm a cook - not a baker so all that measuring just doesn't make much sense - maybe because I failed fractions in elementary school!?!

                                  1. s
                                    swsidejim RE: spkspk Nov 7, 2008 11:20 AM

                                    I would say the only things I cheat on are:

                                    the cranberry sauce from a can
                                    rolls from a tube or bakery
                                    the crap that makes up green bean casserole

                                    the only reason I cheat on the first two is because my family members I have over are "traditionalists", and want things as they have always been, otherwise I would make them myself. As for the green bean casserole,same issue basically, however if it was up to me I wouldnt serve it at all.

                                    No way I would cheat on the pies, the ham, the turkey, the mashed potatoes, the stuffing the gravy, the beef roast, or the shrimp cocktail(I dont catch the shrimp, but I would never buy pre-cooked shrimp from the store and serve them). Everything else is from scratch(including pie crusts, its so easy).

                                    If someone tried to pass off instant mashed potatoes, and jarred gravy on me there would be trouble. :-D

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: swsidejim
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                                      swsidejim RE: swsidejim Nov 14, 2008 05:20 AM

                                      this year I am "cheating" on the turducken. I am buyin it from a local restaurant for $85(25 lbs). Instead of doing all the deboning/assembly myself.

                                      1. re: swsidejim
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                                        Chefsquire RE: swsidejim Nov 15, 2008 08:11 PM

                                        I cheat on the gravy. Not jarred of course, I purchase it from a local turkey farm. It's excellent and making the gravy is the worst part of t-giving because you have 100 other things that need finishing when the turkey comes out of the oven.

                                      2. Cookiefiend RE: spkspk Nov 7, 2008 12:06 PM

                                        I used to boil a chicken for the stuffing and the stock, but now I cheat and buy a rotisserie chicken and use Broth-in-a-box. Oh and canned green beans...

                                        I still make the rolls, the pie crusts and pies, the cranberry relish, the potatoes, the appetizers, the stuffing, the sweet potatoes, bake the turkey and make the gravy from the drippings.

                                        But I enjoy it, and the boys love it, so it's all good. :-)

                                        1. f
                                          FriedClamFanatic RE: spkspk Nov 8, 2008 09:48 AM

                                          LOL......well, I no longer raise my own turkey, hatchet in hand! One year I did try to use instant mash potatoes when we had to travel to make dinner. Never Again! The caramelized onions come out of a jar (and I caramelize them), the green beans out of the freezer, and Ocean Spray is on the table in 2 forms due to vehement requests. Other than that, the rest is made by slave labor. But the Outlaws are coming this year so I suspect there will be a few "processed" additions

                                          1. alliedawn_98 RE: spkspk Nov 9, 2008 03:19 PM

                                            I cheat on rolls (just storebought in the bread aisle) and cranberry sauce (family tradition says jellied is the only way to go). Sometimes I use a bought pie crust but my own roasted pumpkin for pies.. This year, I already have cranberries in the freezer to attempt my own cranberry sauce...never had any that didn't come from a can!

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: alliedawn_98
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                                              eamcd RE: alliedawn_98 Nov 9, 2008 03:52 PM

                                              Cranberry sauce is SO easy! Even if you just follow the directions on the package (water, sugar, berries usually) -- it's a nice bright cranberry taste.

                                              I've developed a variation. Bag of cranberries, 1 cup orange juice, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 whole orange sliced (peel on), 1 cinnamon stick, and a nutmeg (I usually use one that I've been grating from, so it's "open"). Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and stir ocassionally. I like to cook mine longer than most recipes, so the berries are broken a bit and the sauce gels more. I'd say 20-30 minutes or so. But I judge that by sight.

                                              The orange slices and spices give it just a slight variation and it's a little more "mellow."

                                              1. re: eamcd
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                                                walker RE: eamcd Nov 9, 2008 07:18 PM

                                                I can't remember where I found my favorite cranberry sauce recipe, but...
                                                1 bag fresh cranberries
                                                1 cup sugar
                                                1 cup Bourbon
                                                1/4 cup minced shallots
                                                Grated rind of one orange
                                                In a teflon coated pot, I put shallots, Bourbon and grated rind and cook on med-low for 10 minutes. Then, add sugar and cranberries for another 10 minutes, until most cranberries pop open. When it cools off, I refrigerate it. Oh yes, add a bit of freshly ground black pepper at the end. This is so simple and delicious. (I prefer the cranberries from Whole Foods.)

                                                1. re: walker
                                                  alliedawn_98 RE: walker Nov 10, 2008 06:06 AM

                                                  Oh thank you both so much! I actually bought two bags of fresh cranberries last week. They're in the freezer to keep until Thanksgiving. I think I'm going to try both of these recipes!

                                                  No Whole Foods here, I'm sad to say so mine just came from Scotts (division of Kroger). That's the best grocery store in the area without driving 45+ miles to Ft Wayne and they only have a Trader Joes I believe. The only Whole Foods in Indiana are in Indianapolis and Carmel, a suburb of Indy, and I live about 3 to 3 1/2 hours north!

                                                  1. re: alliedawn_98
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                                                    jesoda RE: alliedawn_98 Nov 10, 2008 09:07 AM

                                                    My cheat was always frozen sweet potatoes. My mother did it this way and honestly until a few years ago I never even knew what a sweet potato looked like (sounds stupid I know). And it wouldn't be Thanksgiving at my house if we didn't have Pilsbury crescent rolls on the table. Other than that, everything else is from scratch.

                                                    1. re: alliedawn_98
                                                      alliedawn_98 RE: alliedawn_98 Nov 19, 2008 05:33 AM

                                                      I must say I was wrong. Ft. Wayne does not have a Trader Joes. The only ones in Indiana are in Indianapolis and Carmel.

                                                  2. re: eamcd
                                                    Kate is always hungry RE: eamcd Nov 15, 2008 09:06 PM

                                                    Making fresh cranberry sauce is even easier than opening a can! I make one plain and my variation is similar to yours except for the addition of apple chunks and no nutmeg. I may try adding nutmeg this year. Also, it is the most beautiful ruby red.

                                                    1. re: eamcd
                                                      alliedawn_98 RE: eamcd Dec 1, 2008 08:33 AM

                                                      EAMCD, I wanted to thank you for sharing your recipe. Having never been a big fan of cranberry sauce, I was completely shocked at how much I enjoyed this! Your recipe has now become a favorite on my Thanksgiving table.

                                                      Walker, I still plan to try yours one of these days, too, but have to buy bourbon and try to find some shallots. I see them every now and then in local stores but not very often.

                                                      1. re: alliedawn_98
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                                                        walker RE: alliedawn_98 Dec 1, 2008 10:47 AM

                                                        Shallots are really great to use in all kinds of things -- I use in Chicken Piccata. If you can't find them anywhere, you can make the cranberry sauce w/out them.

                                                        1. re: walker
                                                          alliedawn_98 RE: walker Dec 2, 2008 11:02 AM

                                                          Could I use onion or would that be too strong? Just wondering if the shallot is an important flavor compound. Honestly, I'm not sure I've ever eaten anything with shallots. The next time I see them, I'm definitely going to buy some and give them a go. lol Oh the joys of living in the rural midwest!

                                                          If I can't find them again, then I will just give it a go anyway. Thanks!

                                                          1. re: alliedawn_98
                                                            w
                                                            walker RE: alliedawn_98 Dec 2, 2008 11:18 AM

                                                            Is it possible to get your email address? I'll mail you some, no problem.

                                                            1. re: walker
                                                              alliedawn_98 RE: walker Dec 2, 2008 11:22 AM

                                                              Sure thing! My email is alliedawn_98 at yahoo.com

                                                  3. w
                                                    westaust RE: spkspk Nov 11, 2008 07:13 AM

                                                    stuffing: I use the premade boxed stuffing, add up some of the turkey juice to make it.

                                                    It's probably too salty, not as good as homemade, but it's all souvenirs for me, i've been eating that since I was a kid, so tradition over taste for that little side dish!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: westaust
                                                      amymsmom RE: westaust Nov 15, 2008 05:31 PM

                                                      You can get low-sodium boxed stuffing.

                                                      It's so popular that two years ago, my grocery store ran out. I made sure I got it early last year. I think I mixed two boxes of low-sodium with one of regular, and added the usual sauteed veggies and boxed low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth. As usual there weren't enough leftovers.

                                                      Gotta remember to pick it up the next time I shop.

                                                    2. e
                                                      eimac RE: spkspk Nov 11, 2008 07:38 AM

                                                      I started using packaged stuffing 35 years ago after my first big family Thanksgiving dinner when I ran out of stuffing. At first I hid the boxes in the garage.Now I make it, add some broth, put it in a big oven proof casserole dish and bake it while we are having pre-meal nibbles. it's always a hit.
                                                      My 85 year old mother says it beats spending time cubing stale challas, slicing and sauteeing onions and celery and cramming it in the turkey right before she put in in the oven.

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                                                        Agent Orange RE: spkspk Nov 11, 2008 07:59 AM

                                                        In my family, it's me, the "made from scratch" nazi, plus me mum, against the legions of "store-brand, from a can" folks in my step-dad's family. Thanksgiving was always at either my grandmother or aunt's house (they live in the same town, we an hour or so away.) Our duty was usually to bring cranberry sauce, a casserole, and to make mashed potatoes on the premises. The cranberry sauce was always homemade, but not fancy with star anise or cinnamon stick; even fresh orange peel (as opposed to dried from McCormick) was treated with suspicion! The mashed potatoes were homemade of course. But the casserole is this dish called "pineapple au gratin", although it contains no bechamel. It's basically canned chunk pineapple, crushed Ritz crackers, and shredded cheddar cheese. Sounds pretty bland, but it's actually not bad. I've daydreamed about making a gourmet version with fresh pineapple, homemade bread crumbs, and imported aged English cheddar, but I think this dish is comfort food for my mom, so I keep my recipe fiddling to myself.

                                                        I had one thought for all of you whose family insists on the canned cranberry sauce: Why not save a tin can which has the "ridges", make some homemade cranberry sauce however you like it, and put it in the can before it goes in the fridge overnight. The next day it should retain that loverly unnatural, cylandrical shape. You could sneak some spices or other fruit in there just to mess with them!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Agent Orange
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                                                          FriedClamFanatic RE: Agent Orange Nov 13, 2008 02:53 PM

                                                          Brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!......pass of fgood stuff as "come outta a can!

                                                          Thank you!

                                                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic
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                                                            Agent Orange RE: FriedClamFanatic Nov 17, 2008 04:02 PM

                                                            Awesome. Let us know if you get away with it!

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                                                          alexa52 RE: spkspk Nov 11, 2008 09:40 AM

                                                          Even though I make Cranberries in a Raspberry sauce every year, my insists on the jellied can of cranberries you can cut. Oh well.

                                                          We also cheat on stuffing. We buy the bag of cubes and add sauteed onion and celery with lots of butter!

                                                          We usually cheat on rolls too. But this year I am making some. Found a great easy recipe that requires only one rise and they are too delicious not to make.

                                                          Alexa
                                                          http://52perfectdays.com

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: alexa52
                                                            Boccone Dolce RE: alexa52 Nov 13, 2008 01:01 PM

                                                            I don't like baking as much as cooking, so I'll get help from the store with the pies, except the pumpkin cheesecake I'll make it..

                                                            I'll buy rolls or do the crescent rolls because the big kids love them.

                                                            Tried my hand at cranberry sauce one year, w/whole berries, orange zest, grand marnier, etc. It never came together-so Ocean Spray pushed out of the can it is, I won't fight it!

                                                            Have purchased pre-cubed bread in the past but due to last years dry-spot issues I am going to self-cube. If I have time this week I may do a trial run of cornbread stuffing but we like the family recipe, so again, no fighting it!!

                                                            I've got the ISI cream whipper but I may just buy a few squirt cans...the kids get really into the 'em.

                                                            This year I've got help, so maybe I will let my beautiful Mother-In-Law encourage lots more cheating (and lots of wine tasting as we cheat!)

                                                          2. g
                                                            gardencub RE: spkspk Nov 13, 2008 02:25 PM

                                                            Cheat? what's that? I do "cheat" in these ways -

                                                            I use frozen pearl onions for my creamed onions in brandied cream sauce.

                                                            I make about a gallon of rich turkey stock a month or two before the holiday and make sure we have a turkey breast a few weeks before. I save the drippings and turkey fat and make up my gravy from that the night before.

                                                            I saute' the onions, celery and sausage with all the seasonings for my stuffing a week or two ahead and freeze it.

                                                            I start my soup the week before, freeze it and finish it off the night before.

                                                            I make one dessert that can be made a day or two ahead with no loss of quality.

                                                            I buy cranberry sauce. I hate it, so whether it is homemade, one of those "fresh" store bought kinds or the jellied, out of the can makes no difference to me. If someone who is coming wants a better quality, I invite them to make it.

                                                            I buy the commercially dried bread cubes for my stuffing.

                                                            Other than that. I do not cheat.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: gardencub
                                                              k
                                                              Kris RE: gardencub Nov 13, 2008 03:41 PM

                                                              This year I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner. For holiday cooking, I typically make my meals from scratch.

                                                              There are some things I'm compromising on this year though - my mom is bringing store bought apple & pecan pie from a local orchard. And I have to have canned, jellied cranberry sauce available (even though I make a whole berry one myself.

                                                              Other than that, everything else will be homemade, including the bread for my stuffing, my stock and gravy.

                                                            2. FoodChic RE: spkspk Nov 14, 2008 10:36 AM

                                                              Okay, I have a new "cheat." We are have a few more guests this year than usual, and I always encourage my guests to bring tupperware for leftovers. So, I realized I would probably have to cook two birds, as I'm not a fan of 20+ lb turkeys ( I think they get too dry). So, I thought why not a smoked turkey? So I ordered a 14 lb smoked turkey from this amazing bbq place not far from my house. This place makes smoked turkey that is a bit of heaven. So, now I'll have two birds with the effort of one.

                                                              1. l
                                                                laliz RE: spkspk Nov 14, 2008 01:36 PM

                                                                I don't bake so

                                                                1) I don't compete with the beautiful pies from Marie Callender's or Baker's Square. My fave TGiving dessert is pumpkin pie ice cream from Baskin Robbins.
                                                                2) It is store bought or bakery rolls or bread or none at all.
                                                                3) I don't like corn bread so it is never an issue

                                                                I know us non-bakers are scandalous to those who bake.

                                                                I use Pepperidge Farm cubed stuffing but add onions celery meat rice broth seasonings etc.

                                                                one year we were invited guests and they served instant potatoes and canned peas. I am still shocked and it was at least 10 years ago.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: laliz
                                                                  FoodChic RE: laliz Nov 14, 2008 01:48 PM

                                                                  Wow, Baker's Square pie. I haven't had one of those in years. Here in DFW I don't think we have anything like that.

                                                                2. g
                                                                  gfr1111 RE: spkspk Nov 14, 2008 02:39 PM

                                                                  One thing is clear from these posts: people want tradition in their Thanksgiving dinner. But tradition does not necessarily mean "made from scratch." In regard to Thanksgiving dinner, it often means the opposite.

                                                                  I'm a foodie, a food fanatic, a fan of cooking whatever way and whatever recipe will impart the most flavor to food. I'm adventurous and like to try new things,especially foreign foods. I love to cook and, since I enjoy doing it, I have no particular desire to speed up the process. So, shortcuts don't attract me.

                                                                  BUT I know better than to mess with Thanksgiving. M brothers and I have frozen dinner rolls at Thanksgiving because that's the way our mother made Thanksgiving dinner--and it wouldn't seem right to do it any other way. In fact, there would be subtle disappointment if I made (say) fresh dinner rolls. At other times of the year, fresh dinner rolls would be fine, but NOT on Thanksgiving Day!

                                                                  Counterpoint and contrariwise, as Robert Heinlein used to say, in the old days, we never had canned cranberry sauce and I just can't understand those who like the stuff. But any time we have guests over for Thanksgiving, I make sure that there is canned cranberry sauce on the table, as well as fresh cranberry sauce, because to many people, canned cranberry sauce is a tradition and the way Thanksgiving ought to be.

                                                                  Unless you have a bunch of adventurous eaters, neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas are times to innovate. Traditiona rules!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: gfr1111
                                                                    FoodChic RE: gfr1111 Nov 14, 2008 02:43 PM

                                                                    So true, so true. My father's lip would curl if his lime gelatin with cream cheese and pineapple was absent from the table. Thanksgiving is the only time I can ever imagine having this on my table.

                                                                  2. amymsmom RE: spkspk Nov 15, 2008 05:23 PM

                                                                    My original take on this question was different than what was intended. When I think about cheating with a holiday menu, it's more about using more fat, salt and sugar - almost absent in my normal cooking.

                                                                    So, on this tangent, so far this is how I'm cheating this year:

                                                                    Usually I use evaporated skim milk when I make pumpkin pie (pre-formed crust, Libby's pumpkin pie mix, egg, and whole milk) - this year I'm making the regular recipe.

                                                                    I asked my husband what dinner foods he wants me to make. He asked for turkey (okay), some starch (okay), green beans in cream of mushroom soup & french fried onions (normally banned in this house), and ham (too salty, but popular in our family).

                                                                    The usual full-fat desserts.

                                                                    This isn't the full menu; just what I planned so far. I guess we'll go back to our healthier diet after Thanksgiving. Well, after we finish the leftovers (more cheating)!

                                                                    1. Lindseyup67 RE: spkspk Nov 16, 2008 04:57 AM

                                                                      My cheat this year for the very first time is going to be to go with the mashed potatoes that are in the refrigerated section of the store. One brand is Bob Evans and I can't remember the other one. I like to think of myself as an excellent cook, but after trying these, I have to say they are as good, if not better, than real mashed.In a side by side taste taste, I think most would be hard pressed to tell them apart! Give them a try!!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Lindseyup67
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                                                                        FriedClamFanatic RE: Lindseyup67 Nov 17, 2008 08:46 AM

                                                                        WOW I have never tried them but I will the next time, although not for T-day. You mean the ones that are in bowls usually and near the meats? I've had Bob Evans diced and hash browns (usually near the bacon), but was that impressed by them.

                                                                      2. madgreek RE: spkspk Nov 17, 2008 09:41 AM

                                                                        Stovetop Stuffing. This is much to the dismay of my Greek family, who prefer a very abbreviated version of this: http://greekfood.about.com/od/stuffin... (which is great). They basically just use rice, chestnuts, rasins, and cinnamon, which isn't even close. So, I make stove top, because they don't like my "wrong" version of Greek stuffing-lol. Many wouldn't touch it when they found out it contained liver. So my solution is Stove Top. It makes life easier, and I've always loved the taste, though a bit too salty, so I often take out some of the settled seasoning powder at the bottom of the bag.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: madgreek
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                                                                          torty RE: madgreek Dec 1, 2008 02:07 PM

                                                                          Since we were a small group and not big stuffing eaters I did Stove Top with a twist. I cubed a baking potato and precooked it in plain water, then added the "spread" and water per package directions directly to them, and stirred in packet per directions. This significantly reduces the salt content, adds a different texture, and gets to a nice salt level when gravy is ladled on.

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                                                                          Angela Roberta RE: spkspk Nov 19, 2008 01:20 PM

                                                                          We generally make everything from scratch. But in the past few years--and I think I'll do the same this year--I have bought a can of Reddi Whip rather than whipping a half-pint of cream. My reasoning is: 1. When there's leftover homemade whipped cream, I feel compelled to finish it while it's fresh, and I don't need those extra calories. 2. By the time we reach dessert, I really don't need one more job (whipping cream).

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                                                                            RGC1982 RE: spkspk Nov 19, 2008 02:13 PM

                                                                            Gravy. We end up needing so much of it that I take the pan drippings and stir them with several jars of Boston Market or similar turkey gravy, add sage, dehydrated onion and pepper, and go with it. It must have something to do with pouring it over the pototoes.

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                                                                            1. re: RGC1982
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                                                                              torty RE: RGC1982 Dec 1, 2008 02:09 PM

                                                                              I keep an emergency can of Campbells Golden Mushroom. It can extend the gravy pretty well in a situation when the see the gravy going too fast- grab what is left, whisk in the soup mix, adjust with water or broth (or even sour cream!) and top up the gravy boat.

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