Last Minute Thanksgiving

I’ve been so busy lately with finishing up work before maternity leave and preparing for the baby’s arrival that I (almost) forgot that Thanksgiving was this week! If you are like me and have absolutely no time to make a full Thanksgiving meal take the Last Minute Thanksgiving approach.  I’ll show you how!

I made the meal pictured above for my coworkers in 1 hour. This was a meal for 6 and we still had plenty of leftovers.  You can shop for your items the day before or the morning of.

Buy ready-made items. Use the store to help you with this meal. Don’t stress yourself out! I bought 50% of the items pictured above and made the rest.

What to buy ready-made:
Buy the desserts, or better yet, ask your guests to bring a dessert. People are always willing to bring desserts because it’s the easiest thing they can grab from the grocery store and check out quickly.

Buy the protein ready-made. Those rotisserie chickens from the grocery are actually really good. They come whole and are the perfect size for a family of 4-6. Place in an oven safe dish and reheat in for 20 mins.

If you insist on cooking the protein, buy a chicken already butchered or just a turkey breast portion. When they are cut up, they cook much faster than a whole chicken. Season it simply with olive oil, s+p, and some herbs, then pop it into the oven first. It should cook at 425 degrees F in about an hour.

Buy semi-made items. Some boxed items help you skip several steps and do all the measuring for you. Some good items are stuffing, cornbread mix, and biscuits.

Add something special to make it your own. With the cornbread mix, I added jalapeños and cheddar. Cut up an apple and some sausages and mix it into the stuffing. Top the biscuits with any cheese you have in your fridge.

Don’t buy canned. Especially vegetables. This is something you should make fresh as it usually is less expensive and tastier.  Some veggies that are perfect for your spread and don’t take a long time to cook are Brussels sprouts, potatoes, or green beans and carrots. Buy them already washed and cut so all you have to do is season and cook in a pan with some olive oil, or if you still have oven space, roast until fork tender.

Buy your cranberries frozen or fresh. Here’s a recipe that is so simple you can literally leave it on the back burner until it’s ready.

Gravy is simply equal parts butter and flour, cooked. Then slowly whisk in some chicken broth to your desired consistency and season with s+p.

Cook on the stove top. If you are reheating the bird, baking the stuffing, and roasting some veggies you need to make something on the stove top. Something you have made before and can do with one hand tied behind your back. Some of my favorites to make on the stove are mashed potatoes, stove top mac and cheese (skipping the oven part), and any vegetable dish.

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Here’s a sample menu and timeline so you can get an idea.
Sample menu:
serves 6
Rotisserie chicken
Mashed potatoes (1 lb. potatoes, 1 quart heavy cream, 1 stick butter, s+p)
Roasted Brussels sprouts (bagged already washed sprouts, s+p, evoo)
Jalapeño and cheddar cast iron cornbread (2 boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix, 2 jalapeños, 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup of milk)
Store bought pie

0:00 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
0:01 Half fill a large pot with water for potatoes and bring to boil. Add 1 tsp of salt
0:05 Bring out all your items and arrange by dish for organization
0:10 Reheat chicken in the oven
0:11 Cut Brussels sprouts in half and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with s+p. Put in oven
0:18 Cut potatoes in quarters and drop in boiling water
0:25 Chop jalapenos and grate cheese
0:35 Take bird out of the oven to rest
0:35 Follow directions on cornbread box, add grated cheese
0:40 In a cast iron pan or skillet, melt butter and saute chopped jalapenos. Pour cornbread mixture into the pan and insert in the oven. Take out Brussels sprouts if fork tender
0:45 Drain potatoes. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash in butter, cream, and s+p to taste
0:55 Place the chicken on the table with the Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and pie
1:00 Take cornbread out of the oven and place on table

That wasn’t so hard was it? Now that you know you can do Thanksgiving in 1 hour for 6 you’ll breeze through every other dinner.  Keep things simple, and although it’s Thanksgiving, don’t try to be too ambitious. You’d rather spend the time with your friends and family than over the stove anyway.  Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Christine

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