17 Stress-Reducing and Time-Saving Thanksgiving Dinner Hacks
BY JULIE VAN ROSENDAAL, DINNER WITH JULIE
Oct 4, 2016
Thanksgiving can be a tricky holiday when you’re charged with taking care of dinner — or even if you’re just contributing to it. With so many courses, there are inevitably hurdles to overcome. So here are a few troubleshooting and time-saving tips that will help you get the meal on the table while reducing food waste.
If you don’t have a roasting rack, roll up some tin foil and coil it to nestle under your bird, or set it on a layer of roughly chopped onions, carrots and celery, which will add flavour to the drippings for your gravy.
Slow-Cooked Turkey Wins The Race
Cook smaller turkeys in a 6-quart oval slow cooker — it won’t have the deep golden skin you might associate with roasted turkey, but will be incredibly moist and juicy, and there is no stressing over the timing! Tuck herbs and a halved lemon into the cavity, season with salt and pepper, cover (no need to add liquid), seal with foil if there are any gaps in the lid, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Prevent Boil-Over Mayhem
A wooden spoon set over your pot will keep it from boiling over.
Lumps Be Gone
Fix lumpy gravy by pouring it through a sieve.
Add a small amount of soy sauce to your gravy (instead of salt) to season it while adding colour.
Dried, Tested, and True
Too many fresh herbs? Lay them out on a baking sheet and bake for a few hours at your oven’s lowest setting. Once completely dry, crumble into airtight containers or ziplock baggies for storage.
Grate Your Butter
Grate cold butter into your pastry or biscuits. Mark the measurement off on the side with a knife–it’s faster and easier than cutting it into bits and blending it in. This is also a great way to soften butter quickly and easily for baking.
Peeling is so Passé
Use thin-skinned potatoes and don’t bother peeling them; quarter and roughly mash with butter, cream, salt and pepper. It’s less work, you’ll get more nutrients from the potato skins, and no pressure to make them lump-free and smooth.
If you don’t have enough dishes to serve a crowd, visit the thrift store — mismatched plates are in.
Muffin Tin For The Win
Bake extra stuffing in muffin tins — it cooks through more quickly and is easy to serve, especially to kids.
Whip Up a New Flavour
Flavour your whipped cream by sweetening it with maple syrup — or infuse the cream with fresh herbs, ginger, vanilla, tea leaves or lavender, then strain before you whip it.
Pack Some Pumpkin Punch
If your recipe doesn’t call for a whole can of pumpkin, freeze leftovers in large spoonfuls to add a boost of beta-carotene to muffins, waffles, pancakes, soup, stew, smoothies or chili.
Creative With Crans
Get creative with your cranberries. Add frozen chopped rhubarb or raspberries for a new dimension, and simmer with OJ instead of water.
Pour ends of the red wine bottles into a pitcher and add apple and orange slices, a couple of cinnamon sticks and a spoonful of brown sugar, and voila: sangria!
Sharing is Caring
Pick up inexpensive plastic take-out containers at a restaurant supply store to send home leftovers in.
DIY Ganache: It's In The Bag
Melt chocolate chips in a ziplock baggie in a bowl of warm water or make a quick ganache: Warm cream on the stovetop or in the microwave, remove from the heat and add the same quantity of chocolate chips. Let sit for a minute or two, then whisk until smooth. Spoon into a ziplock baggie, snip off a corner and drizzle over cake, ice cream, pie and whipped cream, or anything you want to fancy up a bit.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
Skipping a step with a frozen pie shell? Press down around the edges with the tines of a fork to make it look more homemade.
Hopefully these hacks help you enjoy your Thanksgiving with a little less stress!
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