5 Short Cuts for a Stress Free Thanksgiving

credit @Flickr:  David O'Hare

credit @Flickr: David O’Hare

Thanksgiving ushers in the holiday season, or perhaps it should be called the Stress Season. Magazines are filled with lavishly decorated tables laden with perfectly presented and prepared gourmet cuisine. REALLY? Let’s face it; balancing work, kids, families, school, and life in general makes it challenging to live up to these grandiose expectations. However, there are a few things you can do to make the holiday a bit easier. Here are our stress-busting tips:

Tame the turkey! While buying a frozen turkey from the grocery store may be the most economical approach, you’ll need to think ahead to defrost it properly. Brining makes a turkey beautifully moist but is a hassle with buckets and brining solutions. To make it easier you can order a pre-brined turkey from Williams Sonoma that will be delivered to your door! Or, order a fresh turkey to eliminate the defrosting time. Have the butcher separate the turkey breast from the legs and thighs and not only will it reduce the cooking time but you’ll be able adjust the time and temperature for perfectly cooked white AND dark meat! Is the thought of cooking a turkey just too much for you? Order a beautifully pre-cooked one from Whole Foods!

Go “all out” for one thing and delegate the rest. There is no reason to shoulder the entire responsibility for your holiday dinner. Do you love setting a beautiful table? Is your husband a grilling kind of guy? Do what you love and have your guests do the same. Have a sister who makes magnificent pies? A mom who makes the best stuffing ever? Thanksgiving is a time of sharing fall’s bounty…..and that goes for the cooking, too!

Cheat. Yes, cheat. Buy boxes of stuffing mix, add diced apples, toasted nuts and dried cranberries and you’ll create stuffing that will impress (and fool) just about anyone. Buy a frozen pie and slip it into your own pie dish before baking. Add real whipped cream and pecans along the edges and you’re set! Remember to throw out the evidence; the boxes in your kitchen garbage can are a sure giveaway!

Buy what you hate to prepare. Chopping veggies got you down? Buy pre-chopped versions. Is your gravy always lumpy? Check with the deli or meat counter in your favorite grocery store or visit Boston Market. You can buy just about anything you’ll need.

Be a planner. If you want to do it all yourself, make sure you map out a detailed plan, beginning a full week prior, to include shopping, decorating and food preparation. Most Thanksgiving side dishes are very forgiving and can be made ahead of time (1 or 2 days) and refrigerated in an oven-proof serving dish. Bring the casseroles to room temperature before reheating and you’ll have dinner on the table in no time!

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