Most of us don’t overthink Thanksgiving dinner. In the minds of most Americans, this is not the time to experiment with new dishes when we’re all bouncing between a half dozen stations in the kitchen trying to get everything perfect. At most, we might put a container of sour cream in the mashed potatoes to add flavor. That means a lot of us just go with the traditional favorites and there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you like. While it is hard to get around the fact that the turkey will put you to sleep if you overdo it, you can seriously put some pizazz into your annual Thanksgiving in a way that won’t have everybody napping in front of the television this year.
It’s very easy to just go with the usual turkey and stuffing. That’s what’s traditional. However, I’ve seen Thanksgiving recipe tips that include mashed sweet potatoes as a yummy and colorful alternative to boring white mashed potatoes. You could also get creative with the stuffing and add ingredients like crumbled-up bacon or even fresh oysters if you’re one of those people who has to do something unique every year. Don’t be ashamed of getting the pumpkin pie at the store. These days, a top tip of prepping for Thanksgiving is that you don’t have to make everything yourself. You could even save yourself a lot of aggravation and just make a reservation at one of those restaurants that are open on Thanksgiving.
It’s also easy to nitpick about the historical accuracy of Thanksgiving through all the images of Native Americans and Pilgrims. For the record, Abraham Lincoln was the president who established Thanksgiving as an official holiday. That doesn’t change the fact that Thanksgiving is pretty unique to the United States. At its best, Thanksgiving is a reminder that we should slow down and be grateful for what we already have before the Christmas season (should) get into full swing. These are the best 10 Thanksgiving day foods for surviving Thanksgiving.
Top 10 Foods For Surviving Thanksgiving
Crock pot turkey legs
Put a couple of turkey legs in the crock pot with some broth the night before and it’ll be done by the time your big Thanksgiving meal rolls around. Other popular crock pots dishes include green bean casserole and the stuffing. Trust me, the crock pot can be a real lifesaver if you’re going full tilt to get everything ready.
The cheese ball
When guests start arriving early, what do you do? Your best bet is to have appetizers like a cheese ball and some crackers already out and ready to go. If you absolutely have to, do some double-teaming with family members where one spouse nails down the final details and the other mingles with the guests while passing around appetizers. This is also good if you don’t have everything quite ready when guests start arriving.
The homemade gravy
Stuffing that is too dry can usually be saved by making sure the gravy gets passed around. Gravy that is too thick can usually be solved by gradually adding more stock or water until it reaches the desired consistency. Be careful when adding more water, though, because it can also dilute the flavor. Of course, the potatoes shouldn’t be impossible if you’ve made mashed potatoes a zillion times before, you’ve added the sour cream and the gravy is ready to go.
The mashed potatoes
This is another dish you don’t need to overthink beyond maybe making mashed sweet potatoes for the sake of something different this year. Just make sure they come out nice and creamy.
You can really get quite inventive with the stuffing because the bread is really just the base of the whole thing. I’ve seen recipes that include mushrooms, waterchestnuts, bacon bits, even oysters. So this is one dish that shouldn’t be boring under any circumstances.
The green bean casserole
This should be the one time out of the year when you make green bean casserole with fresh green beans. It just tastes so much better when you can combine fresh green beans, mushroom soup, milk, soy sauce, salt and pepper, French onions, and optional ingredients might include fresh mushrooms and bacon grease. Bake at 350 until the mushroom soup is bubbly and starting to thicken and it’s done.
The pumpkin pie
This is one thing you really don’t have to think too much about. Like I mentioned, just get it at the grocery store and toss some Cool Whip on top. But if you insist of going full Monty with this, you can make it with fresh pumpkin if you want.
Make them fresh or get some Pillsbury crescent rolls, it doesn’t really matter as long as they don’t look like those lumpy things you might make to go with sausage gravy. One good thing to do is make them ahead and then just toss them in the oven.
Face it, nobody likes brussel sprouts, but the salad can be nearly as good. Just toss spinach, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, almonds, and Feta cheese into a big bowl and serve with at least three types of dressing.
The cranberry sauce
This is another Thanksgiving must-have and goes well with the biscuits. It can be tricky to make just right, but get a good canned brand and nobody will know the difference.
Always remember that now is not the time to be nitpicking over diet. You’ve done a decent job of losing weight for the holidays, so you’ve earned the right to second helpings and you can get back on track tomorrow. Also don’t let your vegetarian cousin get to you. Sorry, vegetarians, but now is not the time to be dickering about the fact that it’s traditional to have a real turkey at Thanksgiving, either. Do the tofurkey if you are hosting the Thanksgiving celebration this year; otherwise, lay off.
Above all, you should remember to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving even if it means reserving a table at one of the few restaurants that are going to be open that day. That’s right, let others do the cooking while you just focus on being thankful for the good things in life like the fact that you survived another trip around the sun since last year. Thanksgiving should be that one time of year when you remember all the good things you have.