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Thanksgiving Shortcuts and Recipes

Let's Talk Turkey!

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Turkey Wild Rice Cranberry Stuffing

Turkey Wild Rice Cranberry Stuffing

Linda Larsen
Whether you are hosting your first Thanksgiving or your thirty-first, these hints, tips, menus, recipes, and shortcuts will make hosting this traditional American dinner effortless. Well, almost! Let's face it, this is the big meal of the year for Americans. And your family expects the traditions to continue year after year. Still, you can cut corners on quite a few of the traditional recipes, and nobody will notice. Get organized with Thanksgiving shortcuts and recipes, menus and dinner plans so you can enjoy the holiday too. Read on!

Thanksgiving Shortcuts and Recipes

Each of the following pages has suggestions for Thanksgiving recipes with different levels of complexity and preparation time. First I'll give you the recipes for traditional foods that take a long time to make (but are so satisfying!), then some easier recipes and ideas, and finally the easiest shortcuts of all.

  • Turkey 101
    Learn how to make a traditional stuffed turkey roasted in the oven, an easier unstuffed turkey (dressing in the crockpot), and information on brining, deep frying, and grilling your turkey. And find my new favorite way of cooking turkey: from the frozen state!
  • Stuffing 101
    Find the recipe for my great-grandmother's stuffing, along with tips for getting perfect results and other great stuffing recipes.
  • Gravy 101
    Do you know what the secret ingredient for the best gravy is? Find out, and make the most delicious gravy ever after reading this article.
  • Rolls 101
    Fresh, hot and tender yeast rolls are an important part of Thanksgiving for my family. Find some impressive scratch recipes, along with tips for easier and easiest rolls.
  • Potatoes 101
    Mashed potatoes are necessary, not only for making Lefse the next day, but for soaking up all that wonderful gravy! Learn why the order in which you add ingredients to the potatoes makes them fluffy and light.
  • Holiday Appetizers
    Appetizers for the holidays can be a bit more decadent than those you serve the rest of the year. These ten recipes are delicious and easy. For even more ease, see my Make Ahead Holiday Appetizers.
  • Thanksgiving Side Dishes
    Find my favorite recipes for holiday side dishes, including Antique Broccoli and some crockpot specialties to free up your oven and stove.
  • Thanksgiving Salads
    Salads may be secondary to the big ticket items in a Thanksgiving meal, but I feel they are necessary to balance the meal with something cool and crunchy. These are the salad recipes I like best.
  • Pumpkin Pie 101
    Find different ways to make pumpkin pie, starting with roasting your own pumpkin if you're so inclined. Also, a crockpot pudding turns into a pie when it's served with my special tips.
  • Thanksgiving Desserts
    There are many desserts besides pumpkin pie, including pecan pie, cakes featuring the flavor of fall, refrigerated desserts, and trifles.
  • Basics of Cooking Lesson Series
    And for instructions about how to cook and bake just about everything, turn to my cooking lessons for a refresher course.

The best way to make changes in a traditional Thanksgiving or other holiday dinner is to decide which recipes and foods absolutely have to be the same, and which ones you can change. In my family, the turkey stuffing and my grandmother's Parker House Rolls have to be on the table, no matter what. Salads and some side dishes are secondary and can be changed.

Look over your menu and select recipes that aren't essential, and find substitutes in the ideas above. And be sure to look at Holiday Crockpot Recipes, my email class How to Cook Side Dishes and Thanksgiving, Step by Step (you can get all the lessons at once by clicking on 'get missing lessons' link at the bottom of each newsletter), and Freeze Ahead Holiday Foods for more easy ideas and great recipes.

Go to the next page for the plan to make your Thanksgiving easy!

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