If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, even though you might be stressing out a bit, you are in luck. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner for 10, has gone down from $44.61 to $42.91. Of course, you still have to make the meal. And that’s where we step in with the best round up of Thanksgiving tips and tricks and recipes from around the web. This year, you’ll be thankful for the internet.
How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner
Alton Brown over at The Food Lab offers a detailed explanation on why you should brine your turkey. Brining is the simple process of soaking your turkey over night in a 6% salt water solution. That’s about 1/2 a cup of kosher salt, or 1/4 cup of table salt per quart of water.
When you’re done brining your Turkey, check out these delicious and simple turkey recipes also from the Food Lab.
Sometimes even DIY’ers have to admit when they can’t compete with the just-buy-it option. Jell-O has a no-bake Pumpkin Pie that is a cinch to make, delicious and cheaper than the ingredients for a regular pumpkin pie, and that includes buying a container of Cool-Whip.
If you just can’t admit that your pie came from a box and want to try something different, try a no-bake Pumpkin Cheesecake. It’s also easy to make and it will impress your guests.
Unless you actually cook it inside your turkey, that tasty concoction of bread, spices, celery and butter is called dressing. It’s the most overlooked part of the meal and one of the easiest to make. You can go a little crazy with your stuffing without spending oodles of money. This stuffing recipe tastes like it was made by a gourmet chef and is simple to make.
If you go with a more traditional recipe, save some money by making your own bread crumbs. Start by putting old stale bread, the ends of loaves and other odd pieces of bread, into a bag in the freezer. Once, you’ve collected enough, cut the bread into croûton-sized chunks and roast them in the oven at 350, for about 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
Everybody’s mom makes the best mashed potatoes, but no ones mom makes them the same way. Using this basic recipe, try some variations on the theme. Instead of using cream, substitute sour cream or cream cheese. Also, try adding a teaspoon of garlic powder for some extra flavor.
Yukon golds make the best mashed potatoes, but they aren’t the cheapest potato in the store. Go easy on your wallet and only buy one or two Yukon Gold potatoes and mix them in with your normal cheap, supermarket spuds, for a fabulous taste that costs less.
Or try a variation on an old favorite by making mashed sweet potatoes, using pears and a little cinnamon.
Don’t, I repeat, don’t buy your biscuits. Everyone buys biscuits, but they are almost too easy to make. Also, the odds are pretty good you have all the ingredients on hand. So, save yourself some money and make your own. They are simple, tasty and you’ll wow your mother-in-law with your mad kitchen skills. Use this easy recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. If you don’t have buttermilk, don’t sweat it, just substitute the milk you have in your fridge. If you are feeling brave add some garlic and maybe a little basil for a truly gourmet taste.
Veggies don’t have to be a necessary evil. They can be delicious too. Try simply making a veggie relish tray for guests to snack on before dinner. Replenish the tray during dinner.
When deciding which veggie to serve, consider the color. If you are serving sweet potatoes, don’t pick an orange vegetable like carrots. It may seem like a small thing, but a lot of eating is visual. A plate that has balanced color will also appeal to the palate.
Veggies can be as simple and as cost effective as a salad. Make a wintertime salad, using red onions, dried cranberries, toasted almonds or walnuts, and fresh sliced pears. If you can squeeze it in, throw in a little bit of feta or crumbled bleu cheese. Before serving, toss with a light raspberry dressing. This citrusy salad will perfectly compliment the heavier dishes and make your Thanksgiving planning a little easier.
If you want to go more traditional, the Barefoot Contessa has the best roasted carrots of all time. Cut out the dill to adapt the recipe for cauliflower and broccoli.
Tips, tricks and ideas from around the web
- Christopher Kimball at America’s Test Kitchen has this time-saving and tasty menu that covers the turkey, dressing, pie, and potatoes.
- Epicurious.com has a fabulous menu for the perfect Thanksgiving.
- Sippity Sup has a fabulous and practical wine guide for your meal.
- The Bitten Word breaks down the best recipes from food magazines.
- Apartment Therapy’s guide to budget-friendly holiday entertaining.