Well, it’s November! Halloween is past and we’re really in the true heart of fall now. I just love this time of year: the crunchy leaves on the ground, the slight nip in the air. I’m sure in a few months I’ll be longing for 60 and 70 degree weather again, but right now I’m absolutely loving the fact that I can finally pull my sweaters out of storage. Now, witht his change in the air, some people are already singing Mariah Carey and dreaming of a white Christmas, but let’s not forget about the true beginning of the holiday season – Thanksgiving! Are you this year’s Thanksgiving host? It’s a daunting task, but it can be made easier with a few Thanksgiving hacks.
Yes, you heard me correctly! Doing Thanksgiving right doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it the old-fashioned way – although some of these tricks have actually been around for generations! I guess what I really mean to say is that doing it the right way doesn’t always mean doing it the hard way. So whether you’re brand new at this or you’re old hat; whether you’re cooking for just your immediate family or for a whole big group; whether you’re by-the-book or a more creative cook, these Thanksgiving hacks I found are sure to make your life a little easier this year.
Know a Thanksgiving hack I didn’t mention? Feel free to leave a comment here, or on my Facebook or Instagram and fill me in!
Still need to spruce up your place a bit ahead of the big day? Don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of time – check out my fall decorating tips!
Thanksgiving hacks that will help you the whole day through:
- To keep your tablet or phone safe from spillage during the hectic day of cooking, take a page out of the 2000’s book – print out your recipes. And to keep THOSE recipes safe, and prevent them from taking up precious counter space, tape them to your cabinets, at eye level, with masking tape.
- Move all frozen items from the freezer to the fridge the day before, so you’re sure they have time to properly defrost.
- Run out of room in your fridge? Keep a cooler with ice on hand for all your refrigerated items – take the things that won’t spoil easily, like pickles and bottled beverages, out first, and leave items like dairy in unless as a last resort.
Turkey tips and tricks:
- Place ice bags on the turkey’s breast for a couple hours before roasting it. This will help to prevent the white meat from cooking faster than the dark meat, and, consequently, keep it from drying out.
- If some of your turkey comes out a little dry, don’t worry – just drizzle some warm chicken broth over it. Not enough to drown it, but enough to perk it up, moisten it, and add some flavor.
- If your wire racks will be otherwise engaged during the turkey-cooking process and you don’t want to go out and buy another one, you can make a makeshift roasting rack by rolling aluminum foil into a spiral shape. (Base the size of the spiral on the size of the bird.)
- Did you know you can slow roast your turkey overnight? Really! Just pop it in the oven and leave it on low heat – in the morning your bird will be so tender, it’ll practically fall of the bone! Here’s one recipe, as an example of how to do it.
Thanksgiving tips for the trickiest sides:
- Prep all your veggies a day or two ahead and freeze or refrigerate them – you’ll thank you later.
- If you’re making mashed potatoes, boil them with the skin on for fifteen minutes. When you take them out, the skin will rub right off – no meticulous peeling!
- In fact, if you want to save time, after the first fifteen minutes you can just pop the potatoes right in the microwave to finish baking them. Nobody will be able to tell once they’re mashed. Once you can stick a fork into them with little to no resistance, they’re done.
- If you want your mashed potatoes to turn out extra fluffy, add a sprinkle of baking powder to the mix.
- If you want them creamier, add some sour cream, cream cheese, or both.
- Making biscuits from scratch and realize you don’t have a circular cutter? A wine glass works just as well.
- To give your gravy an extra pop of flavor, add just a splash of soy sauce.
- To keep your gravy warm so you don’t have to microwave it, keep it in a thermos until a few minutes before dinnertime.
Get your just desserts a little easier with these last, sweet Thanksgiving hacks:
- If you’re making your pie crust from scratch, use frozen butter in the mix to keep everything extra flaky.
- To avoid hurting your arms, elbows, or cutting boards trying to chunk up frozen butter, use a cheese grater to grate it directly into your dough.
- Make sure to freeze your rolled-out pie crust before you par bake it, that way it will hold its shape in the oven.
- Additionally, to make sure your pie crust doesn’t puff up, cover it in aluminum foil and load it with pie weights. You don’t need to buy pie weights if you don’t have them – just use dry beans or uncooked rice.
- If you want to provide dessert (or just more options) that aren’t overly involved or time-consuming, check out these great ideas from (My favorite ideas are the apple-cranberry pudding and the no-bake Bailey’s cheesecake!)