Frank Lillig

Thanksgiving is approaching quickly, which can mean a chaotic mad dash for groceries, recipes, and tutorials on how to provide a perfect feast. Here are a few ways to make the process a little easier and less hectic, and also a few great additions to an already outstanding menu.

A tip for an as-close-to-stress-free-as-can-be Thanksgiving feast is to prepare anything you can ahead of time. Veggies can be diced the night before and stored in the fridge. Potatoes can be washed in a dish washer on a regular rinse cycle. They can be boiled then set into an ice bath for easy peeling. Apples for apple pie can be diced the night before and set in a large bowl in cold water in the fridge; the water is so they don’t turn brown. Pie crusts can be rolled out and stored in the freezer. Go ahead and do anything you can get away with doing one or two nights ahead of the feast.

Here are a few menu tips and ideas:

  • Stuffing can be baked in a cupcake pan for individual serving sizes.
  • Adding a pinch of baking powder to mashed potatoes will make them extra fluffy.
  • Add a spoonful of soy sauce into gravy to improve flavor.
  • Use a regular-sized cup for perfect biscuit size. Roll out and flatten the dough and use the cup to cut out circles of dough.
  • Microwave potatoes for easy mashing if you don’t want to boil them. Place them in a microwavable bowl and cook on high for 8 minutes. Then add milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Carmel apple slices. Cut an apple in half from top to bottom then spoon out the core plus a little extra for the caramel. Melt the caramel and pour into the apple and let cool. Then slice the half into thirds or quarters and voila!
  • Rather than just cooking one big pie you can make little personal pies in mason jars. Make your crust and line the mason jars with it. Then fill them with your filling and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. If you are afraid of breaking your jars, you can put them in a cold oven and turn it to 375 degrees so they warm up slowly.
  • Cone-copia candy treats. Dip the bottom quarter of a sugar cone in a cup of warm water and curl it up. Then fill it with some candy treats, cover with plastic wrap and tie it off with string or ribbon.
  • Apple cups. Cut off the top third of an apple and scoop out the inside. Then brew some tea and fill your apple cup. Then you have a tea-infused treat after you’re finished drinking out of it.