Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top 9 Thanksgiving Hacks


There is nothing like the thrill of Thanksgiving, like trying to cook a four-course meal for twelve people in your kitchen that usually only serves four people - am I right? Ok, maybe thrill isn't the right word. Whether you're excited, panicked, terrified, or ready to call the Chinese restaurant for take out, here are some tips to help reduce your stress and make the most of your kitchen.

1. DIY Roasting Rack
No roasting rack? No problem! You can easily make your own roasting rack with tin foil or vegetables. To make the rack with tin foil, simply roll tin foil into a 1/2" thick line, and twist into a spiral shape to fit underneath the turkey. No tin foil? Try cutting some extra vegetables like onions (halving), carrots (peeling) and celery and line the bottom of the pan. The vegetable option gives added flavor to your turkey. 






2. Copy/Print your Recipes & Tape to Cabinets
If you are anything like me, I lose my recipes at least 14 times before I finish cooking the dish. Save yourself the hassle of searching for lost recipes, or trying to figure out what they say underneath the layers of spilled food by taping them to your cabinets. For the handwritten ones, or recipes in books, you might want to make a copy before taping them. Taping recipes also helps create "stations" in your kitchen when you have people helping you cook, so that nothing is forgotten and everyone has space.

3. Mashed Potatoes from the Microwave
Need extra space on your stove? Don't have time to boil potatoes? Use your microwave! You can microwave your potatoes instead of boiling them and it will save time and space. Microwave 4 medium russet, yukon gold, or white potatoes (6-8 red potatoes) for 8 minutes. Then, continue with your favorite mashed potato recipe! 

Bonus hack: For fluffier mashed potatoes, add baking powder when mixing!

4. Use Coolers/Ice Chests for Additional Refrigerator Space
 "Mom, there's not enough room in the fridge for the green bean casserole!" How many times have we heard that phrase, or something similar? Make more room in your refrigerator by putting some items in coolers/ice chests. For added ease, you can assign different coolers with purposes, such as desserts, appetizers, side dishes, etc. 




5. Slow Roast your Turkey Overnight to Free Oven
They say the smell of turkey makes you sleepy right? Get a good night's rest with the smell of turkey on your side by cooking the turkey as you sleep. Since it takes so long to cook a turkey, you can save yourself a few Thanksgiving Day headaches by cooking your turkey the night before. Your turkey will be fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy.

You can use any family recipe to prep the turkey, then use this little guide for baking a 20 pound turkey: 
Place turkey, breast side down in rack in roaster. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Turn turkey over; reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees. Bake uncovered without opening oven door for 10-12 hours. 



Bonus hack: Use warm chicken broth to bring it back to life if it gets cold, by pouring it over the turkey. This is also a great tip for dry turkey.

6. Prevent Pie Crusts from Burning with Tin Foil 
Don't you just hate it when you make a delicious pie from scratch and the edges of the crust are burned? It just burns me up...ba dum bum tss. To prevent such catastrophes from happening, simply wrap the edges of the pie in tin foil, leaving the center open to cook. Nothing else will change, just the edges!



7. Grate Frozen Butter for Dough
The biggest secret to fluffy and delicious biscuits is the cold butter. But boy is it a pain to have to cut into the dough! Save yourself some time and energy by grating frozen butter into your dough! This is also a great alternative to if you don't have a pastry knife.








8. Prep - Grocery Lists & Veggie Chopping Ahead of Time
You can budget time and money a little better by planning ahead. Plan out the dishes, recipes, grocery lists, and time in advance. 

By planning your menu early, you save yourself from those last-minute trips to the grocery store on Thanksgiving Day and get the added benefit of hitting sales on certain items by knowing you need them ahead of time. 

Chop early! There is so much prep work involved before making most dishes this holiday season, so relax a little by doing the leg work a day or two in advance. You can even put the chopped veggies/ingredients into separate zip lock bags with the amount written on the outside so you can just toss them into your pan on Turkey Day! For example, if your stuffing calls for 2 cups of onions, chop the onions, put 2 cups in a bag and label it "2 Cups - Stuffing". This is much better than trying to sew finger tips back on after dicing too quickly on the big day.

9. Use Slow Cookers to Keep Sides Hot
Instead of trying to overwhelm your poor oven on the busiest day of the year, cook your side dishes early and use a crock pot/slow cooker to keep them warm for hours! This ensures that your food will be served hot, without having to shove everything in your oven 15 minutes before dinner is served. 





I hope you are able to use these tips to have a stress-free Thanksgiving!