|Get these in the refrigerated section of your grocery|
If you have been following my blog, you know that I encourage everyone to make homemade food. The less food is processed, the better it is. Home cooking is tastier, healthier and usually less expensive. However, I am also a realist. I teach school and sometimes I work 12 hour days during the week and then go in on the weekend. I get it. You are tired and don’t have time to get all fancy and aren’t into being judged. You just want to open a can of something, heat it up, and have dinner. Especially on Thanksgiving. So. Much. Work….I hear you. I am here to make things easier. I am here to help you cheat.
You cannot cheat with the turkey. You can make Maple Roasted Turkey which is simple and delicious. You can, however, cheat with the side dishes. I promise you, just hide the packages. No one will know.
First, get refrigerated, pre-made mashed potatoes. Do not get boxed flakes. They actually take more time and effort than refrigerated potatoes and do not taste as good. We like Simply Potatoes. Next, jazz them up. I stirred half a container of Heluva Good Dip (6 ounces) into 32 ounces of potatoes. I have tried every flavor and liked them all except for the pickle and jalapeño. (Don’t get me wrong, those two flavors are still great as dips.) You could add instead (also?) crumbled fried bacon, chopped chives, shredded cheese, a few ounces of cream cheese, garlic butter, sour cream, a little dried dill, lots and lots of ground black pepper or Parmesan cheese. Add the mix-ins and a little bit of butter or a splash of milk (buttermilk?) to the saucepan before you add the mashed potatoes, stir and heat. Finally, just serve them and don’t say anything. No one will know better.
You can also make a quick side dish with wide, egg noodles. Boil the noodles in water with a generous amount of Better than Bouillon. Chicken, veggie or garlic flavors work best. Toss the hot, drained noodles with more butter than you think is necessary. Then add a little more butter. You can then sir in crumbled fried bacon, chopped ham, drained black olives, chopped chives, dried dill, dried parsley, sour cream, ground black pepper or Parmesan cheese. You can also defrost frozen peas or zap a bag of frozen broccoli and toss the veggies in, too. And then add more butter.
|This came from a box. Shhhhh!|
Cornbread from a box is an allowable cheat. Krusteze is the best boxed mix, but you can use which ever brand you prefer. If you use Jiffy, get two boxes. Follow the instructions for making corn muffins and stir in any one of the following wet ingredients: a can of drained, whole kernel corn, a single serving can of creamed corn, or ¼ cup chunky salsa. You can also add any or all of these: a four ounce can of drained hatch peppers, 4 sliced green onions, ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, or ½ pound cooked crumbled sausage. Following the package directions for baking. So good, so easy.
For dessert, make a dump cake. That name is so NOT appealing. We’re going to call it a Simple Cobbler from now on. This could not be easier. Get 2 cans of some type of fruit. Preferably, something ridiculously sweet, like cherry pie filling or crushed pineapple. Dump the fruit into the bottom of a 9×13 inch glass baking dish. Then dump a yellow or white cake mix on top of the fruit. Use a spatula to spread out the cake mix to the edges. Give the pan a little shake to make sure that all of the dry ingredients are sort of settled in. Add thin slices of butter over the top of the cake mix. Make sure to add enough butter so that none of the cake mix will be dry when the cake starts baking. (Powdery, unbaked cake? No thanks.) Bake the cobbler at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Simple Cobbler can also be jazzed up. Substitute frozen fruit for one of the cans. If you are making peach or apple Simple Cobbler, stir golden raisins into the fruit. Add a little cinnamon or citrus zest to the cake mix. Sprinkle chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds onto the top before baking. This is really awful and yet really delicious. People will know that you cheated here, but they won’t care. Everybody loves this stuff.
If you are in the mood and have time, you can make any of my Thanksgiving recipes from scratch. However, if you want to take some shortcuts, I’m not going to tell.