I’m going to create an eat-and-run, fast and easy clean-up Thanksgiving dinner this year as I’m hitting the road early the next day. Actually, I’m hitting the air, not the road, as I’m flying to Disney with a bunch of my hand-bell-ringing friends to participate in The Great Disney Christmas Ring.
As excited as I am about my trip, it means I have to be extraordinarily organized for Thanksgiving dinner to have a fast and easy clean-up. Seriously, eat and run.
Last year was simple, but this year will be super simple. My goal is to load the dinner plates and silverware into the dishwasher after dinner, push the start button, and voila, done! One load, not four.
So what am I doing differently?
Extra Careful Prep Work
All the prep and most of the assembly will be done ahead of time so that all of that mess will be cleaned up and put away. If you value your life, do not bother me on Wednesday! Unless, that is, you have come to help. In that case, come on in!
What Will I Do Ahead?
Pies will be done
Vegetables cut and chopped
Turkey thawed…this is important. Really important.
Of course, the table will be set. I always do that ahead.
Easier-For-Me Menu Adjustments
The two menu items that are most difficult for me are the mashed potatoes (ouch, so painful to peel) and the apple pies. So this year, my mashed potatoes will still have their skins on. I know my dear mother is turning in her grave, but due to arthritis in my thumbs, this adjustment must be made.
Solution: Easy No Peel Mashed Potatoes
- Buy enough Yukon Gold potatoes (best for taste and their thin skins) to serve your crowd. One pound for every 3 people should be enough. Throw in a couple extra if you have big guys.
- Wash them. I hear you can do this in the top rack of the dishwasher. Such a good idea! I haven’t done this before but I’m going to try it this year. Since I’m not peeling them, I’m giving them a good scrub. No soap, though. Set on rinse cycle. I can prepare something else while the potatoes are getting scrubbed.
- Cut potatoes into even-sized pieces for evenly cooked potatoes.
- Add potatoes to cold, salted, water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes until just fork tender but not mushy.
- Drain potatoes in a colander. Unless you have a great pot like mine (below) with a drainage lid. If so, just tip and pour.
- If you don’t have a pot like mine and your potatoes are drained in a colander, return them to the pot and shake over medium heat for a minute or two to dry them out and evaporate any remaining water (this will make them more fluffy, instead of gluey). Stir in milk (or cream) and butter. Or cream cheese, sour cream, or whatever you like! Turn off heat.
- Whip with a hand mixer or potato masher until smooth. You can use a stand mixer at a slow speed but be careful! Too much mixing will make the potatoes gluey real fast. Have you already guessed I don’t like gluey, gooey mashed potatoes? I’d rather have a lump or two.
I plan to make the mashed potatoes a day ahead and reheat them in a well greased slow cooker on low on Thanksgiving Day.
I am cheating this year and making an easier version of the apple pie. Apple Crisp!!! Dough I don’t have to roll out!
Best Ever Apple Crisp
- 6 – 8 Large Apples
- 2 T Lemon Juice
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon (or more if you like)
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 1/2 cup Flour
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Stick Cold Unsalted Butter, diced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Peel and slice your apples. Check out this tool. I have been using it for decades and it has saved me so much time and joint pain.
- Place apples in an 8×8 greased pan or pie plate. Hint: if you want it to look like a pie, use a pie plate.
- Pour lemon juice and water over the apples.
- Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle over the apples. Toss.
- Cut together all ingredients with a knife or pastry mixer.
- Use your hands to mix into a pebbly, crumbly mixture.
- Sprinkle about a third of the topping over the apples and stir the apples around a bit so some of the crust is mixed in with the apples. Sprinkle the remaining topping over the apples.
- If you like crust, consider making 1 1/2 times the crust recipe. YUM.
- Bake uncovered at 375 for 35-45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
In ADDITION, I ordered 2 already baked pies to support a fund-raiser at my grandson’s school. Just doing my duty, right?
The rest of the meal will be like last year’s.
- The turkey will be roasted in a turkey bag again as it was a big hit last year. Clean up is so easy as well!
- I’ll make the big batch of cinnamon rolls. Even though they’re not quite as good when they’re not fresh out of the oven, I’ll make these ahead of time as well. I have eaten many leftover cinnamon rolls in my life and I can vouch that they are still good.
- I’ll check with the family to see what vegetables to cook and those will be the only ones served.
- The gravy will come from the turkey farm. Thank you, my sweet daughter.
- I will probably only serve one kind of cranberry sauce, the gelatinous blob.
By doing all this advance work, I hope to have a relaxing Thanksgiving Day with my family and friends. I hope the same for YOU.
As always, take care. You can do it!
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