This time of the year it is not sugar plums dancing in people’s heads but turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings for Thursday, November 25th, and then on to Black Friday, lighting of Christmas trees and the kick off of the Christmas season.
Everyone in America is aware of the traditional Thanksgiving Day menu; even if it is varied from family to family and especially from locale to locale. Folks in the South prefer cornbread dressing and those up north and other places use stuffing. And even these two delights are different according to their own traditional recipes.
Some will have family and friends running all over the place; and even out into the yards for that traditional backyard game of touch football. The TV’s will be running full force for all the ‘real’ football games in the living room or den.
But there are also folks who will have a very quiet day with fewer family and friends; and a smaller menu.
Whether your dinner is large or small, where there is love and true thanksgiving, that it what it is all about.
However, there will be some who prefer to just go out to eat and not be bothered with the all day of cooking and cleaning up. It is hard to shop on Black Friday when you are over stuffed anyway. And some just do not want to cook for a very small group.
For years all of our children and grandchildren came ‘home’ for Thanksgiving and we had them running out the seams and the little ones running all over the house. But now they have their own families and continue the time tested traditions and recipes in their own homes. Many times empty nesters just don’t want to go to all the trouble they once did for Thanksgiving Dinner.
There are also many other smaller groups who would fare well with this quick-fix, quick-clean up menu.
Some will opt to have their dinner catered or just simple take-out from a local grocer or restaurant with them cooking all the delights.
But if you will only have a small group at your home this Thanksgiving, you don’t have to cook such a variety of foods and have so much to throw out; which is a shame in these hard economical times.
Here is a suggestion which might entice you to keep the tradition alive without all the hard work.
Even a small turkey or hen has to go through the process and that is the main dish on the menu and takes the most time of planning and preparation. But it does not have to be.
Quick Fix Thanksgiving Menu
Purchase several chicken/turkey breasts and boil them in chicken broth. Cook your cornbread as usual. Remove the boiled chicken and slightly separate – not too thin. Put your chopped celery and onions in the broth from the chicken and heat until just a little bit tender.
Crumble up your cornbread and pour the onion, celery, broth mixture into the cornbread and stir until a thick consistency – add a couple of eggs and sage to taste. Pour a layer of this mixture into a 9 x 12 glass baking dish and then a layer of the chicken/turkey meat; and then top off with the rest of the dressing mixture. Put into a 350 degree oven until golden brown. You will have dressing on top and bottom with the chicken/turkey in between. The thicker the dressing mixture the drier and more solid the dressing. This you could cut into squares. If you like more moist dressing and like to scoop it, you can add more chicken broth or even a can of Chicken Rice soup. This will give you a creamy less dry dressing.
To make quick gravy, use one pack of each of the following. McCormack’s Brown, Chicken and Onion gravy and cook according to directions – makes great, great gravy. You can also use the water from cooking your potatoes here rather than just plain water. But make sure it is not hot. Gravy calls for it to be mixed in cold water.
While all of this is cooking, open up a couple cans of good brand green beans, drain off water from can, place in frying pan of melted butter and small amount of water, add lemon pepper and cook on low heat until green beans change to a darker color. They will taste like fresh and not canned.
You can use instant potatoes; but peeling and boiling whole potatoes is worth the effort for delicious mashed potatoes. You can add butter, cream, or even a dollop of sour cream – however, you like your mashed potatoes; also salt and pepper to taste.
Open a can of good quality whole white corn, (or frozen). Drain off water and place in skillet/boiler with butter and additional water and bring to a boil. Take a tablespoon of flour and mix it well in a small cup of water and slowly stir and pour into the corn until it has a smooth creamy sauce. Keeping flour mixture thin and stir in slowly will prevent lumps.
Open a can of cranberry sauce if you wish. Ambrosia salad makes a good addition. Just simply mix a variety of fresh fruit chopped together and add a little coconut and pecans.
After taking out the chicken/turkey dressing, and while the oven is still hot, pop in a package of dinner rolls.
Have on hand your favorite ready-made pie. Mrs. Smith, or Edwards or some good brand is just as good as homemade. Select your favorite apple, pecan, pumpkin, or sweet potato. Have ice cream or whipped cream for that additional zip to your dessert.
Put on a nice table cloth, use the good dishes, and even candlelight if you wish. Use your pie, some Thanksgiving ornaments, fall flowers or leaves in a vase as your centerpiece.
No bones, grease or carcass to contend with since you are not using a whole bird.
And in no time at all you have a Thanksgiving feast with so little effort. Serve plates from the stove with scoops of chicken/dressing with gravy along with the mashed potatoes, green beans and corn; and it makes a beautiful plate. Place rolls in basket with cover to keep them warm. You can serve the ambrosia from a larger bowl or individual small bowls beside each plate. No extra bowls or serving dishes to wash and put away.
Serve up iced tea or your favorite beverage with dinner and perhaps coffee with dessert.
This calls for a very easy clean up as well. This will give you even more time for some quick shopping to beat the crowds for Black Friday in the stores that will be open on Thanksgiving Day.
Of course this is just a menu outline; you can choose your own favorite vegetables, etc. But the reward of easy fix and easy clean-up is very attractive to many folks especially those with small kitchens, small families, small budgets, or even college students. This is also economical since the meat will cost much less than a whole bird and with no waste.
Don’t forget to be thankful with a blessing, a poem, or a scripture reading; and go around the table and allow people to say what they are thankful for. Remember the soldiers and their families, those with an empty chair at the table this year, and those who will have so little this Thanksgiving because of lost jobs and the economy.
God bless and Happy Thanksgiving!
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