Okay, so you forgot about Thanksgiving.
Here’s your moment to freak out and really stress.
Okay, great. Now it’s time to move on, and, well, get moving.
First of all, let’s prioritize and make some decisions. Consider how many people you’re having over, or how many people you need to feed if you’re a guest expected to bring a certain item.
Do you need a turkey? If so, make it a priority to get yourself to a store today. If not, there are a variety of other routes you could take. It’s probably too late to order a ham (or not! I don’t know where you live; maybe ham isn’t a big ticket item), but you could go with some kind of steak, or even a roasted chicken for a smaller event.
Pan-Seared Bison Steaks: Scott made these when we hosted my parents for Christmas. Specialty butchers may carry these, as well as select Whole Foods-type stores. I like them because they’re healthier than beef, easy, and unique for a special event.
Roasted Chicken with Carrots, Fennel, and Onion: My standby chicken recipe. You cannot go wrong with this recipe. I made roasted chicken on my own for Scott one night and we both loved this. It’s fragrant and flavorful, plus you get a built-in side dish.
Braised Short Ribs with Vegetable Wine Sauce: One of my coworkers is making something similar and she’s really excited about it because she loathes roasting a turkey. My family and I made a similar recipe (from the Top Chef cookbook) for Christmas and it was a hit!
Balsamic and Whiskey Marinated Steak: So easy, the recipe is in the pin description.
Tuscan Chicken Skillet: I made this one night for Scott as a surprise; we both loved it! It’s packs a ton of Italian flavor, and it’s really juicy. I served it with orzo pasta. Definitely an easy, delicious recipe if you want to go for more robust Italian flavors this year.
Uh, but I’m definitely making turkey?: Here’s a simple, classic version then. But if you have a Costco nearby, you may find yourself in luck – they sell bagged organic brined, seasoned turkeys. Grab yourself a turkey bag and you are good to go, my friend. Scott and I swear by turkey bags; they fool-proof.
Vegetarian Main Dishes
Vegetables Wellington: I tried finding the version I spotted in a magazine years ago and ended up finding a recipe that has mushroom “bacon,” a crispy, smoked meatless version. I’m not sure how easy this would be (puff pastry scares me a little), but it’s not roasting a turkey and it’s vegan.
Eggplant Stacks: Think a lighter, easier version of eggplant parm. This recipe is so easy, I made it in high school.
You cannot go wrong with this combo: Spinach + small fruit (sliced strawberries, mandarin slices, dried cranberries, etc) + almonds slivers + poppyseed dressing. This lean green recipe looks delish. Alternately, you could grab any kind of bagged salad available, though you probably want to steer clear of the Asian or Southwestern blends since those flavors are pretty bold.
Two-Toned Mashed Potatoes: I love this, because you get the sweet and the savory in one dish. We don’t have enough people to justify mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, so this is the perfect compromise. Bonus: it doesn’t require the oven. I’ve found that you need a good ratio of non-oven sides if you need to dedicate most of the oven space/time to your turkey.
Glazed Carrots and Ginger: I make this every year because you can do most of the prep work the night before, and it’s an easy stovetop recipe. I also like my carrots a little firmer, and the ginger flavor tempers the sweetness of the honey and brown sugar. It’s a good crowd pleaser.
Stuffing Muffins: These are the best! They’re easy to make and have the perfect crispy/moist ratio. I made them for the first time last year and we were all pleasantly surprised. It’s become a new family tradition.
Roasted Broccoli: I made this for Scott earlier this year, and it’s one of our favorite side dishes. We’re adding it to our Thanksgiving menu because it cooks quickly in the oven (just toss it in with the stuffing muffins once you pull the turkey!).
Glazed Asparagus: We’re considering adding this to the mix because I love asparagus, and my mom introduced us to this recipe earlier in the year. It’s very easy, and one we think we can accommodate with the oven space.
Basic Cranberry Sauce: Another day-ahead wonder, I scoured the Internet to find my favorite cranberry sauce recipe. This is tart and fresh, and earns me ample compliments when I make it.
By far, the easiest thing to do is grab dinner rolls at a bakery or grocery store and just pop them in the oven (post-turkey) to warm ’em up. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try these two-ingredient biscuits (spoiler alert, that recipe is a lie – there are four ingredients), croissants, or baguette.
You can always grab something from a local bakery or store – there’s plenty of pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pecan pie around. I’m a fan of this take on pecan pie, the Bourbon-Pecan Tart with Chocolate Drizzle. In our house, it’s called the bourbon chocolate pecan pie, and I simplify it by getting a frozen pie crust in a tin. Honestly, I would spend more time rolling out the dough and trying to fit it into a tart pan than any of the other prep, so this saves quite a bit of time.
Any tried and true recipes you have to share?