Thanksgiving Planning: Last-minute preparations


Well, you did it. You waited until absolutely the last minute, and now you're wondering how you're going to put Thanksgiving dinner on the table.

A last-minute dinner doesn't have to pale in comparison to one that's well-planned. Go to your neighborhood supermarket, pick up a fresh turkey and all the trimmings, and go to work.

Yes, you'll want a fresh turkey, because thawing a frozen one will take more time than you have. While it's in the oven, you can get to work preparing the side dishes and everything else.

If you're not having a huge crowd, keep the side dishes simple, with one type of potatoes (mashed or sweet) and one or two vegetables. A quick and easy salad is grapefruit sections piled on a lettuce leaf and topped with pomegranate seeds. Use cranberry sauce from the can, or grind fresh berries (a food processor works well for this) with an orange (remove the seeds) and add sugar to taste.

If you have more dishes that require the oven than you have space in your oven, try this slow-cooker version of the time-honored green bean casserole:

SLOW-COOKER GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

For sauce:

1 cup canned fried onions

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

Salt and pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth

1¼ cups heavy cream

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (don't use frozen beans, or they'll get soggy)

For topping:

2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cups canned fried onions

To make the sauce, pulse canned fried onions in food processor until finely ground; set aside. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook until mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and ground onions and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Stir in broth and cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is very thick and creamy, about 10 minutes.

Combine sauce and green beans in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until beans are tender, 5 to 6 hours.

For topping: Meanwhile, pulse bread and butter in food processor until coarsely ground. Toast bread crumbs and onions in clean skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Top green beans with bread-crumb mixture. Serve.

Note: Sauce and topping can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for two days. To finish, microwave sauce, covered, for 1 minute before combining with green beans in the slow cooker. Crisp bread-crumb mixture in skillet before topping beans.

Serves 10.

­- Recipe from Cook's Country

As for rolls, you can buy them from a bakery (or supermarket bakery) or use the kind in the can. Or try this recipe:

THANKSGIVING BREAD

2 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin

½ cup vegetable oil

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Add pumpkin and oil; mix well. Add dry ingredients; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon into two greased 8-by-4-inch loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.

- Recipe from Taste of Home

If you don't have time even for this, consider buying your feast already made. While the deadlines have passed for ordering from most local restaurants and supermarkets, you can order from Marie Callender's as late as today, for pickup on Thanksgiving. The classic feast, which feeds six to eight, comes with a roasted turkey or ham, seven side dishes and a whole pie for $99.99. Other feast options are available, and of course pies are available.

Or consider eating out. Most mainstream restaurants in Las Vegas serve Thanksgiving dinner, even if turkey never crosses their thresholds during the rest of the year. For instance, Austin's, a steakhouse at Texas Station, will serve marinated, slow-roasted turkey with housemade dressing, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, haricot verts, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin or deep-dish apple pie.

Cafe Ile St. Louis at Paris Las Vegas will serve roasted herb-brined turkey breast with cream of pumpkin soup or winter citrus salad, wild rice, dressing, cranberry relish and vegetables.

And local buffets will be piled high with Thanksgiving favorites including turkey, dressing, vegetables, cranberry sauces and pumpkin pie.

 

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