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Stress-free Thanksgiving Feast

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Behind every beautiful thanksgiving dinner lies hours and hours of planning, shopping and hard graft in the kitchen. Typically mom or grandma devotes herself to these duties in order to bring her family together for the occasion.

In some families, every member contributes in one way or another but one person (not always mom or grandma) will commit to doing the bulk of the work.

Expecting the Thanksgiving chef to get up at 4 a.m. to stuff the turkey so it cooks in time, is not realistic these days.

Here’s The Hernando Sun’s secret formula for the easiest Thanksgiving dinner ever. We’ve created a typical Thanksgiving menu along with a suggested preparation timeline to make this Thanksgiving a more leisurely one.

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Roasted turkey with stuffing and garnished with


Cranberry sauce

Sweet potatoes

Green Beans with almonds

Pumpkin Pie

The first tip is to keep it simple and this menu offers all the nostalgic smells and flavors of a traditional meal along with recipes that are easy to make. Our second tip is to prepare some of the dishes beforehand so all your energies can focus on the turkey — and your family — on the actual day.



Melt half cup of butter in a skillet and add the onion, celery, garlic, sage, thyme, pinch of nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Cook until the onion is soft and remove from the heat. In a large bowl, toss the sautéed vegetables in with the bread cubes and season with pepper. Melt some more butter and pour over the stuffing with either broth or milk or wine, and mix gently until mixture holds together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to stuff turkey. If baking in a casserole, pour a cup or two of stock over the stuffing to replace the juices the stuffing would get from the bird.

Cranberry Sauce

If you whip up this recipe in the serving dish you plan to use, all that’s left is to take it out of the fridge on Thanksgiving Day.

Place the balsamic vinegar and 4 teaspoons of shredded orange peel in a large saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. Add the fresh or frozen cranberries, 1/2 cup each of sugar and orange juice and a tsp of ground cinnamon. Bring back to the boil; and simmer, uncovered until thickened.

Green Beans

This is an easy task for the kids if you want to enlist their help. Wash 2 pounds of fresh green beans to use in your recipe tomorrow. Pat dry then break off the stem ends. Wrap the beans in plastic and refrigerate them until morning. When cooked, top with oodles of butter and slivers of almonds.

Pumpkin Pie

You’ll need two eggs, a can of pumpkin puree and a can of sweetened condensed milk; some pumpkin pie spice and a 9 inch unbaked pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the eggs, pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl and mix. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 15 minutes! Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake until filling is set. Voila!


Turkey (10-12 pounds)

If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure it is thoroughly thawed. We recommend buying a 10 to 12 pound fresh bird.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put aside the neck and giblets and save for gravy. Dry the turkey with paper towels, then season inside and out with salt and pepper.

Fill the turkey with the stuffing prepared yesterday then place breast-side up in a roasting pan and brush with melted butter. Cover with foil and roast for 2 hours; add an extra 15 minutes per pound for larger birds. Remove the foil and baste with more butter. Turn the oven to 425 degrees F and roast for another hour or until the meat at the thigh registers 165 degrees F. Let rest while you make the gravy.


Saving the pan drippings from the roasted turkey, remove the excess fat leaving about 1/4 cup of fat and the browned juices in the pan. Place the pan on the stovetop and sprinkle 4 tbsp cornstarch or flour into the drippings whisking quickly. As the gravy thickens, slowly add some stock, water, milk or cream, depending on taste, and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Season if necessary.

Roasted sweet potatoes

Can be served with sour cream or cinnamon butter. Wash and poke holes into your sweet potatoes and place on a baking sheet (no need for foil). Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until they’re fork tender. To serve: Split open and load on a big dollop of sour cream or Greek yoghurt with a squeeze of lime, salt and chilli powder. and top with toasted pumpkin seeds for some added crunch.

To make the butter, whisk together 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter, 2 tbls honey, and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon until combined. Easy Peasy!

No one wants to spend Thanksgiving worrying and fussing in the kitchen so hopefully, our tips will help you keep calm and enjoy the day with family. Remember, the most important part of the day is being with family and friends and expressing appreciation for all the blessings we have.


Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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