If I could have it my way, I would be almost 100% in charge of Thanksgiving dinner every year. I say almost because for some reason I don’t do pies well, and there are some family favorite recipes I’m indifferent to, so I tell people to bring them if they want them. However, for the traditional spread, that’s all me! I’m learning to perfect my made from scratch stuffing, my turkey always comes out moist and tender *knock on wood*, mashed potatoes are filled with flavor by adding chicken broth and onions, and the gravy. It took me several years to figure it out, but I think I’ve finally mastered gravy.
There is something about Thanksgiving cooking that puts me in the zone. I always have to decline assistance whenever anyone asks if they can help, partially because I’m a control freak, but also because I know my kitchen, I know all the timing in my head, and it throws me off when I have to break the cooking rhythm to answer questions about where something is or what should be done next. Honestly for me, it’s not hard to manage it all on my own.
Sometimes, however, being in control and whipping up an amazing feast for my family and friends isn’t always ideal. First of all, budget. If I’m cooking it, I’m buying it. A complete, made from scratch Thanksgiving dinner is not cheap. My bank account is not always happy after I
agree demand to do Thanksgiving myself.
Next is family time. If I’m insisting on cooking the entire meal myself, that takes up a lot of time I could be spending with family. I’m not letting them cook with me for quality time, so it probably takes me longer and prevents me from getting out to the festivities sooner.
A great way to solve both of these issues to minimize the budget and maximize family time is to have a Thanksgiving Potluck! Just assign everyone who has stated they are coming a dish to bring. For those who do not cook, they can bring paper plates (if your family uses them), beverages, napkins, store bought rolls (sometimes the bakery of some places has awesome ready to go bread). For everyone else, it seems like there is a favorite or a dish they rock star, so everyone is sure to have something there they will love.
I created this simple potluck list for you to use to keep track of who is bringing what, so you know what you’re missing. When you click on the image it will take you to the pdf. When you print the pdf, please double check printer settings to make sure it will print it out on a standard sheet of paper and not just a small portion of the pdf.
If I’m on a tight budget and I need a quick, go to Thanksgiving dish, I found I can whip up some Cranberry Pecan Stuffing fast by using Stove Top Stuffing and doing a quick stir in. It’s all done in fifteen minutes or less!
There are so many varieties to choose from. Pick whatever flavor will suit your family the best. I chose Savory Herbs because, well, it’s my favorite flavor of Stove Top. I mean, even Walmart, where I picked mine up has it listed in both the main aisle marker and right there in the middle of the aisle. Stuffing is important and they want to make sure you find it easy!
Here’s how it’s done:
Cranberry Pecan Stuffing
- 1 box of Stove Top Stuffing
- 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup cranberries (1/4 cup of dried cranberries can be used instead)
- 1/3 cup chopped or chipped pecans
- 1/2 tbsp butter
In a small skillet, toast the pecans in 1/2 tbsp of butter over medium heat. This doesn’t take long and you can omit the butter or change it to a bit of cooking oil if you’d like. I prefer the slightly buttery taste. Many recipes will tell you to pour the melted butter over the pecans before adding them to the skillet, I just put it all in the skillet together. When the pecans start gaining a slightly darker color and you can smell the nutty flavor, they’re done. It doesn’t take long, remove from heat and set aside.
Next, add the cranberries to the chicken broth and 1/4 cup butter. Bring to a boil. I love this step because it doesn’t take long to soften the cranberries and they make a small popping sound as they crack their outer coating. It’s one of the few times I have fun watching something boil. I’m weird, I know.
Finally, remove from the heat and stir in the stuffing mix, being careful of the cranberries. They are cracked open and soft at this point, the more you stir, the more you’ll break them up and lose the look of cranberries. If you want to be able to recognize cranberries, just do a gentle fold to incorporate the mix. You can add the pecans now or wait until right before you serve it. Cover the stuffing mix and let it rest for five minutes. After five minutes, uncover, fluff with a fork and enjoy!
Speaking of serving it, the girls loved it! Can you #TasteTheSeason?
If you need more inspiration, check out the Cooking Up Good website. They have recipes, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, coupons and more! What’s not to love? If you’re looking for a new dinner idea or a chance to win some awesome prizes, be sure to check it out!
What tips do you have for minimizing the budget and maximizing family time for the holidays? Tell me in the comments.