An Easy-Peasy Thanksgiving for (Cooking) Virgins

Okay. There's just one week left 'til you cook your very first Thanksgiving dinner in your teensy apartment. Don't panic! We've been there, done that, and proudly present to you our tips for an easy-peasy Thanksgiving dinner - including a handy timeline so you won't feel rushed - that'll taste great & won't break your budget.

Learn more... after the jump! Click the post title to read the rest.

And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let's share! Tell us your favorite easy Thanksgiving recipes in the comments!

Shopping list for a meal to serve 4-6 people plus leftovers, that includes Turkey & Gravy, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cornbread Dressing, Brown Sugar-Bourbon Candied Sweet Potatoes, Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce, and Green Beans Almondine- have guests bring the wine & dessert.

1 12-pound turkey
1 pound unsalted butter
Low-fat milk
Poultry seasoning
Salt & pepper
3 quarts chicken stock
2 eggs
1 small bag chopped walnuts
1 small bag slivered almonds
1 8x8 inch pan of cornbread
3 large onions
1 package celery ribs
2 pounds baby red potatoes
2 pounds yams or sweet potatoes
2 oranges
1 lemon
1 bag fresh cranberries
2 pounds green beans
Brown sugar
Olive oil

The Day Before:

Chop: For dressing, dice 4 ribs of celery and 1 onion into about ½ inch chunks. Saute these in 2 tbsp butter over low heat until soft (not browned). Refrigerate. Peel & chop sweet potatoes into 1 inch chunks, & potatoes as well. Refrigerate separately. Slice one more onion into thick rings & reserve for the turkey. Crumble the cooked cornbread into chunks, then store in a baggie.

Cranberry Sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the bag of cranberries, 1 cup water, and 1 ½ cups sugar over medium-high heat. Allow to come to a boil, then simmer until the berries "pop" open, about 10-15 minutes. Add zest and juice of one orange. Cool to room temp, then refrigerate.

Prep that bird: Let two sticks of butter come to room temperature. Mash them up with 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning & salt & pepper. Rub the softened herb butter all over the turkey & under skin of the bird. Tie legs together with string. In the bottom of a roasting pan, put a layer of sliced onions and any remaining ribs of celery down, then set roasting rack & bird on top of that. Refrigerate until tomorrow.

The Day Of:

Turkey: Plan to roast for 15 minutes a pound. A 12lb. bird roasts for about 3 hours roasted at 325 degrees, or until the breast meat is at 160 degrees when tested with a meat thermometer. So, about 4 hours before feast time, take the bird out of the fridge & start heating the oven. Pour 2 quarts chicken stock into the bottom of the roasting pan over onions & celery. Quarter the last onion & remaining orange, & stuff them inside the bird before it's in the oven.

Assemble Dressing. Mix cooked onion & celery together with the crumbled cornbread & place in a greased 9x13 baking dish. In a mixing bowl, whip together 2 eggs, 4 tbsp melted butter, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp poultry seasoning, and 1 quart chicken stock. Pour over the cornbread mixture and stir to combine. It should be moist, but not soaking wet. Dot top with 2 tablespoons butter. When the turkey has about 30 minutes to go, pop the stuffing in on your oven's lower rack & bake for a total of 45 minutes.

Sweet Potatoes: Melt 2 tbsp butter & stir with 2 tbsp brown sugar + 2 teaspoons bourbon. Put sweet potatoes on a baking sheet & toss with melted butter mixture, then sprinkle with salt & pepper. When the turkey comes out of the oven, leave the stuffing in & put the sweet potatoes in as well, then crank the oven to 375. Take the sweet potatoes out after about 25-30 minutes of cook time. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Mashed Potatoes: When you take the turkey out of the oven to rest, place potatoes in a saucepan & cover with water. Let the potatoes boil until fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk with 4 tbsp of butter, & 1 whole clove of garlic until just simmering. When potatoes are done, drain & then return to hot pan. Pour milk/butter mixture in - leave garlic out - and mash until desired consistency achieved. (You can also whip these with an electric mixer.) Add salt & pepper to taste.

Steam Green Beans: Use a Ziploc Steam Bag to steam beans until crisp-tender. Toss with juice & zest of 1 lemon, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp butter, and 2 tbsp slivered almonds.

Gravy: Remove bird to a carving board. Discard onions & celery from roasting pan. Pour chicken stock & drippings into a fat separator & let the fat rise to the top. Skim off all but about 3 tablespoons of the fat. Put the roasting pan on 2 stove burners & turn both to medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of fat back into the pan w/ browned bits & sprinkle in 3-4 tablespoons flour. Stir together with a whisk & cook for 2 minutes to get rid of raw flour taste. Slowly pour the broth back in & let it come to a bubble - the flour will help it to thicken. Keep stirring the whole time! Add 1 tablespoon of bourbon in at the end, and salt & pepper to taste.


**Picture courtesy of**



Posted on 11.20.09 at 3:34 PM

Last year, my boyfriend wanted me to give him something easy to make, so I chose this recipe ( ) since it's something I made growing up. It's super simple, and it's tangy and sweet and buttery and crunchy!


Posted on 11.20.09 at 3:50 PM

You're my hero ^_^ I'm totally cooking challenged


Posted on 11.20.09 at 3:58 PM

I always add a couple of tablespoons of dark molasses and whiskey to my pumpkin pie. The flavor is amaaazing.


Posted on 11.20.09 at 6:06 PM

Don't use water in the cranberries, use a red wine. So much tastier. And add a cinnamon stick when boiling the sugar and wine.


Posted on 11.21.09 at 4:01 PM

I always use orange juice in my cranberry sauce, with a cinnamon stick as mentioned above.

And it sounds harder than it is- brining your turkey is a fantastic idea and keeps me meat nice and moist. Alton Brown's recipe on food network's site is a winner.


Posted on 11.21.09 at 4:30 PM

Agreed about Alton Brown's brining method - it's tried and true. Just make sure you have extra room in your fridge or a spare cooler!
I added cloves, dried cherries, and port to my cranberry sauce this year (Canadian thanksgiving is earlier) and it was a hit.
Another valuable shortcut I've used is buying premade pie crust.


Posted on 11.22.09 at 1:29 PM

You'd have to make sure that turkey is fresh, not frozen, or have ample time to thaw in the fridge. We do the "in a bag" roasting method, and it's always come out great.

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