Hacks For Thanksgiving Cooks

Hacks For Thanksgiving Cooks

Prep and clean like a champ this year.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be a stressful process if your kitchen isn’t prepped and cleaned properly. Make sure you have all the ingredients, cooking supplies and help you’ll need before going to bed Thanksgiving eve.

Do meal prep the day before.

Facing the supermarket Thanksgiving Day is a nightmare. Standing in line behind 20 people, each only buying the one thing they forget, is maddening. Have a list of ingredients for all your recipes and shop a few days or even a week ahead of time. Set groceries for the main dishes out the night before, and start any other meal prep possible. From cutting veggies to marinating the turkey, there’s plenty of time to be saved if you start cooking a day early.

Here are some meal prep ideas to get you started:

  • Cut all fruits and veggies, store in bags
  • Bake desserts on Thanksgiving Eve
  • Prep the turkey to be roasted
  • Get the cranberry sauce out of the way too
  • Bake the bread and nuts (to save oven space)

  • Have the right equipment too. Yes, you’ll need a turkey baster. Some quality baking dishes, and good-looking serving plates, bowls, and spoons. With so much time to practice, now is a good chance to learn which knife to use when. Consider your oven space and make a schedule for which dish will be cooked when. That way everything will be served hot and on time.

    Find the right recipes.

    Having a variety of dishes is important, especially when feeding a large group. Don’t make the green bean casserole on the back of the Frenchie’s fried onions can. Everybody does that. At least have a somewhat recipe from online. Check out the ratings first to make sure it’s a hit, and for any additional cooking tips from those who have tried it. Consider preferences and allergies that your friends and family may have, vegetarians for example.

    Read up on baking too, especially if you’re not big into it year-round. With good baking and browning tips, and some broiling tips too, your recipes will come to life. If you're a baking pro, read up on your oven specs to master bake times.

    Clean up quickly and efficiently.

    Nobody wants to do a bunch of dishes after hours of meal prep, and a giant meal. In my family, the men do most the cleaning after the women commit to a full day of cooking. But regardless of how you divvy up the tasks – you’ll want to use effective cleaning methods to get the job done quickly.

    I prefer nonstick bakeware to avoid scrubbing dirty pans for too long. Otherwise, just wrap your pans in foil so you can easily throw away the mess. Use square Tupperware containers to make the most of your fridge space. I also use Ziplocks whenever I can to help save space.

    Remember to take care of your cooking equipment, it’s costly to replace and if cared for properly can last many years. I have a few pans in my closet I've been using since I moved out of my parent's house. Wash stainless steel safely and be careful what you put in the dishwasher. Wooden spoons and thin plastic are no-goes. When cleaning the oven or stove top, scrub thoroughly to avoid stinky smoke clouds the next time you cook.

    Make soup and sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch.

    Every year my family has plenty of Turkey leftover so my mom makes a big pot of soup and we all make sandwiches for lunch the next day. Pro tip: use Hawaiian rolls and make mini sandwiches. If you’re feeling adventurous, put mashed potatoes and gravy on the sandwiches too.

    You’ll want to shop for the soup ingredients ahead of time as well. Rushing to the store the morning after Thanksgiving is never fun. The whole weekend should be spent relaxing with family, so stock up on enough food and activities to spend a few days at the house. If soup isn't your thing, check out dozens of other recipes to use up your leftover turkey.

    Cooking Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Use prep and cleaning tips pros have picked up along the way to save time. Everyone can pitch in a little help when it comes time to clean up, so delegate tasks to family members so everyone can get back to doing Thanksgiving traditions.

    Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

    Popular Right Now

    How To Play 'New Girl's' True American Drinking Game

    "It's 75% drinking, 20% Candy Land, and the floor is molten lava."

    I think it's fair to say that anyone who watches "New Girl" knows about True American. This crazy, nonsense drinking game which pops up every so often throughout the seasons and first introduced in season one, episode 20.

    The game, as described by "New Girl" character and fan-favorite Schmidt, is 75% drinking game and 20% Candy Land with a floor of molten lava.

    The point of the game is for players to navigate through the Candy Land-like spaces to the "castle," which is a table in the center of the room that holds beer "pawns" and the "king" bottle. The first person to reach and sip from the bottle wins.

    SEE ALSO: 15 Things "New Girl" Fans Know to Be True

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    Here's how to play:

    Step #1: Prepare the "castle"

    First, set up your "castle." The castle is made up of beer "pawns" and the "king," a bottle filled with the alcohol of your choice.

    The bottle should be in the middle of the table, surrounded by four lines of beer pawns. There is no exact number of beers necessary for each line of beer pawns. Choose any amount of beers that seems appropriate for the amount of players.

    Step #2: Set up spaces

    Set up spaces using pillows, chairs or any other objects players will be able to stand on. Place an equal amount of spaces around the table. You'll want about 5-8 spaces on each side, depending on the size of the room you're playing in.

    Only four of these spaces should reach the castle, lining up with the parade of beer "pawns" and allowing players to take a beer pawn from the castle. For example, in the photo above, each of the chairs touch a corner of the table at the end of the line of beer pawns. Therefore, these are two of the four special spaces that allow players to take a beer. Unlike the pillows pictured, which are just regular spaces that the players can use to move around.

    Step #3: Pick teams

    Teams are optional. To pick teams, all of the players will place a certain number (1 to 5) of fingers against their forehead on the count of three.

    Any players who hold up the same number are a team. Unmatched players can team up as needed or simply pair up with the person standing closest to them.

    Step #4: Begin

    Begin with a shotgun "tip-off" to determine which player goes first.

    The winner of this shotgunning contest will yell, "One, two, three...JFK!" to announce the official beginning of the game. All players will enthusiastically respond, "FDR!" then quickly grab a beer pawn from the castle and run to any space they wish to start at, excluding for the four special spaces that reach the castle.

    Step #5: Make moves

    The winner of the shotgunning contest has earned the first turn. From then on, the order of turns will move in a clockwise rotation. During each turn, the player will move one space toward the castle and choose to play one of the following mini-games.

    Mini-game No. 1: The player whose turn it is will count to three then all players will place a certain number (1-5) of fingers on their forehead. Any player who selects a number no one else selected can move ONE space.

    Mini-game No. 2: The player whose turn it is will recite the beginning of a famous American quote. The first player to complete the quote can move TWO spaces.

    Mini-game No. 3: The player whose turn it is will name two famous American people, places, or things. The first player to identify what the two have in common can move THREE spaces.

    For example, say it's your turn. You will move one space then choose one of the three mini-games. You and all of the players will participate in that game, and the winner will move accordingly. After this, your turn is over and it's the next player's turn (in the original clockwise rotation).

    Step #6: "Play on, playa."

    Continue playing by these rules until one lucky winner reaches the bottle and sips from its royal glass.

    The bottle cannot be opened until every last pawn is removed from the castle. Any players who fail to keep at least one beer in hand, who accidentally end up with more than three beers in hand, or who touch the lava are immediately disqualified. Disqualified players can rejoin the game by shotgunning a beer.


    You are now able to impress all of your "New Girl"-loving friends with knowledge of the workings of the epic True American drinking game. Know your limits, drink responsibly, and enjoy!

    Cover Image Credit: i.amz.mshcdn.com

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    A Love Letter To My Air Fryer

    And why you would love an fryer too...


    In a previous article, I wrote about how love to use Trello.com for organizing things. I'm still loving Trello. I've haven't grown bored of it and stopped using it (like I have with some other organizational systems). This time, I'm going to share another item that I love, and it's for one of my favorite things, food! I finally gave in and bought an air fryer, and after my first use, I literally said that it's wonderful! I bought a small air fryer. It only holds about two quarts, but it's perfect for quick lunches.

    I thought I'd love the air fryer if it could dry fry food with little to no oil, and it does just that. I'm also in love with the air fryer, because I could simply put the food in it, set the timer and live my life for a few minutes until the food is done. I don't have to stand over it and watch the food cook. That makes the air fryer a winner! Did I mention that it really does work?! Yes, it does work. Now, you could buy foods that are already breaded and throw them in the air fryer, but if you want to go the healthier route, you can use bread crumbs, flour, and eggs to make your own crispy coatings for your foods. Dipping your food in your own homemade batter cuts out some of the salt and added chemicals in the frozen pre-fried foods.

    You can also fry foods that do not even need a homemade batter. Without using the batter, I've made sweet potato French fries and burritos in it. The tortilla for the burrito turned out nicely crispy, but I didn't leave it in the air fryer long enough for it to be crunchy. The sweet potato fries came out nice. I've tried making crispy chickpeas with Italian seasoning, but they weren't to my liking. However, I have loved everything else that I've made in the air fryer. Sometimes I just put a quick meal in it, just to re-heat it, since I don't use a microwave. I just think that using the air fryer is healthier than using microwaves, and I love that I don't need to put my food in a special box or anything for it to be really crispy. If you love fried chicken or fried fish, you'd love this little machine as much as I do!

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