Easy as Pie
Felt Turkey from Munky King Stuffed ShowPie really isn't that easy to make. I don't know who said that! My personal culinary hero was the recently departed Peg Bracken. She wrote the "I Hate to Cook Book". Now, I don't really hate to cook, I just like to have lots of time to really plan my cooking. In this day and age of working overtime, traffic and busy schedules, who has time to cook? Not me, that's for sure! Besides, why waste time in the kitchen when I could be knitting or crocheting?
I used to cook all the time. I am a good cook. People expect me to turn out an excellent meal when I invite them to dinner. I usual comply. However, I have taken Peg Bracken's philosophy of using prepared, canned and frozen food to heart and have tried to come up with guaranteed crowd-pleasing side dishes with little or no effort.
OK! You are invited to a Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. You don't have to bring the turkey (thank goodness), but you are expected to bring a side dish. Here are some easy "recipes" that will please your hostess and their guests. If you're going to make any of these recipes, you must go to the market right now! These are not last minute choices. There is de-frosting to be done!
That easy pie I was talking about? Well, it's pumpkin ice-cream pie. Get yourself a prepared graham cracker pie crust at the market. Pick up some seasonal pumpkin ice cream and a can of whipped cream. When you get home, leave the ice-cream out so that it melts. You may want to scoop a bunch out of the container into a bowl so it melts faster. Once the ice-cream is sufficiently melted, pour it into the graham cracker pie crust. Cover the pie with the plastic domed cover the crust came with and pop it back into the freezer overnight. When you're ready to serve the pie, top it with whipped cream and slice! This is an excellent substitution for "real" pumpkin pie.....very light and refreshing after that heavy turkey dinner!
Your hostess asked you to bring a vegetable side dish. Don't go all ordinary and bring that tired old green bean casserole with the mushroom soup (although this is an excellent dish, using my beloved cans o' stuff). Instead, bring a delicious spinach souffle. Back at the supermarket, pick up 5 containers of Stouffer's Spinach Souffle. Once at home, release the souffles from their packages. You may want to just dump them into that large bowl to defrost them, or you can dump them directly into your 13" x 9" serving dish. (Note: Awhile back, I was thinking of writing the "Dump and Shove-It Cookbook"). Once all the souffles are melty, smash them up a bit and distribute the spinachy goodness evenly in the serving dish. Bake the souffle according to package directions (usually about an hour). You may have to cook this a bit longer so it's not soupy. Keep a watch on it thru the oven door. You'll know when it's done. Pop your perfect souffle into a hot carrying case and take it over to your Auntie's house.
Cousin Marilyn and Larry @ Past Family GatheringIf your hostess asks you to bring something starchy...something like potatoes? Dazzle her and say that you'll bring a Mac 'n Cheese casserole! This is the same idea as the spinach souffle, above. This time, go to Trader Joe's and buy 5 containers of their frozen macaroni and cheese, it's positively delicious. If you don't live in an area where there is a Trader Joe's Market, then good ol' Stouffer's can be substituted. Defrost, place in baking dish, smoosh around. I like to add extra grated cheese on top with some bread crumbs and a dash of paprika before baking....about 35 minutes.
If you volunteer to bring the cranberries, you can do this at the last minute. Buy a can of whole berry cranberry sauce (the chunky kind). Then, buy a can of mandarin oranges. Open up both cans, drain the mandarin oranges and cut them up a bit Mix the cranberries and oranges together, place in an attractive serving bowl, chill and serve. If you really want to impress, grate a bit of orange rind as garnish on the top.
You'll be the hit of the party with your divine contributions to an excellent meal!
What is my family doing this year for Thanksgiving dinner? We're going to a restaurant!!!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!