Last night my husband and I, wanting for Thanksgiving food but not for the work involved in making Thanksgiving food, decided on a lark to do a “dry run” of Thanksgiving, making it with as many convenience foods as possible and as little actual work as possible, at the lowest cost possible. Thus we give you our version of Thanksgiving this year, with the least effort possible.
The turkey? A Jennie-O bone-in oven ready (bake in bag from frozen) turkey breast ($17.00). With that, we made a bag of Yoder’s Homestyle Mashed Potatoes with Lumps ($2.99), Bob Evans frozen green bean casserole ($2.99), stuffing made from leftover sage and herb foccacia bread from our Bravo dinner the night before ($2.00 for a half loaf), an onion (33 cents), pre-chopped celery from Giant Eagle (about 66 cents worth), chicken broth (.50) and a stick of butter (.75), a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, or “canberry sauce” as we like to call it ($1.00), Green Giant frozen candied yams ($3.99) and gravy that came with the turkey (free).
Our impressions? If an all-local, takes 16 hours to prepare and EVERYTHING is made from scratch Thanksgiving meal is a 10, we’d rate this about a 7. The turkey was excellent. The stuffing would have been better had I just used the 50 cent loaf of white bread and seasoned it separately (the taste was good, the texture was a bit off). The green bean casserole was better than my own. The mashed potatoes were indistinguishable from those made from scratch. I’m one of these odd birds who like canberry sauce, so I enjoyed that. I wasn’t crazy about the candied yams, I much prefer my own recipe (these were a little too molassesy for my tastes). The gravy was pretty dire – too salty and tasted a bit like turkey base. The final cost (with dessert)? Less than $40. Compare that to the over $200 I spent last year… So with some changes (making stuffing with white bread, making my own gravy, making my own yam recipe)? As good as any Thanksgiving dinner, without standing over a hot stove, without tons of dishes to clean up, and without needing a week to recover. And as much as I do love eating local, this year it’s just too much trouble to cook from scratch, especially since it’s just the two of us. Even convenience food has it’s place sometimes. Oh, and about dessert:
Triple-Layer Pumpkin Spice Pie. The layers didn’t come out with quite as much contrast as I would have like, but it definitely had the pumpkin pie vibe going on, and in only 20 minutes of prep. And who am I trying to impress anyway?
Triple Layer Pumpkin Spice Pie
recipe courtesy Kraft Foods
2 cups cold milk
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) JELL-O Pumpkin Spice Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
1 HONEY MAID Graham Pie Crust (6 0z.)
1/2 cup PLANTERS Pecan Halves
1 Tbsp. honey
BEAT milk, dry pudding mixes and cinnamon with wire whisk until well blended. Spread 1-1/2 cups onto bottom of crust.
ADD 1-1/2 cups of the whipped topping to remaining pudding mixture; stir gently. Spoon over layer in crust; top with remaining whipped topping.
REFRIGERATE 1 hour. Meanwhile, cook pecans and honey in skillet on medium-low heat 2 to 4 min. or until pecans are caramelized, stirring frequently. Spread onto sheet of waxed paper, separating larger clusters. Cool. Sprinkle over pie just before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
Okay, so now that we have our want for Thanksgiving food out of our system, what are we actually going to do on Thanksgiving? We’re torn between two choices. One involves driving to Jungle Jims near Cincinnati and picking up a Turducken Roll, which we would proceed to serve with various Cajun side dishes, and our other choice is just to go over to Mi Mi Cafe to load up on Banh Mi, Pho, and Vietnamese Coffee. In our position, which would YOU choose? And for the Americans reading, what Thanksgiving plans do you have this year?