Thanksgiving Shortcuts

Dorothy Reinhold’s favorite turkey day took place the year her 3-year-old son was rushed to the hospital for emergency appendix surgery just four days before Thanksgiving.

Out the window went her plans for a lavish feast for 20 guests. Instead, on the way home from the hospital on Thanksgiving day, she popped into a supermarket and emerged with a couple of rotisserie chickens, wild rice from the deli, a bag of pre-washed spinach and a nice loaf of bread.

“It was the best Thanksgiving ever, not only because my son was home and on the mend, but because it stripped the holiday down to its very basics — family, gratitude and a nice dinner,” said Reinhold, who blogs about food at

Reinhold’s point is that simplicity is your best friend on Thanksgiving. Giving yourself permission to use some shortcuts can take the stress out of the holiday. For instance, consider roasting your turkey in advance. Then, all you’ll need to do on Thanksgiving Day is warm it up and serve.

Thomas Hugenberger, chef at Library Ale House in Santa Monica, blanches green vegetables the day before, then sautés them in butter with shallots on Thanksgiving. Reinhold makes her “hall of fame” cranberry sauce days in advance (find the recipe on her website by typing “hall of fame cranberry sauce” in the search box). 

Save some time by skipping the brining: It’s totally unnecessary, said cookbook author Elaine Corn of Sacramento. The only seasonings you need are salt and pepper, smeared inside and out. You can also opt out of flipping your bird, Hugenberger says. Just blast it breast-side-up at 500 degrees for the first 30 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees.

While purists may shun shortcuts, Thanksgiving is no time to get high and mighty. Corn’s favorite Thanksgiving dessert calls for canned pumpkin and pre-made pie shells. It’s called bumpkin pie, and you can find the recipe, along with her other Thanksgiving tips, at 

If you’re looking for digital help, there are lots of good Thanksgiving-dinner apps out there, many of them free. Thanksgiving Dinner Coach for iPhone and iPad holds your hand through the entire process, from menu planning to shopping and cooking. Snapguide, also for iPhone and iPad, has menus for scrumptious side dishes and even instructions for clever decorations.

—Anne Burke, Brand Publishing Writer

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