1. Add a little baking powder to make mashed potatoes extra fluffy.
Apparently, the heat of the potatoes triggers the baking powder’s chemical reaction, and the CO2 produced = extra fluffiness. Try this simple recipe from an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
2. DIY a last-minute roasting rack with tinfoil.
3. Print or write out recipes and tape them to your cabinets for easy access.
Losing that piece of paper 17 times (or spilling pie filling all over it) is NOT going to help you get into a zen cooking space. You can also cut out pages from magazines or make photocopies if you want to do this with a recipe from a cookbook.
This also makes it a lot easier to recruit cooking helpers, since you can just point them towards the recipe and tell them to figure out the rest.
4. Bake stuffing in muffin tins to maximize crispy surface area and make easy single servings.
Just use your favorite stuffing recipe or try these Pancetta & Sage Stuffing Muffins.
5. Freeze rolled-out pie crusts so they hold their shape in the oven.
Just pop them in the freezer for 20 minutes to an hour while you make the fillings, then bake (without thawing). This will let the gluten in the dough relax and minimize shrinkage during baking. This is mainly for single-crust pies like pumpkin and pecan; if you’re adding a top crust you don’t really have to worry as much about shrinking.
6. Microwave potatoes instead of boiling to save time.
You’re going to mash ‘em anyway, so there’s no real reason not to do it this way.
7. Slow-roast your turkey overnight to free up oven space the day of.
Sounds crazy, but apparently it works like a charm: Put the turkey in before you go to bed, turn the heat down, and wake up to a falling-off-the-bone tender bird in the morning. Here’s the recipe.
8. Use a wine glass to cut out biscuits.
Maybe you’re a true biscuit believer who keeps a metal cutter around, but if not this will do just fine. Make sure to dip the glass in flour after every few to keep the dough from sticking, and push straight down without twisting to make sure the biscuits can rise.
9. Make gravy instantly great by adding soy sauce.
Your best bet is always basing a gravy off yummy turkey pan drippings. But if a) you didn’t save them b) you’re vegetarian or c) your gravy’s just a little bland, a splash of umami is the easiest way to bring out flavor (science says!). Try adding a spoonful of regular soy sauce, Liquid Aminos, or Maggi seasoning.
Try this basic recipe.
10. Ice down the turkey’s breast before roasting to keep it from drying out.
This actually works! By starting the breast at a slightly lower temperature, you solve the problem of white meat cooking faster than dark.
11. Grate frozen butter straight into pie or biscuit dough.
You can use any normal cheese grater. This way the butter stays cold, which you want to keep everything tender and flaky, but you don’t have to give yourself an elbow injury cutting it into the flour.
12. Prep all your vegetables a day or two ahead and keep them in the fridge.
You can peel potatoes and carrots, chop onions, wash greens, and do basically any other prep steps called for in the recipes you’re using. This is the kind of thing that will feel crazy when you’re doing it, and AWESOME the next day when you realize you already did.
13. Rice is an easy, non-wasteful way to weigh down pie crust for pre-baking.
Most people don’t have actual pie weights around, and using beans is annoying because they get funny-smelling after baking, and you probably won’t want to eat them. With rice, you can just make pilaf the next day.
14. Cook white and dark turkey meat separately to make sure both are perfect.
Never, never let dry breast meat happen to you. Check out this helpful video that shows exactly how to break down a turkey into parts, then cook separately with recipes like Butter-Roasted Turkey Breast and Braised Turkey Thighs.
15. If you boil potatoes whole, you don’t need to peel them.
Just shock them in ice water when they’re done and then slip the skin off with your hands.
16. Use a beaded necklace to make a cool, easy pie crust design.
Check out this video for more crimping ideas.
17. Instead of scrubbing lots of potatoes, put them through the dishwasher.
When you’re mashing in bulk, there’s no time for scrubbing by hand, like a chump. Just put the potatoes through a quick rinse cycle (WITHOUT soap, please) and cook away. You could pop sweet potatoes and other sturdy root vegetables in there, too.
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