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As a child, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite family festivities. I loved waking up to the enticing aroma of a juicy turkey cooking in the oven and a beautiful array of freshly baked pastries waiting to be gobbled up. It was a worry-free day filled with fond memories of quality time with my family.
Now, I am the one getting up at 5:00 a.m. to put the turkey in the oven. I am the one staying up late to ungodly hours the night before making pies, cakes, and cinnamon rolls. I do it all so my kids to wake up and experience the magical smells and glorious food of this special celebration.
My mother made everything look effortless. I had no idea that she was just like me: So stressed, tired, and worried about the meal that it is impossible to actually enjoy the day with family.
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A few years ago I finally had enough! I decided I was going to love Thanksgiving again. This is when I discovered an easier way to make an incredible gourmet Thanksgiving meal. I am going to let you in on my secret on how I make our Collin County Thanksgiving easy as pie.
Buy a Precooked Turkey
Let’s talk turkey. There are plenty of flavorful options of precooked birds in the area that taste the same, or sometimes even better, than the one you slave over all day. I have personally ordered turkeys from Whole Foods and Hard Eight BBQ, and both have been spectacular! They come with simple instructions and take hardly any time to cook in the oven.
Hard Eight BBQ also has an amazing cooked ham if you want to include another meat option to your menu. Other local places to purchase a precooked turkey include Sprouts, Market Street, Central Market, and the HoneyBaked Ham Company.
Flavorful Mashed Potatoes Made Easy
I consider myself a connoisseur of mashed potatoes and have a few easy tips to make the absolute best mashed potatoes you have ever had.
First, there are a few items you will need to have on hand.
Every year around this time Williams Sonoma sells two mashed potato seasonings. Both are equally as delicious and are what make the spuds super flavorful. You can select either the parmesan, garlic, and herbs blend or the truffle, parmesan and garlic blend. By using these seasonings, you have instant flavor without having to buy or measure a million spices. You just dump in the packet!
Next a potato ricer is critical. The ricer will give you perfectly smooth, fluffy potatoes. When cooking the dish, start with a large pot of cold salted water. Add the potatoes and bring the water to a boil. Cook until they are tender, and then drain. Make sure you remove all excess water from the potatoes by patting them dry with a towel. (Some chefs even recommend you add them back to the pot and heat them for a few minutes in order to fully eliminate all unnecessary liquid.)
Then, get out the ricer! It is the real secret and absolute must for the smoothest, creamiest mashed potatoes you will ever taste. It is a like a giant garlic press. You just place the cooked potatoes in the press and — voila! You have perfect, velvety mashed goodness. Add the Williams Sonoma seasonings, butter, and heavy cream to finish the dish. The exact recipe is listed on the container from Williams Sonoma.
Easy as Pie
You can’t have a true American Thanksgiving without pumpkin and apple pie. You could make your own, or you could make your life easier and order a pie from one of many wonderful local bakeries. I promise your family and guests will not complain! Plus, you get to support a small business. It is a win-win!
Here are a few of my go to pie shops when celebrating Thanksgiving in Collin County:
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Sit Back and Enjoy
Even if you are the chef of this food centered holiday, it is possible to still experience the joy this Thanksgiving in Collin County! Don’t feel like you have to be in the kitchen the entire day cooking and cleaning. Take the shortcuts!
Go ahead and order the turkey, pies, and special seasonings. Remember the most important part of the holiday is not that you toiled all day in the kitchen making everything from scratch, but the memories you will create as a family.