Ahhh fruitcake. No one seems to want it, yet thousands find themselves with the questionable substance in their possession every year around the holidays. If you’re unable to muster up enough courage to force the cake down, we have a few ideas regarding alternative methods to put the undesirable baked good to use.
Pass it off
Hello regifting. Such a classic and easy way to get rid of anything that you don’t want. Why trash the fruit-studded, alcohol infused stuff when you can force it upon some unsuspecting, innocent soul?
Is your face a little too close to the tabletop? Place a loaf of fruitcake on your chair before taking a seat. Problem solved. If you’re feeling extra bold take your fruitcake along with you to the theater. You never know when a NBA retiree is going to plop down right in front of you. (We recommend hiding the cake in your purse or satchel upon entrance.)
Build those muscles
So maybe you ate 94 too many cookies. Turn that arm flab into fab by doing a handful of fruitcake lifting reps each day. Bonus points if your fruitcake contains nuts. They add some weight!
Fuel the fire
You don’t need to be a boyscout to get a cozy fire going. Simply chuck your alcohol soaked fruitcake in the fireplace, strike a match, and you’re set. Make sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case.
Are you a little too short? In addition to using your fruitcake as a booster seat, fruitcake can be utilized as a step stool in order to reach the highest shelf and finally see for yourself just how much dust has collected on top of your refrigerator. The abominable snowman won’t be needed to top your tree either.
Fido managed to lose his tennis ball. Again. Not to worry, toss your fruitcake in the backyard and he’ll surely retrieve it… maybe. Or better yet, he’ll bury it in the neighbor’s yard.
Often times burglars take advantage of the holiday season when tempting gifts are lying around everywhere. If you happen to catch an intruder sneaking around, bop him atop the head with that dense fruitcake then call the cops. You should have a bit of time before he comes to… fruitcake can be pretty hefty.
Find yourself drifting off at sea? Whip out your fruitcake and use that (somewhat) edible brick as an anchor. The fish probably won’t even touch it. Otherwise we would recommend using it as bait.
For the birds
Why waste perfectly good plain bread crumbs on the birds when you can toss them fruitcake that you’ve been trying to get rid of for years? Birds probably get tired of regular ole bread anyway. It’s a win win situation so go ahead and pat yourself on the back and make some new feathered friends… or foe.
Perhaps your bookshelf has a little extra room and your scandelous murder mysteries won’t stay standing. Simply shove that fruitcake in there and you’ve got a DIY bookend. How resourceful.
Let’s talk about it
If anything fruitcake is an excellent converstaion starter. Perhaps you’re stuck next to Great Aunt Sally at some holiday party and have literally nothing to say. But wait! You can certainly bond over how vile fruitcake is. There is only a .0037% chance Great Aunt Sally actually enjoys the stuff, so you should be safe.
Take a load off
You’ve had a long day, so naturally the couch is where you end up. Prop your feet up on a loaf of fruitcake for ultimate relaxation.
Are you somewhat intrigued? Bake up a fruitcake for yourself and give it a try. Who knows, you might end up taking a fancy to the holiday cake… it is soaked in alcohol, so how bad can it really be?
Take out all of your holiday related stress on those candy canes when you smash them up real good before gently folding them into the melted white chocolate. Bonus: this recipe only requires three ingredients!
Stir a few ingredients together in a cute jar with some instructions and you’re good to go. If your giftee appreciates a good challenge, feel free to leave out the instructions.
Cheese makes life better. This creative (and utterly delicious) dish takes advantage of leftover turkey and gravy… plus creamy avocado and polenta, gooey cheese, lots of spices, and black beans for an extra protein kick.
A classic strategy to use up all that turkey. You can’t go wrong with comforting noodle soup! Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers to enjoy later on. If you’re going the freezing route, leave out the noodles to avoid the whole mush factor. Simply add fresh noodles after you thaw and reheat the soup.
In our minds, dessert is hardly optional. Your dessert (and drink) stomach will appreciate these sweet recipes.
That’s right. Throw a fat slice of pie in the blender with a generous scoop of ice cream and get ready to experience an epic brain freeze… it’s near impossible to stop drinking this shake. Don’t forget to top the whole thing off with whipped cream!
If “cooking” is a foreign term to you, and you rarely set foot in the kitchen, contributing a dish or two for Thanksgiving is probably the last thing you want to do.
Before you resort to canned crans and store-bought pie, let us share a handful of super simple recipes and tips to make your life much easier and cooking very possible.
At the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts.
“A” for effort, you know?
Then you can always whip out that can… and bring some booze.
Cooking up a big hunk of meat may seem a little intimidating at first, but we believe in you! As long as you remember to thaw the turkey (if frozen) and don’t completely forget about your meat in the oven, there’s not much else that can go wrong. (Just keep telling yourself that.)
Embrace everything basic! Including your turkey. Remember to test the turkey temp (165 F) in the innermost part of the thigh, then let the thing rest (tented in foil) for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. (The temp will continue to rise a bit after you pull it out of the oven.) Need some help choosing which size turkey to purchase, figuring out how long it needs to thaw (if frozen), or how long to cook the thing? Hop on over to our handy turkey calculator.
Turkey isn’t everything. If you’re not feeling the bird, try your hand at prime rib instead. All you really need is patience.
Although this lighter baked sweet potato casserole with maple toasted marshmallow sounds pretty amazing, some of us don’t have the time (or experience) to make that edible masterpiece reality. These simple sides are still tasty and a bit more manageable. (If you love a challenge, go ahead and make the casserole… you won’t be disappointed.)
No one has to know that this dessert requires minimal effort. Bake until golden and bubbly, then serve warm. You can make the crisp ahead of time and simply reheat it in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes right before serving… with vanilla ice cream.
Dinner won’t be for another hour. You’re already starting to sweat. Cousin Ruby won’t stop babbling nonsense, and unfortunately the wine isn’t enough to drown out her incessant chatter. Oh but that platter of shiny, goopy deviled eggs is thankfully within arm’s reach. Simply grab an egg, casually wind up, then send that thing flying across the room towards your target. Success! At this point if you’re feeling confident, make eye contact and own up to your stunt or blame it on someone else. Just remember to stash a second egg in your front pocket. Ammunition you know. (You’ll probably need it later.)
Snowball forming and throwing techniques can be applied here. Your mountain man brother definitely has an advantage, so you’re going to want to coerce him into taking your side before complete mayhem breaks out.
One word… marshmallows. Those gooey buggers are guaranteed to stick to your target. Send a wad of mallow covered sweet taters into the culprit’s hair (beards are best) then proceed to offer up a jar of peanut butter to help get the stickiness out because you’re so dang thoughtful. (Yes, peanut butter is sometimes used to get gum out of hair so why not marshmallows?)
Canned Cranberries (in can form, duh)
Clearly we don’t have a recipe for this one. But all you have to do is slink into the kitchen when the dining area begins to feel even tenser than normal, crack open a can or two of crans, then carefully squeeze the contents out into your ready hands. Reenter the danger zone, aim, and fire. Did we mention that cranberries stain? Well they do. Wear all black to dinner like a boss. At least you will be covered in case others follow your canned cran lead.
Stinky Brussels sprouts are hardly worth eating anyway. As soon as the squabbles commence, grab a handful of those suckers and make quick work of the room. Then quietly go back to enjoying your meal like nothing happened because you’re the only sane person around.
Do we really need to spell it out for you. Dinner rolls are the perfect size and shape for chucking, and they’re the best option for long distance lobs. Seeking a freshman P.E. dodge ball redemption? This might be your best opportunity to do so.
Forget throwing when you can smoosh food right into someone’s face. Pie is a traditional option, so why not keep it simple? Extra credit if you manage to pile on the whipped cream before taking action. We’re all about maximum impact, but we do recommend reserving pecan pie for actual consumption… can’t let those expensive pecans go to waste.
You thought you’d make it through the feast without any bumps, but then your sister-in-law Carole had to start something after everyone finished up their last bites of pie. Of all the leftovers lying about, cold, gelatinous gravy is your best bet. Simply dip your cupped hand in there and expertly sling that stuff into Carole’s curls. Gravy is a fantastic conditioner, so she shouldn’t be too upset.
All jokes aside, we do hope everyone remains civil… unless someone nabs the last slice of Grandma Ethel’s famous all-butter crust deep dish heirloom apple pie before you manage to get a taste. (But that’s a whole other matter.)
And if you really cannot resist the urge to throw something, toss Fido a stray piece of turkey (or five) under the table. He’ll appreciate your generosity.
Looking for more Thanksgiving inspo? We have loads of delicious recipes to share with family and friends.
Need some help choosing which size turkey to purchase, figuring out how long it needs to thaw (if frozen), or how long to cook the thing? Hop on over to our handy turkey calculator.
Want to actually plan ahead? Schedule your recipes in Menu Planner.
It’s that time of year again… time for eating, potentially socializing, and definitely more eating. But when is the optimal time to pick up your Thanksgiving groceries? And when should you actually start breaking a sweat (or hopefully keeping your chill) in the kitchen? We can help! Read on to learn how far in advance you can pick up those fresh cranberries and when to start prepping your stuffing.
Time to Shop
You’re going to want to buy your grocery items as far in advance as possible to:
A) Avoid navigating a super packed store and super long lines… and potentially super stressed, cranky people
B) Avoid forgetting a crucial ingredient when it’s actually too late
C) Avoid facing the fact that a crucial ingredient is sold out
So make sure you have all the pantry items, frozen goods, and beverages you’ll be needing a month ahead of time and pick up more ingredients during your routine weekly grocery store stop if necessary.
Two weeks out purchase your dairy items and “sturdy” produce along with that evening’s frozen pizza and six pack.
Two to three days before Thanksgiving brave the potentially aggressive crowds and grab your protein of choice, delicate produce, and bakery items, then get the heck out of there asap.
Buy These Items One Month Ahead:
Frozen: Green beans, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, squash, cranberries, turkey, bread, ice cream, pie crust, etc.
Canned: Pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie filling, soup, broth/stock, green beans, cranberries, gravy, etc.
Sturdy Produce: Potatoes, sweet potatoes/yams, squash, carrots, turnips, beets, onions, garlic, cranberries if preparing one week in advance, apples, etc.
Two to Three Days Ahead:
Protein: Turkey, beef, pork, lamb, fish, etc.
Delicate produce: Herbs, greens, fruit (besides apples), mushrooms, green beans, celery, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.
Bakery: Bread (for stuffing)
Let’s Get Cooking!
The goal here is to get as much done as possible before Thanksgiving day actually rolls around. That way, you can actually enjoy your meal and company without running around the kitchen like a crazed person… well we can’t really help you with the company bit, but we have the food part down. And if all else fails, just pour yourself a glass or three of wine and spray canned whipped cream straight into your mouth like a real adult. If you own four ovens and eight burners and somehow remain cool as a cucumber during potentially hectic situations, feel free to disregard the below.
Soup actually tastes better the day after you make it when all the flavors have had time to meld. Stir up a pot of hot soup a day or two in advance. Store your cooled soup in a sealed glass container in the fridge. Gently heat the soup on the stove before serving.
Keep it super simple: Pick up a few cans (or cartons) of creamy squash soup from the store. There are actually some tasty options out there. You can always get creative with the garnishes. Toasted pumpkin seeds, fresh herbs, and a swirl of plain yogurt are all delicious toppings.
Roasted squash, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are all winners. You can roast your veggies one day in advance, then store the cooled vegetables in a sealed glass container in the fridge. Either bring them up to room temp before serving or pop them in a hot oven for about 10 minutes, until warmed through.
If you’re going the casserole route, you can prepare your dish one to two days in advance. Simply cover your unbaked casserole with foil and store it in the fridge. Thanksgiving day, set the casserole out on the counter 30 minutes before you pop it in the oven. For mashed sweet potatoes, boil or bake your taters one to two days prior to Thanksgiving, store your cooled sweet potatoes in the fridge in a sealed glass container or wrapped in foil, then simply mash them up on the stove with some butter (and milk or cream, if you like) before serving. You can roast sweet potatoes too, similarly to veggies.
Keep it super simple: The easiest methods involve either boiling or baking your sweet potatoes, then drizzling with butter or coconut oil before serving. Want to avoid taking up more oven and stove top space? Make a sweet potato salad one to two days in advance and served chilled or room temp.
Stuffing has casserole potential (these days health experts are saying to leave your stuffing out of the bird) so go ahead and prepare your stuffing one to two days ahead of time, cool, then cover with foil or spoon into a sealed glass container and store in the fridge. Thanksgiving day, set your stuffing out on the counter 30 minutes prior to reheating. Depending on your recipe, you’ll want to heat your foil covered stuffing in the oven, adding more stock if necessary to prevent dryness, or heat it up on the stove right before serving.
Keep it super simple: Grab a box or five of stove top stuffing from the store and get to it.
Mix up your ingredients (minus the fried onions) and pour into a casserole dish one to two days in advance. Store your foil covered dish in the fridge. Thanksgiving day, set the casserole out on the counter 30 minutes before you bake it, adding the fried onions last minute to reduce the sog factor. Serve hot.
Keep it super simple: There are five ingredients involved in this recipe. Don’t get greedy.
The main event definitely requires at least a little planning. Did you purchase a frozen bird? Pull that thing out of the freezer and let it thaw in your fridge a few days in advance. If you’re brining or marinading, start preparing your protein the day before (marinade more delicate seafood the day of). Be sure to keep it in the fridge! Once Thanksgiving rolls around, start cooking your protein early enough in the day so you won’t be dining at 11:37 pm (unless that’s what you’re going for). Whether you’re roasting, frying, grilling, or smoking your main dish, be sure to keep an eye on it and test the internal temp. The temp will rise a few degrees after you remove it from heat, so don’t overdo it! If you’re cooking meat, let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes (tented with foil) before carving.
Keep it simple: Roast a turkey breast. Easy. Or skip the main course altogether…. just kidding!
Tip: Need some help choosing which size turkey to purchase, figuring out how long it needs to thaw (if frozen), or how long to cook the thing? Hop on over to our handy turkey calculator.
If possible bake your pie (or pies plural for you over-achievers) the morning of Thanksgiving. But no one will complain if you make your dessert the day before. Cool your pie on a wire rack completely, then store at room temp with a piece of parchment or wax paper loosely placed on top.
Keep it super simple: Buy your pie from a grocery store or bakery. Dessert is dessert people. Or skip the pie altogether and just serve (store-bought) fancy schmancy chocolates or pumpkin pie flavored ice cream.
You can wash and chop or slice most of your ingredients the day before, then store them in a sealed glass container in the fridge. You’ll want to add produce that browns, like apples, pears, and avocados, last minute, as well as croutons, cheese, nuts, and seeds… items that can get soggy. Toss your salad right before serving, or have your guests dress their own portion.
There are a few strategies when it comes to mashed taters. You can make some room on your stove by cooking them in a slow cooker the day of, or boil and mash right before serving. If you really want to make them the day before, simply reheat your mashed potatoes on the stove adding a bit of extra butter and cream until they get nice and smooth.
Keep it super simple: No no, don’t even think about buying gluey (or dry) mashed potatoes from the store. Roasted potatoes are an alternative solution, although they do require your oven.
Nothing beats homemade bread. Whether you’re making a loaf or rolls, you’re going to want to bake your carbs the day of so your bread doesn’t dry out.
Keep it super simple: Buy your bread the day before Thanksgiving. Simply sprinkle your bread with a bit of water then pop it in a hot oven for a few minutes to bring that thing back to life, if necessary. You could always purchase premade crescent or biscuit dough, or even skip the bread because turkey and pie deserve as much space in your stomach as possible.
Gravy is meant to be cooked up last minute, or else the texture tends to get a little funky.
Keep it super simple: We don’t recommend this option, but when desperate times call for desperate measures, buy your gravy from the store. Some options are a lot more appetizing than others… so choose wisely. We recommend going for gravy made in your grocery store’s deli over canned or packet stuff. Simply heat your gravy on the stove before serving.