For holiday at home, keep it simple

Making a Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be complicated. You can have turkey, dressing, cranberries and all the sides without all the fuss.

Thanksgiving will not be what most describe as normal this year.

For some, they’ve always depended on a grandmother, mother or in my case, a sister-in-law, to make the turkey so we never bothered to cook a turkey on Thanksgiving – ever.

Don’t worry, I’m here to help. If you are having Thanksgiving alone with your own household this year, you don’t have to fret about the turkey and fixings.

My best advice on cooking a turkey is don’t. Well, not an entire turkey anyway.

Here’s what you can do for the smaller dinner for your household. Purchase a turkey breast instead of an entire turkey. If you are a dark meat fan, you’ll be out of luck but cooking just the turkey breast can give you delicious white meat without the stress of making an entire turkey.

Here are some turkey tips.First, if you don’t already have it, buy the turkey breast now, like today or tomorrow. They come frozen and take a couple of days to thaw out enough to cook.

Second tip, skip the oven. After washing the turkey breast, season it with some salt and pepper and put it in a crock pot. Cook on high for around eight hours.

And that’s it. For a Thanksgiving meal for just your household, that’s all you’ll need.

Now for some fixings; my advice is keep it simple.

Mashed potatoes are easy. Just cook the potatoes, mash and add butter and milk to make it creamy. Or, just buy the already prepared potatoes. They are usually in the grocery near the lunch meat. It sure beats pealing potatoes.

Next, the stuffing. There’s no shame in boxed stuffing. My mom has a great tip for adding flavor to boxed stuffing. She suggests substituting chicken broth for the water. I tried it and she is right. It takes your stuffing flavor up a notch.

For the cranberry dish, this is where you can get a little creative with ease. You can get the traditional canned cranberry sauce that slides right out of the can or you can make a cranberry relish. I’ve added a recipe for the one which I make every year. All you need is a bag of fresh cranberries, an orange, some sugar, orange juice and a food processor. When it’s all chopped up and chilled you get a great side dish that is tart and tasty.

Many will want to add some green beans. I’m not a fan of bean but for those who are, I’ve also included a green bean casserole that I’ve used a few times at Thanksgiving. The instructions say microwave or bake at the end but I always bake it – and sometimes a little longer than suggested so it will set up well. For the rolls, just buy some, heat and serve.

For dessert, we have plenty of pie options around here. We now have several bakeries that make pie, most grocery stores have some great pie options in their bakeries and the frozen options are great too. For Thanksgiving, you can have the traditional pumpkin or try some other fall favorites like pecan or apple.

So there you have it, Turkey and all the sides for your family. You get all the elements of a Thanksgiving dinner in an easy format.

You can gather around the table in your home for Thanksgiving and then Facetime with family and friends. Maybe even show off the tasty meal you made.

Cranberry Orange Relish

2 12-ounce bags of fresh cranberries

1 orange

1 cup sugar

Splash of orange juice

Wash the cranberries and the orange. In a food processor, chop cranberries and orange — peel and all — into fine pieces. Mix in the sugar, then add orange juice for additional flavor or desired consistency. Chill in the refrigerator 24 hours.

Green Bean Bake

2 cans French-style green beans

1 can cream of mushroom soup

¼ can milk (use soup can)

½ small onion, sliced

Garlic salt to taste

½ teaspoon Worcestershire

1/3 large can French fried onion

Combine green beans, soup, milk, onions, garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce in a 2-quart glass casserole dish. Microwave 10 minutes on high or until onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle fried onions over the top and microwave for two to five more minutes or bake until topping is brown. Sliced water chestnuts may be added for extra texture.

SOURCE: Rebecca Ricks

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1740 or

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