As much planning that goes into our Thanksgiving feasts, there are some events you can’t always prepare for. Maybe your cousin calls at the last minute to say she won’t be bringing dessert after all, or the casserole you so carefully assembled comes out of the oven a soupy mess.
In any case, don’t stress; remember, this holiday is about coming together and having fun! We’ve compiled a selection of easy, delicious dishes you can fall back on if Plan A goes awry — or if this week snuck up on you and Plan A never quite existed. Often the simplest recipes are the tastiest, especially when shared with friends and family.
|Roasted Spiced Walnuts
Spiced nuts are a perfect snack to hold guests over until the meal, and they take almost no effort to prepare. Use whatever nuts you have on hand, and mix and match your favorite spices.
A drizzle of olive oil, grated citrus zest and pinch of red pepper flakes are all you need to dress up those olives in your refrigerator.
Still stuck? Gather any cheeses, pickled vegetables, chutneys and cured meats you have on hand and display them neatly on a cheese board with knives.
|Pumpkin Soup with Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
This recipe allows you to use up the extra cans of pumpkin in your pantry and skip the step of pureeing your soup.
|Quick White Bean Soup
Made with canned white beans, this soup contains literally five ingredients (which you probably already have).
Still stuck? Dress salad greens in your favorite vinaigrette. Toast any nuts and slice any fruit you have on hand, then toss it all together for a fresh first course.
|Maple-Mustard Turkey Tenderloins with Cranberry-Port Sauce
There’s no way to speed up the cooking of a whole bird, but these tenderloins roast for less than half an hour.
|Turkey Cutlets with Herbed Pan Gravy
These turkey cutlets cook in about 10 minutes on the stove top, but with a topping of herbed gravy, they still taste like comfort food.
Still stuck? Buy a high-quality smoked turkey. You won’t have to take the time to roast it, and it’s already packed with flavor.
|Traditional Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes needn’t be any more complicated than potatoes, cream, butter and some seasonings. These can be made in half an hour or less.
|New Potatoes with Lemon Butter and Fresh Herbs
These whole-roasted potatoes take seconds to prep, then roast in the oven until the skins are crispy.
Still stuck? Cube any potatoes you have on hand — russet, new or sweet potatoes, for example — and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and any fresh herbs. Roast at 400 degrees until the exterior is crispy, about 30 to 40 minutes.
|Focaccia Stuffing with Sausage and Chestnuts
A prepared focaccia stuffing mix makes easy work of this dish; just add some fresh vegetables, sausage, chestnuts and stock to finish.
|Sausage and Herb Dressing
This recipe requires only a handful of ingredients. Skip the step of drying out the bread by using day-old bread that’s already a bit stale.
Still stuck? Make an impromptu bread pudding with stale bread, eggs, milk and whatever leftover vegetables you have.
|Roasted Butternut Squash with Brown Butter and Sage
A handful of sage leaves dress up this super simple vegetable dish, which just involves cubing and roasting squash.
Cauliflower develops delicious flavors when roasted, and these will be ready to serve in about half an hour.
Still stuck? Roast or saute any vegetables you have with olive oil, fresh herbs or spices, salt and pepper.
|Cranberry Relish with Ginger
You can pull together this creative cranberry sauce alternative with just four ingredients.
Still stuck? Find out how to punch up canned cranberry sauce with a few additions.
|Bourbon-Pecan Pumpkin Butter Pie
Using a premade crust and Pecan Pumpkin Butter filling, a homemade pie isn’t so daunting.
|Easy Chocolate (Pumpkin) Mousse
Use this simple chocolate mousse recipe, but substitute canned pumpkin for the chocolate. With a few pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg, a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkling of toasted nuts, dessert is served.
Still stuck? Bake apples and/or pears with some brown sugar and cinnamon, then top with whipped cream. Simple, seasonal and delicious.