Holiday season is quickly approaching and Thanksgiving will determine if your kitchen is “appliance ready” and “utensil ready” for all of the great dishes you’ll create. Planning early is a key to survival in the kitchen at this time of year. Most of us will be entertaining a little more than last year and you want to WOW your guests. This contest should help with that. I’ll introduce several recipes to inspire your creativity and perhaps even make you a little hungry! I’ll also call out some of the great prizes we are giving away in this contest. Take notes and make a list of dishes you want to try over the next few months!
Here are the recipes covered in this article:
Create an impression as guests arrive with a refreshing sparkling beverage
One of the first things I do when guests arrive is offer them a drink. This year I’ll have something new and exciting to offer because I recently bought a Sodastream for my wife. Use some of the flavoured drops like Lime Bubly or Blackberry Bubly or just make 7-UP if you want. This year, I’m going to try something new. I often make my own syrups for pouring on pancakes and desserts using seasonal berries. Where I live, blackberries are abundant at the sides of roads in the fall. Here is a simple recipe for an awesome Blackberry Fizz beverage that I will be making in my home this thanksgiving:
Two cups of blackberries (or cranberries or whatever you prefer)
Blackberry syrup: Create your syrup well ahead of time (a day or two before). Reserve a few berries per glass for garnish. Heat the rest of the berries in a saucepan until boiling. Carefully strain through a thin mesh colander to remove seeds. Return the sauce to a gentle boil, add a little honey to taste (careful to let it cool on a spoon). If too sour, add a little more honey. Let the syrup cool.
When guests arrive: Pour the sparkling water in a glass, add a tablespoon or more of syrup, a couple ice cubes, a couple berries, and a bit of grenadine for added colour and sweetness if desired. I’ll likely also add Gin to mine!
Save time on Thanksgiving meal essentials with the right tools
One of the challenges I have every holiday is getting the timing right with only one oven to cook everything. New appliances, like convection microwaves and air fryers, have really helped to reduce the demand on my oven. Cooking should be enjoyable and these appliances can help with that too! Here are some tips to make your meal timing perfect and you time in the kitchen stress-free.
Garnish: Cranberry sauce
Don’t open a can! Open an Instant Pot pressure cooker instead. Like the blackberry syrup discussed above, make it a few days ahead and it’s ready in the fridge. You could do it in a sauce pan, but the Instant Pot simplifies it by pressure cooking raw berries into soft cooked berries in a few minutes. The benefit of making it yourself is you get to choose the flavours, the amount of sweetness, and the consistency. Here is the basic recipe:
Add one to two cups of cranberries to the Instant Pot. They are naturally tart, so add a tablespoon of your favourite sweetener (honey, maple syrup, or sugar). Add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquid: again, you can go with a traditional citrus juice and a little zest or add wine or even the blackberry syrup from above! That’s basically it. Follow the instant pot’s instructions to cook under pressure for a minute or two. Then add more liquid for thinner sauce and add more sweetener to taste. You can add spices like nutmeg or cinnamon too. Be brave.
Vegetables: Maple-Glazed Carrots (or Yams)
Thanksgiving vegetables, in our house, tend to be sweet and/or crispy. I usually use the main oven to do three to six kilos of roast potatoes, covered in herbs from the garden and cooked to a crispy brown. I prefer to cook the other veggies in small appliances. Here is a recipe that my work colleague Brent sent to me as one of his favourites. It’s similar to the Yams my wife likes to make, so pick your veggie (I prefer carrots!). This is a great one to do vegan style (with vegan butter) if your guests have a preference. He suggested we use a slow cooker, but I would prefer to use an Air Fryer like the Kalorik shown here to create sweet and crispy carrots quickly.
2 lbs carrots
1/4 cup butter or vegan butter alternative
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Optional: 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1. Peel and chop carrots into 1/2 pieces.
2. Melt butter or vegan butter alternative in a small microwave safe bowl. Once melted, add maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and optional red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine.
3. Pour the mixture over the carrots and toss to coat.
4. Cook at 375 to 400 degrees for ten minutes, mix, then cook an additional 10 minutes or until carrots are tender.
5. Transfer to serving dish, cover with glaze that collected at the bottom of the air fryer, and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Main dish: Turkey, Chicken, or Ham
In recent years, for obvious reasons, guest numbers have been down. The need for a full turkey isn’t there, never mind adding a full ham or chicken! Though the gathering is smaller, many families can’t do with just one protein. My family never has just one main protein. My wife loves turkey; I don’t. With new appliances you can reduce the strain on your oven, and cook more than one bird. Here are a couple options that you may not have considered.
Sous-vide Turkey breast: People who are passionate about moist, flavourful turkey and want to modernize their cooking techniques are turning to sous vide. The Breville Joule Sous Vide machine keeps the cooking water at a very controlled temperature for incredible results. You’ll create the most amazing turkey breast you ever tasted. Use the amazing Joule app to monitor the cooking right on your phone. The second, and critical component for this type of cooking, is a great vacuum sealer like the CalmDo V77 Vacuum Sealer.
Take a sealer bag, add turkey breasts, some salt & pepper, perhaps some lemons slices, garlic, onion, and fresh sprigs of thyme then seal it up. You can cook it for up to six hours so get this done early on the day you expect guests. Then just forget about it until the carrots (from the previous recipe) are done. Oh, and if you do have left overs, the sealer can help you preserve those for a rainy day too!
Convection Roast Chicken: There are counter top sized ovens that do almost everything these days. For example, the Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 Convection Microwave w/ Air Fryer does what an oven can do, and what an air fryer can do, and more. My preference this Thanksgiving would be to cook an herb covered roast chicken. My garden has lots of herbs at this time of year: oregano, thyme, basil, parley, and rosemary. Crush these together with some olive oil and clarified butter, salt and pepper, then rub that all over a well-rinsed and dried chicken. Let it cook in the Combi-Wave for about a half-hour before guests arrive, and keep cooking for another half hour. Your whole home will be infused with the aroma of fall herbs. Your guests will be eager to eat, and appreciative afterwards!
Wow them with homemade ice cream for dessert
Ice cream isn’t difficult to make at home when you have a great ice cream maker like the Ninja CREAMi 0.47L Ice Cream, Sorbet & Milkshake Maker. You can also easily put a holiday twist to it by adding a little spice or flavourings. Experiment often before the guests arrive to surprise your guests with a personally created flavour. Each ice cream maker is a bit different, so read the instructions. With a Ninja CREAMi, you’ll prepare the mixture right in the 2-cup (pint) containers provided with the appliance, freeze the container for 24 hours, then place into the Ninja and it will spin it into a creamy Pumpkin ice cream.
2 tablespoons cream cheese (softened)
There are a variety of approaches; some people mix the ingredients in a separate bowl; others report great results mixing right in the pint bowl provided with the Ninja appliance. However, ice cream is so quick to make with the Ninja you can experiment to get results you love.
The puree can be canned pumpkin, or make your own: cut a small pumpkin into two sections, place cut side down on parchment paper; bake in 400 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes. Scoop out. Freeze any you don’t use and save for the next holiday!
Serving your guests
I have an assortment of platters and bowls that I’ve collected over the years. Nevertheless, I am always on the lookout for unique and clever serving dishes that add ambiance to my table. Recently, I learned of the STAUB Cast Iron 3.5-qt Pumpkin Cocotte. Whimsical by design: it’s modelled after the pumpkin that turned into a carriage in Disney’s Cinderella. It’s perfect for every one of the recipes listed above. You can cook in it, of course. I have two Staub Cocottes and they are the best pots I own, especially for fall and winter cooking; they are made for comfort food. And versatile! Serve your cocktail from it perhaps; fill it with the Maple Glazed Carrots! Imagine the look on your guests faces if you pull it out of the freezer at the end of the meal, lift the lid to reveal balls of homemade pumpkin ice cream! Are you ready for a chance to win one of these pots or one of the many other prizes in this contest. Here are the details.
How to enter
Entering this contest is easy and you can enter in three different ways.
- In a comment below, tell us one of your favourite thanksgiving recipes AND which of the products mentioned above would you love to use to prepare that dish.
- Visit the Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 Convection Microwave w/ Air Fryer product page, go to the “Details and Specs” section and find the information that is missing in this image on the right for how many “One-Touch Functions” this appliances has. Send an email with your answer to email@example.com with the subject line Thanksgiving contest. Do not put that answer in a comment on the blog.
- For up to two (2) additional entries, create a public post on a social media channel (one entry per channel!) sharing with your friends and followers that you are entering a Best Buy blog contest for a chance to win a Thanksgiving prize; include the hashtag #BestBuyThanksgivingContest, so we can find your post, and include any one of the pictures showing on this article. Then return here and tell us in a comment below on which channel you posted it and the name of your channel (since many people use pseudonyms) so that we can check and verify your entry. You can use any social media channel (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc.), but the post must be public so we can verify it is there.
What you can win
At the end of this contest we will randomly select six (6) winners. Each winner will randomly be assigned to one of these prizes that was discussed above: Breville Joule Sous Vide machine, Breville Combi Wave 3-in-1 Convection Microwave w/ Air Fryer, CalmDo V77 Vacuum Sealer (2 prizes), or a STAUB Cast Iron 3.5-qt Pumpkin Cocotte (2 prizes).
This contest runs from Sept 24th to Oct 10th.
Remember you can enter in three different ways for a maximum of four entries. As you invite your guests for your holiday feast, tell them to check out this contest so they too have a chance at winning a fantastic prize that will make holiday dinners more fun than ever.