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Can a Restaurant Thanksgiving Ever Be Better Than a Home-Cooked One?

Can a Restaurant Thanksgiving Ever Be Better Than a Home-Cooked One?


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Sometimes it’s okay to dine out on the holiday

The quality of the food served at many restaurants is better than home-cooked.

When we think of Thanksgiving, we tend to think of a bustling, well-decorated dining room, with kids scurrying about, a gleaming turkey on the table, and a hungry, appreciative family gobbling up an expertly cooked fowl and classic sides. Surely we all strive for a Thanksgiving dinner worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting, but what about when that’s simply not doable? What about when family is far away, or it’s impossible to get everyone together under one roof? What about if the apartment kitchen is too small, or it’s simply too much work and too time-consuming to cook the whole meal, but you still want to eat well? The answer: go to a restaurant. It could turn out to be one of the most memorable Thanksgivings you’ll ever have.

Every year, thousands of restaurants across the country offer a classic Thanksgiving dinner, and hundreds of thousands of people enjoy their meals there. Here are the benefits of eating Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant:

1) You don’t need to cook or clean

2) The meal is prepared by professionally trained chefs

3) Everyone else in the restaurant is in the same boat, and is in a jovial mood

4) You have the ability to shop around and choose a menu that best suits your needs

5) It might end up costing you less than a giant turkey and all the additional ingredients

6) If there are picky eaters in your party, the restaurant can deal with them

So at the end of the day, it’s worth weighing the pros and cons between spending Thanksgiving at home and eating the meal at a restaurant. Who knows, dining out might even become your new yearly tradition!


11 of the Best Places to Buy Pre-Made Thanksgiving Dinner

Stress less and enjoy more family time with a premade Thanksgiving dinner!

If cooking Thanksgiving dinner in 2020 isn&rsquot your idea of enjoying Thanksgiving and it brings on too much stress, consider buying a deliciously cooked meal instead! I&rsquom sharing 11 places that offer incredibly delicious premade Thanksgiving dinners.

All you have to do this year is turn your oven on (required in most cases to heat up the food), set the table, light a few candles, and spend time relaxing with family. It doesn&rsquot get any easier & stress-free&hellip and we know you all could use less stress in your lives this holiday season.

Here are the 11 restaurants we&rsquore extra thankful for this Thanksgiving 2020:


How to make braised beef

  • Brown the beef chunks in a skillet filled with hot olive oil. Then remove from the pot and sauté chopped onion in the same skillet.
  • In a dutch oven pot, add the browned beef chunks, sautéed onion, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and pressed garlic.
  • Pour red wine and water into the pot, then cover with a lid and bring to a boil on your cooktop. Then place in the oven and cook for 1 and a half hours at 360 Fahrenheit.

Ingredients for braised beef:

  • Beef chuck pot roast (boneless)
  • olive oil
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • onion
  • garlic cloves
  • red wine
  • water


10 Go-To Ground Beef Recipes

If you always have ground beef stocked and ready in your freezer/fridge, well, look no further. You have 10 amazing reasons to thaw out that ground beef ASAP – from dips, to pastas to easy peasy slow cooker dinners!

1. One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese – Two favorite comfort foods come together in this easy meal that the whole family will love. [GET THE RECIPE.]

2. Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce – A rich and meaty spaghetti sauce easily made in the slow cooker with just 10 min prep. It doesn’t get any easier than this. [GET THE RECIPE.]

3. One Pot Cheeseburger Casserole – All the flavors of a cheeseburger in pasta form. [GET THE RECIPE.]

4. Korean Beef Bowl – Tastes just like Korean BBQ and is on your dinner table in just 15 minutes. Boom. [GET THE RECIPE.]

5. Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers – Hearty, protein/fiber loaded peppers packed with so much flavor. Easy and effortless, of course. [GET THE RECIPE.]

6. Beef Enchilada Dip – This meaty, cheesy enchilada dip comes together in 15 minutes, and is the perfect crowd pleasing appetizer. [GET THE RECIPE.]

7. Slow Cooker Cheesy Tortellini – There’s nothing better than coming home to the cheesiest tortellini ever. [GET THE RECIPE.]

8. One Pot Taco Spaghetti – All your favorite flavors of tacos in spaghetti form – made in ONE PAN. So cheesy, comforting and stinking easy with pretty much zero clean-up. [GET THE RECIPE.]

9. Cheesy Avocado Quesadillas – No-fuss quesadillas that are perfectly crisp and amazingly cheesy. An absolute must for those busy weeknights. Plus, how can you say no to avocado? [GET THE RECIPE.]

10. Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti – An epic baked spaghetti casserole that’s so cheesy and creamy. It’s comfort food at its best, and EASIEST. [GET THE RECIPE.]


There’s Never Been a Better Year to Do a Takeout Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday season, is getting a COVID-19 makeover. With the Centers for Disease Control advising against holiday travel, many individuals across the United States are finally surrendering to the grim reality of the pandemic by making last-minute calls canceling family dinner plans. In fact, only 29 percent of consumers are expected to host or attend a meal with extended family who does not live with them in 2020, down almost 20 percent from the 2019 holiday, according to market research firm IRI. Restaurants and food suppliers are also adjusting to the altered vision of a holiday with more people dining separately.

Chef James Rigato of Mabel Gray in Hazel Park, Michigan, made a last-minute decision to open up orders for to-go Thanksgiving meals on Wednesday, November 18, just hours after the state’s new restrictions on indoor dining took effect. The kits, which are designed as dinner for two, were already sold out by Thursday. In the past, Mabel Gray had taken pre-orders for hundreds of pies going into Thanksgiving, but this year, Rigato decided it made sense to offer a full meal. Rigato says he usually hosts a family meal with 50 people on Thanksgiving, but this year, due to concerns about the wide community spread of novel coronavirus, he and his girlfriend are staying home. “A lot of two person Thanksgivings are going to happen [this year],” he says, of the decision to keep meal kits small.

Rigato also consulted his staff before making the decision to open during the week of Thanksgiving, a time when Mabel Gray traditionally closes to give employees a break. The majority of employees, he says, asked him to offer a holiday meal. “Obviously, we’re looking for revenue streams wherever we can find them,” he says. “So, I got nudged by my team to do it. We’re also encouraging smaller gatherings, so we’re doing our part to be smart and say, ‘Hey, dinner for two, let’s all take it easy. Let’s hunker down and get through this safely.’”

While it was common in past years for some restaurants to offer Thanksgiving to-go options for folks who lacked the skills or desire to prepare their own turkey, in 2020 the number of establishments offering kits has exploded. There are several factors playing into that trend: Families choosing to stay home may want to make their experience a little more special with a restaurant meal instead of something home-cooked. At the same time, many restaurants are struggling to get by with limited seating and severe restrictions or bans on indoor dining as cases surge across the country.

For some customers, the experience of dining at home over Thanksgiving might even be freeing, as they’re not forced to conform to the traditional roast turkey and mashed potato crowd pleasers or commit to long hours in the kitchen. This year, it seems easier than ever before to find a vegan meal option, a solo dinner, and global takes on the holiday feast. At Nai Tapas in New York, the Thanksgiving menu is Spanish, with Catalan-style toasted paella, while Lebanese Taverna in Arlington, Virginia, is offering customers the choice of a roast turkey or a garlic-thyme lamb shoulder for the main event.

Farmers and meat suppliers are also trying to adjust to meet the changing demands of people celebrating apart. Whereas, big, bulky birds work for a mass family gathering, smaller meals call for smaller turkeys. “Nine out of 10 people want the small birds,” Los Angeles-based Standing’s Butchery owner Jered Standing tells the LA Times. “I tried to get more — people are calling every day. They’re just not available.” The paper reports that some farms responded by butchering birds several weeks early this year to avoid turkeys becoming too plump. In a way, the smaller gatherings could turn into a boon for the turkey industry, because more poultry is needed to supply the more fractured holiday parties but farmers also fear that the more subdued holiday could result in fewer turkeys being sold. One turkey farmer told Vox that the impact of COVID-19 on labor and processing has made it even more difficult to predict how this year’s sales. Meanwhile, some families are opting for a small cut, like turkey breast or a whole duck or roast chicken.

Some spring holidays like Mother’s Day and Easter celebrations occurred when restaurants were still gaining their footing with takeout and delivery, but by now, chef James Rigato says that establishments that embraced the changes have become more familiar with the work required to prepare a to-go feast. “Now we have all the proper software, we have all the packaging tricks down,” he says. “We basically put this together on Tock, and then list it, and it just sells itself.”

While prices for some things like latex gloves, disposable masks, and to-go containers are beginning to go up, Rigato looks on the bright side: “This is a good year to be a customer looking for a Thanksgiving meal.”


Frequently Asked Questions

This post has been around awhile and has been one of our most popular. Here are some of the questions that have come up over the years:

My rice came out mushy, what can I do to save it?

Let me start by saying it’s probably not your fault and you can fix it. This recipe has worked perfectly for me for years and I’ve been pleased by the feedback from readers since it seems to be working as well for many of them too. But occasionally I hear from people who didn’t get it to work. It turns out there are a lot of factors that you might have to adjust for.

First off, I would emphasize this recipe is strictly for basmati rice. Basmati rice is very different from East Asian varieties. It has much less starch. Starch is basically a sponge that absorbs water, so the rice is going to act very different when cooked in water.

It could be that your rice is very young. Quality basmati rice is aged for at least a year before it reaches the store. During that time, the very dry rice becomes even drier, and when cooked makes it firmer. But don’t worry, we can fix this.

Another reason your rice may come out wet and mushy even following this recipe could just be from variations in your pan. Maybe yours is a better insulator than mine or you have a better seal with your lid so it held onto its water better. A little trial and error will help you find the exact ratio that works with you and your pan. Try reducing the cooking time to as little as 12 minutes or the total amount of water to 1.5 cups per cup of rice.

In either case, if you open the lid to your rice and it looks too wet you can still save it. Just take the lid off and let it continue to cook for a minute or two to boil off some of that excess water. If you are doing this and you notice a toasty smell coming from your rice get it off the burner right away, you’ve cooked off enough water and it is about to burn.

If there is way too much water you can also drain it by pouring it out over a strainer, but if you’ve followed

Does this work for brown basmati rice?
I want to make more rice than this recipe calls for. How much water and rice do I use?

I wouldn’t recommend using this recipe for 20 cups or more. But for household quantities, just stick to the ratio of 2 parts water to one part rice and you should be set.


7 Ways to Make Brisket Better Than Your Bubbe’s

Brisket for Passover is an obvious choice, but no less delicious for that. And these are our favorite brisket recipes to make (any time, really), from old-school braises to Crock Pot BBQ.

Better Brisket Everything You Need to Make a Perfect Passover Brisket For best results, you should have patience like your grandma does and go low and slow with this cut of beef. But make yours even better. Set tradition aside, at least in the details, and infuse your brisket with some not-so classic flavor. Or try an innovative technique.

Brisket used to be an inexpensive cut of beef, which was part of its appeal, but climbing meat prices don’t make that necessarily true anymore. Still, it tastes as good as ever the tough meat becomes tender after hours and hours in the oven (or slow cooker), and with your help, has a flavor that’s easy to love—like grandma. (Awww.)

Brisket Tips

First, make sure to brown your beef brisket to get that nice, slightly crispy outer coating. Then the long and low-heat cooking begins to render fat from the all-important fat cap, and break down connective tissue for a tender brisket. It’s best to use a Dutch oven with this dish, or anything that allows you to brown it on the stovetop and then cook it in the oven. When your brisket is finished, don’t forget all those glorious juices you’ll have hanging around. Serve them with the beef in a gravy boat, or use them to make a decadent sauce or gravy using wine, broth, butter and/or flour.

Before you get started, a few things you might find handy to have around when making a perfect brisket: beef broth, brown sugar, a good dry rub, a Dutch oven, a slicing knife, a big cutting board, aluminum foil, and hungry friends (that last one could be hard to come by this year, but you can at least host a virtual dinner party).

Brisket Recipes

Whether it’s to use up leftovers from a holiday gathering or for a casual dinner party, here are a few brisket recipes to try:

1. Chinese Brisket and Turnip Stew

Ginger, garlic, scallions, and chu hou paste (made with soybeans, sesame, and garlic) transform this cut of meat into something new, at least for those not accustomed to Chinese-style brisket. The daikon radish is more traditional for this classic Chinese dish, but you can use turnips too. You’ll need at least four hours to make this brisket. Get our Chinese Brisket and Turnip Stew recipe.

2. Spice and Herb Oven-Braised Brisket

Hungarian paprika lends a smoky-sweet essence to this slow-cooked brisket, also flavored with garlic, caramelized onions, tomatoes, brown sugar, rosemary, and bay leaf. You do most of the work the day before, refrigerating it overnight. Get our Spice and Herb Oven-Braised Brisket recipe.

3. Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Brisket

This fork-tender meat is meant to be shredded and piled high between bread slices and savored by hand. It’s a classic barbecue dish that you make in your Crock Pot over the course of 10 hours or longer, and it may not be quite the same as a smoked BBQ brisket, but no one will complain. Get our Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Brisket recipe.

4. Pitmaster-Style BBQ Brisket

If you do want to put in the time and effort to achieve smoked BBQ perfection, make your brisket like the professionals with our tutorial from pitmaster (even if he’s reluctant to accept that title) Burt Bakman. See how to smoke the best BBQ brisket of your life.

5. Grandma Irma’s “California” Brisket

OK, we’re including one bubbe-inspired recipe. Irma Zigas passed along the recipe she taught her grandson Caleb, in which “California” means quick-cooking with prepackaged spices. That includes Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt or Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, red wine, Hungarian paprika, creamed horseradish, and cranberry sauce. Get our Grandma Irma’s “California” Brisket recipe.

6. Brisket Fried Rice

This one is perfect for the next day, or the day after when you simply cannot force down another bite of brisket as it is. Give it new life as fried rice, sauteed with zippy flavors like ginger, soy, and scallion and fresh veggies like snow peas or broccoli. The fat and juice from the brisket will melt as you fry it, creating a gorgeous sauce when mixed with the Asian flavors. Get Gail Simmons‘ Brisket Fried Rice recipe.

7. Oven Smoked Pastrami

While we’re at it, how about a recipe for brisket’s tangy cousin, pastrami? This one involves time and planning as you’ll want to coat the brisket in a rub or mixture of spices, sugar, and salt and leave it to cure in the refrigerator for a week. A roasting rack is probably best for this one, so leave the Dutch oven in the cupboard this time. Get our Oven Smoked Pastrami recipe.

Related Video: How to Make Pastrami-Smoked Tongue for a New Taste Sensation


The 5 Worst Pioneer Woman Recipes to Bring to Thanksgiving

There are few things that give TLO more delight than ragging on The Pioneer Woman. My personal biggest complaint with her is that most of her recipes that I’ve attempted just turned out mediocre at best. I consider myself an able home cook, but I just can’t make her food taste good.

The most egregious was when I attempted Ree’s cornbread recipe, that probably had a huge lead-up about how “The Marlboro Man (my hubby) just hates food that isn’t raw steak, so I had to convince him to try my great-grand-mema’s recipes, and he LOVED IT!” The cornbread sucked, and after all the bad food blogger cornbread recipes that I’ve tried, these days I just resort to the boxed Jiffy stuff.

Anyways, since this is the season for potlucks between work, family, and friends, and we’re all obligated to bring home-cooked food everywhere, I thought I’d embark on the proud TLO contributor tradition of scrolling through the Pioneer Woman archive and – as opposed to being positive –finding her worst Thanksgiving recipes…

Oven-Roasted Asparagus

Look, I realllllllly love asparagus. It’s one of the tastiest and most hearty vegetables with the simplest of preparation. But there are two major problems with bringing this to the Turkey Day Table. The first is that most people don’t know how to cook it, and if it’s been sitting out too long, the stalks get soggy and soft and gross. Secondly, asparagus isn’t even in season this time of year. Sure, you can find it at the store, but it’s not seasonal until early spring and summer. This would be like cooking pot roast for the 4th of July.

Pumpkin Ravioli

The very first episode of 30 Rock, when we met the character Tracy Jordan, he ate at a restaurant with Liz Lemon where he was about to be served pumpkin ravioli, and was rightly infumed. Pumpkin is bullshit in everything but pie, and especially in something like ravioli. You wanna bite into that pillowy pasta and get a burst of savory ingredients, not a bunch of sweet gourd.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

This is actually one of my favorite Thanksgiving foods ever. One of my friends got the recipe from his mom and he makes it every year and it’s the biggest hit on the table. I even drafted in on Free Queso’s fantasy Thanksgiving league. In fact, you should totally make this recipe, I’m only calling bullshit because Pioneer Woman appears to use fresh broccoli instead of the frozen bagged stuff. Call me pretentious, but this dish demands processed food to keep it as pure as possible.

Edna Mae’s Escalloped Cabbage

This one kinda falls into the asparagus category, where most people don’t know how to cook it properly, and it tends to just be stinky and soggy. And even though I’ve advocated for Velveeta in the above recipe, Cheez Whiz is a bridge way too fuckin far for me to cross.

Pumpkin Smoothie

I don’t care how good this is, if you show up to an American Thanksgiving party with a bunch of smoothies, it’s like you don’t even understand the holiday at all.

As much as we bash Pioneer Woman, I truly want to find some of her recipes that are enjoyable. If you’ve got any suggestions, let me know in the comments, particularly if they are for pies or veggie side dishes, because that’s what I’ve signed up for on my Friendsgiving!


  • Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 21, 2014)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 128 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1502930323
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1502930323
  • Item Weight : 13.9 ounces
  • Dimensions : 8.5 x 0.31 x 11 inches

Top reviews from the United States

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The Ultimate in Thanksgiving Cookbook! This year I decided not to write a Thanksgiving cookbook. Boy I am glad I waited because this cookbook would have blown mine away. When you read the table of contents you will get the idea. As an example there are six different Turkey recipes each one better than the next. You will have difficulties in making your choice. For me a major part of the Thanksgiving dinner is the stuffing. My all out favorite is Corn Bread Stuffing, the author has added hot Italian sausage to the recipe. I have to make this. Chef Spencer's Wild Mushrooms and Bread, Raisin and Walnut Stuffing's are also now on my list to try. I can go on and on as she has provided all the standard Thanksgiving mainstays as well as the new and different tasty dishes. Delicious appetizers through unforgettable desserts are well covered

Every recipe has a color picture of the recipe! You have no idea how much work this is to accomplish.

Every recipe has the Nutritional Facts. the Calories, the Calories From Fat, Total Fat, Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber, Sugars and Protein numbers.

She also provides Conversion Charts.

You get the idea when I call this the ultimate Thanksgiving cookbook. Highly Recommended!


Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Restaurant Trick)

Did you know you can make ahead mashed potatoes? It’s a restaurant trick!

Whenever you order a dish with mashed potatoes at a restaurant, did you ever wonder whether they peeled, boiled and mashed the potatoes to order? No they don’t!

Restaurants prepare the potatoes ahead by boiling and mashing just the potato, then just before serving, it is mixed into boiling cream (or milk or even broth or a combination thereof) to reheat it and make it nice and creamy.

When it comes to ridiculously creamy restaurant style mashed potatoes, there’s not much to it. The secret is just loads of cream and butter. The creamier the mashed potato, the more cream and butter it has in it!

Here’s another little tip for you – if your pot is a bit small and there is risk of the bubble overflowing, just place a wooden spoon across the top. No more overflow!

Mashed potatoes are a “must have” for special occasion feasts like Thanksgiving and Christmas. So having this make-ahead trick on hand is very useful! – Nagi x

PS Use any leftovers to make mashed potato cakes!

Hungry for more? Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.


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