Recipe: Last minute Thanksgiving ideas

by Julie Snyder

 French Green BeansIt happens every year. Before you know it, it's the day before Thanksgiving. Suddenly, you're stressing.

Sometimes an incident sets your well-laid plans on end -- your sister broke an arm, an unexpected 12 people will be guests...

Have you planned enough side dishes? Will the turkey thaw? Should you make "something else" besides pumpkin pie? Can everyone eat the appetizers you have planned? Argh!

Take a deep breath...exhale. If the day's approaching fast and your time is limited, dress up store-bought products with these tips and tricks.

Last minute Thanksgiving ideas

Quick and painless recipes

While you may not have time to make it yourself on short notice, you can cut a few corners and several hours with these tried-and-tested tricks.

Mashed potatoes: Here's how to add punch to boxed or frozen mashed potatoes in just minutes.

Almost stove-top stuffing: Instead of following the box's directions, create a healthier and tastier dish.

French-style green beans: Grab a bag of frozen beans and you're half way there. In just 10 minutes you can dress them up to match the rest of the feast.

Garlic and herb crescent rolls: What happens if you start with refrigerator dough and add a bit of pizzazz?

Store-bought solutions

You don't need to overload yourself by trying to bake everything from scratch. You can pick some things up at the store and no one will be the wiser.

Pies: Hit the local bakery or grocery store for some pumpkin, apple, or berry pies. Add homemade touches by serving with real whipped cream and a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Dinner rolls: Whether they're fresh from a bakery or you found them in the frozen foods section, you can still get that "right from the oven" effect. Wrap them in foil and pop into a 350 F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Easy appetizers: Put out some fresh vegetables, chips, or crackers with a delicious dip -- homemade or from the deli.

Remember, Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for all that we have. Your guests are apt to be so busy counting their blessings and sharing their year that they won't have time to number any shortcomings!

Do you have a secret holiday cheat recipe? Tell us about it.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.