Thanksgiving is that time when you go home to your family and someone other than you cooks a huge, complicated meal and then you get to eat it. Maybe. But not everyone lives close enough to make it home for a long weekend. What if you can’t get there this year?

Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be hard, or even time-consuming. You can make it for yourself, and hopefully some friends, in less than two hours. See? You won’t even have to wake up early!

Start with these rather depressing ingredients ? a box of instant stuffing, a jar of turkey gravy, a can of cranberry sauce, canned or frozen corn and green beans, frozen cranberries ? or in a pinch, any sort of frozen berry, those instant crescent rolls that come in a tube, parmesan cheese, an egg, jars of olives and pickles, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, margarine, vanilla and parsley. The parsley is key.

Also key ? pick up a boneless turkey breast. For dessert, grab a ready-made Oreo pie crust, some instant chocolate pudding and whipped cream.

As you might have guessed from the list of ingredients, you’re going to make candied yams. The strategy here is that if you make one real item, it will distract from the fakeness of the rest of the meal. So make the candied yams from scratch. It’s not that hard.

First, boil the potatoes ? maybe six ? in their skins. Meanwhile, boil together a cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of water and two tablespoons of vanilla extract. Take the skins off the potatoes and cut them into thin slices. Stick some margarine on them and pour some of the sauce over them, then put them in the oven that you preheated to 350 degrees.

Okay. Now it’s time to get started on dessert. Make the instant pudding and stick it in the fridge to chill.

While the pudding is hanging out in the fridge, you can “make” the cranberry sauce. Dump it out of the can into a pretty dish and mash it up so it looks a little nicer. For extra class, put the frozen berries into the cranberry sauce and stir it all up. Stick a sprig of parsley on the side of the bowl, because parsley makes everything look put-together. There.

Okay, it’s time to open the oven and pour some more of that sauce on the potatoes. Done? Good.

On top of the stove, boil the frozen corn over one burner and the beans over another. When they’re done, strain them and leave them over the burners ? which are off now ? so they don’t get cold too fast. Put some more sauce on the potatoes.

Now, over a third burner, you make the stuffing. It’s not hard ? just follow the instructions on the box. That should take you about 15 minutes. Leave it over the burner like you did with the vegetables. Put some more sauce on the potatoes. It should have been about 40 minutes now since you put the potatoes in the oven. Give them about 10 more. Meanwhile, you can open up the jars of olives and pickles and put them in little dishes.

When the potatoes are done, take them out of the oven and pour the last of the syrup over them. Let them cool.

Take the boneless turkey breast and cut it into slices. It will cook faster if it’s not in one big piece. Save a few little bits and scraps. Cook the slices in the oven until the internal temperature of the meat is 180 degrees.

While that’s going on, unroll the crescent rolls and sprinkle parmesan cheese into them. Roll them back up, brush the egg on them and sprinkle more cheese on top. Stick them in the oven with the turkey. They’ll be done first, so make sure to take them out in 10 or 15 minutes when they’re brown.

In the meantime, take the pudding out of the fridge and dump it into the pie crust. Smooth it over so it looks pretty and stick it back in the fridge. After dinner, you can serve it up with whipped cream.

Now make the gravy. Take it out of the jar and heat it up over the fourth burner on the stove. Add the little scraps of turkey that you kept, to make the gravy seem more authentic.

Put everything in pretty dishes and garnish it all with little bits of parsley.

Set the table now, because as soon as the turkey’s done, you’ll be ready to sit down and have Thanksgiving dinner. And it took less than two hours, didn’t it? The first person to complain that the turkey’s too dry can buy himself a sandwich.



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