November 20, 2013

Strategic splurging for Thanksgiving dinner

Know how to pick your spots for when to spend a little more ... or not

By Michele Kayal
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Spread your store-bought rolls with homemade butter.

The Associated Press

“Save money on the marshmallows,” says Mary Risley, director of Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. “They’re not food.”

ROLLS: Save on the rolls, splurge on the butter.

Unless you’re a born baker, why fuss with the dinner rolls? Even the most mainstream grocers these days sell totally respectable rolls. And it isn’t hard to hunt down a local bakery to grab something even better.

Where to spend your time? Make homemade butter to go on those rolls. It takes just 5 minutes, but is so worth it. You also can season the butter with crunchy salt flakes, fresh herbs, whatever. The web has tons of recipes, but all you need are a food processor and a pint of heavy cream.

PIE: Splurge on the crust, save on the filling. Or splurge on the filling and save on the crust.

It all comes down to what your family values. For some people, a good pie is all in the crust. If that describes your crowd, do the real deal and don’t blow it with purchased crusts. And go all-butter or go home.

“There are very few premade crusts on the market that taste and feel as good as a real butter crust,” says Real Simple’s Copeland. But the filling is a different story. Why bother roasting and breaking down a fresh pumpkin when canned pumpkin consistently delivers great texture and flavor? “Canned pumpkin is a wonderful invention,” Copeland says.

Or maybe your family considers crust just a vessel for a delicious filling. If so, why waste time making your own? Grab a prepared crust and just focus on everything that goes in it.

However you roll on the crust, there should be no compromise on the topping. Pre-made whipped toppings don’t even come close to the real thing – which requires almost no effort to make.

“It’s amazing how a simple thing like homemade whipped cream as opposed to a defrosted whipped topping can elevate a dessert,” Rodgers says.

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