Somewhat from Scratch: Do You Bend the Homemade Thanksgiving Rules?

This time of year everyone has food on the brain. And while not everyone shares my love of making Thanksgiving dinner from scratch, Thanksgiving centers on a home cooked meal. But what do you do when you're responsible for whipping up dinner? Do you ever take a few shortcuts in the kitchen?

For my entire childhood my family ordered Chinese take out for Christmas dinner. It wasn't because we couldn't cook or didn't know how. It was pure convenience. We usually hosted a good size crowd and my dad would pick up the order while the rest of us were at church (an easy way of out church for him). Thanksgiving was the holiday where we went all out cooking, and although we'd contribute cookies and a cake to Christmas dinner, we all looked forward to our special take out night.

While I love planning the Thanskgiving menu and cooking all day with my family, we're usually a relatively small group. If we had to cook up dinner for 10 or 15 people I'm not sure I'd approach dinner the same way (and I certainly wouldn't be hosting it in my tiny NYC apartment). Shortcuts in the kitchen can make or break a Thanksgiving, but how far do you go? Have you ever picked up a few side dishes and doctored them up to taste more homemade?

Related: How Can I Dress up a Grocery Store Catered Thanksgiving?

(Images: Faith Durand)