For the past four or five years, my friend has hosted a pre-Thanksgiving dinner that he calls "Sidesgiving" because everyone brings their favorite holiday-season side dish. Even though he sets the date and sends invitations several weeks in advance, every single year I'm late because, at dinnertime, I'm still leaning down and peering into the oven, wondering whether hissing "OMGGGG COME ONNNNNN" will make those sweet potatoes cook any faster.
This year, I swear I'm planning ahead. Either I'm going to bring a bowl of cookie dough and a dozen spoons (my REAL favorite side dish-slash-main course-slash-dessert) or just go to Trader Joe's to pick up some of the Thanksgiving time-savers in its most recent Thanksgiving-themed Fearless Flyer.
There are a lot of shortcuts and timesavers at TJ's this month (like canned cranberry sauce and pre-made turkey gravy), and a lot of new items that are pretty much made for Sidesgiving, Friendsgiving, or Thanksgiving. I'm already eyeing the cornbread stuffing mix, which comes with pre-toasted cubes of white bread, a packet of seasoning, and rich morsels of champignon mushrooms. (Also, when did we stop calling them button mushrooms? So fancy!)
Based on the list of people who have already RSVP-ed to Sidesgiving, I'll pick up the gluten-free stuffing mix as well, which swaps the white bread for "non-wheat flours, including rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, and potato flour." It costs $2 bucks more ($5.99, compared to $3.99 for the gluten-y version), but that's totally worth it to ensure that everyone can spoon some stuffing onto their plates.
Also, instead of cursing at my closed oven door, I'm getting two 20-ounce packages of mashed sweet potatoes with maple roasted pecans, which will be ready for the table in under five minutes. I like the no-nonsense ingredient list too: sweet potatoes, butter, pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, and black pepper.
And if my local store is sold out of those three things, I'm just buying a half-dozen bags of turkey and stuffing seasoned kettle chips. GUESS WHO'S GONNA BE ON TIME FOR DINNER THIS YEAR?