OK gals, fess up. You know you’ve done this, we’ve all done this. We may not talk about it, we may not admit it outside of our closest gal pals circles, but we HAVE ALL FAKED IT.
I am, of course, talking about the not-so-homemade homemade dessert, appetizer, or full out dinner.
Geez, where was your mind headed?
Gals, it’s time to let ourselves off the hook. The holidays are approaching; the hectic, frenetic, want everything to be perfect holidays. For this Virgo Girl, I’ve spent many a late night, after a long day at work, tearfully trying to finish the cookies for the gift tins and decorate the tree and address the Christmas cards, and….yadda, yadda, yadda. This year I am giving all of us permission to cheat a little. Fake it as you will.
One of my favorite books is the very funny “I Don’t Know How She Does It” by Allison Pearson. There is this great moment when the protagonist is up at midnight beating a frozen pie with a rolling pin to make it look more homemade for her daughter’s bake sale the next day. I read that passage and instead of being incredulous I was thinking what a good idea.
Here’s what I have learned: no one has to know that you are faking it. You don’t have to arrive at your child’s school and announce that the cookies are store bought or the cake comes from a mix. Your kids don’t care – they’re plenty happy that you remembered that it was the holiday party and they didn’t arrive empty handed.
A personal hero of mine is Sandra Lee and her brilliant semi-homemade cooking franchise. Get this: with each semi-homemade meal (yep, a whole meal!) she always includes a quick and easy cocktail recipe – my kinda gal! Take a peek at her blog; you won’t be disappointed. There are times when I just need a quick meal and be done with it. Sandra is my patron saint of faking it with finesse.
Here are a few of my go-to resources for getting through the holidays:
Bread Mixes from Trader Joe’s. If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in your neighborhood then you probably already know that they are a haven for reasonably priced wines, cheeses, and sauces. What you might not know is that they also sell two terrific bread mixes: pumpkin and banana. You can even further fake it by tossing walnuts and cranberries into the pumpkin bread batter and calling it “Holiday Bread” – their suggestion right there on the side of the box. The best part? These mixes are less than $3 each!
Rare Bird Preserves. This is a new find for me. Products from this Chicago-based company can be hard to find (they do have an online store), but I discovered a local specialty shop carrying their apple caramel preserves. When poured over a store-bought frozen cheesecake, this quick fix morphs into an elegant dessert. This is definitely going to appear at my house for Thanksgiving this year.
Store-bought Frozen Hors d’oeuvres. In the middle of all the holiday fuss, you decide it’s a good idea to host a girl’s night at the house. A couple of bottles of wine, pot of chili, and someone else brings the dessert. Problem: not everyone arrives at the same time; you need to put something out with the wine and cheese (which you just bought at Trader Joe’s). Solution: the frozen food section of your local grocery store for frozen hors d’oeuvres. I’ve sampled a few and my favorites come from Wegmans. They’re not particularly inexpensive, but, they’re a tasty, reliable fake.
Speaking of grocery stores, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve embraced a whole new level of faking it this year: I ordered a turkey, fully cooked, from the grocery store for Thanksgiving (audible gasps heard far and wide). Please don’t get me wrong, I love to cook, I really do. But I’ve decided to let the grocery store do the heavy lifting and I’ll continue to work on the side dishes with my family. The turkey will go into the oven to be re-heated on Thanksgiving Day and no one will be the wiser (well, except for everyone reading this). My point is, I want this year’s Thanksgiving to be about time with my friends and family, not about the bird. Not sure my grandmother would approve…
How about you, have you ever faked it? Do you have a go-to short cut that you can share with your fellow gal pals?
Cheers, and here’s to a less stressful Thanksgiving for everyone,
PS: For the record, I have received no compensation from any of the brands noted in this post; I just like their stuff!