Turkey dinner without all the fuss

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This delicious turkey dinner is easy to pull together, thanks to two slow cookers.
This delicious turkey dinner is easy to pull together, thanks to two slow cookers.
Lisa Boykin Batts | Times

I’m very traditional when it comes to turkey dinners. I love basic roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade dressing, corn, butter beans, sweet potato casserole, cranberry Jell-O salad. You get the idea.

That’s always the menu when I cook Thanksgiving dinner.

When I cook a turkey breast during the year, I cut back on some of the sides, but I basically make the same thing. The turkey breast is cooked in the slow cooker and seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper.

Over the years, I’ve seen many recipes with different seasoning options and different gravies. But I’ve never wanted to try them. But when I got the Cooking Light cookbook “Everyday Slow Cooker” recently, I took a second look at Maple-Mustard Glazed Turkey Breast. The turkey breast cooks in the slow cooker with a mixture of apple cider, thyme, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. Imagine that aroma! It’s smells so good.

So one day last week, my husband and I had an abbreviated Thanksgiving menu.

The turkey breast cooked most of the day, making the house smell as if a holiday dinner was taking place that evening. Once the turkey cooled, I did something else I seldom do: I made gravy.

I do not always make gravy from scratch on Thanksgiving Day because I’m never happy with the results. I go the easy route and buy an envelope of turkey gravy mix, add in water and heat. Easy peasy.

But this time, I followed the very easy instructions and made beautiful gravy that I couldn’t wait to eat. In fact, I may or may not have dipped some turkey into the pan of gravy to try it before supper!

This delightful turkey was so tender and so good. The savory gravy is a delicious complement to the turkey, which has just a hint of sweetness.

This yummy turkey dinner was made even more delicious thanks to a new rice recipe that I served alongside. Brown Rice Pilaf with Cherries and Hazelnuts is also in “Everyday Slow Cooker.” I used my slower cooker to make this dish, which is ready in under 3 hours.

Reggie and I loved this rice recipe that comes together with just a few minutes of prep time. Do keep an eye on the rice after the 2-hour mark (maybe a little earlier) to make sure the liquid hasn’t all been absorbed. If it has, turn off the slow cooker.

We loved the slightly sweet dried cherries that are added in at the end of the cooking time. I used chopped pecans instead of hazelnuts because I had plenty in the freezer. The combination of texture with the brown rice, cherries and nuts is very appealing.

We had green beans to finish off our meal.

So here are my thoughts. If you want something different for Thanksgiving and aren’t feeding a large crowd, try this simple but delicious meal.

We still had plenty of leftovers for a few days and enjoyed open-faced hot turkey sandwiches made with whole wheat bread and hot gravy. The gravy’s delicious flavor was even more pronounced as leftovers.

If you don’t want something different for Thanksgiving, that’s fine too. Instead, save these recipes and make this meal another day!

There are 130 recipes in this new cookbook; I highly recommend you pick up a copy and get cooking!

Rather Be Cooking runs on Wednesdays in The Wilson Times.