Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

While I know many of you probably have your Thanksgiving menu all planned out, I wanted to share some ideas from two of my most trusted chefs, Chris Shea and Zac Young, who oversee things at my New York City restaurant David Burke Kitchen in SoHo. No surprise here, but Zac has some pretty good tips for desserts, and Chris shares some of that whimsical creativity you see in a lot of the restaurant's dishes for inspiration on what to do with leftovers.

Zac Young

Everyone has their own strategy on Thanksgiving, but a few new and fun ideas never hurt anyone. Here are six last-minute tips for you to use this Thanksgiving if you're looking to shake things up a bit:

  1. I know, I know, apple pie has got to be present at Thanksgiving. For a little twist on the traditional favorite, try my Cheddar Apple Pie Recipe – I promise the sweet and savory go together better than you would guess.
  2. If you must use store bought pie, add your own special something to it to make it stand out. The easiest way to do this is to make a pie sundae. Chop up the pie and top a scoop of ice cream with it, then smother it in whipped cream and salted caramel sauce. You'll save some time with a store bought pie, your guests will still enjoy the tastes of a traditional pie, and everyone will think you made it all yourself.
  3. Nothing is more luxurious than fresh whipped cream, and it's so easy to make that there's really no excuse for buying it at the store. The best part about making your own is that you can infuse any flavor of your liking into it, such as cinnamon or bourbon.
  4. Speaking of bourbon – a great after-dinner cocktail to enjoy with dessert is mulled cider. Add a little bourbon, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise to regular cider and simmer it on the stove for about an hour.
  5. I'm a sucker for old traditions, so I say polish off that silverware, dust off the fine china, and set your table with place cards. It's fun to make it a little more elegant now and then.
  6. No fruit is sexier than cranberries, in my opinion, and a beautiful centerpiece using them for Thanksgiving is to fill glass vases with water and float them on top with candles.

Click here to see the Cheddar Apple Pie Recipe

Chris Shea

I'm not going to try and tell you how to prepare staple Thanksgiving dishes, especially a couple of days in advance, but I do have some fun ways to use the leftovers.

Every year, I make my Breakfast of Turkey Champions. I mix four cups of leftover stuffing with 2 eggs and place in a waffle iron. Then I'll cook 2 cups of maple syrup with ½ cup of cranberry sauce and a cinnamon stick. I'll quickly fry a little turkey and serve on top of the waffle with a fried egg, a drizzle of the cranberry maple syrup, and a few cracks of black pepper.

Another idea is to make Moo Shu Turkey. Blend some leftover pumpkin pie in a food processor and fold it into your favorite pancake batter. Make the pancakes as thin as you possibly can, and then wrap them around turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

David Burke is a world-renowned chef and restaurateur. To learn more about him, visit his website and his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter @ChefDavidBurke