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Fake or Make? What to Buy and What to Make Yourself for Thanksgiving

Faux Fixin's
It takes just 15 minutes to make cranberry sauce from scratch.
It takes just 15 minutes to make cranberry sauce from scratch.

Sure, you can buy turkey gravy, but there's just something about gravy in a jar that makes our taste buds do a double take. Instead, use a cup of liquid from the oven bag in which you cooked your turkey. Turkey juice, as we affectionately call it, can be poured in a saucepan, along with a couple tablespoons of flour and whisked to create a roux (which sounds impressive, but is really just the basis of all gravy-like sauces). Once the mixture's smooth, slowly add store-bought chicken broth and cook until thickened.

Here are some quick fixes for sides: You can open a bag of cranberries, pour them in a separate saucepan with some water and sugar, and simmer them into gelatinous submission. As for stuffing, we think the kind you get from a box and reconstitute with water works just fine; you can also add a handful of raisins to give it a "just-made" twist. And, if you're opting for sweet potatoes as a side dish, it pays to buy them whole and peel them (they just taste better than the canned version). They cook quickly and with minimum attention. But, if that's not in your repertoire, buy a sweet potato casserole from the local deli. Once you've returned home, top the dish with mini-marshmallows and candied pecans, drizzle it with maple syrup and pop the concoction into your own pan to warm in the oven. The end result will be almost as sweet as the desserts we're going to help you create without lifting a proverbial finger; it's all on the next page.