WNBA legend Lisa Leslie teamed up with Boston Market to offer us cooking beauties a few shortcuts in the kitchen this Thanksgiving. As a wife to her husband Michael Lockwood, mother to her beautiful kids Lauren Jolie Lockwood, Michael Joseph Lockwood II and talk show host (CBS Sports’ “We Need To Talk”), author, sports analyst, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, Leslie’s often left with limited time to get it all done. So like any other modern woman, Lisa finds comfort in short cuts.
And who doesn’t love to save a little time! Last year, Boston Market served more than 1 million customers last Thanksgiving Day alone and sold 41,000 whole turkeys in November and December. Lisa’s collaboration with Boston Market allowed her to use their delicious and quick home-cooked food to recreate some of her favorite Thanksgiving dishes, including creamed spinach pie, garlic mashed potatoes and apple cobbler. “I am a mom, so it’s great for me,” she said of pairing the company’s premade sides with homemade entrees. “I’ve always been a fan and lived near a Boston Market after I came back from playing [basketball] overseas.”
Check Out Lisa’s Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner:
- Make cooking a family affair. Invite all the cooks over to prepare their special dishes that can be prepared in advance two days before the holiday. It makes for great memories and family fun – plus you get a little bit of all of your favorite family recipes mixed into one meal!
- Start prep early. Prepare fresh vegetables like green beans and collard greens early Thanksgiving week. Cook them halfway and then freeze them. I often prepare our stuffing early by chopping all the vegetables and storing them in Ziploc bags or airtight containers, baking the cornbread and freezing the stuffing mix. Just don’t forget to defrost the night before Thanksgiving to have amazing stuffing and vegetables for the whole family!
- Use prepared sides to help save time and frustration. Cooking everything from scratch can really add to your to-do list. I like to buy a few prepared sides and make them my own. I love using sides from Boston Market to skip a few steps in my family recipes – for example, I’ll pick up a side of Boston Market sweet potato casserole and add my own twist! I just crush the pecans, bake them and spread them on top using brown sugar to add that caramelized touch. Then pop it into the over for about 45 minutes and it’s done.
- Let the kids help. As a mom, it can be hard to cook that big meal with little ones that need your attention. I always give my kids fun tasks so they can contribute – and I can multitask. For example, the kids will set the table, help decorate the house, or even decorate cookies or cupcakes. They also like to go with dad to run last minute errands on the big day as he prepares to fry the turkey.
- Don’t fret! Something could go wrong – it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a few mishaps. Don’t let that worry you! Take the time to enjoy the day with family and friends that you don’t see very often. If someone adds baking powder instead of salt to your favorite side dish, don’t fret– you can always make a last-minute trip to Boston Market for another side, (they’re open Thanksgiving Day!)
- Make the kitchen a welcoming place. Don’t fight the tendency for people to congregate in the kitchen. Carve out a place where friends and family won’t be too in-the-way, then put some snacks out so they know they’re welcome. On Thanksgiving Day, think about small jobs you can give to guests who come in asking “what can I do?” They’ll feel helpful and it will take at least a couple things off your plate.
- The dishes can wait. As the host, when you leave the table, you’re leaving your guests. All the dirty dishes will still be there later; enjoy the time you have with your family and friends.
- Think about leftovers in advance. Think ahead about what needs to be reheated and how much oven, stove and microwave space you have. Sometimes I will make a cold side dish like potato salad to save room and time heating.