… and your guests won’t even notice
Today I wanted to share with you how you can prepare a delicious Thanksgiving meal for four people by only using your microwave oven.
You might not think its possible to do such a thing, but I am going to prove that not only can it be done, but it can be done well.
Using your microwave oven can cut down on the time needed to cook a fabulous holiday dinner.
Your guests will be amazed and surprised when they realise that you used your microwave to cook the full dinner and they will be most appreciative and impressed when you sit them down at the table to eat it.
Not only is everything very appealing to the eye, but everything is also incredibly delicious! Time saving, delicious and eye appealing. You just can’t go wrong!
The dinner is composed of three aspects. Fabulously stuffed Turkey Tenderloins with a rich Creamy Mustard Sauce, Cheesy Potato Casserole and a tasty Citrus Dressed Apple Salad.
I have also cooked some frozen baby peas to go along with the rest of it. You can purchase ready-made bread rolls to serve along with your meal as well as a prepared dessert to serve at the end. (I chose to serve apple pie and ice cream.)
Quick and easy to make, with minimal fuss and minimal clean up afterwards.
Here is a handy timetable you can follow to make sure everything gets to your table in a timely manner:
24 hours before your meal:
Prepare your dessert. In my case I served an apple pie that I bought frozen and baked the day before the meal. You can serve this with a scoop of ice cream on top. Just pop the baked pie into a low oven when you begin your main meal and it will be nicely warmed and ready to eat when the main meal is finished. Scoop some ice cream on top and serve with some cheddar cheese wedges for a real treat!
On the big day:
Two hours prior to serving
Prepare the dressing for the Apple Salad, cover and place in the refrigerator. Prepare and stuff your Turkey Tenderloins, cover and chill in the refrigerator.
Set your table.
One hour prior to serving
Prepare and cook the Cheesy Potato Casserole. Leave off the topping until you are ready to serve them. In the meantime, cover and keep warm while you cook the Turkey Tenderloins. Core and slice the apples, tossing them with a few TBS of the citrus dressing to help prevent them from turning brown.
Just prior to serving
Assemble the salad. Warm your rolls and heat your plates in a low oven. Prepare and cook the sauce for the tenderloins. Sprinkle the crumb topping over your potatoes.
You may want to serve some condiments as well, such as a good cranberry sauce or a chutney. You will also need some butter to serve with the rolls and a hot beverage such as tea or coffee to serve with dessert afterwards.
If you are a wine drinker, you could serve a well-chilled white wine with this dinner.
The salad is a very simple one, composed of two kinds of eating apples, laid out attractively on a bed of lettuce, and dressed with a simple, yet tangy, citrus dressing.
You can make the dressing up to 24 hours in advance. I used one green eating apple and one red eating apple in the salad for colour and contrast. You also need to chop some scallions/salad onions for the dressing.
There are two kinds of citrus juices used in the dressing. Lemon and Orange, along with the grated zest of the lemon.
I find one of these citrus juicers comes in very handy when juicing my fruits. It makes it so much easier and helps to keep the pips out of the juices.
There is nothing more annoying than having to fiddle through liquid picking out all the pips. No matter how hard you try, some always slip by. This handy tool helps to prevent that from happening.
It is really a very pretty salad and so easy to make. I toss the apple slices with some of the dressing ahead of time to help keep them from turning brown and lay out all of the lettuce on an attractive platter so that all I have to do at the last minute is to lay the apples on top and finish dressing the salad.
I shake all the dressing ingredients together in a glass canning jar with a lid. Any extra dressing can be transferred to a decorative cruet and passed at the table.
Next you will want to get the Turkey Tenderloins ready to cook. I used two Turkey tenderloins which I cut in half crosswise. You will be stuffing them with a fabulous ham and bread stuffing.
I used dry white bread cubes for the stuffing. Not hard dry, but sort of stale dry. I used a sour dough bread for this, with the crusts removed.
The bread cubes are mixed with finely chopped ham. I used deli ham slices. A mixture of herbs, some chicken broth, melted butter, lemon juice and lemon zest flavours the stuffing along with some black pepper.
Use a sharp knife to cut a deep pocket into the centre of each tenderloin and then stuff them, using about ½ cup of stuffing for each.
You can secure the stuffing inside with a couple of toothpicks once you have them all stuffed. (Make sure you remember to remove the toothpicks before you serve them!)
Its important that when you place the turkey into the dish for cooking that you put the narrower ends at the centre of the dish, as when you are cooking in the microwave it basically cooks from the outside in towards the centre.
By placing the narrower ends in the centre of the dish you can assure that the larger ends are cooked properly without drying out the narrower ends.
Once you have your tenderloins stuffed and in the cooking dish, cover them with a sheet of wax paper and place them in the refrigerator to chill while you do the potatoes.
The main side dish for your Thanksgiving Dinner will be the Cheesy Potatoes. This, too, is a very easy make, composed of a fabulously tasty cheese sauce filled with tender chunks of potato and topped with a buttery crumb topping.
I use two kinds of cheese in the sauce, a good grated Parmesan and some grated sharp cheddar. You will also need butter, flour, milk and of course, some seasoning.
The sauce for the potato dish is a basic bechamel. I always like to do my bechamel sauces in the microwave anyways as you don’t have to worry about the sauce sticking and scorching on the bottom like you do when you are cooking them on top of the stove.
If you take care and whisk it every minute and a half or so you will always end up with a rich velvety sauce, without any lumps. I begin by melting the butter and then whisking the flour into it.
I then whisk in the milk to combine. It will be thin at this point because its not cooked. Make sure you use a dish large enough for the milk to bubble up. I find that milk almost always doubles in size when it boils so do be careful.
Once everything for the sauce is combined, you just need to cook it in the microwave on high, whisking it every minute or so, until it thickens nicely. I always like to add a few splashes of hot pepper sauce at the end, especially if it is going to be a cheese bechamel.
Once the sauce is smooth and has nicely thickened, you can stir in your cheeses and then your cubed potatoes. At that point I cover the casserole dish.
It will take about 15 minutes on high for the potatoes to be cooked and tender. I stir it every five minutes or to move the potatoes around so that they cook evenly. Once they are fork tender you can set them aside and keep them warm.
You can now start cooking your tenderloins. Keeping the sheet of wax paper on top, put them into the microwave. Cook them on high, first on one side for about 7 minutes, then flip them over and cook them for a further 4 to 7 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink.
Once the turkey is cooked and resting, you will need to make your sauce. This is one of the simplest sauces of all to make.
It is simply a mix of flour, black pepper and Dijon mustard whisked together with some heavy cream and cooked in the microwave until the flour flavour has cooked out and the mixture has boiled and thickened.
You will want to whisk it several times while it is cooking to make sure everything stays smooth and no lumps form.
Once you have the sauce done you can keep it warm while you cook some peas or another vegetable in the microwave.
I just threw some frozen baby peas into a plastic container along with a couple TBS of water and cooked them on high for several minutes while I was saucing and plating up my turkey, and putting the finishing touches on my potatoes.
You can either serve the tenderloins whole as above or cut them into slices diagonally placing them fanned out onto heated individual serving places, which is what I prefer to do.
They look very attractive when laid out in that manner and, as everything is ready to go now, you don’t have to worry about them cooling down. Just carry the heated plates to the table. Bring in the potatoes that you have sprinkled with the crumb mixture, pour the peas into a fancy bowl and bring them in also.
Put the marinated apple slices on the salad and pop it onto the table. Pour the remaining sauce for the tenderloins into a gravy boat and put it on the table and dinner is served.
I am almost willing to bet that unless you tell your guests different, they won’t even be able to tell that you cooked this entire meal in the microwave!
Don’t forget to put that apple pie that you have baked the day before into a low oven to warm up while you are all enjoying the rest of the meal!
TURKEY DINNER IN THE MICROWAVE RECIPES
STUFFED TURKEY TENDERLOINS WITH A TANGY CREAM SAUCE
Perfectly cooked turkey tenderloins with a fabulous ham stuffing, served with a tangy mustard cream sauce.
For the stuffing:
- 2 cups unseasoned dry white bread cubes
- ½ cup finely chopped baked deli ham
- ½ tsp dried marjoram leaves
- ¼ tsp dried thyme leaves
- ¼ tsp finely grated fresh lemon zest
- ¼ tsp coarse black pepper
- ¼ cup chicken broth or water
- 2 TBS melted butter
- 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
For the turkey:
- 2 turkey tenderloins, halved crosswise (about 1 ½ pounds)
For the creme sauce:
- 1 TBS plain flour
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream
- 3 TBS Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp black pepper
To make the stuffing, place the bread cubes into a bowl and toss together with the ham, herbs, lemon zest and black pepper. Whisk together the chicken broth, melted butter and lemon juice. Add to the bread cube and ham mixture, tossing together to combine well and moisten.
Using a sharp knife, cut a deep pocket into each tenderloin piece, taking care not to cut all the way through. Stuff each tenderloin piece with some of the stuffing, dividing it equally amongst each and taking care not to over-stuff. Pin closed with a couple of toothpicks.
Place into a shallow rectangular microwave safe baking dish, placing them so that the wider ends are at the outside of the dish and the narrower ends in the centre. Cover with a sheet of waxed paper.
Microwave on high for 7 minutes. Flip over and then microwave for a further 4 to 7 minutes on high, until the juices of the turkey run clear and the turkey is no longer pink. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep warm while you make the sauce.
To make the sauce, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a large microwave safe jug, stirring to dissolve the flour completely. Microwave on high for 4 ½ to 5 minutes or until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, whisking well each 1 ½ minutes.
To serve, slice the tenderloins and place on four heated plates in a decorative matter, drizzling some of the sauce over each. Pass any extra sauce at the table.
CHEESY POTATO CASSEROLE
Hearty, creamy and rich.
- 3 TBS butter
- 3 TBS all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed into ½ inch cubes
- 1 TBS melted butter
- 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
Place the 3 TBS of butter into a 2-quart sized microwave safe casserole dish. Microwave on high for 30 seconds until it melts.
Whisk in the flour and salt.
Slowly whisk in the milk.
Return to the microwave and microwave on high for two minutes.
Whisk well. Return to the microwave and cook on high for a further 3 to 4 minutes, until thickened, stirring every minute.
Stir in the cheeses and the cubed potatoes.
Cover and microwave on high for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice until the potatoes are tender when pricked with the tip of a knife.
Melt the 1 TBS of butter in the microwave on high, for about 10 to 15 seconds.
Add the breadcrumbs, mixing well together.
Sprinkle over the cooked potatoes to serve.
CITRUS DRESSED APPLE SALAD
Any dressing that is leftover can be stored in the refrigerator to use on other salads for several days.
For the dressing:
- 2 TBS white sugar
- 2 TBS minced scallions
- ½ tsp finely grated orange zest
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 3 TBS fresh lemon juice
For the salad:
- 1 medium green eating apple, cored and cut into 16 wedges
- 1 medium red eating apple, cored and cut into 16 bags
- Leaf lettuce
Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a lid. Shake well together.
Place the lettuce on a platter and top with the apple wedges in a decorative manner.
Drizzle some of the dressing over top and serve with the remainder of the dressing on the side.
Check out some of my other recipes:
Marie Rayner is a Canadian, who moved over to the UK and began a new life in the year 2000. At the age of 45 she decided she needed a career change and went back to College to take a Chef’s course, after which she worked as a Personel Chef for a number of years.