Thank you Sarah for your ingenuity!

By Sarah Peachey

One thing I’ve learned while being a military spouse is that base housing kitchens can be small. So small, in fact, that it’s nearly impossible to have an assistant help you prepare a meal. In my tiny kitchen, if someone is cooking at the stove, no one can approach the sink, the microwave or even open the refrigerator.

When it comes to preparing a Thanksgiving or other holiday meal for a house full of hungry guests, a small kitchen can be a problem. If your space is small, your appliances are probably just as small.  Your counter-space may be miniscule. If you’re prepping a Thanksgiving meal in a small kitchen, how can you utilize every inch of space?

It’s time to think outside the box when cooking your holiday meals.  Instead of forcing yourself to cook like all the relatives of your family have done, rethink your appliances and use them to prepare your meal. Not everything needs to be prepared in the oven.

Your turkey takes the longest to cook and fills up tons of needed space in your oven. Why not try cooking it on a grill or a deep fryer? Send the men outside to crowd around the fire and collaborate on the best way to cook that turkey. It also helps clear some space while you’re cooking and may keep the main areas of your home a little cooler.

Weber grills has a great recipe guide that tells you how to brine the turkey, cook it on the grill, season it and even make a gravy. Check out this recipe from Weber. You’ll get that delicious smokiness you can’t get from the oven.

If you enjoy deep-frying your turkey, make sure you take all safety precautions. Accidents happen, so it’s best to be careful. Plenty of information comes out this time of year, so if you don’t know how to deep-fry safely, be sure to look it up.

Now your oven is open, but your stovetops may be cluttered with boiling potatoes, vegetables and other ingredients for a side dish. Pull out a crock-pot to cook your mashed potatoes or make brown sugar carrots. If you don’t have two slow cookers, ask one of your hungry guests to bring one of theirs. Crock-pots are small and can be tucked out of the way to make room on your counters. Mashed potatoes can take a few hours to prepare.  Use your crock-pot to free up those hours  for other preparation. Here is a mashed potatoes recipe:

Ultimate Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 lb baking potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, if desired (I left this out)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup milk, warmed
  1. In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, place potatoes, chicken broth and butter.
  2. Cover; cook on High heat setting 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except milk. Mash, crush or smash potatoes using potato masher, or beat with electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Do not overmix. Stir in enough milk for desired creamy consistency.
  4. Cover and keep warm on Low or Warm heat setting until serving time, up to 2 hours. Stir before serving and you may need to mix in additional milk if potatoes have stiffened while on the warm or low setting.

And if you think the brown sugar carrots sound as scrumptious as I think they do, here is that recipe:

Slow Cooker Brown-Sugared Baby Carrots

  • 1 bag (32 oz) ready-to-eat baby carrots
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
  1. Spray a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  Put carrot in slow cooker.  Sprinkle with salt, brown sugar, and butter.
  2. Cover and cook on high (stirring every hour) for 3-4 hours until tender.
  3. Spoon into serving bowl and spoon any sauce remaining over the carrots.  Season with addition butter, salt, or pepper if desired.  Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Now that you have a grill cooking your turkey, plus mashed potatoes and carrots in two slow cookers, your stovetop and oven are free to cook desserts, additional sides and anything else you need. Even if your oven is as small as mine, you can create a delicious Thanksgiving dinner or other holiday meal.