Real-Life Testers: Speedy Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

We enlisted in the help of Rich Castellano, to whip up our Speedy Thanksgiving menu and share with us if it fulfilled on everything we promised. Read on to find out what Rich thought and the personal touches he added to our menu to fit his gathering!
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We enlisted in the help of Rich Castellano, to whip up our Speedy Thanksgiving menu and share with us if it fulfilled on everything we promised. Read on to find out what Rich thought and the personal touches he added to our menu to fit his gathering!

Speed Through Supper

Real-life tester Rich Castellano, 33 from Staten Island NY, had one goal in mind when he set out to make our Speedy Thanksgiving menu: Make a delicious dinner, quickly, so he could spend more time with his two young girls! And that's exactly what he got.

Real-Life Speedy

Timing is Everything

When he saw our five-recipe feast his first reaction was worry that the flavors wouldn't develop in such a short cooking time. But he would soon find out -- after many empty plates and second helpings -- that he had nothing to fear.

Food Spread

Try out our Speedy menu for yourself!

Starting from Scratch

To test the speedy promise of the menu, Rich didn't read over any of the directions before the big day other than the ingredient list. His biggest asset: Our Feast in a Flash Timeline from the magazine, saying it was a "great guide for the day."

Starting from Scratch

Helping Hand

Rich's oldest daughter saddled up right next to dad to help out. Her tasks included brushing the turkey with butter, salting some of the food and whisking the cream.

Rich's daughter

Starting Line

First things first: Rich takes our timeline's advice and preps the turkey. Cooking a turkey breast instead of a whole bird cut his cooking time in half! "People who generally aren't big fans of white turkey meat ate it, loved it and went back for seconds!" Rich says.

Turkey prep

Get the Cherry-Chipotle Turkey Breast recipe!

Chop, Chop

With the turkey in the oven, Rich next focuses on to the sauce. He starts by chopping the onions and cooking them in a saucepan until soft.

Tester's Tip: Rich says next time he'll prep the salad and chop the onions and celery beforehand for an even more relaxing pace.

Cherry-Chipotle sauce

Get the Cherry-Chipotle Turkey Breast recipe!

Red Hot

Once Rich adds cherries to his sauce, it becomes a deep red color. He also adds syrup, chipotle, mustard and honey. Rich and his brother-in-law both love food with a kick so they were fan-favorites of our spicy sauce, however he says they'll have a tamer alternative, too, next time for their wives.

Cherry-Chipotle sauce

Get the Cherry-Chipotle Turkey Breast recipe!

Get Stuffed

Premade cornbread was a major time-saver and so delicious that Rich says he'll be adding this recipe to the annual lineup, with one tweak: They'll replace the chorizo with their favorite Italian sausage.

Stuffing

Get the Cornbread & Chorizo Stuffing recipe!

Cool as a Cauliflower

The biggest surprise for Rich was the cauliflower. "At first, I felt really guilty cooking something in the microwave, but I'm definitely going to use this recipe again." He described the final dish as "simple and so rich" and hands down his favorite.

Cauliflower puree

Get the Creamy Cauliflower Puree recipe!

Salad with Style

The salad was super simple and Rich was a major fan of the dressing. "I couldn't find pepitas at the grocery story so I substituted with roasted salted sunflower kernels. The seeds added a nice crunch!"

Salad with Style

Get the Caesar Salad with Pepitas recipe!

Dish It Out

Now, on to dessert! The chocolate filling is the first (and best) part of this treat.

Chocolate sauce

Get the Chocolate Cream Puffs with Cranberry Compote recipe!

Top Tester

Lucky for Rich, his daughter was an expert tester for him!

Rich’s taster

Get the Chocolate Cream Puffs with Cranberry Compote recipe!

A Tasty Pastry

Puff pastry makes dessert extra-special. Use frozen shells and all you have to do is stick 'em in the oven.

Chocolate Cream Puffs

Get the Chocolate Cream Puffs with Cranberry Compote recipe!

Time for Turkey!

Swap in the puff pastry when you swap out the turkey. How easy!

Turkey breast

Get the Cherry-Chipotle Turkey Breast recipe!

To the Table

Rich's table setting set the tone for the beautiful and flavorful feast to come.

Table setting

A Clock Never Lies

When all is said and done, Rich's meal took a little over two hours, but he says that's probably because he was busy catching up with his company and cooking with his daughter.

Thanksgiving table

Happy Stomachs

But no one seemed to mind! The table was split on if they liked the stuffing or the cauliflower best, which is why they're both being added Rich's menu this year.

Thanksgiving table

Dessert, Please!

After the main course, Rich filled the cream puffs to serve for dessert.

Dessert

Get the Chocolate Cream Puffs with Cranberry Compote recipe!

Kids' Choice

When the kids weren't feeling the puffs, Rich had a backup plan! "I scooped up some of the extra cream in a bowl and sprinkled it with the semi-sweet chocolate chips. They loved it!"

Kids’ dessert

Get the Chocolate Cream Puffs with Cranberry Compote recipe!

Speedy Supper

What are you waiting for? The clock's ticking!

Speedy Thanksgiving Dinner

Get more Thanksgiving recipes, videos and how-to tips!