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Seven years ago, my family began ordering out for Thanksgiving dinner and never looked back.
My family loves to eat. And we are pretty good cooks. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was not uncommon to spend weeks in preparation: menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up. One year, we purchased a free-range, locally sourced turkey that my husband decided to brine. Unfortunately, it was unseasonably warm that year, so the ice in the cooler where it was brining melted more quickly than expected, and he worried that it was no longer safe to eat. We begrudgingly (?) tossed it and felt fortunate to find Cornish game hens at the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving. But we also vowed that we weren’t going to go to that much trouble again.
Our kids were 8, 6 and 3 at the time, and we decided we would rather spend our days off resting and enjoying being with each other instead of being stressed out in the kitchen.
We don’t eat out much during the rest of the year. But when the holidays roll around, we are firm believers in Thanksgiving and Christmas pre-order menus. For the former, Boulevard Bread Company in Little Rock is our top go-to for their turkey and all the trimmings. They offer roasted turkey breast, traditional cornbread stuffing, sweet potato gratin, roasted autumn vegetables, turkey gravy, cranberry chutney, pumpkin caramel pie, pecan pie, cranberry orange bread, pumpkin bread and challah rolls. Everything is already cooked when you pick it up the day before Thanksgiving; all you must do is warm everything up following the included directions. I look forward to the sweet potato gratin all year.
KnightFire BBQ in Searcy also does a Thanksgiving menu. This year, it includes smoked glazed half ham, whole smoked prime brisket, smoked turkey breast, whole smoked turkey, whole rack spareribs, whole pork butt, cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, and whole cheesecake. We’re expecting guests this year, so we’ll be adding a smoked turkey breast and green bean casserole to go along with our Boulevard Bread order.
If vegans or vegetarians are going to be joining your celebration, you’re in luck, as Flora Jean’s is offering its first holiday to-go menu. Their take-and-bake options will appeal even to carnivores, with options such as green bean casserole with almonds, apricots and fried shallots; butternut squash mac and cheese; balsamic roasted brussels sprouts and carrots with parmesan; sweet potato casserole; cranberry hibiscus sauce; carrot ginger soup; and pecan, apple and pumpkin pies. Thanksgiving morning options include take-and-bake orange blossom cinnamon rolls, apple butter hand pies, persimmon bars, biscuits and apple butter jam, and sunflower cheddar grits.
Because holiday desserts deserve a table of their own, we look to Community Bakery. From classic pumpkin to chocolate cream and everything in between, their pies are delicious and very reasonably priced. They also offer rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, or a Thanksgiving-themed cake, cupcakes, petit fours or sugar cookies for pre-order.
For ideas beyond the traditional Thanksgiving meal spread, Raduno has you covered. They offer brussels sprouts, deviled eggs and family-style meatballs as appetizers; a ham quiche entrée; and cheesecake, chocolate torte and tiramisu for dessert.
Of course, these locally-owned businesses also have families and need downtime. Wild Sweet William’s often closes during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your scone fix; you just must plan ahead. They offer take-and-bake scones and cookies by the dozen. Generally, orders must be placed by 10 a.m. Tuesday before the day you need them. But watch their social media or call for their holiday hours.
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