By Paula Forbes
Illustration by Tara Jacoby
Does the word “Friendsgiving” stop you in your tracks? Sure, you like day drinking red wine and watching football as much as the next guy, but you’re not much of a cook. And yet your type-A best friend expects you to bring something to contribute to the potluck. There’s maybe even (gulp) a spreadsheet involved.
Never fear! There’s all kinds of stuff you can bring to Friendsgiving that looks way fancier than it actually is. Here are three super easy recipes that will get you invited back next year — and one last minute cheater option.
Homemade Party Mix
Why go to the trouble when you can just buy the stuff? Because it’s dead easy, and everyone will be incredibly impressed. Bonus: you can make it as spicy as you want.
2 cups rice cereal squares
2 cups wheat cereal squares
2 cups corn cereal squares
1 cup small, thin pretzels
1 cup Spanish peanuts
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 tablespoon Cajun or other spicy seasoning with salt
Heat oven to 200F.
Combine the cereals, pretzels, and peanuts in a bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan; add Tabasco and seasoning and stir to combine. Drizzle the spicy butter over the cereal mix and stir until everything is coated. Spread the mixture on a baking tray and bake for 90 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container.
Spicy Cranberry Goat Cheese with Crackers
This one is mostly just shopping, to be perfectly honest, but people go nuts for it. Don’t like goat cheese? It’s just as good with plain old cream cheese.
½ cup storebought cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons of the sauce from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce
1 8-ounce log of fresh, creamy goat cheese
Crackers of your choice to serve.
Melt the cranberry sauce in a small saucepan and stir in the adobo sauce. Let cool. Once you get to the party, put the goat cheese on a plate and pour the sauce over it. Serve with crackers and a knife for spreading.
Whiskey cocktails and Friendsgiving go hand-in-hand, but shaking them to order is messy (and also a pain in the ass). Manhattans can be pre-made in big batches, which means you can make them at home and bring them to the party.
1 bottle rye whiskey
You’re eyeballing this one: take the bottle of rye and pour out about a quarter of it (into a jar or something for later, you’re not a monster). Add several good, healthy shakes of Angostura bitters, and then fill up the rest of the bottle with sweet vermouth. Shake to combine. When you get to the party, stick it in the freezer. Serve small pours of this, garnished with a cherry and a sliver of orange peel, ideally after dinner.
When All Else Fails
Go directly to the wine shop. Every November, a French wine is released on November 15: Beaujolais Nouveau. It’s light, it’s fruity, it’s relatively inexpensive, and—most importantly — it will be displayed prominently at the front of the wine store. It also conveniently goes quite well with turkey. Grab a bottle … or maybe two, to make up for not bringing a dish. And have a happy Friendsgiving.
Paula Forbes is a food writer in Austin, Texas whose work has appeared in GQ, The Houston Chronicle, Lucky Peach, Eater, and more. Her first cookbook, The Austin Cookbook, is out now from Abrams, and she writes a weekly cookbook newsletter called Stained Page News. Her favorite parts of Thanksgiving is stuffing, pecan pie, and, on really good years, watching Packers football.