During the fall, when one holiday tends to roll into the next, I find myself constantly looking for shortcuts. Fast appetizers. No-cook desserts. Make-ahead sides. This year, I've decided to put my time-saving efforts to the test and cook a complete, from scratch Thanksgiving meal in two hours or less.

On paper it can be done. I know because I've devised a very detailed time-line starting at 5pm with "Prepare turkey" and ending at 7pm with "Dinner is served!".

The first thing I did was pick the menu. Because I'm cooking in my apartment (ergo, no second oven or specialty equipment), I had to find a turkey that would cook all the way through in less than two hours, so I'd have time to make the gravy and cook the rolls in the oven before time was up. My best whisk for a microwaveable roll recipe!

This Monday, November 3, I'll get cooking in the kitchen with the help of one loyal friend and maybe a glass or two of wine. At 7, our friends will arrive to sample the goods and, hopefully, take home some of the leftovers. Don't forget, this is a serious Thanksgiving dinner. No turkey breast for us, we're going with the 12-pound bird.

Check out the menu, then check back all next week for updates on the shopping list, the grocery trip, the cooking plan, and the minute-by-minute execution. Perhaps I should also point out that, while this is not my first Thanksgiving to orchestrate, it is my first time cooking a turkey. Case in point, I just realized that I should probably already have one thawing in my fridge.

The Menu

By Ashley Kappel and Ashley Kappel