7 Ways to Ruin Holiday Dinners

Cringing at the thought of preparing Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? See how we solve these seasonal dilemmas with quick food fixes.

Holiday Dinner Hang-ups
There's just something about holiday dinners that puts you in a tizzy. Maybe it's the idea of cooking for a crowd...or the mere thought of cooking anything that doesn't come out of a box with instructions? Whatever the case may be, here are some holiday hang-ups that are more common than you think. And at least get a good laugh at knowing you're not alone.

Blackberry-Raspberry Truffle Cake
2 (18.25-ounce) packages devil's food cake mix
6 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups water
1 1/4 cups light sour cream
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup seedless blackberry jam
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/4 cup water
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 (16-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 3 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
Garnish: 1/4 cup blackberry and raspberry candies

Preparation
Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until blended. Grease 3 (9-inch) parchment or wax paper-lined round cakepans. Pour batter evenly into cakepans.

Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and remove paper. Cool completely on wire racks.

Combine chocolate morsels and whipping cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, 10 minutes or until mixture is smooth. Pour into a mixing bowl; cover and chill 1 1/2 hours or until mixture begins to thicken. Cook jams and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until jam melts. Brush tops of cake layers with jam mixture.

Beat chocolate mixture at medium speed with an electric mixer about 20 seconds or until stiff peaks form. (Do not over beat.) Place 1 layer, glazed side up, on a cake platter. Spread with half of chocolate mixture. Top with another cake layer, glazed side down; spread with remaining chocolate mixture. Top with remaining cake layer, glazed side down. Secure layers by inserting wooden skewers from the top layer down through the other two layers.

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add whipped topping and vanilla, beating until smooth. Working quickly, frost top and sides of cake with cream cheese mixture. Press pecans around sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.

Banishing the Bird
Dinner dilemma: I want to roast a turkey for our holiday dinner, but it's so intimidating! And what if mine looks like the one Clark Griswold cut into in Christmas Vacation? My blood pressure is rising just thinking about the bird...I'll leave it off the menu.

Holiday help: Whoa, sister! Before you mangle your menu, let's have turkey talk. First, choose the right size turkey for your crowd. When roasting, check the temperature often and be sure to baste. Then, use the proper carving technique for the best cuts of meat. For more details, check out Turkey 101.


10 Pounds-a-Packing
Dinner dilemma: If I want to get in that little black dress for parties this season, there's no way I can serve traditional holiday fare. With all the butter and bread, I always feel like I've gained 10 pounds in one day. I need to go ahead and program Jenny Craig's number in my phone.

Holiday help: Before you call Jenny, there are healthier versions of traditional recipes that cut way back on the fat and calories. And remember portion control...just because your hubby goes back for seconds and thirds, doesn't mean you have to. Now reward yourself by celebrating in that little black dress!

Get Light Recipes: Cooking Light's Ultimate Holiday Cookbook

Kids Gone Wild
Dinner dilemma: My holiday table should be the sight of perfection. Candles glistening, side dishes steaming, you get the picture. But it's never going to happen with all the kids coming for dinner this year.

Holiday help: You can have your picturesque table and entertain the kids, too. Children and adults alike will appreciate a kid-friendly zone. Give the little ones a kid-sized table setting, fill their tummies with our kid-approved vegetables, and provide activities for them to enjoy after dinner. Now, if you could only get them to wash the dishes...

Get Kid-Friendly Recipes: The Children's Table

Keep Reading: 7 Ways to Ruin Holidays Dinners

More Holiday Help from MyRecipes:
7 Deadly Sins of Holiday Cooking
Last-Minute Holiday Desserts
15 Simple Holiday Sides