Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful is the Order of the Day WITH CONTEST!


As a passionate home cook, Thanksgiving is my grail, my marathon, the ability to pull it off is a source of pride, and no moments of my year are as purely pleasurable as those brief moments of silence around the table when everyone tucks into their plates, followed by gradual exclamations of rapturous delight. And while there is always something a little bit new or different every year, the basics stay the same, and I’ve gotten a lot of it down to a science.

But science doesn’t mean clenched perfectionism.

With all due respect to Martha, you don’t need twenty four matching turkey shaped bowls for the soup to taste good, you don’t have to grow your own cranberries, or even make your own pie crust (or pie for that matter) for this day to be wonderful. Good food, prepared with love, and served with a smile is all anyone needs for the holiday to be sublime…to each at the level of their own ability.

For those of you who are thinking of tackling the big day, I’ve got some tips to help you out. The most important thing about Thanksgiving is right there in the name, be thankful. If you burn the turkey, make PB&J and laugh it off. And if at all possible, set yourself up for success with some simple advice and simpler recipes.



I am feeling especially blessed this year since Charming Suitor’s parents, Reverend and Mrs. Charming are joining us for my favorite holiday. It is their first visit since Charming Suitor and I found each other, and I am so excited to have them here to celebrate our first Thanksgiving with us, since one of the things I am most thankful for is their dreamy son.

Plus it means that this year, I have the best co-chef ever, since Charming Suitor's knife skills are just as good as his boyfriend skills, so I am so excited to make this meal for our families together.  He is going to teach me his famous cornbread stuffing and yeast rolls, and says that I can share both recipes with you when we are done.  Yippee! Seriously?  This holiday gives me the all-over joy wiggles, and the fact that it is our first Thanksgiving together is making it so over the top fabulous that I am amazed my feet are even touching the ground.

But I know that some of you do not look forward to this day with the same level of insane enthusiasm.

Whether you are having a huge event with five generations, a gathering of your best pals who aren’t able to be with their own families, or just a small dinner with you and your sweetie, there are ways to make this day less stressful, and more joyous.

Firstly, know thyself. Do you regularly make your own puff pastry, serve towering flaming Baked Alaskas, and finish your sauces with homemade demi-glace? Then find any challenging menu that inspires you and have at it. But if you burn the toast four days out of ten, this isn’t the time to try anything complicated. Keep things simple, and don’t be afraid to get help with the hard stuff or fiddly bits. People love to participate, so let guests bring something to take some of the pressure off you. If you’ve never made pie crust, buy a good quality frozen crust. Look at local prepared foods sections of grocery stores and see who is offering side dishes and do a tasting the week before. If Whole Foods is making a killer stuffing, there’s no shame in serving it. Does gravy make you nervous? Add five or six whole peeled shallots to the turkey roasting pan along with your bird, and simply blend them into the de-fatted pan juices to thicken it easily without all that tricky flour business.

Secondly, know thy audience. You might be a major foodie, but is Aunt Marge? No point in fussing over individual pumpkin soufflés cooked in hollowed out oranges unless the rest of your guests will think it as cool as you do, and not wonder where the Entenmann’s Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip is this year. You can take the basics and just make them with the best ingredients you can get, and know that you have improved, even if you haven’t monumentally altered. Or think of it as a retro meal, all the rage these days, and revel in the kitschy quality of making the recipes the old way.

Thanksgiving is also a great time to connect with Mom, Grandma, or your favorite Fairy Godmother (or father)…call and ask for advice and recipes, they’ll be flattered and you’ll be amazed how many great tips they can give you.

So, if you’re getting ready for the big day, here are Stacey’s Thanksgiving Commandments:

1. Thou shalt buy a fresh turkey from a butcher, and brine before roasting.

I know Butterball seems like a good idea, but they are so filled with preservatives and salt and other unnatural stuff, they don’t really taste like turkey. Call before the holiday and have your local butcher order you a fresh turkey for pick up the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Take it home and brine for 24 hours using the brine recipe of your choice…mine is below. You’ll be delighted with the results.  Many stores like Whole Foods also carry fresh turkey these days, splurge.  It is the centerpiece of the meal, and your sandwiches will be elevated all weekend!

2. Thou shalt discover how easy it is to make awesome cranberry sauce.

Cranberry sauce is not just the easiest part of the meal; it can be made up to a week in advance. It’s the perfect thing for even a reluctant cook to offer to bring to someone else’s meal, or an easy addition to your own. (and yes, I know some of you love that shimmering jiggling tube with all the ridges, and if you must, have some on hand…but do at least TRY homemade…you can always serve both)

3. Thou shalt not be ashamed to make the green bean casserole with the Campbell’s Condensed Soup.


Sure, I’m a foodie-slash-crazy person, so I make my cream of mushroom soup from scratch before assembling the ubiquitous casserole…but honestly, it’s a tradition for a reason, the original recipe is pretty comforting and delicious in its own nursery food way, and easy to make, so even if you consider yourself a major gourmet, pull out the processed food version and serve with a smile. Ditto sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

4. Thou shalt not overdo the appetizers.

You’re going to spend at least two days cooking for this meal. Let your guests be hungry when they get to the table. Keep your pre-dinner nibbles to small bowls of nuts or olives or pretzels or the like, think basic bar snacks…you just want your guests to have something to nosh on with their pre-dinner drinks, but if they fill up on hors d’oeuvres you’ll all be sad when you get to the table and can’t manage seconds. (this is good advice for any dinner party…either plan heavy hors d’ouevres and a light supper, or vice versa)

5. Thou shalt not bother with salad.


I know it always seems like such a good idea to make a fresh green salad. But frankly, it takes up valuable space on a plate that should be devoted to fourteen different starches, and you’re just going to throw most of it away, since it will be all wilty and depressed by the time you go to put the leftovers away. No one will miss it. Seriously. Stop even thinking about it.

6. Thou shalt not count calories, skimp on ingredients, measure portions, or whine and pout about how bad the food is for you.

We are all very sensitive to healthy eating these days, and more than a few of us are dealing with the need to lose a couple of pounds. Or a couple of dozen. THIS IS NOT THE DAY TO DO IT. Thanksgiving is, at its very core, a celebration of food and the memories that food invokes and the new memories created at the table. You do yourself, your host, and the day a disservice if you think of it as anything else, or deprive yourself of the sheer joy of this meal. If you’re the cook, don’t alter recipes with low fat/low salt/low taste versions of things unless you have a guest with medically prescribed dietary restrictions. Don’t skip meals before, so that you aren’t blindly starving by the time you get to the buffet, and if you’re really concerned, fill your plate anyway you like, but either don’t go back for seconds, or on your second round, stick to the less gloopy veggies and white meat turkey and the cranberry sauce. Any nutritionist worth their salt will tell you that one meal cannot derail your overall progress, especially if you get back to your program the next day and maybe add a workout that week. And any counselor will tell you that the surest way to be cranky is to deprive yourself while all around you are celebrating. Give yourself a break…you’ll be amazed that if you give yourself permission to have everything you want, how easy it is not to overdo it.

7. Thou shalt not stuff your bird.

I can hear you crying about it now….you are used to the bird packed with stuffing, you dream about the really crispy good part in the front over the neck, why can’t we stuff our turkeys? Here’s why….one, a stuffed bird is the best possible way to get food borne illness on the agenda. If the stuffing doesn’t get up to at least 180 degrees internally, it can breed bacteria, not fun. Two, in order to get the stuffing to 180, you are going to overcook the crap out of the turkey itself, especially the breast meat. Three, all that moistness you love in the in-the-bird stuffing? That is all the juices from the meat that are getting sucked out by the huge stuffing sponge, and you not only dry out your bird, you have many fewer juices with which to make gravy. Make your stuffing and bake in a separate dish, and if you really miss that dense moistness, buy a couple of extra turkey wings and lay them on top of the casserole as it bakes, and/or melt a stick of butter in a cup of chicken stock and pour it over the stuffing ten minutes before taking it out of the oven. And get over it. Stuffing that wasn’t actually stuffed is always going to be better than food poisoning.

8. Thou shalt not test more than one new recipe for this meal.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful meal to add to, but don’t do everything at once. I know that the cooking mags have all sorts of new-fangled versions of things, but they have to reinvent the holiday menu every year. Experimentation is good, but if you change the whole thing up at once, people are going to miss their old standby favorites. Pick one dish that you think is ready for a revamp, and throw in that curveball. If you love it, add it to the repertoire. But don’t do the chipotle rubbed turkey, sweet potato tofu bake, barley stuffing, green beans with fresh ricotta, and sherried fig cranberry coulis all in one meal. Someone will weep openly, and everyone will have to run out the next day and make a few traditional items to get them through to next year.

9. Thou shalt not be a Thanksgiving Dictator.

If people want to help in the kitchen, let them. And don’t criticize the quality of their small dice, or the way they wash the pots. Ditto assigning specific foods to guests who want to bring something…if someone offers to bring a dish, ask them what they love to make or what they crave most about Thanksgiving and let them bring that. Who cares if you have two kinds of sweet potatoes, or both cornbread and regular stuffing? On Thanksgiving, more is more, and abundance rules. Besides, you have a three day weekend that needs quality leftovers.

10. Thou shalt be thankful.

We are all very blessed in our own ways. Even if you are going through a rough time, there are those who have it rougher. Take a few moments to think about all of the gifts you have in your life, the family and friends who surround you, all of the wonderful things you may take for granted in the hustle and bustle of your day to day. Close your eyes, be joyful, and in all sincerity and humbleness thank the universe for your life.

And because I am so truly and deeply thankful for each and every one of you who reads this blog, FABULOUS PRIZES!

This amazing company called Lekue sent me a box full of totally cool cooking gadgets all made out of silicone.  Everything from a lemon squeezer to a collapseable steamer.  And I want to share the booty!

SO, post any of the following in the comments section:  most hilarious Thanksgiving disaster, best Thanksgiving recipe, or best Thanksgiving tip.  The best one will get a signed copy of my new book Good Enough to Eat which I will personalize to whoever you like (holiday gift anyone?), a Lekue Silicone pumpkin shaped cake mold a Lekue silicone cupcake set (including silicone cupcake cups, a spatula, and a decorating pod), and a really fantastic stretchy lid that allows you to flexibly top cans or jars for fridge storage.


Perfect pumpkin shaped cakes, all season long.  Think of the Jack O Lantern opportunities!

Such a great kit to play with-rainy day activities with the kids...


Perfect for those holiday cookies, even a decorating idiot like me can do it.

These things really seal well!

And because I love you, the six runners-up will get either a decorating pod or a stretchy lid (please allow me to choose for you).  Seven lucky winners in all!  Post those comments between now and 11:59 Sunday night November 28, the winner will be announced Monday November 29.   That way anything that happens this coming holiday weekend can be included in the running.
Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath

Here are some of my go-to turkey day recipes. Follow to the letter or use as a springboard for your own touches… All recipes are designed to accommodate 12-14 people with leftovers.

Brined Turkey

1 16 lb. fresh turkey, fully thawed

Brine:

9 Q water
1 gallon apple cider
1 bottle Riesling or other fruity white wine
2 ½ c kosher salt
2 c brown sugar
8 bay leaves
2 ½ T coriander
1 ½ T juniper berries
2 T peppercorns
1 ½ T fennel seed
1 T mustard seed
3 onions-quartered
2 apples-quartered
1 bunch thyme

Boil 1 Q water with salt, sugar and all spices. Cool. Put in brining bag. Remove giblets from turkey, and rinse bird under cold water inside and out.Add rest of ingredients and turkey. Brine minimum 12 hours, 24 is better.

Dry with clean dishcloths and set on large sheet pan. Season cavity well with salt and pepper, then add 1 quartered apple and a quartered onion to the cavity, along with a bunch of thyme.  Put compund butter under skin and let sit on counter uncovered to tighten and dry skin, at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Make rack on the bottom of the roasting pan with celery, carrot, onion, 4-5 whole shallots, thyme. Melt remaining compound butter and brush the outside of the turkey.  Put turkey on vegetables breast side down, and put in oven. Reduce immediately to 400 degrees. Cook 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325, cook 90 minutes.

Flip breast side up, insert probe thermometer, and cook to 155 internal temp, 45-120 minutes depending on size of bird, rest 40 minutes.

Gravy:

Discard carrots, celery, onion and thyme sticks. Set aside shallots. Pour juices into fat separator or tall glass. Put roasting pan on one burner and add 1 c white wine, cooking over high heat to get any brown bits dissolved, and till reduced by half. Defat pan juices, add roasted shallots and wine and blend with immersion blender. Taste for seasoning. If not liquid enough, add turkey or chicken stock.

Compound butter:

2 sticks butter at room temp
1 minced shallot
2 T fresh thyme leaves
2 T fresh rosemary
2 T Dijon mustard
Zest of 1 lemon
1 T salt

Blend by hand or in a food processor. Can be stored up to five days, or frozen for up to three months. Bring to room temp before using it on your turkey, I use half as is under the skin, and then melt the other half and brush the outside of the bird.

Cranberry Sauce

2 bags cranberries
1 ½ c port (or pomegranate juice if you are worried about alcohol)
1 c sugar
1 t salt
5 T orange juice
1 ½ t cornstarch
1 t ground mustard
1 t lemon juice
Zest of 1 orange
Pinch ground clove
Pinch fresh ginger
Zest of 1 lemon
½ c dried cherries-rehydrate by heating gently for 10 minutes in ¼ c port or water

Cook cranberries and port in a saucepan over med-high heat 10 minutes, until cranberries burst. Add sugar and salt. Whisk OJ, cornstarch, mustard, lemon juice in a bowl and add to berries. Stir to combine. Add rest of ingredients, cook 5-6 minutes more, cool.

Killer Mashed Potatoes

10 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled, cubed)
2 sticks butter, cubed
1 pt. whole milk, warmed (or half and half or cream, depending on how rich you like it)
1 pt. sour cream
1 8 oz tub whipped cream cheese with chives (or plain) at room temp
1 bunch chives, chopped fine
S&P to taste

Boil peeled cubed potatoes till soft in well salted water. Drain completely. Put potatoes through ricer, or just use hand masher to mash. Then switch to hand mixer, blending only just as long as you need to mix in each ingredient.  Don't overmix!  Add butter first, then cream cheese, and then milk to just shy of your preferred texture. Once the potatoes are almost there, add in the sour cream and chives and season well. Hold in double boiler to keep warm…this is the dish I make while the turkey is resting, best when fresh.

Stacey’s Green Bean Casserole

3 lbs fresh green beans, trimmed, blanched 90 seconds in boiling water, dried thoroughly (I often buy the microwave in bag pre-washed beans, and follow cooking directions, setting time for the lowest time listed (4 min per bag), then dry)

1 lb asst. sliced exotic mushrooms (I use 4 oz each oyster, crimini, chantrelle, and either morels or shitake, but use any combination of mushrooms that are available and you love)
2 shallots minced (or one small onion minced fine)
4 T butter
8 T flour
2 c chicken stock (homemade if possible)
2 c heavy cream
16 oz mascarpone cheese, room temp (can substitute cream cheese or soft goat cheese)
½ cup buttered breadcrumbs (1/2 c breadcrumbs sautéed in 2 T butter)-optional
1 large can French’s fried onions

In a large wide saucepan with high sides, sauté shallots and mushrooms in butter until moisture is released and evaporates completely. Sprinkle flour over mixture, stir in, and cook 2 minutes. Add stock and simmer 2 minutes. Add cream and simmer about 15-18 minutes until very thickened and reduced. Take off heat and stir in mascarpone, taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper. Mix beans with sauce and pour into buttered pan 9x13.

Mix buttered breadcrumbs and fried onions in bowl and set aside.

If serving right away: Cook 425 degrees 15 minutes, top with onion breadcrumb mixture, cook 10-15 minutes till top is lightly browned and crispy.

Can be made up to two days in advance…take out of fridge to come to room temp 90 minutes before cooking. Put in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until bubbling around the edges. Top with onion mixture and cook additional 15 minutes.

Basic Stuffing

1 XL loaf country bread or French bread cubed and toasted till totally dry (2 lbs.) (or 2 lbs of the plain crouton cubes from the store)
1 pkg soft egg rolls or hot dog buns torn coarsely
2 ½ sticks butter
1 ½ c finely chopped onion
1 ½ c finely chopped celery
Celery leaves from 2 heads, chopped
¼ c chopped flat leaf parsley
Dried sage, thyme, marjoram (1 T each)
S/P to taste
4 lg eggs, beaten
1 32 oz box chicken stock…add as necessary to moisten
½ c toasted bread crumbs

Saute veggies and herbs in 1 ½ sticks butter. Toss with bread. Add stock slowly till moist but not overly soggy. Taste for seasoning. Stir in eggs and mix well. Put in deep foil pan. Drizzle with melted stick of butter and sprinkle of breadcrumbs.

400 degrees for 25 minutes covered, then 20 uncovered. If you want extra turkey flavor, lay the pieces of 2-3 turkey wings on top of the casserole for all but the last 10 minutes, and for extra moistness, melt another 4-8 T butter in 1 c chicken or turkey stock and pour over top when you uncover the stuffing, then continue cooking.

Can be made up to two days in advance, and reheated in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes before serving.  Add in whatever you like to make it yours, cooked sausage meat, nuts or dried fruits, other herbs, mushrooms or water chestnuts, swap out some of the croutons for dried crumbled cornbread...

Sweet Potato Casserole

8 large sweet potatoes
1 stick butter
½ c brown sugar
Cinnamon, nutmeg, s/p
3 eggs
1 bag mini marshmallows

Roast potatoes in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour till ery soft. Mash with butter, sugar, and cinnamon, s/p, nutmeg. Mix in eggs.

Bake 350 for 25 minutes, add marshmallows to top in one layer, put back in oven for 10-15 more minutes until the marshmallows are golden brown.


Pumpkin/Butternut Squash Soup

If you want this soup all pumpkin, replace the butternut squash with fresh or frozen cubed pumpkin. If you want it all squash, eliminate the canned pumpkin and add another 2 lbs of cubed squash.  I love this served at the table, but it also is great in little espresso cups as a pre-dinner amuse bouche.

3 lbs fresh butternut squash cubes(about 3 large squash, peeled and de-seeded and cubed)
2 large cans pumpkin (29.5 oz organic…not pumpkin pie filling!)
3 quarts chicken stock (or veggie stock if you have vegetarians coming)
1 pt. heavy cream
2 med. (or one large) yellow onions
1 stick butter
Fresh ground nutmeg
s/p

Prep squash if necessary by peeling, de-seeding and cubing in large chunks. Sauté onions in butter till soft but not browned, add squash and pumpkin. Pour in enough chicken stock to cover the vegetables by about 1 ½ - 2 inches. Cook over medium heat till very soft, about 35-45 minutes. Blend with immersion blender or in batches in regular blender till very smooth, for extra velvety soup strain thru Chinois or fine mesh strainer. Add cream and season to taste with salt and pepper and fresh nutmeg.

Freezes beautifully pre-cream, I often make a double batch and freeze half without the cream in it. Is also delish without the cream if you want to be healthier.

Toppings:

½ c heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
8-10 amaretti cookies, crumbled but not powdered

Blend together right before serving and garnish each bowl or cup with a generous spoon.

Have also topped with:

Crushed gingersnaps and mini marshmallows
Crème fraiche mixed with crystallized ginger
Candied orange zest and toasted pine nuts
Toasted gingerbread croutons
Caramel corn
Whipped cream blended with cranberry sauce
Crouton with melted asiago cheese
Fried sage leaves
Curried nuts (pumpkin seeds, pecans, walnuts)

Balsamic Cipollini Onions


A great savory/sweet side dish, and amazing on leftover sandwiches!
2 lbs cipollini onions, peeled (blanch in boiling water one minute, shock in ice water, skins should slip right off)
3 T olive oil
3 T butter
1 ½ T brown sugar
6 T balsamic vinegar
1 T chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Place onions in medium bowl; toss with oil. Arrange onions on baking sheet or in roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until onions are brown and tender, rotating pan in oven and turn onions once, about 35 minutes (they will caramelize and be quite dark in parts but, if you have coated them well with olive oil, will not have a 'burnt' taste). Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add vinegar. Return to heat. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour over onions and continue to cook in oven 10 more minutes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Pickled Carrots

Great pre-dinner nibble! A bowl of these and a bowl of nuts are really all you need.

1 large bag baby carrots (2 1bs)
1 bottle apple cider vinegar
1 large jar honey
4 T mustard seed
1 bunch dill

Combine vinegar, honey and mustard seed in saucepan. Add carrots and cook over med-high heat till carrots are cooked but still crisp, 5-8 minutes. Store in pickling liquid in fridge. Before serving, drain liquid, add chopped fresh dill.

Thanksgiving Time and Action Plan

Here is how I manage the week so that I don’t have a nervous breakdown. All recipes are above. I like to serve dinner at dinner time, but you can alter by changing the end time to the time you want to serve, and adjust backwards.

Monday: Cranberry sauce, pickled carrots, herb butter, make amaretti crumbs, prep veg for stuffing.

Tuesday: Make stuffing, sweet potatoes, onions, green bean casserole, soup, make brine for turkey and chill.

Wednesday: Brine turkey, set table, get house organized, make any desserts or breads you want to have, these are things I tend to let others bring for ease, but this would be the day to do it if it is on your agenda.

Thursday:

10:00 remove herb butter from fridge, take Turkey out of fridge and let sit in brine at room temp

10:30 make turkey stock from neck, wing tips, carrot, celery, onion, one bay leaf and a quart of water. Simmer for 30 minutes, strain and reserve.

11:00 remove turkey from brine, pat dry, put ½ herb butter under skin, leave uncovered to dry on counter (away from dog’s reach, cat access, or curious children) If you can’t leave it on the counter in the open kitchen, on top of the washer or dryer in the laundry room is another good place as long as it isn’t near any cleaning products.

12:30 melt remaining herb butter, brush on skin

1:00 Heat oven to 500. Make vegetable rack in roasting pan.

1:30 Put Turkey in oven Breast side down. Immediately reduce heat to 400

2:00 Reduce heat to 325

3:30 Turn Turkey breast side up. Take stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, soup, cranberries out of fridge to come to room temp

4:30 peel and chunk potatoes, put in cold well-salted water in pot on stove

5:00 Turn soup on medium-low, make amaretti whipped cream

5:15 Turn on potatoes, chop chives, heat milk and cream for mash

5:30 Turkey out of oven, tent with foil, rest minimum 40 minutes. Put sweet potato casserole, stuffing, green beans in oven. Make gravy/jus.

5:45 Mash potatoes

5:55 Put marshmallows on sweet potato casserole, add broth with butter to stuffing if needed

6:15 Have someone serve soup while you carve turkey

69 comments:

  1. Stacey, I also make my own mushroom soup to use in recipes. It started with Ina Garten's Tuna Casserole recipe, and by making the mushroom soup from scratch as called for in the recipe, it turned such a bland, Americana dish into something AH-MAZE-ING.

    My best Thanksgiving recipe is Chocolate Pecan Pie - everyone in my family, including my in-laws, hate pumpkin pie and the sooner we were all honest about it, the holiday got infinitely better. I follow Emeril's recipe
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/rich-chocolate-pecan-pie-recipe3/index.html

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  2. Stacey, the tips for Thanksgiving are really going to help - yay for posting them!!! I have been very lucky that Thanksgiving has been a good holiday for me and my family, so I am sharing a recipe (you already have) for Broccoli Cornbread (yes, I am from the South), a good substitute for those who may not like stuffing (or dressing, as we say in Alabama).

    Ingredients:
    •2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin or cornbread mix
    •4 eggs
    •2 sticks butter or margarine
    •A little over half a bag of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
    •1 small onion, chopped
    •12 oz small curd cottage cheese
    Preparation:
    Put butter in 9x13 baking dish and place in oven as it pre-heats at 375°. As the butter melts (and don't let it burn), combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Once butter is melted, swish a bit around the dish to "grease" it, and pour into mixture, blend. The batter should be lumpy and thick. Spread evenly into the dish and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean, the cornbread will be browned. Enjoy!

    I am thankful I found your books and your blog - the cooking and baking tips and the recipes have been great (my husband thanks you as well), and it is so relaxing to curl up on the sofa with a fire going, a cup of tea and read well-written and entertaining stories of "real" women. Have a wonderful time with your family and guests!

    Becky

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  3. I already have your book (unsigned :-() but I thought I'd still write in about the upcoming holiday. I'm a Thanksgiving orphan (my family is about 2500 miles away) so some of my friends have "adopted" me for the holiday. They are fabulous cooks and I know that it will be a great meal. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that although they usually make everything from scratch, they serve doctored Stove Top stuffing. I grew up with this! My grandmother (who is quite possibly the worst cook on the planet) traumatized our family one year by serving stuffing that was basically dried up Wonder Bread soaked in dirty water. Since then, the rest of my family & I have been deathly afraid of homemade stuffing!

    When I asked what I could bring (I was thinking of making my mom's pecan pie...incredible!!), my friend tells me to bring Entemann's pumpkin pie. Sigh...

    Even though they forebid it, I'm also bring a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. I like that dark red slime. I don't care what anybody else says! It's good!

    Michelle

    PS Is that stretchy lid thing from Lekue, too? That's pretty cool. I'd like one & I think some of my friends would, too. It might be a good addition to their gifts.

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  4. Yep, the stretchy lid thing is from Lekue. These people have the neatest stuff!

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  5. My best Thanksgiving tip is to DELEGATE! :) If you have people help you and bring there very best dishes, you'll get to concentrate on your very best dishes. It will be more relaxing and wonderful!

    Plus, drink wine!
    ~Angela

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  6. A few years ago, my husband used a giant Ziploc bag to soak the turkey in the brine. When he removed the bag from the cooler and put it on the counter, I said "Don't you think you should put that in the sink?" He ignored me and continued to remove the turkey on my mom's counter. Ten seconds later, the bag rolled off the counter, getting nasty turkey juice everywhere, including in the drawers and cupboards. We were finding new places where the juice landed for days afterwards.

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  7. Last Thanksgiving, my family (parents, sister and me) spent the entire day driving from Chicago towards New Orleans where we were departing on a cruise the next day. My sister was violently ill with the flu the whole trip so we kept having to stop. We started off the day with a decent meal at a roadside Cracker Barrel in southern Illinois, but didn't realize exactly how rural stretches of our trip were to become, nor that EVERY SINGLE THING would be closed after about noon. We ended up having Thanksgiving dinner at a truck stop Arby's near Jackson, Mississippi. Jamocha shakes are no substitute for pumpkin pie!

    This year, we're looking forward to a more traditional family Thanksgiving - complete with Mom's dry turkey and the People's Court in the background. I try to offer to help and bring some of the sides from my house, but I always get rebuffed. Sometimes it's just better to leave well enough alone.

    Thanks for your tips! I will file them away for hosting my friends before Christmas.

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  8. My best Thanksgiving tip: everything is better with butter. LOTS of butter. There is nothing on the table that can't be improved by it. :)

    Rebekah
    bek@kalwebs.com

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  9. OMG, Stacey, what do I have to do to get invited to your table? The recipes are making me drool. Years ago, my roommate, Kiki, was not exactly known for her cooking skills. We put her in charge of rolls, cause how can you mess up rolls? Um, easy, if you're Kiki: buy frozen roll dough, forget to take said dough from the freezer the night before, then, the next morning, attempt the "speed method" listed on the package: put the dough balls in a warm oven over a shallow pan of water. Except that the turkey was in the oven already, so it was hot, not warm. Oh, and for good measure, cover the dough balls with plastic wrap, so the dough doesn't dry out, since there's no room for that shallow pan of water. You know what happened next: in minutes, the smell of burned plastic overpowered the smell of roasting turkey, and the few folks left in the apartment building on the holiday were temporarily evacuated by the fire department. The worst part was, the only person who knew about the plastic covered rolls in the oven was Kiki, and she was too embarrassed to fess up, so the rest of us actually thought the oven had caught fire. The firemen were cute, though!

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  10. Just found your blog (and bought your book) after the whole MC debacle. Really enjoying both!

    My husband and I just moved to Finland from Connecticut for a few years due to his job, so we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving next week after we get off work (kind of weird to work on the holiday). Some other American friends we have made are having a big celebration on the weekend, but we'll be traveling to Germany to visit a Christmas Market (might as well start the Christmas Season in November so it feels like home!). One of the recipes I will make with our chicken dinner (turkey is too hard to find here) is my mom's Baked Apples and Sweet Potatoes. It's not Thanksgiving if we don't have it!

    -- 8 large sweet potatoes (4 pounds) boiled, drained, peeled, and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
    -- 4 large tart apples (2 pounds) peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
    -- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    -- 1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine
    -- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel
    -- 3/4 cup orange juice
    -- 1/3 cup maple syrup or maple-flavor pancake syrup
    -- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    -- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Alternating sweet potato and apple, arrange slices slightly overlapping in prepared dish. Stir sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Pour evenly over potatoes and apples. Bake 40 minutes or until potatoes and apples are tender and lightly glazed. Serve hot. Makes 12 servings.

    To make ahead: bake for 20 minutes; cover and refrigerate. Before serving, uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes until apples are tender.

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  11. I couldn't have said it better myself! My hubby and I are hosting our third Thanksgiving dinner, and this year we finally have it down to a science! We discovered the art of a brined turkey last year and will never do it another way!
    Have a great Thanksgiving!!!!!

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  12. Best (or worst?) Turkey Day story actually involves a ham - yes, my grandmother was one of those pagan Thanksgiving people who couldn't cook a bird. She also owned a Chihuahua....

    We were all there the day before, and decided to go shopping (a great holiday tradition if you ask me), and Granny put the ham on the counter to thaw (yeah, I know), and we left our dog very non-Chihuahua-sized dog Lady and her dog Poco to do their dog things while we did our shopping thing.

    When we returned, Granny asked mom, "Where's the ham?" We went to the kitchen and there was no ham on the counter, but there WAS a very thirsty Lady and an empty water bowl. Mom asked Granny where the ham had been and she said, "Right here, on the edge of the counter!" Mom pointed out that we have a very TALL dog...

    We never found so much as a grease spot anywhere, but the two dogs bonded as they never had before...and went through many gallons of water!

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  13. My favorite Thanksgiving tip: I am a dog owner (two pitties). Every holiday my husband and I get up with the dogs and they get a special breakfast of wet food mixed with dry. Usually they just get dry. We then pack ourselves and the dogs into the car and go to a favorite park and play for an hour or so. They dogs are able to exercise and burn off excess energy and hubby and I put together our gameplan for the day. It keeps the planning relaxed and exhausts the dogs. While they are still interested in holiday cooking, they don't have quite the vigor due to being tired. It also makes them calm down quicker after meeting holiday visitors. Pets are part of the family and the holiday. Keep them happy and well exercised and everything will go much smoother.

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  14. One year a friend came to my parents house with me for Thanksgiving dinner. During dinner, she accidentally knocked some lettuce and shredded cheese out of the salad bowl and on to the carpet (5 pieces of lettuce and 10 pieces of cheese, max). My mother immediately made us stop eating, get up from the table, and pull our chairs away so she could clean it up with the vacuumm cleaner which she left next to the table for the rest of the meal in case anyone spilled anything else.

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  15. I love love love brined turkey! My sister found a great recipe several months ago & we did a "dress rehearsal" for Thanksgiving back in October. Absolutely delicious - now we just need to convince my mother that brined turkey is the way to go instead of her dry, bland turkey! (Sorry mom).
    My best disaster? Not really a disaster, but a funny story. We didn't have enough room at the dinner table so a few of us were eating our feast in the living room. My grandpa had one of the turkey legs (from a 25lb turkey) on his plate...he set it down on the arm of the couch to get something to drink...my miniature dachshund Dottie immediately POUNCED on it! No one noticed for a few minutes and she went to town! Next thing we know, Grandpa is hooting and hollering and we all see Dottie standing there with a turkey leg in her mouth that weighs more than she did! It was absolutely hysterical...and she still loves turkey to this day!

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  16. My worst Thanksgiving Disaster:

    Back in the mid-90's, when I was still a college student, I decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my boyfriend, his brother, and some other friends.

    I had never cooked a turkey before. Up until this time, the job had always fallen on my mother, my grandmother, or an aunt. I excitedly went to the market and bought all the fixin’s. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, corn, rolls, and even a can of cranberry relish. I was going to put on a FEAST! I dutifully thawed the turkey in the fridge as my mom instructed, and then the big day arrive (No brine you ask? Nope, we didn’t learn of the juicy goodness of brine until the next decade!).

    I awoke early to get the food prepped and the turkey in the oven. My first thought, “Ok, how do I clean this thing?” My second thought, “Call Mom!” So, I called my mom and asked how was supposed to prepare Tom Butterball. She said something along the lines of “remove the stuff from inside the cavity (the nasty crap my 90-year old grandfather insisted on eating EVERY holiday), rinse the turkey off, and then put it in the roaster.” Piece of cake – right up until the instructions sank in. I have to put my hand in there? Not no, but HELL NO!

    Ok, I can do this! Instead of sticking my hand up into the turkey, I held it over the sink, hole side down, and shook the shit outta that bird. A quick rinse, and into the oven it went. No stuffing, as Stove Top was the stuffing of choice back then. At some point during this exercise, I did ponder, “there seems to be less nasty stuff (gizzards, neck, and heart) than Mom usually has. Oh well, Mom must just buy a different kind of turkey.”

    I finish the prep work, clean up, and wait for everyone to arrive and settle in for some football before dinner. A few hours later, while basting the turkey, I noticed a strange smell coming from the bird. “What the Hell is that smell?” Another panic call to Mom. I tell her about the smell, and also mention the lack of ‘guts’ I found when I cleaned the bird. She says to me “Did you pull the bag of stuff out of the neck cavity?” My response, “Huh? What? Neck cavity? What neck cavity?”

    At this point I realized there is a flap of skin on the front of the turkey; I grabbed a pair of tongs, pulled back the skin, an low and behold, a plastic bag full of all of the other turkey guts! I pulled out the bag, chucked it into the trash, and then thought about what to do. “Hmmm, well, it didn’t really burn, nor did it touch the breast meat.” Thankfully, no one had arrived yet, so in a “it’ll be ok, no one will get poisoned” moment, put Tom back into the oven, took the trash out to the dumpster, and never told a soul! No one died, so it’s all good, right?

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  17. My best tip involves fruit pies. I like to cut cute fruit shapes out of my top crust. It looks pretty and as a bonus, the exposed fruit gets slightly chewy and extra sweet.

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  18. I grew up in a family comprised mostly of the older generation. My grandmother, her brother's wives, etc. All were amazing cooks and handled our Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas noshing needs. By contrast, my mother couldn't cook or bake to save her life. (Or prevent our deaths.)

    So, when I got married and moved to England with my new husband I had to make Thanksgiving dinner myself. (Also? We were in a country that didn't celebrate Thanksgiving, so no "pre-made" anything was available.)

    I found a turkey at the grocery store, and ingredients for some of the things I was used to (cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, various veggies, mashed potatoes) but no way was I going to attempt the broccoli cheese casserole or 3 different varieties of pies, stuffing, etc.

    I unwrapped the turkey to discover it wasn't completely plucked. (OMG) Thankfully the directions on the package explained how to remove feathers, cause seriously? I am not a farmer.

    So....I plucked. Then I had to rinse it off. I had a new baby who was slightly bigger than the turkey. Washing the turkey in the kitchen sink felt like bathing a headless newborn and I almost tossed my cookies.

    I managed to figure out the stove (totally different than turning it to whatever degree you want it to be), made the turkey and the other things and managed to have a pretty nice looking meal.

    That I couldn't eat.

    Because of the headless newborn thing. (ugh)

    Since then I've made one or two here in the States, but the whole English unplucked bird thing just ruined turkey for me.

    And I hope I win something. :) LOL I could use it (we're living with bf's parents, can't find work, I'm without meds, baby is behind on her shots, blah blah blah). I could use a positive note! :) BF did just get hired somewhere and will start working soon, so hopefully it's UP from here!

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  19. My Thanksgiving tip is just try it. I always hear how hard it is to cook for x-many people, and the clean up is such a pain ... well, I live about 20 hours worth of driving from my family, who are all in northern British Columbia, so, needless to say, I NEVER make it home for the holidays and I LOVE the holidays! LOVE!!!! lol, so 16yrs ago I started to invite my friends over. At 18 and only ever making the salads for big family dinners, I took on the Thanksgiving dinner and have never looked back. I now understand why my Granma always did it up, it isn't that hard and you get to watch the people you love enjoy something you made for them. These days I will join other friends holiday celebrations and bring a treat of my own concocting. So, that is my tip. Take a big breath and dive in. You will enjoy having all your loved ones sitting in your home enjoying the fruits of your labour!

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  20. Several years ago for Thanksgiving, the entire family had gathered at my sister's house for the big dinner. Living in the Houston, Texas area Thanksgiving is rarely cold...I believe we are set to be in the 70's - low 80's next week. (ugh) Anyway my brother in law had a new smoker and wanted to smoke the turkey outside. I think that year was one of the coldest Thanksgiving's on record and the smoker couldn't get hot enough to cook the turkey. We were supposed to eat around 4:00 and by 8:30 we ate a small part of the turkey that he ended up putting in the oven to be sure it was fully cooked. In addition to that issue, he was cooking some dirty rice and the recipe called for 8 cups cooked rice when adding all the seasonings. I guess he was so flustered with the turkey problems that when he initially cooked the rice, he put 8 cups uncooked rice into the water! We had to pull out every pot, pan and container in the kitchen to catch it all! It is one my favorite Thanksgiving memories...not so much for my brother in law!

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  21. It is times like these that I wish so badly I had a Thanksgiving Disaster story. We had a book when I was a little kid that was basically one giant Thanksgiving disaster. I have tried in vain to locate such a book on Amazon to no avail. I do remember something in the book about a thanksgiving turkey somehow falling in the snow? Anyone? Thanksgiving has been my very favorite holiday as an adult. None of the drama and money spending of Christmas--just tons of wonderful food and family and a big turkey nap at the end. My dad's family has been dairy farmers in Northwest Illinois since they arrived from Germany in the late 1800s... so we have a big Thanksgiving out at "The Farm." One of my favorite Thanksgiving foods is my Grandma's corn. Every summer my Grandma shucks tons of sweet corn and puts in in containers with a little sugar (and maybe some water?) and freezes it. When we heat it up for the holidays it is a little taste of summer on your plate! I also enjoy my Aunt Brenda's Jello Jigglers because they remind me of being a kid. I'm getting hungry and excited just thinking about all the fun!!

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  22. I found the book! It's called "Thanksgiving at the Tappletons'"

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  23. Thank you for such a great Thanksgiving post. I agree with all your points. I believe in lots of chicken broth for the stuffing and real butter for anything that calls for butter. I do tend to try several new things for any holiday meal.

    My fiance and I bought a house and moved in in early November and hosted both families for Thanksgiving including many people I had never met. I was 23 and not a strong cook, but we pulled it off with some help. Of course as we began our meal I jumped up to get the gravy or something left in the kitchen, and found one of our cats on our gas stove trying to snatch the giblets that were being cooked for the cats' feast out of the pan on the flames. Visions of flaming cat!

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  24. I already have an unsigned copy of your book as well.

    Here's my story...Last year on Thanksgiving day my oven decided it lost the will to bake. It didn't stop working completely, but it didn't get up to a high enough temperature to bake anything. Fortunately I used my Nesco Roaster for my turkey, but I still had to bake 2 aluminum trays of stuffing, Green Bean Casserole, pumpkin pie and apple pie. My solution was to crank up my gas grill, which fortunately had a temperature gauge on the cover. I had to ditch my usual side of roasted Brussels Sprouts because I my grill is only so big. The stuffing trays, green bean casserole and apple pie turned out fine. However, the pumpkin pie was homemade and in a glass pyrex pie dish. When the pumpkin pie was done, I removed it from the grill and the pyrex pie dish imploded! It completely shattered. The pumpkin pie was not salvageable, and as most of us know, it's really not thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. My 2 teenagers were devastated. However, they were impressed by my ingenuity for the rest of the meal. I ended up purchasing a pumpkin pie store bought to go with leftovers for the next day. I ended up getting a used stove several weeks later, but needless to say it was a long several weeks, attempting to cook pizza and Christmas cookies in the Nesco Roaster or a toaster oven my sister no longer needed that she fed-exed to me. I'm sure this year I won't year the end of what happened last year.

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  25. Miss Stacey, your mashed potatoes recipe is like a hug for my mouth, so thank you for that.

    Last year my husband (then fiance) and I went to my parents house for Thanksgiving. My mom and I are so super organized, we decided to make the pies a couple days ahead of time... well it's a good thing we did because we discovered the stove was broken! Have you ever tried to get a stove repairman to come fix your stove the Tuesday before Thanksgiving? No? Well neither have we... That's right, my dad decided he was perfectly qualified and took the entire stove apart, spreading it out all over the kitchen floor while simoultaneously making a holy mess of everything with all the greasy stove parts. Somehow he figured out what the busted part was, handed it to my mom and said, "Go ahead and order another one of these on the internet." Hours later, after cleaning up the oven grease mess-tacular, we managed to order the part online, complete with exorbitant express shipping. Thankfully it arrived the next day, my dad was able to reassemble the stove and get it working. Needless to say, last year we were just thankful for a cooked turkey!

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  26. I don't have a disaster story, my family tends to save those for Christmas, hopefully you will have a contest around Christmas so I can share those stories...
    My sister and I have one tradition for Thanksgiving, we start drinking wine immediately when we wake in the morning. Normally by the time we leave we are well on our way to enjoying our family :) The past two years my sister has not been home for Christmas, so this year, I have recruited my 85 year old grandmother to come over and drink wine with me while I cook the turkey. Fingers crossed that we don't forget the turkey!

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  27. I'm missing my family's Thanksgiving this year :( but with your helpful recipes I might just try to make a mini one myself.

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  28. prince charming's sisterNovember 18, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    I love that the Prince Charming family is coming for Thanksgiving and am thankful that it will happen via flight and not car.
    I am thankful our daughter who is volunteering in Costa Rica will be home to share holidays.
    I am thankful for our multicultural dinner of people from Papau New Guinea, inner city , England, etc without family in town will share the day (and their favorite foods) with us.
    I am thankful to have a job to provide food to cook and to eat, and a house in which to sleep, cook, exist.
    So would like to challenge people to include someone outside your family who is last, lost, least, alone for your Thanksgiving.

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  29. My tip for a 2 person Turkey Day is go out! Have someone else do all the dirty work! We will be going to Flatlanders in Lincolnshire this year!

    Happy Turkey Day!

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  30. My best advice is that some "disaster" is bound to happen, so when it does go with the flow.

    Which comes to you courtesy of the year that the power went out. In the middle of cooking. We generally have this holiday at my mother's house. That year, it ended up at mine, which at the time was about 1/2 the size of my mother's and there were non-family invited guests! What could I do but shove stuff into closets and go with it? We ended up with people sitting on every available surface (too many of us for a "formal" table in my tiny home). And you know, a week or so after, I got the nicest note from one of the non-family guests who said it was the best Thanksgiving he's had in recent memory. It mattered not a whit that we used paper plates and some sat on the floor around the coffee table!

    Thanks for doing this, it has been fun to read the other responses.

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  31. Hey Stacey :) Here's a great tip that works on a few different levels: *STUFFIN' MUFFINS* -- cook your stuffing-of-choice in a muffin pan! This way, everyone has a great single portion of stuffing that most certainly has some crunchy bits and a chewy center. And, presentation-wise, how adorbs, right?! At my house, we use Stovetop -- because no other homemade variety can stand up to it -- and it works perfectly. :) ENJOY!

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  32. My best Thanksgiving tip?
    If you're invited to dinner where the cook's idea of seasoning is only salt and pepper (if that) and has no desire to ever do anything other than the absolute basic kind of food, always have another dinner to go to where you know the food is going to be delectable.
    This is exactly what we do each year -- we have an early dinner at my mother-in-law's, and then when everyone is ready to fall asleep, we make a break for it and drive an hour and 45 minutes to eat with my family at my sister's. It works out perfectly. We see both sides and I ultimately get the fabulous dinner that I've craved all year long.

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  33. Poop...I have tons of funny...but for now it's sad, we always hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas, 20 to 30 people plus kids for past 15 years. Anywho, as much as I complained I LOVED it. Great food....great drinks lots of laughs.

    Seven years ago, Mom diagnosed with Alzheimers, two years later so is Dad. WTF??? Anywho, Dad passed in January, Mom still in nursing home, our Thanksgiving..yea, not so happy, siblings MIA, can't handle those empty seats. THIS year, I am making at least half of the family come to my house...see how it goes. May have some turkey, and lots of tears but atleast we will be together.

    Well gee....I totally ruined this whole happy, yummy blog, sorry peeps...had to get it out. Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of good food, good family....TRESURE it....thought it would also be..not so.

    Thanks Stacey, love your blog, books and you. Sorry for being "Debbie Downer". :(

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  34. My father has helped operate a turkey dinner at the local American Legion Hall for veterans on Thanksgiving for about ten years. A few years back when I was still living at home, my mother decided to have the family over for Thanksgiving without the help of my father. I woke up early with her to prepare the turkey and get it in the oven. After doing so we went about finishing up other chores that needed to be completed before company arrived. At one point, one of us noticed the oven no longer stated the temperature that the delicious turkey was being baked at instead it said, "PF." My mother and I both looked at each other, "What the BLEEP does PF mean?!" I started throwing out ideas, "Poultry Fun?" We laugh about it now, but at the time she didn't think it was quite so funny. I honestly, don't remember what we did to fix it, we did somehow figure out that PF meant power failure. We probably called my dad!

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  35. Best Thanksgiving tip? The weekend before, go through your fridge and chunk everything that looks like it might marginally be past its useful lifespan. During the ensuing week, do not cook anything that will require refrigeration of leftovers, and eat whatever else is left over. You want as empty a fridge as possible on Wednesday, when you start cooking!

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  36. When I was grad school, I had the chance to go to NYC with a friend and her husband. My immediate family's response was that if I didn't have to be at home, they didn't either. Since then, we've travelled/spent the Thanksgiving holiday away from the hometown. We love spending the week together, dining at fun restaurants, going to movies, shopping in fun stores, and hanging out together. (The only thing I miss is the leftovers, including a cold turkey sandwich). This year, they're coming to my town. Love, love, love Thanksgiving!

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  37. Thanksgiving is my family's favorite holiday and I host every year. We have 4 boys of our own plus the plethora of "non-biological" boys that come along with them, who of their own accord several years ago decided that the entry price to come to Thanksgiving for everyone is to bake a pie and they have a contest for the best pie every year. Each boy emails me what kind of pie they want to make and I send them a recipe and purchase the ingredients for them. Last year we had 14 pies! This year our one son who is a Marine is bringing several of his buddies from his base who either don't have the time or money to travel -- We hope to make this a tradition.

    I generally cook everything except the turkey the day/week before (as you do), but my trick is to rice the potatoes into a crock pot crock, then refrigerate. The next morning, bring to room temp., then put in the crock on low... by dinnertime? Voila! Perfect mashers that I did ahead. (Works fine for leftovers the next day, too!)

    PS: My family loves Thanksgiving so much, I actually got conned into making it twice a year -- traditional, and again usually over the Independence Day holiday when we all get together for a week or so :)

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  38. My best and worst Thanksgiving story are actually rolled into the same meal! It was the first time I had attempted to cook Thanksgiving by myself post-college. My parents were in town, so were a ton of my friends and we had a lovely dinner planned.

    Throughout the course of the evening I:

    1. Forgot to take the bag of giblets and neck out of the turkey.

    2. Did I mention I STUFFED the bird with the disgusting bag of goo and the NECK inside?! You cannot even imagine how horrifyingly disgusting it was to dig into the (now overly dry) turkey to get the stuffing and have a steaming bag of turkey guts spill all over the pan, counter and myself. There was screaming had by all...followed by hysterical laughter.

    3. I decided to ignore the fact that everyone wanted the canned cranberry sauce and make homemade...which I still maintain would have been delicious...if I had remembered to add the sugar. That was the most bitterly sour bowl of goop anyone has ever eaten in dare I say? The history of the world. The taste was indescribable.

    4. When I pulled the bubbling sweet potatoes out of the oven (topped with marshmallows), I slipped, burned my wrist and turned the entire dish upside down where it splattered all over the oven, the floor and my younger sister who had just come into the kitchen to see if she could help. She helped laugh and hunt down ice and aloe for my burnt wrist.

    The best thing about that unholy disaster of a Thanksgiving was that we all laughed...didn't take it too seriously and ate all of the other dishes that weren't systematically ruined by me! It was a wonderful mish-mash of my family and closest friends. We all crammed around our tiny kitchen table, drank sparkling wine and mostly ate rolls and green bean casserole until we could justify tucking into the dessert and coffee while we laughed at the ridiculousness of the day.

    So there it is - my somewhat long-winded account of my very first "grownup" Thanksgiving. I'm happy to report that I've since learned how to cook, have actually pulled off delicious Thanksgiving food, NEVER forget to check the cavity of any bird and am looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving this year for my new husband and our friends.

    Here's hoping I remember the sugar in the cranberries this year!

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  39. "2 large cans pumpkin (29.5 oz organic…not pumpkin pie filling!)"

    Your soup sound DELICIOUS, and I'm definitely adding this to our TG day! Because I'm usually recipe illiterate, is EACH can 29.5 ounces??

    Thank you Stacey!!

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  40. This is the first year I am not spending Thanksgiving with my family since my husband and I moved to Connecticut for his residency. We are doing a dinner just for the two of us, and as a foodie, I am making way too much food--http://stephinconnecticut.blogspot.com/2010/11/thanksgiving-menu.html
    but as opposed to recipes or tips I can't help thinking about my dad who passed away last year. My Mom and Dad have told me this story since I can remember but here is a story of the best sort of Thanksgiving disaster-the kind that brings people together. My mom was so nervous on her first married Thanksgiving together because she had never cooked a turkey in her life and had never put on a big dinner, let alone one where her mother-in-law would be attending. She cooked her turkey and started that tenuous process of making gravy. Her MIL came in to check on how things were going and asked where the giblets were. My mom was confused, what the heck were giblets? Apparently she accidentally cooked the turkey with the plastic package of giblets still inside (and now quite melted into the turkey, plastic and all). What is a good Southern woman to do? She cut off the breast meat and pretended that she only cooked a breast and made classic gravy with a roux and stock. Now, everything should be fine but they get to the table and what does her new husband ask? Where is the cranberry sauce? He actually refused to eat dinner until he went to the store to purchase a lone cane of sauce. Every year after that Thanksgiving, she always gave him that special smile that is shared between a husband and wife and asked "Honey, did you get the cranberry sauce?" and he would smile back and say "Now don't forget about those giblets." My mom and I would give anything to hear him say those words again and to eat that terrible store bought sauce. My biggest Thanksgiving tip is to be thankful for every moment with your family because you never know when it may be your last Thanksgiving with them.

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  41. Yes, each can is 29.5 oz. This is a large amount of soup. Actually, all the recipes make a lot since there should be enough for everyone to have seconds plus plenty of leftovers. Plus, I am Jewish, so I always make fifteen times the food we need for any regular meal. Cannot be helped. But the soup freezes beautifully before you add the cream, so look at it at that stage and think about how much you actually need and you can always set some aside in the freezer for later this winter!

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  42. We have many of the same Thanksgiving Commandments, especially the salad taking up valuable space on the plate! Thanks for your post. Love your tips and recipes and I always enjoy your blog!

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  43. I'm a southern girl from Texas (now living in chicago) and all the holiday recipes are in my head. My family has almost NOTHING on paper for our holiday meals. I was taught to make things by "Just add SOME flour and stir until it feels like THIS consistancy" cue my mom holding my hand as i stir a spoon in a bowl of random ingredients. So, unfortunately... I have no holiday dish recipes to share.
    BUT
    I do have a lovely recipe for mulled wine, which seems to make the holiday so much more enjoyable!

    MULLED WINE
    8 whole cloves
    4 whole black peppercorns
    4 (3- by 1/2-inch) strips fresh lemon zest
    4 (4- by 1/2-inch) strips fresh orange zest
    4 cups dry red wine
    1/2 cup kirsch or other cherry-flavored brandy
    1 1/2 cups apple cider
    1/2 cup Honey (or sugar)
    2 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
    1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
    1 tsp all spice

    Put cloves, peppercorns, and zest on cheesecloth, then tie closed to form a bag.
    Combine wine, kirsch, water, sugar, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and cheesecloth bag in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring.
    Simmer 10 minutes. Serve warm.


    P.S. my holiday tip: tread carefully on tradition. Every family seems to have their special holiday meal, and many do not wish to deviate from this. I no longer get to go home for Thanksgiving and have spent the last few turkey days with my BF (now husband). Their Thanksgiving spread is far different that the spread that my family puts together. Last year I tried to add a few dishes that really say THANKSGIVING for me, and they went virtually untouched at dinner. by the time they got all their usual family favorite in, there was no room for my foreign foods. I have a new plan this year. Because Thanksgiving just isn't the same without Chicken and Dumplings and pecan pie, we are having a special post t-giving dinner on Saturday once we've returned home from the in-laws and spent the day decorating for christmas. Dinner will feature, of course, Chicken and Dumplings and Pecan Pie!
    I get my family favorites without trying to force feed it to his family and the husband and I (and a few friends) get a new tradition of our own!

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  44. A Thanksgiving Day Disaster…
    About 10 years ago my grandma had discovered a recipe for peanut-butter pie. She was so excited and proud to try the recipe. She kept talking about the peanut butter pie all day long. When the time finally came to cut in to said pie she could still be heard commenting to herself across the kitchen about how fluffy it had come out and how delicious it was sure to be.

    She first served my mother who immediately took a bite and as grandma walked away my mother grimaced. With wide eyes my mom made a silent face of horror to me. As my grandma turned back to serve both myself and my brother we all smiled and said thank you internally fearing the reason for my mother’s look of disgust . My mom quietly motioned to take a bite and when I did I also grimaced! What was that taste? It was horrible! It tasted like chemical…or even paint?
    “What’s wrong with this?!?” I whispered to my mom. “I have NO idea…” she said.
    “What do we do?”
    “Well don’t eat anymore. God knows why it tastes that way! Shh Shh Shh…grandma’s coming.”

    My grandma sat down smugly awaiting the first bite of her own delicious piece of peanut butter goodness. As she was about to take a bite she paused and said, “Why isn’t anyone eating? What are you all staring at?”

    “Just take a bite,” we all said.

    When she did a look of shock crossed her face and she said, “What is wrong with it? What happened?”

    We brainstormed for a few minutes about the possible cause of this awful taste. Finally someone asked where the pie had been stored. My grandma had stored the peanut butter pie in our extra refrigerator in my grandpa’s shop. She bellowed for my grandpa to come upstairs. We explained everything and included the location where the pie had been stored. His response?
    “Well no wonder it tastes like S#%@! I have a paint roller wrapped in plastic in a paper bag stored on the bottom shelf so it won’t harden! The pie absorbed the smell of the paint!”

    We laughed until we cried (and my grandma may have pouted a bit). To this day we still ask if we’ll be having “Painted Peanut Butter Pie” for Thanksgiving.

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  45. A Thanksgiving not soon to be forgotten....

    The first Thanksgiving my family had after my parents got divorced quickly went from ridiculous to completely absurd! My dad had just moved into a 2 bedroom row home in the city and was hosting Thanksgiving for a dozen people in half the space as in my old childhood home out in the 'burbs. My father is a fantastic cook and can make do with pretty much any situation. He set out prepping the turkey at 5am like usual, got it in the oven and went back to bed. A few hours later he got up to start prepping everything else and check on the turkey, it was stone cold, seeing how the oven had decided to go on strike that morning. Normally this would be no big deal seeing as my aunt and cousin both own ovens and live about 5 mins away. We planned on moving the festivities down to my cousin's house until we all realized she has cats, several cats. Most of my family is allergic to cats, I believe she gave said cats a home as a not to subtle hint to the rest of the family, I could be mistaken though. Ok, next plan, on to my aunts house! Nope, just kidding...my aunt was in the process of remodeling her kitchen, her oven resting nicely in the middle of her family room. With a serious lack of any place else to go we ended up at the only place we could gain access to that could hold 12 people and all of our yet to be cooked food....drum roll please....a bar! My aunt and uncle own a rowhouse turned bar in the lovely city we all reside in. We packed up everything we needed to make dinner an headed down there. Everything was evetually cooked to piping hot on all the indutrial sized kitchen appliances. As my family sat up at the bar all lined up in a row eating off of paper plates, using plastic silverware, and drinking bud light from the tap out of plactic cups we could not help but giggle. This was certainly not the tradition we were use to and definitely not the setting we had planned on but the food was hot and the beer was cold and we were definitely thankful for that!

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  46. I have friends who were very back to the earth, grow your own, organic kind of people before it was in. About 15 years ago when our kids were four they had a garden and chickens for eggs and a big goose. When they sat down to Thanksgiving dinner their daughter found out that they were having what she thought was her pet goose for dinner and not as a guest. When the hysteria died down they decided to return to the time honored tradition of a store bought turkey for Thanksgiving.

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  47. Stacey, I'm not much of a cook. So I don't have any recipes. I have only hosted Thanksgiving twice in my adulthood, and my mother-in-law is perfect. So I don't have any hilarious stories. But my best tip for Thanksgiving:

    If your step mom is a home economics teacher, be sure to invite her every year. And solicit her help in the kitchen! That way, things don't go wrong.

    And thanks for the recipes! I'll be sure to try them out next time I'm forced to host.

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  48. I'm not sure if this counts as hilarious, although maybe with time it will, but it is memorable. My husband's dad pitched a fit at Christmas a few years ago when the grandkids, whom he had told to serve themselves, selected nothing but white meat. He was so nasty in his comments about my sister in law's abilities as a mother that she walked out. She returned, but only after a lot of convincing and without an apology on his part.

    The next year, at Thanksgiving, FIL made an offhand comment, as SIL and I sat across from each other, how he had never liked white meat anyhow. SIL and I looked at each other in amazement and wondered what the heck Christmas was all about.

    Alcohol was involved.

    I have written about these episodes in far greater detail here:

    FIL gets mad about the white meat

    FIL says he never liked white meat anyhow

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  49. I was married for a few years and was always frustrated that I never got to make the Thanksgiving dinner because my wasband decided he was a gourmet chef and didn't trust me to do anything right (JERK).

    Fast forward through the divorce and my first Thanksgiving with a new boyfriend. It was only going to be the two of us so I just got a turkey breast. I picked up a shift at the hospital that day too, so I decided that it was going to have to be crock pot turkey if we were going to eat it for dinner.

    Thursday morning I noticed it was still a little frozen in the middle so I ran some hot water over it and then dumped it in the crock pot with some butter, spices, etc. I turned it on low and headed off to work.

    8 hours later I came home and it smelled like turkey. I whipped up some instant potatoes, StoveTop, canned cranberry, burn and serve rolls, and a green bean casserole that I'd made the day before. The boyfriend came over, we ate, we felt stuffed like we should, and we relaxed with a movie.

    A VERY short time later we were both fighting for the bathroom/trash can. I thought it was a stomach bug. The next day I was going to turn the leftover turkey into soup/stew and noticed that it was still pink in the middle. Only the top layer or so was 'cooked'.

    I'd given us both food poisoning.

    Needless to say, that relationship didn't work out. I'm much more careful with food now (to the point that I overcook some things) and I've not made a turkey since. I'll try again some day, but I'm not going there any time soon.

    Heather P.
    heatherlybutterfly@yahoo.com

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  50. oh how i wish i had a great recipe to share or a funny story to tell... everyone is either cracking me up or making my mouth water...

    although i will leave you with this...

    anyone ever have raccoon for thanksgiving? :-)

    becky at bmahov@yahoo.com

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  51. Stacey – your blog is great! I love all the recipes! I am actually doing a test run of the rice pudding this weekend in preparation for Thanksgiving, which I hope will not be quite the fiasco I experienced a couple years ago.

    My family was celebrating Thanksgiving at my parent’s house in rural Ohio in which I was responsible for bringing the dessert. I made a beautiful Bourbon Pecan Pie from the Maker’s Mark Cookbook. It looked exactly like the picture. The pie and the Chantilly Cream to top it were prepared and ready for the trip and all was going perfectly until the drive to my parent’s house on Thanksgiving morning.

    My husband and I had to drive separately because I was staying in my hometown for a wedding and he had to return home to work on Friday. We got in our cars and headed out of the driveway. This is where the fun began. My husband and I had differing opinions on how to get to the freeway so I took a left and he took a right and the race began.

    Once I made it the freeway I called him to determine his exact location. He was approximately 3 minutes ahead of me and I could tell by the sound of his voice that’s when the testosterone really kicked in. He was going to do everything in his power to beat me. Well, I didn’t stress because my husband only knew one way to my parent’s house and there was a detour so I would easily make it there before him.

    I was just minutes from my destination when my cell phone rang and my husband was on the other end. There was a little problem. He hadn’t wanted to take the time to follow the detour so he decided to ramp the medium of a partially completed highway and was stuck up the axels of his Jeep in dirt and mud. By the time I found him, we were late and I was fuming. I was so angry that I actually considered leaving him there in the middle of that field. However, he had my dog and refused to give him to me. So I did the only thing I could do, I went to pick up my father and we spent an hour and half digging him out. My mother put Thanksgiving on warm and my family waited.

    Finally we arrived and Thanksgiving dinner was served. Throughout dinner my family questioned my husband about his thought process and his response was “that’s why I bought my Jeep.” My 80 year old grandmother listened intently to the rehashing of my husband’s shenanigans without saying a word or passing any judgment. But halfway through dessert, when we realized I had added too much Bourbon to the pie, my little grandma who was half sloshed looked across the table at my husband, shook her head and said, “I’ve never met anyone so stupid.” My husband’s mouth fell to the floor and my family burst into hysterics. It was a truly memorable Thanksgiving!

    Angela
    a_p654@yahoo.com

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  52. My favorite Thanksgiving story took place about 6-7 years ago. My family was at my Grandmother's for Thanksgiving, and after dinner, we were all gathered in the living room, talking and having a good time. A short while later, my sister, cousin and myself decided that we were ready for pumpkin pie. No one else wanted any yet, so we went out to the dining room, cut ourselves nice big slices, dug in... and immediately spit it out. It tasted TERRIBLE, and we had no idea why. No one wanted to hurt my Grandma's feelings, so we loaded it up with whipped cream and tried to continue. My sister put hers in the fridge "to finish later," and my cousin and myself heroically shoveled down the pie until we got to an acceptable point to throw the rest of our slices away, claiming to be "full." My mom and Grandma came into the kitchen for some more coffee and noticed something was up, so we politely let them know that the pumpkin pie tasted a little off. My Grandma took one small bite and said, "I know what's wrong, I forgot the sugar! Your Grandfather distracted me, and I knew I forgot something when I was making it yesterday. You didn't have to eat that, it tastes awful." We all got a pretty good laugh about that, and to this day, we still tease my Grandma about making sure the pumpkin pie has sugar before we dig in.

    Andrea
    andrealeapley@gmail.com

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  53. Stacey, here is my Thanksgiving disaster story. When I was seven we all went to my aunt's house to celebrate. We had so many people that we had to put the leaf in the dining room table. Well my uncle who was a large guy leaned on the table to stand up. The leaf fell out and the entire meal ended up on my lap. My uncle being the jokester that he was swore that it was my fault cos my tiny seven year old elbow was just too much pressure on the table. I got all upset until I realized he was only kidding. We cleaned up ordered pizza and watched football for the rest of the day. But even now twenty years later THAT is the story that we have to retell every year. Ahhhhhh family...
    :) Happy Holidays!!

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  54. I love the Thanksgiving commandments! My favorite/easiest cranberry sauce recipe (I used 40 pounds once for a sorority thanksgiving, it's that easy):

    1/2 C. apple juice
    1/2 C. honey
    zest of an orange
    2 C. cranberries

    Simmer for 5 minutes till the berries pop! Cool and if you want some crunch in there, add 1/2 C. of chopped walnuts.

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  55. Thanksgiving 1998 my husband, daughter and myself were living in Texas. Because hubby was in chiropractic college and I was the only one with an income we really didn't have the money to go home for Thanksgiving so I figured I would make dinner for us. We lived in an 800 square foot apartment with a Barbie Dream house sized kitchen and I wanted to make sure we had all the Thanksgiving traditions. I made turkey, dressing, green bean casserole (no I didn't make my own mushroom soup), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, salad (now I know never to serve that again at Thanksgiving), gravy and cranberry sauce from a can. Needless to say I had a mess. Well, the turkey didn't turn out right, something was off with it. It just didn't taste good. The mashed potatoes were runny, everything was just yuck. So we dumped it all all and drove around to find something open so we could have lunch because while trying to clean up the sink in the kitchen stopped up and again we had another mess.

    I ended up having Moons Over My Hammy at Denny's that Thanksgiving. I will never forget it.

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  56. My best Thanksgiving tip is one I love to follow. I only invite people I like. I only make dishes I enjoy. I leave the clean-up to someone else. It works!

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  57. First time commentor long time reader, just want to say I love the blog and often am hungry after reading it. For my Thanksgiving story my dad loves sweet potato pie and especially the ones that his mom makes but my mom would still make them. One year my mom asked him how her sweet potato pie was and he just shrugged and said it was ok. My mom got mad and threw away all of the pie she'd made and imposed a moratorium on sweet potato pie for a few years. Eventually she started making them again but we laugh every year when she is making her menu and sweet potato pie comes up. As an aside my parents are celebrating their 30 year anniversary today so sweet potato pie hasn't derailed them.

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  58. Your recipes look fabulous, I love this twice baked potato casserole recipe, not as crazy as trying to make a million twice baked potatoes:
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/twice-baked-potato-casserole-recipe/index.html

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  59. Love my in-laws although holidays aren't the same since my parents passed away. I'm finally used to new traditions although no one "saves the potato water" for gravy now, a rallying cry from my mother, not wanting to see the flavorful, starch-laden water drained away. It was my father's one role to make the gravy, and he was without peer in this regard.

    One recent year I was peeling the potatoes for the Thanksgiving meal and stopped up the disposal at my mother-in-law's home, then cried remembering how I chided my mother one time for doing the same thing in my home, as I'd give anything to have her alive to do it again.

    Another year, my sister-in-law was raving about a potato dish she'd had elsewhere, that she added to the menu for Thanksgiving. I googled the ingredients later and couldn't bring myself to inform my ultra-Catholic relative that she'd made "Mormon funeral potatoes".

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  60. Love the mashed potato recipe, its almost identical to the one Ive tweaked over the last couple of years after I decided I needed to learn to cook. Another variation of the recipe is to leave out the cream cheese and substitute sauteed onions (I use about a half of an onion, diced, sauteed in butter) and blue cheese. YUM. Although I have to admit with a couple teenagers/ preteen boys to cook for I could probably scrape the bottom of my shoes into a bowl and they would eat it.

    My favorite Thanksgiving disaster is the time when my (now ex) husband decided on Wednesday afternoon that we were going to deep fry the turkey. He ran out to buy a turkey fryer that evening on the way home from work. The next morning he gets up to fire up the hot oil. We had enough oil, but he neglected to notice that there was a maximum size limit to the turkey you could deep fry. Being 'only' off by a couple of pounds, he figured it would be no problem. Fired up the gas, heated the oil and dropped that bad boy into the vat. Well simple displacement theory....too much solid dropped into too much liquid and the liquid will be displaced. The hot oil ran over the side of the cooking container and down into the gas flame, immediately igniting itself. Well it didnt stop there....the flaming hot oil trickled itself down the driveway into the street. Thankfully we didnt catch the lawn on fire, or the neighbors houses, or the dog. As my husband was getting ready to dial the fire department, I put out the fire. He then attempted to salvage and roast an oil soaked turkey. FYI-it didnt work.

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  61. Hi Stacey,
    I LOVE your chronicles! I am a big fan of Jen Lancaster's and found you through her - I know you've heard this, but you and Jen are awesome!

    My Thanksgiving disaster was years ago, my newlywed husband and I were going to my grandmother's for the holiday. I decided to make a lemon meringue pie (his favorite) to take. The pie turned out beautifully with the little brown tips on the meringue and needlesstosay I was quite proud of it. I thoughts I had secured it sufficiently in the front seat of his brand new truck to go for the hour drive to my grandmothers. This was long before I thought of a 'pie taker' or any other tupperware type container to transport this pie, and in my 20s naivity thought the pie would just sit there for the ride. NOT! Since I had taken it out of the oven not too long before our trek, the pie was still hot and within a few minutes and a few turns the pie went "ass over tincups" and slid across the seat, effectively taking the top of the pie, i.e., meringue and stewing the lemony part all over the cloth interior of said new truck! New husband was not happy!!! Back home to clean mess...did you know lemon custard type hot filling in lemon meringue pie acts like glue when affixed to cloth....hmmm....let's say it was not good.

    We managed to get it cleaned up as best we could and off we went to my grandmother's house, pieless! It took me YEARS to even think about making another lemon meringue pie - it was not the pie's fault! Anyway, I can never think of Thanksgiving without thinking about that ruined truck seat and my perfect pie going to waste!

    Thanks for the contests...we love them! Have a wonderful holiday yourself with charming suitor!!

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  62. Hi! So I was just making a batch of Snickerdoodles to take up to my family in Yosemite this afternoon and they turned into a disaster. I thought I'd share it :) My mom asked me to make Snickerdoodles for our Thanksgiving dinner and I happily complied because I love baking. I started the cookies dough and preheated the oven and all that good stuff. I had already put my first dozen in the oven when I finally sneaked a piece of the cookie dough. Ewwww!!!!! I didn't know what I had done wrong!! I had made these cookies thousands of times but this dough was straight nasty. It was sour!
    So I decided to wait until my first batch came out of the oven to see if they tasted any better once they baked...NOPE! They were so sour. I thought maybe it was just me. So I gave one to my boyfriend. He immediately spit it out! So now I had a ruined batch of cookies and a spit out cookie mess on the carpet. Ick.
    Needless to say, the rest of the cookie dough and the already baked ones got thrown in the trash.
    I tried to figure out what went wrong so I started going through the list. I had put all the right ingredients...Then I looked at the expiration dates on the ingredients. Both the baking soda AND the cream of tartar were over two years expired!! So that's what made them so sour!! I guess those expiration dates are no joke.
    So, I have resorted to using some pre-portioned cookie dough I bought as a fundraiser from my neighbor's children. They are in the oven now and smell quite delicious!
    Thanks for sharing all your fabulous recipes and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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  63. Stacey - love your books and your blog! and the recipes, of course! will definitely try brining the turkey this year.

    My best Thanksgiving tip: 2 refrigerators!
    Even better - a second kitchen like my mom has (extra refrigerator, upright freezer and another stove/oven). The "downstairs kitchen" is unbelievably handy for the huge meal she hosts!
    Other hints: My mom makes and freezes pies when fruit is in season, and is halfway ready for Thanksgiving in October.

    My favorite Thanksgiving recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/pumpkin-cheesecake-recipe/index.html
    Sadly not allowed at my mom's Thanksgiving feast, where the menu is carved in stone after years of careful refining and negotiation. Any new dessert would displace some old standard, and then someone would complain.

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  64. At my first Thanksgiving with my husband's family, Grandpa and I were in charge of making the pumpkin pie. We produced a gorgeous pie and tucked it away on the kitchen counter. After the meal while everybody was still at the table, we went to the kitchen to get the pie. When we got there, we found the cat on the counter licking the pie. Grandpa looked at me and said, "I won't tell if you won't." We covered the pie in Reddi Whip and served it.

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  65. Our best Thanksgiving disaster had to be the year I insisted on making the turkey despite being 4 months pregnant and suffering from horrendous morning sickness. This was one of the few meals that sounded great to me and I was determined to make sure we had a good turkey. Left in the care of other relatives, it may have resulted in a dry, flavorless bird and I was not about to let that happen. 5am our alarm went off. My husband brought me waffles in bed and I popped a Zofran to combat nausea. He got the bird prepped, and by 6am no amount of Zofran helped as the smell of cooking turkey filled our house. I spent the next 5 hours hugging the toilet as hubby basted the turkey. We then had a 30 minute drive to my grandparent’s house. With a turkey. In a confined space. Eck! Five years later, I can still vividly remember the day.

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  66. I love your rules so I would only add one...

    Don't forget to enjoy the day. Do what you can ahead of time so that you can really spend time with the people you're spending the day with. If you're going to spend so much time in the kitchen once your guests arrive that you aren't able to hold a conversation you should probably rethink your menu.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Charming Suitor!

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  67. Ohhhhh, yes, the best Thanksgiving disaster was brining the turkey in a large trash bag, and thinking, well, it's awfully cold outside- hey, lets leave it outside instead of trying to fit it back into fridgerator.

    Yep, yep, you guessed correctly. The dogs had a wonderful meal of raw turkey overnight and we, well, we had lots of side dishes and no turkey!!!

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  68. Lots of good recipes and comments, so there will be competition.

    Thanksgiving cooking snafu - having a pan of rolls out to rise, and realize its time to put them in the oven, just popped em in the oven with plastic wrap. They came out, I was initially wondering, why are they so shiny, then I realize the palastic had melted just about perfectly on top of each roll. Went old school with white bread and butter instead :)

    Recipe, I just made a really good recipe for sweet potatoes and the part I will share with you is the crust/crumble because it was great and I think it could be multi-purpose for a lot of things. 1 cup of brown sugar, 3/4 a cup of walnuts, chopped (measure, then chop), 1/4 almonds, a stick of softened butter. Smoosh all together and use as a great crumble topping, I'm going to use this on an apple tart next.

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  69. I read this entry last week and thought, I've never had a Thanksgiving Disaster, I guess I can't enter this contest. I should have known that would be my downfall. Dinner this year was at my mother-in-laws and since my husband's family have VERY simple tastes, I didn't have to make anything crazy to bring over. I decided to something more special for the hubs and toddler so we could have a nice start to our day. I made Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (from Apartment Therapy) and they were amazing. They were also a lot more difficult to make than I though they would be.
    The disaster part came as we were driving to the inlaws for dinner and the toddler decided to bring back every bite of the two cinnamon rolls she had for breakfast. By the time she finished, she and most of the backseat of the car were covered. Since we were much closer to grandma's house than our house, we went there. We then found that whatever stomach bug had infested our little darling was also working its magic on her cousin, aunt and uncle. We spent the evening rubbing backs, holding hair, cleaning and NOT eating. To date, I am the only member of the extended family to avoid infestation. We have eaten small amounts of our beautifully prepared Thanksgiving noshes (my pecan pie was wonderful), but mostly we have all tried to avoid rich food and the pain it may bring.

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