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Turkey Day Delicacies & Memories

Updated on March 20, 2011

How are you spending Thanksgiving? You may be hosting a dinner or planning to go to a friend or family member's house. Either way, some delicious recipes and a little advanced planning will help create a memorable feast for the entire family.

For many years I went to a Turkey Day celebration at my ex in laws. For their celebration, the entire family gets involved in the cooking. Being part of an ethnically-diverse family with German, Italian, Scottish, Irish and American Indian traditions means that each member contributes their specialty - antipasto, oyster stuffing, sweet potatoes with chestnuts, homemade cranberry relish, corn pudding and sweet and sour cabbage, just to name a few. The gramma, who is in charge of the turkey, will roast it in the family's coal-oil stove. After consuming this enormous feast, everyone goes for a walk and enjoys the crisp autumn air and beautiful countryside.

No matter what your plans are for the big day, you should stick with reliable recipes that will guarantee success. Or, if you'd like to try your hand at brining, which will give you a moist, tender and flavorful bird, you might find that you have created a new Thanksgiving standard for your family. Whether or not your celebration will be large or small, a little advanced planning will make the day smooth sailing and enjoyable for all. Here are some tips to make your holiday fun and festive:

Balance your menu to include a variety of dishes. Try to avoid similar side dishes or casseroles that have heavy sauces.

Complete your shopping in advance to avoid the holiday rush. Check your pantry for staples, such as sugar, salt, spices and other ingredients that you'll need. On the day before, you'll just need to pick up fresh produce.

Defrost your turkey well in advance. Defrosting in the refrigerator is recommended to minimize any bacterial growth. Plan to thaw it one day for every 4 pounds. For example, a 12-pound turkey should be defrosted in 3 days.

Plan ahead for oven space. The turkey should be removed from the oven to rest a half hour before eating. Take this opportunity to bake or reheat side dishes just before dinner.

Do your guests love to cook, too? Ask them to bring appetizers, side dishes or desserts, which will take some of the pressure off you.

Organize serving platters and dishes for what you'll be serving. Label them with post-it notes in advance so everyone helping in the kitchen will know which to use.

If possible, set your table the day before. This will avoid any last minute rush before your guests arrive.

If you have any questions about roasting a turkey, there's lots of help available. Just check online for great sites such as epicurious!

Thanksgiving is all about celebrating the holiday with your family and friends. Although the day is unofficially known as the biggest eating day of the year, it doesn't mean that you need to spend your entire time in the kitchen. With a well-planned menu, some delicious recipes and a little help from your guests, you can create a memorable feast for the entire family.

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!


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