This thanksgiving will be different you tell yourself!  You’ve decided on the menu ahead of time, you have your guest list and what everyone is bringing, but no matter how well you plan, something always goes wrong.  So here are ten extra tips to help your Thanksgiving go smoothly.   

 

Coolers aren’t just for tailgating!

 Everyone knows that refrigerator real estate is precious closer and closer to the feast, and the day of…forget about it!  So, bring out the cooler support.  You can clear your fridge of all of those large jars of pickles and condiments!  You can basically but anything you will not be needing for thanksgiving in your cooler and forget about it until after the big day.  If you live in colder climates you can store the cooler outside, away from all the ruckus of relatives.  The cooler isn’t just for storing space hogging jars of pickles though.  For instance, you could use it to brine your Turkey over night (just make sure there is plenty of ice!)  Or you could use it as a warming drawer…I mean it is insulated right?!  Line it with aluminum foil, add some folded towels and fill it with hot dishes as they come out of the oven.  

*NOTE* Use a little common sense…Don’t melt your cooler!

 

Pennies…Not just a useless form of currency!

 Pennies make great pie weights!…what’s a pie weight you ask?  Well, let me tell you.  Pie weights prevent your pie crust from rising, leaving you with an awkward bottom to your pie…just put a layer of tinfoil over your crust first, then fill it with pennies, then bake!  Boom, perfectly flat crust!

 

Aluminum foil!  One of Thanksgiving's MVPs

You can also use it as a Roasting Rack.  The point of a rack is to hold the bird above the pan so heat can circulate evenly, but who says it has to be made of wire?  If you don’t already have a store-bought rack you can make you’re own.  1. Crumple some sheets of foil into thick ropes and wrap them in coils on the bottom of the pan, that’s it.  Or you could go the green route and roast atop a bed of halved carrots, celery and onions.  

 

Ah the slow cooker.

 The only thing worst than lumpy mashed potatoes on thanksgiving is cold, gluey ones.  Keeping your spuds toasty while using the burners for other dishes is a piece of pie.  Butter your slow cooker, add some heavy cream to the potatoes, set the temp to low and then stir every hour or so.  Your potatoes will stay warm and silky s smooth!

 

Fat Separator…no not your belt.

The secret to great gravy is skimmed (not greasy) pan droppings.  If you don’t have a fat separator, simply pour your drippings into a large heatproof measuring cup and pop it in the freezer.  The drippings will cool and the fat will rise to the top and solidify, making it super easy to skim off with a spoon!

 

That thermos isn’t just for coffee.  

Put your gravy into a thermos… let sit until you’re ready to eat!  It’s that easy!

 

Local Salad Bar as Sous Chef

Ok this tip is going to be controversial, but it can literally save hours off of your prep time.  Go to your local market and pick up ingredients from the salad  bar that are already cleaned and ready to eat; chopped onions, trimmed beans, sliced bell peppers, hardboiled eggs, crumbled bacon…  It will save you a lot of work!…and you don’t have to tell anyone why you look less frantic this year, simply pour yourself a glass of wine and wait for the turkey.

 

Use your cabinets as cook book stands!

 If your recipes look anything like mine, they are covered in splashes and spills, the letters are barely visible at this point.  It’s a pain to keep flipping back and forth as well. Solution:  Print copies and tape them to your cabinets.  Keep them at eye level around your kitchen.  You’ve just minimized your kitchen clutter and can now  follow directions hands free, take notes on the fly; you could even arrange them in order of your cooking prep!  This is my favorite tip!

 

Bring that Turkey back from the dead!

Oops, did you over cook the Turkey?  Before glumly handing out the dried out bird  your guests, drizzle a little warm chicken broth over the meat.  It’ll moisten and add flavor.  This also helps for slices that have gone from room temp to cold!  

 

Deflect your guests

…in a nice way.  A busy kitchen is the worst when your trying to cook 8 things at once in order to eat on time, as to not disappoint your mother in-law.  So, give your guests jobs…outside of the kitchen.  Have a wine table with wine glasses and bottles as well as carafes of water.  Ask them to open the wine, pour the glasses, set the table, hang the coats, heard the kids.  Anything really, as long as they stay out of the kitchen!

 *Special Thanks to the Food Network