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Thanksgiving Tips, Tricks and Help

Hi Everyone,

Since I posted my Thanksgiving dishes for you yesterday, I thought today I would share with you some tips and tricks to help you get through the Thanksgiving holiday.  First thing I did was make this little Tips and Tricks Chart.  Remember the key thing with big holidays, is to plan accordingly.

Here is a chart that I posted last year that I got from Eating Light Magazine. I thought that this would come in handy if your roasting vegetables.  It will help with your cooking timings.  Oh and you can also prep most vegetables the night before. So on Thanksgiving day all you have to do is add your oil, seasonings and bake.  If you want to check out my Roasting Vegetables 101 post, you can go here.

One thing we all love to cook with on Thanksgiving is fresh herbs. But the only thing is, when you buy them in advance they wilt, turn brown and just are not good. So I have some tips for storing fresh herbs for at least a week, if not longer.

Ok, we talked about prepping for Thanksgiving, roasting vegetables and storing herbs, I guess the only thing left is the turkey.  Ahhh the beautiful big bird that everyone waits for this time of year.  Funny how we eat fresh roasted turkey in November, yet we really don’t make it any other time of the year.  It’s so much healthier for you then the processed stuff you get at the store.  I recommend saving some turkey for leftovers.  You do know you can freeze cooked turkey?  Just add it to a freezer bag and add a little bit of gravy or chicken broth to it, not a lot of broth, just enough to get it wet, that way it won’t dry out in the freezer.  It will last up to 6 months in the freezer.

I never showed you my turkey from last year.  It was beautiful, and tasted amazing, but I never posted a picture because of space.  My photography area is my kitchen counter and it doesn’t have good light or a lot of room.  I tried my hardest to get a picture of my turkey, but it was to big.  Here is a not so nice picture of it, but I figured I could show you today.  🙂

Here is the fanny shot

I was so proud of my decorating of my turkey. It was just kind of crappy because it was just my Husband and I, and all I got is “are you done taking pictures?” Shesh… Here is the side view.

Now that I showed you my 2012 bird, let me share some tips on turkey making.

This is the exact same thing from my post last year, but it’s useful and should be shared again.

Thawing Time:

This is the worse part for me.  One year I thought my turkey was completely defrosted and guess what, it wasn’t! It took 12 hours to cook my turkey!  Lucky I started at 6am.  Here is are two charts to help with turkey defrosting time.

Refrigerator Turkey Thawing Time (40 degrees F)
Turkey Weight Days to Allow for Thawing Turkey
8 to 12 pounds 2 to 2.5 days
12 to 16 pounds 2.5 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days

If you need to thaw the turkey more quickly, you may thaw the bird in COLD water, in the original wrapping. The cold water must be changed every 30 minutes. Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound using this method.

COLD Water Turkey Thawing Time
Turkey Weight Hours to Allow for Thawing Turkey
8 to 12 pounds 4 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds 10 to 12 hours

Cooking Time:

Now cooking turkey!  Here is a chart of the roasting time for your turkey.  Cook until temperature reaches 170 degrees F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh. Cooking times are for planning purposes only – always use a meat thermometer to determine doneness.

“Open Pan Method” NTF Roasting Guidelines for a Fresh or Thawed Turkey
Roast in a 325 degrees F Conventional Oven on the Lowest Oven Rack
Weight Unstuffed Turkey Stuffed Turkey
8 to 12 pounds 2 3/4 to 3 hours 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 1/2 to 5 hours 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours
24 to 30 pounds 5 to 5 1/4 hours 5 1/4 to 6 1/4 hours

Stuffing your Turkey:

It is recommended that stuffing be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it’s placed in the oven for cooking. When making stuffing ahead of time, wet and dry ingredients should be refrigerated separately and combined right before stuffing the turkey. Turkeys should be stuffed loosely, with about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey.

Use these two simple steps for determining when a stuffed roasted turkey is done cooking and safe to eat:

  1. Insert a meat thermometer into the deepest portion of the thigh, not touching bone, and allow it to come to temperature for an accurate reading. Cook the turkey until the temperature when measured in the thigh reaches 180 degrees F. (When cooking a stuffed turkey breast, the temperature measured in the breast should be 170 degrees F.)
  2. Move the thermometer to the center of the stuffing. Once the stuffing has reached 160 to 165 degrees F, the turkey should be removed from the oven and allowed to “rest” for 20 minutes. This makes carving easier and allows stuffing temperature to continue to rise to at least 165 degrees F.

If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, a meat thermometer should still be used to check the temperature in the stuffing.

By following these two steps, you and your family can continue the tradition of preparing a delicious stuffed turkey without sacrificing quality or safety.

I hope I was able to help you out a little!    I received this information from the National Turkey Federation.

I double checked this information and found it very accurate.  I used this information for my turkey cooking last year.

Now last but not least!  Its Thanksgiving Day, your turkey is not thawed, your bread won’t rise, your chocolate ganache is lumpy and your whip cream won’t whip, while your cranberries taste to tart and you spilled red wine all over your white carpet. Don’t worry!  I have all of the Thanksgiving Hot Line Phone Numbers to help you out just in case you need a question answered.  It’s good to know there are experts willing to help you on a big foodie day like Thanksgiving!

Well that’s it my Friends, time for bed! I have been writing this post for a few hours and I’m getting tired!  I hear my bed calling me and that’s a sound I must not ignore.

If you have any Thanksgiving questions you need answered, I’m not an expert, but I am willing to help. I believe I will be home on turkey day, so just shoot me an e-mail or a comment and I’ll try to help you out!

Have a super fab day!



P.S.  If the photos seem hard to read, just click on them and they will go to a separate page and you can click it again and it will get bigger.

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