How to Host a Happy Thanksgiving

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner may seem like a daunting task. But with proper planning and a little help, you can host a happy holiday without a hitch.

Know Who’s Coming to Dinner
The first step is to know who will be coming to your house for Thanksgiving. Make sure you know if someone is bringing a date, a friend, or their children. Ask if any of your guests have allergies or dietary restrictions.

Plan Your Menu
The next step is to decide what you’re serving. You can stick with traditional dishes or try Thanksgiving dinner alternatives. If you’re doing most of the cooking, make dishes you enjoy making and eating. If you feel like making something new this year, here are a few simple recipes to try.

Basic Roast Turkey
Recipe from Real Simple

12- to 14-pound turkey, giblets removed
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
2 medium yellow onions, cut into wedges
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 navel oranges, cut into wedges (optional)
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley or leaves from 1 bunch celery (optional)
Kitchen string (optional)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the wings underneath the body. If desired, tie the drumsticks together using kitchen string. Place the carrots, celery, and onions in a metal roasting pan. Transfer the turkey to a wire rack and place it on top of the vegetables. Drizzle the skin with the butter or oil and, using your fingers, spread it evenly.

Roast the turkey, uncovered, until browned, 30 to 45 minutes.

Add 1 cup cold water to pan. Cover the turkey loosely with foil. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Roast until a thermometer inserted in a thigh registers 180 degrees, about 2 hours total. Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Garnish with the orange wedges and parsley or celery leaves (if using). If making gravy, reserve the juices in the roasting pan.

Wild Mushroom, Herb, and Pecan Stuffing
Recipe from HGTV

1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cups toasted cornbread, crumbled
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
10 ounces wild mushrooms (chanterelle, oyster and shiitake)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup good chicken stock

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat butter in a medium skillet on medium high. Add onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.

Add mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, salt and pepper for about 3 minutes.

Add white wine. Continue cooking until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add cream. Cook 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.

Place crumbled cornbread into a large bowl. Add mushroom mixture and toasted pecans; toss.

Add chicken stock as needed, until stuffing is moist throughout. Bake in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish for 30 minutes, until crusty and golden brown. Garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs before serving.

Pecan Pie
Recipe from Martha Stewart

All-purpose flour, for dusting
Tart Shell Dough
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans (about 10 ounces), for filling
2 cups pecan halves (about 8 ounces), lightly toasted, for topping
Whipped cream, for serving

Set a 9-inch cake ring (with 1 1/2-inch sides) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 13-inch round. Fit dough into ring; trim edges. Freeze 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together eggs, syrup, and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in butter, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Stir in chopped pecans. Pour filling into shell. Arrange pecan halves on top in concentric circles.

Bake, tenting with foil after 15 minutes, until filling is set, about 1 hour. Let cool at least 2 hours on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream.

Ask for Help
Whether it’s planning the menu or cleaning your house, don’t be afraid to ask for help during the holidays. Ask your guests to bring a dish to contribute to the dinner. Encourage your children to set the table. And after dinner is done, let someone else do the dishes — everyone deserves to enjoy the holidays!


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