On the day of Thanksgiving, when you are trying to figure out how you are going to get everything cooked at the same time, Sara Moulton says to remember that the turkey will need at least 30 minutes to rest and actually will stay very hot for up to an hour, covered loosely with foil, after it comes out of the oven. Take advantage of that turkey resting time to heat up and cook other dishes in the oven.
Keep a little chicken or turkey broth heated on the stove. When you carve the turkey, pour some of that hot broth over the slices which will moisten the turkey if it came out dry and also heat up the turkey which tends to cool off in the long process of carving.
TIP: Perfect Apple Pie: If you want to avoid that gap between the apples and the crust in your apple pie, Sara Moulton says to precook the apples in a skillet until they are just beginning to get tender, cool them off and then make the pie.
TIP: Testing Your Meat Thermometer: How do you know if your meat thermometer still works? Dip it into a pan of boiling water and if it registers 212F, you know you are good to go.
TIP: Cranberry Creativity: Cranberries aren't just for cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. Bobby Flay says you can make your favorite cocktails with cranberries or cranberry juice to enhance flavor. You can also try this with martinis, daiquiris, or margaritas.
TIP: Perfect Pies: No Thanksgiving meal is complete without a pie for dessert! Sara Moulton says to roll out your pie dough between lightly floured sheets of wax or parchment paper. It's much easier to roll out the dough this way and so much easier to transport it to the pie plate when you have it rolled out between two sheets of paper. You just peel off the top sheet and invert the dough into the pie plate. Also, if the dough gets too warm you can just lift it up, wrapped in the paper, and pop it in the fridge.
Glass pie plates promote more even browning of the crust, she says, and you can check to make sure that the crust is nicely browned before you take it out of the oven just by looking at the bottom of the pie plate.
TIP: Handling Kids on Thanksgiving: Schedule Thanksgiving dinner as close to your children's normal meal time as possible, says "GMA" parenting contributor Annie Pleshette Murphy. If your family's tradition is to serve the Thanksgiving meal at 3 or 4 p.m., feed the kids a snack around their usual lunchtime. Tell them they're expected to sit at the table and taste a few things even if they're not very hungry.
And forget the "clean plate club." Don't ruin dinner by arguing over every bite. If you're worried about offending the chef, tell your kids ahead of time to hold their tongues regarding the food, eat what they want and leave the rest. Explain to your host that you have an unadventurous eater on your hands.
TIP: The Best Squash Ever! Those cute little decorative pumpkins with names like Jack B. Little, We B. Little, are actually the tastiest pumpkin/winter squash Sara Moulton says she's ever eaten. And they make beautiful containers for pumpkin soup, rice, stuffing, other vegetables and vegetarian entrees. Start cutting them in half through the middle (be very careful, they are hard and the knife can slip easily) and roasting them in the oven (see tip on cooking winter squashes).
TIP: Getting Organized: Several days before the big meal, Sara Moulton says to pull out all the platters and plates that you will need for the dinner and label them. The last thing you need to do when you are trying to get dinner on the table is to be thinking about what dish goes on what plate!
TIP: Secret to Great Gravy! As you plan for Thanksgiving cooking, Sara Moulton says to pre-make your pan gravy two to three days ahead to cross one more thing off your check list. The basic formula for gravy is:
For every cup of chicken broth, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, add 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute for every tablespoon of flour. Cool and refrigerate.
On Thanksgiving day, transfer the turkey from the roasting pan to a platter and let it rest, covered loosely with foil. Pour off the drippings from the pan into a fat separator. Deglaze the roasting pan with the liquid (not the fat) from the fat separator, scraping up the brown bits. Add the pre-made gravy, bring to a boil and simmer until the desired consistency is reached.
TIP: Best Brussels Sprouts Recipe! If you love brussels sprouts but you have guests or family coming who hate them, Sara Moulton suggests cooking them this way: trim the sprouts and then put them through the slicing disk of your food processor. Heat up a large skillet with either olive, vegetable oil or half butter and oil until hot. Add the shredded sprouts in one layer and cook them over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until they are just tender. Flavor with toasted walnuts, pine nuts or pecans, a squeeze of lemon or lime and salt and pepper to taste.
CLICK HERE for Sara's recips for Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta!
TIP: Start Your Food Prep Early! Sara Moulton says that even though it is several weeks before the big day, start preparing Thanksgiving food now. There are many items that you can make ahead and freeze, such as pie dough, vegetable purees, chicken stock for the gravy, and cranberry sauce. The less you have to do on the day of Thanksgiving, the better. CLICK HERE for more great Thanksgiving cooking tips from Sara!
TIP: Choose Airport and Flights Wisely The Air Transport Association estimates that 24 million people will travel on U.S. airlines over Thanksgiving period, a 3.5 percent increase from last year. To save on your holiday air travel, Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare.com says to choose a cheaper airport -- typically a hub or one at a larger city near you. Also consider connecting flights and compare prices with nonstops. You can also carry-on your bags to avoid bag fees or fly JetBlue or Southwest for free checked-bags.
TIP: Be Flexible About Travel Plans Around Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, Seaney also says to be as flexible in your travel plans as possible. Fly during the cheapest time of day. An overnight flight will typically cost less than a 9 a.m. flight, and it's also generally cheaper to catch a plane at dawn.CLICK HERE for more holiday travel tips from Rick Seaney, and check back everyday for more Thanksgiving tips!