FYI: Recipe Note Tips - Thanksgiving - 2 Simple Touches to Make it Special

Simple Touches to Make Thanksgiving Special
Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is quite an undertaking, whether it's your first or your fifteenth. When planning a big feast for a gaggle of guests, conventional wisdom tells you to keep it simple - now is not the time to attempt half a dozen elaborate concoctions you clipped from a magazine and have never tried before. However, this IS a special occasion, and with just a little bit of advance preparation, there are all kinds of simple but beautiful touches you can add to make the meal extraordinary.

First, Get Organized! Starting several days before Thanksgiving, you can: put all your recipes in plastic sleeves and collect them in a small binder; wash and iron tablecloths and napkins; polish silver; chop vegetables and fruit for stuffing, salads, etc; dry out bread for stuffing; gather up games and toys and rent videos to keep your smaller Thanksgiving guests entertained; use up all the leftovers you can and clean out the fridge to make way for the feast.

Simple Centerpieces. Use nature as your inspiration: collect colorful leaves or cut some ivy vines to trail down the middle of the table. Wipe off dirt with a damp paper towel and spread out the leaves so they'll dry. Ivy and most leaves keep very well, so you can gather them several days in advance. Other easy and beautiful decorations include seasonal fruit like pomegranates, persimmons, oranges, figs, quinces, apples, and pears; assorted nuts in the shell; and rosemary branches. Complete the decor with unscented candles of different heights arranged across the table. Gorgeous Garnishes. You poured your heart and soul into making this Thanksgiving feast - now you want it to look as good as it tastes. Fresh herbs make simple and elegant garnishes for just about everything.

When on a mission to create a memorable Thanksgiving feast, uncovering the best Thanksgiving recipes and making the food is only half the battle -- there’s also the table that must be beautifully set. The following suggestions will help ensure that every dish on the table looks as good as it tastes!
* Make use of Mother Nature. Hollowed-out sugar pumpkins or squash make perfect bowls for savory dips, spreads and soups. Consider hollowing out a large pumpkin to use as a soup tureen.
* Green onion fans are simple and inexpensive. Clean and remove the roots of the onion, and then trim it to the desired length. Lay the onion flat on a cutting surface and slice lengthwise to make very THIN fringes out of both ends -- leave the center portion of the onion intact. Place the onion in ice water for 20 minutes to curl, then garnish at will!
* Make a super-special gelatin salad! Gelatin salads light up any table when shaped from a Thanksgiving-inspired mold.

Dress the turkey platter with sage leaves, orange wheels and fresh cranberries; sprinkle the mashed potatoes with chopped parsley; put a cinnamon stick and a few twists of lemon zest in the bowl of cranberry sauce; arrange pecan halves on top of the sweet potatoes. Cut pie dough scraps with tiny cookie cutters shaped like leaves, acorns, pumpkins or apples, and use them to decorate the crust edges and tops of pies.

* Get under your turkey’s skin to give it an extra punch of flavor. Whip up a mixture of butter, chopped fresh herbs and shallots -- use 1/2 cup of butter per 10 pounds of turkey – and carefully lift the skin up and rub the mixture into the meat just beneath the skin.
* To produce a turkey that’s moist on the inside and crispy on the outside, place the turkey in the oven at a higher than normal turkey-cooking temperature (around 450º F or 230º C). After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to the temperature that your recipe recommends and cook for the remaining time.
Leftover Magic:
* Store leftovers in serving-size containers for food safety and cooking ease. Dig into the containers to make sandwiches, turkey and mashed potato burritos and turkey stir-fry!
* Make turkey chili in your slow cooker! Toss some chopped turkey meat, chili beans, tomato paste, chili powder and any leftover veggies into the slow cooker. Refrigerate overnight and let the chili simmer on low until ready.


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