Feed Your Soul

Storing Thanksgiving Leftovers

- Friday, November 25, 2016

Once the second and third helpings have been eaten and the table is cleared it’s time to store your Thanksgiving leftovers (if there are any!).




Here are some tips.


Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.


You’ll want to reheat only what you'll be serving at one time rather than reheating the entire portion. While it is safe to heat it all and then re-store what you don't use, food continues to lose flavor and moisture the more it's reheated.


It’s tempting to keep the leftover sweet potatoes or green beans in the half-empty serving dish and simply covering it with plastic wrap, but it’s better to store leftovers in a clean, smaller container or Ziploc bag. You’ll also have more room in your refrigerator.


You’ll want your leftovers to be cooled as quickly as possible. Carve any remaining meat on the turkey and store in shallow containers or plastic bags. Place leftover food in several shallow containers instead of a large one and avoid stacking containers as this will trap heat in your refrigerator. The more surface area exposed to cold air, the faster your food will cool.


If you intend to freeze your leftovers, you’ll want to pack stuffing and mashed potatoes and any other sides into airtight freezer containers or plastic freezer bags. Wrap turkey in freezer paper or foil, press out all the air, then seal in plastic freezer bags. Soups and gravy expand slightly as they freeze, so you’ll want to leave some space at the top of the container. It's fine to keep leftovers in the refrigerator for a few days before deciding to freeze them, but the sooner they go in the freezer the better. Once your leftovers have cooled off, place them into the freezer, and avoid stacking the containers until they're frozen solid.

Thanksgiving Checklist for Success - The Day Of

- Wednesday, November 23, 2016

 Tomorrow is the big day. Here is what’s left to do.

Thanksgiving Day:

[  ]  Set out all serving pieces on a counter or buffet table

[  ]  Fill condiment dishes, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, lay serving spoons on top

[  ]  Delegate tasks such as pouring drinks, answering the door, hanging up coats, and tending the fire to family members

[  ]  Remove turkey from refrigerator for 1-2 hours and add stuffing to bird or place in a casserole dish and bake separately

[  ]  Preheat oven, then place turkey inside and baste every half hour or per recipe instructions

[  ]  Remove stuffing from bird and let stand for 20 minutes before slicing

[  ]  Brew coffee

[  ]  Reheat food in microwave if all burners are occupied

[  ]  Make gravy and last-minute vegetables

[  ]  Heat rolls or bread

[  ]  Set out condiments

[  ]  Carve turkey and pour drinks

[  ]  Enjoy dinner and then indulge in dessert

Thanksgiving Checklist for Success - 4 Days Away

- Monday, November 21, 2016

Only four days left until the big day.

Here is a to do list for the next couple of days.


4 Days Ahead:

[  ]  Defrost turkey in your refrigerator

[  ]  Make your own ice  cubes and store in freezer bags

[  ]  Time to organize and clean the house

[  ]  Put up wreaths, candles and other decorations

[  ]  Touch base with guests to find out what space they need for the dishes they are bringing and if they need any serving pieces or utensils

[  ]  Organize plastic containers, bags, wraps, etc. for leftovers

2 Days Ahead:

[  ]  Refrigerate beverages

[  ]  Buy flowers/have centerpiece delivered

[  ]  Shop for perishable food items

[  ]  Clean vegetables and refrigerate

[  ]  Set out bread if you are making homemade stuffing

[  ]  Fill butter dishes and salt and pepper shakers

[  ]  Make the cranberry sauce

[  ]  Finish light housecleaning

[  ]  Lay a fire in your fireplace for you to light later

[  ]  Put up your decorations

1 Day Ahead:

[  ]  Peel potatoes and store in a pot of cold water in the refrigerator

[  ]  Do all the meal prep you can—chopping, peeling or toasting, baking pies, etc.

[  ]  Supply bathrooms with extra paper goods and hand towels

[  ]  Make stuffing

[  ]  Spot clean rooms you’ll use

[  ]  In the evening set the table together as a family

[  ]  Make side dishes that can be baked ahead

[  ]  Set up a staging area for coffee, desserts and drinks

Thanksgiving Checklist for Success - 1 Week Out

- Friday, November 18, 2016

 Only one week left until the big day.

Here is this week’s to do list.

One Week Ahead:

[  ]  Determine seating arrangements

[  ]  Schedule your recipes and cooking schedule by day for the days ahead and by hour for Thanksgiving Day

[  ]  Verify thawing time for frozen turkey

[  ]  Ready guest rooms with fresh linens and other amenities

[  ]  Rake leaves and clean windows and glass on your front door

[  ]  Get out games or movies for the kids or ask parents to bring activities for kids to do

Let's Talk Turkey - Part Two

- Monday, November 14, 2016

Whether it’s your first time to host Thanksgiving dinner or you’re an old pro, you have questions that need answering. This collection of tips will help you choose the best bird and offer some unorthodox cooking methods.

What’s the best oven temperature?

Some cooks heat their ovens to 425°F for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325°F. While a higher heat will reduce cooking time by 90 minutes, consider that changing your oven temperature is one more thing to remember on a busy day. 


What’s the trick to getting moist turkey meat?

Start cooking your turkey upside-down in your roasting rack. This will allow the turkey’s natural juices to collect in the breast which tends to dry out otherwise. After roasting for 1 hour, flip the turkey over, breast-side up, for 1 more hour. 

How long should I cook my turkey?

For an unstuffed turkey, use the following table for cooking times. Add 20-40 minutes if you are stuffing your turkey.

Turkey Cooking Times

Pounds Hours

8 to 12 2-1/2 to 3-1/2

12 to 16 3-1/2 to 4

16 to 20 4 to 4-1/2

20 to 26 4-1/2 to 5-1/2


How will I know when my turkey is done?

Use an instant-read probe thermometer (digital or analog) to make sure your turkey is fully cooked but not overcooked. Insert the probe into the thickest part of the thigh and wait a few seconds for the thermometer to settle on a temperature. Look for 170°F and be sure to check both thighs in case one side is undercooked. If you’ve stuffed your turkey, you’ll want the thermometer to read 165°F. 

Is there anything special I need do with the turkey when it’s done cooking?

Let your turkey rest for 20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. You’ll get moister slices when you do.

Thanksgiving Checklist for Success - 2 Weeks Out

- Friday, November 11, 2016

Just two weeks to go until the big day. Here’s what to focus on this week.


Here are some tips for success. 

Two Weeks Ahead:

[  ]  Take inventory of tables and chairs to make sure you have enough for guests

[  ]  Gather all serving dishes, glassware and flatware

[  ]  Polish any silver pieces  and store in tarnish-resistant silver cloth

[  ]  Clean out the fridge to make room for your Thanksgiving food

[  ]  Shop for nonperishable food on your list

[  ]  Place 3x5 index cards in each serving dish or platter to help yourself remember which recipe goes where

Let's Talk Turkey - Part One

- Monday, November 07, 2016

Whether it’s your first time to host Thanksgiving dinner or you’re an old pro, you have questions that need answering. This collection of tips will help you choose the best bird and offer some unorthodox cooking methods.

How much turkey should I buy?

            Depends on how many people you’re hosting and how much turkey you want for leftovers. But, as a general rule, it’s a good idea to estimate 1 1/2 pounds per person, especially if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftover. If you don’t want leftovers, 3/4 pound of whole turkey per person is sufficient. If you plan to have a boneless turkey roast, plan on at least 1/3 pound per person. If you plan to have a bone-in turkey breast, plan on 3/4 pound per person.

What’s the best way to host Thanksgiving for a crowd?

            Consider roasting two smaller turkeys instead of one large one. Smaller turkeys will cook more quickly and evenly and fit better in your fridge or roasting pan. Additionally, cooking smaller turkeys affords you the opportunity to experiment with two different types of preparations.

To brine or not to brine?

            Brining is a great option for extra flavor and moist meat. Simply combine 5-1/2 ounces kosher salt, ¼ cup sugar and 2 quarts cool water into a pot over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar and salt dissolve. Then remove from the heat, add 2 more quarts of water and chill in your refrigerator.

Remove turkey innards and reserve for gravy if preferred. Next rinse turkey well and double up two turkey-sized oven bags. Roll down the edges of the bag to allow the bag to stay open. Place bags in your roasting pan and then put the turkey in, breast side down inside the inner bag. Pour brine over the turkey. And then gather the inner bag around the bird so the brine covers most of the turkey. Secure the bag with a twist tie and do the same with the outer bag. Refrigerate turkey (in the roasting pan) for 12 to 18 hours.

To stuff or not to stuff?

            If you choose to stuff your turkey, you should know it will take longer to roast and there’s a greater risk the bird won’t cook evenly. This is why many cooks bake their stuffing in a separate baking dish. Baking your stuffing in a separate baking dish allows you to get that nice crispy top. If you decide to stuff your turkey, do this loosely to allow the stuffing room to expand.

Thanksgiving Checklist for Success - 3 Weeks Out

- Friday, November 04, 2016

We’re less than three weeks away from the big day and if you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, it’s time to start your preparations. 

Here are some tips for success. 

Three Weeks Ahead:

[  ]  Determine who is bringing what on your menu and if there are any special dietary food needs

[  ]  Make your shopping list for perishables and non-perishables and paper products you may need

[  ]  If you’ve decided to order a fresh turkey, do it now

[  ]  Make a Thanksgiving to-do list and delegate tasks to family members so all the work doesn’t fall on one person (yep, we meant you!)

[  ]  Choose the china, glassware and table linens you’ll use

[  ]  Clean and iron the tablecloths and napkins you plan to use

[  ]  Order a floral centerpiece or create one of your own

A Trick for Easy Peeling Eggs

- Monday, October 31, 2016

For easy peeling eggs, add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the water while boiling eggs. The shell will come right off when you’re ready to peel them.

The Secret to Great Pasta Sauce

- Friday, October 28, 2016

What’s the secret to great pasta sauce? 

The cooking water. 

Before you drain your pasta, save a cup of the cooking water and add it to your sauce as needed. The starch in the water helps your sauce adhere better to the pasta.


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