How to roast a turkey safely

Turkey is the meal of choice on Thanksgiving. And while you can find a turkey at nearly every grocery store in the country, that doesn’t mean that everyone knows how to roast a turkey—and do it safely—once they have that big bird home. Here are several tips to remember on Thanksgiving day when it’s time to talk (and eat) turkey!

If you’re buying a fresh turkey, it’s important to take extra precautions handling and preparing the turkey to minimize the risk of harmful bacteria. In fact, the USDA recommends avoiding pre-stuffed fresh turkeys for that very reason. Don’t buy the fresh turkey any more than 48 hours before you intend to cook it.

Frozen turkeys are the most convenient to prepare. They can be kept frozen indefinitely (think of it as suspended animation if you will). Once it comes to thawing your frozen turkey, you’ve got three options: in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.

In the fridge, allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds to thaw. Thawing in cold water is a much quicker process; allow roughly 30 minutes per pound of turkey. If using cold water, you’ll need to change the water every 30 minutes and make sure the turkey is well wrapped so no water gets through to the bird. In the fridge, keep a pan beneath the turkey to catch any juices that may leak! If you’re nuking your bird this Thanksgiving, your best bet is to consult your microwave oven owner’s manual, which you probably tossed a long time ago. Once it’s thawed, you’ll want to cook it immediately.

So what does one do with those giblets? Remove them from the turkey cavity and cook them separately. That’s what!

The timetables for roasting a turkey can vary whether you’re cooking an unstuffed or stuffed turkey and of course, depending on the weight of the bird. You’re definitely going to need a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey and the stuffing. Check out the USDA’s guidelines on recommended cooking times to make sure you don’t ruin the turkey.

It is safe to cook a turkey from a frozen state, but it’ll take you 50% longer, which may be fine by you, especially if you prefer to skip the thawing phase. Definitely, most definitely, wash your hands, the utensils you’re using and anything else that comes in contact with raw turkey and raw turkey juices. Are you sufficiently frightened by the thought of bacteria ruining your Thanksgiving meal? Don’t worry about it as long as you’re following all the rules.

Source: USDA

The best Thanksgiving foods of all time

When it comes to Thanksgiving, eating until you’re stuffed is par for the course. While the main course usually consists of turkey, there are plenty of awesome foods that we get to chow down on while we celebrate the holidays with family and friends.

Nothing beats turkey for Thanksgiving. And there are plenty of ways to prepare turkey including roasting, braising and grilling. But perhaps the most delicious way to enjoy turkey on Thanksgiving is deep-fried turkey.

Honey-glazed ham is right up there with turkey for best Thanksgiving food. Spiral hams are delightful, especially when paired with rich and flavorful mustard. Plus, leftover ham makes for a great sandwich.

As long as there are potatoes on the Thanksgiving menu, you know it’s going to be a great holiday meal. Scalloped potatoes are a favorite. Mixing cheddar with potatoes can take them to that elusive “next level” of awesomeness. Sweet potatoes are also a Thanksgiving treat that are hard to pass up.

Fresh-baked rolls are just so good on Thanksgiving! Put a small slab of butter on a crescent roll that is just out of the oven and still warm—nothing could taste better! Except perhaps, dipping the rolls in hot gravy. “Pass the rolls please” is a request you’ll hear a lot at the table on Thanksgiving Day.

Stuffing yourself with stuffing is a Thanksgiving pastime that everyone loves. Stuffing is the best when you skip the Stove Top and make your own from scratch. It’s a great comfort food and goes well with turkey. And it’s made all the better with … you guessed it, gravy!

Holiday recipes: Appetizers, main course and dessert

There is so much to love about the holidays: Seeing old friends, visiting with family and taking some time away from work to enjoy the important stuff in life. And then there is the food; so much of it to enjoy! While your waist line may need to be taken out in your pants after the holidays, there’s no reason we should stop eating, right? Here are some awesome holiday recipes, many of which are suitable for Thanksgiving and Christmas and any other holiday parties happening in your neck of the woods.


Baked brie – How can you make brie better? Heat it up and drizzle with honey, that’s how!

Maryland Crab Dip – You don’t have to be from the east coast to enjoy this classic dipping delight. Dig in!

Sausage stuffed mushrooms – Never mind where mushrooms come from. Just stuff them with sausage and enjoy.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp – Add a little zing to your appetizer offerings with these heavenly delights. Bacon makes everything better.

Main Course

Roast Turkey – No one can cook a turkey quite like mom can.

Ham in the Crock Pot – Slow and steady wins the race and this ham will taste absolutely delicious when cooked in the Crock Pot.

Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing – Skip the Stove Top and make the effort worthwhile with this old-school recipe for stuffing.

Candied Yams – These yummy yams are always a holiday hit.

Mom’s old-fashioned mashed potatoes – This traditional side can’t be beat for its delicious taste—even better with gravy! And speaking of gravy, you can choose from over a dozen innovative recipes to make the tastiest gravy ever.


Did you save room for dessert? You better have because this awesome cheesecake recipe is the perfect touch at the end of a holiday meal.

Don’t forget Grandma’s Yule Log recipe. It is a time-honored tradition. And it tastes delightful! And there is always pumpkin roll to cap off a Thanksgiving meal with loved ones.

Traditional holiday meals

If you’re fighting the battle of the bulge, the holidays can be a challenge since so much of the celebration the holidays revolves around food. You may as well embrace it. Just make your New Year’s Resolution early to hit the gym and try to get back down to fighting weight. In the meantime, here are some of the top traditional meals.

For Thanksgiving, a honey-glazed ham with scalloped potatoes is often a popular choice. Turkey is the default meal in America and in recent years, fried turkey has increased in popularity. That said frying a turkey can be a tricky, if not dangerous proposition and proper safety precautions should be taken to minimize the risk of fire.

If the main course wasn’t enough at Thanksgiving, the dinner table is usually loaded up with filling sides such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, butternut squash and plum pudding. Some vegetables are always good to throw into the mix; often times a veggie platter with dip will be served as an appetizer.

For Christmas, St. Nick is a fan of the old-school snack: a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. Christmas main meals are similar to Thanksgiving, with either ham or turkey served.  Beverages such as eggnog and mulled cider are often served at Christmastime. And warming up with a cup of hot chocolate is always good if there’s a chill in the air. Christmas desserts include mince pie, fruit cake and candy canes.

Sufganiyot are one of the most popular foods during Hanukkah, as are latkes (potato pancakes). Cheese is another food often served during Hanukkah. You’ll often see cheese dips (in handmade round challah bread bowls) and cheddar gelt wafers out on the dinner table. And for dessert, there is always room for just a little more cheese in the form of cheesecake.

Kwanzaa culminates in a feast on the last day of the holiday, December 31st. Traditional Kwanzaa meals include rich and hearty stews, chicken dishes, collard greens, black-eyed peas, squash and okra.

Kwanzaa traditions

Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration that begins on December 26 and ends on January 1. Each day of Kwanzaa celebrates one of seven core principles that are based on ancient customs of Africa. Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday; it was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Korenga to reaffirm African culture and heritage and is based on the first fruit harvest celebrations of Africa.

Here are the seven days of Kwanzaa and the traditions celebrated each day.

Umoja – A celebration of unity in the circles of one’s life including family, friends and the community as well as the African population at large.

Kujichagulia – Self-determination and creating and speaking for oneself.

Ujima – Collective work and responsibility in which communities are built and maintained and problems are solved through the collective.

Ujamaa – Cooperative economics including building and supporting local businesses and creating an economic network within the community.

Nia – Purpose, in which the community is at the core of the culture.

Kuumba – Creativity, which can be expressed in many ways and at many different levels, which helps enrich the community.

Imani – Faith and a belief in self and all members of the community.

Decorations for Kwanzaa are often homemade, which tie in with the principle of Kuumba (creativity). Kwanzaa colors are red, black and green and a candle holder called the kinara, holds seven candles, which are lit on the respective days of celebration.

The Kwanzaa feast takes place on December 31 and often features stews with sides of okra and black beans and rice. Other popular dishes prepared for Kwanzaa include Kunde (black-eyed peas and tomatoes) and Kuku Paka (chicken in coconut and tomato sauce).

Hangover remedies

The holidays are a great time to celebrate, but sometimes we tend to overdo things, especially on the night before Thanksgiving or throughout the holiday vacation. (Sometimes dealing with family can be rough!) Here are some holiday hangover remedies that will help you feel better and ready to continue your partying this holiday season.

Hair of the dog – This is one of the most recommended hangover cures, although if you’re really feeling rough, the thought of more booze may make you want to pray to the porcelain God. But if you really need a little nip, try a Bloody Mary or Jamison’s Irish Whiskey.

Gatorade – If you’ve been drinking and have a serious hangover, you need to rehydrate. Gatorade is a great way to replenish your fluid levels and help ease the thudding inside your head. Try the low calorie G2, which is a little lighter in taste and goes down easier.  Add in some ibuprofen and you’re set.

Vitamin Water Revive – Gatorade is THE drinkable hangover remedy, although many people swear by Vitamin Water’s Revive which contains Vitamin C, and several B vitamins along with some potassium.  The fruit punch flavor is pleasant, but not overpowering, which your hungover senses will appreciate greatly. Chug with two Tylenol.

Hot and sour soup – If you’re feeling rough after a night of partying, try to make it out to a Chinese restaurant and have some hot and sour soup, which some people say helps them sweat out the badness of the night before. French Onion Soup is another soup hangover cure that seems to be popular. Be sure to down plenty of water as well with your soup to rehydrate.

French Fries / Cheeseburger –There’s an age-old adage that greasy food makes you feel better after a night of serious drinking. And it does seem that a plate full of greasy fries and a cheeseburger does soak up whatever might still be floating around in your stomach. Diner-prepared is ideal, although McDonald’s will also do in a pinch.

Slim Fast – It’s essentially a meal in a can, and you may not feel like eating if you’re super hungover. It’s a good way to get some vitamins, help keep away the empty stomach blues and help you get rehydrated and back on your feet.

Red Bull – A huge blast of caffeine helps some folks with hangovers, especially those who may have partied too hard on a weekday. Just mix in some water and aspirin as well. Alternately some people recommend iced tea (helps you rehydrate, gives you some pep) or a combination of half iced tea and half Mountain Dew.

Television – Sacking out on the couch and nursing a hangover is one way to combat the post-party blues. Expect to watch nonsensical reality TV shows or a movie that you’ve seen several times before.  Just be prepared that your roommate or spouse will ask you at some point, “Are you going to get off the couch at all today?”

Christmas cookies: What’s not to love?

There are so many delicious Christmas foods that have become tradition and one of the all-time favorites has to be Christmas cookies! Even the most inexperienced person can whip up a batch of Christmas cookies that meets the bare minimum requirements to be a good cookie (It’s baked all the way through.) Then there are family members and co-workers who make enough cookies to go around. Don’t you just love Christmas (cookies)?

Here are five websites that will help you this season with your Christmas cookie endeavors, whether you’re making them or eating them.

Would you believe that has 28 different categories of Xmas cookies? It would probably take you an entire year to make every cookie recipe here. Your best bet is to stick with the Top 25 recipes and start cranking out cookies in your kitchen.

Not only does the Food Network have a website called 12 Days of Cookies, it also has more than 100 cookie recipes! Oh, the sweet tooth! Get started a.s.a.p. cooking up batches of some Christmas classic cookies. Yes!

Not to be outdone by the Food Network, Rachel Ray has cooked up nearly 60 days’ worth of cookie recipes in her Christmas cookie collection. Starting in November with Thanksgiving cookie ideas, things get even sweeter as the days count down until Christmas.

If melt-in-your-mouth cookies are your style, you will want to check out this insanely long list of Christmas Cookies for the Holidays. The Secret Kiss cookies sound like a great surprise and the Cocoa Drop cookies are probably even better than they sound.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Martha Stewart and her collection of cookie craziness for Christmas. A little Martha can go a long way, which is why it’s best to just stick with this video where she shows how to make the perfect batch of butter cookies.

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the most famous Christmas cookie of them all, The Gingerbread Man cookie.  This classic recipe is part of Christmas traditions past and present. Enjoy!