Holiday Cooking Hints: Open Forum!

Hey, Sweet Things!

Last night I was helping a younger woman with a few hints for roasting her first Thanksgiving turkey. It caused me to think someone else might need a couple of tips so I threw some things I’d told her on Twitter. Then, I got enough responses to wonder if I should open up a forum for questions and helps here on the blog today. I talked to Jan Morton, one of our most beloved Siestas and the owner of one fabulous kitchen, and she promised she’d pitch in this afternoon, too, so LET’S DO THIS! It’s perfect timing since we’ve still got a few days and, if it turns out to be too late for some of you, keep in mind that all of this applies to your Christmas cooking as well.

Now, listen. I am not a stellar cook. I really am only fairly proficient at country cooking and meals like rump roasts and gravy and smothered steak and gravy and pork chops and gravy and fried chicken and gravy and, okay, anything at all with gravy. (And, no, I surely cannot eat that way all the time which is why I don’t cook much.) What I am is a women’s teacher/tutor and I think this is a perfect time to help some women out in the kitchen and it’s Biblical, after all.

Do you remember what Peter said to the beggar at the Temple gate in Acts 3? “Silver and gold have I none, but that which I have, give I thee!” (I love it in the KJV.) So, I don’t have mad cooking skills but, what I have, I give thee. Because I love thee. And because few of us are flat-out gifted in the kitchen. Most of us have to learn and that means somebody needs to teach us. SO, calling all teachers!!!

Since I lack a lot in the kitchen myself, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m opening this up for you less experienced cooks to ask questions and you more experienced cooks to read through the comments and answer as many of them as you can. If you see that someone else has already answered the question but you still have something to add, go ahead and leave an additional comment. I really need you seasoned cooks in our community to jump in here and help me because I won’t have the opportunity to answer them all myself. You also don’t have to wait for a comment in order to offer a tip. Go ahead and share some things you learned from other good cooks. Things that come in handy for holiday meals. It’s just wide open, Girls. Teach and be taught on here today.

I’ll get us started with a few things I threw out there last night and I’ll be able to explain a bit more in this format.

If you’re baking a turkey this year for the first time or you’ve done it many times but can’t get it consistently tender, consider using one of these: (You can get it and most of the other items on this post at your basic grocery store like Kroger.)

Just follow the directions exactly and it will tell you how long to bake your turkey according to its size. Even though most of them are basted these days, I can’t resist slathering them down with at least a half stick of melted butter, generous salt and pepper and minced garlic. Then I stick it in the oven bag and bake it just like it says. Girls, be sure and reach in your turkey and pull out the packet in the inside cavity before preparing the turkey. Don’t be embarrassed about not knowing those kinds of things. You can’t know what you don’t know. The size of a turkey means that you usually end up wallowing the thing all over the sink and counter before you finally get it in the bag SO this is a really good time to use a Windex or any other kind of counter spray that includes antibacterial.Remember to spray down things like the handle on the refrigerator. Use your antibacterial on anything the raw turkey touched or your hands touched before you washed them.

After your turkey is completely done, set it out on the counter and start allowing it to cool off. (NOTHING smells better than a turkey roasting.) Girls, turkeys take quite a while to cool off. This actually comes in handy since most of us only have one oven and we can’t fit any of our casseroles in it at the same time our turkey is roasting. Even if you have to wait an hour before your dressing or other casseroles are baked, it’s no big deal. As long as you don’t slice the turkey until the last minute, it will stay warm. You might just lay one piece of aluminum foil over the top of it.

Now, for a few gravy hints. The drippings to a turkey are absolutely divine. After you’ve let the bird cool off enough to work with the drippings, tear open your roasting bag and use a cup or ladle to pour a generous amount into a measuring cup exactly like this:

See how the spout is at the bottom? The fattest part of the liquid will rise to the top after just a few minutes. You only want to use the bottom part to make your gravy or it’s too greasy. Set the filled measuring cup to the side until it’s time to make your gravy. Do you girls have iron skillets? They are best for making gravy but not imperative. You want it to be one of the last things you do before serving your meal. I’m going to tell you how to do basic gravy rather than giblet gravy so you’ll know how to make it from any roast whether beef, pork, or bird. I’ll leave giblet gravy to one of the other cooks on here.

Go back to your measuring cup of drippings. Pour that lower (less fat) half of your liquid in a skillet. Heat it up to a rolling boil. Depending on how much liquid you have in your skillet, put about a heaping tablespoon of flour (not into your pan yet!) into about a fourth cup of warm water and stir it up really well until the lumps are out. While the liquid in your skillet boils, pour in the flour mixture and stir constantly for at least several minutes. After it’s well mixed, decrease your heat to a low boil. Add some salt and pepper if the liquid needs it. (You can’t be afraid to taste it in process or it won’t be well seasoned.) The liquid in the skillet will all begin to thicken. Keep it boiling until it looks like gravy. Grin. And add some water – just a little at a time – until it has the consistency you’re looking for. Especially with any of my bird-gravies (chicken or turkey), I like to add no more than a dime-size of this:

It simply adds a little color. For those of you with access to a Williams Sonoma, however, this is absolutely FABULOUS (this is the only thing on here today you can’t get from a regular grocery store):

You can forget all the trouble of making gravy from scratch and only use the jar (according to the directions, of course – you whisk it with milk) OR you can make your own gravy like I prefer and simply whisk in about a fourth of a cup of the jar to it. When I add the Williams Sonoma gravy base, I do NOT use the Kitchen Bouquet. Each one gives good rich color and a little extra flavoring. Don’t use both.

If you’re like me, you love yeast rolls for holiday meals but they’re often too time consuming to do from scratch. (I did it for years and it’s still the best way but so much is going on in the kitchen at once on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have to give something up. I only have one oven and in a fairly small kitchen.) Sister Schubert Rolls are so good and they require no thawing and only about 15 minutes of baking time. They’re in the freezer section of almost any decent grocery store. I don’t have mine yet so I can’t add a picture but they come in round foil pans. And don’t you dare put margarine on them. B.U.T.T.E.R.

Okay! Those are a few of my tips! They are basics as you can see but a lot of our women need to know the basics. No shame here! I hope our better cooks tell you lots of other things you can put to great use this holiday season. So many women out there can leave me in the dust in the kitchen and we need to hear from them today! (And, yes, ladies, you are welcome to post recipes. Just try to use some that aren’t profusely long.)

And just because it’s Thanksgiving week, I’ll add this picture IF you think you can handle it. Annabeth at her Mother’s Day Out Thanksgiving Feast last week. She then visited the ministry in period costume and we all fell so in love, we were worthless.


Come on, questions and cooks! It’s a kitchen free-for-all in Siestaville today!

Surely you know by now that I love you. Grin.


PS. You girls made me so hungry, I had to get up and spread me a peanut butter and jelly just so that I could keep moderating the comments!



557 Responses to “Holiday Cooking Hints: Open Forum!”

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  1. 1
    Denise Untersee says:

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!The last three years our evangelism team has in the community building in the little town of Davis, IL. a FREE Thanksgiving dinner with ALL the trimmings for whoever comes. I would LOVE to see 5924 people!!!! Thank is how many invites we mailed. But most people will be with their families but IT WOULD BE GREAT!!!!! 5924!!!!!!!

  2. 2
    Janice says:

    I love to see your cornbread stuffing recipe!!

    • 2.1
      Beth says:

      I will try to get a chance to put it on here. My reluctance is that I don’t have precise ingredients and measures. I told Jan Morton this AM that she and I need to do a video tutorial next November. That would be so much better! Thank you for asking!

    • 2.2
      Jane says:

      Here is our family (generations old) cornbread stuffing recipe.


      1 Β½ white onions, chopped
      1 bunch of celery, chopped
      8 green onions, chopped
      6 sprigs parsley, chopped
      2 sticks of butter (YES, I know!)
      2 cans of chicken broth
      Poultry seasoning
      2 to 3 eggs
      1 batch of biscuits (made from Bisquick), crumbled
      1 batch of cornbread (made from a couple of pkgs of conrbread mix), crumbled


      SautΓ© all vegetables in butter. Add to biscuits and cornbread. Add eggs, broth and seasonings taste. Add enough broth to have it be very moist, but not soupy. Mix well. Place in well-greased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for at least 1 hour.

    • 2.3
  3. 3
    Amy says:

    Hi!!! Question about pie….I’m in charge of bringing pies. I can do the pumpkin pie on the side of the Libby’s can, but I’m not so great with the crust. I don’t want to stress over it, and want to take the easy route. Do you have a favorite cheat for pie crusts? Be it, prepackaged frozen or roll out sheets…give it to me! Even if I have to trek across to Central Market, I will travel!
    Blessings to all of you!

    • 3.1
      Beth says:

      I dearly love a homemade crust but rarely have the time or counter space on a big holiday to do it. I think the Pillsbury Pie Crusts are a good second. You just roll them out and press them into your pie plate. You can find them near the biscuits in the refrigerator section of your grocery store. Other cooks, have you found a better short cut or brand?

      • BeckyB says:

        Trader Joes has excellent ready-to-use pie crusts. I’m in the NW so I’m not sure if y’all have Trader Joes where you are. (I threw in that “y’all” because I wish it were part of my vocabulary.) Beth is right – Pillsbury is good too! Thanks for this fun post and for all of the great hints!

        • Amy says:

          No, we don’t have Trader Joes!!!! Apparently they are coming to Texas, but using covered wagons to get here because I’ve seen no progress. Will be so happy to see them!

        • Jennifer T. says:

          BeckyB –
          You just saved me so much time. I’ll be visiting TJoe’s in the morning. THANKS!

      • Laura says:

        I use Pillsbury Pet-Ritz frozen pie crusts. They come 2 in a pack for like $2.50. You can get them in the freezer section at any grocery store. They work well and you do not have to roll them out and mold to the pie pan they come in pie pans already. Happy Thanksgiving!!

      • Trae Kendrick says:

        Here’s a strong 2nd for the Pillsbury pie crusts. I even tricked my precious Granny with them one time!

      • Linda Maikowski says:

        I also love the pillsbury brand pie crusts in the refrigerator section. They are super easy to roll out and everyone thinks that its homemade. I love to make homemade crusts, and I think that the pillsbury brand tastes just as good. The frozen pie crusts are ok in a pinch, but they are definitely not as good.

        The LIbby pumpkin pie recipe on the can is the BEST of all of the pumpkin pie recipes. When I change mine up from this recipe, it isn’t “gobbled” up :). Enjoy making it and watching everyone really love it. Don’t forget about the whipped topping to go on top too!

      • Sandy Bowers says:

        Yay, your profile picture is back!!!!

      • Meghan says:

        I also love Pillsbury, but have found that if you can get your hands on a frozen Marie Callender’s pie crust do so! They are just a tad bit sweet just like my grandma made hers.

      • Jan says:

        Beth is exactly right – this shortcut will save you so much time and these crusts are perfected. Plus you can put them in a beautiful pie dish and get on to the rest of your meal!

      • TraciG says:

        Here’s a trick to make even store-bought crusts look extra fancy: Brush on an egg wash. Just take one egg and about a tablespoon of milk and whip them together. Then using a pastry brush, brush the whole crust with the mixture. Finally, sprinkle sugar over the top (I use the crystallized sugar which is a little bigger sometimes)and bake according to directions. It makes the ordinary look pretty fancy!

      • Lindsey P. says:

        Well,… I have no choice but to make my own crust because I am gluten intolerant… but even before I knew I was.. I always made mine from scratch. I don’t know why… maybe it is the one relaxing thing I do that day!

        • Liz Taylor says:

          Did you know some grocery stores sell frozen GF pie crusts? I love the ones they sell at Whole Foods Market here on the East Coast.

      • Deb Weaver says:

        My Dad’s recipe is easy, no-fail, flaky, and delicious. (Yes, I said Dad. He’s the cook in the family. Every Thanksgiving, my Mom and brother would be watching the game while Dad and I fixed dinner! I still call him for tips and recipes.)

        Here it is:

        For 10 inch pie plate (makes two crusts):
        3 cups flour
        3/4 cup oil
        2/3 cup milk

        Stir ingredients with a fork. Divide into 2 evenly sized balls. Roll each ball out between two pieces of waxed paper.

        Remove waxed paper and place into pie plate.

        Bake 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees (cool before putting pudding in them) OR put fruit pie filling into crust and cover with second crust. Pinch sides together and slice air vents in the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes.

        **Now, I realize the big holiday might not be the time to try a new recipe. So, buy the refrigerator pie crusts for this week’s meal and try this recipe when there’s less pressure! Hope it works out well for you!

      • Marian says:

        Pioneer Woman has a great one that you freeze (Sylvia’s pie crust) so it’s homemade but you can pull it out like a ready made. It is soo flaky.

    • 3.2
      Arielle says:

      I have tried so many different recipes, but I haven’t found one that has worked well. Pillsbury always seems to be the best way to go! Generic bands (Wal-Mart and such) typically have horrible crusts. They tend to crumble and tear very easily, so stay away from those. πŸ™‚

      • Sonjia says:

        I have always used Pillsbury pie crusts because my homemade ones were never as flaky as I liked. I have finally found the secret to a flaky pie crust thanks to Pioneer Woman & Pam. It’s very important to keep the right ratio of flour and fat. When you keep sprinkling flour on your dough and rolling pin, you can easily change this ratio which makes a tough crust. The secret is to use parchment paper. Lay a piece of parchment paper on the counter, then lay your dough on top of the paper. Put another piece of paper on top of the dough and roll out using your rolling pin. Works everytime. Here is the recipe I use…

        For a nine inch, two crust pie: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp sugar, 3/4 cup cold butter, 1/4 cup Crisco shortening, 1/4 cup cold water

        Mix 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar together lightly in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and shortening and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or by pulsing the food processor. The mixture should look like large crumbs and begin to cling together in clumps. Add the remaining Β½ cup of flour and mix lightly or pulse the processor two or three times. Do not over mix this flour. It should coat the clumps. Sprinkle the water over the dough and with hands or a wooden spoon mix in until dough holds together. Shape the dough into two discs. The roll out using parchment paper as mentioned above.

      • Texas in the Mountains says:

        Yep, I’m with all of you. Pillsbury is the ONLY way to go. I’ve tried the off brands. What you save in change, you loose in flavor.

    • 3.3
      Lynda says:

      Amy – I LOVE to make pies! I’ve used the same homemade crust for years. There are a zillion recipes, but I’ve gotten nothing but compliments on the one I’ve used for almost 40 years so why change?!!! It comes from an old Betty Crocker cookbook. The real secret to keeping it tender is don’t over handle it when you’re rolling it out or putting it in the pan. I’ve also learned over the years that the Butter-flavor Crisco adds a nice flavor although real purists will balk at that. But like I said, I’ve had nothing but compliments — and MANY requests for the recipe. You can probably Google it. They aren’t that hard to make, they just take a little practice, and a good homemade crust will beat the refrigerated ones every time.

      • jane says:

        I use the Betty Crocker recipe with the buttre flavor crisco – the best! Pioneer Woman has a good one too that you can freeze until ready to use.

    • 3.4
      Wendy says:

      My mom taught me how to do the Betty Crocker cookbook crust, and I can do it in about 10 minutes with not too much mess. Nothing beats a homemade crust and I think hers is pretty simple and it tastes great. BUT, if you have to purchase one, I agree that Pillsbury tastes okay, and I definitely agree that the Trader Joe’s one does too (if you are lucky enough to have a TJ’s nearby). Good luck with the pies!

    • 3.5
      Amy says:

      My never-fail recipe for pie crusts is as follows for a single crust pie;
      1 cup all purpose flour

    • 3.6
      Sandy Bowers says:

      Totally agree with the Pillsbury roll out kind in the dairy case.

    • 3.7
      Amy Arnett says:

      My no-fail pie crust recipe is as follows for a single crust pie;
      1 cup all purpose flour
      1/3 cup shortening (I use butter flavored Crisco)
      1/2 tsp salt
      Mix the above ingredients with a pastry blender until is reaches small pea-sized consistency.
      Sprinkle mixture with 2 1/2 tblsp ice cold water.
      Roll out the crust to fit your pie plate.
      Remember that the less you handle the dough, the flakier your crust will be.
      The “already made” crusts from the grocery will do in a pinch, but NOTHING compares to a tender, flaky home-made pie crust!

    • 3.8
      Jennifer says:

      Amy–When I don’t have time to make a homemade cruse or have a large amount of pies, I buy frozen Marie Callender’s or Mrs. Smith’s pie shells. They work great and no clean up. If you use the Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe try using half & half instead of evaporated milk. Add a tablespoon of whiskey. Yummy!

    • 3.9
      Casey says:

      Many people do the premade crusts, and that is great….but this pie crust from Paula Deen is fantastic. It will change your life. It is great for beginners too!I use it for EVERY pie I make.

      • texatlast says:

        I love Paula Deen’s recipes. (She’s to cooking as Beth is to Bible Study!)

        I make a Pumpkin Chiffon pie which uses graham cracker crumb crust. So easy but it is so good.

        Frost on the Top Pumpkin Pie

        1 Β½ c. Graham cracker crumbs
        3 T. sugar
        Β½ t. cinnamon
        ΒΌ t nutmeg
        1/8 t cloves
        1/3 c margarine, melted
        Combine all and press into a pie pan. Reserve 2 T. for top of pie. Bake 350 degrees from 5-8 minutes. Cool.

        1 Can Sour Cream Vanilla frosting (Cream Cheese or Vanilla)
        1 c. sour cream
        1 c. pumpkin
        1 t. cinnamon
        Β½ t. ginger
        ΒΌ t. cloves
        8 oz. carton cool whip
        Combine all filling ingredients except cool whip. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed
        Fold in 1 cup cool whip. Pour into prepared crust. Spread remaining cool whip on pie. Sprinkle reserved crumbs on top. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

        This came from a cookbook from Winnfield, LA back in the 80’s. It replaced pumpkin pie at my house.


    • 3.10
      Amy says:

      Pioneer Woman! I use her pie crust recipe all the time. It’s so easy, especially since she has pictures to go with it. I’d never made a pie crust before trying this one and it turned out great!

    • 3.11
      Debbie says:

      If I don’t have time to make pie crust or don’t want the mess, I use Walmart’s frozen deep dish crust. It never fails that someone will comment on how good the crust tastes and I like it as well. If I have the time I like Betty Crocker’s.

    • 3.12
      Kathy B says:

      Okay, Precious, I’m so far down the list that most will probably have moved on by now, but…Have I got a crust for you!! I think I can brag b/c it doesn’t originate from me. My mother’s mother was flat out a whiz at pies. And it was her crust that earned her the most accolades.

      And for the dear siestas who recommended storebought, may I just say that phrases like refrigerator or freezer crust are considered nothing short of heresy in my household. Whoever said that store bought tasted just as good as homemade, simply hasn’t had My homemade crust. Well, enough talk. This crust recipe is different than most b/c it uses oil (vegetable or canola) instead of the usual shortening (crisco).

      1 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
      1/2 tsp salt
      sift together then add
      1/3 cup oil (I use canola) w/ fork
      add 2 Tbsp cold water (yes, it will look like you’ve ruined it, but forge on)
      Whisk with fork until it begins to form a ball
      Finish patting into a ball then flatten

      Roll out between sheets of wax paper and Only wax paper. It will stick unmercifully to anything else. Flip it over, removing bottom sheet of wax paper, then lay across pan. Carefully and smoothly remove remaining sheet of wax paper. If cooking filling seperately, (such as a chocolate pie), crimp edges, poke with fork and then bake at 425 for 20min. Then let it cool before filling so it won’t be soggy. For pumpkin and pecan pies, fill and then bake as directed for that pie.

      Did you catch the added bonus that this crust is cholesterol free? Okay, so maybe not the filling, but it is Thanksgiving afterall πŸ™‚ Enjoy! Your mouth will thank you.

      • Amy says:

        I am printing out this entire thread and by next Thanksgiving, **I** will be the pie expert. Seriously, there are so many great ideas for crusts. I am going to try all of them (but maybe not by Thursday ;). Yes, that’s a lot of pie, but I’m up to the challenge!!! Thank you, thank you, sweet ones!

      • Jan says:

        I love this recipe – can’t wait to try it with my mom’s delicious chocolate pie recipe! πŸ™‚ Thank you!

    • 3.13
      Linda says:

      Marie Callendar’s in the frozen food section at the grocery store is our favorite. They are a little more expensive, but they are ready to fill.

    • 3.14
      Jan Skouby says:

      1-3/4 cups flower, 1/2 cup canola oil, enough water to make slightly sticky
      Roll out with lots of flour

      Makes 2 scrumptious flaky crusts!

  4. 4
    RachSP says:

    My comment is not really holiday related, but I have a kitchen horror story that surprises many. I cannot use a Crock-Pot to save my life. Everything is always overdone or underdone. My worst experience was when I sat a Crock-Pot lid on the stove which, unbeknownst to me, was turned on. The lid caught on fire, and the next thing I know, flames are shooting up from the stove. Yikes! Do any of you use a Crock-Pot? Any simple Crock-Pot recipes? I’m getting married in May, and I’m sure my future husband would most assuredly appreciate the advice. Grin.

    • 4.1
      Beth says:

      oh my! I’ve had some bad experiences in the kitchen…unfortunately is was within the first couple months I was married πŸ™ BUT I got this amazing book – “Fix-It and Forget-It” – it has some amazing recipes in there for your crockpot πŸ™‚

      • Steph says:

        I’m single and work full-time and a full-time student. My Mom got me the fix it and forget it recipe book and I LOVE it!!!! After a long day of work and classes it is so nice to come home and have dinner ready! Plus, since most of the recipes are for 4 of more, I have left overs for other days!

        Some advise extra tips I learned the hard way! One always use a slow cooker bag in your crock pot!! So much easier to clean. Also if you don’t already have a slow cooker, get one that has the lift out cooker. Easier to clean and you can make everything the night before and just put the entire thing in the fridge and then just drop it into the base in the morning and turn it on!!!

        • Melissa says:

          I heard that instead of using the bags in the CPot (and filling up the landfill) you can just spray Pam in there and it won’t stick. I just need to get in the habit of doing it!

      • Jennifer T. says:

        I totally ‘second’ or third (fourth?) the fix-it-and-forget-it books! There are several of them. If you want to fix and forget it “Lightly” there’s one for that too… which I tried then passed on to some other far more calorically responsible friend.

    • 4.2
      Tara G. says:

      1 pork tenderloin- not marinated
      1 pkg Lipton onion soup mix
      8 oz Russian salad dressing (Wishbone, I think- Wal Mart?)
      1 can whole cranberry sauce

      Mix it all together in the crock pot, cook on low all day. Great with mashed potatoes. πŸ™‚

    • 4.3
      jackie says:

      my advice would be to check out a website named it has slow-cooker recipes as well as any, and i mean ANY, recipe you might want. the bonus to this website is the reviews. as folks make the recipes, they give hints and tips on ways to improve the recipe or things to look out for. i use this website all the time. you can subscribe to daily emails in many different recipe catagories (ie. slow-cooker recipes).

    • 4.4
      Genah says:

      Well, the 3 young ladies from Dallas have been bragged about all over blogland. They are called The Crockpot Girls. You don’t have to be a member on facebook to view their recipes, but that is how you can find them.

      • Dawn, Ohio says:

        I love this blog as well, Genah! They’ve recently had to change their name, though, because of possible ‘trademark’ issues. They are now called Crockin’ Girls πŸ™‚

    • 4.5
      Rachel says:

      The trick I’ve found to crockpot cooking is two fold: 1) PLENTY of liquid to keep it from burning – that’s the worst!
      2) cook it on low and don’t try to rush it!

      Fix a breakfast casserole and let it cook on low all night long so its ready in the morning for company. Start a roast in the morning and 8 hrs later, when you’re home from work, (assuming there was plenty of liquid) you have a delicious meal!

    • 4.6
      Casey says:

      throw a frozen (your favorite cut)roast in a crockpot and turn on high for 6-8 hours depending on how done you like it. Also add with the frozen roast a packet of italian salad dressing mix, ranch packet mix, a can of mushrooms, and a 1/2 box of beef broth. I use Walmart brand broth. Stir it up a bit and I usually flip the roast 1/2 way through and an hour before it is finished throw some baby carrots, red potatoes or whatever other veggies you like. This is a family fav for us!

    • 4.7
      Melissa says:

      Rach, congratulations on your engagement! I had a similar Crock Pot experience on my stovetop, except mine shattered and went flying everywhere. Yikes!

      Paula Deen’s Taco Soup is a favorite recipe in our house and is, as she would say, “Stupid easy!” Bon appetit!

    • 4.8
      Anne says:

      I love to make things in crockpot. For a chuck roast, sprinkle it with Montreal steak seasoning, spoon 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 1 can of cream of mushroom with roasted garlic on top of roast. Add 2 Tablespoons of worcestershire sauce. Cook on low for 7-8 hours until roasts easily pulls apart. You can cook on high for less tim. It creates its own gravy to serve over rice.
      For easy southern style barbeque, sprinkle a pork tenderloin with Montreal steak seasoning and cook for an hour on high in crockpot and then turn on low(you can do it on low whole time but initial high creates the effect of a grill). Cook about 7 hours or until pork shreds easily with fork. Keep juice and shred pork. Add homemade or store-bought BBQ sauce to pork, continue to heat for a few more minutes.Serve in bun or alone. You can do this also with boneless chicken breasts.

    • 4.9
      Pat says:

      Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. I use the fix it and forget it Crock pot cookbooks all the time. There are multiple versions out; we fix some of the recipes from the Christmas fix it and forget it book year-round. Here’s an easy crock pot recipe that we eat frequently.

      Mushroom Beef and Noodles
      (from Virgil Killman of Illinois, from Taste of Home magazine)

      1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed golden mushroom soup, undiluted
      1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed beefy mushroom soup, undiltued
      1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed French onion soup, undiluted
      1/4 cuup seasoned bread crumbs
      2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
      1 package (12 oz) noodles

      In slow cooker, combine soups and bread crumbs. Mix well. Stir in beef. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is tender. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. Serve beef mixture over noodles, unless your family eats the beef mixture prior to you finishing the noodles. (like my family πŸ™‚

    • 4.10
      Pam K. says:

      My favorite meal in the crock pot is pot roast. I use an arm roast. Sometimes I brown it first, sometimes I don’t. I pour a can of French Onion soup over the roast, then cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for about 4. If you want to make gravy for mashed potatoes or rice, use two cans of the soup at the beginning, and you will have lots of delicious juice for gravy. Before serving the meat, I scoop most of the juice out into a pan, dissolve about 1/4 c. cornstarch in a couple tablespoons of water, then stir it into the juices. Bring to a boil, stirring often. You can use a little more or a little less cornstarch, depending on how thick you like your gravy. And be SURE to use a crock pot liner–it saves SO much cleanup!!

  5. 5
    Lindsee says:

    This is why I love you. Helping women all over excel at their Thanksgiving meals. No doubt I’ll be keeping a close watch over this post for cooking tips! One day my husband will thank this blog for all things concerning our Thanksgiving meal. πŸ˜‰

  6. 6
    Virginia says:

    We have soaked our bird in a brine all night on Wednesday and then we put one stick of butter (for a smallish bird you’d want more for a large bird) in the cavity while it roasted. Yummy!!

    For cleaning up, if you don’t have (or like me don’t like to use) antibacterial cleaners, mix equal parts vinegar and water in a squirt bottle. Spray down your counters and wipe down.

    • 6.1
      Jennifer says:

      We brine our turkey also. So moist and flavorful. I use Williams-Sonoma Turkey Brine mix. Mix with water and apple juice. Brining helps to keep the turkey from drying out; in case you are prone to over cooking your bird.
      Also, I brine in a white plastic trash bag. I found it easier to just drain it and throw it away rather than disinfecting my ice chest out in the freezing snow.
      Virginia brings up a great point: disinfect! No one wants to end their Thanksgiving with food poisoning from cross contamination. Keep all surfaces cleaned as you go.

      • Jenny says:

        White trash bags are not food safe and especially not safe for brines due to the type of plastic used to make them.The plastic can leach harmful chemicals or contaminants into the food. A safer choice would be Ziploc Big Bags,plastic ice chests such as an igloo cooler, or opaque plastic buckets which have previously contained food and been thoroughly cleaned. Kitchen supply stores have other options but they would be more expensive.

  7. 7
    Arielle says:

    Ooh! I have a question… I am so used to helping my mom bake for our family of 6-8 people, that I don’t know what I will do when I only have to bake for 2 people when I get married! Any tips on how to jump into the role of cooking for two?

    • 7.1
      Tara G. says:

      Freezer bags. Freeze the extras and pull them out later or make a meal for someone else. πŸ™‚

    • 7.2
      Jane says:

      After feeding 4 sons, I had to adjust to empty nest cooking. Some recipes only taste good if they are cooked in the right quantities. However, my man is good about eating leftovers, so I still fix meals for 4 to 6 and freeze some and pack our lunches for later in the week. Saves money, too!

    • 7.3
      Virginia says:


      I wouldn’t get a turkey. I may be slaughtered here (haha pun intended) but 2 cornish game hens will be perfect. You will only need to make as much of the sides you want in portions like you normally make.

      For the cornish game hens, you can follow all the tips here and it will be the best Thanksgiving ever!

    • 7.4
      Meghan says:

      If you are a white meat kind of couple, turkey cutlets are a great way to go.

    • 7.5
      Patti says:

      A small turkey breast is also an option for an intimate meal for two.

  8. 8
    Marian says:

    Love you Beth, soooo much. And that Annabeth is the most precious pilgrim girl.

    One of the best tips I’ve learned is for the mashed potatoes, because they are another last minute thing that cause last minute stress. They keep really well in a crock pot with some butter on top. Always use REAL butter and half and half. Or if you want to make Pioneer Woman’s with cream cheese, you can even keep them in the ref and warm them up.

    • 8.1
      Beth says:

      You just answered a big question for me this year, Marian! I told my man last night that I don’t know how I’m going to keep my mashed potatoes warm until I can get them to my in-law’s house 30 minutes away. They wanted to have our meal at their new home this year so that we can all give thanks to God for it. I was great with that except worried over how to keep my food warm. I’ll do much of the cooking for our big family but then I’ll need to transfer it all to their house. I know my dressing and casseroles will stay pretty warm but I was at a loss on how to keep the mashed potatoes warm. Girl, I think my car even has a plug in it but, either way, the crock pot will store heat. Thank you!

      • Linda, Colorado says:

        I have a fantastic make ahead mashed potato recipe! You can make them way ahead and freeze them or just make them the day before and warm them up when you want to – in a crock pot or in the oven. I promise NO ONE WILL KNOW (unless you’re like me and can’t keep quiet about something great!)

        For every 5 lbs of boiled potatoes mash in 8 oz sour cream and 8 oz cream cheese. You don’t really taste the sour cream and cream cheese so much but the potatoes keep their creamy texture. Saves that last minute “Somebody mash the potatoes NOW” stress.

      • Leigh says:

        Beth, wrap your casseroles in foil then in a towel and put them in your cooler for transport. It’s insulated so will keep things warmer.

        As for keeping the mashed potatoes in the crock pot…only keep them in there, and on the very lowest setting for a couple of hours at most. One year, I kept the potatoes in the CP from before lunch til dinner and I had a sticky, glueish, inedible mess.

        And I will confess that I have started using the Ore Ida Steam and Mash potatoes even for Thanksgiving. No one around my table can tell the difference, and the time and energy (my energy) savings are great.I do not think each bags serves as many as it claims, so if any of y’all use them, plan accordingly. I cook ’em per directions in the microwave then dump the cooked bag into my CP. I don’t mash them until all the bags I’m using are cooked and in the pot.

        This is a great service to new cooks, Beth. I cooked my first turkey 36 years ago and probably called my Grandmother three or four times during the process. I totally agree that the oven bags are the way to go. Except I am having Luby’s cafeteria cook mine for me again this year. It’s already ordered and paid for and I just have to pick it up Thursday.

      • Casey says:

        I have often had that same issue wit keeping them warm. I finally bought a crock with lid that goes in the oven and I make my mashed potatoes in there and they stay hot as long as I need them to. It took me a lot of years and cold potatoes to learn that.

      • Jabber Jaws says:

        Last Thanksgiving I got a new car and I seriously rejoiced because it has heated seats. I’m in Dallas so my hiney doesn’t need it, but since I love to cook, I totally turn on my warmers to keep the food at the correct temp. If you’ve got them, they are the BEST at this time of year.

      • Natalie says:

        Hi Beth! I’ve become an “expert” πŸ™‚ at trasporting food for football games in Aggieland! Here’s a great way to transport your food, take out your casseroles from the oven and wrap them in old beach towels then stack them in an igloo cooler! They will stay piping hot for a long time!

      • Chris in Canada says:

        I have a GREAT tip to keep dishes warm while needing to transport them to a different location. Cover the hot dish with a couple of layers of tin foil and then wrap the whole thing up in a towel. (a plush bath towel) It acts as a fabulous protector and traps all that heat in.

    • 8.2
      V says:

      For mashed potatoes, to get them “lump-free” use sour cream, not milk or half&half. They are the creamiest, tastiest mashed potatoes on the planet.

    • 8.3

      the BEST mashed potatoes are those made with warm 1/2 and 1/2 and then when they are really hot out of the pot while you are still mashing them up with butter, you add sour cream.

      Hey! It’s only once a year! and you can use fat free sour cream. no one will notice, they will be savoring the taste.

    • 8.4
      Heather Smith says:

      Hands Down….Pioneer Woman’s potatoes are THE BEST!!!! (and now required!!!) I LOVE that they are made the day before and in a casserole dish ready to go in the oven!!!! LOVE!!!

  9. 9
    Virginia says:

    Is there a post limit? LOL

    Amy, regarding your pie crusts, the best recipe is in Joy Of Cooking by Irma Rombauer. It is the only crust recipe I’ve ever had success with. You should be able to find the book at your local library.

    (Oh and only use REAL unsalted Butter. No margarine)

    • 9.1
      Liesl says:

      I agree with you on the pie crust. My dad used to use this recipe (out of the Joy of Cooking) with his pumpkin pie and he called it his no-fail crust, because no matter what he did to it, it always turned out flaky.

      My sister-in-law found that this recipe is not in the newest edition of the Joy of Cooking, so I included it in a collection of family recipes I did a couple of years ago for Christmas. The recipe my dad always used was the following:

      For two nine inch pie crusts
      Sift together:
      3 C all purpose flour
      1 t salt
      With a pastry blender, work in:
      1 C shortening or cold, unsalted butter (I use butter)
      When the mixture is pea size, work in, 1 T at a time:
      6 T water

      Form into a ball. The dough will be slightly sticky. For two pie crusts, cut the dough in half, forming each half into a ball. Flour a flat surface and place one ball on the flour. Sprinkle a slight amount of flour onto the dough, and coat rolling pin with flour. Working gently, roll the dough in a circular pattern until the dough is 1/8” thick. With a spatula, gently fold the dough in half and lift into nine inch pie pan. Pat dough into pan and follow directions for the pie being created.

      You do not prebake this crust. It’s a terrific recipe and I swear by it for all my pies.

  10. 10
    Holly Smith says:

    When we moved to Colorado 6 years ago, I found that it was my first time to be in charge of thanksgiving. With a southern boy husband, who was quite particular about the fare, I called with pen and paper and got recipes from his Mama. We quickly found, too, that it is a three day job AND that our little family of six did not need to have 20 different casseroles…aye. I have posted all of them in the kitchen here if you want to peruse them ( There are other holiday recipes mixed in, too! I am by no means an expert, just a fellow sojourner, who likes to cook. Love and prayers! Holly

  11. 11
    Mindi says:

    I’m interested in your directions re: gravy. Love the measuring cup. But what in the world does “tear open your roasting back” mean?

    • 11.1
      Beth says:

      If you use the oven roasting bag that I recommended, you just tear it open when it’s time to get to your turkey after it’s done and cooled somewhat.

      • Mindi says:

        Ohh…roasting bag, not roasting back. Thanks! I’ve always wanted explicit instructions for making gravy with turkey, roast, or anything else. My momma’s, “just watch me” and splashing things to and fro just hasn’t been cutting it for this Amelia Bedilia. Very helpful.

      • Jan says:

        Beth – I don’t think I’ve ever loved your more. Our family similarity (as Melissa says) continues. I ALWAYS USE THE ROASTING BAGS!!!

        My dad is a great cook and he shared that tip with me. The meat is always juicy and so tender – I especially like them for a pork loin too.

  12. 12
    Brooke says:

    Not sure if you ladies are up for an appetizer for Thanksgiving, but this one I just had to share. I have never been a fan of cranberry salad, but this is one that’ll knock your socks off and is so easy for those first time Thanksgiving Hostess with the Mostest.
    Cranberry dip

    1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
    1 cup white sugar
    1 cup apricot jam
    1 cup chopped pecans
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

    Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    Combine cranberries with sugar in a 2 quart baking dish with a lid, stirring well to coat all the berries. Bake in the preheated oven, covered, for about 30 minutes, until the cranberries pop and release their liquid.
    Remove from oven and stir in the apricot jam and pecans. Refrigerate overnight to blend the flavors. To serve, allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature, and pour dip over the block of cream cheese on a serving dish. Serve with buttery round crackers or small pretzels.

    Happy Thanksgiving Siestas!

  13. 13
    beckyjomama says:

    until you posted the picture of that measuring cup on twitter yesterday, I had not a single clue that such a thing existed! Talk about your rookie!!!

    My questions is this – actually maybe a question and a suggestion:
    When my mommy made Tday dinner, she would always throw some of her potatoes in with the turkey so they would gather some of the turkey flavor and thus add some flavor to her mashed potatoes (because you ALWAYS run out of gravy first!!!)

    However, since I married a man who LOVES to cook, I let him make the turkey on the events that we host.. But HE likes his turkey smoked instead of roasted. Which is DELICIOUS, but you end up losing the juices AND where do you put the potatoes? So, my question is this – is it possible to retain juices to make the “real” gravy from a smoker? And, if it is possible … how?!

    Thanks for this Beth – love it!

    • 13.1
      Beth says:

      Blast it, Becky Jo, I know of no solutions for drippings and gravy-making with a smoked turkey. It’s why we never use one. Do any of you others have a solution? Becky Jo, you could still go the Williams Sonoma route because you don’t have to add anything extra to it. Do you have access to one? In that case, you’d just do your mash potatoes the regular way but you’d have delicious gravy for them.

      • Linda Maikowski says:

        My man puts an aluminum pan underneath the turkey as he smokes it to catch the juices he then uses to make the gravy. We had some Aussie friends here in the States a couple of weeks ago and they wanted a traditional Thanksgiving meal, so we had an early one! It was such a blessing to share this tradition with them.

        My husband made the gravy from the drippings from his smoked turkey.

        Hope this helps!

      • Marjie Scheib says:

        Suggest you roast the turkey neck and possibly the wings, that is if your husband will part with them! You should be able to cut the whole wing off and my turkeys usually have the neck in that little bag of unmentionables. Roast them in a covered baking dish with about 1/4 cup of chicken or veggie broth and your potatoes.

      • Meghan Dawson says:

        This is a great alternative to using pan drippings if you are cooking a turkey in a way that you don’t collect them. Put a couple tablespoons of butter in a pan to melt. Add the same amount of flour and wisk for a minute or so. Add two cups or so of milk/water, I like milk. Then add a half container of Knorr homestyle stock. It is consentrated and as close to home made as I have ever found. Let bubble til it thickens.(double or triple if you have a big family) This is so quick that if you run out it is easy to mix up a little more.

      • Jan says:

        Becky Jo – how about making a turkey stock? Boil some turkey wings and or turkey necks in water – add some onions, salt and pepper, and a bell pepper or two, and some butter. You’d have some good juices – not like turkey drippings, but it would have some more flavor.

        I do agree with Beth. I love anything Williams Sonoma. One of my favorite stores.

      • beckyjomama says:

        I do have a Williams Sonoma (I had to google it … I know, I am so sad!!!) near me! I am on it. Don’t have to worry about it til Christmas, so I have time. Thank you sooooooo much Mama B. And for all the rest of you for your suggestions as well!!

        LOVE this community. Love.IT.

        • Jan says:

          Me too sweet Becky Jo! There is no other on-line community like Siestaville – ANYWHERE!

          I have to order on-line from Williams Sonoma – I love to go to the one in Destin FL at the beautiful mall there when we’re on vacation. I’m going to try Beth’s suggestion with the gravy.

          Love you too!

      • Sandy Bowers says:

        Just had to interject here Beth, when I saw “Blast it”, I immediately thought “Beth really means….Blastus!”

    • 13.2
      Kristi says:

      I’d say go buy turkey stock at a local grocery store (by the chicken broth, etc). It’s not going to be quite as flavorful but it would do in a pinch. Chicken stok could also be used of you can’t find turkey stock.

    • 13.3
      Jennifer says:

      Becky–If you cannot get the Williams-Sonoma turkey gravy base (which is excellent made w/ half&half and a drop of Marsala or sherry) I would suggest getting some turkey wings, a chopped carrot, a chopped onion, a few stocks of celery, a bay leaf, some peppercorns and a carton or two of Kitchen Basics turkey stock. Cook altogether for about an hour. You have a delicious, flavorful stock as a base for your gravy. Let it cool. Skim off the fat and save it to brown your flour in. Stir in broth, add a little cream, sherry, a few herbs or sautΓ©ed mushrooms. Voila! Tasty gravy.

  14. 14
    VHiggins says:

    Ok two questions:
    Does anyone have a great brine recipe that they’re willing to share?
    And any good stuffing recipes that don’t include celery? I love Stove Top but I would like to switch to something with fewer chemicals in it πŸ˜›

    • 14.1
      Virginia says:

      This isn’t what we’ve used (and I can’t remember how we did it. I think just cold water, salt and ice cubes in a cooler) but here is Alton Brown’s. (and anything by Alton is Good Eats!)

      Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

      Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat:

      Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

    • 14.2
      Linda Maikowski says:

      We love this recipe for stuffing – it is almost a meal in itself. Since there is so much other stuff in it, you can easily omit the celery.

    • 14.3
      Marjie Scheib says:

      Alton Brown from the Food Network has a great one although it does take some prep work and some spices you might not normally carry in your kitchen. I use the same brine for my turkey as I do my chicken. Kosher salt and lemons. For a 20 pound bird I use about 6 lemons and 2 cups of kosher salt and ice cold water in a cleaned and sanitized 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot. Pour in water to just under half cut lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the water, add salt and stir until dissolved then add your turkey. Place a large plate or round baking pan on top and weigh down so that Mr. Tom stays under the water. CHILL 12 to 24 hours.

      • Marjie Scheib says:

        Forgot: throw the lemons in the bucket along with the juice. Also, I have been told that if you do not have an extra refrigerator as I do you could use a very clean and sanitized chest cooler but be sure to add ice often to keep that temperature nice and cold.

    • 14.4
      Jennifer says:

      Alton Brown on FoodNetwork has one. I use Williams-Sonoma turkey brine–Apples & Spice. Really, really good!

  15. 15
    Amber Metcalf says:

    Beth,I know this is a weird question for a Thanksgiving food blog, but I believe you mentioned once that your family had a fabulous recipe for tartar sauce. Could you please, please share it?

    • 15.1
      kk says:

      I would love that recipe too! Thanks Beth for this blog post. I am loving it so much. We all need to help each other, that’s what it’s all about.

  16. 16

    I’m not sure if this is helpful or not – but I just posted today on my blog step by step photos of how I roast my turkey here:

    It’s a full proof method of a perfect turkey πŸ™‚

    • 16.1
      skarlet7 says:

      I have used a nesco roaster for the last 22 years , my turkeys always come out moist and yummy, great for roasts and other things as well! Also free’s up the oven for other things!!!

  17. 17
    Laura says:

    We had a Thanksgiving Dinner at work last week and I was in charge of the mashed “taters”. I found a wonderful Crock Pot Mashed Potato recipe on Pilsbury’s website. Its just 5 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks, 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth, 1/4 cup Butter, 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 to 1 cup milk. Put the potatoes, chicken broth and butter in the crock pot, cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. My potatoes were actually done in about 3 1/2 hours with my crock pot. Then mash or blend them, add the sour cream, salt, pepper and milk til its the right consistancy. Then I added some extra BUTTER of course! They turned out great and Im making them again on Thursday. The orginial recipe calls for added garlic and onion salt but I omitted that from my taters!

  18. 18
    Patti Dempster says:

    Well, my mouth is watering!!! I have been crowned the mashed potato queen! My secret, passed down by my mother, is to whipped up the cooked potatoes (we prefer red, with the skins left on) in my kitchen aid mixer adding BUTTER, sour cream and chives. Some salt and pepper and you are good to go! If you are garlic lovers, add a few cloves to the water when cooking the potatoes!

  19. 19

    I see someone asked for a stuffing recipe – here’s step by step beautiful photos of how to make a homemade stuffing:

    Hope it helps!

  20. 20
    Joyce Watson says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! My teaching side seems to come out more also…my Southern cooking, well let’s just say I like Paula Deen’s way of cooking.

    My first time cooking a turkey, I didn’t take the insides out and left them in all night, so that turkey spoiled.
    Then, another time, our refrigerator went out and it was so cold out we just stuck that turkey in the van to keep cold. LOL
    Love the little princess PILGRIM girl, she looks so sweet!

    The greatness of God is beyond our comphrension, above our understanding, and overwhelmingly in a way that we can never be thankful enough. For who knows the things He does that we do not ourselves see, hear or know that effects our everyday lives or even the world around. Who knows how He has protected us, keep us from the evil that may have surrounded us. Who knows how He has provided and met our needs in an opportune time. Who know how He has been present in the exact time when we needed Him there the most. How wonderfully blessed we are. So thankful for His mercy, love and forgiveness.
    Oh, God is so wonderfully Great! He is holy and Righteous. He is our sustainer of Life. Know Him and His love…give Him praise and thankfulness this day. For He our God!

  21. 21
    Joanna S. says:

    I’ve been working so hard this year to please God with my eating/exersizing and weight. Through His grace and power I’ve managed to strip alot of my excess weight. My goal is to remain faithful through the upcoming holidays while not obsessing over what I’m eating. So, my question is…. Does anyone have some “lightened up” versions of the traditional fare? Thanks in advance. πŸ™‚

    • 21.1
      Beth says:

      Very good question, Joanna! I know we’ll see some great ideas! A smoked turkey and no gravy would be a very simple starter and still really, really good. Skim milk in the mashed potatoes and less butter really works or you could go with a good rice recipe. Others, Girls?

      • Talli says:

        Sweet potatoes! Baked with a little cinammon (and a smattering of butter/margarine if it fits your diet). Green beans, steamed, with a few toasted almonds (and olive oil if permissible).

      • Joanna S. says:

        I’ve never tried a smoked turkey but it sounds delicious! Thanks for the help and getting all the other tips rolling! So excited to try out some of these new things. πŸ™‚

    • 21.2
      Tara G. says:

      Have you considered wild rice? It’s common in MN/WI. Rinse well and then add in some onions and celery while cooking. You can even make it days ahead of time and either store in the fridge or freeze.

    • 21.3
      Dawn says:

      I lost 100 lbs 15 years ago and a little more since then. And over the years, I have tried different “lighter” recipes. One thing that has helped me a lot over the years is to make sure there is a relish (veggie) tray and to make sure that I eat off of that if I eat any appetizers.

      Also, when it comes to the main meal, I use portion control and smile when I push away from the table when I’m full. I like to get a walk in if I can, and then not have dessert right away. I do usually have dessert, but it is usually an hour or two after lunch, and then I try not to over indulge.

      I try not to stress too much and know that this is one day. And the most important part of this day is not the food, but it is being thankful to my Jesus for my dear family and all that He has done and is doing in our lives.

      I’ve learned to breathe, relax and enjoy my day.
      Oh I might add, I do the main part of the cooking, so it has really been a challenge for me some years, especially the early ones, I wanted to eat it all =)

      If I can help with specific “Lighter” fare please let me know. I probably have a recipe for it =)

    • 21.4
      Rachel says:

      This is a great blog with lots of lighter fare food options…saw this particular recipe for a sweet potato pie that is diet-friendly, and looks SO good. Enjoy!

    • 21.5
      Patti says:

      Brown rice is an excellent alternative that you can season with a little Mrs. Dash and you don’t need salt or gravy. For bread lovers, try Ezekiel bread or other flourless breads that you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store. For best results, store the bread in the freezer and only thaw it as you need it because it has no preservatives. This bread is yummy with Sundried tomato hummis as a spread instead of butter or mayo. It’s even more tasty if you put a slice of left over thanksgiving turkey on it to make an open faced sandwich. I’ve never tried to mash sweet potatoes, but I think you can bake them a bit longer then mash and season with Smart Balance (made with extra virgin olive oil)and cinnamon. I use baby spinach instead of lettuce in my salads and I love steamed vegetables. I do use Sea salt, but other than that, I’m not able to eat foods containing the white products like dairy, flour, rice, or sugar. I hope this helps.

    • 21.6
      jenn nahrstadt says:

      i love sweet potatoes made this way. bake them until they are almost soft–probably about 30 min.–and while they’re cooking, slice several granny smith apples into thick slices.
      after the potatoes are done to almost-done, peel ’em, slice ’em (about 1/4″ thick), and layer potato, apple, potato, apple into a glass baking dish. you will need less apples than potatoes, but i always make a 9×13 of this because it’s SO good and healthy.
      put a few slices of butter on top of the slices, cover, and bake at 350 for 30 min., or until the apples test fork done. enjoy!

  22. 22
    Laurie says:

    My husband bastes the turkey with a mixture of 1/2 cup each: butter, sherry, and soysauce. It gives the turkey a nice browned look and the slcohol and soy sauce taste cook away… giving a great base for gravy.

  23. 23
    yanna westmoreland says:

    My question is may my man and I come to your Thankful party? πŸ™‚

  24. 24
    Becky R. says:

    If anyone is looking for a fun twist on pumpkin pie and loves cheesecake I have the perfect recipe for you!

    Fluffy Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie!

    I have made this recipe several times, in both the standard graham cracker crust and the “extra servings” larger crust and it is so yummy! Super easy too since you are using a store bought graham cracker crust!

    Here are the links for both sizes:

  25. 25
    Janet Simonitch says:

    Dearest Beth,
    Thank you for doing this. You and I are the same age (roughly), but I feel like you are adding a “motherly” touch to my Thanksgiving week. My mother went home with the Lord 1 1/2 years ago, and I miss her so much. Your sweet posts on helping us with cooking tips remind me of my mom, especially on the things we can’t help that we don’t know because we don’t know them! You should see the recipe she wrote out for me once on how to make homemade chicken soup. She literally wrote down EVERYthing that I needed to do! And I needed that! It was 2 full pages, hand-written. I think I will frame it someday. πŸ™‚
    God bless you, Beth. From the bottom of my heart, I love you. I love your Bible studies, your books, your personality, YOU. Happy Thanksgiving!
    Janet in Nebraska

    • 25.1
      Beth says:

      I love you, too, Janet. I don’t think we ever get so old that we aren’t blessed by a little extra mothering on occasion.

      • Sandy Bowers says:

        “I don’t think we ever get so old that we aren’t blessed by a little extra mothering on occasion.”

        Especially when our own mamas have gone home to be with Jesus. Surely missing my mama, particularly this time of year.

        Thanks, Siesta Mama! I love you!

  26. 26
    Michele says:

    Beth, you are so sweet! That is a lot of helpful information. Thank you

    My question is: May I come over? Y’all are making me hungry!! hahaha πŸ™‚

  27. 27
    Abraham's Daughter says:

    Oh, I needed this blog many years ago when I started! The first meal I made for my husband was hot dogs with Mac & cheese (out of the box). I boiled the hot dogs for 20 minutes–I didn’t know about precooked and certainly didn’t want to kill him with food poisoning. Somehow, we survived!

    I used to make my own pie crusts but have converted to Pillsbury. The trick to making them taste homemade is to roll them out a little thinner.

    And the best pumpkin pie recipe was given to me by a wonderful woman named Esther Goldsmith. Not the normal blend of spices but mellow with more depth.

    1 small can pumpkin
    2/3 c cream (or evaporated milk–and I use soy milk)
    1/6 t allspice
    1/6 t mace
    1 t cinnamon
    1 c sugar
    2 eggs
    pinch salt

    Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake for 350 for 30 minutes or until done.

    • 27.1
      kathypinkbicyclearkansas says:

      Well, I dont’ cook at all and I didn’t know you dont’ boil hot dogs…I don’t like them maybe that’s why… this blog is educational as well. πŸ™‚

  28. 28
    Sandy Bowers says:

    My best tip is this: If you haven’t taken your frozen turkey out of the freezer yet……DO IT NOW! As you can imagine, this is something I learned from experience!

    I second the mashed potatoes in the crock pot, keeping warm. Saves much stress and gnashing of the teeth!

    And if you don’t use a roasting bag, try slathering mayonnaise all over the bird (after you’ve rinsed it of course)followed by pouring melted butter over it. This helps keep in the moisture and gives it a lovely brown color. (Might work in the bag too.)

    Lastly, I have an awesome recipe for sweet potato souffle (NO marshmallows) that I can post if anyone is interested! My whole family loves it — even those of us who don’t like sweet potatoes. Tastes alot like pumpkin pie. Yummy!

    Thanks for sharing your pilgrim picture Beth. AB is surely most precious!

  29. 29
    Pamela McDonald says:

    For all you cranberry sauce lovers, defininely make homemade. You can buy a bag of OceanSpray cranberries in your produce aisle. The recipe is on the bag. It is very simple and tastes delicious! This can even be made the day before.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

  30. 30
    Lisa says:

    For me, organization in the kitchen is the key to cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I keep all of my planning in an Excel spreadsheet. It includes the menu, all of the recipes, a shopping list, a schedule for when to put things in the oven and their cooking times. Each year I pull it out, update it and I’m good to go. The old saying goes, ‘We don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan. You can do it. Happy Thanksgiving!

  31. 31
    Jennifer says:

    This is my most favorite blog post ever. Titus 2.

    And, as a total non-cook, let me just say that if these are the basics then I am absolutely ruined.

    • 31.1
      Casey says:

      You are not ruined!! Pick one dish that sounds appealing to you and tackle it. That was how I learned to cook. My mom was a great cook and I learned some from that and just got brave and tired new things. Trust me when I say I have trashed many of those new things too!

      • Elizabeth says:

        That’s what I’m doing, 1 dish – sweet potatoes! I’ve never made it but my aunt always does. Crossing fingers!

    • 31.2
      Dawn says:

      Oh Dear Jennifer ~~
      YOU CAN DO THIS!!! It is overwhelming at first, but just take it one item at a time. I always make a list of what has to be done first, and then mark each item off as I go. And that is a GREAT feeling!!

    • 31.3
      Shelly Story says:

      Take heart, girlie, you are not ruined and you will overcome your non-cook identity (assumuing you want to! :)) When I got married 17 years ago, I was pretty much a non-cook. My mom’s tuna noodle cassserol was HIGH cuisine in this home back then. In fact, one time I attempted Shepherd’s Pie without a recipe. I mixed, tasted, added, mixed, added, added, and added. I had no idea what I was doing, and so when it continued to taste wrong, I just kept adding. Wanna know WHAT I was adding?…salt and worchestershire sauce! By the time I was done adding, and it was baked, it was so salty one could hardly stand it! Bless his heart, my man just smiled and ate it.

      17 years later, I have overcome my non-cook start, and I cook a hearty meal for 9 people every single day. Not everything I create is perfect, but at least it is edible now!

      Take heart, you will learn it!

  32. 32
    Marjie Scheib says:

    One of the best tips my grandmother gave me about cooking for a large crowd was about being prepared. She taught me to make a list of everything I was going to serve and then to write out a time line for the day of when things needed to be started to be ready for serving. I gather up my recipies, make my time line, and I also make a list of what dishes I want to serve the food in. I have even been known to take the dishes out the night before and place post-it notes on them! This really comes in handy when the helpers arrive later! Wishing everyone a blessed holiday season.

    • 32.1
      Jill says:

      My aunts always made list, and I followed suit. What helps is that as people arrive and start talking, and loving and wanting to show you things it can throw off your cooking game. The list and timeline help one stay on track.

  33. 33

    I’m telling you, I don’t understand the word “stuffing”. Honey, it’s not stuffing here in the South, It’s dressing. With that said, I’ve had some mighty fine yankee stuffing! πŸ™‚

    I don’t believe in having any sort of recipe for dressing. I think it’s one of those things that has been passed down from generation. Some people add this, and others add a little of that….

    As for me, I have two secret ingrediants that I use in my dressing. One is cream of chicken soup. The other is sausage. Just brown the sausage and put it in with your recipe. Sometimes, you can find sage sausage at your grocery store and that gives the sage a little more kick. If you use sage sausage you may have to reduce the amount of sage that you put in your dressing! I substitute the cream of chicken soup for some of the broth. It makes the dressing creamy!

  34. 34
    Kim V says:

    Thank the good Lord above that I clicked over here to check things out today…I nearly forgot to get my turkey out of the freezer and put in fridge (even after my darling mother reminded me this morning). I almost finished reading the first paragraph when my mind finally came back to me…I took off running through the house like a mad woman (I’m glad there wasn’t anyone here to see me). Oh, this will be my second year fixing a turkey and I used the bag the first time and will be doing it again…and I also agree with the butter and seasonings!!!

  35. 35
    Rachel says:

    I have a delicious green bean casserole recipe and it’s low fat! A couple cans of green beans, 1 tub of low fat/fat free sour cream, 2 tbsp butter (or the equivalent of like Smart Balance), 1/4 cup flour, red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, and crush low fat club crackers. Melt the butter in the bottom of 9×13 pan. Then dump in the drained beans, flour, sour cream, and red pepper flakes (to taste). Mix it all really good and spread it out. Put a layer of the grated parmesan cheese and cover with the crackers. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. It’s DELICIOUS!

  36. 36
    Joy says:

    You can never go wrong with butter! When in doubt add another stick–of real butter. Not. margarine. Use. real. butter!!

    I recently ate the best peach cobbler ever and my aunt explained it was the same family (Steel Magnolias)recipe only she used an extra stick of butter. Yep that did it!!

  37. 37
    Rebecca says:

    A QUICK and EASY tip to adding color to your gravy: leftover coffee!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ My mother-in-law taught me this trick. You cannot taste the coffee at all in the gravy, but oh the delightful color it gives!

    Prayers and blessings,

  38. 38
    Molly says:

    Great tip for minced garlic on Turkey, Beth. I think I eat garlic, onions and potatoes at every meal.

    On that note,

    ~Garlic clove – rest side of big fat knife on it and CAREFULLY (make sure hands are clean – so as not to slip) but hit open clove and smush, it open up the oils.

    ~Don’t throw out lemons, small pieces of used lemons in the garbage disposal clean the area and the air.

    ~Use half and half in mashed potatoes – richer flavor.

    ~You can add any herb to room softened butter and mix and then chill and have homemade herb butter.

    ~If cooking garlic and onions (as with the beginning of stuffing) always add oil and then garlic and onions BEFORE turning on stove. You want the oil to heat with the aromatics.

    ~If not stuffing bird, add half of onions, apples, lemons, sprigs of herbs to cavity (I HATE THAT WORD -especially in that sense) of bird.

    ~ And FINALLY, BEFORE ADDING EGG – DO NOT DO IT AFTER!!!! When you have the broth and bread and warm celery and onions and all the fixins’ – take a bite, that is the Tradition…raw dressing bite while watching the Macy’s day Parade…and it is GOD’S Favor if you are watching the Rockettes at that very moment!!!

    Happy Thanksgiving day!!!!! And as the Message says of Psalm 126:3

    God was (is) wonderful to us;
    we are one happy people.

    • 38.1
      Sandy Bowers says:

      “raw dressing bite while watching the Macy’s day Parade…and it is GOD’S Favor if you are watching the Rockettes at that very moment!!!”

      That is so funny Molly! Do you really do that every year? How fun your traditions sound! Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Molly says:

        We do the ‘raw bite’
        and also the day after Thanksgiving…a slice of pumpkin pie for breakfast! Mmmmgood!

        Oh, and the DOG SHOW – don’t you dare miss the DOG SHOW!!!

        Traditions are treasures from GOD!

      • molly says:

        Sandy Bowers, May you have the MOST BLESSED Thanksgiving Day. MAY HE ENVELOPE YOU!

        God was (is) wonderful to us;
        we are one happy people.

        Psalm 126:3

        • Sandy Bowers says:

          Why thank you so much Molly! I am sort of cheating this year. Ordered my whole Thanksgiving meal from Bob Evans! Yikes. We are sorting, pitching and packing to move from a large church parsonage into a much smaller home of our own. Closing is on 11/30. So my darling husband suggested Bob Evans. I was very quick to take him up on it. We should be settled by Christmas so I can cook up a storm then. In the meantime, I am enjoying all these food posts (and secretly sending up prayers of thanks that I don’t have to cook! LOL.) You have an awesome Thanksgiving, you sweet Siesta!

          • Molly says:

            You as well!!! I am thankful for the season GOD has placed you in…I feel HIS Presence in it. Just a Peace and order in what you said.

            GOD BLESS YOU SIESTA!!!!

  39. 39
    Casey says:

    I don’t know if any of you have ever tried the turkey injector kits. They are great!!!

    Anyone have a good chocolate cream pie recipe. My husband is asking for one and the last one I made I wasn’t crazy about.

    • 39.1
      Sandy Bowers says:


      I have a recipe for a chocolate pie that has a cream cheese layer under the cholocate and whipped cream on top. Would you be interested in that one?

      • Michele says:

        Sandy that sounds good!

      • kathypinkbicyclearkansas says:

        YES!! I don’t cook but I am trying to learn to cook a few things here and there…that sounds too too too yummy!

        • Sandy Bowers says:

          Here ya go ladies. This one is easy as pie (no pun intended)and very delicious:


          Prep time: 15 minutes plus chilling

          4 oz. cream cheese, softened
          2 tbsp. sugar
          1 tbsp. milk
          8 oz. Cool Whip (divided)
          1 prepared chocolate flavor crumb crust (9″)
          2 cups cold milk
          2 sm. pkg. Jello Chocolate Instant Pudding/Pie Filling(4 serving size each)

          Beat softened cream cheese, sugar and 1 tbsp. milk in large bowl until smooth. Gently stir in 1/2 of the whipped topping. Spread on bottom of crust.

          Pour 2 cups cold milk into large bowl. Add pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes. (Mixture will be thick.) Pour over cream cheese layer.

          Refrigerate 4 hours or until set. Just before serving, spread remaining whipped topping over pudding layer. Garnish with shaved chocolate (I use chocolate sprinkles.) Makes 8 servings.

      • Casey says:

        Oh Sandy, you had me at cream cheese. Thanks girl!

    • 39.2
      Kathy B says:

      Would he be happy with just chocolate? My husband covers his in a healthy helping of cool whip. I gave the crust recipe earlier, but here’s the same grandma’s chocolate pie filling:

      In saucepan combine 3 eggs yolks and 1 stick butter
      Whisk constantly over low heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and add:
      1 cup sugar
      2 heaping Tbsp flour
      2 heaping Tbsp cocoa
      1 cup milk
      1 cup water
      Whisking well after adding each ingredient.
      Cook over med/high heat stirring constantly (yes, you get an upper body workout for free).
      Bring to good, bubbly boil. Pour immediately into cooked, cooled pie crust.
      My mother and grandmother topped with meringue, but my crowd nearly stormed the castle last time I tried that. Just a big ‘ole tub of cool whip available to self-serve is their topping of choice.
      My sister-in-law has even requested this as her birthday present a few times. πŸ™‚

      • Michele says:

        This non-cook loves Cool Whip! And Stove Top. But not together, haha.

        • kathy B says:

          I add it to my coffee every morning. Cool whip, that is πŸ™‚ Of course, my husband says I’ll add just about anything to my coffee. This morning at Super Wal-mart, they had holiday flavors of K-cups! I nearly cried. I’ve already had a cup of Eggnog flavored coffee with Eggnog creamer. God is good!!

  40. 40
    Ginger says:

    For a “first-timer” this year….this makes me SOOOO happy! Thank you for doing this….alot of great ideas & suggestions. =)

  41. 41
    WendyB says:

    I love this. I was blessed with a mom who let me learn alongside her, but still, it sure is tricky to get everything done and kept warm to serve a crowd. It’s easy to get flustered. I definitely agree with the idea of doing the mashed potatoes ahead – though I’ve never done it before, I am going to this year!
    My best advice to you younger girls (I’m about the same age as Beth and have cooked a big Thanksgiving every single year for the past 31) is to “think out” your plan. At least one day before, set the table and put up whatever portable tables you need. Lay out all your serving dishes and serving spoons. I have even put a little post-it note in each dish reminding myself what’s going to go in there. Make a list of everything you’re serving, and check it off as you bring things to the serving area (learned this after forgetting to put the cranberry sauce on the table more than once.)
    Beth, I’m in love with your little Pilgrim! That hat is the living END.

  42. 42
    Joyce Watson says:

    I thought everybody cooked just about the same way, but I guess I’m mistaken. My turkey has bacon on top and seasonings. The bag helps hold the juice.
    Then I use half of my juice in my dressing. I use shawnie white corn meal and one box of turkey stuffing mix, chopped up onions, celery and three boiled eggs.
    The rest of my juice goes in my gravy. I boil the insides of my turkey to mix with my gravy with one McCormick turkey gravy mix, add alittle onion and celery, thicken and wha la..gravy. My favorite thing is Italian Cream Cake for dessert.

  43. 43
    Betty M says:

    I am sooo warmed (grin) by all of you mentioning using reall honest-to- goodness, cross my heart or die, BUTTER!!!! We were dairy farmers for years and you really need to support these people who work so hard for a living!!!We have since retired from that life style but my hubby still sells over 2000 ready to kill and eat hogs every year. This year I am going to part with tradition and do the turkey for Christmas. I loved your hints by the way, even someone like me who has to do the meal every year could learn something new from that! Who said you are not a teacher Beth!!!???Anyway, I am making a pork loin for TGiving! I will post the receipe sometime. It is stuffed with wild rice and mushrooms and green onions with abit of garlic and other seasonings then it is secured with toothpicks and I put alfredo sauce over it in which i have mixed a quarter cup of Chardoney wine after it is nearly done and then let it set for awhile and it is divine!!!
    I never roast anything these days that I don’t use the roasting bags they are really a must have. I have a minute sized kitchen too so have no counter space in which to roll out pie crusts. I have a never fail pie crust receipe though and yes, I do use butter flavored crisco. If I am making a double crust pie like apple, I always pour just a small amount of milk on the top of the crust before baking and the pie crust gets a nice golden brown color.
    Thats all from my kitchen! MMMM! I can just smell those aromas now! It is snack time!!
    Love ya’ll!
    Betty M

  44. 44
    Jan says:

    My husband likes giblet gravy – here’s the recipe if you’re interested in a good giblet gravy.

    Giblets from turkey (liver, heart, gizzard, and neck), cooked
    4 C turkey stock (or chicken)
    2 chicken bouillon cubes
    2 tsp poultry seasoning
    2 heaping tablespoons uncooked cornbread dressing
    3 tablespoons cornstarch
    1/3 cup cold water
    Salt and pepper
    1 hard boiled egg, sliced

    Cut up the giblets and the meat that has been removed from the turkey neck. (I go light on the liver because I don’t like the flavor – I just use mostly the meat from the turkey neck from the stock pot.) Using a saucepot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the giblets, bouillon cubes, poultry seasoning, and uncooked dressing to the mixture.

    Now mix the cornstarch and water, and add to the boiling stock, keep stirring! Reduce the heat and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, and the sliced boiled egg. Somtimes I’ll add a little BUTTER as well.

    • 44.1
      Michele says:

      I had to google gizzard. I’m sorry, I would not eat that. ((shudder)) πŸ˜‰

      • I used to make giblet gravy from scratch but now I just cook the giblets, boil a couple of eggs and buy a couple of cans of cream of chicken soup. After giblets are boiled, cut into small pieces omitting the tough parts. Cut boiled eggs into small pieces or slices. Add giblets and boiled eggs to 2 can cream of chicken soup and 2 cans of water. Mix and simmer for a few minutes…maybe ten. Add black pepper to taste. My husband ALWAYS brags on this and has no idea that I have resorted to an easy fix for his beloved giblet gravy! lol
        It works for me!

        Marilyn…in Mississippi

        • Jan says:

          Marilyn – I’m going to try this! It sounds so good and is much easier. Thank you for sharing. πŸ™‚

          • And Jan, I’m going to take a tip from your recipe and try putting a couple of tablespoons of my uncooked dressing in my giblet gravy this time. That sounds like it will add the finishing touches! πŸ˜‰
            Happy Thanksgiving!


  45. 45
    patty says:

    Put your dressing in the crock pot several hours before eating. Your oven is than free. For pies or Mac & cheese

  46. 46
    Debbie says:

    This is the best Sweet Potato Casserole recipe:

    2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 4 medium size)
    2 beaten eggs
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    3/4 tsp salt

    Boil the potatoes until they are tender, cool a bit, then peel the skin off. Mix above ingredients and put in greased pan. Bake 20 minutes at 350.

    In sauce pan melt:
    1 tblsp butter (I actually use margarine)

    • 46.1
      Debbie says:

      Not all of the recipe posted. Here is the rest of it:
      2 tblsp brown sugar
      1/2 to 1 cup pecan pieces

      Spread over top and bake an additional 10 minutes

      Cover top with miniature marshmallows and bake ’til golden brown, about 5 minutes

  47. 47
    Amy says:

    Ok, this is wonderful and it’s putting my 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich for lunch to shame! So here’s my question. I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease in July so salt is a big no-no. Anybody have any low sodium recipes? Or some sodium substitutes?

  48. 48
    Rebecca says:

    I’ve been so stressed about the Mashed Potatoes. We are traveling 2 hours for our Thanksgiving and I’m suppose to take 10 lbs of mashed potatoes! I’m stressed out y’all! I am scared about the sour cream receipe, are you sure you can’t taste it? My mother in-law would die if she knew there was sour cream in the potatoes.

    • 48.1
      WendyB says:

      Rebecca, if you’re worried about the sour cream, try Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes recipe – it’s make-ahead but has no sour cream. And don’t worry, your mother-in-law is blessed to have a Siesta for a daughter – it’s all good!

    • 48.2
      Tracey Knight says:

      rebecca, stress no longer. πŸ™‚ i second wendy’s suggestion for PW’s mashed potatoes. we’re going lower calorie this year but the one dish we are splurging on is this one. enjoy!

  49. 49
    Patti says:

    The cooking gene missed me altogether, but I did see a great baking tip on tv last week, so here it is. When your recipe calls for a sticky substance, spray the measuring cup with Pam, then your syrup or honey will slide right out of the cup. I think you do have to use a glass measuring cup though I’m not sure.
    Have fun, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
    Patti Hayes

  50. 50
    Shelly E says:

    Wonderful tips! I’ve used the oven bags for years!! It really does help make a moist turkey. I also use the fat separator measuring cup but I’m always trying to perfect my gravy so your suggestions of the gravy additives are helpful. Going to Williams Sonoma today!!

    I also want to add that, instead of regular flour, I use Gold Medal “Wondra” flour to make my gravy. It’s in the grocery store near the flour but comes in a canister. It’s made to put in sauces and gravies and makes it less lumpy.

    Just my 2 cents…Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving my dear siestas! Looking forward to meeting some of you at the SSMT Celebration in January. xoxo

    (aka “Jaxmom97” on Twitter) πŸ™‚

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