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. 51
    Betty M says:

    P.S. I seem to hear a receipe book with hints and receipes in the works straight from LPM ministries? Anybody else???

    • 51.1
      kathypinkbicyclearkansas says:

      We have Siesta Cookbook from a couple of years ago. It has lots of good recipes in it. I don’t know if they are still available or not.

  2. 52
    kathypinkbicyclearkansas says:

    OH Iam so ready for Thanksgiving Dinner. Beth, would you come cook for me? You give very good directions. I will not be cooking, I wll be having surgery out of town (Jonesboro) tomorrow morning at will get out the hospital hopeuflly in time for Turkey and stay with my family the rest of the week to recover.

    Maybe I’ll use some of these tips for Christmas.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that darling pilgrim….too precious!

  3. 53
    His Jules says:

    This is such a wonderful idea!! This will be my first year to actually hostess the Thanksgiving dinner, it has always been at my Mom’s so to say I am feeling overwhelmed is and understatement. All of these tips and recipes are sure giving me inspiration though.

    If you want some more great recipes, especially a fantastic pumpkin trifle – click on over to Janelle’s Comfy in the kitchen, and scroll down to the picture of her new ebook Comfy in the Kitchen at Thanksgiving and click on the title to open up a world of recipes and tips. Janelle is a fellow sister in Christ and a wonderful cook.

  4. 54
    Melissa says:

    If anyone would like a delicious and impressive side dish recipe, I cannot recommend this one enough (courtesy of Williams-Sonoma)!

    Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruits & Pecans

    ยฝ cup pecans
    1ยฝ cups wild rice
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 small yellow onion, minced
    2ยผ cups water
    2ยผ cups chicken stock
    ยพ teaspoon salt
    ยผ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground allspice
    1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    Freshly ground pepper
    ยฝ cup dried apricot halves, coarsely chopped
    ยผ cup golden raisins
    ยผ cup dried cranberries
    ยผ cup dried pitted cherries

    Preheat oven to 350หš.

    Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant (about 5 to 7 minutes). Remove from oven, let cool, and chop coarsely. Set aside.

    Meanwhile, place wild rice in a bowl and add water to cover. Stir wild rice to rinse, then drain and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion to pan and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft (about 10 minutes). Add rice, water, stock, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently without stirring, until rice is almost tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed (40 to 45 minutes).

    Add apricots, raisins, cranberries, and cherries. Stir to combine, re-cover, and continue to cook until rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed (5 to 10 minutes longer). If rice is still not tender at this point and liquid still remains, re-cover and cook a few minutes longer.

    Add pecans and toss to mix well. Season with pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve at once.

    Serves 6.

  5. 55
    Melinda says:

    I am by no means a wonderful cook when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. But my mother is, and I have just always done what she told me to! (Good girl, I know! lol) One good tip that she has taught me, and many already know this, but if you are like me and the obvious is not so obvious, haha, then you will need this tip as I have. Prepare your casseroles a day or so in advance. As long as you have room in your fridge, you can make them oven ready the day before and just pop them in the oven on Thanksgiving day! (Like Mrs. Beth said, while your turkey is cooling.) You will have so much to do on Thanksgiving or Christmas day that anything you can do in advance is a HUGE help! We even go so far as to cutting and chopping up veggies, like onion and celery, two days in advance. That just makes preparing the oven ready casseroles that much easier. Hope this helps someone! Thanks!

    • 55.1
      Hannah says:

      Melinda, what a wonderful suggestion!I’m always afraid to do things too early but I never thought about the chopping! That would save time! Thanks so much!

      • Leigh says:

        You can peel your potatoes the day before. Peel and cut them up in to a large glass or Tupperware bowl. Cover completely with water, very important, and salt generously. Cover and keep in the refrigerator. When you are ready to cook, drain off the water and cook in fresh water.

        You can chop celery and onions for dressing a day or two ahead. Put in a Ziploc bag in the fridge til ready to use.

        I have, more times than once, cooked my turkey the day before, carved it, and covered the slices with the pan juices to keep moist then reheated just before serving.That gets the mess of the carcass out of the way, and frees up the oven.

        • Hannah says:

          Wow! Thanks Leigh! Those ideas sound perfect! I bet you’re amazingly organized!

        • GinnyLou says:

          Thank you, thank you! For some reason, it always seems to take me forever to get the potatoes peeled and on the stove (probably the preschooler and toddler underfoot tearing the house apart). But doing it the day before would take off all the pressure! Never knew you could do this!!

        • Hannah says:

          Will that work for sweet potatoes too?

        • Sherry says:

          Thanks!! I had never thought of peeling potatoes in advance. I dread peeling them and it seems that it takes forever!!

    • 55.2
      Shari says:

      LOVE this idea!!! This is one of those, “Why didn’t I think of this before??” moments!!! Thank you!!


    • 55.3
      Kathy says:

      You can also make the best mashed potoatoes ever tasted the day before. I promise, it is fool proof and better than fresh. I have been hosting Thanksgiving to 35-40 people for 15-20 years. I got this recipe from a HS Counselor who has preceded us in heaven. Here’s the recipe.
      5 lbs. Potatoes.
      2-3 oz cream cheese
      1/2-1 stick of butter or margarine
      1/2-1 cup milk
      Peel potatoes & cut in small pieces. Put in pot of water and add salt.cook 20-40 minute until tnder when poked with fork. Whip potatoes with mixer, add cream cheese, butter and add milk slowly until smooth. They might be slightly thin, but when you re-heat they’ll be perfect. You can put in cake pan if re-heating in the oven or in a crock pot (I recommend the crock pot lines to eliminate tough clean-up. Store in refrigerator until ready to use them. They can be stored 2-3 days. When ready to heat, take out of refrig and heat in oven at 350 for approximately 45 minutes or in crock pot for several hours, stirring occasionally. This has been a huge time-saver on Thanksgiving morning and I promise they are better than fresh!
      Another hint if you’re hosting Thanksgiving every year, make notes after the holiday as to how many you hosted, how much of everything you fixed and how many leftovers and anything else that might be helpful for the next year. Absolutely makes the next year a breeze.

      • Kathy says:

        I forgot to mention, drain water from potatoes before whipping them. Another hint if you’re having a crowd and serving buffet style, put your gravy in a crock pot. If it’s hot everything else will warm up with it poured on top. Also, do everything and anything possible ahead of time. My buffet table is already decorated (we eat outdoors as we live in the desert) and covered with a sheet to keep dust off as well as some of the tables. My onions and celery and herbs are already cooked for the dressing and my potatoes will be done tomorrow. It so helps for a stress-free Thanksgiving day.

    • 55.4
      patty swinford says:

      You are one smart cookie and your mom a Saint! The prep cannot be overstated! My planner looks like a detailed space rocket launch at holiday meal cooking times. Maybe it’s just an opportunity to entertain my OCD tendencies, but I write everything down that it takes to feed these folks, down to setting the table, then I jot down estimated times, working backward from dinner serving time. You gals may think this silly but I assure you, it has saved me more times than I can number. I mean, am I the only one who sat down with 16 others at the dining room table only to realize there’s no iced tea? Plus, I enjoy all the planning, it helps me feel calmer.

  6. 56
    Suzi says:

    I don’t know if anyone brought this up but for those of you cooking for a large crowd and want to open up some oven space, you can use an electric roasting pan for the turkey and have plenty of space in the oven for your dressing, casseroles and yeast rolls. Just a thought.
    I learned that tip from my mother in-law. Her turkeys are always very moist and things run pretty smooth in her kitchen. I will be doing Christmas for my side of the family first time this year and plan on purchasing one. You can get them at Target or Walmart.

    Love you Siestas! Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! We are blessed!:)

    • 56.1
      Lynn says:

      We often do this and it works great! I cook my turkey in a pan so that all the dripping are right there. I don’t use a cooking bag because of this. Then I just add the water drained from the vegetables to the pan drippings for the gravy — awesome gravy– learned this from my mom who made the best gravy ever!! No need for mixes or gravy additives it has lots of flavour and colour. You thicken it either by adding flour directly to the pan drippings and cooking a little or mixing flour in cold water to prevent lumps. I really enjoy how we have traditional ways of making holiday meals that are passed from one generation to another. I live in Canada so we ate our Thanksgiving dinner in October but I’m looking forward to Christmas where my family traditionally had turkey and ham as well. I have one son who needs to have both meats to make it a holiday meal for him! lol

  7. 57
    Jill says:

    Well, I’m likely in the minority, but….I’m not a fan of turkey. The only way I really prefer it is smoked. So when it’s our year to provide the turkey, I pay a local BBQ place to smoke one :). I do LOVE my mom’s cornbread dressing though!

  8. 58
    Suzi says:

    *for the* to my last comment

    PS- I used this sites recipe for my Pecan Pie the last to years and it was a hit both times.

    I used my mother in-laws pie crust for the recipe though which uses crisco instead of butter and always comes out light and flaky. You roll it out between two pieces of wax paper. I am out of town so don’t have it on hand but this one looks similar

  9. 59
    Susan says:

    My husband had been gone for four months and he is coming home Thanksgiving day. Alleluia, thank you Jesus. Just wanting to max out our time together, I ordered a smoked turkey and Im going straight to W.S. to get that gravy base. I was wondering what I was going to do for gravy, amen, alleluia for that suggestion.

    The kids and I are doing all our cooking on Wed. so we can just warm things up Thursday. We have a variety of food allergies so that sort of alters things. I printed the wild rice recipe just in case my gluten free stuffing is a bust.

    The conversation about pie tenderly reminds me of my Grandmother. In my Minnesota farm family, homemade pie was sacrosanct. If anyone else has a family pie safe, you know what I am talking about. We had our own apple orchard so you can imagine the sweetness.

    All that said, this year Iโ€™m using a Pillsbury roll out crust for pecan pie and pumpkin. The worst thing you can do for a pie is put it in the fridge. That will make any crust soggy.

    • 59.1
      Sarah says:

      I just wanted to add that we too have a milk allergy at our house and I added almond milk instead of evaporated milk and no one in the family even knew the difference. My favorite is pie filling in a casserole dish (cook uncovered) and then you don’t have to worry about either allery.

  10. 60
    Linda says:

    Sometimes when you add warm water to flour, you get lumps and can never get them out. So, this is the fix for that: Get yourself one of those containers (they look like a Starbuck’s coffee cup in shape and they are made out of plastic. They have a domed lid on them and a wagon wheel shaped gizmo that I will explain in just a minute). Put your flour in there (1-2T)and some cold water or milk (whichever you prefer for your gravy.) Then, put the gizmo on the top edge of the plastic cup. The gizmo looks just like a wagon wheel. Then, put on the domed lid tightly and shake vigorously. This gets ALL the lumps out of your gravy. Then pour this mixture into the pan with the drippings and procede to cook the gravy just like Beth directed above. It’s fool proof and you’ll be so happy you made the small investment. Tupperware sells them and they used to some with Ranch dressing packets. Not sure who sells them now. Surely Bed, Beath and Beyond?

    • 60.1
      Barb says:

      Another way I make gravy is to put the flour in the pan after my butter is hot, mix that up, then add the water – it usually works for me with butter – wonder if it will work for turkey drippings?!

    • 60.2
      Gena says:

      My mom always has a baby food jar to put her flour and water in – then shakes it up to get the lumps out. Not having ever had a baby in my house, I have a small jelly jar I use for the same thing. Works pretty good.

    • 60.3
      Shelly says:

      My mother and grandmother both have the wagon-wheel domed lid thingy and it was made YEARS ago by tupperware. Every holiday when they use them, there is always a discussion about it being one of the most important kitchen gadgets because you can’t get them anymore. Don’t know how recently they have checked, but they always tell me they wish they were still around because I really need one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 61
  12. 62
    vanessa says:

    My idea of cooking is popping a Lean Pocket in the microwave. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I will have to attempt one of these lovely recipes listed here. Wish me Luck! God Bless!

  13. 63
    Steadfast and Faithful says:

    What are the best all-day-in-the-kitchen-cookin’ songs?
    My family is plum wore out of their Momma singin’ all these songs she doesn’t know the words to!

  14. 64
    Warm in Alaska says:

    I did dearly love the little Pilgrim at the end of the post! My she’s gotten big! Also, thank you so much for the gravy tutorial. Maybe one day you can even do a How To Make Gravy Video…. Or, then again, maybe not.

    My West Texan husband (who just flew back to TX yesterday with our daughter to spend the holiday with his Texan family. I am so going to miss my mother-in-law’s cornbread stuffing – where the one trick seems to be – double the butter) and I, when we were first married, wondered what would happen if one were to stuff a turkey cavity with as many jalapenos and ground black pepper as it would hold. What happened? Heaven happened. We took it out of the oven the next morning (we’re cook it all night at a low temp folks), opened the lid to the roaster -and there sat the turkey carcass with all the meat swimming in the most lovely brown, HOT drippings. So yum! We’ve never looked back!

    Can’t wait to read everyone’s posts!

    Oh, also, I’ve become the Grilled Brussel Sprouts Fiend: quarter the sprouts, toss generously with olive oil, fresh garlic, s/p, and whatever other seasonings suit you, wrap in tin foil, add a couple drops of water (so they’ll steam as well as roast), vent your foil and place them on the grill at a med-low heat for 10-15 minutes. Turn them over at least once. Bon Appetit!

    • 64.1
      Gena says:

      Oh my word! Exploding hot turkey. Someday, I’ve got to try this one…

      • Warm in Alaska says:

        Oh, thank you, thank you! We’ve never known what to call it (“jalapeno turkey” for lack of anything else) – but thank you for christening it “Exploding Turkey.” Perfect!

  15. 65
    Brenda Trafton says:

    Happy Blessed Thanksgiving to all my sisters in Christ. Just had to share this recipe found in my Mamma’s Bible after she went to Heaven. . .

    Recipe for Happiness:

    Mix two heaping measures of patience with one heart full of love and Jesus; two handfulls of generosity and a head full of understanding. Add a dash of laughter and sprinkle generously with kindness. Mix well with plenty of faith. Spread over a lifetime and serve up to everyone you meet!

    …and that is what she modeled for me and my five brother and sisters. Father, would you tell Momma we miss her so and cannot wait to be with her at the feet of Jesus!

    Now…this is an very easy dessert recipe that is delicious & I get asked for the recipe every time I make it! A great fall cake…

    Pumpkin Pie Spice Cake

    One Spice Cake Mix
    One 15 1/2 oz can of pumpkin
    Large container of Cool Whip

    Mix cake mix as directed on mix. Fold in pumpkin. Place in 9 X 13 greased and floured cake pan. It may fall but no worries, make up for it with the Cool Whip! When cake is cool, spread with Cool Whip. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Place in refrigerator. It gets better the longer it sits but can be served right away!

    To Beth, I am a fellow grandmother finishing your Bible Study, Inheritance, this very night with dinner in my home with a wonderful group of young women…single, new mothers and newly married. They each will be forever changed as well as me. We are your fellow heiresses in Christ… Hallelujah! Thank you, precious woman of God, for being so transparent with your life and loving His Word. It encourages others to become vulnerable and real; so that God may heal and be glorified! Beth, you truly are a woman after God’s heart. Have a blessed Thanksgiving and joyous time with your family.

    With a most tender heart in this beautiful season…

  16. 66
    Natalie says:

    I love Rachel Ray’s recipe for pecan pie, but I always add more pecan halves to be pretty on top!! yum! My grandmother’s cornbread dressing was the best. She taught me to add a little poultry seasoning to it! And she taught me to make the dressing a few weeks ahead of time and freeze it unbaked. I know some of you might cringe BUT it tastes oh so much better! I think it give time for all the herbs and seasonings to get happy together! Sometimes I use turkey stock bought in a container at the store (or buy a turkey leg to make stock) and make my gravy ahead of time. That way I’m not standing over a hot pot making gravy when everything else if ready to go and hungry pilgrims are waiting at the table! This year, I haven’t had time for any ahead of time prep! Pray for me . . .

  17. 67
    Rachel says:

    Our family hosts thanksgiving. Both my husbandโ€™s side of the family and mine come together. Let me just say it is a hoot of a day. lol

    We are having a sweet potato crisis here at the Temple house. Granny D was diagnosed with Alzheimerโ€™s. She always comes over and makes them however this year since her cooking has went downhill; sadly she wonโ€™t be making them. We are just blessed to have her here with us.
    So Beth and other Siestaโ€™s I could use a little help. What is the best way to make them?

  18. 68

    A few months ago, 3/4 of my little family was diagnosed with gluten intolerance… and I am a stove top stuffing girl. Does anyone have help for me?! I needs my stuffin! (grin)

  19. 69
    Adele-Alys says:

    Currently between stoves (don’t ask) so shall attempt a holiday meal for hubby and self using microwave, toaster oven, crockpot, and electric skillet. Suggestions everyone?

    • 69.1
      Sharon says:

      Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite meal to make!!!!

      You can do this!

      You can cook your yams (with marshmallows) in the microwave. In the crockpot, you can cook a turkey breast(on high it will take 4 – 6 hours depending on size and on low 8 – 10 hours) placed on top of some stuffing (I would just make sure to really moisten the stuffing so it doesn’t burn). You can probably cook the rolls in the toaster oven. Not sure how big it is, but you could probably cook a small dish of green bean casserole in there as well. A day ahead of time, you could cook mini pies (or whole freezer pies) in the toaster oven, too. The biggest challenge would be mashed potatoes…I wonder if they could be boiled in the electric skillet? (Otherwise, you could use a pre-made mashed potato to heat up in the microwave such as country crock). You can also make the gravy in the electric skillet. You can make the cranberry sauce (if you like it) in the electric skillet a day ahead.

      Hope you have fun!

    • 69.2
      Yvonne says:

      I cook my turkey breast in the crock pot – and you don’t have to thaw!!! Just put it in and add some salt and pepper. If the lid won’t fit, cover with aluminum foil and then place the lid on. I cook on high all day or all night until noon/1:00 on low.

      Hope this helps!

    • 69.3
      Marie says:

      Take pictures and post them somewhere we all can see them. I salute your bravery!

    • 69.4
      Lisa says:

      On the first Thanksgiving after my mom died, I was supposed to make the turkey. The frozen turkey I bought and kept in the refrigerator for days to thaw didn’t thaw, so I was scrambling the night before Thanksgiving for what to do for turkey. I ended up buying a breast and cooking it in the crock pot with one envelope of onion soup mix and one can of cranberry sauce over it. It was delicious! Everyone loved it. I make this for dinner now because it is so easy and yummy. Have a good Thanksgiving!

    • 69.5
      Janice says:

      Crockin’ Girls on Facebook just did a WHOLE Thanksgiving dinner menu and recipes in the Crock Pot. Sign up for email recipes too.

    • 69.6
      Rachel says:

      What about grilling your turkey.It is yummy!
      I love how everyone is willing to help you out here. That is some siesta love.

    • 69.7
      Shelly says:

      We always make our yams with marshmallows and green bean casserole in the microwave. You should also check out Crockin’ Girls….
      They make an entire Thanksgiving dinner in crockpots. Good luck!

    • 69.8
      Adele-Alys says:

      Thanks for all your help! I now feel I can do this!

      Just call me” the little cook that could.”

      Blessings and peace.

  20. 70
    God's-not-so-little Dutch girl says:

    I LOVE Siestaville! This is a GREAT idea…I don’t have any cooking questions. I am doing green bean casserole & apple pie. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Siestas!

  21. 71
    Alisha says:

    I “turkied-out”. I asked my Mom to bake the turkey and gravy and bring it to my house. LOL

    • 71.1
      mercy4Drew says:

      I have finally had to become the “adult” cook in my family and make the turkey. I relate to your “turkied-out” though! : )

  22. 72
    Cheryl, Ohio says:

    If you need to entertain young children before dinner, involve them in the preparations. Put a small amount (1/4 cup) of heavy whipping cream in a rubbermaid container with a tight-fitting lid. Have the children shake the container until the cream turns into butter! Be sure to pass it around so all the kids get a turn. My adult children still insist on making this every Thanksgiving.

    • 72.1
      Sarah says:

      What a great idea!! Thanks for sharing . . . however, does it work with more than 1/4 c.??? That doesn’t last too long around here! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. 73
    sweet anonymous says:

    Mama Beth,
    Thank you so much for the gravy recipe and tips. I always gave up on making my own and did storebought. Now I can see exactly how! Yay!
    I like to add a can of cream of chicken soup to my stuffing it makes the stuffing deliciosly moist. Another tip for keeping mashed potatoes hot is to heat together the milk and butter before adding it to the mashed potatoes. It makes them creamier and they stay hot!
    I must say Annabeth is so precious I almost can’t stand it! I love you too! (Grin)

  24. 74

    I was subbing today & couldn’t get on the website. I could hardly wait to get home & read all the comments!
    I cooked 2 turkeys last year for my in-law side of the family & I was terrified! I used the oven bags & they turned out great! USE THE OVEN BAGS!!!!!

    This year I’m back to my dessert duties, so less-stressful! whew!

    Love all of Siestaville dearly!

  25. 75

    My mother-in-law always made the Thanksgiving meal until one year that she had shoulder surgery. I was put in as the DC(designated cook) Can I tell you I hit a home run that year with my turkey and have been ever since. Here is my hint to have the juiciest turkey.

    I mix fresh herbs (tarragon and rosemary) into 2 cups of soften butter and place the mixture between the skin and meat on the breast of the turkey. Use you fingers to get underneath the skin. Then I put the Turkey into a 475 degree oven for 20min then turn it down to 350 degree baking it for 20min per pd(that is if you have stuffing in it otherwise it is 15min)

    If you ask my family what is my favorite part of the meal they would say the cranberries. Fresh will only do!! Easy Peasy!! Put a bag of cranberries in a pan with enough water to cover. Boil them until they “pop”. Take them off the burner and then add a cup of sugar. Place in beautiful glass dish and put in refrigerator until you meal is ready! Mmmm Mmmm Good!

    Happy Thanksgiving Dear Siestas

    Love, Stacie

    • 75.1

      PS..I just read the cutest idea on Twitter. Someone buys a white fabric tablecloth and puts it on the table with Fabric Markers. During the meal, you write what you are thankful for. When the meal is finished, remove the tablecloth and overtime embroider over what was written or drawn. Place out the same tablecloth every year to add to it! Doesn’t this sound like a wonderful tradition. I am going to try it this year!!

      • Warm in Alaska says:

        Oh yippee! What a cool idea! I might skip the embroidery part and just stick with markers. Thanks for sharing ~

  26. 76
    Sarah says:

    After you boil your potatoes and mash them. You can hold them in a crock pot on warm. Worked like a charm and I just had to make gravy at the very end.

  27. 77
    sharon says:

    Two Words. Meat Thermometer! A few more words, temperature should read 165* in the thickest part of the thigh. As it sits for about 1/2 hour the temp will continue to rise, that’s a good thing. Remember to let it rest for atleast the 1/2 hour makes for easier carving.

  28. 78
    Marie says:

    Okay, so my question might not be what this post is all about, but…

    Is it okay to be a woman and HATE cooking?

    I can’t stand it. I’m not good at it. I can screw up boiling water. My husband loves it. So, he cooks and I clean up. It works for us, but some people have made unkind comments about it. That makes me think that maybe there’s something wrong with me.

    • 78.1
      sharon says:

      Marie, my husband is a great cook and I am glad he cooks. I have cooked for so many years that I get tired of trying to think of something interesting to fix, so when he cooks I love it. If he cooked every night it wouldn’t bother me one bit. With saying all that, if your husband likes to cook and you don’t, let him cook and don’t feel bad about it. It is your marriage and if you are both in agreement with who cooks and who cleans up, go for it. Enjoy each others strengths.

    • 78.2

      IMO, I think whatever works for you and your family is what is right!! I do not like doing dishes so for the most part my husband does them. I can’t recall in the Bible where it says The “women shall do all the cooking!”LOL

      • Sherrie Ashcraft says:

        Definitely not wrong for the man to cook. Check out the last part of of Genesis 19:3. It became the favorite verse of my Bible study ladies this week! And men can make the coffee too. There’s a whole book devoted to that–Hebrews!! LOL

    • 78.3
      Leigh says:

      Marie, I hope I am the first of many who will say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you!!! It is OK to not like to cook. You have many other skills and talents, I’m sure. Do not feel badly that cooking is not one of them. I can’t sew. After lessons and classes, I still can’t thread a needle without tears of frustration. So I just don’t. I have a great tailor and also know how to use tape or a glue gun in a fabric emergency.And I don’t think my lack of skill as a seamstress diminishes me as a woman, wife or mom. I think it’s great that your husband likes to cook and even greater that you do the clean up for him. It works for you and the folks who have made unkind comments need to get a life!

    • 78.4
      Sandy Bowers says:

      Heck yes, it’s OK to hate cooking! Especially if you’ve found a man who enjoys it and will do it. Good for you Marie! And a big NO, there’s nothing wrong with you!

    • 78.5
      elaine says:

      let the unkind comments roll off your back…. (how mean of them, anyways!)…. and cultivate what you LOVE doing and what you’re good at…. if it’s not cooking, I’m sure there are tons of other things you’re great at doing!! and how sweet that your husband loves to cook! sounds like you have a great system going! and no, NOTHING is wrong with you!!!!!

    • 78.6
      Warm in Alaska says:

      Dearest, I’m going to make a “kind” comment about it – go give your man a kiss and let him cook! There’s nothing wrong with you – you’re just blessed, that’s all! : )

    • 78.7
      Diana A. says:

      OF COURSE it’s ok to hate cooking! It’s a job, not YOU!

      Lucky for you – you married a cook, I still struggle through!

      God made you to be you, cook or not! I am sure you excel at other things! Being courageous is one ๐Ÿ˜‰

      God Bless you!

    • 78.8
      Theresa says:

      Enjoy your husband’s cooking for always; ignore the unkind comments(possibly they are jealous) and rejoice if he loves to grocery shop ‘ta boot!Happy Tksgiving.

    • 78.9
      Monica Hart-Atwood says:

      Yes it is okay to be a woman and dislike cooking! I myself often feel the same way. I have a husband and four kids and get so bored with everyday cooking. However, I absolutely love holiday cooking. I think its because I get the chance to cook things I don’t often make. This Thanksgiving will really be a new experience for me because I usually do the traditional Turkey, Ham, Cornbread Dressing, etc. But this year I’m making Salmon (first time ever!), Rice Pilaf (Not the box, and again, first time ever!), Southern Style Cabbage, Baked Macaroni and Cheese and Sweet Potato Casserole. Don’t ever feel bad about yourself; cooking is not what makes a woman a woman.

      • Warm in Alaska says:

        Woohoo, Monica! How fun that you’re making salmon. I just had to tell you – as one who has cooked many a salmon fillet, souffle, you-name-it — DO NOT OVERCOOK. Take it out (or “off” if you’re grilling) when it is still pinkish red – and doesn’t look like it’s done. It’s counter-intuitive, but trust an Alaskan Siesta on this!

    • 78.10
      Gena says:

      Yes, it is ok! What a blessing God has given you with a husband who cooks! Anyone making unkind comments is just jealous.

      In fact, I’m jealous!

    • 78.11
      Yvonne says:

      Marie, my father-in-law did all the cooking for many, many years. You have absolutely no reason at all to think something is wrong. Look at how many men are chefs. I know a lot of men that actually enjoy cooking. You go girl! If you and your man have a system and its working, then that’s exactly what you need to keep doing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Thanksgiving!

    • 78.12
      joyce bailey says:

      i was a smart cookie like you 38 yrs. ago and married a marvelous cook, too. he cooks, i clean up. it’s a blessing in our lives, marie. if others don’t understand that, it’s their loss. you and i have been blessed.

    • 78.13
      Shelly says:

      God gives us our mate for a reason! This just might be yours. Embrace your strengths AND weaknesses. If it’s not a bone of contention between you and your husband -then let it ride. There is nothing wrong with you, and I am certain that you have many redeeming qualities!

    • 78.14
      Marie says:

      Oh, you sweet siestas! Thank you for the encouragement. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 78.15
      Pat says:

      My husband loves to cook most of the Thanksgiving meal. I think it’s great. I’m not a great cook and I think it’s OK to not like cooking. Not all men like hunting and fishing. I think I read once on the Siesta website about a woman who had a decorative pillow in her home that said something like, “I have a kitchen because it came with the house.” Love it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. 79
    Anonymous says:

    For dear siestas requiring gluten free (options for dairy free) pie crusts … Here is a link to a great recipe:

    I do prefer to use anything from Kinnikinnick. They have a pie crust flour mix that is simple to make & use. If you can’t find Kinnikinnick at your local grocery store … here is the store’s link:

    Happy Thanksgiving ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. 80
    crimeanmsnry says:

    It has been fun to read these posts.

    I have a couple of comments.

    Last year I made a turkey breast in the crock pot. Just added a little thyme and it was moist and delicious.

    I also found this site and used this recipe for stuffing.

    You can easily use half the butter and less broth and it is still great.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all.


  31. 81
    Michayila says:

    I am so thrilled to not feel so stupid in not knowing some of the “basics” of Thanksgiving…and that it is not too late to learn so much still…Thanks!

  32. 82
    Rachel says:

    First let me just say that is the cutest little pilgrim I’ve ever seen! Loving reading the tips and recipes! I am always at my parents or the in-laws so I never have to do the turkey, but this is good preparation for the time when I do have to do it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am definitely going to try some of these sides!

  33. 83

    We are doing a traditional roast turkey because my daughter, home from college, wants me to make leftovers into turkey pot pie. But my oldest, also home has a smoker and loves to smoke a turkey, so we will get him something the next day to smoke when sales of leftover turkeys are going on. (don’t worry, it will all get eaten, I have three kids with hearty appetites, and we do a Friday Bible study at church the Friday after Thanksgiving, where leftovers are brought for all to share) – what I wonder is if anyone has smoked a turkey if it is better to buy a whole bird or a breast? Any hints on smoking turnkeys?

    My husband muttered about deep fried turkeys, are they any good? I think he likes the danger of the possible explosion if a frozen turkey is dropped into the fat.

    What is the most traditional southern side dish for Thanksgiving?

    I brought my laptop to show the Bible study group the pictures of the little ones from Easter as we were working through the Legacy Bible study, and in that study Annabeth was just born and had on the princess shoes. She sure has grown to be a sweet thing. I, too, think I wouldn’t be able to work with such a sweet pilgrim in my workplace.

    Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.


    • 83.1
      Lindy says:

      Fried turkey is the absolute best!!!! Cover it with mustard before you fry it (make skin crispy) and inject it with Tony Chachere’s Creole Butter or some other type of injectable marinade.

    • 83.2
      Pat says:

      I’ve had a deep-fried turkey once at someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner; it was great! Do not place a frozen turkey in the deep-fryer–don’t want anyone getting grease burns when the oil splashes ๐Ÿ™

  34. 84

    sorry – no matter how much you proof read a mistake gets by.

    While smoked turnkeys might be interesting, I think a smoked turkey would be more useful to me. LOL.

  35. 85
    Joyce says:

    To get the most accurate measurement for Crisco, I always use the water displacement method. Using a glass 4 cup measuring cup (Pyrex), add 2 cups of cold water, then add your crisco. If you need 1 cup of Crisco, your water/Crisco measurement will go to the 3 cup mark. No scraping greasy Crisco out of a measuring cup and it’s very accruate.

  36. 86
    elaine says:

    mouth is watering… and I’m so excited to make an entire Thanksgiving dinner,… one of these days….. I may be the only one here, but I’ve never done the turkey before… but I look forward to having the privilege one day. I’m the poor soul who everyone feels sorry for and invites to their dinners. :o) (single mom with 3 kids) and I get to do a side…. sweet potato casserole or pie or an appetizer.

    all these ideas are wonderful!

    and I never knew what those “special” measuring cups were for. now I know. thank you ladies!!

  37. 87
    Becky says:

    I love all this – and I can’t believe how darling Annabeth looks!! Did she like wearing the outfit?
    I just have to add a tip that shows how far I needed to come in being able to do a Thanksgiving dinner. The first year we were married I was about 650 miles from my mom and thought – having graduated with a home economics degree – I should be able to handle things…little did I know! I ended up in a wrestling match with that stupid turkey – all because I couldn’t get the legs out from under the metal clamp thingie. So I wrote these directions in my Betty Crocker cookbook to remember for the next time. So – here goes – just in case someone else is having trouble just getting the thing unwrapped..
    “Slip table knife in between one turkey leg and the clamp to loosen – than do the same for the second leg. Pull out tail from cavity and then unpry clamp. If giblets and neck won’t come out, run hot water inside cavity to thaw.”
    This year it’s just my husband and I and our adult son for Thanksgiving so I’m doing a turkey breast in the roaster. They come with a gravy packet to supplement the drippings and it’s usually quite good. Love you ALL!

  38. 88
    Diana A. says:

    Can I chime in? … a little late – but still have a question.

    I am 46 – and never made a casserole…what is in it?
    My mom never made one, I may a tasted one at a church function, but I can’t even remember.

    Are there any reciepes for “dummies” with casseroles, I am not one to cook much – I don’t like to cook, but with a family of 3 males, someone has to produce something. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanksgiving was last month, but a new dish would maybe help around here! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • 88.1
      Kathy B says:

      Wow! “What is a casserole?” Sounds like a sermon title to me. Now the first question you’re going to get is, what kind of cassserole? Entree or side dish? Sweet or savory? You see, there’s the green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, squash casserole, chicken casserole, tuna casserole (eew), etc. And I’m just scratching the surface.

      I’ll assume that for Thanksgiving week you’re considering a side dish casserole. I believe the best “definition” would be when you dump a bunch of stuff in one 9X13 pan, top with some sort of butter encrusted device and cook ’til bubbly. Right? Fear not. Casseroles ARE baking for dummies ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m living proof. Here’s my husband’s favorite:
      Pah’s Shoepeg Corn Casserole
      1 stick butter (I warned ya)
      8oz cream cheese
      1 small jar diced pimento
      1 small can chili peppers
      mix and then add to
      3 small cans white shoepeg corn

      Place in 9X13 pan and top w/ cheddar cheese
      Bake at 350 for 20-30min ’til bubbly ๐Ÿ™‚

      “Someone” forgot to make this two years ago and my husband and daughter remarked that Thanksgiving just wasn’t the same. Seriously.

    • 88.2
      Beth, Ohio says:

      Alton Brown has some wonderful recipes for casseroles, and if you look under his show, “Good Eats”, he even explains what casserole means(it’s french, but I don’t remember what it means). is always a good resource, too!

  39. 89
    Theresa says:

    I am not an extraordinary cook, but I love experimenting…try Wm-Sonoma, Dry Brine and brine your turkey the easy way for super moist then bathe the baby in Ghee clarified butter with salt and pepper for a beautiful golden bird. Awesome!

  40. 90
    Kelli says:

    Just wanna say thank you, Mama Beth. I just buried my sweet mama & even though I cook all the time, she specialized in the Thanksgiving meal so this will be my first stab at it. She passed away without me getting her dressing recipe written down and I’m just sick about it. One of the things I miss the most is picking up the phone and calling her when I was stuck on a recipe. This blog post is a huge help! Thanks for mothering us motherless siestas. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • 90.1
      WendyB says:

      Kelli, my heart is aching for you. I’ll pray that you are able to replicate the dressing, but more importantly, that God holds you tight this holiday. I can’t imagine. And I know how you feel about the recipes. I’m 52 and I still call my mom every time I make meatloaf. Love to you, Siesta.

  41. 91
    Nancy says:

    THAT is one adorable little girl–Happy Thanksgiving to all the Moore’s…..

  42. 92
    Nancy says:

    I might also add that ‘little girl’ looks like granny….

  43. 93
    Lindsay says:

    This is awesome!! I have to cook a dish for lunch with my boyfriend’s family and a dish for dinner with my family. I love to cook, but I’m still learning. I usually have my mom in the kitchen with me to answer my multitude of questions. It seems like cooking is more of an art; the good family recipes don’t always have measurements. This year she will be 2 hours away. I have already warned her that she has to keep her phone with her. These recipes sound amazing! I don’t know what is going to be more difficult deciding what to cook or actually cooking! ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Thanksgiving ladies!!! Be safe and enjoy the time with your families!

    • 93.1
      Rachel says:

      What about making veggie pizza Lindsay. Easy to make & easy to transport to family that lives further away.
      It can be stored in a cooler.
      Let me know if you need the recipe. has wonderful recipes. The corn pudding is easy to make and sooooo yummy!!

      Happy Thanksgiving

  44. 94
    Barbara says:

    Pecan Pie (the easiest to make, richest ever!!!)

    This is for in a 9 inch pie shell โ€“ poke shell with fork in several places and bake for three minutes at 400 degrees. Remove.

    ยพ cup water
    1 ยผ cups maple syrup (12 oz.) the real stuff only
    ยฝ teaspoon salt
    ยผ cup cornstarch mixed with ยผ cup plus ยฝ tablespoon cold water
    2 tablespoons soy margarine
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    2 cups toasted (unsalted) pecan halves (to toast โ€“ spread out pecans on a cookie sheet in one layer โ€“ bake in the 400 degree oven until they begin to smell like pecans, careful to not let them darken much. Let them cool.)

    In a medium saucepan, combine the water and maple syrup. Boil for 5 minutes, then add the salt and dissolved cornstarch, whisking vigorously. (Careful of splashing โ€“ it’s HOT) Keep stirring and cook over high heat just until the mixture thickens and is clear. Remove from heat and add the margarine and vanilla, stirring until margarine is melted.

    Pour mixture into per-baked pie shell. Arrange the pecan halves on top, pressing one cup into the mixture and the remaining cup along the top of the mixture. (If you don’t care that it looks perfect, mix the pecans in the maple syrup mixture and spread into the pie shell.) Place the pie in the middle of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a rack for 11 hours, then refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.

    This is also a vegan recipe for siestas who eat a vegan diet like I do. (Any vegan siestas out there?)
    My carnivorous family LOVES this pie and requests it for all holidays. So, for all you non-vegans โ€“ I don’t want to throw Beth into shock โ€“ please use B.U.T.T.E.R. !!!!!

  45. 95
    Robin says:

    So sweet, so sweet … I love how you help with the practical things in life Beth and don’t make us feel like we should have it all together. You continue to help me learn how important community is and also that being real is totally ok. Love you dearly.

  46. 96
    Kelly says:

    I loved the picture of the little pilgrim. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I loved the picture of the PB&J sandwich, nothing better sometimes. Both really made me smile.
    I love how everyone encourages each other. Something to be thankful for.

    I use a crockpot to warm my spiral cut ham in. Really does a good job and does not take up the oven.

  47. 97

    I have a cooking/faith blog that has a list of easy recipes on the right hand side. Some of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes are on there. It is Hope that helps and I will enjoy looking at all the comments!

  48. 98
    Marisol says:

    Hi Ladies!
    I have a turkey roast sitting in my freezer and I have NO IDEA what to do with it! Someone gave it to me and I want to prepare it for my family dinner. Luckily there will be other more experienced cooks preparing turkey and ham and mine will just be an extra surprise but I think I may be in over my head here. I love to cook but have never cooked something like this before. To be honest I am not even sure what a turkey roast is. I don’t think there are wings or legs in there by the looks of it. Please help! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  49. 99
    Deborah says:

    Best cranberry sauce ever…take two bags of fresh cranberries, rinse them and put them into a deep baking dish. Sprinkle 2 1/2 cups of sugar over them. Bake them @ 350 for an hour to 1.5 hours. Be sure to put your dish on a baking sheet, just in case they spill over. When hot and bubbly, stir in 1/4-3/4 cup of brandy. (The recipe calls for 3/4 cup, but that’s a bit strong for us.) Store in the fridge until ready to serve. It will keep for a week, if you have any left. It’s always been a huge hit!
    Happy Thanksgiving~

  50. 100
    Mary says:

    I cook my turkey in an electric roaster oven. They range between $30-$50. This takes care of the lack of oven space. My dad always cooked the Thanksgiving meal and that’s what he used. The turkey is so moist and juicy it just falls apart!

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