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De-Stress your Thanksgiving With These Last-Minute Tips

Familystyle Food's mac and cheese is an easy and satisfying Thanksgiving side.
Familystyle Food's mac and cheese is an easy and satisfying Thanksgiving side. Photo by Karen Tedesco
Thanksgiving is only a few days away and for many of us, it means the one day out of the year when we stress over making the perfect meal.

Familystyle Food's Karen Tedesco wants to take the worry out of turkey day with some helpful tips and shortcuts. Tedesco, a professional chef and former food editor at Village Voice, has partnered with New Times to provide recipes for our readers. Her advice is to keep Thanksgiving simple by planning ahead and carefully curating the meal.

Make a Colorful Plate

When serving Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey is the centerpiece. Make a colorful plate by serving side dishes in a rainbow of colors. "I like to serve something green, something orange, something red, and something cream-colored," says Tedesco, who adds that if you're hosting a dinner for eight people or less, three or four sides would be perfect. Traditional sides like cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green beans, and stuffing or mashed potatoes will make a colorful plate. For inspiration, check out Tedesco's 25 Thanksgiving dinner sides.

Turkey Tips

Instead of buying a large turkey, Tedesco recommends purchasing two smaller turkeys. "They don't take as long to roast and you have less of a chance of overcooking them," she says. The night before roasting the turkey, dry rub the turkey with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs and let sit in the fridge overnight. "It really does make the turkey moister," says the chef, adding that you shouldn't rely on the little pop-up thermometer that comes with the turkey. "Buy a cheap digital thermometer instead. It's the best investment you can make," she adds.

Greet Guests With a Welcome Cocktail

Instead of buying multiple bottles of spirits and acting as bartender, Tedesco recommends batching a welcome cocktail that's sparkling and festive. Pomegranate juice, lime, and vodka, topped with seltzer, is a colorful drink, according to Tedesco, and can be easily turned into a mocktail by leaving out the vodka.

Easy Snacks

Keep friends and family busy with some light snack offerings throughout the day. Tedesco recommends serving hummus. Instead of breaking out the blender, you can "doctor" up store-bought hummus. Bring the hummus to room temperature and transfer it into a pretty, rustic bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some paprika or sesame seeds. Serve with Marcona almonds, crackers, and cut vegetables.

Ask for Help

"If you're inviting people over, don't be shy to ask them to bring something," says Tedesco. Guests can bring something easy like a pie or a side dish. If you're asked to bring a side to Thanksgiving dinner, why not try this easy mac and cheese recipe from Familystyle Food. If you're in a rush, says Tedesco, you can even buy pre-made mac and cheese and top it with the recipe's herbaceous breadcrumb topping (we'll never tell). 
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss

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