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Thanksgiving tips, and a recipe

For the past five years, I have had a tradition of taking off the entire week of Thanksgiving, tackling some projects and prepping dinner while leaving the kids in daycare.

This year, we are changing things up a bit and are joining the millions of travelers on the busiest air traffic day of the year and hauling our kids to Colorado.

While I am thrilled to be headed there to see my family and friends, I am mourning my week off at home and the fact that for the first time in about 13 years, *I* am not cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

My husband has requested that I cook his favorite cranberry sauce because Thanksgiving would just not be Thanksgiving for him without my special cranberry sauce.

Here is where my post is going... since I don’t get to enjoy all the prep work that I am used to this year, I am using this post to live vicariously through everyone else. Here are my tips to pulling off a great Thanksgiving dinner. Stick with me through the list and you will get my “special” cranberry sauce recipe at the end.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tips:

-- Make a list of everything you plan to fix on Thanksgiving. If you are cooking and you haven’t yet done this, do it now. Pick up your notebook and start with breakfast, snack foods, and each component of your dinner. IF I was doing this, I would start with homemade cinnamon rolls, coffee, fresh orange juice, crackers and cheese and a veggie plate. Then, cream of mushroom soup, smoked turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, brussel sprouts, broccoli (for the non-brussel sprout inclined), Zinfandel cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. And wine.

-- Find your recipes ASAP. Print them all up.

-- Looking at your recipes make your grocery list and shop.

-- Tape each of your recipes to a cupboard. OK, so you might need to tape two to each cupboard if you have a kitchen like mine and like to stretch your menu.

-- Deconstruct your recipes. What can be done ahead? (Example, my cranberry sauce can be made days ahead of time and gets better after sitting.) Make your cranberry sauce, dice onions, chop carrots, celery and other vegies and put them in Ziploc baggies for easy access. You can do this days ahead. Pies can be made the day before and the stuffing ingredients can be prepped the day before. Once you are done with a recipe, pull it off your cupboard.

-- If you make a turkey, cook it on your grill. This frees up the oven for everything else and the turkey is fantastic this way. Check out the November issue of Bon Appetit or www.epicurious.com for tips on grilling your turkey.

-Get as much out of the way ahead of time as you possibly can so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving day!

So the Spiced Cranberry Zinfandel Sauce isn’t my invention… it’s from Bon Appetit. But it truly is a most spectacular cranberry sauce. Enjoy!

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