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Thanksgiving Dinner Tips for Beginners

Published by Kenny Kolassa

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The first time you cook a Thanksgiving dinner it is a nerve-racking experience. Luckily there are some tips for cooking newbies to help ensure success.

Cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner for the first time is a stressful experience for even the most experienced cook. You want to make sure there is enough food for everyone invited and you want to make sure the food served will not gag guests or send them to the emergency room. For those who are not the greatest cooks in the world or who have never even thought of cooking a meal for more than a few people, the thought of serving this highly anticipating meal can be overwhelming. While there is no guarantee everyone at the table will enjoy what you are dishing out on Thanksgiving Day, there are a few ways to ensure most will go home full and happy.

Keep It Simple

The best tip for anyone creating his or her first Thanksgiving dinner is stick with the basics. Consider what foods most people think of when they hear the phrase Thanksgiving Dinner. Often roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, a green bean casserole, and some type of bread, roll, or biscuit will be the first images that come to mind. A meal does not have to consist of fancy, exotic dishes in order to be a success.

Prep the Night Before

You may not be able to cook a 20-pound turkey the night before Thanksgiving and reheat it the following day for guests, but there are some dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. Consider making dishes such as candied sweet potatoes, or garlic mashed potatoes the evening before your planned dinner and reheat shortly before the main dish is almost ready to come out of the oven.

Know Your Limitations

Ideally homemade dishes would taste better than store prepared foods or foods that start out in a box or can. Unfortunately not everyone has the skill to whip up homemade dishes that are delectable and leave guests asking for more. If you are trying to make something that keeps coming out horribly wrong it is okay to get a little help from the supermarket aisle. It is better to serve stuffing made from a mix or gravy poured from a can and have people want to eat it than to serve food that makes people want to run to the nearest fast food restaurant as soon as possible.

Be Aware of Cooking Times

When roasting a holiday turkey it is important to know how long the bird needs to cook based on the weight of the turkey. The heavier the bird the longer it will have to cook. Cooking times can often be found on the wrapper surrounding the fresh or frozen turkey, in most cookbooks, or at online recipe websites. It is just as important not to overcook a bird as it is not to overcook. An undercooked bird could make guests sick, and an overcooked turkey will be dry and tasteless.

Ask Guests for a Dish to Pass

If cooking is not your strong point chances are good your guests already know this. If you know turkey and maybe some stuffing is all you can handle when it comes to making a Thanksgiving dinner go ahead and ask guests to bring a side dish or dessert to pass. Most guests will not mind and a wider variety of food options will be available for all.

Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family, football, and giving thanks for all of the blessings you have been given in life. Cooking a big meal for this day can be stressful but is worth it. When you are hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner ever you have a right to be proud even if you make a few mistakes or take a few shortcuts. Chances are your guests will be proud of you too.

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