We've sorted through the kitchen cupboards and drawers to determine which gear will make Thanksgiving prep easy and streamlined—and which gadgets you're better off tossing.
Even the heaviest-duty disposable aluminum foil pan is just a little too flimsy for a big bird, potentially bending or folding just when you need it to hold up. Plus, without handles, removal from the oven can get rather dodgy. Instead, use a heavy-gauge stainless steel roasting pan with a fitted rack to elevate the bird from its drippings and allow vegetables on the bottom to cook evenly.
Try All-Clad's Petite Roti pan ($160), which can fit up to a 12-pound turkey and includes an easy-to-clean nonstick rack.
Manual Rotary Beaters
This apparatus stands the test of time for batters, egg whites, or whipped cream. OXO's Good Grips Egg Beater has rustproof gears and detachable, dishwasher-safe beaters. ($20)
Nonmetal Pie Plates
For a beautifully browned piecrust, stick with tempered glass or ceramic pie plates. Old or new, they conduct heat slowly and evenly (no hot spots), are often dishwasher safe, and won't rust like metal pie plates can. Bonus: Most ceramic pie dishes are pretty enough to go straight to the dessert buffet. If you need a new one, look for a dish that's freezer safe for make-ahead convenience, such as the Emile Henry Pie Dish. It can also be heated up to 500° and is chip and shock resistant. ($45)
The physics behind these hasn't changed much over time, so if you inherited Grandma's, it will still do a great job of sending the drippings that fall to the bottom of the vessel through the siphoning spout, while the fat floats on top.
Remove fat layer from stock as it cooks with this Fat Skimming Ladle from Williams Sonoma. ($40)
Try OXO's Good Grips Fat Separator with a removable strainer and stoppers that prevent fat from entering the spout. ($10)
Old-school versions do what modern ones do. Avoid overfilling so nonseparated liquid won't spill over the pour spout.
Not only does basting not change the meat's flavor, but it also prevents crispy skin from forming. Instead, use a brush lightly coated with oil at the end of roasting to help crisp the skin (perfect for our Brown Sugar–Cured Turkey).
That electric carving knife your dad's had forever can do a pretty awesome job of quickly breaking down the turkey and cutting precise, even slices of meat, so let him have his fun. But you can always go manual. Use a long, thin, well-sharpened knife like the Zwilling Pro S Carving Knife. ($110)
9 Kitchen Gadgets That Improve Your Health
Zest your way to fresh and flavorful food with the Microplane Classic Series Zester/Grater ($14, amazon.com). Citrus zest is a healthy way to season dishes without adding calories, says Cassetty. The dishwasher-safe tool earned top marks in GHRI tests, easily zesting lemon rind without piercing the pith. Try a side of steamed broccoli with sautéed garlic and lemon tonight.
Fighting off the effects of aging can be as simple as drinking a cup of tea. Use the stainless steel Saeco Electric Kettle ($60, target.com) to prepare black, rooibos, and green tea, which help you stay young, says Cassetty. The jug-style kettle features a translucent window and illuminates the water, changing colors depending on temperature &mdash making it easy to see when it&rsquos time to enjoy your anti-aging brew.
The stainless steel Waring Pro Professional Immersion Blender SB10 allows you to puree nutritious soups and dips without straining your wrist, thanks to its ergonomic grip. The multi-speed device makes it easy to work on dense concoctions, taking only 90 seconds to blend a thick vegetable soup in a GHRI test. Use the blender to prepare satiating bean-based dishes packed with protein and fiber, says Cassetty. Try our recipes for white bean dip, hummus, or jalapeno-spiked black bean soup.
You’ll need a good chopping board, and a clean knife, plus:
A small food chopper: While you can chop nuts on a cutting board, a food chopper makes it easy, and the cleanup is quicker. Don’t use a food processor, which will convert the nuts into a powder even in a few short pulses.
A nonstick pan: This dish starts off with a soup-like consistency and gets increasingly sticky as the dates soften. As the mixture thickens, it will be important to be able to scrape off the unformed fudgy mass without letting it burn.
A heat-resistant spatula: The dish requires constant stirring until it is completely reduced and thickened. Therefore, all utensils used during the active cooking process must be able to withstand the heat.
A spring loaded ice-cream scoop will make it easier to portion out the warm fudge.
A small glass bowl will help shape the balls more easily. If you plan to include them on a festive platter, mini muffin cups make great holders for individual ladoos.
10 Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes
Skip the fattening crusts and sugary pie filling with this surprisingly satisfying dessert, which is featured in Dr. Oz&rsquos recipe blog. It calls for Stevia, oatmeal, applesauce and spices. Serve it with a dessert latte made from low-fat milk and Stevia.
2. Couscous-Stuffed Peppers
Add a splash of festive fall colors to your table with this protein-packed recipe. You will need several colored bell peppers, and you must remove the tops for baking. The couscous stuffing includes feta cheese, currants, spinach and several spices. The Food Network provides a great recipe.
3. Maple Cranberry Sweet Potatoes
Good Housekeeping features a healthier spin on sweet potatoes. You can reduce the butter measurement to one-half of the requirement and use butter that is infused with olive oil for a healthier option.
4. Turkey Wraps
For an appetizer, you can use a whole-wheat tortilla. Put some low-fat cream cheese in a thin layer on the tortilla. Add diced turkey, black beans and cranberry sauce for a scrumptious snack.
5. Stuffed Butternut Squash
These squash halves are perfect if you want a side dish that is both aesthetically pleasing and delicious. This recipe from 12 Tomatoes includes mushrooms, quinoa, Parmesan cheese and several herbs and spices.
6. Spiced Cranberry Apple Cider
Use two bottles of apple juice and one bottle of cranberry juice. Both should be naturally sweetened. Cut four oranges into thin slices. Add all ingredients in a large pot. Throw in about 10 cinnamon sticks, a few slices of fresh ginger and a teaspoon of allspice. Let it simmer for 15 minutes, and let it cool before serving.
7. Quinoa Stuffing
Since traditional stuffing often tops the list for being unhealthy, try this recipe for a much healthier and equally delicious side. It calls for cranberries, pistachios, butternut squash, spinach and some scrumptious spices.
8. Pumpkin Bowl Squash Soup
If you want to impress your guests with a fun meal starter, this Food Network recipe will not disappoint. You use small baking pumpkins to create bowls, and you combine the inside contents with squash, onion and cream. You can substitute milk for the cream and olive oil for the butter without sacrificing too much flavor quality.
9. Healthy Green Bean Casserole
With its heavy canned soup and high-calorie breaded onions, traditional green bean casserole is a diet killer. If you want that same smoky mushroom flavor with crispy onions, try this fresher vegan recipe from Hummusapien. The white wine and hint of nutmeg make it savory enough to become a yearly staple for your Thanksgiving gatherings.
10. Cranberry Orange Bran Bread
You can make this as muffins or loaves. This recipe posted at Chef In You is a good guide. However, you can use bran and wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Also, you can substitute Stevia for sugar with proper conversion, and you can use butter that is infused with olive oil or use a combination of butter and coconut oil.
Keep track of sugar levels, carbs and fat content in any recipe from turkey glaze to dessert. To help ensure that you stay on track, plan your menu in advance. Figure out serving sizes and total calories. For snack trays, provide lean meats or raw vegetables. This turkey veggie platter is a fun idea for all ages. Most of all, have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- To a large bowl add brussels sprouts, olive oil, 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, tamari sauce, garlic clove, salt and pepper. Toss with a spoon to coat all of the brussesl sprouts.
- Lay brussels sprouts out on a baking sheet cut side down (flat side) and bake for 20 &ndash 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and drizzle with remaining balsamic vinegar. Serve.
Nik Sharma is what I like to call a food-media unicorn. He brings absolutely everything to the table: a sophisticated flavor sensibility, a profound understanding of technique and food science, an artful photographic eye, and the ability to bring it all together in articles and recipes that are both informative and desirable. This biryani recipe is a great example. He used it to dive deep into the science of acids in marinades, proving that not all acids are equal (a brilliant and endlessly applicable observation!), and then to peel back both the literal and metaphorical layers of a grand dish like biryani. I happen to live in a neighborhood where biryani is a dime a dozen, heaps of rice studded with meat and scooped from steam tables into take-out trays. It's delicious, but most of the finer points are lost: The unveiling of the biryani so that the aromas are released at the table, the careful layering of rice and meat, and the delicate aromatics of warm spices, sweet caramelized onions, rich ghee, gamey lamb, tangy yogurt, and floral notes from the killer trio of saffron, rose water, and kewra (pandan) water. It truly is a special occasion dish. —Daniel Gritzer
Why Your Beloved Disinfecting Wipes May Be Making Your Kitchen Dirtier
They&rsquore handy for quick cleanups, but they could be spreading germs, not killing them.
Disinfecting wipes have been around for more than a decade, and their popularity is not fading. Indeed, in 2017, disinfecting wipes helped lead Clorox to better-than-expected sales. And though they aren’t the only makers of germ-killing cleaning cloths, their success does shadow what other brands have experienced.
But what most people who snatch up the pre-moistened spiral swipers don’t know is that if you don’t use them correctly, you could be making your kitchen dirtier.
Disinfecting wipes do work—research tells us that𠅋ut it also tell us that if you don’t follow the rules carefully, you could be spreading germs across your entire kitchen, just as you think you’re wiping away potentially dangerous ones.
These rules of thumb will help you decide if you should really be using antibacterial wipes (you don’t always need them), and, if so, how to use them correctly so you get the most protective benefit.
Consider the cause
Ask yourself: Do I need to clean? Or do I need to disinfect? A daily wipe down of your kitchen’s surfaces may be in order after you’ve cooked a meal and prepped the next day’s lunches. A daily bacteria-killing wipe may not be necessary.
Indeed, bacteria can be a good thing. The “hygiene hypothesis” says we need bacteria to keep our bodies resilient and ready to battle incoming bugs. Exposure to bacteria may be particularly useful in preventing asthma in young children, research suggests.
If you need to clean your surfaces, not disinfect them, you can use a moist paper towel, washcloth, or microfiber cloth simply to wipe down your kitchen. Throw away the paper towel. Wash the cloths in hot water with bleach to kill any bad germs you happen to pick up.
If you want to remove and kill germs, keep reading.
Use it and lose it
If you do decide you need to kill germs𠅏or example, you spilled raw chicken juices on the counter while cooking—you need to follow a simple antibacterial wipe rule: use it and lose it. Research shows that these germ-killing wipes pick up bacteria and destroy them for a small surface area (about one meter squared). If you go beyond that, you’re actually just spreading the germs you picked up to other surfaces. Yikes!
On highly-contaminated or high-traffic surfaces in the kitchen (that cutting board or countertop or frequently-used kitchen handles), use one wipe for a three-foot-by-three-foot area. Then, toss it in the trash, and get a new wipe.
Read the instructions carefully
To be most effective, some anti-bacterial wipes state the surface has to be wet for a specific amount of time, from four to even 10 minutes. That’s a lot of wipes!
If you’re not keeping the surface wet for the amount of time the manufacturer recommends, you’re cleaning the area—that is, moving dirt and food𠅋ut you’re not disinfecting.
Use germ-swiping materials, not germ-killing ones, regularly
When you don’t need to kill germs but rather just want to clean up around the kitchen, get into the habit of wiping germs away with microfiber cloths. Research shows the unique weave in these fabrics helps wick away germs—which then can be promptly washed and destroyed in a hot-water bath with bleach.
But the surface area rule applies here, too. Don’t use the same side of the cloth to clean the entire kitchen. Use more than one, and change to a fresh side every few feet.
You can have your pick of baked beans with either of these great recipes from Cris: Crock Pot Cowboy BBQ Beans and Crock Pot Pineapple Baked Beans.
Pretty Please Watch Out for These Common Thanksgiving Dinner Mistakes
With out-of-town guests, high expectations, and crazy amounts of food, Thanksgiving dinner is prime time for kitchen fails. But just because you made a few mistakes last year doesn't mean you should give up this year. I sat down with the other food editors and brainstormed all the most common Thanksgiving mistakes, and then wrote you a guide on how to avoid them. You can thank us at the dinner table.
10 Most Common Thanksgiving Mistakes
Not reading the recipes first
This classic mistake results in a lot of "Oops, I don't have that pan" or "oops, I didn't know it needed to brine overnight." Avoid these disasters by reading the recipes! Make sure you have the dishes needed and ample time to get things done.
Picking dishes that all require last-minute preparation.
When designing the feast, figure out how it's going to get put together and on the table at the same time. Know what can be done ahead, what can be rewarmed in the oven while the turkey rests, etc.
. Or that all need to be in the oven at the same time
Choose recipes that require different preparation and can be served at different temperatures oven versus stovetop and hot versus room temp.
Not having all of the serving dishes and utensils needed
Reading the recipes will help you figure out what you might need, but you can always rearrange the dishes you have to fit with the right recipe. If you are short, borrow from friends and family.
Undercooking the turkey
Rely on internal temperatures rather than cooking time to determine when your bird is done. Don't even think about roasting a turkey without a thermometer, and see our Thanksgiving Toolbox for other essential tools.
Overcooking the turkey
Start checking if it's done about 1/2 hour before the recipe says it will be. But make it fast! The more you open the door, the more heat the oven will lose, making roasting time longer. OR, use a probe thermometer that stays in the turkey while it roasts, with an alarm that goes off when it's ready.
Making lumpy mashed potatoes
Buy a potato ricer! It's the best guarantee for a silky, lump-free mash. Follow our recipe to achieve perfect, fluffy mashed potatoes.
Not serving hors d'oeuvres
Even if you've been tasting (read: snacking) all day as you cook, your guests haven't. Put out something light, like cured salmon and crisps, to keep them hungry--but not ravenous--for the big meal.
Dishing out cold gravy
You can keep your gravy at serving temperature indefinitely by keeping it in a pot of barely simmering water that comes halfway up the sides of the gravy boat (although if you're using grandma's china, you might want to use a ceramic bowl).
Setting the table at the last minute
Set the table one day ahead. You can even put Post-It's on serving dishes that say what recipe will go with which platter or bowl.
My personal problem? Leaving one dish in the refrigerator and forgetting to serve it! At least it lets everyone have something new on Friday to enjoy along with the leftovers. Those labeled dishes really help here! --Janet McCracken
Ina Garten's Favorite Kitchen Tools
1. Kitchen Scale
"If something says 5 ounces and you really want it to be 5 ounces, it&aposs really helpful to have a kitchen scale," Garten says. She owns an OXO model similar to this ($48.95, amazon.com).
2. Food Mill
Food mills are Ina&aposs go-to tool for creamy foods like mashed potatoes. "What I like is that something ends up with texture so it&aposs not just like baby food," she explains. (Ina has used this $60 Moulinex food mill from Williams Sonoma and even has it featured on her blog.)
3. Parchment Paper
"I love to line sheet pans with parchment paper so that all you have to do is throw the paper out and you&aposve got a nice clean pan," Garten says. "Well, you have to put it in the dishwasher, but it&aposs not all crusty…"
4. Wrap 'n' Snap
"Instead of fighting with that box," Garten loves how simple this tool makes it to slice off a clean and flat piece of plastic wrap. (She has the Stretch-tite Wrap&aposN Snap 7500 Dispenser $43.99, amazon.com.)
5. Ice cream Scoop
"I use a regular ice cream scoop for muffins, for meatballs𠅊nything that&aposs round and shaped like that. It makes perfectly proportioned meatballs and muffins and it looks very professional," she says. (Try this Zulay model $10.99, amazon.com)
So in case you&aposre looking for wish list items or gifts for your hard-to-shop-for food friends, Queen Ina once again has us covered.