1. Pepperidge Farm stuffing is the way to go (for me, anyways). I love stuffing, and the last few years I have auditioned various from-scratch recipes. I was always disappointed by the results. This year I went with Pepperidge Farm and have no regrets. It was a lot less work than any of the other recipes I've tried, and it tasted just the way I want stuffing to taste. Maybe it's because that's what my mom always used for Thanksgiving?
2. I have found my go-to pie crust. Every year I make at least one pie from scratch, and rolling out the dough has generally involved lots of cursing and patching when the dough tears or crumbles. Last year I tried out Dorie Greenspan's Good for Almost Anything Pie Crust (from Baking: My Home to Yours) and it worked like a dream. I used it again this year and rolling out the dough was, once again, relatively stress-free. The recipe (available here) uses mostly butter but also includes a little bit of shortening, and it makes all the difference in terms of a dough that is easy to work with.
3. Use leftover pie dough scraps to make little cookies. Just sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or so, until they look toasty and delicious. The perfect Thanksgiving morning snack.
4. The recipe for cranberry sauce in How to Cook Everything includes way too much water. I was able to salvage the cranberries by simply draining off the extra liquid, but I had a moment of panic when my cranberry sauce was looking more like cranberry soup. Next year I'll go back to the Ocean Spray recipe that has always served me well in the past!
5. Champagne is a great pairing with Thanksgiving foods. I usually serve something sparkling as an aperitif, but this year I nursed one glass throughout the whole meal and it was terrific with the food. The bubbles helped cut through the richness of the food.
6. Appetizers are overrated. I decided not to bother with pre-dinner snacks, as we had a ton of food for the dinner itself and I figured appetizers would just make more leftovers. Maybe my guests were too polite to complain, but I certainly didn't miss having cheese and crackers or crudite to eat before the big meal.
7. Outsourcing the turkey carving is the way to go. This is the one Thanksgiving task that I really don't enjoy (aside from doing the dishes), and it happens at a stressful time for the cook as you are trying to get everything else hot and ready to be served. My husband tried his hand (after watching a couple of online videos) and did a beautiful job. I have informed him that he will be carving the turkey at all future Thanksgivings!
Any of you have any revelations this Thanksgiving?