Hints for making any Thanksgiving meal a success

Dear Readers: Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and a lot of turkeys will be prepared, cooked and eaten. Here are some hints for tomorrow’s big meal.

* If you are making a fresh turkey, today would be the last day to buy one so you have time in the morning to prep it. Your frozen turkey should already be in the refrigerator defrosting (four or five days for a 20-pound turkey).

* Stuffing or dressing should be made and cooked immediately to a minimum of 165 degrees F (whether stuffed inside the bird or placed in a baking dish).

* Once the turkey is cooked to 165 degrees F, take it out of the oven and let rest for about 20 minutes before carving. This gives the juices time to settle into the meat so it is not dry.

* Leftover turkey and stuffing can be saved for up to four days in the refrigerator, or frozen for up to six months. Hope you, your family and friends have a wonderful day and holiday meal!

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: We prefer to stuff our Thanksgiving turkey, but it can be a challenge to remove the stuffing once it is cooked. Surely there is an easier way. Do you have any hints? — Helen W., via email

Sure do! Try placing cheesecloth in the turkey cavity first! Fold the cheesecloth in half (so it’s not too thin) and use it to line the inside of the turkey. Then fill the cavity with stuffing. Once your turkey and stuffing are cooked, simply pull the cheesecloth, and all the stuffing will come out with it! — Heloise

Dear Heloise: During the holidays, I make a lot of cookies to give to friends and family. Some of the cookies I make have you roll the dough into balls and then coat with sugar. I place the sugar in a plastic bag, drop four to five cookies in at a time and gently shake until coated with the right amount of sugar. An added bonus is that there is no mess, and it’s easy cleanup! — Diane W., Colorado Springs, Colo.

Dear Heloise: Use a cutting board over a sink basin for extra workspace. Just be sure the cutting board extends adequately over the sink. You also can use a cutting board over an open desk drawer for instant desk space. — Kira G., Omaha, Neb.

Dear Heloise: We like to buy the ice cream that comes in big plastic buckets with the handle for large groups of people. Here is how we reuse them: We use a bucket (cleaned, of course) to store one of the ice creams sold in a cardboard paper container. The whole thing fits right inside the plastic containers.

They also make great “take to a potluck or barbecue” disposable containers. Who cares about getting your container back? — V. Gates, Birmingham, Ala.