Thanksgiving: Everything you need to make the biggest meal of the year

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Nov. 19, 2012 at 11:54 AM   |   0 comments

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Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Thanksgiving can be scary. All the pressures of putting a great party are compounded by the need to produce a spectacular meal and the stresses of the oncoming holiday season, long lines at airports and bickering cousins at the table.

Fortunately, the Internet was practically invented to help smooth out the toughest of tasks: planning and executing the Thanksgiving dinner.

From planning the meal to troubleshooting, the following online tools and videos are a handy guide for Thursday.

Get started--Menu planners

The trick to a smooth Thanksgiving is, as with all things, a good game plan. Are you going traditional, with a turkey-centered meal? How about a ham?

Or maybe something totally different, like pheasant or bacon-stuffed sausage?

The New York Times interactive Thanksgiving-erator lets you pick your style and generates meal plans, recipes included, from the most classic to the modernist, baconist and extremist (turducken, anyone?).

Bon Appetite has two menu generators to choose from. One lets you sort through the number of guests, how much time you want to devote to prep, and options for style such as affordable, sophisticated, and vegetarian. It also offers from a series of menus perfectly tailored to the most discerning personality, such as the "Farm to Table Menu", the "Southern Menu" and the "Great for a Crowd Menu."

It's go time--Tutorials

A traditional Thanksgiving meal is chock-full of techniques the average at-home chef won't touch the other 364 days of the year.

Brining and stuffing a whole bird? Please. Making a pie from scratch? Only because it's Thanksgiving. Fear not! With these tutorials, you don't need to pick up a pre-made pumpkin pie from the grocery store--you'll be able to proudly show off your own handiwork.

The turkey

The Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, walks us through the basics of roasting a simple, gorgeous turkey.

And, if you must fry your turkey, do it safely.

The stuffing

Do you make it in the bird?

There are some dangers to stuffing a turkey, so the USDA recommends not packing the stuffing too tightly, or until you're ready to put the bird in the oven (bacteria loves an uncooked turkey).

Or out?

Safer, and just as tasty.

Top it off--gravy

Lumpless please.

Everybody's favorite--marshmallow yams

It's just not Thanksgiving without this crowd-pleaser.

Set the cranberry free from the can

So much better than the can, and you can prep it ahead of time. With or without the raisins, add apples, oranges, or any other fruit, a great homemade cranberry sauce is the unsung hero of a Thanksgiving meal.

Pie! Pie!

Pumpkin is good:

Pecan is better:

Emergency! Live helplines will be standing by...

Butterball's Turkey Talkline (1-800-Butterball) has been helping panicked chefs for years, and now they've even added an iOS app.

The experts from the Dining section of the New York Times are taking questions online and posting answers to every emergency.

The Food Network is taking questions online and will answer callers on Thanksgiving Live coverage on Sunday.

If all else fails, you can revel in a little nostalgia with Charlie Brown

Follow @gabbilevy and @UPI on Twitter.
© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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