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Top Drawer: The best of everything for your home and garden

CorrespondentNovember 15, 2013 

FOOD WBS-COCKTAILS 9 LA

Infuse your home with the rich, inviting smells of Thanksgiving and the holidays with a homamade potpurri which includes spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

KIRK MCKOY — MCT

Best homemade potpourri

Infuse your home with the rich, inviting smells of Thanksgiving and the holidays, courtesy of a holiday-themed post on Knoji.com.

It suggests mixing the following ingredients up in a sealed plastic bag and adding water as needed during the Thanksgiving weekend.

You will need:

3 cinnamon sticks

3 bay leaves

1/4 cup whole cloves

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 fresh lemon slices or 2 tablespoons dried lemon peel

2 tablespoons orange peel or dried orange peel

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 quart water

Mix all ingredients in medium to large saucepan. Simmer at low heat and add more water as needed. “The homemade scent for Thanksgiving will please guests and family when they come over,” Knoji promises. “Holiday fragrance is one of the key factors to making a house feel warm and welcoming.”

You can view the original post at http://tinyurl.com/kjn5zrk.

Reader’s best recipe

Reader Gari Gill of Raleigh wrote in to share a recipe she picked up while living on a military base in the Philippines.

You will need:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

32-ounce jar spaghetti sauce

7 ounces sliced pepperoni

14 ounces shredded mozzarella

Step by step:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a 9- by 13-inch baking dish, put a layer of sauce. Top with chicken breasts and add another layer of sauce on breasts. Top each breast with 4 to 5 slices of pepperoni. Cover all with mozzarella and another layer of pepperoni. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is completely melted and the pepperoni starts to release some of its fat.

Serve with your favorite pasta and salad.

Best holiday cleaning routine

If you’re expecting company for Thanksgiving, Gretchen Knuffk’s Maternal Instinct blog has put together a checklist to help you ready your home for guests.

We’ve excerpted some of her tips here, but you can find the complete list at http://tinyurl.com/m64ylfv.

Kitchen

• Declutter countertops.

• Rearrange and organize baking center.

• Wash all Thanksgiving serving dishes and glasses.

• Wash down all cabinets and counters.

• Clean out fridge.

• Sweep and mop the floor.

• Wash dish towels, pot holders and rugs.

Guest bathroom

• Declutter countertops.

• Freshen decor and clean any shelves or cabinets.

• Scrub bathtub, toilet, sink and floors.

• Wash rugs and towels.

• Put out a scented candle, fresh soap and clean towels.

Entryway and porch

• Sweep porch.

• Put out Thanksgiving or autumn wreath and decor.

• Declutter entryway.

• Sweep and mop floors.

Best for turkey

I am still haunted by memories of preparing my first Thanksgiving turkey. I had been served up dry birds my entire life, and I was determined to have a different outcome. It was different, all right. That turkey was pale as a ghost, not cooked all the way through and no one had bothered to tell me that there were little baggies of giblets stuffed inside. It was years before I tried again. All of my hesitation went away when I learned of an easy, no-fail brining process.

Brining is a process in which a turkey is soaked in a bath of herbs, salt, sugar, water and vinegar for 20 to 24 hours. It infuses the bird with flavor and moistness during roasting, ensuring your bird is plump and juicy instead of tough and dry.

You can find recipes on sites such as allrecipes.com, or you can buy ready-made brine in stores or online. My favorite is the Turkey Perfect Herb Brine by Fire and Flavor ( http://tinyurl.com/nxod4lf). Be sure to buy a “brine kit” or purchase a brining bag to go along with your mix. As an added bonus, brined turkey carcasses make delicious soup.

Seeking our readers’ best

Do you have a simple holiday recipe that is a sure-fire hit at family or friend celebrations? If so, we want to hear about it. If we use your tip in Top Drawer, we’ll enter you in a quarterly drawing for a gift. Send email to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. Be sure to include your name and street address. Put “Best tips” in the subject line.

Designer’s best

If you’re hoping to spruce up your holiday table beyond typical placemats and china, check out a pictorial of 15 stylish Thanksgiving table settings offered on the HGTV website. You’ll find interesting uses for table runners, miniature gourds, hurricanes, candles, chairback ties and more at http://tinyurl.com/lytv2lr.

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Jason’s personal-trainer business operates from his home basement, so the dwelling is no longer just a home for his wife and their two kids. Clients are in and out, and the family must adjust to the work schedule. Designer Hilary has renovation plans to help this family have their own space again. In the meantime, Realtor David looks for homes that can accommodate everyone. In the end, the family must decide what works best for them and Jason’s business. “Love it or List it” airs at 7 p.m. Monday.

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