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Advance planning makes Thanksgiving easier.
Advance planning makes Thanksgiving easier. MCT

Seeking our readers’ best

Do you have a simple recipe that is a hit at your holiday 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 card. Send email to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. Be sure to include your name and street address. Put “Best recipe” in the subject line.

Best for leftover turkey

Turn that turkey carcass into a warm and satisfying soup with my family’s go-to recipe for Holiday Turkey Soup.

You will need:

1 leftover turkey carcass, preferably brined, or rotisserie chicken carcass with meat reserved

3 medium onions, chopped (1 coarsely chopped for making stock)

3 large carrots, diced (1 cut in chunks for making stock)

3 celery ribs, diced (1 coarsely chopped for making stock)

Generous drizzle of butter or olive oil

1 cup uncooked jasmine rice

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules

3/4 teaspoon pepper

1 Place turkey or chicken carcass in a large pot along with coarsely chopped carrot, onion and celery chunks and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 35 to 45 minutes (until meat is tender and falling from the bones).

2 Remove carcass. Strain meat and vegetables over a colander, setting aside 3 quarts of broth; cool.

3 Remove meat from bones and cut into bite-size pieces; set aside.

4 In a Dutch oven, sauté onions, carrots and celery in butter or olive oil until tender and starting to turn translucent. Gradually add 1 quart of reserved broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.

5 Add rice, salt, bouillon, pepper, remaining broth and reserved meat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Adjust seasonings to your liking.

Note: If your guests can tolerate dairy, swirl 1 1/2 to 2 cups of half-and-half into the soup at the end. Do not boil, but let simmer until warm. Alternatively, you can put a swirl of half-and-half in individual bowls for a creamier soup.

Best last-minute holiday checklist

Hosting Thanksgiving can be a time-consuming commitment where little misses cause big messes. Better Homes and Gardens has put together a checklist counting down the days until the big celebration. We have excerpted last-minute tips for Wednesday and Thursday here.


• Peel potatoes, place in a pot of cold water. Refrigerate.

• Clean vegetables and refrigerate.

• Make all dishes that can be prepared ahead.

• Don’t forget the pies and any chopping, peeling, or toasting that can be done ahead.

• Check your bathrooms.

• Have extra paper goods and hand towels available.

• Spot clean rooms that will be used.

• Let your family set the table in the evening.

Make a staging area for coffee, desserts and drinks. Stock with flatware, sugar and creamer, cups and saucers, etc. This could even be set up on a tray stashed in the pantry until needed.

Thanksgiving Day

• Set out all serving pieces in order on a counter or buffet table.

• Assign specific family members or guests to take charge of tending the fire, pouring drinks, answering the door, hanging up coats and watching the children.

• Remove turkey from the refrigerator for one to two hours. Add stuffing to the bird or place into casseroles to bake separately. Preheat oven. Put turkey in oven and baste every half-hour or according to your recipe.

• Prepare coffee and brew 20 minutes before serving. Remove stuffing from turkey and let it rest, covered, for about 20 minutes before slicing.

• Microwave food to quickly reheat if all burners of the stove are occupied.

• Make gravy and last-minute vegetables.

• Set out refrigerated dishes, including condiments, cranberries and salads.

• Heat bread or rolls as needed.

• Pour drinks.

• Carve turkey. Keep the oven on the lowest setting to keep foods warm until the meal is over.

• Enjoy.

• Check out the entire countdown checklist at



Best Thanksgiving display

There’s still time to craft an elegant centerpiece, porch, fireplace or hallway display for Thanksgiving Day. Robin Beck’s Nest blog has instructions to create a simple fall decorating project with a grapevine ball frame, lights, bows and fall accents like leaves.

Simply stuff the ball with a string or two of holiday lights (she used orange, but white lights would also be pretty). Affix sheer ribbon to the top of the ball (to reflect the light), and use hot glue to attach leaves around the top to complete the display.

See the finished product and the instructions in more detail at http://tinyurl.com/nybzq47.

Best of the tube

On DIY Channel:

From charred to charming: In the home stretch of her Detroit project, Nicole must finish the upper apartment, which has the greatest fire damage. She works hard to save the plaster ceiling medallion in the dining room and replaces charred window frames. The community comes together to build an urban garden. See the results unfold on “Rehab Addict” at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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