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Thanksgiving Recipe Challenge Day 1: Preparing & Cooking the Turkey!

Posted by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 11:17 AM
  • 103 Replies
1 mom liked this

Welcome to Day 1 of the Thanksgiving Recipe Challenge! Each day we'll give you a new food theme for you to share your tips, suggestions, and recipes!

Your theme for today is: Preparing & Cooking the Turkey!

Remember, you don't have to cook something each day. You can do any of the following:

  • Post a photo and include a recipe of a dish you've made in the past that fits the theme.
  • Post a photo and include a recipe you've seen online, that you'd like to try based on the theme.
  • Post a recipe based on the theme even if you don't have a photo.
  • Post a recipe and/or idea for leftovers based on the theme.
  • Share your suggestions and tips based on your experience.

turkey dinner

Be sure to come back and check out this post when you need ideas for making the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey!

One member who participates in all 5 days will receive a $25 gift card!

Join Our Thanksgiving Recipe Challenge! WIN a $25 gift card!

by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 11:17 AM
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by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 1:26 PM
1 mom liked this

Mobile Photo

Roast Turkey (Jamaican

I think a 4.5kg turkey is
definitely the way to go this
Christmas season, even if you're
cooking for four or six, because
you'll have nice leftovers. If you
want a bigger bird, then add 15-20 minutes extra cooking time
for every extra 500g, or check
the packaging for timings.
For the stuffing:
2 onions, finely chopped
2 rashers streaky bacon,
1 tablespoons (15ml) Olive oil
25g butter
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
15g pack fresh sage, chopped
150g can of chestnuts, drained
500g sausage meat
1 large egg, beaten
200g fresh breadcrumbs
salt and black pepper to taste
For the turkey...
4.5kg fresh turkey
8 jerk sausages
parboiled potatoes for roasting
8 rashers of streaky smoked

Let's start with the stuffing. Fry
the onions in the olive oil and
butter for 4 minutes. Now add
the fennel seeds. Bash first in a
tea towel with a rolling pin to
crack them. Add the sage,
crumble in the chestnuts, add a
little seasoning and cook for a
further 3 minutes, on medium
heat, until the ingredients have
all flavoured each other. Season
to taste. Pour it out onto a tray
to cool guickly. Once it's at room
temperature, pop it into the
fridge until chilled. Put the
stuffing mixture back in a bowl,
add the sausage meat and egg,
and mix together. Add the
breadcrumbs to lighten and
bind. The mix should hold
together but not be sloppy. Place
the stuffing in an oven-proof
dish and cook for about 45
minutes or until cooked
thoroughly, to serve with the
Preheat your oven to 190°C,
375°F. Now remove any giblets
from the turkey. Rub the inside
and outside of the turkey with
salt, tucking the skin under to
make it look nice. Cover the
turkey loosely in aluminium foil
and place in the oven for 3
hours. Feel free to baste
whenever you like after the first
30 minutes. For the final 50
minutes of cooking, remove the
foil so the skin can crisp up
nicely. At the same time, scatter
your sausages, parboiled
potatoes and bacon into another
roasting tray and use some of
the turkey fat to coat well. Once
the turkey's done, take it out of
the oven, put onto a plate and,
most importantly, let it rest for
at least 30 minutes before
carving. During resting, you
have time to do your vegetables
and make the gravy. Skim off
most of the fat, put the roasting
tray onto the hob at a low heat
to simmer, and stir in a good
tablespoon (15ml) of flour. Keep
stirring until thickened. After
about 1 minute, add a pint of
chicken or turkey stock, a little
to start with, until it's all mixed
together. Bring to the boil and
simmer until it coats the back of
a spoon.
by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 1:36 PM
2 moms liked this

I do many things with my turkey. I have to say my most favorite would be pulling the skin away from the meat to add a butter mixture with seasonings. I would then put a rubber glove on and stuff that under the skin. then I would have to take some of it and rub on the legs, and wings also

by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 1:40 PM
3 moms liked this

How to Roast a Turkey to Perfection

  • First things first: thaw your bird completely before putting it in the oven. Thaw it in the fridge for a few days - up to four, depending on the size of your turkey.

  • 400°F is the perfect temperature for cooking a whole bird. You'll get crispy skin without compromising tenderness.

  • Depending on the size of your bird, it should take anywhere from 3-6 hours to roast at 400°F. I highly recommend a meat thermometer, one that stays in the turkey while it cooks and lets you set an alarm for when it reaches the proper temperature. This keeps you from continually opening the oven door, which will greatly increase your cooking time. Here's a great time chart for turkey roasting.

  • Basting the bird won't give you crispier skin. In fact, you'll get limp, soggy skin and it only marginally affects the flavor.

  • Some argue that rubbing the entire bird with fat, inside and out, doesn't affect the flavor, but I disagree. It depends on the fat, though - olive oil won't give you a flavor boost, but butter mixed with a heaping dose of salt and herbs will yield a tasty dish indeed.

  • It doesn't matter what orientation you roast your turkey in. Breast up, breast down, flipped over halfway through or hanging from the rafters - no position will make the breast more moist.

  • Stuffing some flavored fat (such as butter with salt and herbs) under the skin will help flavor meat, but don't go overboard. Too much fat will just just make the meat greasy.

  • They (whoever "they" are) say that you're supposed to cook a whole turkey to 180°F, but I find that 170° yields a perfectly moist bird that's still cooked completely through. Make sure to measure in the thickest part of the breast.

  • I don't recommend stuffing your turkey before roasting, and this can lead to all sorts of holiday misery - namely salmonella. If you insist on stuffing the bird, make sure you roast it until the stuffing has an internal temperature of at least 165°F.

  • Let your bird rest for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven. A good 20 minute nap will let everything settle and keep the moisture where it belongs: in the meat.

  • The easiest way to guarantee that pieces of breast will be moist is to let them soak in the bird's juices for a few minutes after they've been cut. This includes the fatty runoff from what you've rubbed over the surface or stuffed under the skin.

  • You want the entire thing to roast evenly and have crispy skin all over, so consider elevating it off the surface of the roasting pan. A good-sized roasting rack will do the trick, which allows air to circulate under the bird - crisping it all the way around.

  • Get a decent oven thermometer, one for measuring the turkey and one for measuring your oven's temperature. 'Nuff said.

  • Don't waste the juices in the bottom of the pan! Reduce in a saucepan with a little white wine, add a little cornstarch and you've got an amazing gravy.

by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Photo: Memphis Fried Turkey Recipe
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Total Time:
2 hr 25 min
1 hr 40 min
45 min
10 servings
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Thanksgiving Main
Easy Appetizers
Perfect Turkey
1 14-pound turkey, giblets removed, washed and dried
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peanut oil, for frying (about 3 gallons)
Figure out how much oil you need to fill your fryer: Put the turkey in the empty fryer and cover with cold water. Remove the turkey; mark the line where the water is in the pot. Empty the water and dry the fryer and turkey well.

Mix the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle some of the spice rub inside the cavity of the turkey. Separate the skin from the breast meat with your fingers, starting at the top of the breast and sliding to the right and left, then working down. Massage some of the rub onto the meat under the skin. Sprinkle the remaining rub on the turkey's skin. Place the turkey on a sheet tray and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours so the flavors can marry.

Fill your fryer with peanut oil to the line you marked (do not fill more than three-quarters of the way). Preheat the oil to 400 degrees F; it will take about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature as your oil heats. Once the oil reaches 400 degrees F, very carefully lower the turkey into the hot oil. (Most turkey fryers come with a basket for the turkey that has hooks and a handle to lower and lift; otherwise, get yourself a long set of sturdy tongs to grip the inside cavity and breast and an industrial kitchen fork to hold the back side of the bird.) Make sure the oil maintains its temperature while frying. Fry the turkey until the skin is dark golden brown and crisp, or until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 155 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Carefully remove the turkey from the oil and let it rest and drain on a wire rack, about 30 minutes. Do not cover the turkey with foil or it will lose some of its crispness. The internal temperature will rise to 165 degrees F while resting. Transfer the turkey to a board or platter.

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by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 2:05 PM
1 mom liked this
I cook my turkey in a roaster. I put bacon on the top of the turkey I baste it a few times throughout the cooking process. Always comes out juicy never dry.
by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 2:10 PM
We usually do a boneless breast in the oven with salt, pepper, Mrs Dash, butter & garlic.
by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 2:10 PM
1 mom liked this

My best tip that I've used for every Thanksgiving for the past three years since I started is to brine my turkey. I found delicious brine at World Market (and if you go the weekend after Thanksgiving, it's like 75% off and one bag is good for two turkeys)
It keep the bird SUPER moist and all the spices are already built in.

by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM
1 mom liked this

Leftover Turkey Recipe
turkey and veggie lasagna

Turkey and Veggie Lasagna

This tomato-free lasagna features tender pieces of leftover roast turkey and a heaping helping of fresh vegetables, bound with a light chicken broth-based sauce.

  • 4 tablespoon(s) margarine or butter
  • 1 package(s) (10-ounce) sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove(s) garlic, crushed with press
  • 1/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup(s) low-fat (1%) milk, warmed
  • 1 can(s) (14- to 14.5-ounce) chicken broth (1 3/4 cups)
  • 8 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 package(s) (10-ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 cup(s) leftover cooked turkey, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup(s) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup(s) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


  1. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon margarine on medium. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic, and cook about 8 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, melt remaining margarine on medium. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and broth until well blended; cook until sauce thickens and boils, stirring frequently. Boil 2 minutes. Set sauce aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 8" by 8" glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of baking dish; arrange 2 noodles over sauce, overlapping to fit. Top evenly with half of spinach, half of turkey, then 1/2 cup sauce; sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Top with 2 noodles, mushroom mixture, 3/4 cup mozzarella, then 1/2 cup sauce. Top with 2 noodles, remaining spinach and turkey, then 3/4 cup sauce, and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Arrange remaining noodles on top; spoon remaining sauce over noodles to cover. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
  4. Spray sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray (or use nonstick foil); cover baking dish, sprayed (or nonstick) side down. Bake lasagna 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly in the center and lightly browned on top. Let stand 15 minutes for easier serving.


by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM
Quick easy and tasty
After washing and removing all inner pieces...
Rub entire turkey inside and out with butter.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
I use a cajun flavored infusion that I insert under the skin and into the meat.
Place in oven and cover with foil and follow instructions on pk for heat and timing.
by on Nov. 11, 2013 at 2:12 PM

We like to add sliced apples and oranges in side the turkey while cooking to add flavor

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