Thanksgiving Turkey Talk: How To Cook A Turkey

Tryptofantastic turkey times make the holiday celebration go round.  With the holiday countdown on, the Thanksgiving turkey talk centers around how to defrost and how to cook a turkey.  Being prepared for the gather round the table holiday celebration with a bird done to absolute golden perfection is the Thanksgiving holiday way to go.



Well then, let’s get the how to cook a turkey conversation started.  You may want to copy and paste or at the very least hit the bookmark icon- there’s some good information here.

raw-turkeyMy Recipes

Rules of Thawing:

Last minute does not work well in the grand scheme of turkey thawing. Since the majority of supermarket turkeys are sold frozen, prepare to thaw. Figure 1 to 1½ pounds of turkey per person when purchasing the bird.

As tempting as it may be to leave the bird out on the counter to expedite the thawing process, don’t.  Why invite a problem to the party?   You don’t need or want the hassle of food poisoning.

For Refrigerator Thawing:

Place turkey on a tray to eliminate leakage to other areas of refrigerator. Thaw breast side up, in original unopened wrapper on a tray in the fridge (40 degrees F or below).  Allow at least 1 day of thawing for every 4-5 lbs.

Suggested thawing time for a frozen turkey:

4 to 12 pound turkey:       1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pound turkey:     3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pound turkey:    4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pound turkey:    5 to 6 days

Cold Water Thawing:

Thaw breast side down, in original unopened wrapper.  Cover the turkey completely with cold water.  Change the water every 30 minutes.  Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per lb.

4 to 12 pound turkey:       2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pound turkey:     6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pound turkey:    8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pound turkey:   10 to 12 hours

Now, let’s say Thanksgiving Day comes and you’ve followed the above rule, but the turkey did not cooperate and the bird is still frozen.  Then the bird needs a soak.  Place the uncooperative turkey in a kitchen sink filled with cold water.  Soak the bird 30 minutes per pound to thaw; changing water every 30 minutes.

Remember to practice safe turkey prep & handling.  Clean and sanitize all the surfaces and utensils that come into contact with the uncooked bird and its juices.


Don’t forget to wash those turkey covered hands thoroughly with soap and warm water!

Prepping the Bird:

Remove any contents from the turkey cavity.  Remove the clamp from around the legs.  Remove the extra skin from the neck area.  Tuck the wings up under the turkey bottom to prevent burning.


Martha Stewart

If you plan on stuffing the turkey, now is the time to do so.  The ingredients you will be stuffing the turkey with can be prepared ahead of time.  It is advised by the USDA to keep the wet and dry ingredients separate.  Keep wet ingredients refrigerated until time to use.  Do not mix the wet and dry ingredients until time to fill the turkey cavities, filling loosely.  Immediately cook the turkey.

Use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 170 °F.

Rub butter, margarine, or oil of your choice under the skin of the breast area, over the legs, and the turkey undercarriage to promote browning.

Place turkey breast side up on rack in your roasting pan and secure legs with kitchen twine.


Martha Stewart

Seasoning the Bird:

Rub turkey with seasonings of your choice of seasonings such as salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, rosemary, or Creole seasoning.


I usually add a stalk of celery cut into three equal parts and ½ peeled and sliced onion or 2-3 cut green onions.

Add 1 ½-2 cups of chicken broth or white wine to roasting pan to keep the turkey moist during baking.  Cover with roasting pan lid or a foil tent for first 1-1½ of roasting.


House and Home

Roasting the Bird:

Roast the turkey at 325 °F using the chart below as a guide for approximate roasting times.  The turkey and the stuffing is done when the internal temperature reaches an internal temperature of 170 °F. Make sure to also check the stuffing for an internal temperature of 170 °F.   Use a food thermometer to check the turkey in the thickest part of the breast.  The internal temperature should reach 170 °F for safety.

turkey-cooking-chart1Resource: USDA Food Preparation and Inspection Service

I do not baste our turkey.  I find opening the oven door frequently allows the oven temp to swing and adds more time to the roasting.  Sufficient prep and seasoning will keep the turkey moist.  When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and cover with foil.  Allow to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving for easier carving.

To Baste Or Not To Baste:

basting-a-turkeyThe Kitchn

Nobody Loves Dry Turkey:

Turkey breast dries out easy due to the fact lean breast meat cooks quicker than the legs and thighs.  Here’s several suggestions to eliminate this issue:

You can separate the breast from the whole turkey and cook the bone-in breast separately.

My personal favorite way to combat dry turkey is to simply roast a turkey breast.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.   Dry the skin of the turkey breast by patting with a paper towel.  Give the outer skin of the turkey a generous rub down with butter.  Season the turkey breast with salt and pepper or Creole seasoning.  Rub the seasonings into the skin of the turkey breast.

Place turkey breast, breast-side up, into the roasting pan.  Roast the turkey breast at 325 degrees for 2 to 2 ½ hours or until thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast reads 170 degrees F.

Clean Up:

In a spray bottle combine 1 quart (4 cups) warm water, 1 teaspoon liquid soap, 1 teaspoon borax and ¼ cup undiluted white vinegar.  You can also add 1 tsp. of essential oil such as rose, lemon, orange, or lavender.  Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and cleaner however, I don’t suggest using this on granite or marble countertops.


Williams Sonoma Edge-Grain Carving Board

Williams Sonoma Edge-Grain Carving Boards

Carving the Bird:

Place the bird on a carving board or reliable surface for carving, breast side up with the legs facing away from you.  Position the carving fork in the lower part of the breast to hold the turkey steady as you carve.

carving roasted turkeyFood52

Find the hip joint connecting the thigh and the breast and begin slicing through.  Repeat on the opposite side.

Separate the drumstick from the thigh by cutting through the joint.


Martha Stewart

Let’s move on to the drumstick/ turkey leg.  Pull each leg to extend them away from the body and slice between the breast and the drumstick.

carving-turkey-thigh-legThe Kitchn

Move the leg backward to loosen it away from the socket, cut away from skin and remove.  Repeat on the opposite side.

Paula Deen turkey recipePaula Deen

Now we’re winging it!  Locate the joint connecting the wing to the body and slice on through.  Repeat on the opposite side.

For the breast, begin by slicing as close to the breastbone as possible.  Slice all the way down as to have one large piece and repeat on the opposite side.


Better Homes and Gardens

Place breast on cutting surface and slice from smallest end to the largest.

Arrange and plate as you like.

carved-turkey-the-kitchnThe Kitchn


Holiday Prep and Decorative Detail

Holiday prep and decorative detail time is upon us here at Places in the Home. All is merry and bright with the help of caffeine, precision planning, patience (lots of merry patience), swift kitchen detail and keeping a cool and relaxed tude to guarantee a cool yule.


I tapped into the decorations closet of Christmas past for inspiration and holiday show this year.   Everything is new again is the holiday decorations running theme.  It’s a great way to reacquaint yourself with treasured favorites and to fall back in love with them all over again.


I had more fun pulling vintage, antique and new accents from here and there and grouping them together in holiday harmony.


Items that immediately identify with and tell the story of  individual tastes, collections and personality are always in the best of style, your style.

John 3:16

The centerpiece is one of those “it all just came together” accents, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.  A big thank you to the florist at Kroger for her well timed and generous markdown on the roses, and to my brother who showed a magnolia tree and juniper bush who was boss with his mad clipping and cutting skills.

fresh flowers

No shrubs or trees were harmed in the making of this Christmas centerpiece, just pruned and picked.


From all of us here at Places In The Home, we wish you a Places In The Home for the Holidays very Merry Christmas filled with peace, joy, fond memories old and new, blessings, love, relaxing times with family and friends and a joyous celebration of the beauty of the season in your places in the home.


Love your style!


Gift Guide For The Deck The Halls Decorista

I received a wonderful holiday delivery via email week before last.  Christmas came early to this decorista, and it was my Pinterest pleasure to create a gift guide for the decorista board with all things house that make a home goodies in mind.


I recently ran across an article stating  home decor and home furnishings would be high on the all I want for Christmas list of the very merry kind for the holidays.  Sounds beautiful to me!  Inspiration is everywhere, and Pinterest is the showcase of choice for holiday gift ideas for the Deck the Halls Decorista.

The National Retail Federation reports the average shopper will spend $738 on holiday gifts this year. With that being said, considerate price points sprinkled in with a few a decorista can dream luxe items complete my Gifts Ideas For The Deck The Hall Decorista board.


Want to see more?  Click on the image below to head over to the complete Pinterest Gifts For The Deck The Halls Decorista board where you can check out my fabulous and festive finds of the season and resource information.

gifts for the decorista

Holiday Shopping Season: Keep Calm And Be Very Merry!

The holiday express has left the Black Friday stop and is heading straight into Cyber Monday station.  Do all the deals, steals and doorbusters of the holiday shopping season have your head spinning?

Home Alonevia

Savvy planning and a determination to stretch a dollar like a rubber band gets the holiday shopping job done.  I keep things in check by making Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping an enjoyable activity to participate in online between the prep, serve, clean, relax and end of the Thanksgiving weekend.  I learned a long time ago to take the holiday focus off the retail and place it where I feel it rightfully belongs.  It’s the holiday priority formula that keeps the real reason for the season in check without me bouncing one!

holiday shopping season

Keep Calm and Be Very Merry is a lovely sentiment and sound solid advice.  If you find ye olde holiday gift giving budget or lack thereof is taking the jingle out of your bells immediately Keep Calm and Be Very Merry!   Everyday life isn’t in the habit of pausing for holiday budgets, and I swear it’s no coincidence that unexpected expenses pick this time of year to make their presence known. When and if the aforementioned applies give yourself the gift of permission- permission to realize, accept and create festive fabulous with what you have.


There’s no better time to embrace the art of editing from within to repurpose and refresh existing Christmas decorations. Decorating for the holidays is a beautiful and festive experience, but it is an expense that can get away from you quickly. ‘Tis the season to tap into imagination!  Don’t pack away those Pheasant feathers, pine cones and burlap anything and everything that adorned fall and Thanksgiving vignettes and tablescapes just yet.

pine cone decorationsvia

With inspiration and imagination you can take one holiday’s accents way beyond the rinse and repeat theme.  If you think you created decorative magic September through November with these gems, wait until you see the decorative impact they bring to the Christmas decorating scheme of things!  A pine cone takes to a can of spray paint, a glue gun and a dusting of glitter in holiday colors like a shot of bourbon takes to a glass of eggnog.

Whitney clockvia

Time is a precious commodity.  For a gift that basically is cost free, it is one of the most expensive things you will ever give to someone because you are giving a part of you.  My Las Vegas is showing when I quote Wayne Newton, but his words resonate my point. “You can take of a man’s money, but when it’s all said and done, you’ve only taken his money. When you take of a man’s time, you’ve taken a part of his life.”  The time and love put into decking the halls of your home’s interior and exterior is a gift of color, wonder and talent.  It’s the ultimate to/from tag addressed to family, friends and neighbors.

to from tagvia

Please feel free and festive to email me pictures of your holiday creations in all their Christmas decorating splendor.  I would love to see what you all do with your do and share the beauty with fellow readers.  Let’s holiday show and tell!





Thanksgiving Dinner Holiday Checklist

Time to mull over the Thanksgiving dinner holiday checklist.  Festive gets a lot of mileage at our house, and why not! It’s a wonderful time of year that should be embraced for what it is- a time to eat, drink, decorate, table set, and celebrate with family and friends.  From kitchen to turkey to table, the more Thanksgiving dinner holiday checklist (works for Christmas, too!) help I can offer, the merrier and hopefully the less holiday rushed things will be.

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Creating a handsome holiday table and scrumptious dishes worthy of the c’est si bon distinction while all in an inviting and relaxing setting is quite the labor of love.  A holiday helping hand is the hostess gift that keeps on giving.

Here’s holiday hoping this holiday checklist comes in holiday handy.

2 weeks to go:

Plan, tweak, adjust, and finalize menu.


Delegate and Dish

Don’t be a holiday hosting hero.  Say yes to the offers of what can I do-what can I bring.  Make a list of who’s bringing what, and thoughtfully delegate and dish from there.


Take an inventory of the pantry staples, spices, seasonings, and required recipe ingredients you will need.

Make out grocery list.

1 week to go:

Add the finishing touches to your selected tablescape theme.  Stake out the vases, rose bowls, trays, dough bowl, or clear glass jars you’ll be using for centerpieces and spot arrangements.  Take a count of the number of candles you will need.  If you will be using new or on hand LED candles, make sure you’ve got the enough batteries.

intimate-affair-tableModern Thanksgiving Tablescape

Take inventory of table linens, cocktail napkins, china, glassware, flatware, and serving pieces.  Iron the napkins, polish the silver, and dust the lighting fixture(s).  I’ve been known to replace the chandelier and light bulbs as a proactive holiday hostess “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” Murphy’s law defense.

Ready.  Set.  Go to the grocery store for the turkey and non-perishable food items.  When deciding on how big of a turkey to purchase, allow 1 to 2 pounds of meat per person.


Make sure your roasting pan is large enough to fit turkey.  Consider using a meat thermometer to help take the guesswork out of when the bird is done. Now is the time to purchase these items.

Let the dessert planning begin!

scalloped pie plate

Now is the time to plan out the dessert table and serving pieces.  Perhaps it’s time for a new cake plate or tiered tray to add to this year’s holiday finery.

Metallic Lace Cake Stand

Metallic Lace Cake Stand

Plan the beverage menu and stock the bar.


5 days to go:

Prep dishes, flatware and stemware.


Take a chair inventory.


Aunt Belle’s disco decor days have gone the way of avocado green appliances, wall-to-wall shag carpet, and the Merry Mushroom dinnerware straight out of the housewares department at the local Sears.  Her get down tonight may not be able to get up today if she is forced to sit in the bean bag chair from the kids playroom.

Know your audience, and buy, borrow, or rent the extra items to meet your holiday hosting needs.


Antique Silver Sentiment Salt and Pepper Shakers

Fill salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowl and artificial sweetener dish.


3 days to go:

Remove turkey from freezer and place in refrigerator to begin the thawing process.



Company is coming!

Curb appeal doesn’t take a holiday.   Cut, edge, clip, blow and manicure.


Southern Living

Clean house accordingly.

Round Kaboo Basket LargeRound Kaboo Basket Large

Helpful hint: Decorative baskets and storage cubes come in mighty handy as a stylish storage solution.

2 days to go:

Take inventory of holiday hospitality guest room essentials.  Clean and stock guest bedrooms and bathrooms with fresh linens and paper goods.


You know that lightly damp dishtowel left over from last night’s KP duty? On your way to the laundry room with it, hit the holiday table and chairs dusting high notes.

Two tasks taken care of with one swipe.


Set out candles, arrange centerpiece, set table with linens, place mats, chargers and place cards.


1 day to go:

Make cornbread for dressing.


Chop vegetables, place in Ziploc bags, and store in refrigerator.

Let the dessert baking begin!

Cakes really do taste better the next day.  All the flavors and spices get in there and do their thing, bringing forth the next day flavor c’est si bon.

homemade- carrot- cake

Fill soap dispensers and paper towel holders in kitchen.


Set out dinnerware, glasses, serving pieces, dishes, bowls and platters. Turn over or cover with dishtowels until next day.

The Big Event!

Preheat oven.

Take turkey out of refrigerator, season to taste, and place in roaster. Approximate roasting time for a thoroughly defrosted 12-14 lb. unstuffed turkey is  3-3 ½ hours roasted at  325°F until done.


About a half hour before the turkey’s finished, take it out of the oven. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast.

You’re looking for a temperature of 170 degrees F.  If you don’t have a thermometer simply pierce the turkey with a fork.  The juices should run clear.


Allow the turkey to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to saturate the meat evenly.


Chill beverages.


Prepare other side dishes, salads and desserts while turkey is roasting.

Sweet-Potato-roast-recipeCrispy Sweet Potato Roast

Prep coffee maker for after dinner coffee.

Take a deep breath.

Remember to enjoy the beauty, food, fellowship and fruits of your holiday labor of love!

Love your style!

Holiday Inspiration and Festive Favorites

The holiday season is in full swing, and there are so many sites and sights to see.  This is the time of year when treasures, goodies, ideas, and pretty images flood the day in the best possible way.  Holiday inspiration is all around.

holiday inspirationPinterest

Olive by Farrow & Ball is festively featured in the gentleman’s study designed by Tammy Connor at  The Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Christmas House.

the night before Christmas

The 12 Days of Christmas crackers from Williams-Sonoma are a Noël novelty done elegantly and festively right.

George Sheridan KnowlesPinterest

The Duet by George Sheridan Knowles masterfully exhibits the allure of green in shades of trend.

vintage Christmas

Fox Photos / Getty Images as seen on BuzzFeed

When I can’t sleep I don’t count sheep, I try to recall the stores and shops that lined the downtown area from when I was a kid.  Do you remember shopping downtown at Christmas time?  Santa Claus in his red house with white trimmed windows, Christmas lights and tinsel stars strung from store front to store front, and department stores display windows decked out in holiday finery.  Lerner Shops, Bakers, JCPenney, W.T. Grant, S. H. Kress & Co., Rexall, Morgan & Lindsey’s…

Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas time is here!  Have a great weekend!

Welcome Holiday Guests Not Holiday Stress

Stress free holiday entertaining ideas put the merry in a holiday good time.  From the planned casual holiday soiree to the not so planned we saw your lights on holiday surprise drop-in, these stock items can cut the stress, welcome guests, ward off the holiday bah humflubug, and make things festive.

wreath on front doorTraditional Home

Let me share with you some of the staples I keep on hand and filed under tried-and-true stress free holiday entertaining ideas.



Bath & Body Works

Mingle responsibly.  It’s not only the holidays, but the cold and flu season as well.


Alice Cut Glass Votive Cup

Votive candles instantly add that cozy and homey feel to the setting.  I don’t know if it’s the warmth they exude or the soft glow, but votive candles create a relaxing atmosphere.  Stock up on these home decor and entertaining staples.


Put out the welcome mat.  Head off mud, slush and dirt at the door.

alton brown hot cocoa recipeThe Chive

Festive need not be expensive.  The package sells the product, and a festive presentation impresses the harshest holiday critic.  My darling maternal grandmother taught me through her gracious example.  She loved Lady Borden Vanilla ice cream- her signature dessert offering.  She lived alone, and with single serving sizes not yet on the market, the large container ice cream would often fall victim to  freezer burn.  What the ice cream lacked in taste was more than made up in serving presentation.


Reed and Barton® Francis I spoon

She always served two scoops of Lady Borden Vanilla in a glass sherbet dish accompanied by a sterling silver spoon.


A simple white coffee or decorative holiday mug from the dollar store filled with hot cocoa and garnished with a peppermint stick and marshmallows or red hot apple cider garnished with a cinnamon stick is holiday comfort in a cup!

I recommend preparing this recipe for homemade marshmallows while listening to the ever fitting Christmas classic “A Marshmallow World” performed by the ever cool Dean Martin.

Marshmallows (French Laundry)


3  envelopes of unflavored Knox gelatin

½  cup cold water

2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cups corn syrup

¼  cup water

¼  teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar for dredging


In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for 10 minutes.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute.  Pour boiling syrup into gelatin and mix at high speed.  Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes.  Add vanilla and incorporate into mixture.  Scrape into a 9 x 9-inch pan lined with oiled plastic wrap and spread evenly. (Note: Lightly oil hands and spatula or bowl scraper).  After pouring marshmallow mixture into the pan, take another piece of plastic wrap and press mixture into the pan.

Let mixture sit for a few hours.  Remove from pan, dredge the marshmallow slab with confectioners’ sugar and cut into 12 equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef’s knife.  Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners’ sugar.

Yield: 12 large marshmallows


These cookies taste just like….


Girl Scout Thin Mints?

Like the ones my grandmother used to make?

That’s the idea!

These holiday cookies pack a powerful please that give the baker and holiday treat maker a break.  Presentation is everything!


Baby, it’s cold outside.  I pick up inexpensive fleece throws when I find them on holiday special.  This little touch of  homey and cozy is a big hit with our guests as we celebrate the holiday moments of our lives.


Tie them up with raffia,


attach a holiday gift tag,


and place them in a basket.  The inexpensive fleece throws make a nice holiday “from our home to yours” parting gift.


Hand them out to your guests to ward off the chill while watching a classic holiday movie or hanging out listening to holiday music.  Let’s not forget that a holiday playlist queued up and ready to shuffle is always a hit.

Holiday music video #2~ 

Holiday get-togethers as well as the unexpected drop in visit often turn out to be a stress free and fun time.  Stock up, de-stress and enjoy!

Love your style!

Holiday Potpourri

I really wanted to title this post “What to do with all the left over fruit that did not make the holiday fruit salad cut” but Holiday Potpourri recipe had a much better ring to it.  Apples, oranges, homegrown fresh lemons (thanks, Mrs. JoAnn!) and spices of the season do a house good as they come together over low heat.  Our Thanksgiving celebration ushered in the first hint of Christmas with the simple yet perfect scents of the season simmering in the crock pot to welcome family, guest, and delicious memories.


Holiday Potpourri


3  apples, sliced

3 oranges, sliced

1 large lemon, sliced

4 cinnamon sticks

1 Tablespoon whole cloves

2 teaspoons ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 bay leaves

6  cups water


Fill stoneware liner with water.  Turn setting to high.  Slice apples, oranges, and lemon and place in water.  Add spices.  Continue with setting on high for at least 2 hours.  Reduce setting to low, careful to monitor water level.  Add water as needed.

Graphics Fairy

I sincerely believe music is the core note of holiday celebrations, and Places In The Home is full holiday celebration mode!  I’ll Be Home For Christmas is the core sentiment of our holiday celebrations.

Love your style!