Sherrys last minute Thanksgiving tips

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Is it just me or do you ever find yourself in a panic a couple days before The Big Turkey Day? We have an annual reunion at Thanksgiving and have been doing it for almost 30 years. Over the years what with all our kids marrying and having their own kids we now total 50 or 60 people. And that's just the immediate family! And then there are those years where someone wants to bring their in-laws or cousins or an orphan or two from college. Whoever is hosting that year expects this but it doesn't make it any easier especially if you get the increased numbers at the last minute!

There are two areas I'll address to help these last minute demands: Entertainment and Food.

We have accumulated up to 13 grand kids among us ranging from newborn up to 12 years of age. When I hosted a couple years ago I came up with an idea to not only have a place for the kids to sit, but entertaining them, too.

Kids always dread being banned to The Kid Table so I thought I would try to make it special for them. Now let's admit it, kids can usually care less about the food and just want to run around and have fun. To keep them occupied so we could eat and chat without chasing around after them, I included items on the table they would enjoy. I found butcher paper and taped it around card tables as a tablecloth. In each place setting, I outlined my hand, which can be colored into a turkey (remember that from kindergarten?). The youngest ones loved not only coloring the 'turkey', but they also enjoyed coloring on the butcher paper itself! I had a basket in the middle (as a centerpiece), which contained crayons and colored pencils. I also printed out sheets to be colored from:

and put them under the basket. I had wood and ceramic Christmas decorations they could paint and beaded decorations they could put together. This was a big hit with the older kids. I had a big laundry basket of games and cards they could play and I also had a card table with an adult jigsaw puzzle for the grownups needing a little diversion from the food and chaos. Talk about a big hit; I was amazed how many people found themselves around that table, chatting, sipping drinks and getting to know each other all over again.

I have to say that these items entertained and kept the little darlings busy so we older ones could enjoy our day, too!

I mentioned last minute guests being invited, right? My first reaction is, 'Yay! More people!' quickly followed by, 'Oh, my gosh, am I going to have enough turkey?' I was already doing two and I hated asking anyone else to bring another one. The first time this happened, I went to the grocery store and bought turkey breasts on the bone and roasted them the day before. I cut them up and put the slices in a casserole dish, covered it tightly with foil and refrigerated it. The next day, I poured about a cup of chicken broth over the slices, re-covered it with the foil and warmed it up in the oven (at 350 degrees) for about 10-15 minutes. I actually did three turkey breasts in the same roasting pan. I served this batch first while carving the whole turkey I roasted Thanksgiving Day. This way people were fed quickly and we still had the dark meat and the ever-fought-over turkey legs!

One year we had a little communication breakdown and the person who was supposed to bring the appetizer brought green beans instead. I quickly made up a cranberry salsa from ingredients that I already had on hand. This was so popular I had to print off recipes before everyone left! It teaches me that not everything planned ends up being the most popular!

I hope these suggestions come in handy. I know how hectic it can be this time of year and we ladies have to stick together helping each other through it!

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
1 whole turkey breast, bone-in
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp. sage leaves, chopped
1 tsp. thyme, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup white wine

325 oven.

Place turkey breast, skin side up, on rack in roasting pan.

In small bowl, combine garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice to make paste. Loosen skin from meat gently with your fingers and smear half of paste directly on the meat. Spread remaining paste evenly on skin. Pour wine into bottom of roasting pan.

Roast turkey for 1, 45 minutes to 2 hours, until skin is golden brown and thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into thickest and meatiest areas of breast. If skin is over-browning, cover breast loosely with aluminum foil. When turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temp for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with pan juices spooned over the turkey. If made ahead, slice turkey, place in baking dish and cover tightly. Refrigerate. So serve; preheat oven at 350 degrees. Pour one cup chicken broth over turkey slices (you can also reserve the pan juices by putting them in a jar and refrigerating. Next day, skim off fat on top with spoon and reheat them in a pan over medium heat on the stove. Pour over slices). Re-cover casserole dish and bake for 10-15 minutes until heated through.

Cranberry Salsa
12 ounces cranberries, fresh or frozen
4 scallions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup sugar, or less, if desired
2 limes, juiced
1 can green chiles (you can use more chiles, if you wish and for extra spice use one can jalapeno chiles)
2-3 garlic, minced

Process cranberries in food processor, pulsing until cranberries are cut up a bit. Put cranberries in bowl with remaining ingredients, stirring lightly until blended together. Can be served with tortilla chips or poured over softened cream cheese and served with crackers.