Food and Drink

7 Ways to Avoid an Epic Thanksgiving Cooking Fail


The countdown is on! Thanksgiving is just days away, and there's no shortage of stress. When trying to multitask in the kitchen -- roasting the turkey perfectly, making sure your sweet potatoes turn out just right and knocking your guests' socks off with a mouthwatering dessert -- it's easy to make a rookie mistake. That's why we chose this seven-point checklist to ensure your meal turns out just the way you want it – even if a few things don't go exactly as planned.

Choose Starchy Spuds for Better Mashed Potatoes

If you want perfectly fluffy mashed potatoes, look for Rusett or Idago taters, which are naturally starchy. The more starch in the potatoes, the more easily they'll fall apart and absorb all the butter, cream or other dairy products you plan on adding to them to create delicious side dishes. 

Keep a Little Chicken (or Turkey) Stock Ready

This will save you if you under- or overcook your bird. If your turkey is a bit rare, bring some stock to a boil, add the undercooked meat, and cook it until it's done. On the flip side, if your turkey comes out on the dry side, add a bit of warm stock to it to add the moisture back in. It helps dry stuffing, too!

Choose the Perfect Bread for Your Stuffing

Use a thick breakfast-type bread and you'll be digging into dry-as-a-bone stuffing. Instead, choose an airy loaf, like basic Italian bread, that will soak up all the delicious flavors. The blog Serious Eats tested eight different types of bread and determined their favorites, with white sandwich bread winning out.

Choose at Least 1-2 Dishes to Serve Lukewarm or Cool

Oven space is a hot commodity on Thanksgiving day, so plan for a few dishes that can be eaten at room temperature or made before and simply nuked in the microwave. Brussels sprouts salads, wild rice salads, and chilled cranberries are just a few of the options. 

Cranberry Sauce Not Cutting It? Add Booze.

New York City chef Jonathan Waxman told Food and Wine that his special trick for adding flavor to the cranberries is adding a shot of Grand Marnier and a bit of orange juice. 

Be Thermometer Savvy

Need a refresher for when and where to take the turkey's temperature? The bird will ideally be 165 degrees Fahrenheit, so pull it out of the oven around 155-160 degrees since it will continue cooking after it leaves the oven. For a 14-16-pound turkey, check its temperature after 2.5 hours. For a 18-20-pound turkey, check after 3 hours. If you need additional cooking time, check every 15 minutes. When you do take the temperature, be sure to take it from the part where the thigh meets the breast. 

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

The surest way to stress yourself to the max is by signing up to do everything on Thanksgiving. Let your sister who loves to bake bring the dessert and put your cousin in charge of cheese and crackers as an appetizer. You can focus on the dishes you do best, which ensures an amazing event.

-- Mara Betsch

More on Thanksgiving:

How TLC Stars Do Thanksgiving

Why Thanksgiving Is the Perfect Time to Make Memories

Delicious Holiday Recipes

Watch Second Graders Eat Caviar, Lobster and Snapper


One of the world’s finest restaurants was recently challenged with pleasing some of their toughest customers -- second graders. Six students from a Brooklyn grade school were given a peek into the life of fine dining at acclaimed French restaurant, Daniel, located in New York City’s posh Upper East Side. The bunch was treated to a 7-course tasting meal, which normally costs $220 a person. Chef Daniel Boulud exposed the youngsters to “a lot of flavor, a lot of layers [and] a lot of textures,” -- and with that price tag, I’m sure many of those flavors, layers and textures are foreign to adults!

The kids had a decadent dinner with plates ranging from lobster and ravioli to snapper to steak and fried broccoli. It wouldn’t be a meal without dessert, which proved to be a real crowd -- pleaser among the diners. The gang seemed to enjoy all their courses; although when Chef Daniel Boulud mentioned doing “Macaroni and Cheese” next time, they replied and an enthusiastic “Yayyyy!!” (Sometimes it can be as simple as noodles and cheese! Phew!)

They concluded their dinner with a toast, as if there is any other way to end a 7-course dinner. The kids certainly have a jump-start on dinner etiquette and I’d like to make a toast to their lovely manners!

Watch the video created by the New York Times and notice how both the kids and Chef Boulud take the meal very, very seriously. How adorable!

 -By Melanie Owens

More Kids Being Darling

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7 Father's Day Recipes That Are (Almost) as Awesome as Your Dad


You may have planned your Father's Day menu weeks ago, but if you're anything like us, you may be scrambling to find some delicious meal ideas for dad's big day. Whether you like to fire up the grill or keep things in the kitchen, these awesome entree, side dish, and dessert recipes, straight from some of TLC's favorite personalities, are easy, delicious and guaranteed crowd-pleasers.

Kitchen-boss-ribeyeRib Eye Steaks with Steak Sauce

The secret to this awesome main dish is in the sauce...Buddy Valastro's sauce, that is! Pick out high-quality pieces of meat and let this tangy, citrusy steak sauce work its magic. Get the full Rib Eye recipe.

Grilled Corn with Manchego Cheese

Since you've already got the grill fired up, make this tasty take on a backyard barbecue staple. A bit of grated cheese and delicious spices take this side dish to the next level. Get the Grilled Corn with Manchego Cheese recipe.

Gourmet Burgers

Don't let the "gourmet" description scare you! Celebrity chef Curtis Stone makes the perfect burger in this super simple, yet satisfying recipe.

Heirloom Tomatoes and Mozzarella Salad

Even if dad isn't a huge fan of vegetables, it's hard to argue with this easy, yet impressive-looking salad. Tomatoes are just coming into season, so if you can buy fresh ones from your local farmers' market, the salad will be that much better. Get the Heirloom Tomatoes and Mozzarella Salad recipe.

Crispy Homemade Potato Chips

If you're feeling especially crafty in the kitchen, these perfectly crunchy chips are an amazing addition to any meal.

Christine's Guacamole

And what are chips without an awesome dip? "Sister Wives" mom Christine swears by this classic avocado-based dip that everyone will love. Get Christine's Guacamole recipe.

Kb-shortcakeStrawberry Shortcake

Finish off a great meal with this fresh and fast dessert from the Cake Boss. You can make the vanilla cake the day before and simply top with strawberries and whipped cream on Sunday! If strawberries aren't your favorite fruit, blueberries, mango, or other fresh fruits work just as well. Get Buddy's Strawberry Shortcake recipe.



-- Mara Betsch

Get More Recipes:

Inspiring Cake Boss Recipes

Deliciously Impressive Meal Ideas

Fun and Easy Recipes for Kids

Oprah's New Tea Is Taking Over Starbucks


Oprah-starbucks-new-now-250x150.jpgAs if Oprah isn't busy enough acting, running her mega-empire, and saving Lindsay Lohan (and the rest of the world), she's adding tea maker to her resume. Starting April 29, her brand of chai teas, Teavana Oprah Chai Tea, will be available at Starbucks and Teavana stores in the United States and Canada.

And what makes the deal ever sweeter, for every chai tea sold, Starbucks will make a donation to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, which gives young people educational opportunities.

For those not familiar with chai tea, it's black tea infused with a variety of spices, and Oprah is a big fan. “I looove tea,” said Oprah Winfrey. “My daily tea ritual is a vital part of my morning. Savory and spicy chai, with its deep flavor, has long been a favorite of mine," she was quoted in the official press release. She visited the Starbucks tasting room and concocted her version which includes black and rooibos teas along with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves.

Though this collaboration is new to Starbucks, we have a feeling it may be the first of many.

And it's not the only new thing at Starbucks. The brand also recently announced that it will be selling libations with its lattes. The rollout will take several years and will only occur is certain markets, but look out for light bites and alcohol menus in the future.

Will you swing by Starbucks to sample the new chai tea?

-- Mara Betsch

More on Food and Drink:

Throw a Tea Party!

Delicious Cake Boss Recipes

Theresa, the Long Island Medium, Visits a Winery

What Your Food Looks Like—Split Down The Middle



Beth Galton and Charlotte Omnes like to pick at their food, but not in the way you or I might. The two have a photo series called Cut Food, which chronicles what happens when you split open some of your favorite menu items and really see what's on the inside. 

Take, for example, the corn dog, or the Nutty Buddy, above, in perfect vivisection. Or below, a stuffed turkey, precision split. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 7.02.42 PM

Omnes and Galton both have day jobs in the advertising world, so cutting open food and seeing how things lay on the inside is just a pleasant distraction. 

 "Everyone can recognize and relate to these images," says Omnes. "That's the fun part. You want to figure out the trick. That's how people respond when they see them: How'd you do that?"

They aren't the first to do it—there was, famously, Scanwiches, the blog and book devoted to the perfectly arranged sandwich, and there's another book just out called Modernist Cuisine: The Art & Science of Cooking—but they the first to do things in an incredibly low-fi way. 

Galton hopes their images inspire others to try out similar photo trickery. "It would be fun to see other people reach conclusions on what looks good cut in half and how to make that happen," she said. [NPR]


An Incredible Ice Cream Sleight-Of-Hand


Well, this guy's got some impressive moves. A Turkish ice cream vendor in Instanbul takes great delight in impressing and infuriating his customers by twisting and twirling his ice cream cones in an impressive sleight-of-hand act. 

Watch and be amazed!

Don't Miss: The TLC Kitchen Cookbook!


When TLC's stars aren't helping you figure out what wedding dress to wear, or connecting you with loved ones in the spirit world, they're cooking up delicious and delectable dishes to enjoy. We've all gotta eat, after all. So it made sense, then, that a bunch of your TLC faves would come together to create a scrumptious new cookbook. 

We're excited to announce the brand new TLC Kitchen cookbook, out December 2 (just in time for the holidays!) from Parragon Books! In it, you'll find tons of great recipes for everything from corned beef hash to turkey and rice casserole, to quick tomato soup and roasted veggies. 

Plus, you'll find great recipes from some of your favorite TLC stars, including Here Comes Honey Boo Boo's Mama June, Randy, from Say Yes To The Dress, and, of course, the Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro. We're particularly excited to try Jen of The Little Couple's spoon taco dish (you had us at "tacos"), and Sophie and Katherine of DC Cupcake's strawberry-banana cupcake recipe. 

Every recipe comes with gorgeous full-color photos and easy-to-understand instructions. So grab your copy and get cooking!

And as a special treat, enjoy this yummpy black and white brownie recipe from the cookbook!

Don't forget to order your copy of TLC Kitchen today!

A Cake That Would Make Cake Boss Proud



We know the way to Cake Boss Buddy Valastro's heart. It's impossibly executed cake creations that wow. And amateur baker Lara Clarke, from Brownhills, Birmingham, UK, managed to do just that, with her Pirates of the Caribbean-themed Johnny Depp cake. 

What is it about this cake that's so amazing? Is it that it's a life-size portrait of Johnny as Jack Sparrow? That it stands 5 feet, 5 inches tall? That it took Lara 90 hours to make? Or that she only started baking two years ago and learned by watching tutorials online? 

Before watching the tutorials, "All I'd really made before was some bog-standard banana cake in home economics," she said. She's competing with the cake this week in what's known as the Cake International, going up against master bakers for the title of top baker. 

We're pretty impressed with the cake, but there are at least a few people who will probably be happy to see him go. 

"It took me 90 hours to make. We live with my fiancé's parents and I think they will be pleased to get rid of it," said Clarke. "When my father-in-law first saw him, he leapt about 10ft in the air thinking we had burglars." [BBC]



What To Do With Your Leftover Halloween Candy: The 7-Layer Candy Bar Dip


Well this is just too much. Too. Much. 

Some evil genius over at the website Serious Eats came up with a seriously mindblowing way to put your leftover Halloween goodies to good use. We present to you the 7-layer Candy Bar Dip. The dip blends chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut M&Ms, Hershey's bars, Snickers bars, Crunch bars, Oh Henry!, Payday, and Skor bars. The aim was maximum texture and flavor, so it's not exactly the prettiest to look at, but it does sound rather delicious. 


Serious Eats


After layering the chocolate treats in a greased casserole dish (starting with the Skor on the bottom and working your way on up), you simply bake at 200 degrees for about ten minutes. 

The dip testers put it on a hard pretzel, but we imagine it works pretty well with just about anything solid — graham crackers, fruit, or our personal fave, potato chips. 


Serious Eats


What do you think? Would you give it a whirl? And more importantly, would you share some with us? [Serious Eats]

Thanksgiving, In A Croissant


Yes, Halloween just happened, but we've already moved on (sniff!). May we introduce to you the newest way to enjoy Thanksgiving? 

Meet the Thanksgiving Croissant, a semi-annual creation from the folks at New York's esteemed Momofuku Milk Bar. Chef David Chang's Milk Bar is the same place where they dreamed up such delicacies as cereal milk flavored soft serve, and something called Crack Pie, which is like pecan pie with ten times the buttery richness. 

For Thanksgiving, the Momofuku geniuses created a savory croissant filled with white meat turkey, dark meat turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce. But here's where their creativity comes in. The dough is made with celery salt, so it tastes like stuffing. A neat trick, huh? 



Do you have a secret weapon you're looking forward to serving this Thanksgiving? Tell us about it in the comments!

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This is the place for the scoop on TLC shows and talent, the latest story we're captivated by, the viral video we just had to share. The new things we're talking about now.










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