Turkey Day S.O.S.! Solutions to Common Thanksgiving Kitchen Mishaps

So you volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner this year, but you didn’t consider one very important detail: cooking the Thanksgiving turkey! If you’ve never prepared such a large bird before, it can be quite stressful to cook both the turkey and all of its corresponding sides. Here are a few smart tips to help prevent (or at least amend) a Turkey Day cooking emergency.

  1. Many turkey mishaps come from frozen meat, so be sure to leave at least one day of thawing for every four pounds of bird. If your turkey still isn’t thawed on the day of Thanksgiving, soak the whole thing in cold water for 30 minutes for every pound.
  2. Be sure to keep in mind that a turkey takes quite a long time to cook, so leave more than enough time before the meal. An 18 to 22-pound turkey takes approximately 3.5 to 4 hours to roast, so plan accordingly.
  3. Keep gravy from clumping by adding the flour very gradually to the base instead of adding it all at once.
  4. If your mashed potatoes are lumpy, it probably means that the potatoes are undercooked. Fix it by simply add some extra milk or water and cooking them a bit longer over low heat.
  5. To fix a burnt pie crust, simply take a fine-holed grater and run it gently across the burnt parts of the crust.

Thanksgiving Hero Videos [All Recipes]
Avoid Common Thanksgiving Cooking Mishaps [SparkPeople]
Disaster? What Disaster? 5 Thanksgiving Day Fixes [Food Network]

These 3 Pasta Dishes Don’t Require Any Cooking

Many people are switching to raw diets because of the numerous health benefits, but it can be difficult to abstain from eating your favorite dishes. Lucky for anyone beginning a raw eating plan, there are a number of different ways to make pasta-like meals in a raw way. Here are three nutritious pasta dishes that don’t require any cooking at all!

Raw Beet Marinara Sauce with Zucchini Noodles
Not only are the noodles in this dish raw, but the lovely, bright red beet sauce is as well. Zucchini noodles are very easy to make and provide a sort of al dente texture to the dish, while the earthy beet sauce with sun dried tomatoes is full of antioxidants to aid in your body’s natural detoxification functions.

Raw Tomato Sauce
If you prefer a more traditional Italian sauce, this raw version will satisfy your cravings without messing up your diet. All it takes is some fresh and sun dried tomatoes and a few simple spices to give it that wonderfully zesty flavor.

Spaghetti al Marinara
Don’t let the word spaghetti fool you; there are absolutely no grains and no cooking involved with this healthy dish. The noodles are made from squash or zucchini shredded into strips that look and feel just like real spaghetti. Topped with a classic raw marinara sauce, this dish is perfect for your weekly pasta night.

Sample These Acorn Squash Recipes This Fall

Acorn squash is a type of winter squash with a unique dark green rind, longitudinal ridges and a yellowish-orange inside that tastes sweet and mild. This squash is so versatile that even the most novice home chef can easily prepare it in a variety of different ways. Here are just three ways to try your hand at serving acorn squash this fall.

Baked Acorn Squash [allrecipes.com]
To really get a good idea of how acorn squash tastes, you should first prepare it all by itself. This simple recipe involves baking a halved acorn squash with just a bit of butter and brown sugar to create a healthy side dish or even a unique dessert.

Acorn Squash Soup with Kale [marthastewart.com]
With a hearty texture and autumnal flavors, this soup is perfect for those chilly fall evenings. Pureeing the acorn squash is one of the best ways to prepare it for use in a soup, while adding crispy bacon and finely chopped kale adds a darker, smokier flavor that contrasts the sweetness of the squash.

Spinach and Acorn Squash Ravioli [myrecipes.com]
Acorn squash makes a wonderful filling for pasta, and in this creative recipe it’s blended with creamy ricotta cheese and chopped spinach for added flavor. Plus, using wonton wrappers instead of the usual pasta dough saves on calories, and it’s much easier than rolling out that dough by hand.

Easy Ways to Incorporate More Folic Acid Into Your Diet

When you think of the necessary vitamins and minerals that you should be getting from the foods that you eat, folic acid likely isn’t one of the first things that come to mind. It is a very important element in everyone’s diet, however, especially women who are pregnant and those who are susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some of the best ways to incorporate more folic acid into your diet.

  1. Broccoli. You already know that you should eat your vegetables to get the proper nutrients, but broccoli contains a great deal of folic acid as well. Just half of a cup of broccoli contains 52 micrograms of folic acid, which equals approximately 13% of the average person’s recommended daily value. Steaming broccoli or eating it raw is one of the healthiest ways to consume this veggie, but you can also add it to salads or stir fries for a more flavorful taste.
  2. Sunflower seeds. These tiny, toasted snacks are not only tasty, they’re also a very impressive source of folic acid. Just one ounce of sunflower seeds provide 20% of your recommended daily intake, and they also provide Vitamin E, beneficial fats, and other essential nutrients.

Surprising Sources of Folic Acid [Yahoo! Shine]
Foods High in Folic Acid [Prenatal Vitamin HQ]
15 Foods High in Folic Acid [Global Healing Center]
18 Foods High in Folic Acid to Prevent Cancer & Birth Defects [Bembu]

How to Improve Your Penmanship at Any Age

Having good penmanship is an invaluable life skill, and even if it’s been decades since you first learned to write in cursive, it’s something that you can always try to improve. Here are a few helpful tips to help you improve you handwriting or teach your children the proper way to write.

  1. Point out the flaws. Write a few sentences and evaluate them to see where you’re going wrong. Is the slant uneven, or are the letters spaced too far apart? Do you write with straight, bold lines or are they shaky and fine? Deciphering where your handwriting needs improvement will help you to make it better.
  2. Use the right muscles. Most people with less-than-perfect handwriting draw the letters on the page with only their fingers instead of using their full arms to write properly. Try writing with your entire arm and shoulder in order to put the right amount of force behind each letter.
  3. Go back to the basics. Many bad habits begin when people start writing letters in a way that is different than the proper formation. Using a kindergarten-style alphabet worksheet, re-train yourself to write each letter the way it should look. This will help you to make your writing more consistent and, in turn, more legible for those who have to read it.

How to Improve Your Handwriting [wikiHow]
8 Easy Tips to Improve Your Handwriting [Matador]
Improve Your Handwriting by Writing With Your Shoulders, Not Your Fingers [Lifehacker]

How to Upcycle Common Household Items

You may recycle your paper and plastic, but when it comes to all of that junk that piles up in your closets, most people are at a loss. If you want to reuse those perfectly good items that you simply don’t have use for anymore, these tips can help.

  1. Picture frames. Instead of letting that slightly broken picture frame go to waste, get a bit creative about how to use it. Place a piece of colorful paper inside and lay the frame on its back to use as an eclectic, decorative jewelry tray or as a place to set candles.
  2. Colander. That beat up old colander may still have a bit more life in it. Place the bottom inside of a small bucket and fill the colander with ice at your next party. The water will run into the bucket as the ice melts so your guests won’t have to fish for ice.
  3. Old newspaper. Line drawers or shelves with old newspaper using wallpaper paste and craft sealant for an authentically vintage look.

New Uses for Old Things [Country Living]
25 New Ways to Use Your Old Stuff [HGTV]
50 All-Time Favorite New Uses for Old Things [Real Simple]

Spruce Up Your Space With Finds From These Two Retailers

Did you know that there are many affordable stores that sell furniture and decorations made specifically for apartment dwellers? Here are two websites to shop for apartment-friendly decor items!

Ikea
Ikea is everyone’s favorite one-stop apartment shop, beloved for its hip, modern aesthetic and impressively low prices. Here you’ll find everything from the perfect trundle bed to an artistic temporary light fixture that won’t jeopardize your security deposit, as well as all of the rugs, photo frames, and plants in between. Ikea also carries a wide variety of space-saving solutions for small spaces, which will help you to organize your space and keep it free of clutter.

West Elm
If your budget is slightly higher, West Elm is an equally stylish website with a bit higher quality selection of apartment decor items. Midcentury modern-inspired sofas and end tables are comfortable and compact enough for an oddly shaped apartment living room, while the wide selection of elaborate bedding, curtains, and rugs add a splash of color and texture to a cookie cutter living space. West Elm also offers a wide assortment of kitchen wares that can maximize space any kitchen.

Practice Yoga Anywhere With These 2 Yoga Apps

It doesn’t matter if you practice in a studio or in the comfort of your own living room, yoga has a slew of health benefits for both the mind and body. Download these informative yoga apps and receive inspirational tips, instruction, and help with tracking fitness goals right on your smartphone.

Simply Yoga
This free app operates just like your own personal yoga instructor when you need it most. Watch video classes taught by real people and listen to audio instructions to help guide you from pose to pose. Learn the proper Sanskrit names of each pose by reading them on the screen, and even choose the time of each workout based on how much free time you have in your day. With a variety of different classes for yogis of all skill levels, Simply Yoga is the perfect app for both beginners and experts.

Office Yoga
If your busy schedule doesn’t leave you with much time for your yoga practice, this app can help. Office Yoga is an app created by renowned teacher Darrin Zeer to provide the office-dwelling yogi with a way to practice right at work. The interactive book contains 75 beautifully illustrated poses that are easy to do in your office or cubicle, and each one is organized by time of day, ailment, or situation. With a humorous approach and accessible routines, you’ll never feel guilty about skipping yoga class again.

Apartment Therapy: Tips and Tricks For Apartment Living!

For a lot of people, apartment living can be an adjustment. Smaller spaces and limited decorating options throw a lot of people for a loop.

But have no fear! Apartmenttherapy.com has all the answers for you. From temporary decorating products all the way to tips for making your small space feel larger, this awesome website has everything you need to make an apartment a home!

Click here to visit their website!

Clever Cooking With Fresh Oregano

Outside of Italian fare, many home cooks are at a loss when it comes to cooking with oregano. This warm, aromatic herb is actually much more versatile than you might think, however, and it can be added to dishes ranging from meats to pastas and even to sweet desserts. Check out these creative recipes for ideas that will have you craving oregano.

Blackberry-Oregano Pie [Martha Stewart]
You’ve tasted sweet blackberries and you’ve likely used oregano, but you’ve probably never had the two seemingly opposite ingredients together in one dish. This sweet and flavorful pie combines fresh blackberries and tart lemon juice with finely chopped fresh oregano to create a traditional berry pie with just the right amount of savory flavor. Add an intricate pattern in the crust and this sweet treat makes an impressive dessert for your next gathering!

Charcoal-Grilled Pork Shoulder with Fresh Herbs and Roasted Garlic [MyRecipes]
Grilling juicy, tender pork shoulder over hot charcoal gives the meat a perfectly crispy exterior that’s well worth the extra effort. The addition of a thoughtful blend of herbs, including oregano, bay leaves, and parsley, makes a perfect seasoning that really completes this main course. Because the recipe calls for both a brine and a garlic herb rub, you can feel confident that this pork shoulder will be full of flavor.