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Seriously Simple: Thanksgiving countdown for stress-free entertaining

By Diane Rossen Worthington, Tribune Content Agency on

For some cooks, pulling off a Thanksgiving meal can be a daunting task and feel like the furthest thing from a seriously simple meal. But recognizing that it is important to keep traditions alive, I've spent years perfecting my lists and advance preparations for this all-important meal. For example, I traditionally spend the day after Halloween making turkey broth, which I freeze for my Thanksgiving gravy. I know that the more things I do in advance, the more enjoyable the holiday would be.

No matter how simple you keep things, you still must make lists, shop in advance, and have a schedule ready for the day to pull off a good holiday feast. However, you don't necessarily need pressed linen napkins and fine china for a memorable meal. The key ingredients to a successful Thanksgiving meal are good food, company and planning.

After doing this so many times, I just print out my list from the computer each year, knowing that it has been adjusted honed and adjusted over time. I hope you'll keep this and personalize it for you for years to come. In addition to my quick stock recipe, for make-a-head ease, here's your guide to help make the planning and cooking simpler for you so that your Thanksgiving dinner goes off without a hitch.

Three weeks to one month before:

--Plan your menu; Select recipes and print out for ease.

--Make easy turkey broth (see following recipe) and freeze in small containers.

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--Make pie crusts and freeze them.

One week before:

--Order a fresh turkey: To ensure ample servings for dinner, as well as leftovers the next day, allow 3/4 to 1 pound of turkey per person. .

--Plan your table setting and decorations.

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