Turkey Day Troubleshooting - What to Do when Things Go Wrong

Avoid a Thanksgiving Day nightmareHere's what to do when things (inevitably) go wrong on Thanksgiving Day.

Q: It's Thanksgiving morning and my turkey is still frozen. How can I salvage the main attraction?

A: Don't have a meltdown; quick-thaw instead: Submerge turkey, still wrapped, in a large container of cold water (use the sink if you don't need it for anything else). Allow at least 30 minutes of thaw time per pound, and change the water every 30 minutes. P.S. You can roast a frozen turkey - but the oven time will be 50 percent longer.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Turkey Carving

Q: My sister-in-law drained - not strained - all the drippings from the roasting pan. Now how will I make gravy?

A: A tasty save: Melt 4 tablespoons margarine or butter in a saucepan and stir in 1/4 cup flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until it browns; don't let it burn. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and milk to equal 4 cups, and cook until mixture boils and thickens. Boil 1 minute.

Q: My stuffing comes out gummy and dense, almost like bread pudding. I try to fluff it up, but nothing works. Help!

A: Turn stuffing out onto a jelly-roll pan or cookie sheet and break it up with a spoon, then spread into an even layer. Place in a 325 degrees F oven and bake, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes or until dried to a consistency you like, stirring once. Then spoon into the serving dish and no one will be the wiser.

Related: Sneaky Tricks That Save You Money on Holiday Shopping

Q: Oh, no - my pumpkin pie has a giant crack across the top. How can I possibly put it on the table this way?

A: Here's how: Spread some sweetened whipped cream over the top and sprinkle with some pumpkin pie spice. That's how you planned to serve it anyway, right?

Q: Dinner's ready but the guests are late. How do I keep the meal from turning to dust?

A: Set oven to 200 degrees F. Cover dishes with foil and place in oven up to 30 minutes. And don't invite those rude people next year! (Kidding.)

Related: 10 Amazing Holiday Cocktail Dresses

Q: I dropped my pecan pie and the glass plate shattered. What's a quick replacement dessert?

A: Clean up that glass first. Then, for fast sugar fixes, try these "instant treats":

  • Pumpkin parfaits Swirl canned pumpkin pie mix with whipped cream and layer in tall glasses with crushed cookies like ginger or chocolate (for contrast).
  • Marmalade-glazed oranges Remove peel and pith from 6 large navel oranges and cut fruit crosswise into slices; sprinkle with brandy. Heat 1/2 cup marmalade until melted; pour over fruit.
  • Simple shortcake Bake refrigerator biscuits; split, then top with canned pumpkin pie mix folded into sweetened whipped cream. Or if you're feeling fancy, use whipped cream folded into whipped cream cheese flavored with orange liqueur; either way, top with thawed frozen berries.

How did you save your biggest Thanksgiving disaster? Let us know in the comments!

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