Turkey 101: The Basics of Cooking a Thanksgiving Turkey

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family, you want to make sure that the turkey comes out perfectly. It may take a bit of effort, but cooking a browned, flavorful turkey is possible if you adhere to a few strict guidelines. Here are some basic instructions for cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.

  1. Buy the right size bird. Allot 1 to 1.5 pounds for each dinner guest. For example, if you’re hosting 10 family members for dinner, a 12-pound turkey should be just the right amount.
  2. Thaw completely. Cooking a turkey that is still frozen inside is one of the most common turkey mishaps, so be sure to let your turkey thaw for at least one full day for every four pounds. If it’s still frozen on the day of, soak it in cold water for 30 minutes for each pound of meat.
  3. Remove the neck and giblets. This is the most unpleasant step of the process, but it will be much more unpleasant if you forget to do it.
  4. Roast. You should roast a 12-pound turkey for about 3 to 3.5 hours, less time for a smaller bird and more time for a larger one. Test the turkey’s doneness by using a food thermometer. Once the inside meat reaches 180 degrees F and the stuffing reaches 165 degrees F, it’s completely done.

Cooking Questions: Thanksgiving [AllRecipes]
How to Cook a Turkey Perfectly [How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey]
How to Roast a Turkey [Martha Stewart]
How To Cook a Turkey: The Simplest, Easiest Method [The Kitchn]

Sweet Recipes for Tres Leches Cake

If you haven’t heard of tres leches cake before, you’re in for a real treat. This traditional Latin American cake combines a simple sponge cake with evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream to create a moist, delicious cake that’s unlike any other type of dessert. Here are two delicious ways to prepare a unique tres leches cake.

The Pioneer Woman’s Tres Leches Cake [The Pioneer Woman]
The Pioneer Woman’s Tres Leches Cake recipe involves a homemade sponge cake that’s already moist and delicious. She recommends drizzling the three milk mixtures all over the entire cake once it’s cool, and she even proposes the option of adding rum to give the cake an even more distinct flavor.

Tres Leches Cake [Allrecipes]
With three layers— cake itself, the filling, and the topping—this Tres Leches Cake uses a traditional recipe that makes it taste just as sweet and delicious as the original. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top to add a bit of extra spice to the rich, creamy flavor.

3 Delicious Recipes for Butternut Squash

You may be intimidated by butternut squash because of its strange shape, but this mild vegetable is actually very versatile and easy to prepare. Check out these three delicious ways to cook butternut squash for lunch, dinner—and even dessert!

Butternut Squash Curry [wholeliving.com]
This traditional Indian recipe involves cooking large chunks of butternut squash with curry and other flavorful spices. It’s best served over brown rice, which is healthier and heartier than the usual white variety. Add lime wedges and fresh cilantro as a garnish.

Sweet Butternut Squash and Coconut Jam [thekitchn.com]
You’ve never had a jam quite like this one before. Thick, gooey, and filled with the smoky flavor of butternut squash and the sweet taste of coconut, this elegant jam is best served on a thick piece of crusty bread.

Parmesan Butternut Squash Gratin [bettycrocker.com]
Though you’ve probably made (or at least tasted) cheesy potato gratin, this butternut squash gratin is a bit less carb-heavy and just as decadent. Panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese bake to a crisp on the outside of the squash slices, leaving you with a tender, soft interior and a deliciously crunchy exterior. Plus, fresh parsley and chopped garlic give this side dish a rich aroma that will fill the whole house while baking.

Find Food Co-Ops Near You With Help From These Two Websites

Shopping at a food co-op in your area is one of the best ways to obtain healthy, fresh foods and support your area’s local farmers and purveyors. Many people in small towns assume that they don’t have a food co-op in their areas, but they are actually more common than you might think. Here are two online tools to help you find co-ops near your home.

Co-Op Directory
This expansive website enables you to search by state in order to find the closest food co-ops. Each listing includes an address, phone number and links to the store’s website for additional information. Co-Op Directory also provides a short description of many of its stores, including the types of food that each store sells, its mission statement and other details.

Local Harvest
Local Harvest is one of the most popular websites for all types of fresh, local and organic foods, and it also offers a large directory of food co-ops in every state. You can search for your area by using the site’s interactive map, which offers pinpoints for each store. Once you find a co-op near you, Local Harvest provides all of the necessary driving directions, phone numbers and more.

Two of Washington, D.C.’s Must-See Museums

Our nation's capital is home to some the most visited museums and attractions in the world. Take advantage of D.C.'s diverse cultural scene with a visit to these fascinating museums, which are two of the city's very best.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Marvel at more than 126 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Some of the must-see attractions include the Hope Diamond, an incredibly old, mummified cat, and the Neanderthal exhibit. Take a journey through the past at this fine American institution and see with your own eyes why it's the most visited natural history museum in the world.

International Spy Museum
Since 2002, the International Spy Museum has engaged the public with the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever to be on display. Attempt to stay as stealthy as a spy when you participate in the exhibits and learn the important role of espionage throughout history.

Streamline Your Shopping With These 5 Helpful Apps

With our busy lives, sometimes even a trip to the mall is too hard to fit into the schedule. Thanks to our smartphones and the internet, we don't even need to leave our homes to find the best discounts on all our needs. Here are five of our favorite shopping apps:

Members post items (dresses, furniture, handbags, etc.) on the website. Users can search through item after item and purchase what they want. Each picture will take you the actual item so you can buy it. Buy items on the spot or save them for later. Search through everything or follow users and stores you like. Available for iOS and Android.

No time to cut coupons? This handy app helps you find the best price on items you need. Just type in what you're looking for and stores in your area with the best prices will pop up. The app will even alert you when your favorite items are on sale. Available for iOS and Android.

Amazon is great for buying just about anything you need, from books and technology to apparel and household essentials. Comparison shopping? The mobile app, available for Android and iOS, lets you scan a barcode to see if you can find it for a better price on Amazon.

This app does all the work of bargain shopping for you. Just scan the barcode of a product you want and ShopSavvy will show you the best prices in the area and online along with user reviews of the product. Available for iOS and Android.

Earn rewards for shopping. The app recognizes your location and gives you rewards for visiting stores like Old Navy, Target, Macy's, and even gas stations like Exxon and Mobil. Save up your rewards to earn free coffee or coupons for items you need like jeans and sneakers. Available for iOS and Android.

National Park Month

August is National Park Month. Where have you been and which is your favorite?

Where to Shop for Quirky Gifts for All Occasions

Instead of doling out another restaurant gift certificate or boring sweater for a holiday or birthday, why not try a gift with a bit more personality? If you have a friend or family member with a great sense of humor, check out these fun websites for quirky gift ideas.

Omoi Zakka Shop
This online site of this Philadelphia-based retailer is filled with minimalist trinkets like cubed planters, brass bottle openers, and enamel kettles that make the perfect gifts for just about anyone in your life who appreciates quality knick knacks with a story to tell.

Paper Source
Whether you’re shopping for a child, father or significant other, Paper Source has gifts organized by recipient to make shopping easy. Here you’ll find customized notepads, candles, coffee mugs, and more.

The popular vintage clothing retailer has an equally adorable gift section for both men and women. Beer glasses, home goods, and wall art items in cute and quirky styles make the perfect fun presents at affordable prices.

This fun and feminine shop carries a wide array of quirky gifts for your sister, girlfriend, or best friend. Pineapple shaped jewelry holders mingle with markers shaped like lipstick and miniature sewing kits on this sweet site.

Love Birdwatching? Download These Apps!

Are you an avid birdwatcher who’s always looking for new birding resources? Lucky for tech-savvy birdwatchers, smartphone apps can help you identify birds, keep track of birds you see on your watches, and even record particularly interesting calls. Here are two great apps for birdwatching.

Peterson Backyard Birds
The Peterson Backyard Birds app is a complete field guide to the birds of North America, enabling users to identify more than 160 common types of birds. This app is ideal for the beginning birdwatcher because it helps to identify the most basic types of birds seen from most backyards, and it provides detailed illustrations of each bird’s appearance. There are even samples of each bird’s call for further help identifying it in the wild.

With gorgeous nature photography and a magazine-style layout, the BirdWatching app is perfect for the more experienced birdwatcher. Lengthy, detailed articles provide information on the migration patterns and natural habitats of many interesting types of birds, while the ID Tool Kit offers helpful tips and tricks for identifying birds in your watches. If you’re a fan of BirdWatching magazine, you’ll love getting the same wonderful content right on your smartphone.

Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden With These 3 Tips

Nothing can add flavor to a dish quite like fresh herbs, but constantly buying them from the market can become costly. One budget-friendly alternative is to grow your own herbs at home. It's relatively easy to do, even for those of us not exactly blessed with green thumbs! Here are a few pointers for growing an indoor herb garden:

1) Start with the right herbs.
Mint, chives, thyme, rosemary, and oregano are the best herbs for beginners. Not only are they easy to care for, they're diversified enough to add something unique to a range of dishes. If your garden will be perched upon a windowsill, then opt for herbs in four-inch pots.

2) Find a sunny spot.
Herbs need at least six hours of bright sunlight per day, which is why many herb gardeners choose a windowsill to host their garden. If your herbs become "leggy," a term that describes herbs with long stems and few leaves, then your plant needs more light. Be sure to rotate your plants every so often to expose all parts of the herb to sunlight.

3) Don't over-water.
Establishing a watering schedule will require a little bit of trial and error. One fool-proof way to see if your herbs need water is to stick your finger about 1 1/2 inches into the soil. If the soil feels damp, then your plant isn't in need of a drink just yet.

Tips on Starting an Indoor Herb Garden [Style Me Pretty Living]
Grow Herbs Indoors This Winter [Better Homes and Gardens]
How to Grow Your Own Indoor Culinary Herb Garden [Simple Bites]
Tips for Growing Herbs Indoors [The Herb Gardener]