Only one more week until we get to use platters for plates and overeat. I actually saw a picture of a divided veggie tray that had each section filled with Thanksgiving food, and I thought it was brilliant.

In our continuing quest to make your Thanksgiving meal preparation easier, our focus today is the turkey.

You can avoid that early-morning trip to the kitchen to get the bird in the oven by planning ahead. My mother used a method the last few years she provided our family Thanksgiving dinner, and it made all the difference in the world. I wish we had thought of it years earlier to make her day more enjoyable.

Roast your turkey as usual, remove from the oven, tent loosely with foil and let rest half an hour. As you carve it, don't carve the slices too thin, and keep the slices together. Place the meat in a baking pan and pour juices over the meat. Cover with plastic wrap pressed closely to the meat to avoid air pockets, then cover with foil or lid. Refrigerate for up to two days.

When ready to serve, remove from the fridge, remove the plastic wrap and let come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Add chicken broth if needed. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Don't overheat.

A side note to last week's side dishes: My friend Rob Burress has been making the make-ahead mashed potatoes for several years and shared a helpful tip. He puts his thawed potatoes in the slow cooker to warm and places a piece of parchment paper between the cooker bottom and the slow cooker liner to prevent scorching.

Be sure to occasionally stir the potatoes. I'm doing that this year because the potatoes should stay nicer longer with that barrier.

I hope these make-ahead ideas help you serve up the food with a smile. Save stovetop and oven space while spending less time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.

Cranberries are the focus of today's recipes. The first, from Taste of Home, serves up warm berries instead of cold jelly. It's a nice change. DinnerAtTheZoo.com provides the relish recipe, and it is fresh and tasty — and another great make-ahead dish. I like a little more orange in it.

Have a wonderful week, and happy eating.

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Scalloped cranberries

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 5 slices bread, cubed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Combine berries, sugar and water in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until berries burst, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through. Yields 6 servings.

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Cranberry relish

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 apple, cored and quartered
  • 1/2 orange, seeded and ends trimmed
  • 1 cup sugar

Pulse berries in food processor until coarsely chopped; transfer to bowl. Pulse apple until finely chopped; add to berries. Pulse orange until finely chopped; add to berries. Stir in sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. Yields 8 servings.

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Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.