11/24/2014 11:35 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

8 Easy Fixes for Thanksgiving Meal Mishaps

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Grandma Rose isn't speaking to Aunt Essie. Cousin Jim just converted to "Jediism." Ruffles threw up on the living-room rug.

You have enough Thanksgiving woes without having to worry about the meal. From fixing dry stuffing to thickening watery gravy, here are a few of the cleverest Turkey Day rehab tips.

Problem: The turkey won't be done on time.


Solution: First, serve your guests more cheese and crackers. Then, increase the oven temperature, going as high as 450°F--but cover the turkey with aluminum foil first. Cook for no more than two minutes per pound of turkey weight. Remove the foil near the end to crisp up the skin.

See Video: How To Carve a Turkey

Problem: The cranberry sauce won't jell.


Solution: In homemade cranberry sauce, the jelling occurs as a reaction between the pectin and the sugar. The cranberry sauce must boil long enough for this to happen, so start by cooking it longer. If you reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe, add more, because sugar is necessary to get the sauce to thicken. Finally, it's a good idea to cool your cranberry sauce at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. As the sauce cools, the consistency will firm up somewhat.

Problem: The stuffing is dry.


Solution: Add a hot liquid (broth is the obvious choice, but apple juice can be interesting too) and mix until it's a consistency you like.

Problem: You didn't make enough sweet potatoes.


Solution: Sweet potatoes pair well with many fruits. You can mix chunks of sweet potatoes with chunks of apples (cooked, perhaps with some brown sugar) and puree them both, if you like. Or, you could layer them with bananas and some brown sugar and cinnamon, splash on some orange juice (rum even), and bake at 375°F until tender (about 45 minutes).

Recipe: Sweet Potato Salad.

Problem: The gravy is too thin.

Solution: You need a thickener. You can stir in some arrowroot (1 tablespoon per cup of liquid) or cornstarch (1½ teaspoons per cup of liquid). In either case, dissolve it in a little cold water, add to your gravy, and stir over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens. Cornstarch will need to be cooked for a few minutes to improve the taste.

Problem: The green beans are turning gray.


Solution: If your beans' color is starting to fade as they simmer, either they're overcooking, in which case you should drain them right away and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking, or there's lemon juice or vinegar in the water, in which case you should add a pinch of baking soda to balance the acidity.

Recipe: Crispy Green Bean Fries.

Problem: The mashed potatoes lack fluff.


Solution: Add a pinch of baking powder and keep fluffing.

Recipe: 20-Minute Mashed Potatoes.

Problem: The crust of the pumpkin pie is browning too fast.


Solution: It's usually the edges that start browning first. Cover them with a thin strip of aluminum foil, shaped to fit.

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