5 Items You Need to Pull Off a Perfect Thanksgiving

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is a challenge for even the most experienced host, but there are a few gadgets that can make things easier. Here are 5 items you need to pull off a perfect Thanksgiving.

countertop-protectorSave Your Counters! The 3-Pc. Countertop Protector Set won’t let a burn come between you and your favorite pots and pans. You’re going to need every inch of counter space to put your sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie — with the Countertop Protector set, you can put hot pots and pans on the counter without putting it through the wear and tear of a big holiday meal.

microwave-cooking-setMagical Microwaving There’s only one of you and thirty dishes to make — you’re bound to look to your microwave for a little help. Make sure you’re cooking with the right containers — the 6-Pc. Microwave Cooking Set has the right container for just about anything you need to heat quickly to get everything done and on the table when the guests arrive for Thanksgiving dinner!

Lid-holdersHelping “Hand” You have stock simmering on one burner, another is keeping the gravy warm and the two remaining burners are reserved for cranberries and the butter for your pecan pie — they all don’t have to be covered at once, but you don’t have the space for the lid when it’s not covering the pot. The set of 4 Lid Holders gives an extra spot for your dripping hot lids when you don’t have an extra hand.

3-tier-cooling-rackCookies, Casseroles, Pie, Oh My! The 3-Tier Cooling Rack allows you to make use of vertical space for all your baked goods while they cool off when you don’t have extra counter space. It provides a safe place for fresh-from-the-oven goodies to cool, while allowing air to flow freely around them. This rack is made for big jobs — like Thanksgiving dinner — when you have a lot of hot stuff coming out of the oven and more stuff going in.

frosty-serverService with a Smile The Lighted Holiday Serving Stand is a festive piece for the dining room where it gets crowded — but with the 2-tiers for dinner and dessert plates and the built-in utensil holder, you’ll have plenty of room at the buffet for the Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings.

The Lakeside Collection has a variety gadgets and cookware to choose from — check out our housewares and dining section for more products to help you put together a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner.

The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week

As the build up to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays begin, it is easy to get caught up in the coming wave. Remember to take some time for yourself before the stress gets to you by wrapping up in a sweater, enjoying a good book, massaging away your aches, or grabbing a cup of tea. Here is The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.

Fall in love with the soft chunky knit construction of the Women's Long Open Front Sweater.

Fall in love with the soft chunky knit construction of the Women’s Long Open Front Sweater.

Use this set of 3 Plantar Fasciitis Massage Balls to help relieve pain and soothe aching feet.

Use this set of 3 Plantar Fasciitis Massage Balls to help relieve pain and soothe aching feet.


You'll read comfortably for hours with your book or e-reader on this plush Book Pillow.

You’ll read comfortably for hours with your book or e-reader on this plush Book Pillow.

Honor the professional who works hard for you with the gift of this Occupational Double-Walled Tumbler.

Honor the professional who works hard for you with the gift of this Occupational Double-Walled Tumbler.


3 Simple Ideas for Fall Decorating

Thanksgiving dinner is hard to plan for and decorating for the holiday can sometimes turn into a big chore. You know you want your home to have a fall feel, but getting started is tough. Here are 3 simple ideas for fall decorating to make your Thanksgiving a little bit easier.

leaf-wreathLeaves During the spring and fall, trees, shrubs and leaves dominate decor. In the fall, leaves take on warm shades of orange, red and brown. They decorate our landscape and bringing them indoors lets the season permeate our homes. For crafty people, leaves are a great tool, but for people who lack crafting skills, they can be intimidating. You can buy leaf wreaths for your door to welcome guests to your home. But you don’t have to put a wreath on your front door — make a temporary home for it over the mantle or even on bathroom or kitchen doors.

Fall-Floral-ArrangementsIf you want to use nature’s bounty to decorate the table, you can create a fall centerpiece using small gourds, branches and freshly fallen leaves. Tie together whispy, bare branches and colorful fall leaves to create an arrangement in a vase. If you don’t have the time, there are artificial fall floral arrangements to create a fall atmosphere or look for leaf-shaped decor and harvest colors — bowls, platters, flatware holders — to add a fall accent to the table.

pumpkin-dishesPumpkins Carving pumpkins is a messy tradition, but you don’t have to carve them to make them part of your decor. Outside, you can create a cute narrative on the porch — stack them using leaves or moss to keep them steady, or line the stairs with them to guide your guests to the front door. But leaving pumpkins unadorned, may not be quite cute enough for you. If you draw well, you can etch scenes into the pumpkins to make them unique. Painting them or decoupage may satisfy your need to make a mark on your pumpkin. If you’re looking for something to bring out year-after-year, pumpkin-shaped planters are an option. Real pumpkins aren’t always an option for indoor decor, but there are plenty of pumpkin products to dress up the living room or dining room to make it feel like fall.

Harvest-LED-Candle-Lighted-DecorCandles Candles make any season more festive — making them unique to fall is where the challenge comes in. To make a pillar candle uniquely fall, repurpose a jar by filling it halfway with popcorn kernels and put a small pillar candle in it — the corn will help keep the candle steady. Pumpkins (not jack-o-lanterns) also make great candle holders! Carve out the top of mini pumpkins and gourds to hold tea lights.  To keep them safe, use LED tea lights — they’ll last longer, too!

You don’t have to be crafty to give your Thanksgiving dinner a fall feel; knowing what you like and what your options are can be enough to put together your fall decor without having to put in too much thought. Shop The Lakeside Collection for easy decor ideas — you’ll need the extra energy to make a spectacular holiday meal!

The Case for Febgiving

Dinner-partyAs we enter the latter half of winter, it can be kind of discouraging to know that there’s not much holiday-wise to look forward to. All of the big ones have already passed, and the “fun factor” of Valentine’s Day isn’t quite as universal as we’d like to believe. Thus, it may be good for our collective mental health to consider a new holiday that’s been catching on: Febgiving!

At its core, Febgiving is a holiday for gathering up your friends and family to have a day of warmth and celebration despite the bitter cold. Consider it as a sort of pre-party for the end of winter and a surefire way to combat the season’s blues. Modeled on the luxurious feast that defines Thanksgiving, Febgiving, like most good holidays, is simply an excuse to eat and drink well in the presence of people you care about.

Not sold yet? Though the benefits to Febgiving are literally unending, here are a few choice reasons for you to jump on the bandwagon.

You don’t have to deal with tradition
Am I alone in my hostility toward whole roast turkey? It’s one of my least favorite dishes, but having a Thanksgiving dinner without it would invite endless scoldings and complaints from people who are devoted to it for the sake of tradition. That’s why Febgiving is so great: there aren’t centuries of tradition to deal with, so you can do it up however you want! Cook up a nice porchetta, some brisket, or quiche as your main dish instead — it’s all up to you!

You don’t have to invite everyone
One drawback to the major winter holidays is the feeling that hanging out with not-so-nice family members is mandatory. It’s sort of the price you pay for eating all of that good food. Since no one’s heard of Febgiving, you’re freer to decide who gets to come over and celebrate with you. You can make it a friends-only affair, or dine with a few close cousins instead of the whole clan.

Traveling is easier in February
Anyone who’s flown or driven to relatives’ homes during the winter holidays knows that it can often balloon into a huge expense. You have to budget for inflated airfare, airport snacks to eat during the inevitable delays, and extra gas for bumper-to-bumper traffic. The good thing about February is that it’s one of the slower times for interstate travel: you’ll get where you’re going faster and cheaper than in November.

It makes February a little less lonely
Though Valentine’s Day can be a lot of fun for couples, the flipside of it is that it tends to leave unpartnered people in the lurch. And since Valentine’s is really the only holiday in February, it can make the whole month feel like kind of a bummer. With Febgiving, you can extend the spirit of love to everyone in your social group, regardless of whether they’re coupled or not. Everyone wants to feel loved; especially in February.

Do I even need to explain this one?

Soleil is a former chef, with an encyclopedia of recipes floating around in her head. Nowadays, she applies her culinary expertise to the wonderful world of fancy picnic baskets.

5 Thanksgiving Facts You Didn’t Know

Thanksgiving-FeastThanksgiving is about more than just great food and family; it’s also one of the most interesting holidays from a historical perspective. Many of the facts that you think you know about the real history of Thanksgiving aren’t quite the way they were portrayed in school plays though. Read on to discover more about the hidden history of Thanksgiving and find out some fun facts about how we celebrate it today.

Thanksgiving Day Was Really a Weekend

The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth wasn’t a one-day event. Like modern Turkey Day fans, they ate leftovers – three days’ worth of them, in fact. The weekend-long feast celebrated an excellent harvest, and the food that the Massasoit and other native Americans brought to the table was a welcome addition to an already bounteous meal, rather than a gift to hungry Pilgrims as is often portrayed. Like most harvest festivals, the event lasted long enough to let all the revelers eat their fill many times over while putting away supplies for the long winter.

The First Thanksgiving Menu Was Different from Today’s

If you imagine the first Thanksgiving as something pretty close to what we eat today, give or take a green bean casserole, think again. Turkey, or at least some kind of poultry, was on the menu, but it played a supporting role to the main dish: venison. According to the Smithsonian, corn porridge or pudding was also on the table, but mashed potatoes were nowhere in sight. If there was stuffing, it was probably whole onions and herbs, not bread; wheat fields weren’t yet well established, so bread-based stuffing, dinner rolls and pie dough weren’t part of the feast. Although the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag probably ate pumpkin during the meal, it wouldn’t have been in a dessert because there was no sugar. The original Thanksgiving at Plymouth could have included fish, oysters and clams, all of which were plentiful.

Traditional Thanksgiving Foods Have a Victorian History

One of the first magazines for homemakers, the Godey’s Lady’s Book encouraged home cooks to be adventurous for important feasts, and Thanksgiving was no exception. Many of the foods we think of as traditional Thanksgiving fare today were exciting novelties to the Victorian palate, including mashed potatoes, jellied cranberry sauce and spiced pumpkin pie. Sarah Hale, the magazine’s editor, was one of the biggest proponents of an established national holiday for Thanksgiving and did her best to popularize the holiday. We still celebrate it today more than 130 years later, so her efforts clearly worked well!

Calories, Not Tryptophan, Are Why You Need a Thanksgiving Nap

Almost everyone loves to take a nap after the big Thanksgiving meal, but most people blame it on the turkey. A naturally occurring amino acid called tryptophan is associated with putting people to sleep, and cooked turkey is high in the compound. Originally, researchers put these two facts together and assumed the tryptophan was putting everyone into a turkey torpor, but it’s really everything you eat, not just the bird, that makes you need a nap. A traditional Thanksgiving meal can contain thousands of calories, and your body has to focus more energy on digesting such a big mouthful. Your brain makes you sleepy, so you’ll stay in one spot and digest.

Football on Thanksgiving Is Older Than You Might Think

When you take that Thanksgiving nap, chances are good that a football game will be on the TV, but the tradition of football on Thanksgiving Day predates television by decades. The first officially recognized NFL season was in 1920, and that year, six games were played on that Thursday. None of the teams from that year are still around, but the Akron Pros beat the Canton Bulldogs 7-0. Today, only three Thanksgiving games are played, but the audience they draw is considerably larger.

Thanksgiving may have come a long way from its roots, but one thing about the holiday hasn’t changed: It’s still a time for gathering to offer gratitude for good company and great food.

7 Healthy Substitutions for Your Thanksgiving Feast

Healthy-thanksgivingThanksgiving dinner celebrates friends, family and the abundance you share, but it can take a toll on your waistline. You can indulge in great taste without overindulging in fat, sugar and salt with a few simple switches. These changes add plenty of flavor to your Thanksgiving feast while taking away some of what you don’t need on your plate.

1. Swap your candied yams with marshmallows for roasted sweet potatoes
Canned yams in heavy syrup taste more like dessert than a side dish, but the natural sweetness of oven-roasted sweet potatoes still in their skins is a perfect foil for the savory delights on your table. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A and fiber, so they’re a healthful choice when they aren’t swimming in syrup. They’re also easier on the chef than the usual yams. Just prick the skins with a fork, wrap them loosely in foil to prevent leaking, and pop them in the oven with the turkey for an hour and a half or so. Serve them split and sprinkled with cinnamon for a deliciously healthy Thanksgiving dish.

2. Go nutty with your stuffing
Adding pecans, walnuts or almonds to a stuffing mix that’s mostly carbohydrates improves its nutritional profile. Nuts are high in calories, but they pack plenty of healthy fats and protein into a small package. By replacing some of the empty calories in stuffing with nuts, you add nutrition and flavor. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your stuffing lowers calories and adds nutritional value too, so consider cranberries, raisins, celery and diced apples your allies when making a stuffing.

3. Make the most of stock
Chicken stock has rich flavor and few calories, so it’s an excellent choice for lightening a dish without taking away its taste. Use stock instead of milk or cream to moisten your mashed potatoes. Cook brown rice in stock with shallots, mushrooms and herbs for a flavorful side that’s full of nutritional benefits. Choose unsalted stock for cooking and salt the dish to taste as it cooks to avoid too much sodium in the food.

4. Skip the canned cranberry sauce for a homemade cranberry relish
Cranberries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, but when they’re turned into jelly and canned, they lose some of those micro-nutrients. It takes a little longer to start with fresh cranberries than it does to open a can, but it’s well worth the extra time. Most recipes call for sugar because cranberries are quite tart on their own, but even a sweet recipe will have less sugar than the jellied version you get from the can. Add a bit of lemon or orange zest to make the dish your own.

5. Switch green bean casseroles made with processed foods for a fresh green bean almondine
You’ll still get the flavor and crunch that make green beans a classic Thanksgiving side dish without the heavy doses of sodium and fat that come with the traditional casserole. Toast slivered almonds in a little butter until they’re golden, then remove them from the pan and add the beans with some olive oil. Add a clove of finely minced garlic and cook the beans to the desired tenderness. Stir the almonds back into the pan and serve a dish that has just enough butter to taste luxurious without the fat of the regular side.

6. Go with whole-grain breads instead of white rolls
Making this switch gives you more fiber and flavor, but getting everyone to accept the more pronounced texture of whole-grain baked goods could take some persuasion. Instead of trying to conceal the texture, highlight it and make it a feature with nuts and seeds that add crunch. Serve rolls with whipped honey butter or herb butter instead of margarine to eliminate trans-fats and add great taste.

7. Give desserts a makeover
Pie is a staple for Thanksgiving desserts, but you can get much of the flavor without the fat and carbs in the crust when you make a fruit crumble instead. Slice your apples, pears or other fruits as usual; then, top it with a combination of oats, cinnamon, brown sugar and flour before baking. If pumpkin pie is your favorite, make a pumpkin mousse and serve it in individual cups topped with chopped pecans for crunch.

Image Credit: luckyboy.co

Fun Facts: Gear up for October Holidays

hello-octoberOctober’s just around the corner, and while you know about its most famous holiday already, you might not know some other fun facts about the month. If you’ve ever wondered why the tenth month has a name that means “eighth month,” chalk it up to the Romans. They used to mark October as their eighth month, but eventually, the Gregorian calendar added another two months to summer. Named after Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, July and August pushed the fall months forward, making “eighth month” our current tenth month.

Halloween isn’t the only reason to celebrate October holidays. It’s also the national Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, so it’s a great time to consider a fluffy new addition to your family. Thousands of adorable puppies and dogs need new homes just before the holidays, and your local shelter will make it easier during October. When you bring your new pet home, give the pup a tent of his own with the pet cave, a cozy bed that lets pets snuggle up in comfort. The bed’s great for cats too, so if you have a favorite feline after Adopt a Shelter Cat Month in June, get a bed for each of your furry friends.

In the U.S., November is the month for Thanksgiving, but Canadians celebrate it a month earlier in October. The holiday is a celebration of the harvest, and as harvest time is earlier in northern climates, it makes sense to hold the feast when the food is at its best. Some people trace Canada’s October Thanksgiving celebrations to explorer Martin Frobisher and his search for a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean, but others suggest it’s related to French settlers and their harvest feasts. Either way, October’s a great time for people on both sides of the border to enjoy harvest-fresh apples, pumpkins and more.

October babies are lucky when it comes to birthstones because they have their choice of three: opal, tourmaline and rose zircon. With their dazzling play of color, opals are one of the most beautiful semi-precious stones and symbolize October’s rapidly shifting weather. Delicate shades of rose in tourmaline and zircon gems are equally lovely for anyone who loves pink, but according to birthstone lore, the stones are especially lucky for those with October birthdays. Birthstone jewelry, including these guardian angel necklaces, usually feature sturdy zircons instead of fragile opals, but either is equally appropriate for October’s children.

Speaking of October holidays, you might be surprised at the number of famous October babies. Former presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter were both born in the Halloween month. Musicians Sting, Tom Petty and Gwen Stefani also celebrate their birthdays in October. Julie Andrews and Julia Roberts have more than big-screen fame in common; they’re both October kids too. Whether you mark a family birthday,Thanksgiving, Halloween or another major occasion in October, it’s a great month to celebrate.

As the weather turns cooler and harvest fruits and vegetables appear in stores, why not make your own October holidays and host an indoor event with dinner party essentials? These Thanksgiving leftover containers are perfect for big  parties. It’s also National Chili Month, so make a Sunday afternoon football party in October delicious with chili dogs or bowls of the spicy stuff.

Image Credit: theposhcoincidence.blogspot.com 

The Great Leftover Question

Leftovers are the figurative icing on the cake to the wonderful holiday that is Thanksgiving.  Turkey is wonderful cold in sandwich form, but here are a couple creative ideas for consuming your delectable poultry surplus (recipe ideas from allrecipes.com).

Turkey Nachos By: Gayle Lewis


– 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
– 3/4 cup salsa
– 1 cup cubed cooked turkey or chicken
– Tortilla chips


(1) Combine soup and salsa in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Stir in turkey; cook until heated through. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Dad’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie By: Rob N


– 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
– 2 cups frozen green beans
– 1 cup sliced celery
– 2/3 cup butter
– 2/3 cup chopped onion
– 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
– 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
– 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
– 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
– 1 1/3 cups milk
– 4 cups cubed cooked turkey meat – light and dark meat mixed
– 4 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts


(1) Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
(2) Place the peas and carrots, green beans, and celery into a saucepan; cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium-low heat until the celery is tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander set in the sink, and set aside.
(3) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup of flour, salt, black pepper, celery seed, onion powder, and Italian seasoning; slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. Remove from heat; stir the cooked vegetables and turkey meat into the filling until well combined.
(4) Fit 2 pie crusts into the bottom of 2 9-inch pie dishes. Spoon half the filling into each pie crust, then top each pie with another crust. Pinch and roll the top and bottom crusts together at the edge of each pie to seal, and cut several small slits into the top of the pies with a sharp knife to release steam.
(5) Bake in the preheated oven until the crusts are golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. If the crusts are browning too quickly, cover the pies with aluminum foil after about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Defrosting 101 – Turkey Edition

Some of you have been cooking turkeys for decades.  In fact we don’t doubt that some of our readers could pluck and stuff a bird so beautifully it would make us cry.  However many of you are undertaking your first turkey this Thanksgiving.  For those first timers, the key to a decent (or at least edible) turkey is to defrost it properly.  After that, the rest is gravy (sometimes literally…gravy can salvage even the driest bird).  Here are some tips for defrosting your fowl friend.

If you bought your turkey frozen, keep it frozen until you are ready to thaw.  Then follow these thawing tips (curtsey of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service)

Since Thanksgiving is approaching in T-3 days and counting, get defrosting and good luck!

Thanksgiving Decorating

Now that Halloween is behind us, the holiday season is in full swing.  With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite Thanksgiving items.

Everyone loves Thanksgiving’s feathered mascot, the turkey.  Check out these adorable Set of 2 Thanksgiving Block Signs which read “Thanks” and “Gobble” and are each adorned with a plump turkey and pumpkins.

Are you the type of person that loves to garden or make the outside of your home as inviting as the inside?  The time between jack-o-lanterns and Christmas lights often proves a challenge for outdoor decorating.  This year plant Lakeside’s festive holiday flag that says “Give Thanks” in your yard.  The Pumpkin Holiday Flag is perfect for welcoming holiday guests to your walkway.