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Two cookbooks to menu-plan Thanksgiving

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With its wide range of recipes, "Thanksgiving Cookbook" could be a resource that you could rely on for years of Thanksgiving dinners.

But if the idea of sifting through dozens of side dish and pie recipes to put together your own Thanksgiving menu is overwhelming, look no further than America's Test Kitchen. Their Menu Cookbook (Boston Common Press, 2011) has "kitchen-tested menus for foolproof dinner parties," and a chapter dedicated to the "Classic Thanksgiving Dinner." They have figured out all the hard stuff for you. Simply follow their lead and you'll be relaxed and ready to greet your guests on the big day.

"The Game Plan" sidebar for each dinner party features a timeline with a check list for what to do five days ahead, one day ahead, and the day of the dinner party. The America's Test Kitchen cooks also offer up clever tips to make prep work more efficient and help solve common cooking problems, such as how to fix a thin sauce or remove candle wax from a tablecloth. America's Test Kitchen offers a wealth of information and guidance online, too. You might enjoy touring their new online cooking school. This month's class on Thanksgiving dinner promises: "We teach you the skills you need to make any holiday meal a success."

You may not get the wealth of recipes choices in "Menu Cookbook" as you'll find in "Thanksgiving Cookbook" offers, but sometimes too many choices is not helpful for those with busy lifestyles. In addition, the tightly focused menu from America's Test Kitchen could help prevent an ambitious cook from biting off more than one can chew, as they say.

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