1. Unexpected guests show up.
Aunt Sally brought along her new boyfriend and his three brothers? No problem. You've already prepared for this by buying a boneless turkey breast. A 2 1/2-pound boneless breast only takes around 1 1/2 hours to cook. After it's sliced up and added to the serving platter, no one will be the wiser. And if you don't end up using it, freeze it for the next time you get a turkey craving.
2. My potatoes are lumpy.
Lumpy mashed potatoes generally mean undercooked potatoes. If you get to this point and you realize you've undercooked your potatoes, just add a little bit of milk or cream and cook the potatoes over a low heat until the lumps begin to soften. Next time, make sure you cook the potatoes fully by inserting a fork into them before taking them off the heat. If the fork slips in easily, they're done.
3. My gravy isn't smooth.
If flour is added too quickly, the gravy will wind up with clumps of flour. Avoid this problem by gradually adding the flour into the gravy base. You can do this by sprinkling it into the gravy or with a fine sieve if you prefer. For extra insurance, try pouring the gravy through a sieve just before serving.
4. My pie crust is soggy.
To prevent a soggy pie crust, blind-bake the crust either partially or fully before pouring in the filling. This will set the crust to prevent the wet filling from sinking in. Alternatively, keep a good-quality store-bought pie crust in the freezer. Pop it in the oven to crisp up, and then pour in your filling for a shortcut to Thanksgiving dessert.
5. My pumpkin pie or cheesecake has cracked on top.
There's nothing a little confectioners' sugar or whipped cream can't hide. Top your cracked pie or cake with one or the other and your guests will admire you for remembering the finishing touches. There are a lot of reasons custards may crack, and two of the most common involve cooking and cooling time. Avoid the crack next year by cooking the custard for less time. Custards need to cook only until just set. And cool custard gradually by turning off the oven, propping the oven door slightly ajar and letting it come to room temperature before refrigerating.