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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The holidays are a happy and joyous time but they can also be stressful for those hosting a gathering. News 19 worked with a local chef to take some of the anxiety out of making a perfect meal.

Chef JoAnna is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience who teaches cooking classes in northern Alabama and southern Tennessee. She spent an afternoon working with News 19 to show how easy cooking for Thanksgiving can be, particularly for those who have never cooked one before.

She said one question she’s gotten a lot of is “how do I cook for someone who is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or other things like that?’ She had some tips for dishes but also recommends those with restrictions contribute to the meal with things they can eat.

So whether it’s your first Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving away from home or your turn to cook the turkey, watch Chef JoAnna prepare some traditional and some new Thanksgiving favorites:

Turkey and Gravy:

Remember, cook the turkey at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then set the oven to 350 degrees and cook until the temperature of the bird is 165 degrees.

Chef JoAnna recommends getting a turkey big enough so everyone can plan have one to one and a half pounds of turkey. She said not to worry though everyone won’t actually be eating a pound of meat, some of that weight will be lost in bones and some will turn into gravy.

“By making sure you have one to one and a half pounds of whole bird that means that you’ll have enough yield plus a little for leftovers because sandwiches are important,” she laughed. “There’s plenty of things you can do with leftover turkey.”

She also recommended that anyone planning to make stuffing or dressing, cook it outside of the turkey. The turkey will cook faster this way and it’s one less temperature to worry about.

Vegetarian Entree – Stuffed Acorn Squash:

Side Dishes:

Dessert – Pumpkin Bread Pudding:

Here are some downloadable resources from Chef to help everyone plan out their meal:

Those who have questions or concerns can email Chef JoAnna.

Chef JoAnna’s last tip?

“If it’s your first time, it will be the best you’ve ever done. So don’t worry about it. It’s only food.”