When making your list and checking it twice, don't forget about food safety during the holiday season.
According to federal estimates, about 76 million Americans suffer from food-borne illness, and at least 5,000 will die each year. This underscores the importance of food safety, especially during the holiday entertaining season.
Tips for Holiday Food Safety:
* Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food and utensils.
* Refrigerate all custard-type pies, including homemade pumpkin pie; perishable foods can grow dangerous bacteria when left at room temperature for more than two hours.
* Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Use chafing dishes and ice to maintain safe temperatures.
* Cooking stuffing in a turkey is a major no-no. The bird cooks both from the outside and the inside, so cook the poultry and stuffing separately.
* Wash all produce thoroughly under clean, running water and scrub the rind, too.
* Foil-wrapped baked potatoes should be kept hot or refrigerated to prevent botulism.
* Use a food thermometer to be sure foods are safely cooked.