Gift Guide: For the Pitmaster

If there’s one thing I wish I was really good at, it’s BBQ. I always feel at a loss and admittedly, a bit intimidated by the whole cooking-over-a-flame and the whole this-thing-is-like-500-degrees. I do have such an appreciation for the people in my life that have so much talent on a grill, and kept them in mind when thinking about this gift guide!

  1. A wood fired pizza grill. 2. A set of BBQ rubs from Williams-Sonoma, which are always a hit and such great quality. 3. Omaha Steaks. I know a box of meat feels a little random, but it’s such a great gift for someone who loves to BBQ! 4. Canvas apron. 5. iGrill mini thermometer – one of our FAVORITE gadgets. It’s bluetooth, and will tell your phone when you’re a few degrees away from your set target temperature. Meat will always be perfect! 6. Charcoal chimney starter. 7. Grilling tool set. 8. A great grilling cookbook.

Gift Guide: For the Baker

Bakers gonna bake, right?! I wish I was really a baker, you know, like someone who actually knew what they were doing beyond their handful of go-to recipes. But I am so blessed, my jeans not as much, to know a few bakers in my life. Here are a few suggestions for the bakers in your life!

 

  1. A gorgeous baking sheet set. 2. A cookbook to up the ante. Is it actually a baking book? Hmmm…. 3. Creme brulee set. Because everyone needs a kitchen torch. 4. Pie weights! 5. A stand mixer. 6. A bread maker, but only on the condition to be a taste tester for every batch. 7. A beautiful pie dish. 8. A cool spice or ingredient, like fancy flours, vanilla powder, high quality vanilla.

Are you a baker? What else would you wish for?!

Gift Guide: For the Cook

I think this guide is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most! These gifts are great for the cook in your life. You know, the one that is always trying new recipes, and trying new gadgets, and is just at home in the kitchen.

Okay, they’re all the things that I would love to get but would never buy myself. Which is what makes a gift great, isn’t it?

  1. What’s Gaby Cooking cookbook. I love her laid back, fresh, Cali style. 2. An immersion blender. Everyone needs one. I have this set and love it. 3. A great All-Clad pot in a size that works for a lot of different things, from pasta, to chili, to stew, to cranberry sauce. 4. Paella set. 5. A good quality knife. I have this Shun knife, which is meant for veggies, and is amazing. 6. A cutting board that holds a tablet. So handy. Also love this one from Food52. 7. Sous vide cooker. 8. Air fryer. 9. A chopper. Such a practical gift, I never had one until a friend gifted me one, and I love it! So nice to have one, especially when I’m cooking so many different things at once. 10. A pasta maker or pasta maker attachments for the KitchenAid stand mixer.

Gift Guide: For the Foodie

Okay, I know we are all probably foodies here, but stay with me. This gift guide is for the one who is really more into the eating food than cooking or baking (promise, I’ve got a gift guide right around the corner for the cook and the baker!). Surely, you’ll find some overlap for anyone on this list, but really it’s been put together for that I-love-food-but-I-can’t-really-cook gal or guy.

  1. Who doesn’t love a little gift set?! Your recipient will only need to add pasta & cheese to this crate (or include a really pretty pasta and a nice block of parm!) 2. Cheese markers & some nice cheeses. 3. A wine bag (stashed with some bottles!) 4. Or combine that wine bag with a Vinebox subscription. 5. Cute ornaments, like an avocado or slice of bacon. 6. This book that literally makes me want to go out to eat every single weekend and not cook a thing. 7. Foodie dice, so cute! 8. Really, really good olive oil for dipping.

Gift Guide: For the Hostess

Gift giving is my love language – I wish I had bags of money hiding under the mattress just so I could give everyone little gifts! This year, we’re kicking off the gift guide with the hostess in mind. Some of these are great for actual hostess gifts, and some for the hostess with the mostess in your life.

  1. Whisky Truffles, for a little gesture. (Or up the ante with a nice bottle of whiskey & some glasses). 2. Record player. I love playing old vinyl when we have company. 3. Apron, oven mits. Can you have too many? 4. A chic ice bucket. 5. Chemex coffee maker. 6. Rewined candles. Any scent, but Champagne is my fav. 7. A baguette cutting board/server. For all the even pieces you could want! 8. My go to: cheese knives. Really lovely hostess gift but also great for the hostess in your life. Pair with a nice cheese and cutting board to amp it up. 9. A gorgeous corkscrew. 10. A fondu pot. Legit such a great gift for the go-to house in your circle!

A few more ideas for hostess gifts:

  • A nice bottle of wine in a cute cloth bag.
  • Flowers in a pretty vase.
  • A pie, in a leave-behind pie dish.
  • Flowers scheduled to arrive the day after an event. (Bouqs are my fav!)
  • Serving platter, cheeseboard.
  • A basket with cheese, jams, nice crackers.

What are your go-to hostess gifts?

Thanksgiving Playlist

The food is bought and prepped. The table is set. The wine is chilled. The turkey is roasting away in the oven. Don’t forget about the music!

Here’s our Thanksgiving 2018 playlist. If you follow it on your own Spotify, you can ask Alexa to play it by just saying, “Alexa, play my Thanksgiving 2018 playlist on Spotify!”

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

 

Thanksgiving Dinner Tips

I always used to feel stressed and anxious going into hosting a dinner. Getting the timing right, making it look effortless, enjoying it. I wanted to share a few tips and a few round ups of tips that I think will help you get through Thanksgiving dinner, or any other dinner party.

  1. Make a timeline, working backwards. What time do you want to serve your main course? Work backwards from there, allowing time for each recipe. I assume an extra 10 minutes for everything I’m making which allows me to:
  2. Clean as you go. The kitchen, when preparing for a holiday meal or dinner party, can become so unruly so quickly. If you clean as you go, you won’t be stressed 5 minutes before guests arrive trying to clean up in a panic.
  3. Set your table the night before. I even set out the serving dishes with sticky notes to remind myself what I wanted to use the dish for.
  4. Make sure you have a list. This seems so obvious, but make your grocery list well in advance and tick things off as you go. This will save you from the “honey-go-get-me…”.
  5. Make sure your menu makes sense. And isn’t overwhelming. I start with a huge list, then get practical and scratch things off. I also always, always try to mix in hot and cold things for appetizers, knowing my stovetop and oven will be occupied. I always make sure I have a few things that I can make the day prior and reheat the night of. Write the reheating instructions on your containers and account for reheating in your timeline!
  6. Be prepared for your guests arrival 15 minutes before. And account for it in your tasks for the day. Make sure the wine is chilled, glasses are out, music is playing and all your candles are lit.
  7. Make a playlist!

 

Here are some other Thanksgiving tips that will help you get to the main event with a smile on your face:

The Kitchn’s Thanksgiving Tips

Martha’s Thanksgiving Tips

Pioneer Woman’s Tips

Food52’s Thanksgiving Hotline

And of course, the Butterball Turkey Talk Line: 1-800-BUTTERBALL

 

Bourbon Glazed Turkey Thighs for Thanksgiving

This one is for all my pals that like to do things with an unconventional flare. Might I propose turkey thighs for Thanksgiving dinner instead of a full roasted turkey? They cook faster, and let’s be honest, everyone loves the dark, moist meat anyway!

Okay, if not for Thanksgiving, for Friendsgiving Dinner. But make these. They’re incredible.

Bourbon Glazed Turkey Thighs

Yield: 6 servings | Time: 1.5 hrs

Ingredients

6 bone-in turkey thighs

Salt & pepper

For the glaze:

1 c bourbon

1 c ketchup

1 1/2 c brown sugar

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

salt & pepper to taste

For garnish:

Roasted garlic heads, pomegranate seeds, parsley

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a roasting pan (very, very well) with foil. Might I suggest spraying the roasting pan with cooking spray BEFORE lining it and after? You’re welcome.

Dry the turkey thighs with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper.

While the oven is preheating, over medium heat, combine all glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer, whisking until all the ingredients are well combined. Taste, carefully, for salt and pepper. Reserve some glaze for the serving.

Rub half the glaze over the turkey thighs. Cover the thighs with foil, piercing the foil with a fork to allow for venting holes. Roast for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove foil, basting the thighs with the glaze again. Roast for another 30-40 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Allow the thighs to cool for 10 minutes, drizzle with reserved glaze and serve. Garnish, if you like, with parsley, pomegranates and roasted garlic.

 

Spicy Sausage Stuffing for Thanksgiving

I know I said it about mashed potatoes, but really, is it Thanksgiving Dinner (or Friendsgiving Dinner) without a stuffing on the table?

It’s so hard to pick a favorite Thanksgiving side dish, so I definitely love a mashed potato, and I’d just like to call the stuffing the main dish. K? I wanted to do something a little different with this stuffing recipe, so I used spicy sausage instead of sweet sausage, and it definitely shook it up a little!

I love to take a dish that you expect to taste a certain way and just ever so slightly change it up for a more surprising experience.

This stuffing is a little savory, a little sweet, and has a little bit of heat! It’s so simple, comes together so quickly, and can totally be made ahead and just reheated.

Also, I mean, the leftovers are pretty amazing.

 

Spicy Sausage Stuffing

Yield: 12 servings | Time: 1.5 hrs

Ingredients

One loaf of bread, cubed into desired size

1.5 c sweet onion, chopped

1 c carrots, chopped

1 c celery, chopped

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp rosemary

2 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper

1 lb spicy sausage (either a pack of ground sausage, or a pound of sausage links with casing removed)

1/2 to 1 stick of butter

1/2 c dried cranberries

2 3/4 c chicken broth

parsley, for garnish

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray or lightly with butter. (I vote butter, friends!)

Line a baking sheet with foil, spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake the cubed bread, if fresh, for about 7 minutes, just to take the moisture out of the bread. Set aside in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat up 3 tbsp butter in sautee pan. Once melted, add onions, carrots and celery. Sautee until soft and onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add butter if the pan gets dry.

Add herbs and salt, pepper to your mirepoix mixture. Add 1 tbsp butter and the sausage. Brown the sausage, about 8 minutes. Add butter as needed to keep the pan from drying out.

Remove from heat and add the sausage and vegetable mixture to the bread along with the broth and cranberries. Mix well and place in prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes.

Remove foil and continue to bake until bread is golden.

To serve right away, just add chopped parsley to garnish.

To make ahead, allow the stuffing to cool completely, cover with foil and place in the refrigerator. Take out of the fridge for at least 25 minutes before reheating at 350°, for about 10 minutes.

 

 

 

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

What would the point of Thanksgiving be without mashed potatoes?

YASSS, as they say. These goat cheese mashed potatoes are my all time favorite. If you’re not the biggest fan of goat cheese, just stay with me here. I promise you don’t really taste it – the goat cheese adds a little tang and a lot of creaminess to the potatoes.

It’s also important to toss two little pats of butter on the top, ya know, to get all that melty goodness in there for a finishing touch. Also, chives, which I apparently forgot, look lovely on top of the mashed potatoes!

So just how many potatoes do you need? This recipe accounts for 8 people, but you can increase the proportions easily! It’s 1 medium potato per guest and 1 oz of goat cheese per guest. Easy!

 

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Yield: 8 servings | Time: ~60 minutes

Ingredients

8 medium yukon gold potatoes, of similar size

8 quarts of water, or enough water to cover the potatoes by at least 1 inch

8 ounces of goat cheese

1/2 cup of whole milk or cream

4 tablespoons of butter

Salt & pepper to taste

Garnish: chives or parsley; pat of butter

 

Directions

Bring pot of water to a boil.

Add salt, like you would salt a pot of pasta, and whole potatoes.

Boil for about 35 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

When the potatoes are ready, dump into a collander and allow to drain. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, gently peel the potatoes. I like to leave some skin on!

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the same pot, turn the heat off and add the potatoes. Pour milk or cream over the potatoes and start to mash until it’s just about the consistency you prefer. I like some chunks in my potatoes!

Add in the goat cheese and stir until just combined. Don’t over stir or you’ll basically end up with really delicious cement. Salt & pepper to taste.

Tip 1: You can make this ahead! Just reheat with a little milk/cream and taste as you reheat. It may need more butter, goat cheese, salt & pepper.

Tip 2: Boil your potatoes in chicken broth! I add some bullion to the boiling water, I’m convinced it makes these goat cheese mashed potatoes even better.