This Year’s Thanksgiving Recipes

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe post, and that’s mainly because I’ve been traveling a bunch and haven’t been good about cooking on a daily basis. Now Thanksgiving is coming up this week and I’ve been busy planning out the menu for our gathering at my mom’s house. Since I’ve never hosted a big holiday with family (our condo is too small!), I’m focused on making the food prep and serving run smoothly while also being delicious – and that means not getting crazy with creating my own recipes.

This year, I’m sticking with a few of my favorite go-to recipes and then adding some others that I found on Pinterest, all of which are either simple, can be cooked in a slow cooker, or can be made ahead of time and then popped in the oven on Thursday. To make things even easier, my father-in-law is deep frying the turkey, so the oven will be free to finish off the apps and sides all day. Read on for my Thanksgiving menu and use the links to get the full recipes! And I also threw in a few tips and shortcuts for making things like stuffing and mashed potatoes even easier.

Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas - this is what I'll be cooking!

1. Cheese Platter

You can’t go wrong here. Grab your biggest platter and pick out an assortment of cheeses with different textures, shapes and sizes. Then add delicious deli meats, olives, grapes, nuts, spreads, crackers, sliced baguettes, or whatever you like to pair your cheese with.

Thanksgiving Menu Ideas: DIY Cheese Platter

{image via mydomaine.com}

2. Hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip

This dip has been my go-to for years. It’s a crowd pleaser and has a few tricks within the recipe that make it healthier than most spinach artichoke dips. I always make this one ahead of time and put it ion the fridge until I’m ready to serve it. Then you just pop it in the oven for 20 minutes or so and you’re good to go. I’m also planning on trying out a slow cooker version of this soon – stay tuned!

Thanksgiving Recipes: Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

{recipe via weightwatchers.com}

3. Veggies & Greek Tzatziki Sauce with Garlic and Dill

Whip up an easy, Greek yogurt-based dip to fancy up your veggie tray. It’s healthier than the dip that comes with the pre-made trays and it’s also delicious. You can make it with or without the chopped cucumbers – I’m going to leave them out since I’ll be serving lots of different veggies to dip in it. Make this one ahead of time too, give it a stir and pour into a bowl for serving when you’re ready.

Thanksgiving Recipes: Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip

{image & recipe via thelemonbowl.com}

4. Baked Brie Bites

I love baked brie with the crescent roll exterior and some delicious jam inside. But the reality is, it can get messy and it will probably leave your guests with sticky fingers. This is an easy alternative that gives you the same taste but in bite-sized portions.

Thanksgiving Recipes: Baked Brie Bites

{image & recipe via feelingfoodish.com}

5. Salad with Goat Cheese, Pears, Candied Pecans and Maple-Balsamic Dressing

My sister-in-law is the best at making salads. She’s actually in charge of salad for this year’s Thanksgiving feast, but based on what she’s made in the past, I would imagine this is something along the lines of what she’ll be making. Plus I love goat cheese and walnuts in salads, so I might have to make this one soon.

Salad with Goat Cheese, Pears, Candied Pecans and Maple-Balsamic Dressing

{image & recipe via twohealthykitchens.com}

6. Deep Fried Turkey

As a Thanksgiving amateur, the turkey was stressing me out, so I was a bit relieved when my husband mentioned how much he loves deep friend turkey – and that his dad knew how to do it. Honestly, I don’t know much about making turkeys, but I do know that deep frying it makes it so moist and delicious. Just make sure you do it outdoors and away from the house to avoid fire hazards!

Thanksgiving Recipes: Deep Fried Turkey

{image & recipe via foodnetwork.com}

7. Slow Cooker Buttery Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes

The same says it all… an easy way to make mashed potatoes that are loaded with buttery, garlic goodness. For this recipe, you can even leave the skins on, so all you have to do is chop some red potatoes, add a few ingredients and let it be for either 2-3 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low. Mash them up when they’re done and you’re good to go! If you want to make things even easier, try my go-to shortcut: Ore Ida’s frozen mashed potatoes. You steam them, add milk and butter, mash up and serve, and no one will know they weren’t the real deal.

Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas: Slow Cooker Buttery Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes

{image & recipe via lecremedelacrumb.com}

8. Slow Cooker Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

Stuffing is another easy thing to make in the slow cooker – just need to borrow a second one from a friend of family member! I love the idea of sausage in stuffing, and this recipe adds a few other flavors with the additions of cranberry and pecans. Or if you want to take the super easy route, go for the tried and true Stovetop and add in whatever you like (my husband is pushing for this instead of homemade… we’ll see!).

Thanksgiving Recipes: Slow Cooker Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

{image & recipe via damndelicious.net}

9. Green Beans with Cremini Mushroom Sauce

You can’t go wrong with green beans, and this recipe also has lots of flavors with the addition of cremini mushrooms and a delicious sauce. If you can’t find cremini mushrooms,  you can use a variety of different mushrooms instead, such as white button or chantarelle. This recipe made the list because it was a step up from regular cooked green beans but could also be made ahead of time – just let it return to room temperature and put in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it. And while I’m sure it’s delicious to make the crispy shallots yourself, I’m going to make this dish a little easier and cut out that step. Instead, I’ll top the dish with store-bought french fried onions.

Thanksgiving Recipes: Green Beans with Cremini Mushrooms

{image & recipe via foodandwine.com}

10. Brussels Sprouts Gratin

My husband tried to tell me that Brussels sprouts aren’t Thanksgiving-y, but I disagreed, and then discovered that the whole internet also disagrees. So here they are on the menu, along with bacon. Because it’s a holiday and why not make them even more delicious?

Thanksgiving Recipes: Brussels Sprouts Gratin

{image & recipe via myrecipes.com/Cooking Light}

11. Citrus-Infused Cranberry Sauce

Fancy up the cranberry sauce this year by taking frozen cranberries, adding orange juice and zest, grapefruit juice and zest, brown sugar and cinnamon. You can also use fresh cranberries if you prefer. Or just stick with the canned version. Nothing wrong with that!

Thanksgiving Recipes: Citrus-Infused Cranberry Sauce

{image & recipe via refinery29.com}

12. Crock Pot Cranberry-Orange Mulled Wine

Festive drinks are fun for the holidays, so I went on the hunt for an easy one to pull together for Thanksgiving. I was originally looking for a spiked apple cider but then came across this one. I love any excuse to use my slow cooker and this drink sounds so good and perfect for fall!

Holiday Cocktail Recipe: Crock Pot Cranberry-Orange Mulled Wine

{image & recipe via kitchentreaty.com}

13. Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecake Bars

I don’t consider myself a baker, so I like to keep it safe on the desserts. These pumpkin cheesecake desserts are easy and delicious. And everyone seems to love cheesecake, so you can’t really go wrong there. If you have leftovers, enjoy them all week.

Thanksgiving Recipes: Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecake Bars

{image & recipe via bettycrocker.com}

14. Caramel Apple Trifles

Since I’m not an experienced baker, I love either simple desserts or no-bake desserts, and this recipe caught my eye because it looks easy and delicious! It’s pretty much cinnamon apple goodness in a dish.

Caramel Apple Trifle Dessert

{image & recipe via brit.co & lifeloveandsugar.com}

Festive Cocktail for the Holidays!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dr Pepper Snapple Group. All opinions are 100% mine.

I hosted a Yankee Swap girls night with my high school friends yesterday and it was so nice to catch up over delicious food and drinks. To prepare, I wanted to make a fun festive cocktail for us to enjoy with lots of appetizers. This cocktail recipe is super easy and delicious!

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Ingredients:

  • Vodka (I used Grey Goose, but any will do)
  • Canada Dry
  • Cranberry juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Cranberries (optional)

Directions:

  • Add ice if desired (I did not because all ingredients were already cold)
  • Combine 1 1/2 parts each of vodka, Canada Dry, then cranberry juice
  • Add squeeze of lemon juice
  • Add cranberries for garnish
  • Enjoy!

Want to skip the alcohol? Just omit the vodka and you’re good to go!

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So head on over to your local Safeway, buy some Canada Dry and other ingredients, and serve at your next gathering. It’s so easy to find everything in one spot there – and we’re all looking for convenience during the busy holiday season.

To help you get through the craziness of the last two weeks of the year, I have a few tips for you:

  • Plan ahead for everything from where you’re spending the holidays to what you’re going to eat.
  • Stick with mostly recipes you can do most of the work on in advance (last night I made a few dips and baked ziti for friends). That way, you can pop each thing in the oven and serve fresh when you’re ready to eat.
  • Take advantage of online sales. I did almost all of my Christmas shopping on Cyber Monday! Plus I got some great deals for myself too.

Find more fun holiday drink recipes and entertaining tips!

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Cinco De Mayo {Recipe Pinspiration}

Cinco de Mayo became one of my favorite holidays in college. It was one of the first signs of spring at the University of New Hampshire, where everyone skipped class and fled outside for drinks and outdoor games. Nowadays I don’t get to skip work to celebrate, but I still love a good margarita and Mexican food! Check out some fun ideas below that I came across on Pinterest – and you can also check out a few more of my favorite margaritas here. Hope everyone has a good Cinco de Mayo on Monday!

cincodemayo_greenmarg

Green Margarita – Recipe from FoodNetwork.com 

cincodemayo-individual-seven-layer-dips

Individual 7-Layer Dips – Recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything 

cincodemayo_redpepRoasted Pepper & Black Bean Salad – Recipe from HealthfulPursuit.com

cincodemayo_salsaMango Red Pepper Salsa – Recipe from FitSugar.com

CincoDeMayoJelloShotsFestive Jello Shots - Recipe from Brit.co

cincodemayo-margarita-cupcakesMargarita Cupcakes – Recipe from FreutCake.com

What’s your favorite Mexican recipe for Cinco de Mayo? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy National Margarita Day! {Recipes}

I love a good margarita, and today just so happens to be National Margarita Day. Try out one of the margarita recipes below and celebrate with me!

1. Pink Lemonade Margarita (Style Me Pretty)

pink lem marg

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • .5 triple sec
  • Juice of lime wedge
  • 4 oz pink lemonade
  • Splash OJ

Instructions:

  1. First, rim your glass by dipping the top in water or sweetened lime juice then into an equal parts salt + sugar mixture.
  2. For the cocktail, combine all ingredients into a shaker (or a large glass) and mix well.
  3. Pour over ice and voila!

2. Skinny Margarita (Skinny Mom)

marg

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. Tequila (We love silver tequila as it has the fewest calories)
  • .25 oz. of Triple Sec or a “splash”
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice, the juice of 3-4 wedges
  • 1 tbsp. Splenda®

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice cubes and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
  2. Rub a cut lime around the rim of a glass and dip the rim into a plate of salt. (optional)
  3. Pour mix into a glass on the rocks and serve! Another option is to blend ingredients with 1/2 cup of ice and serve frozen, as shown on right.

3. Strawberry Margarita (Cooking Light)

strawberry marg

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Cointreau (orange-flavored liqueur)
  • Lime wedges (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Combine strawberries, ice, tequila, lime juice, sugar, and liqueur in a blender, and process until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Pour the margaritas into 4 large glasses.
  3. Garnish margaritas with a lime wedge, if desired. Serve immediately.

4. Lime Sorbet Margaritas (Real Simple)

sorbet marg

Ingredients:

  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 pints lime sorbet
  • 1/2 cup tequila

Instructions:

  1. Rub the lime wedges around the rims of 8 stemmed glasses.
  2. Place the sugar on a small plate. Turn each glass upside down and dip the rims in the sugar to coat.
  3. Place 2 scoops of sorbet in each glass and pour 1 tablespoon of tequila over the top of each. Serve with a spoon.

 

What’s your favorite margarita recipe? Leave it below!

Infographic: NYE May be Overrated, According to Barefoot Bubbly’s New Year’s Eve Survey

I love an excuse to dress up and go out, even if it’s just for dinner. However, I, along with most of my close friends, have found myself perfectly happy and content with simple nights in on the weekends lately. With tonight being New Year’s Eve, I was interested to learn about a survey wine brand Barefoot Bubbly published on the festive holiday.

Barefoot Bubbly surveyed 1,000 adults and found that 66 percent of Americans plan on celebrating New Year’s Eve this year. However, 54 percent of those planning to celebrate the holiday plan to do so in the comfort of their own home.

Check out the infographic below for more findings from the poll!

nye infographic

 

How do you plan to celebrate tonight? Let us know below!

 

Infographic: All You Need to Know About Wine

I came across this infographic from Wine Folley this morning and wanted to share, as I know many of us will (and probably have already been) indulging in wine during the holiday season. The infographic simply explains everything you need to know about wine, including everything from wine types, glasses and aromas, to tasting tips and types of foods to pair with each wine.

Check out the infographic and tips below. And go ahead and enjoy a nice glass of your favorite wine this weekend – you deserve it!

wine infographic2

 

According to Wine Folley, here are some of the “wine basics“:

Wine styles

With over 1300 types of wine out there it’s better to start with just the basics. Discover the most popular high quality wine varieties – from Albariño to Zinfandel. In the Wine for Beginners Chart , you’ll find them arranged by color.

Wine Glasses

Which glass do you use for Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay? You can discover every type of wine glass out there  or just start off with a basic set.

Secrets to reading wine labels

On US wine labels ‘Reserve’ doesn’t officially mean anything, but there are a few tips you can learn. For instance, the alcohol level says a lot about the style of wine and the vintage tells you a lot about the quality.

Calories in wine

Even though alcoholic beverages aren’t required to list calories, that doesn’t mean they are calorie-free! Learn the calories of wine by style including common wines like Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Moscato.

Wine and food pairing

We’ve illustrated wine and food pairings before, but the method above will inspire wine pairing with common dishes you might enjoy at home.

Common bottle shapes

It doesn’t matter what type of bottle you use (unless it’s for sparkling), however there are some standards in the business. Did you know that Pinot Noir, Syrah and Grenache are almost always bottled in a more feminine style low-shoulder bottle? Also, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are nearly always bottled in a masculine high-shoulder bottle. These facts can help you identify what’s inside the bottle when the variety is not listed.

Tasting tips

Check out the video on tasting wine  if you’d like to know how to taste like an expert.

Common flavors in red and white wine

After you get past the ‘wine taste’, what else do you smell or taste in the glass? A handy list of common wine flavors may help you fill in the blank.

What’s your favorite wine pairing? Let us know in the comments below!

Recipe: Guac for National Guacamole Day!

I absolutely love a good, fresh guacamole. When you think about it, guacamole is so simple – and is actually quite healthy if you make it fresh. In honor of National Guacamole Day, November 14, 2013, I wanted to share my go-to guacamole recipe, which is one of my favorite dips or toppings for many different occasions. This recipe is a cross between a SimplyRecipes.com recipe and a recipe my sister-in-law shared with me.

guac

Yields 4 servings. Serve with tortilla chips or with any Mexican-style meal.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados – peeled, pitted and mashed
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
  • 1-2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of black pepper

Directions:

  • Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avacado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.
  • Mash the avocado so that it’s still a little chunky.
  • Add in the chopped onion, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper; stir together.
  • If desired, add in half of one chili pepper to start (you can add in more if you’d like it hotter).
  • Cover and refrigerate, ideally overnight, but at least 1 hour will do.
  • Chop the tomatoes and add to the guacamole when ready to serve (chilling tomatoes hurts their flavor).
  • Enjoy with tortilla chips or your meal of choice!