Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Quinoa with Kale

Looking for a healthy lunch that is quick and easy to prepare and will fill you up without any guilt? This quinoa with kale is it.

I sautéed some onions, garlic and tomatoes before adding the quinoa and broth. Near the end of cooking I added in some kale, my new favorite leafy green, and let it wilt.


Once it cooled I packed it immediately in to some lunch containers so I'd be ready to go. I warmed this up to eat it but it would also make a great salad when the temps are a bit warmer.
Quinoa with Kale

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 sm onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 c quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 sm bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste, if needed
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat
  • Add onions and garlic, sauté 2 minutes
  • Add tomatoes, sauté 1 minute
  • Add quinoa and stir before adding broth. Bring to a simmer and then lower heat to medium. Let simmer about 10 minutes.
  • Put the kale in the pan and let it wilt down for a minute or two. Once it starts to wilt, stir to mix it in to everything. Let the quinoa simmer until cooked through, about another 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper if needed

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Roasted Vegetables and Graziano Marinara Sauce over Creamy Polenta

Graziano Marinara Sauce is made by a local company using only the freshest ingredients and I was really excited to try it. And now that I have, I'm excited to use it in my kitchen again.

 Photo courtesy of Graziano Products

 About Graziano Products -
Over a century ago, the Graziano family immigrated from the small Italian town of Guardia Perticara in the province of Potenza. Establishing themselves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the young family was raised on the finest traditional Italian cooking. Over the years, friends and family alike have come to love the exceptional meals served from the Graziano kitchen. Graziano's founder, Thomas Graziano and his wife Jackie have continued the old world family tradition of enjoying home cooked meals every day of the week. They have maintained the classic integrity of the Graziano family recipes and they now look to share these delicacies with you. Chi mangia bene, Vive Bene!

When I got the sauce I fell in love with the packaging. The jar itself is rustic and screams home cooking, and the label is modern, bold, and perfectly simple. The two elements combine to make the perfect package.

Then you get a little closer to take a look at the sauce in the jar and you know how fresh it is. You can see the chunks of tomatoes and pieces of garlic and I could not wait to get it home and open it to smell and taste it.

I planned my menu for our Sunday family dinner using the sauce as my inspiration. I wanted something simple so the sauce could shine, yet comforting and rustic so I decided to roast vegetables and serve them in the sauce over creamy polenta (recipe follows at the end of this post). From looking at the jar I knew this sauce would give me the texture and consistency I wanted, and it did. And unlike every other jar of sauce I have ever tried, Graziano Marinara doesn't need any sort of "doctoring up."

This sauce is not your typical jarred sauce, but rather home cooking in a jar. The sauce looks and tastes of the freshest ingredients and it has the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness. You can taste all of the ingredients with none of them dominating the tomato flavor. The texture is exactly what I want in a good marinara sauce - the chunks of tomato let you know those are real tomatoes!

If you are looking for the perfect jar of marinara sauce, try Graziano Marinara. If you want to make a quick Italian meal that will taste like you cooked all day, use Graziano Marinara sauce. And even if you like making your own sauce sometimes you just don't have the time, right? This sauce will be the one  you can turn to in those situations. I know that I will definitely be cooking with this again, and soon!

To buy Graziano Marinara sauce locally you can purchase it at these stores:
   Olive Oil Etc., Doylestown Food Co-op, Del Val Market and None Such Farms in Doylestown, PA
   Tredici Market in Wayne Pa 
   Luigi and Giovanni's Market in Newtown Square
Coming soon - Graziano's Fra Diavolo will be available at Suzies Hot Shope in New Hope, PA very shortly.

Additionally, you can buy it online at www.grazianoproducts.com and have it shipped to you. You can follow them on Facebook - Graziano Products, LLC - and Instagram - @GrazianoProducts.  Finally, to meet the people behind this brand, I suggest you check out a great event being held in Doylestown, PA on February 26 - the Locavore. Details here.

Roasted Vegetables and Graziano Marinara Sauce over Creamy Polenta

  • 1/2 red pepper cut into 3 slices
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic separated into cloves and gently crushed
  • 1 sm zucchini, halved
  • 1 sm yellow squash, halved
  • 1 sm eggplant, halved
  • Handful of sliced mushrooms (crimini or baby bella)
  • Olive oil (I like using my oil mister for spraying the veggies)
  • 1.5 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1/2 c stone ground yellow cornmeal
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Place veggies on a baking sheet and gently mist with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Slice everything into bite sized pieces.
  • Put sauce in an oven safe sauté pan and gently heat. Stir in the veggies.
  • Optional: top with freshly grated Parmesan and put the pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.
  • While the veggies are roasting, make the polenta: Add chicken broth and milk to a medium pot and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat and very slowly stir in the cornmeal - take your time to add it slowly and continuously stir so you don't get lumps. Continue to stir until you have a thick and creamy polenta. Season with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Put polenta on a plate or in a flat bowl and top with the veggie-marinara mixture.  
Reviewers note: Graziano Products supplied me with a jar of sauce for the purpose of this recipe and review.
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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Skillet Lasagna

Lasagna in less than 45 minutes and only one pot to wash. I'm not kidding!
I love lasagna but there is definitely a lot of work that goes into it. Making the filling, making the sauce, mixing the cheese, boiling the noodles, putting it all together and then waiting at least an hour to eat it. If you have a lot of time it's definitely worth it to make lasagna because there's nothing as comforting as baked, cheesy pasta, right? And there are some days when I crave being in the kitchen - it's therapeutic - so lasagna is a great meal to make on days like that. But really, unless you can prep everything early, who has the time for that on a weeknight?
I saw this recipe pop up in my Feedly feed on Tuesday and made it on Wednesday. I wasn't letting this one sit around in my "recipes to make someday" folder.
Between getting all the ingredients out, chopping the onion and garlic, making the sauce, layering the lasagna and baking it in the oven, I had this on the table in just under 45 minutes. And of that time only about 18 minutes are spent actively doing something. Even better, my husband who isn't a big lasagna fan really liked this, and said he liked it even better than traditional lasagna! My 4 year old took the leftovers to school for lunch the next day and asked if we can have it for dinner every night. I'd say that's a success.
Skillet Lasagna
Adapted from: Kylee Cooks
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 8 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz tomato sauce (I used Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara; if you use a sauce without herbs in it, add some dried oregano and basil to your meat mixture)'
  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 1 c grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 no boil lasagna noodles broken into 4-5 pieces each
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Heat the olive oil in an oven safe sauté pan or cast iron pan
  • Add the onions and garlic; sauté 2 minutes
  • Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 7-8 minutes
  • Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • In the meantime, mix the ricotta, most of the mozzarella, half of the Parmesan, the dried parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Remove 2/3 of the meat sauce from your pan. Top the remaining sauce with half of the noodles, followed by a layer of the mixed cheese and then half of the reserved meat sauce. Repeat with a layer of noodles, cheese, and then the rest of the sauce. Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. (You want to make sure all of the noodles have sauce or cheese on them so they don't dry out)
  • Cover with foil and bake 22-25 minutes until the noodles are soft and the entire thing is hot and bubbly.
  • Let it sit for just a few minutes before serving.
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cooking for the Big Game

Do you watch the Super Bowl at home, out, or at a house party?

We usually watch at home, but have also gone to house parties over the years. And while I like football (something about the sounds of football that I really love!), I don't really have a team of my own and I'm not all concerned with who wins. For me it's more about the commercials, half-time, and of course, the food.

Fun appetizers are a must for game watching. Couldn't you just make a meal out of appetizers? I totally could and always go overboard when making apps - there's no such thing as too much in my opinion.

Here are some of my favorite apps to make for friends and family - I hope you find some to add to your game day grub! For the complete list of my apps, check out the Appetizer page of my Recipe Index.


This Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Gruyere Dip is one you will want to sit in front of and not move. It has been a big hit every time I have made it.

If you have two minutes you can make this Loaded Baked Potato Dip.

Jalapeno Popper Dip.  Need I say more?

And for something a little fancier, try this Creamy Sundried Tomato Pesto Dip. Sundried tomatoes, artichokes and hot and bubbly cheese - yes please!


These Tortilla Pinwheels are one of the simplest appetizers on my blog and they get the most hits! I make them for almost every party and have brought them to many gatherings. By the end of the party I always have several people asking for the recipe. Best thing about them - you make them the night before, wrap them up and store them in the fridge overnight. When it's time for the party, just slice and serve.

My mouth is watering thinking about these Loaded Baked Potato Bites. Aren't they so cute?

I love pizza. Serve it up in a adorable little package with these Pepperoni Pizza Rolls.

And one fancier option, French Onion Cheese Bread.

Some Main Dish Ideas
Want something more than apps but still keeping with the Big Game theme? Try these -

Sweet Ham and Swiss Sliders

White Chicken Chili

The Easiest & Creamiest Mac-n-Cheese. I'd serve this one up with some kielbasa or sausage on the side.

Spicy Taco Chili

Love Spinach Artichoke Dip? Look at these Chicken Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Broccoli-Cheddar Risotto

Back in college I actually did like to cook once I was living in an apartment and the sorority house. But even though I'd make something like a roasted or sautéed chicken breast, I'd still use instant sides (hey it was college - just making the chicken is pretty impressive).
One of my favorites was the Uncle Ben's rice packet that had the seasoning and veggies all mixed in, specifically the broccoli cheddar one. It was easy, didn't take much time, and when it was done you had a creamy, cheesy side that was both your starch and veg. Nevermind the fact that it had more sodium that any person should eat in a week - I didn't care about that stuff back then.
Well when I saw this recipe pop up in my Feedly app, I instantly thought of those college days and was immediately craving cheesy rice with broccoli. My favorite college dinner turned into a homemade, grown-up risotto - yes, please!
Risotto is one of my favorite things to cook and eat. I love this creamy rice dish so much that I created a page in my recipe index dedicated solely to risotto. Take a look - there are more than 20 risotto recipes ranging from simple parmesan-garlic and mushroom recipes to black truffle risotto and even some really interesting ones like Mexican risotto and Asian-inspired risotto.
I'm so thankful that my friend Sarah found this recipe, made it, and posted it on her blog A Taste of Home Cooking because honestly, while I have experimented with many ingredients when making risotto I never thought of using broccoli and cheddar. But it works - it totally works.

Cheddar-Broccoli Risotto
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
  • 4-6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large broccoli crown, cut into small florets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • Bring the chicken broth to a low simmer in a saucepan. Keep warm.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and season with salt and pepper. Saute approximately 10 minutes until the broccoli is tender and browning in spots. Remove the broccoli from the pan.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in the pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion; sauté 2 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir to coat.
  • Add the wine and stir until evaporated, about 1 minute.
  • Start adding the chicken broth one ladle-full at a time, letting it fully absorb before adding more. This process takes anywhere from 17-25 minutes - near the end keep tasting your rice to see if it is cooked through.
  • Before you add the final ladle of broth, add the broccoli back in.
  • Add the final ladle of broth and once it's just about absorbed, turn off the heat and add the grated cheese. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore

When you are having guests for dinner the last thing you want is to be tied to your stove, right? Over the holidays my cousin and I got together to cook for our family, and we came up with a menu that would allow us to prep and cook ahead of time while having a few drinks and catching up. And then when everyone arrived we had a few things left to do in the kitchen, but most of the meal was already prepared.

Here is the menu we prepared:
   Appetizers: Antipasto platter of cheeses, meats, olives, roasted peppers, crackers
   Crusty Bread
   Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore
   Roasted Baby Red Potatoes (our other option was polenta which I think would work perfectly)
   Roasted Green Beans

The oven braised chicken cacciatore was a new creation based on a recipe I have previously used for a quicker stove-top cacciatore and my desire to make a meal completely in the oven. We basically seared the chicken, cooked the veggies down a bit, and then transferred everything to a roasting pan to braise. Super easy, right? And the aromas you get while this is cooking away in the oven will make your guests so hungry for dinner.

Take a look at how beautiful this was coming out of the oven -

This chicken was tender and juicy - the perfect result of braising. But the star of the dish was the sauce, one of the most delicious things I have made - seriously. It's basically a tomato broth, but when combined with the wine and herbs and veggies it turns into a rich and comforting sauce and you won't be able to get enough of it. Every single person was sopping it up with the bread after dinner and some of us even went back for more sauce and bread.
Put this one on your list for your next dinner party, or Sunday dinner, or snowy day meal, a rainy day meal, the first chilly day of the year, the last chilly day of the year, when you are craving chicken, when you have a loaf of bread that is dying to be dipped in sauce, a weeknight when you have just a little extra time... get the picture? No reason needed, just make this one. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore
Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 8 chicken breasts (or thighs, your preference)
  • Spices and herbs to season your chicken: salt, pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika. Be generous.
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1-2 c chicken broth
  • Additional salt, pepper, and thyme
  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
  • Season your chicken generously with the salt, pepper, and herbs. Coat with flour.
  • Heat half of the oil and half of the butter in a large sauté pan. Shake excess flour off the chicken and add to the pan (cook only 3-4 at a time so as to not crowd the chicken in the pan). Cook 3-4 minutes per side until you have a nice, golden sear. Transfer to a large roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • If your pan is dry, add a touch of oil. Add the peppers, onions and mushrooms to your pan. Saute 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute
  • Add the wine and stir, scraping up all the brown bits left by the chicken
  • Add the tomatoes, stir, and let cook 2-3 minutes
  • Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken, and then add the broth slowly until your chicken is almost completely covered. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme.
  • Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and cook, uncovered, for approximately 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Garlic and Herb Rubbed Roast Pork Loin with a Mushroom Wine Gravy

 I remember many Sunday dinners at my grandmom's house that featured a roasted pork loin as the main dish. Roast pork is easy and elegant and can be seasoned in so many ways. For this dinner I chose garlic and herbs and finished it with a Mushroom Wine Gravy.

When making my gravy I added my liquid slowly which gave me a richer, thicker gravy.

The best part - tasting it along the way!!

Garlic and Herb Rubbed Roast Pork Loin with a Mushroom Wine Gravy

  • 2 lb pork loin
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • A few pinches each of dried thyme, sage, and Italian seasoning blend (or whatever herbs you prefer)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 c chopped mushrooms (white or crimini)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 c chicken broth

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees
  • Mix the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, Italian seasonings. Rub the mixture all over the pork loin, and then set the pork on a rack in a roasting pan.
  • Roast on 450 degrees for 10 minutes, and then lower your heat to 300 degrees and roast until the internal temperature reaches 140-145 for medium or 155 for well (approximately 25 minutes per pound). Transfer the pork to a dish and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Do not discard the drippings from the pan.
  • Just before you take the pork out of the oven, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms soften, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute
  • Add the flour and stir to coat everything, and then add the wine, stirring until it has absorbed.
  • Lower the heat and add the broth, 1/4 c at a time, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Repeat until you have used all of the broth and you have the consistency and quantity of gravy that you want. You can also add the drippings from the roasting pan when you first add the broth.
  • Slice the pork and serve with the gravy.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie Pasta

A few weeks ago I was craving both Chicken Pot Pie and Chicken and Dumplings in the worst way. We had a really busy week though and I didn't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen so I didn't get to make them. So to satisfy my craving I threw together a creamy chicken dish with all of the flavors of chicken pot pie (except the peas...completely forgot to throw them in even though they were sitting right there...) without the work. And instead of potatoes and crust I subbed pasta.

Chicken Pot Pie Pasta
Inspired by my Chicken Pot Pie and Chicken and Dumplings

  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed
  • Salt, pepper, dried thyme
  • Touch of olive oil for cooking chicken
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Handful of white or brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 sm yellow onion, diced
  • 1.5 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 1-2 cups of chicken broth (see notes in directions)
  • 1/2 c frozen peas
  • Optional: frozen corn
  • Pinch each of dried thyme and dried dill week
  • 1/4 c light cream
  • 8 oz cooked pasta, small shape
  • Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a pinch of dried thyme
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan; add the chicken and cook 6-8 minutes until done; transfer to a plate.
  • Add the butter to the pan and add the mushrooms; sauté 8 minutes.
  • Add the carrots, onion, and celery; cook 2 minutes
  • Add the flour and stir to coat everything
  • Add the wine and stir until absorbed
  • Slowly add the broth 1/4 c at a time, stirring to thicken. Repeat as needed, slowly, taking your time to develop a thick and creamy sauce. Season with thyme and dill
  • Once you have as much sauce as you want (you may not use the entire 2 cups - it's up to you!), stir in the frozen peas and then return the chicken to the pan.
  • Add the cream and stir until heated through
  • Add the pasta and toss to coat

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Vegetarian Kale and White Bean Soup

The other day I bought a huge bunch of kale to use either for a side, in a stew, or in a soup (I haven't been great with the meal planning lately...). After looking at the weather forecast for the week I knew I had to make soup, so I reached out to my Facebook followers for their favorite soup recipes using kale. I got some great suggestions! The next day I looked through the recipes and it turned out that I didn't have all of the ingredients for any one recipe (and that was a huge bummer because I really wanted to try the copycat Zuppa Toscana recipe my cousin suggested!).

I ended up winging it and used the ingredients I did have on hand - kale, white beans, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, and broth. This soup, for being a pretty simple vegetarian soup, has a very rich and deep flavor, and I achieved that by developing the soup slowly, adding one ingredient at a time and letting it simmer for a short while. This is why I much prefer cooking soups stovetop instead of in a crockpot where you put all of the ingredients in at once.

I loved this soup and it made the perfect lunch when it was 33 degrees, raw, and pouring rain. My 4 year old ate it and kept saying how good it was! And best of all, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around so you can feel really good about eating this soup.

Vegetarian Kale and White Bean Soup

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sm carrot, diced
  • 1/2 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 14.5 oz can of white beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch of kale; washed, stems removed and chopped (note: my bunch was huge so I used half. I recommend prepping your kale and adding it a bit at a time so you don't end up with a kale stew)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 c vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat
  • Add the onions and sauté them 3-4 minutes until soft
  • Add the carrots and sauté 2 minutes
  • Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute
  • Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes; sauté 1 minute
  • Add the white beans and stir, and then add the kale and stir
  • Season with salt and pepper and add the broth. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Thanksgiving Timeline, Menu and Some Tips for Hosting

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday - the parade on TV in the morning (the local Philly parade), food in the oven and on the stove all day (house smells great), friends and family, comfortable clothes (no fancy holiday dresses here), football in the afternoon, and of course, way too much food (and wine). Since we had our daughter Christmas is becoming my new favorite holiday for different reasons, but Thanksgiving will always be my favorite food holiday.

Last year I was lucky enough to host my parents, aunt, uncle, 2 cousins, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their 2 boys. There were 13 of us in total and I had SO much fun setting up, planning, decorating, cooking, and hosting. My house felt so warm and happy and was full of laughter and the sound of children playing and running all day. . I loved every minute of it.

But I can't lie, the thought of hosting did stress me out a bit. So what do I do? Make lists, of course. I LIVE by lists and always have one on my phone and update it daily. For last year's Thanksgiving I had lists for my guest list, menu, food shopping, "stuff" shopping (new tablecloth, décor, etc), prep sorted by the type and day, and a day-of timeline. Having these things all written out in front of me gets them out of my head and on paper so I no longer need to obsess over every little thing but instead can just look at my lists.

Our day and the days leading up to the big day went so smoothly that I thought I'd share my timeline and some other things that worked for me. I know hosting, especially for the first time, can be stressful so I hope I can help!

Being prepared and organized will mean you can enjoy your day with your guests, and isn't that what it's all about?

My Timeline
I'm listing the times I used, but to make your own timeline, start backwards. First put down the time you want to eat and go back from there. And it may seem silly to list every little thing like I did, but when you have a menu of 12 things while a bunch of people are hanging out in your kitchen it's easy to get frazzled and forget the little things.

     3:00 PM 

     2:55 PM 
          Rolls out of oven and into a serving dish or basket
          Gravy into serving dishes

     By 2:45 
          Carve turkey and turkey breast; put on platters
          Put "in-the-bird" stuffing in a serving dish
          Take green bean casserole and "out-of-the-bird" stuffing out of the oven
          Put rolls in the oven
          Pull cranberry sauce, cucumber salad and coleslaw out of fridge (already in serving dishes)
          Light candles in dining room
          Put all hot items in serving dishes (refer to your menu to make sure you don't miss anything)

     2:40 PM
          Open wine
          Put rolls on baking sheet

     2:35 PM
          Make gravy; keep warm on stove.

     2:30 PM
          Make corn and peas
          Put green bean casserole in upper/main oven
          Turkey out of oven
          Mash the potatoes
     1:45 PM  
          Boil potatoes
          Put the "out-of-the-bird" stuffing in the lower/second oven
          Take butter out of the fridge

     1:20 PM
          Heat lower/second oven
          Start to prep green bean casserole

     1:00 PM
          Prep and put out appetizers
          Fill ice bucket
     12:00 PM
          Put turkey breast in oven

     10:30 AM - 11:00 AM
          Stuff bird, prep/season bird, tie legs, put turkey in oven

     10:20 AM
           Pre-heat main oven

     9:00 AM
          Make stuffing

Some of My Other Tips
Just a few tips for things to do early, some helpful advice, and some Type-A things I do to make the week less stressful!

  • The amount of shopping you will need to do may seem overwhelming, so when making your shopping list, make one master list with absolutely everything you will need. Then, break it up into things you can buy a few days or a week early (dry goods, frozen things, soda, beer, wine) vs things you will need to buy fresh (veggies, fresh flowers, bread, etc.). I also break my list up by store - supermarket, produce store, wine store, beer store (PA is weird like that) and miscellaneous stores. Even better - make your list in Excel so you can easily sort and move things around.

  • Get all of your serving dishes out the night before and figure out what will go in each one. Doing this early will save you from digging through cabinets at the last minute and will help you make sure you have enough dishes, bowls, and platters.

  • While you are at it, get out all of your serving spoons and forks, too.

  • If you are making a buffet, lay out your dishes the night before (if possible and if it won't be in the way of your prep space). At one party I even put post it notes in the dishes on my buffet so if anyone offered to help they would know what went where, and so I would remember how I laid out my buffet.

  • Ask people to help, especially in that last hour as there is a lot happening. My husband loves to cook and he's in charge of the main things on Thanksgiving - the turkey, stuffing, and gravy. My dad makes the best mashed potatoes so he did the mashing. My nephew did a great job at stirring the mushroom sauce for the green beans and he was thrilled to help. My mom and dad bake the desserts. People will be happy to chip in and do things like lighting the candles, taking dishes to the table, or staying out of the way and in front of the TV if that is what you want them to do!

  • Set a self serve bar in an area away from where all the cooking and prep will take place - ice bucket and tongs, wine glasses, other glasses, corkscrew, mixers, cocktail napkins. If you need limes or other garnishes for your bar, cut them the day before and have them ready in a serving dish. Make sure your soda and beer are cold, either in a second fridge or cooler (and don't forget the ice for the cooler!).

  • Set your table a day or two in advance - move any furniture needed, iron your tablecloth, set the dishes, make the centerpiece, etc. This is one task you won't want hanging over you on the day of your gathering or while your guests are there.

  • Prep as much food as you can ahead of time. Wash your veggies, peel and quarter your potatoes and store them in water in the fridge for a day or two, blanch your beans, put butter on/in a serving dish, set out all of the dry goods you will need (flour, broth, salt, pepper, etc), get all of your pots and pans and cooking utensils out and ready.

  • Put your cold items in serving dishes so you can go from fridge to table (the cranberry sauce, salad, etc.)

  • Take people up on their offer to bring something. If you like having control over the menu, ask them to bring an appetizer, dessert, or drinks.

  • Make sure your salt and pepper shakers are full and on the table.

  • Buy a bunch of extra plastic/to-go containers or Ziploc bags so you are ready to send everyone home with leftovers.

  • If you are having a few or more kids (younger kids, especially), pick up some crafty turkey day things they can do. I picked up these paper cup turkeys from Michael's and the kids, and even a few adults, had so much fun putting them together and then decorating with them.

  • If it is cold where you live, turn down the heat an hour before people get there. It's going to get hot fast especially with the kitchen on overload.

And Finally, My Thanksgiving Day Menu
My menu is pretty simple and traditional -

     Appetizer: Endive with Pears, Gorgonzola and Crushed Pecans; Cheese/meat/fruit/cracker platter


     Turkey stuffed with my husband's stuffing (his mom and grandmom's recipe)

     Turkey breast because you can never have too much and leftovers are awesome


     Stuffing for those who like it out-of-the-bird

     Mashed potatoes

     Green bean casserole with fried onions




     Cole slaw

     Dinner rolls

     Spiked cranberry sauce


     Cranberry sauce - canned. Some of us like that kind :)

     Dessert: Dad's Apple Pie and Mom's pumpkin pie

I didn't have room for anything else on the menu, but here are some of my other favorites that sometimes make an appearance on a holiday menu -

     Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots and Bacon

     Autumn Salad

     Cauliflower-Broccoli Gratin with Mustard-Sage Cornbread Crumbs

     Creamed Onions

     And for those leftovers, here is something different - Bubble and Squeak or Mini Chicken (Turkey) Biscuit Dinner

I'd love to hear from all of you - what are some of your favorite entertaining or holiday hosting tips? What have you learned along the way?

Happy Thanksgiving!! Wishing all of you a warm day with those you love and most importantly, full bellies :)

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