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Seasonal

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10 great hostess gifts that aren’t wine

Anyone can run to a nearby liquor store and pick up a bottle of wine, but your hostess will be much more impressed with your thoughtfulness if you opt for something else. Whether it’s something they share that evening with guests, or something they save for themselves, these gifts will be greatly appreciated. Soyil Natural Soy Wax Candles (Starting at $14, everybodyshops.com) Show your smart and savvy hostess you appreciate her hospitality with a dye-free, natural soy wax, small batch candle. Seasonal fragrances can help her warm her home with a welcoming scent, plus, soy won’t mark up walls with that nasty black soot. Wine Glass Mahogany Appetizer plates ($19.99, everybodyshops.com) You can bet your host won’t be able to wait to break these out for guests to use atop their wine glasses as they graze all of the amazing food at the party. Each set includes four plates, and…

8 common stuffing mistakes that could ruin your holiday dinner

Okay, maybe “ruin” is a bit dramatic, but that doesn’t mean you and your guests won’t be disappointed with dry or less-than-stellar stuffing. This classic Thanksgiving dinner dish — with its familiar flavors of onion, celery, and herbs mixing with crispy, chewy, buttery bread — is well-loved, but it’s also easy to mess up, so be sure to avoid these 8 common stuffing mistakes: 1. You make it on Thanksgiving Day Don’t wait until Thanksgiving day to start your stuffing. Your bread base — whether it’s a bread loaf, cornbread, bagels or even waffles — needs to be dry and stale, so let it sit out for at least a day or two before you begin. If your bread is still moist, your stuffing will be soggy. 2. You try to save calories If you’re looking to keep your Thanksgiving meal within a certain calorie count, perhaps you could cut…

8 ways to save money on your Thanksgiving meal budget

For all the attention the stress and craziness of cooking on Thanksgiving receives, we often fail to acknowledge the other downside of being the designated host: the cost. If you’re on a tight budget it can seem nearly impossible to pull of a feast with all of the fixin’s guests have come to expect. This Thanksgiving, you’ll be thankful you followed these 10 tips for saving money on your Turkey Day grocery bill. 1.  Set a budget — and don’t budge from it! It’s easy to go overboard on extras when planning a holiday meal, after all, you want to show your loved ones you appreciate them. But don’t feel pressure to recreate the lavish spread you saw in Martha Stewart magazine. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average American Thanksgiving meal for 10 costs $48.90 — that’s less than $5 per person!  If you’re about to blow…

Should you wash a turkey before cooking it?

You MUST resist. Yes, poultry doesn’t exactly seem super clean, but no matter how gross or how slimy that bird feels, whatever you do, do not wash your turkey. More than 46 million turkeys will be eaten this Thanksgiving Day, and with that comes one of the biggest days of the year for food borne illnesses. With so many different foods being stored, rinsed, prepared, and cooked all in the same space, it’s easy to imaging how cross contamination can happen. But the easiest way to spread illness-causing bacteria? Washing the turkey. But why? According to the USDA, rinsing your turkey, whether fresh or frozen, will not get rid of that unwanted bacteria on your bird — in fact, that’s pretty much impossible to do without the high heat of the oven (more on that later). Actually it’s washing your turkey that increases the chance of spreading that bacteria. This…

Everything you need to know about freezing cookies

Nothing is better than freshly baked cookies. But during the holidays when fresh, homemade cookies matter most, we’re also needing to split our time between cooking, hosting, shopping, and celebrating the season, leaving little time to spend rolling out and filling dozens of dainty little cookies. This is when having a magical holiday depends on the magic of the freezer. Freezing cookies or cookie dough now can save you later when you’re just too busy to bake. Just follow these tips and you’ll be good to go. What types of cookies can I freeze? Lots of cookies are great candidates for the freezer. Cutout cookies, slice and bake (icebox) cookies, drop cookies, and biscotti are all excellent choices. Any cookie with a lot of butter or fat will freeze well. Try to avoid freezing cookies that are decorated, filled, or delicate — like meringues — since they would loose a…

17 Thanksgiving recipes you don’t want to miss

This year, make Turkey Day more delicious than ever. Even if you’ve hosted the holiday for decades and think your menu is as good-as-it-gets, it could be time for a refresher. For the ultimate holiday feast, try a few recipes from this Thanksgiving recipe roundup. Stuffing in the crock pot Who has oven space for all of those side dishes? Plus, cooking stuffing in the bird might not be the best idea anyway. http://craves.everybodyshops.com/crock-pot-stuffing-saves-time-on-thanksgiving-day/ Roasted butternut squash It’s delicious and healthy. Plus is will ad a splash of color to your table. What more could you want? http://craves.everybodyshops.com/roasted-butternut-squash-with-cranberries-and-goat-cheese/ Cheesy broccoli casserole Make room for a new tradition at the table. These cheesy broccoli casserole is a win with kids and adults alike. http://craves.everybodyshops.com/thanksgiving-day-broccoli-cheese-casserole/ Baked brie with cranberries and jalapeños How fast can an appetizer disappear? Just don’t blink! This cranberry brie will be gone in seconds. http://craves.everybodyshops.com/baked-brie-with-cranberry-jalapeno-jam/ Layered pumpkin delight…

The 6 biggest mistakes you can make when baking pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie, with its thick, pumpkin-y custard, fragrant spices, and flaky pastry crust, is about as delicious as Thanksgiving gets. Served with a dollop of homemade whipped cream, there is no Thanksgiving dish that arrives with such anticipation. Yet, even the most seasoned bakers know a truly perfect pumpkin pie is no easy task to pull off. Here are a few mistakes you need to avoid in order to make your best pumpkin pie ever: 1. You use fresh pumpkin I can hear you now, “But such-and-such variety of pumpkin makes a delicious pie, just like my grandma made!” Well, if you have a tried-and-true family recipe that you’re used to, then nothing is going to change your mind — nostalgia looms large on Thanksgiving. But for those who want to make a truly perfect pie every time, it’s important to practice consistency. Fresh pumpkins can vary wildly in size…

Festive olive wreath holiday appetizer

You did it! You just found the prettiest way to serve olives this holiday season. Welcome the holiday olive wreath to your table this year. It’s amazing how ordinary olives go from drab to centerpiece status with just a few springs of rosemary. Add some fresh mozzarella pearls and some sweet and tangy pepper drops for color, and you have an appetizer platter that’s ready to party. What’s better still? This olive wreath can be assembled in just a few minutes, so no need to save it for special occasions. Throw one together for your couples holiday movie night-in, while you’re decorating the house for the holidays, or anytime a friend stops by to chat this season. I fill the middle of mine with crackers — especially when I can find adorable shapes like these stars — but feel free to leave the center open. You can always serve crackers…

Rice Krispie Treat Pumpkins

No tricks here! These Rice Krispie pumpkins are the easiest treat on the block. Make them for Halloween or for Thanksgiving, and they’ll be just as festive. If you’ve ever made Rice Krispie Treats before, you know your hands can get pretty messy. That marshmallow mixture can stick to your fingers and become really frustrating — but don’t fret! I’ve figured out how to rolls the balls without making a mess. Also try these Mummy Rice Krispie Treats for Halloween. The trick? Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray, like Pam. I’ve tried all sorts of methods, including butter, but nothing works better than Pam. Just trust me on this. Spray your palms with a healthy coating and rub them together like you would to put on lotion. This way, you get the oil around the sides of your fingers and in all of the little corners that marshmallow could…

How to host a stress-free Thanksgiving feast

Whether you’re a first time host or a seasoned veteran, whipping up a Thanksgiving dinner is no easy task. Add in a bit of forgetfulness, a touch of poor planning, and some overly eager houseguests, and you could quickly find yourself in the middle of a full-blown holiday disaster. But don’t fret! A little preparation and a few reminders, and you can be on your way to a totally stress-free Turkey Day. Here are 10 tips for a stress-free Thanksgiving: 1. Planning is the name of the game The best way to reduce stress on Thanksgiving Day is to have a plan made well in advance (we suggest preparing at least two weeks in advance). That includes knowing how many people you’re cooking for, writing a grocery shopping list (don’t forget the wine!), and a schedule of how you’ll actually manage your time on the big day. 2. plan out…