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3 Easy steps to picking the right bottle of champagne for you

Christmas and New Years are right around the corner meaning one very exciting thing — it’s solidly champagne season. We associate the pop of the cork and those sparkling flutes with fun and celebration. But while you may want to down a glass, or two… or three, over the holidays, sometimes all of those choices at the store can be confusing. If you’ve ever hit the wine store and didn’t know what to buy, or feel like an amateur this time of year in the alcohol department, read on for a beginners guide to shopping for champagne. Remember, whichever you choose, make sure it’s in a dark bottle to help keep light away and preserve the intended flavors of the drink inside, but relax. It’s champagne! And no one should ever take a drink this fun and fizzy too seriously. Also see, Tips to prevent a champagne hangover. Step 1:…

Easy cranberry ricotta cake makes the holidays merry

When is cake an acceptable breakfast choice? When it’s Christmas, or New Year’s, or bunch anytime, or basically any day in December. There’s nothing like this incredibly delicious cranberry-streaked cake to make your whole Christmas season feel special. The ricotta cheese makes this recipe super moist and the plentiful cranberries give it tons of juicy flavor. Add a thin crystalized sugar crust on top and you have yourself a dessert-for-breakfast delicacy that pairs perfectly with your choice of coffee, tea, or orange juice.  This cake would also be delicious with fresh raspberries in the summer.  [Prepworks Flour Sifter (seen above), $9.99.] Cranberry ricotta cake Ingredients 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder 3/4 tsp salt 1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar 3 eggs 1 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta 1 stick butter, melted (1/2 cup) 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup fresh cranberries + 1/2 cup fresh cranberries…

What’s the difference between stuffing and dressing?

For carb-lovers, stuffing is the ultimate thanksgiving side dish. That delicious blend of bread, celery, onions and seasonings when smothered with gravy and served atop roast turkey is truly a feast to be thankful for. (Heck. Forget the turkey! I’d be happy with stuffing alone!) That said, while we all unanimously seem to agree that stuffing reigns supreme, what we disagree on is what to call it. Some people say stuffing. Others call it dressing. So what gives? Avoid these 8 common stuffing mistakes. Well, historically, some people used the terms to note the difference between stuffing (cooked inside the bird) and dressing (cooked outside of the bird, likely in a baking dish). But this wasn’t really ever “official.” Dictionaries no longer even really distinguish the two. The difference in the terminology is actually due to regional dialects. Though both dishes contain the same ingredients, if you’re from a southern…

Pomegranate Gin Fizz with Rosemary sprig

The Pomegranate Gin Fizz is perfect for all types of holiday and winter gatherings. It’s seriously crisp and refreshing and makes the perfect Christmas cocktail. This beautifully bright red fizzy drink bursting with juicy arils and aromatic herbs will impress any guest. Holiday tip: Mix a large pitcher ahead of time and pour over ice as guests arrive. Pomegranate Gin Fizz Makes 1 drink Ingredients crushed ice to fill glass 1 ounce gin 2 ounces pomegranate juice club soda to top spring of fresh rosemary (for garnish) 2 tsp pomegranate arils (seeds) Directions Pour gin and pomegranate juice in short whiskey glass. Fill the rest of the glass with crushed ice (almost to the top). Sprinkle with arils and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary. Also see, A perfect holiday punch recipe. Follow us on Instagram.

How much turkey should you buy per person? And other turkey questions, answered

There are a lot of decisions the Thanksgiving host has to make. Cranberry sauce; fresh or canned? A side of carrots or corn? Pumpkin or apple pie? (That answer there is easy. Both!). But perhaps the most important question of them all: How many pounds of turkey do I need to buy? How much turkey should i buy per person? As a rule of thumb, you should aim for about 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person. Don’t forget that number takes into considering the weight of the bones, giblets, and a bit of leftovers too. That means, if you’re having 8 adult guests, you’re going to want a 12 pound turkey. Of course, if you have a bunch of big eaters or turkey lovers — or think you might get a few unexpected last minute guests — you’ll want to go up from there. When should you buy your turkey?…

This Turkey Veggie Tray will be the talk of Thanksgiving

Bring this tasty veggie turkey tray to your Thanksgiving Day gathering and everyone will gobble it up! It’s super simple to assemble, and a fun way to snack healthy before devouring what’s likely to be a belt-busting feast. You can get creative and use nearly any veggie you might have on hand, but here’s what I included in mine: Cucumber slices carrots red peppers yellow peppers cauliflower peas Assemble vegetables, in rows, on a large round platter. Then, just pick up a container of ranch dip (or make your own), cut an adorable turkey face, and you’re all set! For more details, watch the how-to video above. Gobble Gobble! Also check out: 17 Thanksgiving recipes you don’t want to miss! Also see, The first TV Dinner was a Thanksgiving feast. Follow us on Instagram.

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…

Cranberry crockpot turkey meatballs

Looking for an easy way to feed a crowd this holiday? This delicious recipe makes for a fantastic appetizer or a tasty twist on your classic meatball sandwich. Turkey meatballs swimming in a sea of cranberry chili sauce is the new must-make recipe of the season. These meatballs are tangy, sweet, and oh-so-addictive! Guests can pick them with toothpicks or plate them for a fancier affair. And the best part? You — you fabulously smart and savvy holiday host — just dump three ingredients into the crock pot, walk away, and about two hours later, you have a hot and hearty snack everyone will love. Now that’s a happy holiday. Also try this Warm brie with cranberry jalapeño jam recipe.  Note: I use turkey meatballs since a lot of people shy away from red meat. Plus, the turkey and cranberry combo is obviously a classic. But feel free to use whatever kind…

Beet apple walnut fall harvest salad

Farmers markets everywhere are still brimming with vibrant beets and crunchy apples. Put them together in this delicious Beet Apple Walnut Fall Harvest salad. See what else is still in season in November.  The crisp combo of tart apples and earthy sweet roasted beets is the perfect way to continue to enjoy the best flavors of fall as we head into the second half of the season. Serve as a side salad to your weeknight meal or earmark this one as a fresh new surprise for the Thanksgiving table. It’s easy enough and pretty enough for just about any occasion. But don’t think this salad is just about looks. Beets are a low calorie root veggie with an impressive record: they can help keep your blood pressure in check, improve athletic performance, fight inflammation, improve digestion, support brain health, and they may even have some cancer fighting potential thanks to…