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Meghan Rodgers

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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…

24 restaurants open on Christmas Day 2019

After a whole holiday season of cooking and hosting, you just might be too tired to cook and host by the time Christmas Day arrives. From intimate feasts to more elaborate buffets, there’s surely somewhere on this list that can match whatever type of celebration you like. It’s still early, so many restaurants haven’t announced their official 2019 Christmas or holiday menus yet, so check back as we update with more restaurants and more details. And remember to call and confirm your local restaurant’s holiday hours before heading out. Often time, hours can vary by franchise location. Restaurants open on Christmas 2019: Benihana Throw tradition out the window, and head to Benihana where you can catch shrimp in your mouth and watch your meal cooked right in front of you. Select locations will be open on Christmas Day, so be sure to call ahead. Boston Market Who better to bake and…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Starbucks releases 2019 holiday cups

And the holiday season has officially begun. Starbucks announced the much-anticipated return of its annual holiday cups, just days after Dunkin’ came out with its new decked-out designs. The new designs feature a modern block letters, polka dots and pops of holiday colors. Coffee lovers across the U.S. and Canada can kick off the holiday season beginning Nov. 7 with the four brand-new designs: Polka Dots, which is basically a traditional red cup dotted with green circles; Merry Dance, has red and green letters spelling out ‘MERRY COFFEE’ overlaying a white cup; Merry Stripes uses a dark green cup and features small white lettering spelling out ‘MERRY COFFEE’, and Candy Cane Stripe is adorned with red and white stripes and large, green letters spelling out ‘STARBUCKS.’ According to the official press release, they’re meant to “evoke mini moments of joy for our customers and partners — it’s fun, festive, and…

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…