In-Season Eats

BHG Guest Blogger

Faith Durand: Behind the Scenes With Our November Thanksgiving Menu

I’m Faith, the Executive Editor of The Kitchn and a cookbook author (my latest is The Kitchn Cookbook, a handbook to everything you need to know to love cooking in your kitchen a little bit more!). I was so excited to create a Thanksgiving menu and recipes with Better Homes and Gardens this year. This menu includes some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, and I wanted to share more about where they came from.

I come from a big family of eight kids, and I’m the oldest, so that means I did a lot of cooking growing up. I also really appreciated the work my mom did to cook ahead and use the slow cooker or the freezer to give back meals at busy times. I brought a lot of that learning to this menu, with big batches that will feed even my five hungry brothers, and make-ahead techniques to make Thanksgiving Day smooth.

I’m a huge fan of make-ahead dishes for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is such a packed-out holiday: you have a house full of guests, family from afar that you haven’t seen in a while, friends who want to hang out and chat… and a meal that everyone invests with a lot of nostalgia and anticipation! What if the stuffing doesn’t taste quite like Grandma’s? What if the cranberry sauce doesn’t gel? And — heaven help us! — what if the turkey doesn’t cook in time? Even though Thanksgiving food is pretty simple and homey, it can feel a little stressful.

Taking the turkey’s temperature on Thanksgiving.

So this menu was designed to take the stress out. The more you do ahead, the more you can relax on the day of the party, and also tend to that turkey. The turkey is the one thing that you really need to cook on the day of Thanksgiving itself — but almost everything else can have a make-ahead boost so you can relax and feel confident that you already have delicious food stashed away, ready to serve.

When I was thinking about how to do this, I started with what, in my family anyway, is the most important element of the meal: Rolls! My mom makes these amazing potato dough rolls every year on Thanksgiving. They’re incredibly soft and tender, and people go wild for them. They’re also extremely easy to make ahead. You can make the dough ahead and keep it in the fridge overnight, or even freeze it a month ahead.

Another thing that stresses me out a little bit at the last minute on Thanksgiving is gravy. What if I don’t make enough? What if it doesn’t thicken? What if it’s too salty? You can take all the guesswork out by roasting some turkey thighs ahead of time, making a big batch of stock and gravy, and freezing for Thanksgiving Day. Presto — gravy done.

The rest of the menu is similarly make-ahead: cranberry sauce lasts well for days in the fridge (and even tastes better!). The dressing can be prepped ahead and baked at the last minute. The sangria to welcome your guests can be made several days ahead and just tastes more delicious after a few nights in the refrigerator. And every single time I make something ahead or sock away a pan of rolls in the fridge, I’m giving my future self a little gift to unwrap on Thanksgiving Day. And that is something to be grateful for.

Thanksgiving is really about hanging out with family and enjoying time together, so doing just a little bit of work each night ahead of Thanksgiving is my favorite way to make it a true holiday not just for everyone else, but for myself too. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Get the recipes here:

Maple Sage Turkey
Cream Cheese Mashers with Kale Pesto
Lemon Rosemary Potato Rolls
Garlic Rosemary Dressing
Tart Cherry Cranberry Relish
Savory Collard Greens
Sweet Potato Cauliflower Fritters
Early Bird Turkey Gravy
Caramelized Veggie Lentil Salad
Cranberry Cider Sangria
Maple Panna Cotta

 

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Kristin Porter

Recipe for the Big Game: Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Pulled-Pork Sliders

The Super Bowl is a little over two weeks away and while we don’t know the final two teams who will be going head to head just yet, it’s never too early to start planning your game-day menu!

I plan on making Crab Rangoon Bites and Jalapeno Popper Potato Skins from my blog Iowa Girl Eats for poppable bites throughout the game, and these Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Pulled-Pork Sliders from BHG.com for a more substantial meal at halftime.

I’m always on the hunt for a new dish to add to my crock pot recipe collection and these sliders are absolutely succulent!

Boneless pork shoulder is seasoned with dried thyme and rosemary then slow-cooked in chicken broth over a bed of green bell peppers and onions. After being shredded it’s slow cooked for another hour in a sweet and tangy, homemade Balsamic Vinegar and Honey BBQ sauce before being mounded onto squishy rolls and topped with either crunchy coleslaw, melty cheese, or enjoyed plain. However you choose to top ‘em – you’ll love these sliders!

Start by adding a chopped onion and green bell pepper to the bottom of a 6-quart crock pot. Add a 4-1/2lb boneless pork shoulder roast cut into hunks on top, then season with dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. Note: BHG’s recipe calls for a 2-1/2lb roast, but the smallest roast I could find was 4-1/2lbs. Worked out just fine!

Add chicken broth on top then cook low and slow for 9-10 hours before shredding.

Drain the liquid from the crock pot then return the pork to the crock, mix in a homemade Balsamic Vinegar and Honey BBQ sauce, which simmers on the stove for 20 minutes, then cook on low for one more hour.

Regardless of what team you’re cheering for during the Super Bowl, you’re sure to love these sliders. Enjoy!

Click here for the Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Pulled-Pork Sliders >


Kristin Porter

New Year Eats: Grilled Chicken Salad with Grapes and Goat Cheese

Happy new year, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to a fabulous 2014.

Do you make new years resolutions? I always head into January with the best intentions to work out more, eat dessert less, and get the mail everyday instead of letting it pile up, but the magazines are busting out of the mailbox by February if that gives you an idea as to how these things usually play out.

One thing I am putting my foot down about in 2014, is eating 3 square meals a day (plus snacks, of course!) As a food blogger I’m often whipping up recipes at random times throughout the day which means my “meals” consist of nibbles of this and noshes of that. By the time dinner rolls around I’m usually not even that hungry!

Meal planning will be a big part of my success and this Grilled Chicken Salad with Grapes and Goat Cheese will definitely be making a repeat appearance on my dinner table in 2014.

Crisp green lettuce is topped with grilled or sauteed chicken then sprinkled with sweet red grapes, toasted walnuts, and tangy chevre. Drizzled with an easy, homemade Dill-Balsamic Vinaigrette, this is one meal you’ll want to sit down to enjoy with a nice glass of wine. My husband and I both devoured it a few weeks ago!

The contrast of textures and flavors in this dish are what make it so delicious, and the fact that it’s healthy will fit in nicely with most people’s resolution to eat better in the new year.

Start by making the homemade Dill-Balsamic Vinaigrette. I normally don’t love dill, but I decided to give it a whirl anyways. SUPER delish – so glad I went forward with it! Just combine extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried dill and oregano, with salt and pepper in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid then shake and let sit for at least 10 minutes.

Next, pound out lean chicken breasts. I usually place my chicken on a meat-only cutting board then seal with Glad Press ‘N’ Seal. A couple whacks with a rolling pin and the chicken is all the same thickness. This is essential to getting your chicken to cook evenly.

Now consult your arsenal of grill seasonings. I loved that the recipe called for pairing elegant ingredients like red grapes and creamy chevre with bold grill seasoning. It’s really a great flavor combo!

Season the pounded out chicken on both sides with your favorite grill seasoning then grill or saute until cooked through. Let it rest for 5 minutes then thinly slice.

While the chicken is resting, prepare the rest of your ingredients – red grapes, chevre, and walnut pieces.

The original recipe called for pine nuts, but I’m not a huge fan so I toasted some walnuts instead, which are a classic pairing with red grapes.

To assemble the salad, place fresh lettuce on a plate then top with the grilled chicken, grapes, chevre, and walnuts, then drizzle the homemade Dill-Balsamic Vinaigrette on top.

A healthy, filling, and fresh meal never tasted so delicious. Enjoy everyone, and happy new year!

Click here for the Grilled Chicken Salad with Grapes and Goat Cheese recipe >> 


Kristin Porter

Best of Holiday Baking: Peppermint Cream Bites

There are two reasons why I’m excited to share the recipe for Peppermint Cream Bites with you today:

1. Now that Thanksgiving has passed (sniff!) holiday baking season has officially begun. Having an excuse to make festive cookies, bars, and pies for an entire month? I am not mad at that!

2. Today is National Cookie Day, and there’s no better way to celebrate than with one of BHG’s most popular holiday baking recipes.

Peppermint Cream Bites have a crispy, chocolate sandwich-cookie crust (the best kind of crust, if you ask me!) and a snappy, bittersweet-chocolate shell sandwiching a creamy, peppermint-flavored filling. The taste is decadent and cooling – a unique addition to your holiday cookie plate that will leave your family and friends buzzing.

Although I like to experiment with my baking around the holidays, I always come back to cookies. They’re total crowd-pleasers and this recipe in particular is great because it’s virtually no-bake and can be made ahead of time.

Start by making that chocolate sandwich cookie crust. Simply process the cookies with melted butter in a food processor then press into an 8x8x2″ pan and bake until set.

Spread a thick, peppermint extract-spiked cream filling over the cooled crust then freeze for 45 minutes.

Finally, spread a luscious layer of melted chocolate over the top then freeze until hardened and slice. Easy!

Make a batch to enjoy on this day celebrating all things cookie then stash the leftovers, if you have any, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Happy holidays!

Click here for the Peppermint Cream Bites recipe >> 

 

 


Kristin Porter

Shortcut Cream Cheese Frosted Cinnamon Rolls

In my family, cinnamon rolls and Thanksgiving go together like, well, mashed potatoes and gravy. Every Thanksgiving morning my mom pops a few tubes of cinnamon roll dough, puts ‘em in the oven, then 15-20 minutes later my brothers and I are fighting over who gets the gooey center roll with the most icing. It’s quite a scene.

This year I’m shaking things up and bringing Cream Cheese Frosted Cinnamon Rolls to my parent’s house on turkey day. They’re almost as easy as popping a pre-made cinnamon roll tube, and if you make ‘em yourself you’re pretty much guaranteed to pick any roll you want!

Sweet and luscious, these pillowy cinnamon rolls are made easy by using a shortcut ingredient – frozen bread dough. Just thaw than voila – instant cinnamon roll dough!

Start with the aforementioned frozen bread dough. You’ll need a 16oz loaf which will need to be thawed, of course. I thawed mine overnight in the fridge then let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or so before rolling into a 12×8″ rectangle.

Spread the dough with softened butter then sprinkle with a mixture of granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and then roll and slice.

Arrange the slices in a round cake pan then cover and let rise until doubled in size, 30-45 minutes.

Psst! My secret to perfectly raised rolls is to place the pan on a heating pad set to low. I use this trick for cinnamon rolls, pizza dough – anything that needs a rise. Works like a charm.

While the cinnamon rolls are baking, whip up an incredibly easy yet decadent cream cheese frosting.

Slather the frosting on top of the rolls while they’re still warm from the oven then try and have just one. It’s impossible!

Enjoy this easier version of sweet and gooey cinnamon rolls!

Click here for the Cream Cheese Frosted Cinnamon Rolls Recipe >


Kristin Porter

Best-Ever Bolognese Sauce

Growing up, Monday night was Spaghetti Night at my house. I have very vivid memories of my Mom tossing a brick of frozen ground beef into a deep pan then pouring in a big jar of spaghetti sauce after it browned.

While the sauce warmed she’d cook two types of pasta. Angel hair for my brothers and me, and rigatoni or “sewer pipes”, as we used to call them, for my Dad. After everyone got served she’d eat whatever was left, bless her heart!

Yes, spaghetti night has a very special place in my heart, which is why I’ve started the weekly tradition at my house. Normally I saute a mix of half ground beef and half mushrooms, which I zip through the food processor until they’re the same texture as the ground beef, then add a jar of my favorite marinara sauce. That being said, I might have to start making an exception for Best-Ever Bolognese Sauce

Normally when I hear the phrase “Bolognese sauce” I think of a thick and hearty, slow-cooked-all-day-type of sauce. Best-Ever Bolognese Sauce meets the thick and hearty requirement, but slow cooked all day? No way! This recipe gets that same deep and savory flavor in just 20 minutes, making it ideal for busy fall and winter weeknights.

Carrots, onions, and garlic are sauteed with ground beef then simmered with half & half and chicken broth with a splash of vinegar. Crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and Italian seasoning are added then the mixture is simmered again until thick and bubbly. Serve with freshly cooked spaghetti noodles and garlic bread for sopping up every drop of this luscious sauce!

Click here for Best-Ever Bolognese Sauce recipe >