Let’s Party

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


Categories: In-Season Eats, Let's Party | Tags:
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Erin Gleeson

Let’s Party: Stuffed Baked Apples

It’s starting to feel like fall in the woods which makes me want to bake and be cozy indoors. This week is the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) which my family celebrates. It’s traditional to ring in the new year with apples & honey, so I thought I’d make a warm apple dessert which I grew up having, Baked Stuffed Apples.

Use a small paring knife to remove the apple cores.

Then create a filling for the apples by mixing the following ingredients in a small bowl: chopped dried figs (3T), chopped walnuts (3T), room temperature butter (1/3 stick), dried berries/raisins (3T), brown sugar (2T), and cinnamon (1/2 t). This is enough filling for about 6 apples.

Use a small spoon to stuff the apple cores from both ends.

Load them into a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour and 15 minutes or until desired apple softness.

When they come out of the oven, spoon the pooled butter mixture at the bottom of the dish over the apples.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle the whole dish with honey. These are great to make for a dinner party because they can easily be kept warm in the oven until it’s time for dessert.

This recipe was inspired by BHG’s Stuffed Apple recipe and adapted by Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast, a cookbook and food blog inspired by cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables from a cabin in the woods in California. Photos & illustrations by Erin Gleeson, www.theforestfeast.com

Categories: Delish Dish, Let's Party | Tags:
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Erin Gleeson

Let’s Party: Peach Caprese Salad

I love using summer fruit in salads these days. My friend who has an amazing peach tree recently invited me over to pick to my heart’s desiire and I went home with more peaches than I knew what to do with! One dish I ended up making was this twist on a Caprese Salad. I started with this basic BHG recipe, but simply included peaches, tomatoes, basil and cheese. As for the cheese, I chose Burrata, a cheese that’s similar to fresh mozzarella, but softer (and pure heaven!).

I love using yellow tomatoes when I can find them!

My friend’s peach tree:

I served this salad recently at a party alongside other summery dishes and it was a hit!

This Peach Caprese was inspired by this basic recipe for a Caprese Salad. Enjoy, and happy summer entertaining!

Recipe adaptation, photos & illustrations by Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast, a blog and cookbook inspired by living in a cabin in the woods.

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Erin Gleeson

Let’s Party: Watermelon Bites

Inspired by this BHG Watermelon Salad, I decided to make an appetizer version perfect for an outdoor summer gathering. Just stack cubes of feta and watermelon on a toothpick with a leaf of fresh mint! Simple, refreshing and delicious. Summer in a bite!

Try to cut the feta and watermelon cubes the same size:

You can mix up the order of the 3 items however you like! However, for thin toothpicks I prefer to put the feta on the bottom as I think it keeps the items from falling off the tooth pick. This could also be served as a salad skewer by putting about 3 watermelon cubes, 3 feta cubes and mint leaves on a longer kebab stick.

I served them at a party recently and they were a hit:

The recipe for these watermelon bites was based on the ingredients in this Watermelon Salad. Happy summer entertaining!

By Erin Gleeson for The Forest Feast, a food blog and cookbook inspired by living in a cabin in the woods in California.



Erin Gleeson

Let’s Party: Blueberry Arugula Salad

Nothing reminds me of summer more than berry picking. Most summers, we head to Vermont for a week to stay at my relative’s house and we always go blueberry picking nearby. Usually it’s so hot that I can’t manage to bake a pie when I get home, so instead I love throwing the berries in a fresh salad. The sweet and savory together are divine! Plus, it’s great alongside a BBQ meal.

For this fresh summer salad, I created a vegetarian version of this BHG salad, subbing spicy arugula for lettuce, and adding feta and pecans. However, feel free to include the turkey, or perhaps some chicken if you’ve fired up the grill.

I just used a light vinaigrette I bought at the store, but even olive oil and lemon would be lovely! For the recipe that I adapted, please click here.

Cheers to outdoor summer meals!

Recipe adaptation, illustrations and photos by Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast, a food blog and vegetarian cookbook inspired by living in a cabin in the woods.


Erin Gleeson

Let’s Party: Curly Kale and Curly Pasta Salad

I love making pasta salads when entertaining because it’s easy to make a lot, not too pricey, filling, and they are great at room temperature. This pasta salad recipe is nicely balanced with beans and greens, and a store-bought pesto makes it so easy! I adapted BHG’s Italian Pesto Pasta Salad recipe by adding kale and pecans.

I pull the kale off the stalks and shred them into pieces by hand. After boiling the pasta, I throw the kale in that same pot, with a bit of olive oil, and saute´ briefly until wilted and bright green. I then toss the hot pasta with the greens, canned beans and pesto.

Chopped green scallions and toasted pecans can be sprinkled over the top before serving, or mixed in, for an extra crunchy kick.

This dish is great served warm or at room temperature, and is easily made ahead.

For the full recipe, click here. I simply substituted kale and pecans for the suggested arugula and pine nuts. The dish could also be made vegan by leaving out the cheese and using a dairy-free pesto. It could easily be made with gluten-free pasta as well. Enjoy!

Recipe adaptation and photos by Erin Gleeson for The Forest Feast, a cookbook and food blog inspired by living in a cabin in the woods.