How to Host Thanksgiving: Do’s and Don’ts

Here in the beautiful North, Thanksgiving is just three short weeks away.

In our home, this fall has been our absolute busiest ever (watch this space for a huge announcement coming soon) and there are just not enough hours in the day. Every day.

I know you’re also in the thick of the autumn hustle and bustle, which is why we need to start organizing ourselves for Thanksgiving sooner, rather than later.

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Marmalade Pecan Pie with coconut sugar, bourbon and a hint of chocolate

All year long, we bakers turn out a variety of layer cakes, brownies and cookies, not to mention sticky fruity crisps and cobblers, but come November our thoughts turn to pie.

Perhaps we are prompted by the lackluster weather and barren landscape, or maybe it is because November a slower month, and we are able to make time in our busy lives for rolling pie crust and dedicating ourselves to the art of pie.

Pie can’t be slapped together like a loaf of banana bread or a batch of chocolate chip cookies; it requires more effort, yet yields richly rewarding results.

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Herb-Brined Barbecue-Smoked Turkey

 If you’re toying with the idea of cooking a turkey outdoors for the upcoming American Thanksgiving or the holiday season to follow, I’m here to cheer you on and steer you in the direction of a great recipe that worked for me.

Okay, so for years now (and it really has been years if you’ve read my turkey history) I’ve sung the praises of the butter-roasted turkey and I still believe it is the simplest way to go on the Big Day and always yields fantastic results – just read the comments and see for yourself.

But if you’ve been there and done that with a simple oven-roast bird, a herb-brined, barbecue-smoked turkey is fun and exciting way to change up the menu. It certainly pleased me and our twenty-some guests last month.

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Fall cooking and Thanksgiving menu ideas

Temperatures have dropped around here, sending us scampering to dig out warm sweaters, matching socks and windbreakers. Fall is indeed in the air; invigorating me in a way the warm summer winds never can.

I’ve taken refuge from the cooler weather in the kitchen, which is no surprise, I am sure. A quick trip to market on the first day of October was all I needed to get in the spirit of fall cooking and baking. I filled my basket with pears, leeks, winter squash, fresh cranberries, beets and sweet potatoes  – all locally grown – and rounded out the haul with herbs from my garden.

Then, I fell to menu planning: weeknight meals, recipe development, and the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. We’re hosting a small gathering for eleven people this weekend, with turkey and all the usual trimmings.

Today I’ve rounded up my favourite recipes for Thanksgiving — and fall cooking in general. Whether you are setting a holiday table for for family, or serving up Sunday dinner to friends, you’ll want these recipes within reach.

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Secrets to the best mashed potatoes {Eat Seasonal Holiday Edition}

Mashed potatoes are premium comfort food, that is a given, but they don’t always get the right treatment to ensure they are fluffy and well seasoned. This post can help.

Back when I put myself through culinary school, money was tight. I frequently relied on samples from class to get me through a day; which was easily feasible. We had opportunity to eat most everything we prepared and you know how I dislike waste! I must have been particularly hungry the morning we were learning how to make the best mashed potatoes (yes, that was actually a topic covered in a class) because I can remember every little detail of the process.

It seemed a torturous wait before we could serve ourselves from the enormous pan of steaming spuds, but the wait was well worth it. Creamy potatoes, skillfully seasoned, without a lump to be seen. It was the dead of winter. I had been up since 5 am in order to make it to class on time. Yet the memory of spooning up mashed potatoes while perched on an overturned milk crate remains one of my happiest ones from culinary school.

Today I’ll share my teacher’s secret to fluffy mashed potatoes. Then stick around, because the #EatSeasonal group of girls are throwing a virtual potluck for the holidays.

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