Tag Archives: thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving to Remember

Our office is an even split between people who plan their Thanksgiving menu weeks in advance and those who are now realizing that (oh my!) Thanksgiving is THIS THURSDAY.

If you’re like the latter half of us, don’t panic (like we MAY have this morning). We’ve found some great recipes that will make this Thanksgiving one to remember for years to come!

Photo from How Sweet It Is.

First, a Bacon Butternut Squash Risotto. How Sweet It Is, you had us at bacon! We may even skip mashed potatoes this year and serve this instead. (Just kidding!) But seriously, this dish is the perfect combination of all things delicious and all things autumn, and we can’t wait to try it!


Photo from I Am A Food Blog.

Next, no table is complete without a Pumpkin Loaf. Give in to the pumpkin craze that always peaks during this time of year (don’t worry, this is a much better alternative to SOME pumpkin flavored dishes). Try this yummy recipe from I Am A Food Blog.


Photo from A Pinch of Yum.

A few of us have family staying in our homes from out of town this Thanksgiving weekend. Breakfast is often forgotten in the craziness of planning the evening meal, but our guests won’t be disappointed with that we have waiting in the kitchen on Thursday morning! Check out these Strawberry Oat Crumble Bars from a Pinch of Yum!

Photo from How Sweet It Is.

And finally, after all of this last minute planning, we could use a glass of this Cranberry Chai Sangria from How Sweet It Is. Don’t forget to start this one before you start cooking everything else. Mostly because it’s nice to have on hand, just in case.
Now, sit back, relax, and get through the short work week. We’ve got this!

Written by Nicole Brobston

Save This Buy That: Saving Money This Holiday Season

The holiday season has officially kicked off – cue our favorite time of the year! Despite it being one of our favorites, spending is at an all-time high. These next few months can potentially take a major toll on your bank account, but with these quick tips – we’ve got your wallet’s back!

Thanksgiving Leftovers
This Thanksgiving, it’s all about taking advantage of those inevitable leftovers. Give those boring turkey sandwiches an upgrade with these budget-friendly and yummy recipes:

Cranberry Turkey Quesadilla
45¢ per serving

1 wheat tortilla wrap
2 tbsp. cranberry sauce
Leftover turkey
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tsp. balsamic dressing
Ground pepper

Lay wrap out flat. Spread the cranberry sauce over half the wrap and sprinkle ground pepper to taste. Add cheese on top of cranberry sauce.
Top with turkey. Drizzle the balsamic dressing over the turkey and fold the bare end of wrap over filling.
Bring a skillet to medium high. Add cooking spray or olive oil. Gently add the quesadilla to the skillet and let cook on each side for 2 minutes.

LeftoverPieThanksgiving Dinner Pies
59¢ per pie

2 refrigerated pie crusts
Create a fun combination from your leftovers: turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, etc.
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Use a cup to cut small circles from the pie crusts.
Layer a small amount of the ingredients on the crust (leave room on sides to seal crust). Top with second crust and seal edges with fork.
Poke top twice with fork and brush with egg.

Mashed Potatoes Puffs
13¢ per puff

2 cups mashed potatoes
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced chives
1/4 cup cooked bacon
Salt & pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400°F and lightly grease a mini muffin pan.
Mix together potatoes, eggs, 3/4-cup cheese, chives, bacon, salt & pepper.
Place a spoonful of mixture in each muffin cup. Sprinkle tops with remaining cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Want more holiday money-saving tips? Head to SaveThisBuyThat.com! 

Non-Traditional “Pumpkin Pie” Recipe

We love this “non-traditional” Frozen Butter Pecan Pumpkin Pie recipe from www.blessedbeyondcrazy.com! Give it a try and let us know what you think!

1 quart butter pecan ice cream, softened
1 (9 inch) store purchased Oreo pie crust
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
Dollop of whipped topping

Spread ice cream into the Oreo crust; freeze for 2 hours or until firm. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Fold in whipped cream. Spread over ice cream. Cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer 5-10 minutes before slicing. Drizzle with caramel ice cream topping and chocolate syrup. Add dollop of whipped cream. (May be frozen for up to 2 months.)

Enhance Classic Thanksgiving Fare

Family and friends make Thanksgiving special, but it’s the food that’s always the center of attention. From juicy turkey and creamy potatoes to zesty cranberries and buttery rolls, nobody leaves the table hungry. This year, delight guests by making the classic foods they love but with a few simple twists that will leave taste buds dancing.

When guests arrive, give them something to nibble on as they visit and watch the parade or game. A cheese platter that features three to five new varieties will get everyone talking. Select a range of flavors to tempt every palate, such as pairing soft brie with a crumbly blue and premium extra-aged cheddar cheese.

The cheese shouldn’t stand alone, so be sure to complement it with fresh fruits. Instead of simply placing bite-size pieces on a plate, create fruit cornucopias using sugar ice cream cones. Simply spoon fruit into the cones and arrange the mini cornucopias on a platter for a beautiful seasonal presentation that’s easy to grab and enjoy for party guests young and old.

Apple cider is a holiday must-have to quench Thanksgiving thirst. This year, add some interest to your beverage offerings with a themed drink that expands on the sweet cider flavors. For example, an autumn sangria is the perfect seasonal offering that’s as cheerful as it is refreshing. Start with sparkling wine and add in a splash of cider with freshly sliced pears and apples. Finish with a few cranberries and sprinkle some nutmeg on top. For young guests or those who prefer non-alcoholic drinks, simply swap out wine for alcohol-free sparkling juice.

Cranberries are a Thanksgiving staple, but most people take a small spoonful and move on. If you want to add new flavor to cranberries so guests will be asking for seconds, different spices and additions could mean lip-smacking results. Sweet citrus fruits like oranges taste heavenly when cooked down with cranberries. A splash of port can bring new depths to the classic dish, too. Allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and even chili powder can add surprising flavor. If you want to add texture, crushed walnuts add crunch and complexity to the sauce.

Thanksgiving menus often include several potato dishes. The secret to enhancing potato dishes is adding cheese for an indulgent result. For example, the complex flavors of crumbled gorgonzola folded into sweet potatoes make a rich dish that guests will love. Upgrade standard mashed all-purpose white potatoes (russet, Idaho, etc.) by sprinkling in freshly grated parmesan or cheddar for extra kick.

No matter how full you are after your Thanksgiving dinner, there’s always room for dessert. Instead of or in addition to pumpkin pie, try pumpkin cupcakes or pumpkin cheesecake. Add new flavor to apple pie or apple crisp by mixing shredded cheddar cheese into the apple mixture prior to baking. Guests will ooh-and-ahh over how the sharp cheddar flavor enhances the sweet apple filling.

Need inspiration? Try these two delicious recipes perfect for enhancing any Thanksgiving table.

recipe1Cheddar Apple Crisp
Makes 8 servings.

4 cups apples (crisp and tart such as Braeburn), peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 plus 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed, divided
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 cup Black Creek cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine apples, lemon juice and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Arrange in buttered 8 or 9-inch square pan. Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter until mixture is crumbly; gently mix in cheese. Sprinkle evenly over apple mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, garnish with shredded cheese.

recipeBaked Sweet Potatoes with Cranberry Gorgonzola Gremolata
Makes 6 servings.

6 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 lemon, zested
1 clove garlic, minced finely
3 tablespoons minced pecans
3 tablespoons finely chopped dried cranberries
1 scallion, minced
2 ounces Stella gorgonzola, crumbled (If you prefer a milder flavor, use 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese instead of gorgonzola)


Preheat oven to 450 F. Place sweet potatoes on cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Flip over and return to oven to bake until tender – about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

When cool enough to do so safely, peel sweet potatoes. Place in a medium skillet over low heat with butter, salt and maple syrup for 5 minutes, basting the potatoes with the butter mixture occasionally. Lightly smash the potatoes until there is an even consistency. Hold over low heat.

To make the gremolata: In a small bowl, toss together parsley, lemon zest, garlic, pecans, cranberries and scallion. Gently fold in the cheese.

Move sweet potatoes to a serving dish and sprinkle with the gremolata. Serve hot.


For a great gluten-free Pumpkin Cheescake recipe, pick up the November issue of Bella Magazine!

Make Thanksgiving Easier

bellaweb1With the parades, football games and plenty of food, Thanksgiving is usually enjoyed by all. But what if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner and welcoming friends and family into your home? Thanksgiving can all of a sudden become very stressful and overwhelming.
Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, says focus on the five Ps:  Prior planning prevents poor performance. 
Here are her 10 tips for being a hospitable host during the holidays: 

  • Do your homework: Find out ahead of time if any of your guests have food allergies or other dietary restrictions and plan your menu accordingly or prepare a buffet with a variety of items.  Keep it simple and serve what you know.  Don’t try to serve an unfamiliar, complicated, or labor-intensive dish your first time out. 
  • Keep a list: Write down all of the items you need to make your meal complete.  It’s especially frustrating when you think you have all of your ingredients and then discover in the midst of cooking that you don’t have enough salt, sugar, or butter.   
  • Have a variety of beverages on hand: The mark of a good host is to have a few bottles of red and white wine along with plenty of nonalcoholic beverages for the teetotalers in the group. 
  • Stock up on snacks:  This includes nuts, chips, salsa or dip, one or two different cheeses, crackers, and one or two kinds of frozen appetizers.  Choose hors d’oeuvres that are easy to eat and require only one bite.  This will ensure that no one gets crumbs on his or her nice outfit or on your floor. 
  • Do as much as possible the day before: Don’t wait until the last minute. Set your table the night before.  Clean and polish your serving pieces and fill your salt and pepper shakers a few days before Thanksgiving dinner to avoid last-minute flurries.  
  • Iron your linens. When you are serving cocktails, provide linen cocktail napkins or, at the very least, decorative paper cocktail napkins.  For dinner, use linen napkins because they’re more elegant than paper ones.  
  • Set the mood: Candles are an easy, inexpensive, quick way to make any home more inviting.  Buy as many candles as you can and place them throughout your house.  Remember to reserve a few unscented ones for the dinner table.  Light your candles approximately 15 or 20 minutes prior to your guests’ arrival, and then light the candles on your dinner table just before everyone sits down to dine.  
  • Choose your tunes: Music is a vital element in the staging of a good holiday get together, as it sets the tone for the evening.  Create a dinner party playlist on your iPod or iPhone or preset your CD player so there’s music in the air when your guests arrive and keep it playing throughout the evening.  
  • Preset your coffee and tea service: About an hour before your party, set up your coffeemaker and put cream, milk, sugar, and sweetener in decorative containers.  Put condiments in attractive bowls or containers rather than placing bottles directly on the table.  Put your coffee cups, saucers, teaspoons, and assorted teas on a tray on a side table.  
  • Make time for yourself. Allow plenty of time to shower, get dressed, and look your best for your party.  You’ll want to greet your guests at the door with a relaxed smile on your face.  The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will feel, and the better time you’ll have at your own party.

Tis the Season for Pomegranates

Switch up your Thanksgiving dinner up this fall by adding a new ingredient to your delicious meal. October-January is pomegranate season, making November National Pomegranate Month!

POM Wonderful offers several unique recipes using pomegranates as a main ingredient. Adding pomegranates to your yogurt, cereal and oatmeal is another quick way to add more flavor and nutrients to your food. Pomegranates add color to a salad and can also be enjoyed alone.
There are several benefits in adding pomegranates to your diet. They offer several vitamins and minerals and are also a great source of potassium. When it comes to picking out a pomegranate, you should always select by the weight (the heavier, the more juice it contains) and not the color.

Below is a simple recipe showing you how easy it is to add pomegranates to your meal! For more recipes, check out Simply Wonderful.  

bellaweb1Pomegranate-Citrus Pound Cake

1 3⁄ 4 cups arils from POM Wonderful Pomegranates
(or 1 3⁄4 cups POM POMS Fresh Arils)
3/4 lb. unsalted butter, softened
2 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
8 whole eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2  teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare fresh pomegranate arils, if necessary.
Combine all of the dry ingredients except sugar in a bowl and set aside. 
Cream the softened butter and sugar together, then incorporate the vanilla extract. 
Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter mixture. Slowly add the flour mixture 1⁄2 cup at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl often.
Once all of the flour is added, add the orange zest and juice, and continue to beat on medium speed for 5 minutes. While the batter is mixing, grease and flour a standard bundt or tube pan.
After 5 minutes, gently fold the pomegranate arils into the batter using a rubber spatula. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes before unmolding.
Serve with whipped cream and additional pomegranate arils. 


Written by Kristi Hall


Stick to Your Diet

bellaweb2Halloween is almost here, followed by Thanksgiving next month and then (dare we say it?) Christmas! While many people find joy in the holiday season, for those trying to lose weight it can be the most miserable time of the year. Fortunately, it is possible to stay dedicated to your diet while surrounded by unhealthy food.

Colin Christopher, author of Success Through Manipulation, provides a few great tips on staying healthy in the face of tempting sweets and foods: 

  • Don’t skip meals this holiday season: Some people skip meals thinking they will be able to consume more goodies at Halloween, more turkey and stuffing at Thanksgiving and more of Christmas dinner.  This will guarantee your failure as it leads to increased hunger, binge eating and depriving your body of necessary calories to convert to energy.
  •  There’s no such thing as eating healthy now to balance out bad meals later: Many people think living on salads and fruit now gives them permission to indulge in whatever they want later.  If you’re trying to lose weight and eat right, salads and fruit are a good choice, but stuffing yourself full of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie later on will still bring plenty of negative consequences. 
  • Have a plan: Bad food choices are going to be in abundance this time of year.  Have a plan in place so you don’t succumb to these negative choices.  Choose healthier options, drink plenty of water which is good for you and will fill you up, and stop eating when your body feels satisfied. 
  • Don’t compare yourself to others: Just because Aunt Mildred shows up to Thanksgiving dinner and she’s 100 pounds heavier than you, doesn’t give you permission to go on an eating spree.   
  • You are responsible: If you gain five pounds at Thanksgiving, it’s your fault.  Stop blaming the holiday, the Halloween candy, the turkey or the pumpkin pie.  It’s very possible to control what you eat this time of year but it’s ultimately your responsibility. 
  • Learn to say no: When Aunt Mildred insists that you try her world famous pecan pie, politely decline.  Explain to her that you are on a diet and very serious about getting healthy.  She will understand. Same goes for the kids or the neighbors with candy on Halloween. 
  • Exercise doesn’t give you the right to eat poorly: Many people think they can go for a long bike ride or hit the gym a few times during the holidays so they can indulge in the holiday feast.  Working out and exercise is great, but it’s never a pass to load up on bad food at the holidays. 
  • Let your clothes be a reminder: Don’t wear something that fits loosely and hides any excess fat.  Wear something that just fits your body and may not be the most flattering.  Let this be a reminder when you grab for that dessert, second serving or the Halloween bowl. This is also a great way to reinforce the idea in your subconscious mind that it’s time to get healthy. 
  • Traveling for the holidays is no excuse: A lot of patients tell me they indulged in fast food or a bag of chips because it was the only option at the airport.  When traveling, pack a healthy meal before you board your flight or hit the road this holiday season.   
  • Dig deep: Whether the temptation is Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies or other holiday season food, dig deep and ask yourself how bad you want to see results.  If you really commit to the process, you can lose weight and get healthy – even at the holidays.  Being partially committed never works. 

Article contributed by Colin Christopher

Healthy, reduced-guilt holiday desserts

The holidays are right around the corner and so are the rich, indulgent foods that adorn many dessert tables. Sweets of the season tend to be rich in flavor but also calories and fat.

Still, you don’t have to deny your cravings this holiday season. It is possible to create satisfying, sweet treats that are healthier options than traditional holiday fare. With these quick nutrition-savvy tips, enjoying decadent desserts has never tasted so good.

Infuse fresh flavors

Start your baking with all-natural ingredients and incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as apples, pears, sweet potatoes, pomegranates and pumpkins. These, along with super foods like walnuts and soy, are excellent choices to increase the nutritional benefits, and enhance the flavor, of baked goods.

Try fresh variations to old classics to give your homemade desserts a gourmet twist. Add a dash of vitamin A-rich chili powder for a bold take on dark chocolate brownies or tarts. Experiment with exciting combinations like lavender and lemon for a bright, unique flavor and a healthy dose of iron, plus vitamin C. Mix antioxidant-rich basil and cinnamon to produce a powerful taste sensation with added health benefits.

Make smart swaps

When deciding on a recipe for your next holiday gathering, take a look at its nutritional value, as not all desserts are created equal. To create reduced-guilt baked goods use alternative ingredients, such as egg whites instead of whole eggs or whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Apple sauce is also a clever way to introduce moisture into cakes rather than using oil.

A reduced-fat pumpkin pie – which can be made by blending pumpkin with healthier ingredients, like egg substitute and non-fat milk, may be significantly lower in calories and fat than pies made with full-fat ingredients.

As an added bonus, the leftover pumpkin pie ingredients, plus a few extra items likely on hand in your kitchen, can easily yield a low-calorie smoothie. This smooth, frozen treat is the perfect way to enjoy the fruits of your labor while baking for company.

Add a smooth finish

Don’t discount chocolate. In addition to being delicious, dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao contains heart-friendly antioxidants. Make a festive fondue platter with warm dark chocolate and sliced fruits like bananas, pineapple and strawberries.

Similar to a traditional fondue table, by creating a variety of dips and glazes, you and your guests can indulge in a sinfully good concoction that is still light on calories. For dips, opt for a Greek yogurt base that is high in protein and sweeten with natural ingredients, such as agave nectar and honey. A cinnamon glaze made with soy milk and tofu will please your palate – even if you follow a vegan diet.

Pick petite portions

Anyone with a sweet tooth can attest to the desire to eat with abandon during the last course. However, controlling portion sizes – whether cutting thinner slices of cake or splitting a piece with a friend – is an important part of smarter holiday indulgence.

Better yet, stick to smaller servings by getting creative with the end product. When baking a pie, lose the top crust. Or, instead of a pie, try a bite-size tartlet. Encourage sampling by making mini-muffins and cupcakes rather than their oversized counterparts.

Making a few small changes to your ingredients and your intake will lower calories, provide some unexpected nutritional benefits and keep you satisfied all season long.