After months of balancing beach time and blasting air conditioning, summer is ending. Now that you’ve scrambled to cook all the best warm-weather produce and fired up the grill a final few times, let’s give a (slightly less) warm welcome to the greatest season of all: fall.
Now, we understand that fall may not be everyone’s favorite time of year, but it does have some of the best foods and flavors (two words: pumpkin spice) plus cardigan-wearing-temperature weather. Just try to go apple picking while surrounded by colorful falling leaves without grinning from ear to ear. Here are five things we’re excited about this autumn, including finally giving that Dutch oven some lovin’.
Continue Reading Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice: 5 Things We’re Falling For This Autumn
Thanksgiving dinner is a special time not just for real Americans; it’s also quite a boon to fake Americans. For just about as long as television shows have existed, there has been the very special Thanksgiving episode. Here are some of the most-memorable ones that you’ll probably watch while eating leftovers.
Best Thanksgiving TV Episodes
It’s T-minus 24 hours to T-day, arguably the most important meal of the year. Are you ready? We’re not talking menu planning, grocery shopping and food prep, but that other important aspect: are you going to have apple or pumpkin pie? To help you with that important choice, we’ve put the two iconic holiday pies head to head in a nutrition showdown.
Continue Reading Nutrition Smackdown: Pumpkin Pie vs. Apple Pie
One of the most anxiety-inducing parts about traveling home for Thanksgiving is all of the questions from friends and family about your life. They mean well, but there’s only so many times you can explain your job or the reason for lack of a significant other. This enterprising young gentleman, however, has begun renting himself out to make those conversations easier to digest, by ruining them.
This Craigslist ad popped up in Nashville last week. This guy will give it his all to ruin Thanksgiving dinner at your request, and all just for the price of the meal (He really likes turkey.) What could you have going on in your living room if you hire him? He’ll pretend to hit on other women, start combative political discourse or even just fight the family member of your choosing. It’ll be a laugh riot!
Of course, this could backfire if you, say, actually care about your family having a good time while they eat. There’s always that to consider.
Happy as we are to dream up exciting new Thanksgiving recipes (every side dish in pot-pie form, anyone?), one of our favorite parts of Thanksgiving is the tradition of favorite family recipes. In a quick survey, we found that office favorites include Grandma’s crazy-addictive stuffing, bourbon chocolate pecan pie (booze in everything, please) and my own mom’s sweet-potato praline casserole (No marshmallows. Ever.), which is quite similar to this recipe.
We also wondered what chefs would pick, so we reached out to one who’s built his restaurant around his appreciation of family tradition. Ian Boden, chef and owner of the Shack in Staunton, Virginia, was inspired by the culinary traditions of his wife’s grandmother, Tissy, who made Appalachian and Southern food in her own home (which she called “the shack”). In talking about Grandma Tissy’s legacy, Boden mentioned her turkey gravy, a recipe that Boden’s wife tasked him with recreating based on her descriptions of it after Tissy’s death. So in honor of Thanksgiving family favorites, he agreed to share the recipe and its story. (Note: If you’re nervous about making gravy from pan drippings, here is a primer.)
Grandma Tissy’s Turkey Gravy
Continue Reading A Few Favorite Thanksgiving Family Recipes
AKA Let the Good Times Casserole
When you write about food for a living, people assume you make glamorous roast duck with fancy vegetables every night for dinner. While I can’t speak for every food writer, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t cook fancy food that often, and I eat a lot of casseroles. Sunday nights, you’ll find me in the kitchen putting together some sort of casserole for dinner that night, or for lunch and dinner for the next few days. Casseroles are easy. They’re awesome. They freeze well, they reheat easily and they offer comfort after a hectic day. Casseroles are melty and delicious and hearty.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Cheesy Kale, Sausage and Rice Casserole
AKA Touch the Pie (Gotta Testify, Lookin’ Extra Fly)
I don’t know about you, but I can’t listen to music while I work. It’s too distracting. I can’t pay attention to the work and I can’t pay attention to the song. So iTunes stays on lockdown during the workday. But when I’m home cooking? It’s a different story. There’s music in the kitchen and I might check out my reflection in the window during the occasional booty pop, I’m not gonna lie. When I bake, it’s all hip-hop and old ’70s soul and funk.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
It’s one of the sad-but-true facts of Thanksgiving that slices of pie just aren’t very portable. To save possible pie-induced tears when dinner ends, bake up a batch of Mini Pumpkin-Pie-Slice Cookies. Use your favorite shortbread or sugar cookie recipe and a 4-inch round cookie cutter to bake pie-slice-shaped triangles. The key to making real-life looking pumpkin pie slices is in the icing. Mix up two batches using food coloring: one to create the perfect warm orange hue and the other for a just-baked golden-brown crust color. After piping the pumpkin and crust icing, add a dollop of white frosting for a whipped cream accent, or use them as place cards by writing the names of your guests onto each slice. Then pack them up and send them home with no risk of soggy crusts or collapsed fillings.
For more ways to use pumpkin beyond the pie this fall season and for Thanksgiving, check out some of Cooking Channel’s top-rated recipes:
AKA Get Stuffed
Six years ago I was diagnosed with celiac disease just days before Thanksgiving — the most glorious, gluten-filled holiday on the calendar. While I was relived to know what had been making me so sick for so long, the timing couldn’t have been worse. In my family, Thanksgiving has always been all about the stuffing. Sure, we love turkey, mashed potatoes and the other obligatory vegetables, but stuffing is the centerpiece of our meal. It isn’t anything fancy or special, just simple Pennsylvania Dutch-style bread cubes, onions, celery, stock and herbs. Crisp on top, a little mushy inside. People like to offer advice on what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, but that was one item on our dinner table that was never left over. We’d devour it and fight over the last bits of the crunchy edges.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Stuffing for Thanksgiving
Let’s face it: Thanksgiving is coming. You can’t stop it. I can’t stop it. The best we can do is to prepare ourselves for turkey’s imminence. Sounds about the right time for a dry run on roasting America’s most-grateful bird.
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Open-Faced Turkey Sandwich with Apple Cider Gravy and Collard Greens