What to Bring to Holiday Gatherings

Happy almost Thanksgiving! The laziness kicked in big time this week which is why this post is a few days late. Monday was productive but it all started to go downhill yesterday when I realized that the week was halfway over. I’m ready for overindulgence (again), Gilmore Girls marathons and the Broadway performances in the Macy’s parade tomorrow. Anyone else? On another note, do you ever notice that many of the people that host holidays are often the hardest to shop for? Unless your family goes potluck style with their holidays, it can be tricky to figure out what to bring to contribute or at least to thank the host…

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Chocolate Strawberry Pie Squares | Holiday Recipes: Desserts for Non-Bakers

Happy Sunday! It’s the week. The week where the holiday season officially kicks off with the first holiday...Thanksgiving! I celebrated Friendsgiving with my group of girlfriends from college this weekend and let’s just say I don’t want to eat for five days. Hopefully I’ll have deflated by the time Thursday comes around. We’re not doing any entertaining for Thanksgiving, our job is 100% Christmas. However, I can understand the need for quick and easy recipes this week. Lucky for you, we have our second Easy Dessert for Non-Bakers and coincidentally, it’s another that uses the amazing store-bought pie dough. These whip up pretty easy, although a little messy, and they’re super addictive. I wasn’t sure how this recipe would turn out while it was still an idea but man was it a hit…

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Herby Apple Stuffing | Holiday Recipes: Make Ahead

Happy Friday! Thanksgiving is less than one week away which means that Christmas is 5 weeks away. It’s the countdown of the year and I seem to get a little bit more excited every day. We already have one Christmas tree up and the kitchen is decorated all festive. I have my schedule pretty much in place for the rest of the year unless, of course, something comes up which isn’t uncommon. Many people who are entertaining for Thanksgiving have already been preparing for next week. Any groceries that can be bought are sitting on their own shelf in the pantry and freezer. Decorations are bought and ready for display…

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Tips to Be a Gracious Host & Guest During the Holidays

The holidays are some of the busiest travel times of the year. It’s rare that families end up in the same area where everyone can go back to their own beds each night. With that said, it’s not uncommon for people to stay with friends or family members during the season. I have yet to host a guest that I didn’t want back but I have heard horror stories from other people. It inspired today’s post sharing tips to be a gracious guest AND host. Why host, you ask? I am sure most of us have experienced at least one home we’ve stayed in that was super uncomfortable. Not everyone is a great guest and not everyone is a great host. We could all use reminders on how to be better at both, especially during a time of year that’s more stressful than usual. Don’t worry, though. I’m not here to lecture on what not to do. I’m here mostly to encourage positive interactions and experiences so that everyone has a wonderful holiday…

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Classic Meatballs | Holiday Recipes: Make Ahead

There’s one question people who rock the holidays always get: How. Do. You. Do. It? For starters, a lot of very serious planning. Once the planning is out of the way, preparation beings. It’s crazy to believe that one person can prepare a meal for 10+ people in just a day. No. It takes days of work, and weeks of advance preparation a little bit at a time. Just yesterday, I was visiting with one of my best friends. While I was putting the final touches on the meal planning for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, she was making homemade turkey stock for Thanksgiving. Why? Because it’s one less thing to worry about when you’re in the final countdown. There are several make ahead recipes that will make it to my holiday parties this year, including these delicious Classic Meatballs…

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Apple Hand Pies | Holiday Recipes: Desserts for Non-Bakers

As an Italian, the sweet table at holidays rivals that of our dinner table. I come from a family of bakers and not just average bakers, great bakers. Pie making, pastry wielding bakers. Bakers that make me feel incompetent with a whisk and mixer. In case you haven’t caught on, I’m not a baker. Sure...I can whip out a muffin or two, brownies and easy one-bowl creations. But I hate to measure and I certainly don’t have the patience for butter to soften. Have you noticed that any recipe I’ve shared that uses butter in baking, it’s always melted? Simply put, I don’t have the patience for baking. When I need to make desserts, I want them to be easy and brainless. That’s what inspired me to come up with a few recipes for other people like me this holiday season who are not born bakers and would rather whip up a pot of Coq au Vin than measure out perfectly portioned cupcakes. Starting with these scrumptious Apple Hand Pies that take a shortcut for the hard part…

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Preparing For the Holidays. Yes, It's Time!

1 week until Halloween. Less than 1 month until Thanksgiving. 40 days until Hanukkah. 2 months until Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and a scant week longer until New Years’ Eve. Whether you are playing host or not, it’s time to start thinking about the holidays. I love fall more than most people and I wish the season was longer but to avoid the stress of last-minute dinner planning, gift wrapping and cookie baking, now is the time to get started. I hear all the time about how people love the holiday season but hate it more because it’s so stressful. It doesn’t have to be though! Just because you’re planning for Christmas and Thanksgiving in October doesn’t mean you have to have all the decorations out to celebrate early. It means…

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Where To Celebrate Thanksgiving In Chicago

The holidays are officially upon us. Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is fast approaching and commercials have begin the holiday sales assault. I can't help but get a warm fuzzy feeling though. There's something about the cold air, nearly bare trees and early sunsets that brings back those feelings of anticipation from when we were kids. Family will be together soon, you'll see cousins you haven't seen in a while. Mom's finally going to get that gift you've been saving up for for so long (maybe not so much now that you're an adult). It's just an all-around pleasantly familiar time of year. Whether you don't want to cook or you want to celebrate early, Chicago has plenty of deals and events throughout the city to start the celebration now. Check them out below and tell us in the comments what you're most looking forward to this holiday season.

RECURRING

  • DMK Burger Bar | 2954 North Sheffield Avenue, Chicago
    Celebrate Thanksgiving all month long with The Gobbler. The Thanksgiving Burger comes with all the classic holiday dishes with two turkey patties, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, celery and topped with a house made cranberry relish. Finish it off with the Pumpkin Pie Shake.
  • Tanta | 118 West Grand Avenue, Chicago IL
    Enjoy holiday specials the week of Thanksgiving (except Thanksgiving Day). Tanta gives Thanksgiving dishes a Peruvian twist. Call 312.222.9700 for reservations or visit OpenTable.

PREPPING FOR THE DAY

Dinner Rolls at Baker & Nosh (c/o Baker & Nosh)

Dinner Rolls at Baker & Nosh (c/o Baker & Nosh)

  • Baker & Nosh | 1303 Wilson Avenue, Chicago
    The holidays are nothing without the sweets. Baker & Nosh will do the baking for you this year, all you're required to do is sit back and enjoy. The bakery is offering homemade pumpkin pies (pictured at top) and pull-apart dinner rolls baked fresh every day, making them the perfect alternative to the prepackaged and store-bought options. 9-inch pumpkin pies are priced at $20 each and a tray of 16 dinner rolls can be purchased for $12. Both are available via pre-order and in-store (although pre-order is strongly recommended).
  • Chop Shop | 2033 West North Avenue
    For all the home chefs out there, order your turkey now! Chop Shop's butcher is offering turkeys, turkey breasts and hams for your family dinner available for pick-up starting November 20th. Ho-Ka Turkey options include: 10-21 lb. Hens at $3.99/lb; 22-30 lb. Turkeys at $3.99/lb; 4.14 lb. Turkey Breasts at $4.79/lb. Chop Shop is Chicago’s only whole animal butcher/deli/bar/restaurant with a 6,000 square foot event space located in Wicker Park. Please call the butcher at 773.537.4440, ask your questions and place your order early.  All orders have to be placed by the 16th of Nov.
  • Jove T's Pie in the Sky at Cindy's Rooftop | 12 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
    Pre-order one of Pastry Chef Jove Hubbard's pies for $25. Flavors include Classic Pumpkin, Dutch Apple and Maple Cream. Stop by the pop-up for extra treats like Cider Doughnuts ($10), Caramel Apples ($5) and Belgian Hot Chocolate ($5). Jove T's Pies in the Sky are available for pre-order and in-person pick up from 3-6pm Tuesday, November 22nd and Wednesday, November 23rd. Order HERE.
  • Tanta | 118 West Grand Avenue, Chicago IL
    Order a Peruvian feast in advance for Thanksgiving this year. Tanta's is offering complete meals to-go for $64.99 which include reheating instructions. Orders must be placed by Monday, November 21st and picked up by Wednesday, November 23rd. Call 312.222.9700 to place an order. For more information on Tanta's, visit tantachicago.com

DAY OF CELEBRATIONS

  • American Craft Kitchen & Bar | 151. E. Wacker Drive, Chicago
    For an All-American Thanksgiving Day feast, stop by American Craft Kitchen & Bar. The Thanksgiving Day Dinner Buffet is $39.95 per person, and includes coffee, tea, or soda. Reservations can be made by calling 312-565-1234 x4496.
  • Maple & Ash/Eight Bar | 8 West Maple Street, Chicago
    Try a new take on turkey this Thanksgiving with Chef Danny Grant's slow-roasted heritage Turkey Roulade accompanied by traditional sides at Maple & Ash. Only available on Thanksgiving Day from 2 - 8pm, guests must mention they'd like the Thanksgiving menu at the time they make reservations. Looking for something more casual? Eight Bar will offer slow roasted heritage Turkey Breast with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and Brussels Sprouts. Call 312.944.8888 for reservations or visit OpenTable.
  • Mercat a la Planxa | 638 South Michigan Ave, Chicago
    Enjoy a Spanish take on traditional Thanksgiving dishes at Mercat. Pricing for the Thanksgiving menu is $85 for adults and $35 for kids available from 11am - 9pm. Reservations can be made by calling 312.765.0524 or visit mercatchicago.com.
  • Pheasant Run Inn & Resort | 4051 East Main Street, St. Charles IL
    Executive Chef Tiffany Tooker hosts a family-friendly Thanksgiving Day Brunch from 11am - 3pm. The meal features items such as Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque, carved Vermont Turkey, Pumpkin Ravioli and the Pheasant Run Apple and Cherry Cobbler Skillet Station. $39.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 4-12, free for 3 and under. Call 630.584.6300 for reservations.
  • Roka Akor Old Orchard | 4999 Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie IL
    Executive Chef Boyd Cheong will prepare a "Turkey-kase" complete with Japanese-styled fried turkey, braised turkey rice hot pot with mountain greens and more. Holiday menu available from 4 - 9pm on Thanksgiving. Reservations strongly recommended, not required. Call 847.440.3383 or visit rokaakor.com/old-orchard.
  • Seasons 52 | Schaumburg Location: 1770 East Higgins Road or Oakbrook Location: 3 Oakbrook Center 
    Seasons52  is offering a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, November 24, featuring Plainville Farms turkey, never-ever given antibiotics, along with side dishes like Yukon Mashed Potatoes and Housemade Cranberry Relish. Dinner is $26.90 for adults and $12.90 for children. For reservations in Schaumburg, call 847-517-5252 or visit THIS LINK; Oakbrook847-517-5252 or visit THIS LINK.
  • Stetsons Modern Steak + Sushi | 151 East Wacker Drive, Chicago
    Offering a prixe fixe dinner with elevated takes on classic favorites such as Cream of Mushroom & Chestnut Soup and Pumpkin Pie with Chantilly Cream and Cranberry Compote. Available for $60 per person from 5pm to close. Call for reservations at 312.239.4491 or visit stetsonschicago.com
  • Texas de Brazil | 210 East Illinois, Chicago
    Traditional holiday dishes like roasted turkey and sweet potato casserole combine with Texas de Brazil's Southern Brazil-style churrasco feast. Serving from 11am - 10pm, dinner costs $46.99/adult for the full experience, $24.99/adult for the salad area only; children 6-12 are 50%; children 3-5 are $5 and under 2 dine for free. Call 312.595.0913 for reservations or visit OpenTable.
  • The Godfrey Hotel Chicago | 127 West Huron Avenue, Chicago
    Enjoy Thanksgiving classics along with authentic Italian dishes like Lobster Mezzalune and Pappardelle Alla Bolognese. The Godfrey Thanksgiving is from 12 - 7pm. Tickets for the buffet are $29 for adults and $10 for kids. Seats available by reservation only at godfreythanksgiving.com.
  • The Signature Room | 875 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago
    Featuring a buffet spread by Executive Chef Cardel Reid with Australian Seared Lamb Chops, Prime Rib, Customized Salads and more. Available 11am - 6:30pm for $80 per adult, $35 per child (4-12 years old) and free for children under 3. Reservations required. Call 312.280.0465
  • Travelle Kitchen + Bar | 330 North Wabash Avenue
    An afternoon Thanksgiving Buffet featuring favorites like Country Bread Stuffing with Chestnuts and Sage and Truffled Yellow Corn Casserole. $145, includes a complimentary mimosa, available from 11am - 4pm. Dinner service (a la carte menu featuring Thanksgiving specials) will also be served from 6:30 - 10pm. Call 312.923.7705 for reservations or visit travellechicago.com

JUST FOR YOU!
In case you're looking for inspiration for a treat of your own this Thanksgiving, Betsy's Best has a smoothie recipe you're going to love. Check it out below...

Harvest Smoothie by Betsy's Best
1 cup almond milk
3 tbsp. Pumpkin
1/4 Apple
1 tbsp. Betsy's Best Gourmet Nut or Seed Butters
1 tbsp. Chia Seeds
Pinch of Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
Blend and enjoy!

Betsy's Best is a line of gourmet nut and seed butters that are all non-GMO, all natural and gluten free. Peanut, Almond, Cashew and Sunflower Seed butters come classic or with interesting twists of cardamon, cinnamon, chia seeds and more. *Recipe c/o Betsy's Best