Thanksgiving Dinner Game Plan

Thanksgiving Dinner Game Plan

I love planning a holiday meal.  As new food magazine issues emerge on the shelves, I start collecting them – and scouring them – using page flags and sticky notes to mark interesting recipes.

I’m lucky that my family is laid back when it comes to holiday meals.  They usually leave the menu up to me, and I love the responsibility – it lets me get a little creative!

A decision on the protein comes first – turkey, ham, duck, Cornish game hen, seafood?  From there I plan the sides carefully… and yes, I write it all down on one big list.  (Normally I make a list of possible sides and then mark them off based on relevance to the protein.)  Once I’ve narrowed down my sides and desserts (the two hardest categories to whittle down), I make a shopping list.  I go through the ingredients in each recipe and check it with items I have on hand.  If I need something, it goes on the shopping list – with amounts needed jotted out to the side.  So, if for example, I need butter for the green beans, butter for the mashed potatoes and butter for the dessert – I might have a side note of 1/2 cup + 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons… Before heading to the store, I do the math so I buy the right amount of each ingredient.

**My Holiday Grocery Shopping Trick – Buying in bulk (especially when everyone else is) can be a waiting game.  Instead, plan out your shopping list early and conquer it by making more frequent, quick stops during the week leading up to the holiday.  Plan to buy 10 items or less so you can go through the Express Lane – it’s a breeze and you’ll have all you need in no time, without having to wait 30-45 minutes in a long register line! **

I’ve made TWO free printables to help you with your Thanksgiving Dinner planning and shopping – just click on these links to download a thanksgiving menu planning and a thanksgiving shopping list.

Another clever idea for your holiday (and everyday) entertaining is to keep a Cooking Journal.  I got this one years ago at Anthropologie, but any journal or notebook will do.  In my food journal,  I keep track of menus for holidays and other special get-togethers.  It’s kind of like in the movie High Fidelity when John Cusack’s character reorganized his record collection in chronological order.  If I remember that we loved the potatoes from last Easter but our favorite turkey was from Christmas 3 years ago, I can mix and match to create a better menu for the next holiday.  It’s a good way to keep beloved recipes close at hand (if they’re well received I jot down the recipe in the book) – and I love to look back on what went over well and what didn’t.

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Here’s a peek inside my cooking journal.  I make notes of the event, date of the meal, who was in attendance and where the dinner was for future reference.  I also include a rating out to the side of experimental dishes – stars if we loved the dish and X’s if we hated it… keeps us from repeating culinary mistakes.  In this journal, I also experiment on recipes I’ve had and want to duplicate or recipes I’ve thrown together and liked.  It’s where I keep track of my culinary adventures (and misadventures too).

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I would recommend a cooking journal to any aspiring foodie… in fact, if you know a foodie who doesn’t have one, it might be a great Christmas gift idea.

It’s back to Thanksgiving dinner plans for me.  Happy Thursday!

Pineapple Plates

Pineapple Plates

While in Costa Rica for my brother’s wedding, my family took a half day fishing tour. When the young local fisherman presented us with a gorgeous pineapple snack – we were really impressed with his presentation skills! He used no fancy plates or utensils – just a pineapple, a cutting board and a knife.pineapple plate

Basic. Beautiful. Delicious. And I’ve never cut a pineapple this way.

Of course I asked him how he did it (so I could share with you). Wouldn’t this be fabulous at a Luau or backyard summer party? The best part is there’s virtually no clean up (aside from washing your hands and the knife)!

pineapple

First, cut off the top of the pineapple.  Then cut off the bottom.

pineapple plates how to

pineapple plates how to

Then cut the pineapple in half.

pineapple plates how to

Next, cut out the core of the pineapple by slicing a “V” shape in the flesh.  Then cut again to create four equal pieces.

pineapple plates how to

pineapple plates how to

Carefully use the knife to separate the inner flesh from the outer skin.

pineapple plates how to

Slice the pineapple into ½” sections.

cute pineapple plates

Position the slices so they alternate on the pineapple “plate” and serve.

pineapple plates - how to carve your own

pineapple plates make for easy serving

This was my first time cutting a pineapple like this, so it isn’t as pretty as the fisherman’s, but it DID work.  And I’ll definitely be giving this technique some practice in the warm months!

{Did you know pineapples are ON TREND right now?  You can read more here.}

Balsamic Honey Glazed Grilled Carrots

Balsamic Honey Glazed Grilled Carrots

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Ingredients:

One bunch of carrots

1/2 cup Savannah Bee Company’s Grill Honey

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary (or any other fresh herb you enjoy)

Instructions:

Wash and peel the carrots, removing the both ends.  Put carrots in a large baggie and evenly coat with the grill honey/balsamic mixture.  Refrigerate and let marinate for 30 minutes.

Fire up the grill to medium heat. Grill carrots for 15 minutes on one side, then flip the carrots, drizzle with more grill honey and grill until cooked through (approx. 10-15 more minutes).  Remove from the grill and toss with the rosemary.  Enjoy!

The Watermelon Keg

The Watermelon Keg

It’s summer – and that means that picnics, backyard barbecues and outdoor get-togethers are happening NOW! For your next summer party, use a watermelon keg – it’s clever, useful and a fun way to delight your guests (for only $24.99, plus the cost of a watermelon).

IMG_7459To start, if your watermelon will stand up straight on its own, then can slice off the top and start scooping out the flesh.  If not, you’ll need to trim approximately 1 inch off the bottom so that the watermelon will stand up securely.

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Use an ice cream scoop to hollow out the inside, reserving the watermelon flesh in a large bowl (or two).

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Stop scooping when you get about 2-3 inches close to the bottom of the watermelon.  (If you scoop too far down, you run the risk of piercing the outer skin and causing a leak.)  Next, assemble the keg dispenser and use the included coring tool to create a hole for the tap.

IMG_7452Attach the keg dispenser by placing it in the hole, and tightening from the inside.  If you tighten enough, it will naturally create a “seal” with the watermelon flesh and rind.

IMG_7454Once the dispenser is secure, you can fill it up with the beverage of your choice (I recommend something fruity flavored, because it’s still going to taste like watermelon).

If you want to utilize the watermelon flesh, use an immersion blender to liquify it.

IMG_7449Then strain the mixture, using a spatula to push the flesh through the strainer.  When you’re done, you’ll have a pitcher of watermelon juice, to which you can add whatever you want – club soda, lemon lime soda, vodka, gin, etc.  Want more ideas?  Check out our Pinterest board with Watermelon Drink Ideas.

IMG_7455No matter what you put IN the watermelon keg, it’s sure to be a hit at your summer get-together – it’s just so darn cute and… summery!

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Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

Did you attend our “Snack and Shop” event in the store?  We served treats made from a few gourmet food items we offer, and a clear favorite was the Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken, so we wanted to share the recipe:

Ingredients:
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Savannah Bee Company Grill Honey
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tsp. steak sauce
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Directions:
Preheat the grill to medium heat. In a shallow bowl, mix the mustard, honey, mayonnaise, and steak sauce. Set aside a small amount of the honey mustard sauce for basting, and dip the chicken into the remaining sauce to coat. You can let the chicken marinade in the sauce for a few hours (covered, in the refrigerator) or you can go ahead and grill immediately.  Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill chicken over indirect heat for 18 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until juices run clear. Baste occasionally with the reserved sauce during the last 10 minutes. Enjoy!

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{original recipe from Savannah Bee Company}

Sample Saturday 6/20/15

Sample Saturday 6/20/15

Last Saturday, June 20th we hosted a “Sample Saturday” in the store. We served a few gourmet foods that we love (and offer in the store) – from gourmet honeys to Lemon Artichoke Dip and Whiskey Praline Pecans.

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Here is a link to a few of the recipes, if you’re interested:

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

Balsamic Grilled Carrots with Grill Honey

Sun-dried Tomato and Turkey Sandwiches

Kale & Parmesan Pesto Pasta