10-Minute Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

I rarely approach things in the kitchen with any sort of clear plan. I'll know, for example, that I want to do something with chicken or shrimp or that I have to use up that slightly wilted kale, but the majority of it is just improvisation.
This usually works well, but occasionally it means that I do things out of order--starting off with the thing that will be done quickest and then realizing that actually...I might like to cook those potatoes.

And that's how this dish came about, because I was making Eugene breakfast the other day and was nearly finished with the omelet, when I noticed a lone potato in the basket, and thought that homefries might be a nice side.

I didn't have enough time to parboil the potatoes as the eggs were practically done, so instead I diced the potato up into very tiny cubes and tossed them raw into hot oil. They cooked quickly and I was then able to spice them up.

Instead of onions, I diced scallions and stirred them through the warm potatoes. It was just enough to add that onion-y bite, but without having to dice and saute an onion.

And there I had it--a delicious potato side dish in less than 10 minutes.

The photos and recipe here are for a version of this dish made with sweet potatoes, but you can also use regular potatoes, too.

Add some toast and eggs, and you've got a fabulous breakfast ready in mere minutes.

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10-Minute Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 2

Ingredients
Grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 large sweet potato
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2 scallions, finely sliced (green and tops of whites only)
Creme fraiche, for serving

Directions
Cover the bottom of a large skillet with about 1/4" of oil and heat over medium heat until oil is hot.

Scrub the sweet potato and dice into small 1/4" cubes (do not peel).

Add the diced sweet potatoes and stir to coat in the oil. Fry about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the potatoes are cooked through and tender. Remove from heat and stir in scallions.

Season generously with salt and pepper, then serve topped with creme fraiche.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple & Spinach Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Let's talk Fall salads!

I'm a fan, but I admit that they can be...tricky.

In the summer, I'm all about the big, fresh salads. I have an entire shelf of my refrigerator dedicated to salad greens. I buy them by the pound and they fill up every nook in the fridge with their vibrant bounty.

My summer intern once went to go put her lunch away and came back remarking that "it looks so healthy in there!"

I'll make myself these giant bowls of salad (Seriously...I never use anything smaller than the big metal bowl that comes with my KitchenAid mixer.) and am perfectly happy to call it a day.

But once it gets chilly outside, I crave salads that bring more to the table than just a pile of fresh greens and tangy dressing. I need things I can chew. Crunchy things. And filling things. A bit of sweetness.

This Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple & Spinach Salad has become one of my lunchtime staples.

Dressed with a tangy mustard vinaigrette, it hits all the points I mentioned above, and is also lovely to look at. I make it easy on myself by roasted the squash in big batches ahead of time, then I just toss it with pre-washed spinach, and slice a few apples. A few toasted pecans are always a welcome addition.

You may want a quick and easy salad to add to your Thanksgiving table. Or you might want something light for the days after. Either way, I recommend adding this one to your repertoire.


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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!      




Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple & Spinach Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients
For the salad
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
Olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tart apple, sliced
1/2 pound washed baby spinach

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Toasted pecans, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread on two large baking sheets. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until tender.

Prepare the dressing: In a mason jar with lid, combine all the dressing ingredients. Cover tightly and shake vigorously for 1 minute, or until dressing is creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste if necessary.

Combine the roasted squash, apple slices, and spinach in a large bowl. Toss with some of the dressing (not all!), and garnish with toasted pecans. Serve immediately.

Additional topping ideas: dried cranberries, bacon, grilled shrimp or chicken to make it an entree salad, fresh pomegranate seeds…have fun!

Spicy Cornbread & Chorizo Stuffing

I first made this Spicy Cornbread & Chorizo Stuffing for Thanksgiving about three years ago, and it's since become one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. The combination of sweet, slightly nutty cornbread with the spicy, salty chorizo is absolute perfection in my book.

I've made this using both a homemade batch of cornbread (following this easy cornbread recipe) and with store-bought cornbread or even corn muffins, and get amazing results every single time.

One of the nice parts of it is that you don't have to bother toasting the cornbread first. Instead you can just skip it and then bake the cornbread uncovered so that it toasts up in the oven while it bakes.

So much easier!

The base is pretty traditional as far as stuffing goes--onions, celery, garlic--but the addition of fresh minced cilantro at the end gives it a bit of a fresh kick.

Click here for more great Thanksgiving recipes!

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!   
   


Spicy Cornbread and Chorizo Stuffing

Ingredients
6 cups cornbread cut into 1" cubes
1 pound Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/2" thick slices (not the fresh kind; you want the kind that is already cooked)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
4 celery ribs, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
½ teaspoon ground cayenne
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a shallow baking dish. Place cornbread cubes in the baking dish.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet, and add the onions, celery, garlic, smoked Spanish paprika, and cayenne and cook for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are all soft. Add the sliced chorizo and continue too cook for another 5 minutes until the chorizo is browned and slightly crisped. Add to the cornbread pieces and toss to coat. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, then spread out in baking dish.

Drizzle with chicken broth, then bake uncovered for 1 hour, or until toasted and golden on top.

Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and red chile flakes, and serve hot.


Chocolate Candy Cane Smoothies

I'm so excited to share this holiday smoothie recipe with you!

As you may know, I recently teamed up with Netflix to create a series of family-friendly recipes inspired by movie themes.

The December theme is "To Grandmother's House We Go," and features a selection of fun holiday movies and TV episodes for kids of all ages.

Since many of us will be hitting the road to visit family this winter, the movies have been organized by length of time. Whether you're traveling several states away, or just going on a quick 30-minute ride, there will be something perfect for you and the kids to watch.

Since these movies are meant to be watched while on the road, I figured a delicious and healthy smoothie would be the perfect on-the-go movie treat. This Chocolate Candy Cane Smoothie recipe is inspired by one of my favorite holiday treats--peppermint hot chocolate!

It's a thick and creamy chocolate smoothie with just a tiny hint of peppermint flavor.

Even better? Though it might taste sweet and almost dessert-like, it's actually a super healthy protein-packed treat that will keep the kids full and energized...without the sugar rush.

There is absolutely NO refined sugar in this smoothie.

(There aren't any actual candy canes in it either, so don't worry about that. I'm not Willy Wonka!)

The sweetness in this drink mainly comes from pureed dates, which provide a lot great natural sweetness as well as a whole bunch of other vitamins and minerals.  Your kids won't even realize how healthy this is!

Thick Greek yogurt provides loads of protein and creaminess, while the unsweetened natural cocoa powder gives the whole thing a rich, chocolate flavor.

The festive candy cane flavor comes from a few drops of peppermint extract.


Another great bonus is that while the smoothie is nice and creamy, it actually is not too thick so drinking it from a sippy cup will be totally possible. (Yup...I totally tested it out for you!)

AND it can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance, so you can whip up a batch and have it ready in the fridge to grab as you're heading out the door. One less thing to worry about!


Note: This post is sponsored by Netflix. Thank you for supporting cool companies like Netflix who make it possible for me to keep creating fun new content for you to enjoy. All photos, opinions, and recipes are (of course!) my own.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!     



Chocolate Candy Cane Smoothies
Makes approx 2 (8oz) servings

Ingredients
8 large medjool dates, pits and stems removed
1 1/2 cups milk (dairy or substitute your favorite non-dairy milk like almond or coconut)
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons honey (+ more if desired)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

Directions
Combine pitted dates and 1 cup warm water in a bowl, and let sit 5 minutes.

While dates soak, combine milk, yogurt, cocoa powder, honey, and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract in a blender, and puree until completely smooth. Add the soaked dates (without the soaking water), and puree again until completely smooth (about 3 minutes, depending on your blender). Taste and add additional honey or peppermint (one tiny drop at a time), if desired. The peppermint extract can vary in strength, so best to add a tiny bit and increase as desired.

Divide into sippy cups or mugs. Can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated (just give it a good shake before serving).

Playing Around: If desired, garnish with a small sprinkle of crushed candy canes.
NOTE: While this recipe calls for regular milk, you can also easily substitute a non-dairy option like almond milk or coconut milk if that's what your children drink. You can also use a non-dairy yogurt, too.

Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate

White chocolate often gets a bad rap. It's not REAL chocolate, people say. And while that's technically true, that alone is not reason enough to dismiss this actually quite lovely confection.

The trick is to pick out a good white chocolate. There are way too many terrible options on the shelves, which I think is a huge part of the problem. Cloying, chalky, artificially flavored white chocolate is a far cry from the good quality stuff made with real cocoa butter. Real white chocolate is creamy, subtle, and a fantastic base for any number of desserts.

Look for options from brands like Ghirardelli, Guittard, Lindt or the Italian brand Perugina--all of which offer bars and/or chips made with real cocoa butter.

And once you have it, you can try out this easy twist on a classic hot chocolate--Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate.

Just a few simple ingredients whisked together on the stove, and you'll end up with a rich, decadent treat to end a chilly day.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!     

 

Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
8 oz chopped white chocolate (or use chips)
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch kosher salt

Directions
Combine the white chocolate chips, milk, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Use a whisk to stir continuously until the chocolate has completely melted and the hot chocolate is thick and smooth.

Divide into mugs and serve immediately.

Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pam Cooking Spray. Thank you for supporting cool brands like Pam that make it possible for me to keep creating new recipes and fun content for you to enjoy. 

You may have noticed that I've been making quite a few baked donuts lately. I actually have had these donut pans for a couple years, but it wasn't until earlier this year that I started using them regularly.

I confess that part of the reason has to do with laziness on my part. Though the pans were sold as being "nonstick," that was SO not the case in reality and I was always using 2-3 donuts per batch. So I'd have to make sure to grease them well, but greasing and flouring a donut pan by hand is a bit finicky since you have to work the butter or oil into the little round crevices, then repeat with the flour.

Bah! I'd much rather just butter one bowl, make a big cake, and go about my day.

But then I decided to try out Pam Baking Spray. This handy little spray has flour in it so that you literally just do a quick spritz and you're done. Less than a minute to grease and flour 2 trays, and I was that much closer to my favorite part.

(Yes, by that I mean the eating part.)

I was a little worried that it might have a strange taste or leave weird sticky residue on my baking pans (something that I've experienced with other sprays), but it does neither, which Eugene particularly appreciates since he usually gets the job of cleaning the pan when I'm done.

(He also gets to join in on the eating part.)

This spray is also my lifesaver with the really tricky pans, like my fancy bundt pan, and my old fashioned cake molds. Whenever I use it, I don't have to cross my fingers and pray that the cake will come out easily. It just...always does!

If you're entertaining as much as I am this holiday season, you'll understand how nice it is to have just one less thing to worry about.

Now about this recipe!


These Gingerbread Donuts are an AWESOME dessert to serve at a holiday party.

The easy batter is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and gets it's lovely sweetness and color from dark molasses-rich brown sugar. If you can find some really good stuff (like muscovado), I would recommend trying it out here, although regular dark brown sugar will work, too.

The topping is a lovely, velvety cream cheese frosting scented with pure orange and vanilla extracts. If you prefer, you can just dust these with powdered sugar, but I think that cream cheese and gingerbread are a classic combination.

(Honestly, these would be a killer Christmas Day breakfast idea, too.)

And the whole thing is done in less than an hour!


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of PAM Cooking Spray. For more information, visit http://www.pamcookingspray.com. All recipes, photos, and opinions are (of course!) my own.
 
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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!  
 


Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 12 Donuts.

Ingredients
For the donuts:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (if you have access to muscovado sugar, it would work really well here)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping:
4oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream + more if needed

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two doughnut pans with baking spray (I like Pam Baking), and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Add the wet to the dry and mix until smooth and completely combined.

Divide into the doughnut pans and bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes, or until puffed up and spring back to the touch. Let cool in pan about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

For the icing
In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, orange extract, and 1/3 cup heavy cream, and beat until light and smooth. For thinner icing, add additional heavy cream, a couple tablespoons at a time until it's the desired consistency.

Once the donuts are completely cooled, ice and serve. These are best served during the first 12 hours after baking.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Italian Salsa Verde

I've mentioned here and there that I occasionally work as a private chef at an amazing little retreat center in Vermont called Good Commons. This is also the place where I host my own culinary retreats (next one is in June 2014, btw!!), and by far one of my favorite places to get away to.

They host a lot of yoga retreats, so the majority of the groups I've cooked for have been vegetarian. While I, personally, am pretty much the opposite of a vegetarian, I really enjoy the challenge, because it forces me to step out of my cooking comfort zone and experiment with new flavors and techniques.

One of the most popular recipes I cooked this past summer was a dish of roasted sweet potato spears served over a bed of spicy salsa verde.

Though the name sounds Spanish, this salsa verde is actually an Italian condiment made with pureed herbs, capers, lemon, and garlic. It's tangy, salty and spicy, and pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the slightly charred sweet potatoes.

I think this would make an amazing side dish for Thanksgiving, and it is beyond easy. The salsa is made just by pureeing all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, and then the sweet potatoes are simply roasted in coconut oil or olive oil. Just cut them into big spears, and you don't even have to peel them (that's where the nutrition is!).

If you prefer, this dish also works really well with roasted carrots! 

And another bonus? It can be served both hot and room temperature, too--another lifesaver when the oven is crowded before the big meal.

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!  
 


Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Italian Salsa Verde

Ingredients
For the sweet potatoes:
6 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed, dried and cut into long spears
Coconut oil or vegetable oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

For the salsa verde:
2 cups parsley
1 cup mixed fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, tarragon, etc.)
1/4 cup capers
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
kosher salt and black pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the sweet potatoes with oil until coated and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheets and roast for about 20-30 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized.

While the potatoes roast, prepare the salsa by combining all the ingredients except salt and pepper in a food processor. Puree until smooth, then season to taste with salt and pepper. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more oil to loosen it up.

Plate by spreading the herb sauce over a platter and top with roasted potatoes. Serve hot or room temperature.

Thanksgiving Favors: Spiced Pumpkin Granola

One of my favorite things about having people over is the excuse to make party favors. I'm not sure why, but there is something about packaging up little-somethings that makes me super happy.

For my party this past weekend, I decided to make a big batch of homemade Spiced Pumpkin Granola and send each guest home with a bag of it.

Homemade granola makes a great favor because it's very easy to make, can be made in huge batches, and keeps well over long periods of time, so you can prepare it in advance.

This granola starts off with plain rolled oats (I used good ol' Quaker Oats for this), mixed with spices like cinnamon and ginger, brown sugar, olive oil, and real pumpkin puree.

It toasts up in the oven until crunchy, and then you can toss it with your favorite granola mix-ins. I chose toasted pecans, shaved coconut, and white chocolate chips.

I was low on time so instead of making individual tags for each baggie, I just displayed a little "Thank You" card near the basket of favors and called it a day.

A simple and sweet favor that will leave your guests with a little bit of extra fun to enjoy after the party ends.

More Homemade Granola Recipes:

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Spiced Pumpkin Granola
This makes a huge batch meant for favors, and makes about 10 party favor-sized bags of granola. Feel free to divide in half for a smaller amount.

Ingredients
8 cups rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup olive oil or melted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecans, toasted
1 cup dried shaved coconut (unsweetened)
2 cups your choice: white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, or dried cranberries (or use a mix!)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets (I use baking spray) and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix oats and spices. In a second large bowl, mix sugar, pumpkin, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Combine with oats and toss until evenly and completely coated.

Divide into two baking pans and spread out into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and return to oven for about 20 more minutes, or until golden (will still be soft, but will get crunchy as it cools). Let cool completely, then stir in pecans, coconut, and chocolate or dried fruit.

For favors: Divide into cellophane bags and seal with a twist-tie.

To store, divide into gallon sized zipped bags and store in a cool dry place. 


Inspired Entertaining: A Friendsgiving Party

I've always loved the idea of "Friendsgiving"--a Thanksgiving party meant to be shared with friends.

While I think the idea originally started when groups of friends living too far from home started celebrating the holiday together, I now think that it's an added bonus to do both--regular Thanksgiving with the family, and a more casual, personalized party with your friends a few days before (or even after!) the big event.

As part of my ongoing holiday entertaining series with Smirnoff, this past weekend, Eugene and I invited a few friends over to our apartment to sip cocktails and enjoy a menu made up mostly of appetizers and side-dishes--aka what everyone loves best about Thanksgiving anyway!

The group included a great mix of old and new friends, like my friend Vanessa whom I've known since I was 14, and my new friend Hitha, a fellow blogger with whom I've chatted and shared a lot online, but had never actually met in real life until she and her lovely husband joined us for the party. My friends Irina, Maegan, Lara, and Topher, and my brother-in-law, Ilya, also rounded out the small, but lively group.

I told everyone to dress up, and we gathered around my cozy living room piled up on chairs and couches, enjoying food and catching up.

Hudson, of course, ran around trying to convince folks to give him treats. (He was often successful.)

When guests arrived, I greeted them with our bubbly signature cocktail, which I call a Cranberry 75.

Based on one of my favorite classic cocktails, this one is made with a light and tart combination of Smirnoff Cranberry Vodka and sparkling white wine, garnished with a few fresh cranberries.

(Click here for the recipe.)

For those who don't like bubbly, I also mixed up Double Apple Spritzer Cocktails, using Smirnoff Green Apple Vodka, which has a crisp, fresh apple taste, seltzer, and sweetened with some of my homemade Apple Cider Simple Syrup.

One of the best things about Friendsgiving is that you can really have fun with the menu, and aren't stuck serving dishes that you don't really like, just because "we've always served it."

Friendsgiving is meant to be personalized and a little non-traditional, so don't be afraid to shake things up a bit!

For my menu, I decided to just skip the hassle of roasting a turkey, and instead made a batch of Turkey Quinoa Meatballs served with Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce.

Since one of my friends is vegan, I also made a batch of Smokey Quinoa-Stuffed Mushrooms that actually ended up being a hit with everyone.

There was a big cheeseboard (of course!), and some snacky things like Mini Chive & Cilantro Arepas for my gluten-free friends.


For sides, I served Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Italian Salsa Verde (a savory and spicy twist on the classic sweet potato side dishes).

We also enjoyed a large bowl of Coconut Apricot Couscous, made with Israeli pearled couscous and dried apricots.


And a big Spinach Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Apples.

This salad has become one of my staples this Fall and I love serving it to company since it's so easy, but packs a lot of flavor.

Although I usually like to try and make EVERYTHING, I decided to take it a little bit easy this year, and let my friends handle dessert.

My brother-in-law, who lives in Brooklyn, stopped off at the super popular Four & Twenty Blackbirds shop and picked up one of their famous Salted Caramel Apple Pies to share with the group.

And Hitha brought us a freshly-baked (and still warm from the oven!) loaf of Pumpkin Gingerbread. (We've been enjoying the leftovers toasted with butter all week long!)

While not required, I always like to try and send my guests home with a little homemade party favor.

For this party, I made a huge (HUGE) batch of Spiced Pumpkin Granola studded with dried fruits and white chocolate, and gave a little bag to each guest as he or she left.

And, because, I always love to end the night with something warm, I slipped into the kitchen as the last guests left and made Eugene and myself a couple mugs of Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate spiked with a bit of Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka--the perfect thing to sip while cleaning up!

Want to host your own Friendsgiving Party? Here are 5 Easy Tips:

1. Share the work: 
I always try to do everything myself, but that just leaves me tired and I usually end up forgetting something. Instead, farm out some of the tasks that you're less interested in. Don't like to bake? Have a guest handle dessert or order something from a nearby bakery. Or get your buddy who is a wiz behind the bar to handle mixing cocktails.

2. Use the space you have: 
I wish I had a huge dining room and table to gather my friends around, but for now...that's just a dream. So I make my parties buffet-style, setting the food up on a side table, and letting guests serve themselves, and then gather around the coffee table on couches and mix-matched chairs. It's not perfect, but it's cozy and fun, which is all that really matters.

3. Prepare a Signature Cocktail: 
This is one of my favorite entertaining tips. Instead of trying to man a full bar AND make sure dinner gets on the table, just choose one or two signature cocktails for the evening and prepare them in advance. That way when guests arrive, you just have to pour and serve. Easy! I also like to leave out a few staples like tonic, club soda, and sliced limes, along with a couple different flavors of vodka so folks can mix up their own basic drinks if they prefer.

4. Get creative with the menu:
When it comes to proper Thanksgiving, most of the menu is usually set from year to year (and often completely out of your hands). But Friendsgiving? That's all you! Keep your favorite dishes, and get rid of the ones you don't love. Not a fan of turkey? Then don't serve it! Go with a ham or fabulous pasta dish instead. Or make it a potluck and let each of your friends bring a dish that they love. There is no right or wrong way.

5. Invite a mix of people:
Call up your oldest friends, your cool neighbor, your favorite coworkers, or that girl you always chat with at yoga class and kind of wish you could hang out with more. Friendsgiving is a great time to bring together friends from different parts of your life.

Want more great Thanksgiving entertaining ideas? Click on over to my Friendsgiving Inspiration Board on Pinterest!

Note: This post is sponsored by Smirnoff. Thank you for supporting great companies like Smirnoff that make it possible for me to keep creating fun new content for you to enjoy. All photos, opinions, and recipes are (of course!) my own. As always, please remember to drink responsibly!

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!  
 




Double Apple Spritzer Cocktails

Here's another fun Fall-themed cocktail for your holiday table!

This Double Apple Spritzer is fresh, sweet, and sings with the crisp flavors of fall.

This is one of the cocktails I created as part of my ongoing collaboration with Smirnoff, and features their Green Apple Vodka, which has a lovely bright, crisp flavor.

I mixed it with my homemade Apple Cider Simple Syrup and then lightening it up with a splash of sparkling seltzer water.

Served in a pretty coupe glass (like these vintage ones I found on eBay for $4!) and garnished with fresh green apple slices, it's a really great drink to serve guests as they arrive at your house.

This is also one of those drinks that's really easy to make in a big batch for a pitcher or punch bowl. Just wait until just before the guests arrive to pour in the seltzer, and then let them serve themselves while you finish things off in the kitchen.

Nice and easy--just how I like it!

Disclaimer: This recipe was created as part of my ongoing sponsored collaboration with Smirnoff. All opinions are, of course, my own. Please remember to always drink responsibly! 

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Love Always Order Dessert? Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!  
 

 
Double Apple Spritzer Cocktail Recipe
Yields 2 cocktails (multiply as necessary!)

Ingredients
3oz Smirnoff Green Apple Vodka
1/4 cup Apple Cider Simple Syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Ice
Seltzer
Green Apple slices, for garnish

Directions
In a shaker, combine Smirnoff Green Apple Vodka, Apple Cider Simple Syrup, Lemon Juice, and Ice. Shake until frosty, then divide into two coupe glasses and top with seltzer.

Garnish with fresh green apple slices

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