Go ahead, we won’t judge — sometimes you need to serve a few store-bought items at your feast. And why not? A few of these dishes can save you a ton of time on turkey day. But just in case you want to add a little homemade flair to an otherwise purchased item, these simple touches are just as easy as tossing the item into your shopping cart.
This month the only thing scarier than those spooky Halloween decorations your neighbors put out every year is the thought of your mouth on fire. There are the brave few who subject their taste buds to peppers of all kinds and those who need more palatable levels of spice. No matter your preference, these recipes might have you reaching for a glass of milk once you’re done (and yes, that really works!).
1. Giada De Laurentiis’ Spicy Mint Beef (pictured above)
Thanks to the heat of two to three Thai chiles (such as prik kee noo) or serrano chiles, Giada’s skillet stir-fry is not for the faint of heart. Stir in whole fresh mint leaves before serving to balance the fiery kick.
October is an exciting month in the agriculture world, as peaches and corn give way to apples and pumpkins, prime for the picking. And in certain vine-filled valleys, it’s a lush time, indeed: the grape harvest. On a recent visit to Willamette Valley — Oregon’s up-and-coming wine region known for its bold Pinot Noirs and crisp Chardonnays — we learned that an unusually warm summer had sped up the growing and ripening process, resulting in an earlier harvest. Lucky for us, that meant we were able to get up close and personal with those big, juicy grapes.
To learn all about the harvest process — and see how varying microclimates within a 10-mile radius can yield entirely different grapes — we visited a few different wineries. We checked in with Winemaker Melissa Burr from Stoller Family Estate as she sampled some of the new juices coming off of the vines, and toured Sokol Blosser and Penner-Ash wineries to see how their harvests were progressing.
“We do a lot of boiling and straining,” said Ross Hunsinger of Atlas Sodaworks as he strode back and forth between the pot of boiling root beer ingredients on the stove and the massive chinois strainer on the counter. As he led the hands-on soda making class at Portland Feast, his excitement about soda-making and soda syrups was definitely about to bubble over.
These treats are perfect to bring to a tailgate in the stadium parking lot or serve at home while watching the game on television. They’re easy to make and easy to eat, and you won’t have any plates to tidy up afterward.
1. Fried Pies
Ree Drummond’s grab-and-go fried pies are great for guests to enjoy dessert while watching the game. The quick pastry dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator in a zipper bag. When you’re ready to make the pies, roll out the dough as thin as you can and cut it into rectangles. Canned apple and cherry pie filling mean less prep time. Once all the rectangles are filled and sealed, drop them into hot shortening and in just five minutes your pies will be fried to golden-brown perfection.
Our ridiculously delicious birthday cakes are perfect for celebrating. Whether you’re going all-out with Ina Garten’s three-tiered hot-pink cake or keeping it simple with a vanilla sheet cake with chocolate frosting, these desserts will elate any birthday boy or girl.
1. Birthday Cake with Hot-Pink Butter Icing
The secret ingredient for Ina Garten’s moist cake layers? The addition of sour cream. Bake a 9-inch, a 6-inch and a 3-inch layer, and frost each separately with hot-pink icing. Chill each frosted layer before stacking, then pipe or spoon the remaining frosting around the base of each cake and around the top edge of the top layer before finishing with candy decorations. This is certainly a centerpiece cake that your crowd will remember.
Welcome to the Hamptons: home to beautiful beaches, incredible real estate and renowned traffic (especially during prime summer season). In the many villages and hamlets of the towns of Southampton and East Hampton, restaurants can cycle through as quickly as summer tourists. But an abundance of local produce and access to both the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean for fresh seafood mean you’re guaranteed to get a great meal at any time of the year. Plentiful weekly farmers markets, along with roadside stands like Little Dog Farm (pictured above), The Green Thumb farm stand (one of Katie Lee’s favorites, where she buys local Mecox cheese) and North Sea Farms, mean you can also make a mean meal at home. To help craft this tour we reached out to a few experts, including Food Network stars Katie Lee and Geoffrey Zakarian; Dan Rattiner, the publisher of the local iconic weekly Dan’s Papers and host of Dan’s Taste of Summer (where you can try almost all of these spots in one place); and Kathleen King, founder and owner of Tate’s Bake Shop. And we added a few of our personal favorites.
Soup isn’t for just the winter months and it’s not fit for just veggies either. These recipes (most made in simply a blender) will keep you cool all summer long by putting fresh summer produce and even a few in season fruits to work.
While you’re staying hydrated this summer with copious amounts of water to get you through sweltering days, try branching out at lunch or dinner with a beer or glass of wine. These pairings work particularly well with your favorite summer recipes for burgers, ribs and even dessert.
1. Grilled Shrimp with Grilled Tomato Cocktail Sauce
Take this classic party starter outdoors and onto the grill. Grilled tomatoes, onions and lemons serve as the smoky base for a homemade cocktail sauce that’s blended with Worcestershire sauce, honey, horseradish and hot sauce until smooth. Whether you serve the sauce warm or at room temperature alongside simply charred shrimp, the dish is perfect for a crowd.