All Posts By Heather Ramsdell

The Home Stretch — Your Morning of Checklist

by in Holidays, November 24th, 2011

mashed potatoes
Happy Thanksgiving! It’s time to sit back and relax — well, aside from some cooking — and make room for the big feast. Having prepared well ahead of time, you’ll impress your family and friends as the cool, calm and collected host. As much as we love the Thanksgiving meal, our favorite time of day is always the morning of, alternating between preparing the final dishes in the kitchen and sitting down to watch the parade with family and early guests. Not to mention, nothing beats the smells of a kitchen in full-on Thanksgiving mode.

• The Grand Finale: The moment you’ve been waiting for: time to roast the turkey. Unstuffed turkeys take hours to roast (anywhere from 3 to 5 hours depending on the size and the method), and you’ll want to give the bird at least 30 minutes to rest before carving, so start nice and early. One technique we like is to roast the bird at moderate heat, around 350 degrees F, only opening the oven door to baste occasionally so the heat stays inside. If the breast is getting too dark, you can cover it with foil. The turkey is done when the internal temperature of the breast is 165 degrees F and the legs are about 175 degrees F. Here’s where you get to use that meat thermometer.

Make the mashed potatoes fresh »

It’s the Final Countdown — Day-Before Planning

by in Holidays, November 23rd, 2011

ina garten butternut squash soup
Take a deep breath — the finish line is in sight. You’ve made it this far, and will be happily sitting down to eat in about 36 short hours or so. The day before is a great opportunity to cross off a hefty portion of your to-do list. You only have one more trip to the store ahead of you for the flowers and then you’re home-free to hunker down in the kitchen.

• Brine Time: To ensure a moist and flavorful turkey, we highly recommend brining the bird the day before. A simple salt-and-sugar water bath will easily safeguard you from the perils of a dried-out turkey that even gravy can’t fix.

• Easy As Pie: If you’ve made or bought your pie crusts ahead of time, most Thanksgiving desserts can be a piece of cake. But if you’re looking to cross some cooking off your list the day before, make your pies ahead of time. In fact, we even prefer pies that have had a day to sit, especially pumpkin and pecan. Just remember to take them out of the fridge 2 to 3 hours before serving on the big day — and tell your family no early taste-testing.

Soup’s on and snack attacks »

Thanksgiving Checklist (2 Days Away)

by in Holidays, November 22nd, 2011

meat thermometer for thanksgiving
Since the next two days will be a whirlwind of cooking and greeting out-of-towners, take advantage of the calm before the storm to make sure you have absolutely everything you will need. Having all of your ingredients at the ready will make Thursday a breeze. If all of the cooking seems daunting, work on finishing your table. And remember: Thanksgiving is supposed to be fun.

• Supermarket Sweep: If there is one season that you really need a decent meat thermometer, it’s now. If you don’t have one, buy one. And if you have one, make sure it’s in fine working condition. Then head to the supermarket today to pick up all of your produce — and your turkey! Everything will still be fresh by Thursday and you’ll avoid the mad rush tomorrow and the day of.

• Quick Fix: Get the cranberry sauce out of the way today if you’re planning on making your own. It won’t take you more than an hour, and then it’ll be sitting in your fridge ready to go at the last minute.

Read more

The More Done Ahead, the Merrier (4 Days Away)

by in Holidays, How-to, November 21st, 2011

setting the thanksgiving table
Less than a week to go to Turkey Day and it’s time to hammer out the details. If your family vetoed your idea for an innovative reimagining of pumpkin pie, channel your creativity into designing a table centerpiece to set the mood. Also, consider four days ahead as a good time for a freezer exchange — frozen turkey (if you bought it that way) should come out, homemade pie crusts go in.

• Setting the Stage: While the food and the company always make Thanksgiving memorable, it doesn’t hurt to have a beautifully set table to sit around. Consider mixing flowers in with some artful edibles or even scout your backyard for inspiration. We like gourds, mini pumpkins, acorns, pine-cones and Indian corn to give the table a real fall feel. Gather everything you’ll need for the table (except the flowers), and stock up on candles for an extra-special touch.

From freezer to table »

Making the Thanksgiving List and Checking It Twice (1 Week Away)

by in Holidays, November 17th, 2011

woman grocery shopping
After some serious editing and input from the diners, you’ve finally narrowed down the big menu and you’re ready to spring into action. Yes, it’s still too early to start roasting the turkey, but one week out is the perfect opportunity to stock up on the non-perishables you can safely shop for ahead of time — and forget about until Thanksgiving morning. The less last-minute scrambles to the supermarket the day of, the better.

• Cross-check: Now that you’ve been dreaming up recipes all week, it’s time to take inventory of your pantry and write up a master shopping list. Plan out what you can buy ahead (potatoes, onions, garlic, salt), what you can’t (fresh fruits and vegetables) and exactly when you’re planning on making each dish (and who’s going to make them).

Replenish your staples and buy wine »

Let the Thanksgiving Countdown Begin — Don’t Panic! (2 Weeks Away)

by in Holidays, November 10th, 2011

thanksgiving checklist
It’s already the middle of November, and Thanksgiving has snuck up on you yet again — despite landing on the same Thursday every year. Not to worry: We’ve drawn up a nifty do-ahead guide to help you get organized from now until November 24. Check back with us as we lead you into Turkey Day, helping you with everything from apple pie to Zinfandel.

While it may be too soon to get a jump-start on roasting the turkey, two weeks still gives you plenty of lead time to plan your best — and least stressful — holiday feast yet. It’s all about setting the wheels in motion.

Get started now with these tips »

Do Cakes With Cream Cheese Frosting Need to Be Refrigerated?

by in How-to, October 17th, 2011

cream cheese frosting
This question tends to pop up at least once during our weekly “Ask the Editor” Facebook chats: Do cakes with cream cheese frosting need to be refrigerated? With the holidays right around the corner, it’s a great time to explore and answer this question. From Paula’s Pumpkin Bars to Giada’s Spiced Apple-Walnut Cake With Cream Cheese Icing to the classic Red Velvet Cake, it’s hard to escape cream cheese frosting’s creamy goodness.

So does it need refrigeration?

Food Network Kitchens answer the question »

Storing Fruits and Vegetables — Fix My Dish

by in How-to, September 27th, 2011

storing fruits and vegetables
Twice a month, we’re giving readers a chance to ask Food Network Kitchens’ advice about an issue they’re having with a dish or a food item. They can’t re-formulate a recipe for you, but they’re happy to help improve it. This week’s question will help readers keep their produce longer.

Question: How can I keep fruits and veggies fresh until I use or cook them? I bought corn on the cob on Tuesday and by Friday, it had lost its moisture and taste. How do I extend the life of my produce? — Beth Patterson-Grinavic Kiessling

Find out the answer to Beth’s question »

Super-Food Menu — Weekend Cooking

by in Food Network Magazine, September 23rd, 2011

salmon with walnuts
The American dietary guidelines recently got a makeover from pyramid to plate.

The new model, or MyPlate, is a more simplified version of its pyramid relative, but it still conveys the same message to eat a healthy, balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.

The new guidelines go a step further when it comes to fruits and vegetables. It suggests to eat a colorful variety everyday, which is a simple way to ensure your diet is full of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

MyPlate was on our minds when Food Network Kitchens sat down to brainstorm the October issue of Food Network Magazine. We wanted to develop a meal full of colorful foods that provided an extra antioxidant punch.

Get the recipes to FN Mag’s super-food menu »

Pie Thickeners — FN Kitchens

by in How-to, August 5th, 2011

peach pie cherry pie recipe
There’s no doubt that apple and pumpkin are among some of the most popular pie varieties, but nothing beats a fresh berry or peach pie, especially when the fruits are at their peak. Now, imagine cleaning handfuls of fresh cherries, drying them off and taking time to prepare the filling mixture. You’ve rolled out the crust, baked off the pie and let it cool. The vanilla ice cream is ready and you cut the first piece, only to see your filling run around the pie plate, creating a mushy crust. How can you keep your pie from running and what pie thickeners are appropriate? We asked Food Network Kitchens for their expertise.

The “juiciness” that happens when fruit cooks in a pie is most copious with fruits like berries and peaches, fruits that have a lot of juice, especially during the summer. We use thickeners to add body to these juices so that they can stay inside the pie — or at least close to it — so when we cut into it, the crust stays crisp and the whole thing is more fun to eat.

Find out how to make the perfect pie filling »