It’s Thanksgiving week! On Thursday, the traditional turkey dinner spread gets most of the attention- and for good reason (YUM). But it’s also the busiest travel week of the year, which means that many of you will be hosting hungry family and friends for days on end. The same goes for the weeks around Christmas! Here are a handful of seasonal, crowd-pleasing recipes to keep holiday bellies full in the days before or after The Big Meal steals the show.
This side dish incorporates flavors of the season (like sweet potato and cranberries) with fennel, kale, Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts and a homemade dressing with a kick.
Turkey Day also means watching football in my family. Make a big batch of the spicy sausage and cheese fondue and set out chips or herbed baguette slices. Comfort food for the game!
I make this hot dip often when I have a lot of snackers in the house. It’s a twist on a traditional spinach dip, adding hearts of palm and asiago cheese. It gets devoured with tortilla chips!
Is there anything more comforting than a big bowl of delicious stew on a chilly night? Soups are a go-to item when I have a full house. One-pot cooking and happy tummies.
This recipe is one of the easiest I’ve ever come across and the flavors are spectacular. Minimal effort (but no one will know).
It’s hard to go wrong with a casserole for a crowd, especially baked macaroni and cheese. This version adds salty pancetta and crisp broccoli.
This pasta is very unique, marrying spicy chorizo with cranberries and smoked gouda cheese. It’s a special dish that fits right in with the season.
When my guest rooms are full, I like any recipe that you stick in the oven and forget about for a while. This beef brisket is delicious on its own, but my favorite is to slice it up for sandwiches. Homemade spicy BBQ sauce, too!
Lunchtime seems to be different for each person. It’s handy to make a batch of this chicken salad ahead of time to keep in the fridge so guests can help themselves. It’s a healthy version (using Greek yogurt) and has crunchy apples and chewy cranberries in it.
Everybody loves a taco night! People can customize their dinner. This Thai version includes a marinated grilled chicken and lots of non-traditional taco toppings. The spicy peanut sauce is a must!
This twist on a traditional pecan pie is delicious, and since the tartlets are small, you can have more than one. Don’t skip the bourbon!
Here’s a step up from strawberry shortcake. The poundcake is super moist because of the ricotta, and the orange and strawberries add a sweet tartness. Try toasting the sliced poundcake!
Keep the cookie jar full for your family’s sweet tooth! The cranberries and white chocolate chips in these cookies make them special. Make a lot- they won’t last.
These oat bars can be a tasty dessert, or even a sweet breakfast. You can swap out the blackberries for raspberries, strawberries, blueberries… or all of the above.
Not everyone likes pumpkin pie. If you’re looking for an alternative holiday dessert, try a galette. This one uses nectarines and blackberries, but any fruit would be delicious. You can also make a savory galette for an appetizer.
This tart cocktail tastes like Christmas, with cranberries and fresh rosemary. It would be scrumptious for your party punch bowl!
If you have a tequila lover coming to visit, these drinks will make her smile. Muddled blackberries and rosemary add an herby sweetness.
Day drinking, anyone? Try John’s recipe for delicious Bloody Maries with an Old Bay rim. The charred jalapeño takes it over the top.
I like to have options for guests to help themselves for breakfast. Some people sleep late, others are up with the sun. Set out a batch of sweet muffins for easy grabbing.
We make these sticky buns on Christmas morning, and enjoy them with homemade eggnog. But the recipe is so easy (using puff pastry dough) that you can make them on ANY morning. No one will complain.
These little bakes are like mini quiches with all sorts of goodies inside like pancetta, spinach, gruyere cheese, chunks of bread, and lots of herbs. You could make them in a muffin tin for single servings.
We keep a container of baked granola in the pantry. Guests can grab a bowl, some yogurt, and dive in. This version comes together easily, with nuts and cinnamon and cranberries.
Apples and butternut squash make this frittata seasonal, but bacon and cheese make it decadent. You can put anything in a frittata. A tasty breakfast version has bacon, cheese, potatoes, and jalapeños.
Many of these recipes can be made ahead of time or even frozen until you’re ready to feed the crowd. A full house can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Bookmark this page to refer to when you are in Holiday Host mode. And remember, ’tis the season for love. Your guests don’t care about fancy food or over-the-top details; they just want to spend time with you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
One year ago: Countdown to turkey.