Tieghan Gerard knows that cooking dinner for a crowd can get crazy real quick. That is why in 2012, she started her popular food blog, Half Baked Harvest, as a passion project derived from her experience cooking for her rowdy family of nine. “For dinner, my dad would cook but he had a 9-5 job, then headed to the gym afterward, so we wouldn’t eat dinner until 9-9:30 p.m.,” she says. “Eventually, I got tired of it and started doing the cooking.”
In a little over seven years, she has been featured in The Cooking Channel, Food Network, HGTV and more, plus has been the recipient of the 2016 Bloglovin’ Best Food Blog Award. This week, she releases her second cookbook, “Half Baked Harvest: Super Simple,” where she writes 125 instant, overnight or simply easy recipes.
“In this day and age, everyone is a little bit stressed! So, if you can come home to a really good meal that takes only 30 minutes, or [something] you can throw in the slow-cooker … that is what people need,” she says. “It is all about making cooking approachable.”
With fall well underway and winter coming, that is exactly the kind of food ethos we can get behind. But in the meantime, we have another foodie occasion to think about: Thanksgiving. So, we caught up with her to talk about hosting Thanksgiving, how she prepares for the occasion, and how you should, too.
“I host Thanksgiving every single year,” Gerard says. “I’m working on Thanksgiving right now, and I have already cooked a million Thanksgiving dinners.”
Her Top Thanksgiving Tips:
- “First of all, don’t cook any brand-new recipes on Thanksgiving Day. If you want to try out a new recipe, test it way before, and make it two or three times to make sure you have got it down. The worst thing is having a recipe that doesn’t turn out on Thanksgiving Day.”
- “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to have five million side dishes and do the turkey and all these things. Take four to five sides that you think are really what you and your guests will enjoy and make those sides awesome. I would highly recommend making [them] ahead of time. Anything that you can do before the day to save yourself from stress is key. You don’t want to be a host that is stressed, because that just reflects on your party and is never fun.”
- “When it comes to Thanksgiving, I am actually very traditional. I always do a very traditional turkey that has been on the blog for years. The side dishes I will play around with a little bit, but I will keep them classic — some sort of sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and a roll. Those are the big players. But also, a big salad. I think you should always have [a] salad on the Thanksgiving table.”
- “Always set the table the night before, or the day before, or even the week before if it’s going to be in your house. Because it is just one thing that you don’t have to worry about the day of, and one thing that is so easy to do ahead of time.”
- “I do cocktails for Thanksgiving — a fun one like a Moscow mule or margarita that people can have as they are walking in. You don’t want to play bartender all night, so it is really nice if you can do some sort of pitcher style drink that people can just ladle into their glasses and done. And then, of course, you have to have some wine and beer on hand as well.”
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