Not Your Mom’s Thanksgiving

Everything about 2020 is different, and the holidays will be no exception. Gatherings will be smaller, you may be spending more time outside, and masks will be the hottest holiday accessory of the year. But we’re determined to keep things festive and fun, and why not take it as an opportunity to start some new Turkey Day traditions while you’re at it? Here are our tips for hosting a non-traditional Thanksgiving.

THE FOOD

Maybe this year, you’re celebrating with your roommates, or a few friends or family members in your “bubble.” Keep it low key and stick to an easy Thanksgiving menu, or use this opportunity to try out something totally new:

  • •There’s never been a better year to order takeout from your favorite neighborhood restaurant (hooray for supporting local). Use your fanciest dishes and make sure to leave a good tip!
  • •If you are in the mood to cook, let’s talk turkey – tbh, is it really anyone’s favorite part of the meal? (don’t @ us)…There are plenty of turkey alternatives that can be just as delicious and festive – try chicken, steak, lamb, lasagna, stuffed mushrooms, cauliflower steak, or hey, if you’re in the mood for hamburgers, go for it. Thanksgiving knows no bounds in 2020. 
  • •It’s also a perfect year to test the waters with something totally new (hello, boozy cranberry sauce; trash can turkey or sriracha turkey; fried mashed potato balls; apple pie salsa; everything bagel stuffing). We’re calling it – This is the year of unique Thanksgiving dishes, so let your creativity fly.

 

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THE SETTING

We love a big packed cozy dinner table as much as anyone else, but this year has other plans for us, and that’s OK. We’re all about the joy of switching it up, and a non-traditional Thanksgiving calls for a non-traditional setting:

  • •Pack the car and have a Thanksgiving campout. Does it get any cozier than sharing what you’re thankful for around a campfire and under the stars? We don’t think so. Campfire roasted turkey, here we come (or if you’re ok ditching the turkey, this camp kitchen pesto halibut recipe never fails). Keep the rest of the setup easy with our tried-and-true camp hacks
  • •Host a driveway distanced BYO dinner. Supply the drinks and let everyone bring their own picnic. It’s a real win-win when everyone gets to eat exactly what they want.
  • •If you are set on keeping it traditional, the backyard is where it’s at. Twinkly lights and outdoor heating will set the mood, and if you live somewhere extra cold, make sure your dress code calls for warm, casual, comfortable, and soft (might we suggest the Flatlander fleece collection?). And if you’ve never dined in an igloo before, here’s your chance (yep). If it’s snowing and you’re in the mood to take things up a notch, here’s your guide to building one. Whatever route you take, al fresco is the name of the game when it comes to hosting Thanksgiving 2020.

 

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THE PEOPLE

You may not get to spend the holidays this year with your whole usual crew, but this year we’re giving thanks for technology (and our pets).

  • •Host a virtual pre-dinner cocktail hour or set up a computer at the table so you and the family can all enjoy your meals virtually together. For more interaction, plan a virtual scavenger hunt, trivia night, or cookie decorating contest.
  • •Make a collaborative holiday playlist that the whole family can contribute to, near and far.
  • •Take it old school and write good old fashioned letters and cards to those you’re missing this year. Everyone loves snail mail – so send ‘em a note as to why you’re thankful for them and what you’re looking most forward to about being together IRL next year. 

 

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So while Thanksgiving dinner is looking a little different, we’re seeing it as an opportunity to get creative, switch up the dinner menu, and spend a little extra time being thankful, even if it’s from afar. And who knows – maybe some of these alternative Thanksgiving traditions will stick for years to come. Bon appétit!

The Holiday Starter Pack

 

Well folks, it’s November. Tis the season for comfort food and flannels, lounging around, facing the elements, and knockin’ a few back with old friends. However you holiday, it’s time to belly up. We’re just here to get ya started. Here’s what you need to get your holiday season off to a running start.

Slow Cookin’ Tunes
It all starts with good food. But good food starts with a swingin’ kitchen. Keep the kitchen crew groovin’ with our Slow Cookin Tunes playlist – consider it food for the soul (without the dishes part). Add these to your holiday playlist:

Build Me Up, Buttercup – The Foundations
Mess Around – Ray Charles
Mashed Potato Love – Chubby Checker
Carolina Peach – The California Honeydrops
Country Pie –  Bob Dylan
Green Onions – Booker T. & The MG’s
Sweet Potato Pie – James Taylor
Spoonful – Etta james
All that Meat and No Potatoes – Louis Armstrong
Mack the Knife – Frank Sinatra
Tennessee Whiskey – Chris Stapleton
Tequila – The Champs

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Crowd Pleasing Recipes 
With the aforementioned tunes cranking, it’s hight time you got to perfecting that one recipe that you’ll come to be synonymous with. You can never go wrong with Baked Brie, Roasted Brussel Sprout Dip, or Ricotta Stuffed Figs. But if you’re feeling ambitious, do as Grandma would do and break out Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Pick one of Julia Child’s 524 recipes and get to chopping. Just make sure you have enough butter on hand.

Festive Flannels
Where there’s smoke, there’s flannel. Spend your nights by the fire wrapped in buttery soft flannel (we like the Flannagan and the Lightfoot) or face the elements with double-ply flannel – equally suited for the rigors of the trail or the tavern. Gentleman, you can’t go wrong with the Watchdog, known for it’s killer warmth-to-weight ratio. And for the ladies, the double layer Mojacette is known for it’s warmth-to-cute ratio. Pair with boots and a flask for tailgate parties or dinner at the in-laws.

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DIY Thank You Notes
The holidays are all about giving thanks – thanks for the invite, thanks for the gift, thanks for your unwavering friendship over all these years. So give thanks in your own way with homemade Thank You notes. Get a fun stamp and go to town on some colored paper, or buy local post cards and scribble down a note of thanks. It’s a tradition you’ll grow to appreciate when you’re on the receiving end. So spread the joy, the old-school way.

Hot-to-Trot Cocoa
The right kind of cocoa will put some hair on your chest. Some involve booze (lookin at you, El Dorado Hot Chocolate), some involve ancho chiles (thank you Mexican Hot Chocolate), and some involve a flask of peppermint schnapps and a to-go cup of Nestlé. And if you like your cocoa with a side of bourbon and bacon, well we’ll raise a glass to that.

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The Ultiamte Homemade Shotski
There are few things we love more than a great ski weekend – fresh pow, cozy nights, meaningful time with friends, and the hazy memories of the great shotski. And if you build it, they will come. Because friends don’t let friends shotski alone. Invest in a shotski now and it’ll serve you well  from first run of the season to the last run of spring. Here’s our tried and true guide on How To Build the Perfect Shotski.

“I’ll Have Seconds” Leggings 
The holidays are a marathon, not a sprint. So keep your joints limber and your spirits bright with stretchy, comfortable (yet still totally socially acceptable) leggings that are ready for morning yoga and family dinner. Here’s how we see our perfect holiday day: Wake up, lounge around, grab coffee with a friend, get in a walk or quick run, back to the house to whip up a side-dish, off to the family’s house for dinner, then spend the evening reminiscing about holidays past and present. One pair of leggings, endless possibilities.

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Deck O’ Cards
You know the uncle who always has a good joke and a fresh pack of cards? You could be that uncle. Brush up on a few knock-knock jokes and get yourself familiar with the basics – Rummy, Crazy Eights, Bridge, and Presidents. Bring some chips and watch grandma school the young’uns in a game of Texas Hold’em. Just remember the golden rule: The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket!

The Old Pigskin
Red nose, chapped lips, and the unbridled right to tackle your cousins are what holiday dreams are made of. Keep it civil, but by all means hash out family feuds with a rousing game of down home, Americana football. Keep your elbows in, keep your whits about you, and don’t forget to pass. Here’s a quick refresher on the rules so you don’t get too rowdy before dinner.

 

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Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake

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Andrew Scrivani for the New York Times

How does that old saying go, “Give Thanks, Bring Bourbon”? Maybe we’re getting our proverbs mixed up, but if it’s any excuse to make an Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake then we’ll take it. Here’s a Toad favorite, plucked from the New York Times and perfected around various Toad dinner tables. Happy Holidays, from our table to yours.

Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bourbon (we like Bulleit)
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and coarsely grated
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 lemon squeezed for juice

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a small bowl, combine 3 tbsp bourbon and the candied ginger. Let stand 10 minutes.
2. In a mixer, beat together the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
4. In another bowl (yes, 1 more bowl), whisk sour cream and vanilla. Pour in the bourbon & ginger mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in zest.
5. With the mixer on medium speed, add the dry mixture and sour cream mixture in three additions, alternating between the two. Fold in the ginger, apples and pecans.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is golden brown, about 1 hour 10 minutes (test by sticking a skewer into the cake, when it comes out dry it’s all done). Cool in the pan 20 minutes, then run a paring knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake; cool, flat side down, on a wire rack.
7. While the cake cools, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the rest of the bourbon in a small saucepan. Over low heat, gently stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the lemon juice and take off the heat.
8. Douse bundt cake with bourbon glaze and serve. Pairs well with whipped cream or ice cream, and a big helping of good company!

Easy As Pie: How To Lattice Pie Crust

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There’s something about a homemade pie that just makes you feel good. It smells divine, it’s always festive and even the “mistakes” are delicious. When it comes to spreading joy, it’s easy as pie. Everyone’s got a family pie recipe stashed in a book somewhere, but add your own twist with a lattice pie crust. Our friend at Luci’s Morsels breaks it down in just five simple steps.

  1. For a 9-inche pie, you need two pie crusts (store-bought or make your own). Roll out one crust and lay in the bottom of your pie dish. Fill with desired pie filling.
  2. Roll out second pie crust between two pieces of parchment or wax paper into a circle. Using a butter knife, slowly cut the dough into strips. The strips can be any size you want, but they MUST be the same size. Wider strips mean less weaving but smaller strips will really hit the lattice design home.
  3. Now the tricky part: Carefully lift the first strip with the back of your knife and lay across the side of your pie. Gently press one end into the bottom piecrust. Pick up strip two and lay at a ninety-degree angle to strip one. Gently press edge into bottom crust.
  4. Place the next strip parallel to strip one, about a half inch away. It should lay over the top of strip two. That’s the lattice! With each strip, alternate weaving it over and under the other strips, always at a 90-degree angle. It’s ok if the strips hang over the sides or begin to fall apart- it’s easy to patch.
  5. When you have all the strips woven over the pie, cut off extra dough and use remaining pieces to fill in. Pinch lattice strips into bottom pie crust. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the pie and bake according to the family recipe!

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