This post is written in partnership with The Spice Hunter.
Holiday gatherings will most likely be smaller this year, and our tried and true traditions may look different ... yet no less memorable.
We're thankful to toast with our close family (and FaceTime with those not so close), enjoy our favorite meals, and celebrate with familiar–and new–traditions alike.
So this season, let's not just muddle through: let's elevate the holidays at home. From trying new flavors and recipes to closing our eyes and momentarily escaping to exotic locales, join us as we cook, share, imbibe and toast to the good things ahead.
Make One Small Change
Doing it up for the big holiday meal need not mean big changes. In fact, making one small tweak can transform a so-so turkey or a good-enough pie into a real holiday MVP.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to take things up a notch:
- Citrus: Brighten and lighten things up this year with fresh, fragrant citrus! Make a beautiful green salad with sliced oranges or grapefruit, add fresh orange zest to your pie crust or pastries, or give your Brussels sprouts a squeeze of lemon juice as they come out of the oven.
- Turkey Brine: Break out the Spice Hunter's Original Turkey Brine to guarantee a memorable bird. It's a savory blend of fragrant fruit and rosemary, and is your ticket to a super tender, moist and flavorful turkey.
- Brown Butter: Once you've tried brown butter, you may never go back. And if you loved pie, cornbread, and stuffing made with regular butter, you're going to really love them with brown butter. The game plan? Simply brown your butter and swap it in for the melted butter called for in your pie filling, cornbread, mashed potato, and stuffing recipes!
Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Pulling off the holiday meal can feel daunting enough at times, so most of us get in a groove and stick with what we know.
But if there were ever a year to shake things up, it'd be this year. Maybe you go the non-traditional route and serve Texas-style barbecue or Korean Bibimbap. Or maybe you decide to try a new spice in a favorite dish, like this Dalmatian Sage, which perks up turkey, veggies, stuffing and sides. It's a bit more mild than many varieties of dried sage, so it won't be off-putting for young or picky palettes. Win/win!
Opt for Fresh
One great tip to ensure your holidays will be as flavorful and delicious as they deserve to be is to do a quick audit of your spice drawer. Toss expired spices, and replace any that are running quite low or that you know have been taking up valuable real estate for awhile (remember, the longer they sit on the shelf the less fragrant and flavorful they'll be!)
In addition to dried spices, fresh herbs make a huge difference when pulling off the holiday meal. Chop fresh rosemary for the bird, parsley for the stuffing, and fresh thyme for the green beans.
Let Your Senses Guide You
While we can't travel this holiday like we could in year's past, we can still transport ourselves to the fields of Madagascar or the roads of Saigon thanks to The Spice Hunter. Their vanilla extract is a must for all your seasonal baking–it's super fragrant and makes the house smell like a dream.
Cinnamon is another holiday baking mainstay and Saigon cinnamon, in particular, wins our heart for its sweet and slightly spicy flavor. From morning cinnamon rolls to mincemeat pie, this special spice gives your favorite recipes a worldly, exotic spin with a simple shake of the bottle.
Treat Yourself ... And Your Home
While we often think about others during this season of giving and sharing, carving out a moment just for ourselves is the gift many of us really want.
And to maximize that moment, put a little pot of Mulling Spices on the stove to simmer. Featuring cinnamon, orange rind, allspice and cloves nothing says holidays at home quite like this aromatic blend.
To cap off an evening of celebrating, Hot Buttered Rum always hits the spot (and can be easily made without the rum for those not imbibing). Featuring brown sugar and warm spices, it's great on its own or added to your apple pie or morning french toast for a flavor boost.
Now ... Really Treat Yourself
Lucky for us, The Spice Hunter is extending a great offer to further inspire our readers to pick up a few things for the holiday season. Enjoy 25% off and free shipping with orders over $25 by using code SIMPLYRECIPES25 at checkout (offer expires 12/31/20).