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Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Whether you've done that a lot over the years or this is your first time, we hope these planning-ahead tips will help you enjoy the holiday with less stress.

My first Thanksgiving of making pretty much the entire meal by myself (in our first small apartment), I was stressing out about how everything would be ready at the same time (seemed like so many things needed to be in the oven for different times and some at different temperatures). How was I going to make it all work?

My husband helped me sit down and make a list of all that I wanted to make, including cooking or baking times and temperatures, etc. Then we started working backwards and planning which items could be made ahead a day or two, what could be reheated easily after cooking earlier in the day or the night before, and which items could be in the oven at the same time. It worked so very well!

Except, of course, that I messed up the cornbread dressing that first year - misunderstood the handwritten recipe I had from my mom and put in a can of something instead of a cup of something, and ended up with dressing that came out fairly runny. But overall it was a great success and we enjoyed our meal; and I figured out why the dressing was messed up so I didn't make that mistake again -- a good life lesson, always learning from our mistakes.

So, here we go with three tips to make your special day easier.

1. Pies and desserts are the easiest thing to make a day or two in advance and check those off your to-do list early. Additionally, while made-from-scratch desserts are so good, taking shortcuts like using mixes or refrigerated pie crusts can definitely help make your life easier; give yourself some grace and take shortcuts when possible.

2. If you are making cornbread dressing, bake up the cornbread a couple of days beforehand, crumble it, and store in an airtight container until you are ready to use it. Chop up the other ingredients the night before as well.

3. Put your crockpot to use, especially if you are low on oven or stove space. Choose a potato, sweet potato, or green been casserole type dish that can be prepared in the crockpot instead of the oven on the big day.

Don't be afraid to delegate tasks that are not in your comfort zone. Ask others to bring part of the meal or hand off the table decor to another family member (or keep it simple with a tablecloth and a few votive candles or mini pumpkins).

For conversation around the dinner table, I love these printable Thanksgiving dinner conversation starters from The Pinning Mama (or search around the internet for other ideas). It's a fun thing to add to your traditions this year.

Grab your free downloadable printable complete Thanksgiving Dinner Planner with plan-ahead and make-ahead steps starting with the week before Thanksgiving, including full recipes, decorating tips, and detailed instructions to take the stress out of your Thanksgiving dinner and holiday weekend and take the stress out of your holiday.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dinner traditions (or maybe one of your most memorable Thanksgiving dinner fails)? I love hearing your stories!


It is better to give than to receive, and if you're looking for unique, inexpensive Christmas gifts you can make at home, we have 12 homemade Christmas gift ideas just for you (no sewing or baking required!).

While some DIY Christmas gifts may cause people to shudder and mumble "Oh ... thanks ... you made that!" with a stunned look on their face, these homemade gifts are sure to be a real hit with your family and friends.  (And scroll down to the end to see where to find free printable gift tags for your packages, as well!)

So, let's get started with these unique Christmas gift ideas:

1. Cranberry, Almond and Vanilla Granola  - This one is perfect for the holiday giving season since it can make a delicious quick breakfast or a simple, healthy snack to have on hand for last minute guests or famished children during their days home from school.

cranberry, almond and vanilla granola, homemade christmas gift, recipe

2. Play Dough - Mix up a few different colors of this recipe and package them in small air-tight containers for a whole family, stacked together for a colorful display; perfect for keeping kids (and creative adults) occupied during the holiday break.

homemade play dough, playdough, DIY recipe

3. Rosemary Lemon Salt Hand Scrub (by Mommie Again) -- mix some of this up to set out for guests during holiday events at the house and package up the extra to give as hostess gifts, or the perfect non-food gift for a friend. Four simple ingredients make up this blend: coarse sea salt, oil, rosemary essential oil and lemon essential oil.

rosemary lemon salt hand scrub by mommie again

4. Hot Chocolate Mix - put together this homemade dry mix (3 simple ingredients), place in a decorative jar or container, and attach a small label with simple directions for whipping the mix up into a nice glass of hot cocoa.

homemade hot chocolate mix, DIY christmas gifts, beverage recipe

5. Sweet Roasted Pecans - Roast some pecans with some sweet seasoning and tie them up with pretty ribbon in a clear gift bag for small personal treats, or a large bag for a hostess or family gift.

sweet roasted pecans, healthy snack recipe, party recipe

6. Hot Chocolate or Coffee Stirrers - make caramels or peppermint candies into delicious coffee or tea stirrers for a festive Christmas gift that's perfect for teachers and friends.

hot chocolate stirrers, caramel and peppermint stirrers, homemade foodie gifts, gift recipes, online recipe organizer


7. Seasoning Mixes for Cooking (including ItalianTaco, or Fajita -- Taco Seasoning shown below) - mix up a batch of a cooking seasoning mix that you know your family and friends will enjoy, store it in a fun air-tight container with a label suggesting how much to use for common recipes.  Eat healthier, cooking with seasonings that contain no additives!

homemade taco seasoning, spice mix recipe, seasoning recipe

8. Holiday Cookie Mix in a Jar - layer all the dry ingredients for these cookies (including some holiday M&M's) in a tall jar and label with instructions for adding the wet ingredients when ready to mix up a fresh batch of cookies.  Who wouldn't enjoy that, right?

holiday cookie mix, christmas gift, cookies in a jar, homemade gifts, DIY cookie mix, organizing recipes online


9. Pumpkin Spice Popcorn Trail Mix from Project Motherhood - because who couldn't use a healthy snack mix that's easy to have on hand for extra guests or unexpected visitors?  Fresh popped popcorn tossed with chocolate chips, almonds, and seasoned with a sprinkling of pumpkin spice latte mix.

pumpkin spice popcorn trail mix recipe, christmas gift idea, project motherhood nyc

10. Chocolate Pretzels - Use large pretzel sticks and dip into white or dark chocolate (or both) and then drizzle with some of both as well for a festive salty sweet snack or treat for the holidays.

chocolate covered pretzels, holiday gifts, edible gifts, foodie gifts, digital recipe organizer

11. Superfood Chocolate Bark - Dark chocolate with almonds and goji berries makes a healthy and delicious treat, a delightful Christmas gift for friends and family alike.

superfood chocolate bark recipe, almonds and goji berries, christmas gift idea


12. Vanilla Extract (including printable label for bottle) - make your own vanilla extract (it does take some time to cure completely) and make enough for friends, too, with this easy recipe!

vanilla extract recipe, printable label, DIY christmas gift idea,


No matter which homemade Christmas gift you choose to make, stop over at Homemade Gifts Made Easy and print out their free printable gift tags for your gifts!

Please leave us a comment below or on our Facebook or Twitter pages with your favorite homemade Christmas gift ideas or suggestions; we love hearing from you.

free checklist for stocking pantry, easy dinners


Be sure to grab your free Printable CheckList for Stocking the Pantry for Easy Meals (be ready at a moment's notice to whip up your next easy dinner with these simple ingredients on hand).

Lastly, remember to take a peek in the store and see if our Bamboo Cutting Board, Gift Subscription for a Dish Dish Pro account, or Digital Recipe Album could be the perfect gift for one of your loved ones this year!


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Dish Dish is excited to offer a great special discount on this Mother's Day gift - save 30% with code MOMSDAY.  Give Mom the unique gift of her own online cookbook account and recipe organizer, where she can digitize recipes, organize recipes online, and easily access them any time she needs them - at work, in the kitchen, while out shopping, planning meals or shopping lists, or visiting with friends.


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Wouldn't you love to help Mom take her cluttered recipe box or drawer (or her mom's recipe box) and convert it into a useful, searchable, easily accessible electronic online cookbook - eliminating clutter, being ecologically friendly by reducing paper use, and bringing a smile to her face every time she looks up one of her recipes and shares it so easily?  Send us 30 of her favorite recipes (just scan or take pictures of the recipes and email or fax) and we'll enter them for her to get things started!  (See what Dish Dish members are saying)


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Our Concierge Offer includes her pro account for one year as well as our beautiful bamboo cutting board (eco-friendly and naturally anti-bacterial), and we'll include a handmade Mother's Day card just for her.  Take advantage of this special offer for your Mom (or foodie friend) this Mother's Day!  Use code MOMSDAY and order soon to allow shipping time for the cutting board and card.


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Wishing our Moms a Happy Mother's Day - a blessed, joyful, relaxing day to recharge and enjoy!


vegetables, farmers market, healthy recipes, vegetarian recipesSomething about visiting the Farmers Market makes me feel like a little kid again.  I'm not sure why that is.  Perhaps walking amidst the wonder and color of all these beautiful fresh foods reminds me to delight in the simple things.  At the local farmers market there are people from farms, ranches, and dairies, along with local artisans with their homemade honey, salsas, pickles, cheeses, breads, and other wares.  Almost always, I find myself surprised by a treasured and unexpected find.

It is especially fun to visit farmers markets when traveling.  In Hawaii we visited one and had some delicious fresh pizza made in a brick pizza oven hauled on the back of a trailer by the owner.  The pizza was fabulous!  We also bought incredibly sweet pineapple and bananas to enjoy while exploring the island the rest of that day.

brick oven pizza, farmers market, Hawaii

In Waco, Texas, we saw a homemade robot, "playing" ball with some of the kids gathered around, as the builder and operator stood close by to facilitate.

Waco farmers market, robotics at farmers market, what makes a good farmers market

Sometimes there are even local musicians providing live music for the day or artists displaying their vibrant pieces for the crowd.

local musicians, farmers market, band plays at farmers market

All in all, the farmers market is a wonderful place to visit for so many reasons.  Enjoy getting outside, breathing the fresh air, spending time walking and chatting with friends or family, and purchasing some delicious items for your favorite recipes, all in a relaxing al fresco environment. And while you're there, be sure to pick up some fresh local vegetables (like sweet corngreen beanscarrotsbeetssweet potatoes) and fruits (like strawberries or blackberries) for your meals that week, along with some eggs, meat, honey, fresh herbs, flowers or plants.

If you're not sure of the location of a farmers market in your area, check out Local Harvest and see if they have your local farmers markets listed.  Be sure to check the dates for the farmers market, since many are seasonal markets or only open on certain days of the week.  In the Dallas / Fort Worth area, we have an abundance of farmers markets to choose from.  Of course, the largest is the Dallas Farmers Market in downtown Dallas (open daily year round), but there are many other fabulous options (including these in no particular order):

1. Little Elm Farmers Market
(Saturdays 8am - Noon, early May through mid October)

2. Denton Community Market
(Saturdays 9am - 1pm, early April through November)

3. Coppell Farmers Market
(Saturdays 8am - Noon)

4. The Marketplace Mesquite
(every 2nd Saturday, April through September)

5. Keller Farmers Market
(Saturdays 8am - Noon, May through October)

6. Cowtown Farmers Market
(Saturdays 8am - Noon year round; Wednesday 8am - Noon, June through September)

7. McKinney Farmers Market at Chestnut Square and Adriatica
(Sat. & Thurs. 8am - noon, early April through early October)

8. Rosemeade Market & Greenhouse in Carrollton
(Mon - Sat. 8am to 7pm; Sun 9am to 6pm, year round)

9. St. Michael's Farmers Market in Dallas
(Saturday 8am - Noon, starting early April)

10. Grapevine Farmers Market
(Thursday through Saturday, 8am - 4pm, early April to mid October)


What is your favorite farmers market and what do you think makes it a good one? What is your favorite thing about visiting the farmers market? We'd love to hear from you about your experiences, too!

Remember that you can save all your favorite healthy recipes right here at Dish Dish in your own online cookbook account - so you can find them easily next time and share them with your friends!


It’s the gift giving season once again.  Are you having trouble deciding on which gifts to purchase this holiday season?  See our 5 top edible holiday gifts, perfect for making yourself and giving as gifts for neighbors, teachers, community volunteers, or even friends and family!

These edible gifts are so easy to make, require only a few, simple ingredients, and can be made in large volumes so you can give generously this year.  Making edible holiday gifts especially makes sense if you’re on a tight budget and looking for ways to rein in the spending.

homemade hot chocolate mix, edible holiday gifts, foodie gifts, holiday mixes, gift in a jar, mix in a jar, online cookbook 1. Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
Super easy and inexpensive – include a tag with the printed recipe and directions for the gift recipient.

•  3-1/2 cups sugar
•  2-1/4 cups cocoa
•  1 tablespoon table salt

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except milk, and use a whisk to stir and mix well.  Store the mixture in an airtight container until ready to share.

Fill a decorative lidded jar with the mix, wrap with a ribbon and attach a tag with the printed directions for mixing up a cup of hot cocoa.


hot chocolate stirrers, caramel and peppermint stirrers, homemade foodie gifts, gift recipes, online recipe organizer2. Hot Chocolate or Coffee Stirrers
Make a batch of these and tie with pretty ribbon or string for a delightful gift.

•  18 hot drink straws or stirrers (found near coffee filters in the store, usually)
•  9 peppermint swirl candies
•  9 wrapped caramels
•  parchment paper and cooking spray (for baking)

For peppermint stirrers: Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.  Heat oven to 300 degrees F.  Unwrap candies and stagger 8-10 peppermint candies on the baking sheet (don’t bake too many at use or they’ll cool before you can get them on a stick).  Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven; stick straw ends into candy using a twisting motion.  Let cool completely, and then peel off the baking sheet.

For the caramel stirrers, simply press one caramel onto the each of each straw.

Wrap the stirrers individually (or in pairs) in a small plastic food bag or plastic wrap and tie with a ribbon or string.  Voila! Ready for giving.


close up of chocolate covered pretzels wrapped in gift bag, foodie gifts, edible holiday gifts, DIY food gifts, online recipe organizer3. Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
These take only a few minutes and look like you spent all afternoon.

•  thick pretzel sticks
•  white melting chocolate
•  dark melting chocolate
•  wax paper

1. In separate bowls, melt both the white chocolate and the dark chocolate in the microwave (in 30 to 60 second bursts, so you don’t burn it, stirring in between).  Spread some wax paper out on the cabinet or a baking sheet.

2. Dip some of the pretzel sticks into the white chocolate and lay on wax paper to harden; dip some in the dark chocolate and lay on wax paper to harden.

3. After a couple of minutes (as soon as chocolate appears to be setting), use a fork to drizzle some of the white chocolate over the dark chocolate pretzels and vice versa, for a colorful and festive look.  Once chocolate has completely cooled and set, pick up pretzels, wrap in a plastic foodie gift bag, and tie with colorful ribbon for a quick, easy, delicious gift.


holiday cookie mix, foodie gift, cookies in a jar, homemade gifts, DIY cookie mix, organizing recipes online4. Holiday Cookie Mix in a Jar
Press this mix into a jar and cover with a decorated lid for a festive gift with attached baking instructions.

•  One 2-quart glass jar
•  2-3/4 cups flour
•  1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
•  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•  1/2 teaspoon salt
•  1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
•  1 cup packed light brown sugar
•  1 cup granulated sugar
•  1 cup milk chocolate chips
•  1 cup white chocolate chips
•  1 cup red and green M&M’s mini’s

1. Combine 1 and 3/4 cups of flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.  Combine the cocoa with remaining cup of flour.

2. Pour half of flour-cocoa mixture into jar; press down firmly.  Add half of plain flour mixture and press down.  Repeat this step.

3. Top with brown sugar and then granulated sugar; pressing down each layer.  Top off with chocolate chips and M&M’s.

4. Print baking directions to attach: Blend 2 sticks melted and cooled unsalted butter with 3 eggs, 1/3 cup milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  Stir in cookie mix until well blended.  Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until firm.


sweet roasted pecans, seasoned pecans, pecan recipes, holiday gifts, recipe organizer app5. Sweet Roasted Pecans (or Walnuts)
Toast up these nuts with sweet seasonings and package nicely for family and friends this holiday season.

•  2 egg whites
•  1 tablespoon vanilla
•  2-1/4 cups pecan (or walnut) halves
•  1/4 cup white sugar
•  1/4 cup brown sugar
•  1/4 teaspoon salt
•  1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.  Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a small bowl, combine egg white and vanilla; beat until fluffy.  Fold in nuts and coat them evenly.

3. Combine sugars, salt and cinnamon in a lidded shaker or cup; dust nuts evenly with sugar mixture and spread nuts on prepared pan.

4. Bake until toasted and fragrant, stirring every 15 minutes, for about 1 hour.  Cool on pan, then store in airtight container.


You might also want to try these other ideas –  homemade seasonings and rubsinfused vinegars, or some of these popular breads.

Please leave us a comment with your own thoughts, ideas, or suggestions.  We love to hear what you like to make or would prefer to receive.  And remember to save all your favorite recipes along with photos here at Dish Dish in your own online cookbook account.


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Did you know that in 2011 there were 16.5 million children living in households in the US where food was considered insecure?  That same year more than 6 million households received food from a food pantry at least once, and over 36 million children were enrolled in The National School Lunch Program funded by the U.S. Government.  These children and families were hungry; children also then struggled in school, having difficulty concentrating in classes and missing many days due to sickness.  What can you do?

Help us this week (through Saturday, February 8) raise funds for US Hunger as they provide meals across this country for families struggling to put food on the table each day.  Together we can be part of the solution!  In their first year of existence, US Hunger sent over seven millions meals across the country to help hungry families, recognizing and meeting the real need right here at home.

Dish Dish is donating 15% of all sales this week to US Hunger in an effort to help feed children across the country, meeting a need and being part of a solution for children who would go hungry otherwise.

Purchase our Eco-Friendly Bamboo Cutting Board    OR     Sign up for a Pro Account
with Dish Dish (Your Online Family Cookbook) this week and be a Part of the Solution!