It’s the start of the holiday hustle, so let’s talk about the ever-so-elusive goal of managing expectations. Whether you are a guest, host or innocent bystander, keeping spirits high while checking off the mile-long to-do list can be overwhelming at best. That’s why we enlisted cook-like-a-pro badass Elana Horwich to prep us for the weeks ahead—basically, how to heat up the kitchen without losing our cool. She let us in on a few secrets on how not to stress and—get this—actually relish the hosting, cooking, holiday-ing this season brings.

With a culinary background that spans the world, Elana founded a cooking school with a mission to teach people how to make phenomenal food, easily. All week we’re sharing the ultimate guide to a healthy, easy Thanksgiving starting with Elana’s tips below and including a full spectrum of recipes—turkey included. Elana is a master entertainer, and author of the cookbook Meal and a Speil: How to be a Badass in the Kitchen, which pretty much says it all. Start here and come back throughout the week as we share the perfect Thanksgiving menu A-Z…

Every year, for years, I have taught a sold-out Thanksgiving cooking class and fielded the 300+ questions and concerns my cooking students have about preparing food for this holy hungry of holidays. Surprisingly, or rather not surprisingly, the most common questions are not about how to make the best food possible for this feast. (And, yes, that’s essential. One hundred percent.)

The biggest concerns are about how to prepare the feast while not having an anxiety attack from the stress of having to cook so many different dishes for the people you care about—and inevitably want to impress—in your home.

Is it possible to have all the dishes ready to eat at the same time without popping a Xanax or yelling curse words in front of children in the midst of it all? Is it possible that one could not only not stress while making Thanksgiving dinner, but actually enjoy the process? Is it possible for someone with little kitchen confidence or even little kitchen experience to rock Thanksgiving dinner like a badass? Yes, it is!

How To Plan + Host A Holiday Meal In Your Home
(While Actually Enjoying It)

How, you ask? Here are a few ground rules to guide you:

Choose the right recipes | You need to seek out delicious recipes that offer the maximum amount of lusciousness with the least amount of labor. No whipping egg whites to form stiff peaks. No basting turkey every 30 minutes for six hours straight. No peeling vegetables endlessly. And kudos to you, you have already come across a bunch of healthy, vibrant and approachable recipes shared right here with you.

Give yourself time | Though my goal as a cooking teacher is to empower people to walk into the house and whip up a meal in 20 minutes with what they find in the kitchen the way Italians do, Thanksgiving is a different beast. It’s a full-on feast. The key to enjoying yourself is to not do it all in one go. Rather, do a little bit each day in the days before the holiday. Leisure cooking is the name of the game.

Don’t pressure yourself | Thanksgiving is about gratitude, sharing intimacy with family and friends, and catching up in the cozy warmth of a home. There is no need to cook a whole feast by yourself, especially if you don’t have time to take the leisurely route. Call for a potluck or ask family members to help out in the days before. Ultimately, it’s better to serve less food and feel good about it than to overextend yourself and answer the door in a frenzy. I don’t have a recipe for this, however—only you can decide what you should take on. But please know, you have my expert culinary permission to take it very easy on yourself.

add The Secret Ingredient | The most important ingredient to use on Thanksgiving—besides enough olive oil and kosher salt—is not turkey. It’s not cranberries. It’s not sage or rosemary. It’s love. Cook with your heart. This adds the best flavor, one that will be unmistakably appreciated by all.

Stay tuned! All week, we’ll be sharing recipes and advice from Elana
for the ultimate healthy, simple Thanksgiving. 

From our friends


  1. This is such a great piece with such fantastic tips on entertaining! So why is it so wrong that all I can think about is “where did Elana Horwich find that glorious leather blouse?!

    JoAbbs | 11.20.2019 | Reply

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