The Secrets & Recipes to My Friendsgiving Celebrations!

The Secrets & Recipes to My Friendsgiving Celebrations!
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molly sims friendsgiving

© Sterling Tyler Photography

As a southern girl from Murray, Kentucky who lives in Los Angeles, I love, love, love that I have the chance to enjoy Thanksgiving twice - once with my family and once with my friends, for Friendsgiving! I'm OB-sessed with planning parties, cooking up healthy but delicious meals for my friends, and hosting everyone at my house. In the spirit of celebration, I pulled together some of my fav, fav, fav tips and tricks for pulling off a perfect Friendsgiving, as well as the go-to recipes that I'll be cooking up for my party this year.

  1. Create a dish inspired by each guest or couple. For example, my good friend Kishani is a vegetarian, and when she comes for Friendsgiving I always make sure there are “veggie” options she can enjoy! Our favorite dishes are my sweet potato coconut pecan casserole or my honey-roasted carrot and quinoa salad.
  2. I like to host a casual, family-style Friendsgiving right after Thanksgiving Day and serve leftover sliced turkey with a spicy cranberry salad that is my spin on the traditional staple.
  3. No southern girl can enjoy the holidays without a gooey potato dish. One of my favorite things to do is create a mini mashed potato bar. Pick crowd-pleasing toppings like fresh chives, shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, fried onions, sour cream, and steamed broccoli.
  4. Now that my adorable son Brooks is part of the celebration, I love to get the kids involved in the day’s festivities. Create a scavenger hunt and have the little ones retrieve holiday- themed items to fill a cornucopia. Have older kids set the table or package up desserts to go.
  5. Stick with two to three food-friendly wines to place on the table rather than focusing on specific wine pairings. I love to serve Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Both wines are table essentials that complement everything from turkey to savory sides. If you have a large group, pick up Woodbridge 1.5 liter bottles. They’re fun, easy, and generous!
  6. There is no better holiday scent than a warm, spicy batch of mulled wine filling up the room! I use an approachable red wine like Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir that is “multi-purpose” and can also be poured with dinner.
  7. Forget pumpkin pie this year! I recently tried a fantastic recipe for pumpkin spice brownies that highlight two of my favorite holiday flavors—chocolate and pumpkin. I’ll be baking batches to gift my Friendsgiving guests!

molly sims friendsgiving mulled wine

Mulled Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 nutmeg pod
  • 3 allspice corns, whole
  • 3 cloves, whole
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut down the center
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise, whole
  • 1⁄4 cup blue agave syrup
  • 1 bottle Woodbridge Pinot Noir
  • Orange peel for garnish

Cooking Directions

Place the spices in a sachet. Pour the bottle of wine into a large saucepan and add the sachet and agave syrup. Bring to a low boil, then reduce to a quiet simmer. Let the mixture simmer for 5 additional minutes. Serve in glass mugs or teacups, and garnish with a twist of orange peel and a cinnamon stick.

Sweet Potato Coconut Pecan Casserole

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes (6 medium)
  • 1⁄2 cup orange juice
  • 1⁄5 cup light brown sugar
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 1⁄2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1⁄3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Cooking Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 1 1⁄2-quart baking dish. Pierce potatoes a few times with a knife. Place potatoes on paper towels in microwave. Microwave on high until very soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slit potatoes and scoop pulp into a bowl. Add orange juice, brown sugar, ginger, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and the salt. Mash until smooth. Spoon into baking dish. In a small bowl, using your fingers, mix remaining 1 1⁄2 tablespoons butter, coconut flakes, pecans, and flour until blended. Sprinkle over top of sweet potatoes. Bake 30 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and potatoes are hot.

molly sims friendsgiving table

Honey-Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine-mesh sieve
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil plus more for baking sheet
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium carrots (about 1⁄2 pound) peeled, thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 cup pickled beets, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 head butter lettuce, leaves torn, or a few handfuls of fresh arugula (optional)
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 cup pickled beets, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 head butter lettuce, leaves torn, or a few handfuls of fresh arugula (optional)
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes (optional)

Cooking Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook quinoa according to package directions, until tender. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl; let cool. Lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with oil. Whisk cider and honey in a large bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add carrots and toss to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, spreading into a single layer, and roast until tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Whisk vinegar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in 1⁄4 cup oil until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add beets, dill, carrots, and half of vinaigrette to quinoa mixture, toss to coat, and serve. Optional serving idea: Arrange lettuce among serving bowls, top with quinoa mixture and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Top with mozzarella cubes, if desired.

molly sims friendsgiving brownies

Pumpkin Spice Brownies

Ingredients

  • 3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 3⁄4 cup butter, melted
  • 2⁄3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1⁄2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1⁄2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cooking Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8"x 8" baking dish. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, stir together butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix in eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour mixture; stir to combine evenly. Divide batter into two bowls. Into one bowl, blend cocoa powder and chocolate chips. In second bowl, stir in pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, cream cheese, nuts, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Spread 1⁄2 of chocolate batter into bottom of baking dish. Follow with 1⁄2 of pumpkin batter. Repeat layers, ending with a pumpkin layer. Gently pull a long kitchen knife or skewer through the layers in a wavy motion to create a marbled pattern. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool brownies in pan on a baking rack.

Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.