By Kate Horning


Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year. It’s the holiday that’s all about food, family and savoring quality time with those you love the most. And while I love spending my time in the kitchen preparing a delicious meal, I’ve discovered that with a little planning and prep I can enjoy both my time in the kitchen as well as the time with my guests.

Kate Horning is a millennial entrepreneur, healthy living chef and author of Healthy Living Redefined: Live it. Share it. This month, she is sharing her tips and recipes for holiday entertaining. 

The more the Merrier

Don't worry about over crowding the table. A table full of festive decor will impress your guests!

Dust off the China

Use your best dinnerwear! That's why you have it. It will be a little extra work to hand wash, but the wow factor will be worth it. 

Make a Game Plan

Write out your menu in advance and know exactly what ingredients you need and how much time is required. 

Lay our all of your serving platters so you know each dish has a match. 

Don't be afraid to cut corners on prep. Pick up a pre-chopped butternut squash or pre-season nuts to save time. 

Think about what can be prepared in advance and re-heated to help reduce the day-of mess. 

Incorporate all the Senses

Create lasting memories by intoxicating your guests with the scent, sight, taste and sound of a memorable gathering. The smell of a pumpkin spice candle and yummy warm dishes will keep them wanting more. Set the mood with the perfect lighting and fl ickering candles. Plus, your festive decor will be a sight for sore eyes. Turn on the tunes to set the mood and get the party started. You will have  taste covered with these fabulous dishes.

1. Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries + Pecans

2. Quinoa Stu ed Acorn Squash

3. Bacon Butternut Squash Gratin

Set the Bar High

Set up a bar space with plenty of cocktail options (and non alcoholic beverages too!) so guests can help themselves. 

Line up glasses, cocktail napkins, and ice so everything they need is at their fingertips. That way, you don't have to wait on your guests. 

Shop Local

The holiday season is a great time of year to support local business owners. When your guests ask where your purchased your festive decor, you can send them over to your favorite local shop. 


Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash (serves 4-8)

Perfect as a vegetarian main or group side, sweet roasted acorn squash is filled with a savory stuffing of quinoa, carrots, walnuts, mushrooms, and fresh herbs. Loaded with a variety of classic flavors and textures this dish will satisfy veggie and meat lovers alike!  {vegetarian. gluten free}


2 Carrots
2 Acorn Squash 
1 Red Onion
1/2 cup Quinoa
Poultry Blend of herbs 
1/4 cup Walnuts
1/2 bunch Celery
.5 lb Cremini Mushrooms
2 clove Garlic 

Olive Oil
Celtic Salt
Black Pepper
Red Pepper
1/2 Veggie Stock Cube 

Baking Sheet
Parchment Paper
Pot or Rice Cooker
Cutting Board



  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds and place each half on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with Celtic salt and black pepper, flip over so the cut side is down and slide into the oven for 35-40 minutes until tender.

  2. Add 1/2 cup of quinoa to a rice cooker with 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 veggie stock cube. If cooking the quinoa on the stovetop bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add 1/2 veggie stock cube and 1/2 cup of quinoa, simmer for 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. 

  3. Dice the onion, carrot, celery and thinly slice the garlic, add to a skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of Celtic salt and red pepper flakes. Cook for 10 minutes stirring often until the onion is translucent. 

  4. Remove the thyme and rosemary from the stem, add the sage and roughly chop the herbs, measure out about 1/4 cup and set aside. 

  5. Thinly slice the mushrooms and add them into the skillet with another drizzle of olive oil and a small pinch of Celtic salt. Cook for 4-5 more minutes until the mushrooms are soft.

  6. Turn off the heat and stir in chopped walnuts and herbs. Add the cooked quinoa, taste and adjust seasonings. Take the squash and flip them cut side up, fill with the stuffing and pop into the oven for 10-15 minutes to crisp up the top. Drizzle with olive oil and serve! 

Estimated Time: 1 hour. 30 Minutes Active 

Prep Ahead: Make the quinoa filling up to 5 days in advance and just stuff the squash and bake off before serving.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries + Pecans (serves 4-6)

A super-simple side dish that is easy to prep ahead and cooks in minutes on the stovetop, these Brussels sprouts are like nothing you've ever had before. Thinly sliced and sautéed with fresh ginger and garlic and then finished off with sweet cranberries and crunchy cinnamon pecans even the staunchest Brussels sprout hater will be coming back for more! 


1 lb Brussels Sprouts
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries 
1/4 cup Pecans
1 " Ginger
3 Garlic cloves   

Olive Oil
Celtic Salt
Red Pepper Flakes  

Cutting Board



  1. Halve each Brussels sprout. Hold at the stem-end and thinly slice each half to create tiny ribbons. Thinly slice the garlic and ginger and add everything to a skillet. 

  2. Heat the skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of Celtic Salt and red pepper flakes.  

  3.  Cook for 6-8 minutes adding a little drizzle of olive oil at a time every couple of minutes.

  4. Roughly chop the pecans and add them and the cranberries to the skillet with the Brussels sprouts. 

  5. Cook for another minute to warm the cranberries through and toast the pecans. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve! 

Prep Ahead: This dish can be prepared in advance and warmed in the oven or, if you want to speed up the process, slice the Brussels sprouts, ginger and garlic up to 2 days in advance and store in an airtight container.      

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

Bacon Butternut Squash Gratin

One of our favorite dishes on the holiday menu, get ready to wow your guests with this gorgeous gratin. A combination of sweet butternut squash, caramelized onion, lemony thyme and melty Gruyère cheese come together for the one side we can guarantee will disappear in minutes! 


1 Butternut Squash
1 Yellow Onion
4 oz Gruyère Cheese
½ cup Breadcrumbs
2 Garlic cloves

Olive Oil
Celtic Salt
Red Pepper Flakes
Kerrygold Butter
Veggie Stock Cube 

Cutting Board
Baking Dish
Vegetable Peeler



  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel and set aside. Thinly slice the onion and add it to a skillet over medium heat with the bacon grease and a pinch of Celtic Salt and red pepper flakes. Cook for 12 minutes until the onion becomes tender and almost caramelized. Set 1 tbsp of Kerrygold butter out to soften. 
  2. In the meantime, peel and dice the squash into small cubes. Once the onion has cooked down, add the squash to the skillet. Thinly slice the garlic and add that in as well. Add another drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of Celtic Salt and red pepper flakes to season. Cook for 5-6 minutes and transfer to a baking dish. 
  3. Add 1/2 of a veggie stock cube and 1/2 cup of water to the pan that contained the squash and onions. Warm to dissolve the cube and pour over the squash. Cover with foil and bake the squash for 30 minutes. 
  4. While the squash is baking, add ½ cup of bread crumbs to a bowl. Remove 2 tbsp of thyme from the stem and add 1 tbsp of softened Kerrygold butter and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir in the thyme and grate the cheese into the bowl as well. Toss everything to combine. 
  5. Once the squash has baked for 30 minutes, remove the foil and pour the breadcrumb topping over. Drizzle with olive oil and pop back into the oven for 10-15 more minutes to brown up the top. Garnish with remaining thyme, sprinkle with chopped bacon and serve! 

Prep Ahead: The squash/onion mixture can be prepped in advance and baked up to 2 days ahead of time – just add the breadcrumb mixture and bake right before serving. If you're doing the whole thing in advance, warm in the oven or bring to room temperature and broil. 

Estimated Time: 45 minutes (20 minutes active)

Candied Ginger Cookies


2 ¼ c whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1.5 T ground flax + 4 tbsp warm water
1 1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger
raw cane sugar, for rolling the cookies

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. Beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses in a large bowl for 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the flax egg, and beat for another minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined. Stir in crystallized ginger and portion out dough with a cookie scoop. Flatten slightly and roll in sugar to coat, place on a baking sheet and bake for 9.5-10 minutes in a preheated oven. Let cool at least 2 minutes before serving!