Serve up engaging content this holiday season

By J.M. Hirsch

As part of our lifestyles content, our food editor offers recipe advice and suggestions for what to bring to your neighbor’s party this holiday season.

Editor’s note: Find more tips in our lifestyles coverage, which invites audiences to celebrate family and friends with food recipes, travel destinations and more.

1. Are there any food trends this holiday season?

This might be the year folks give up on the wet brine. It’s a pain, it’s a mess and it takes up a ton of space. This year, I hear more people talking about using a dry brine (rubbing the turkeys with a seasoned salt mix, then refrigerating it for 24 to 48 hours). It’s easier, less messy and more effective.

2. What are some of your favorite dishes?

Last year, I roasted baby carrots for Thanksgiving, then served them topped with raisins soaked in port and a spicy-peanut herb sauce. I also did a 100-layer (only slightly exaggerated) roasted sweet potato-squash-onion tart. I’m slightly obsessive about the cranberry sauce. This year, I’m doing this crazy-good bacon-spiked version.

3. Anything shoppers should stock up on ahead of the big meal?

Fear not. There will be plenty of turkeys and cans of pumpkin available. Despite the anxiety on social media, there is no real shortage of either. Do make sure you buy your turkey early enough to let it thaw (if needed) and brine (if you’re doing it). And it’s always great to pick up cranberries early. The sauce can be made a few weeks in advance, then frozen — one less thing to worry about as you get closer to the holiday.

4. If I’m going to a friend’s house, what’s something not too boring I could bring?

The No. 1 rule about bringing food as a guest (particularly to a big holiday meal) is to never bring something that will hog oven space. The best thing you can do is bring some sort of appetizer, something that can be prepped and served at room temperature. Try this easy starter: Separate several endive bulbs into individual leaves (which resemble small boats). Arrange them on a platter, then fill each with a cooked and peeled shrimp (cold), a grapefruit segment (or a chunk of cooked bacon) and a dollop of guacamole (purchased is fine). If you like some heat, add a sliver of jalapeno.

J.M. Hirsch

J.M. is the food editor for The Associated Press and has written three books, including "Beating the Lunch Box Blues."

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