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The Basics to Making Really Easy Dumplings: Birchbox Test Kitchen

You miiiight have noticed by now that Birchbox staffers have an ever-so-slight obsession with food, from colorful (and totally yummy) vegetables to delicious smoothies. Which is why we’ve enlisted our in-house recipe guru Nicole to divulge her kitchen secrets each week, sharing seasonal ingredients, must-have tools, and new cooking methods. 

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I’m not an expert on Chinese dumplings, unless you count that I eat them en masse. Nevertheless, with a chill in the air and Chinese New Year just passed, I thought it would be fun to throw a dumpling party. What better way to entertain friends and keep them warm and full on a winter evening? A little research also told me that the dumpling’s half-moon shape (which resembles ancient currency) is rumored to bring prosperity. Prosperity, good for groups, and addictively delicious? Sign me up! 

But where is an enthusiast to learn the ropes? After a little sleuth-work, I found a local cooking class that tackled dumpling basics. And you know what I learned in the 2 hour class? 

This is easy.

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Sophisticated Appetizers in 5 Simple Steps: Birchbox Test Kitchen

You miiiight have noticed by now that Birchbox staffers have an ever-so-slight obsession with food, from colorful (and totally yummy) vegetables to delicious smoothies. Which is why we’ve enlisted our in-house recipe guru Nicole to divulge her kitchen secrets each week, sharing seasonal ingredients, must-have tools, and new cooking methods. 

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Whatever the occasion—say, an upcoming Oscars party this weekend—appetizers are a delicious and fun way to introduce your guests to the wonderland that will be your dinner party. Plus, since apps are a communal finger food, they handily help encourage guests to become familiar with one another while you put the finishing touches on the next course, refill drinks or adjust your iTunes party playlist.

Whether you’re the kind of person who throws dinner parties every weekend, or if you’re only in the kitchen for a special event, we can all agree that no one wants to be caught without a go-to recipe for a sudden small gathering.

Not to fear! Below are two amazing appetizers that you can pull together in 5 easy steps—all you need are basic ingredients that are easy to procure from any grocer. One’s creamy and one’s salty, so these dishes perfectly complement each other and look pretty when plated together when served in something like this elegant Core Bamboo Entertaining Set. Click through for Nicole’s recipes!

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Entertaining Expert Carlo Geraci on How to Host a Soup-er Bowl

Entertaining expert Carlo Geraci from Carlo Says…, has already told us how to throw the perfect baby shower and set the perfect musical mood; now he’s helping us break out of the wings-and-nachos Superbowl mold. (Not that there’s anything wrong with wings and nachos, of course.) Read on for his original take on game day food—just in time for this year’s big football face-off.

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My Aunt Rena in California has been the ringmaster for all of our family get togethers over the years, with the most famous event being her Soup-er Bowl party.

While Soup-er Bowl Parties usually take place the weekend before the big game, I think it’s a fantastic idea for halftime entertainment. The game plan is simple: each guests brings a homemade soup, either a recipe that has been in their repertoire for years or a new one they’ve been eager to try. After sampling all the recipes, you crown a winner. 

At Chez Carlo this past weekend, my good friend Dickie Baker brought his acclaimed French Onion Soup. I made Brussels Sprout Soup with Mimolette Cheese (recipe included below), Lawrence Treglia made a very healthy Tuscan Vegetable Soup, and Colleen Quinn decided to try out a new recipe for Mushroom Bisque. Not only was Colleen’s soup sublime, but also the winner of the coveted golden ladle and a gift certificate to A Cook’s Companion, one of my favorite local cooking supply stores. Click through for instructions on throwing your own Soup Soiree or Soup-er Bowl Party!

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Easy Pantry Upgrades + a Deliciously Simple Holiday Appetizer From Chef Sara Jenkins

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Ever since I got an iPad a couple years ago, it’s become my favorite cooking companion. (Don’t worry—I got a screen protector to keep it safe from doughy fingerprints and rogue sauce splashes.) I love the combination of big, gorgeous pictures, easy-to-read recipes, and useful interactive elements like videos and ingredient glossaries. 

The latest addition to my library is New Italian Pantry by chef Sara Jenkins, who is known for cooking incredibly delicious rustic Italian food at her restaurants Porchetta, Porsena, and Porsena Extra. Her brand-new cookbook is designed to hand-hold you through the process of optimizing your pantry, beginning with a guide to 16 ingredients that you should have on hand at all times. Once you’ve stocked your kitchen, you’re ready for the recipes: 75 dishes that are both accessible and inspiring—think garlicky bagna cauda with fresh farmer’s market veggies or an at-home version of her famous porchetta. Click through for my two favorite tips and a speedy appetizer to make this holiday season.

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What’s Inside the Birchbox Home Box: Courtesy of Editorial Director Mollie Chen

As you’ve probably seen, we’re super-duper excited about our brand new Limited Edition Home box and pop up shop. The box itself is packed full of cute essentials for entertaining, along with fabulous little luxuries like truffle salt to turn any dish gourmet and a home fragrance that you’ll be proud to display (a.k.a. not Febreeze).

It’s a lovely housewarming or holiday gift for anyone who loves cooking and entertaining (or anyone who wants to learn!). That is, if you can bear to give it away. Since we know it might be difficult to see what everything in the box looks like online, our Editorial Director Mollie Chen filmed her very first unboxing video to show you what’s inside! Watch the video below and let us know which product from the box you’re most excited about. 

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Food52 Shares The Secret to The Ultimate Homemade Pie Crust

With Thanksgiving just a day away, we’re in full-on preparation mode. (Translation: picking out our most flattering stretchy pants and trying out turkey-themed nail art.) And as for the food? We’ve got that covered too. We asked Food52, the genius community-sourced cooking site, for a foolproof menu and tips on getting through dinner without any mishaps. If you find yourself in a bind, ask the Food52 Hotline for help!

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Holiday meals always end with pie. 
Apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie—any way you slice it, we love pie.
But not everyone loves making pie from scratch, since pastry crust isn’t exactly the easiest thing to deal with. While some prefer the convenience of store-bought pie crusts, we want to show you that making pie crust is not a kitchen task to avoid. Today, we’re sharing a few tricks for homemade pie crust, that are guaranteed to make the whole process easy.

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Food52’s Foolproof Thanksgiving Day Menu

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, we’re in full-on preparation mode. (Translation: picking out our most flattering stretchy pants and trying out turkey-themed nail art.) And as for the food? We’ve got that covered too. We asked Food52, the genius community-sourced cooking site, for a foolproof menu and tips on getting through dinner without any mishaps. If you find yourself in a bind, ask the Food52 Hotline for help!

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Russ Parson’s dry-brined turkey and gingered cranberry fig chutney from Food52.

Preparing a Thanksgiving dinner always seems a little daunting, doesn’t it? There’s the challenge of fitting everything into the oven, getting the timing right so that no dish gets burned, or too cold, before you sit down to eat. And when you’re making so many dishes, the potential for error is kind of high—it’s enough to scare any home cook, at any skill level. 

We’re here to tell you that there’s nothing to fear! The Thanksgiving meal doesn’t have to be stressful—all you need is a game plan, and we have one for you. We’re sharing a tried and tested menu that’s been approved of by the Food52 community. Along with the menu, notes on what you can make ahead and what you should make on the day of your holiday feast. 

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