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Linnea Johansson is an New York based chef & event planner and the author of; "Perfect Parties - Tips and Advice from a New York Party Planner". As an event planner Linnea has thrown parties for companies such as, Cartier, Gucci, Prada, Rolex, and PlayBoy. On the blog Linnea writes about the latest trends in food, cocktails, design and much more from the event scene. When she doesn't plan events, Linnea also writes about food and entertaining for ELLE magazine.
Thedailymeal.com – Linnea’s 7 ways to Upgrade Your Thanksgiving Feast

7 Ways to Upgrade Your Thanksgiving Feast
We all love Thanksgiving dinner, but let’s be honest, it could use a little upgrading

We love the classic Thanksgiving dinner, but there is nothing wrong with keeping up with culinary trends and sprucing up the table a bit. Keep the traditions — just kick them up a notch, that’s all we’re saying.

Who better to guide us in the right direction than celebrity event planner Linnea Johansson, who brings a luxe touch to every dinner party and event she plans.

Johansson divulged her tips for taking Thanksgiving to the next level:

1. Upgrade the Gravy: You can do a lot with all those juicy turkey drippings, so give your gravy a serious flavor upgrade with three easy ingredients. Add half a bouillon cube, 3 tablespoons of sherry wine, and 1 cup of cream to spruce it up a bit.

2. Truffle the Turkey: Here’s a simple trick to make your bird into one epic dinner. Simply make a flavored butter, for example butter with truffles or butter with herbs, let it soften, and spread it under the skin of your turkey for an amazing flavor upgrade.

3. Whip Your Cream, I Say!: Skip the Cool Whip and whip heavy whipping cream with a dash of vanilla extract. It only takes about five minutes and nothing makes your pie and other desserts taste better.

4. Booze Up the Relish: Relish is so easy to make — it takes less than 15 minutes and there’s no cooking needed. This adds a nice homemade touch instead of the old cranberry sauce out of a jar.

There are many good recipes out there, but I like to add a bit of liqueur to mine:
• 2 cups raw cranberries
• 1 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
• Orange peel from 1/2 orange
• 1 cup of sugar
• 1/4 cup of Cherry Heering
Add the cranberry, orange peel, and apple all to a bladed mixer and chop roughly on pulse.
Pour into a bowl and mix with sugar and Cherry Heering liqueur. Stir and let sit for at least 1 hour. Serve.

5. Hot Toddy and Potpourri in One: Nothing gets your guests in the holiday spirit like a hot toddy — not only is it warm and toasty, it also makes your whole house smell amazing. For example, try this recipe:

Buttered Spiced Cider (recipe for four guests)
• 4 cups apple cider
• 4 cinnamon sticks
• Juice of 1/4 lemon
• 1 tablespoon salted butter
• 8 ounce of Xante pear cognac
In a large sauce pan over low heat, heat the apple cider with spices and lemon slices. Let sit on low heat until guests arrive and make your house smell delicious. When ready to serve, turn the heat off and add a tablespoon of butter and stir until melted.
Serve in mugs, and for the adults add 2 ounces of the pear cognac.

6. Drinks and Table Décor in One: I love setting up this smart table décor and bar in one. The bonus is it both saves some dough and time. Simply set up a clear punch bowl in the center of the table, fill it with sparkling wine or your favorite clear punch and add a large ice block (I usually freeze the night before in a Tupperware container so it takes longer to melt and doesn’t dilute the punch as quickly.), sliced fruit, and add eatable flowers to the punch bowl. Set out votive candles around the bowl and the ice and flowers will glow, and guests can serve themselves from the punch.

7. Use Garlic Bread in the Stuffing: Whatever secret family stuffing recipe you have, you can bet it’s going to taste better when it’s made with garlic bread instead of the white Wonder bread.

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