Easy Last Minute Thanksgiving Decorations

Need a few ideas to get your home or tablescape a little bit more in the Thanksgiving spirit? We’ve got you covered!

Be sure to read the tips from our design team, many of which use items found around your house! Or if you are still looking for the perfect finishing touch or a gift for your host stop by your local Machine Shed Restaurant to see the unique items in our gift shops! 



This quick napkin fold from Smarty had a Party adds dimension and texture to your table.



How to Cut a Recipe in Half

Holiday Open House


Guide to Apples: best varieties for baking & eating


Ways to Cook a Turkey

Unique Ways to Cook a Turkey


How to be the Host with the Most



Happy Guests are Comfortable Guests.

Set your party up for success by ensuring that guests will be relaxed and able to have a great time. Start with invites. Communicate what to expect in terms of what to wear, if a dish to pass is requested, start and end times, etc.

Just Say No to Red Wine!

Avoid staining carpet by eliminating the problem. You can still please the red wine lover with the right bottle of white, like oak-aged Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. These go through the same aging and fermentation process, creating similar vanilla and spice flavors and reduced acidity. Viognier is another type that is sure to please due to its fuller body and low acidity level. It is often blended into red wines to add complexity.

Party Night Cheat Sheet.

Avoid being flustered or burning dinner by writing down a timeline for the evening that includes cooking times and temperatures.

**Tip: Can’t remember someone’s name? Write it on your cheat sheet.

Line Trash Cans with Multiple Bags.

Think of this as pre-lining, having a bag already in place when you take out the trash. The extra bags will also act as reinforcement to avoid leaks.


Pork Month Winners!


Congratulations to our Pork Month Giveaway Winners:

  • Karen Vink
  • Linda Van Dusseldorp
  • Joan Kubes
  • Deb C
  • Erin Ellis
  • Anne Rehnstrom
  • Jordan
  • Linda
  • Jep
  • Susan Christy

Contact Katelyn at kdunne@hoari.com by 11/17/15 to claim your prize!



Our Thanksgiving eBook is Available to Download!

Download your Free copy here!

Machine Shed Thanksgiving eBook


Recipes for Cooking Dinner in a Pumpkin

Make your Thanksgiving Dinner in a pumpkin with these recipes

Transform your traditional Thanksgiving feast into an unforgettable dinner when you make some (or all) of your dishes in pumpkins! These fall staples double as a way to prepare and season your dinner.

Want more Thanksgiving recipes, tips & ideas? Our Free Thanksgiving eBook will be available to download November 1, 2015! Join our mailing list to be one of the first to get your copy.


Mac & Cheese-


  • 1 sugar pumpkin, or other sweet variety (not a carving pumpkin), about 5 pounds
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound mild Italian pork sausage
  • 4 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 5 ounces Fontina, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 ounces Gruyère, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Cut a circle from the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle, the way you would cut open a pumpkin to make a jack-o’-lantern, and set aside.
  2. Scoop out the seeds and strings as best you can. Generously salt and pepper the inside of the pumpkin, pop the top back on it, place it on a rimmed baking dish (since the pumpkin may leak or weep a bit), and bake for 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. If the sausages are in their casings, remove the meat and discard the casings. Crumble the sausage meat into small chunks and cook until lightly browned. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Discard the drippings, or save for gravy or what have you.
  4. Also while the pumpkin bakes, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process.
  5. In a bowl, toss together the Fontina, Gruyère, sausage, pasta, scallions, and herbs.
  6. Once the pumpkin is done baking, take it out of the oven and fill it with the macaroni and cheese. Pour the cream over the filling. Place the top back on the pumpkin and bake for 1 hour, taking the top off for the last 15 minutes so the cheese on top of the filling can properly brown. If the top cream still seems a bit too wobbly and liquid, give it another 10 minutes in the oven. The cream may bubble over a bit, which is fine.
  7. If the pumpkin splits while baking, as occasionally happens, be thankful you set it in a rimmed baking dish and continue to bake as normal.
  8. Allow the pumpkin to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Be careful moving the dish, as the pumpkin may be fragile. You can serve this dish two ways: Cut it into sections and serve them, or just scoop out the insides with scrapings of the pumpkin flesh for each serving. Either way is just dandy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe and photo courtesy of The Culinary Life.  


Savory Vegetable Medley-


  • 4 sugar pie pumpkins (about 1 pound each)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (5-ounce) package Earthbound Farm Baby Spinach
  • 1 stale French demi-baguette, cubed (mine was about 6.5 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Use a sharp knife to remove the tops from each pumpkin. Scoop out the insides and discard them (or save the seeds for roasting!). Rub salt and pepper on the inside of the pumpkins.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and cook them for about 5 minutes, until they’re softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook about 5 minutes more, or until the mushrooms are browned. Stir in the spinach and continue to cook until it wilts. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Transfer the veggie mixture to a large bowl. Add the bread, cheese, nutmeg, and cream and stir until combined. Divide the the filling into the pumpkins, then place the top back onto them. Put the pumpkins on a baking sheet or baking dish that’s been sprayed with oil or lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake the pumpkins for about an hour, then remove the tops and bake for 20-30 minutes more, or until the filling is browned and crispy on top and the pumpkins are easily pierced with a knife. Replace caps and serve.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Oh My Veggies.


Cinnamon & Apple Pumpkin Pie-


  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon clove
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar or 1⁄2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 small sugar pumpkin (3-6lbs)
  • 3 granny smith apples
  • 3 pears, any variety
  • 1 cup pecans or 1 cup walnuts
  • 1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1⁄2 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel, plus
  • orange juice, from orange
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rum


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix spice mix together by combining the first five ingredients.
  3. Cut the top of the pumpkin off leaving a lid but enough room to stick your hand in and clean out the seeds and stringy pulp.
  4. Mix 2 tablespoons butter and ½ of the spice mix into a paste and rub it all over the inside of the pumpkin and pumpkin lid.
  5. Bake the pumpkin with the lid on for 15 minutes on a cookie sheet.
  6. In the meantime, coarsely chop the apples and pears, then mix with the last of the spice mix, butter (cut into chunks), and remaining ingredients.
  7. Stuff the pumpkin tightly with the mix and place the lid back on. The inside stuffing will bake down a bit as the apples and pears soften.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes and check for doneness based upon how soft the flesh is when pierced with a fork. Continue baking until pumpkin is cooked, covering the top loosely with foil if it starts to blacken.
  9. Cool with the lid off for 20 minutes and serve scoops of the pumpkin flesh and stuffing next to vanilla ice cream and a slice of pound cake.

Recipe courtesy of KBaker.

Raising Pigs Using Solar Energy at Hasselmann Family Farm


With three generations working side-by-side the Hasselmann Family Farm is your typical ‘old-fashioned’ hog farm. Raising their hogs with a pastoral approach, utilizing solar energy and the close relationship they have with their customers is something you would envision from decades ago.  

Located just outside of Chicago in Marengo, Illinois the 80 acre diversified farm is owned by Scott and Nena Hasselmann and operated with the help of their children, George and Alexia, and both sets of their parents. 


The Family Farming Difference- 

Scott, Nena, George & Alexia doing their daily chores

“Overall, it is a team effort at Hasselmann Family Farm! We value and truly enjoy working together to produce healthy, tasty, and humanely-raised food for our customers.”

Everyone has their own role, from feeding the pigs to delivering orders. Without each person’s unique skill set it would not be the fully functional farm that produces quality products and directly sells them to customers that it is.


Harvesting Solar Energy- 

The key to the richness, texture and flavors of their pork is solar energy. The Hasselmann’s use a pastoral approach by giving their pigs consistent access to fresh air and continual pasture rotation. As an additive to their diet, the farm grows non-GMO grains for the pigs.

“Our goal is to capture as much solar energy as possible via green grass and legumes, and then to let our pasture raised livestock harvest that energy through grazing.”


Selling Directly to Consumers-

The farm’s continued success can largely be attributed to their community of 100’s of consumers. The family views their customers as their extended family because they have grown so close to all of them through direct selling. These relationships are why the Hasselmann’s enjoy farming so much!

“It is the most gratifying feeling when a customer tells you, ‘That was the best pork chop I have ever ate.'”

Learn more about Hasselmann Family Farm on their website.

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