Journal , Fall / Winter Issue

Tiffani Thiessen Is Bringing People Together with Delicious Family Recipes

Let's get real: Pulling off a family meal any (let alone every) night of the week seems like an impossible goal. Shuttling kids to activities, getting to the grocery, corralling the screens, and cleaning up afterward make family dinners next to impossible for many of us. 

While family mealtime may seem as distant a memory as new episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210, one of the show’s stars is determined to help you bring it back! Tiffani Thiessen is host of the Cooking Channel’s new show, Dinner at Tiffani’s and author of a recently released cookbook. She is on a mission to make it simpler to bring back the venerable institution of American family meals. 

Thiessen grew up watching the women in her family cooking together. Food and family became forever intertwined in her heart. The experience taught her that creating great meals was about not only wonderful flavor, but also the experience of sharing it with those you care about. That is the sentiment behind her cookbook title, Pull Up a Chair

“It’s the simplest sentiment, but it means so much. It’s not just sitting down and eating; It’s about reconnecting with the things that make us all so much happier,” she says. “It’s about laughter and joy and conversation.” 

Thiessen’s approach centers on how a little upfront preparation, some shortcuts along the way, and a few high-value frills can help busy families make the most of mealtime together. 

Roasted Chicken Pot Pie


Roasted Chicken Pot Pie



For the Crust:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut to ½-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the Roast Chicken:

  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic

For the Filling:

  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced into ¼-inch-thick coins
  • 1 small fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and sliced crosswise into ¼-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch-thick coins
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 4 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup frozen peas
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 
  • 1 large egg

For the Crust:

In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, Parmesan, and salt. Pulse until the mixture resembles fine gravel. Add ¼ to ½ cup water, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together and forms a ball. 

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a disk.

Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.

For the Roast Chicken:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.

In a large bowl, slather the chicken with the olive oil, paprika, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Set the chicken on the roasting rack. 

Roast until the skin is golden and crispy and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F, 45 to 60 minutes. Set aside to cool.

When cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the thighs. Pull the meat from the bones and tear it into bite-size pieces (discard the bones or use them for stock).

Set aside 4 cups of meat and reserve the rest for later use (chicken salad, BBQ chicken sandwiches, chicken noodle soup).

For the Filling:

In a Dutch oven or large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and a dash of pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. 

Add the carrots, fennel, and parsnip and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are brightly colored, 2 to 3 minutes. 

Stir in the garlic and, when fragrant, stir in the flour. Cook, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes.

Pour in the sherry and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the
pan. When the liquid has almost evaporated, stir in the broth and milk. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes, or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of broth.

Remove from the heat, stir in the reserved 4 cups shredded chicken, the peas, parsley, and thyme. Season with 1 tablespoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste.

To Assemble:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease six ramekins or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle, about 15 inches long and 11 inches wide. If using individual ramekins, cut 6 circles that are 1 inch larger in circumference than the ramekins. If using a single baking dish, cut the dough to that shape, leaving an extra inch around all sides.

Pour the filling into the ramekins or baking dish.

Lay the dough over the filling and trim it to ½ inch from the edge of the dish. Fold the overhang under itself to create a lip around the edge of the dish and use your fingers to flute the edges. Cut a 1-inch vent hole into a small pie or four to six 1-inch vent holes into a large pie.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water. Lightly brush the piecrust(s) with the egg wash.

Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 60 minutes for large pies, 45 to 50 minutes for small pies. Serve immediately.

Naked Carrot Cake


Naked Carrot Cake

Makes one 9-inch triple-layer cake


For the Cake:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 4 cups grated carrot (about 1½ pounds carrots)
  • 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the Frosting:

  • 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons orange extract
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges, plus more for garnish
  • 1 medium carrot, spiralized, for garnish

For the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper cut to fit and spray the sides with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger.

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar and oil on low speed until fully combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Scrape down the sides to ensure that everything is incorporated. Gently stir in the flour mixture by hand until just combined. Fold in the carrots, pineapple, and pecans. Do not overmix.

Evenly distribute the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the cakes are fully set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the pans, about 1 hour.

For the Frosting:

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, orange extract, and orange zest until smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

To Assemble:

Remove the cake layers from the pans when completely cool. Place 1 layer on a cake plate and, using an offset spatula, spread
a quarter of the frosting over top of the layer, taking care to spread it all the way to the edges. It’s okay if some of the frosting goes onto the sides (I like it better when it’s not perfect). Stack the second layer on top of the first, add another quarter of the frosting, and repeat with the remaining layers. Use the remaining frosting to lightly coat the sides of the cake so you can still can see the cake through the frosting.

Scatter the orange zest over the top and garnish with spiralized carrot.

Meyer Lemon & Thyme Whiskey Sour


Meyer Lemon & Thyme Whiskey Sour



For the Thyme Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves

To Assemble:

  • 1 ½ ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce fresh Meyer lemon juice or lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel twist, for garnish 
  • Sprig of fresh thyme, for garnish

For the Thyme Simple Syrup:

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and thyme with 2 cups water. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. 

Remove from the heat and let the thyme infuse for 20 minutes. 

Strain the syrup and let it cool. Discard the thyme leaves. 

Set aside 3 tablespoons of the syrup and reserve the rest in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

To Assemble:

Combine the bourbon, lemon juice, and reserved 3 tablespoons simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. 

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass over fresh ice (thyme-infused optional). 

Garnish with a lemon twist and a sprig of thyme. Serve immediately.

Photography by Constance Mariena / Text by Megan Strand

This story originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of The Inspired Home Journal, titled “Mission Possible.”

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