Exclusive: Hannah Hart’s Tips for Hosting Your First Holiday as an Engaged Couple

Esther Lee
hannah hart of my drunk kitchen

My Drunk Kitchen’s Hannah Hart is back with yet another cookbook—just in time to make your holidays a little brighter. “This book is basically the journey I’ve taken over the last eight years,” the YouTube personality tells The Knot in an exclusive interview. “My first cookbook was all about surviving—being in your 20s and trying to figure out what life is about. My Drunk Kitchen Holidays! is where I’m at in my 30s, which is hopefully thriving. As a queer person who doesn’t get a lot of representation over the holidays spaces, I’m really, really happy to bring an inclusive cookbook to help people savor holidays all year long.”

Much has transpired in the last decade for Hart, 32, whose brand has risen favorably on the video platform and elsewhere. In 2018, the podcast host’s personal life paralleled much of her professional career with Hart proposing to girlfriend Ella Mielniczenko in July. While the two were suddenly peppered with questions about their wedding, they had to address an even-more-immediate need just months into their engagement: hosting their first holiday together as a couple.

“Last year, Ella and I hosted our first Thanksgiving ourselves,” Hart proudly recalls. “It was the first time that either of us had hosted a Thanksgiving for our families—not friends or buddies—and we wanted to cook the entire meal.”

Hart’s new cookbook is broken out by month with November featuring four Thanksgiving recipes. The food network personality narrowed down the spread to garlic mashed potatoes, its beloved cousin gravy, followed by a green bean casserole and a black olive stuffing. “Despite its objectionable origins, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday,” Hart writes in her monthly reflection. “Or rather, the spirit of Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday spirit. Thanksgiving is about gratitude.”

“Coming from a background that came from a lot of struggle, it was hard for me to completely celebrate without guilt,” she adds to The Knot. “I had to teach myself how to slow down, pause and celebrate. I realize there are others who feel this incredible pressure to move through life as quickly and as productively possible. For holidays, we wanted to give it the guise of ‘how to slow down’ and simply celebrate all year long.”

Below, read Hannah Hart’s tips for how to host your first holiday together as a couple, followed by an exclusive recipe of her soon-to-be-beloved green bean casserole—straight from My Drunk Kitchen Holidays (for sale starting Oct. 22, Penguin Random House).

Hannah Hart and Ella Mielniczenko

My Drunk Kitchen’s Hannah Hart and Ella Mielniczenko. (Credit: Maxwell Poth Photography)

Collaborate and Coordinate

When Hannah Hart and Ella Mielniczenko decided to host their first joint-family Thanksgiving in 2018, they requested no outside help. Instead, they relied on teamwork to accomplish what they needed. “We wanted to cook the entire meal,” says Hart. “And what ended up happening was a wonderful merging of our talents: Ella pulled all these recipes that she was really excited about, and I compiled them all into a spreadsheet to make her understand the timing.”

While there wasn’t enough time to whip up all the dishes—Hart cited keeping certain plates at the right temperature before serving it to family members—the two were able to work out a cadence for the day. “Basically, she did all the research,” says Hart, “and I did all the execution.”

In her book, Hart shares how some recipes honor loved ones like the black olive stuffing. “Ella makes the stuffing in our family,” she writes. “Technically it’s a dressing. When I asked her for the recipe, she sent me this. I don’t know why it’s in ALL CAPS, but it came from her mom, so that makes some sense to me.”

Be Honest With Each Other

Communication in any relationship is a must, but the holidays are an especially-sensitive time for couples—especially if it’s one person’s first holiday away from their side of the fam. To avoid such blunders, prep your partner as much as possible about even the seemingly-smallest details like family traditions and tendencies. “Be honest with each other about what you’re getting into,” says Hart. “For me, the more honest with each other you are, the easier it’s going to be.”

For example: Your family loves football and it’s a tradition for everyone to watch the game every Thanksgiving Day. “If it’s very important to everyone that you watch the game, then share that with your partner,” says Hart. “Like, ’Guess what. You’re not a football household regularly, but we’re going to be a football household that day!’ And if your family loves to play game, let your partner know—in advance—that their participation is appreciated since this is how everyone shares quality time.”

Set Boundaries

While it’s fun to reunite with loved ones on cherished holidays, it is important to remember that your partner might be sensitive to the overall experience. “Have boundaries and leave when you want to leave,” Hart suggests. “Think about what’s best for your shared household—you [as an engaged couple] are as much a family as your extended family.”

Bring Everyone Together With a Dish

In the vast sea of Thanksgiving dinner side dishes, one shines the brightest in Hart’s eyes. “Nothing is more divisive in a family setting than talking about green bean casserole,” she suggests. “The older generation thinks green beans come from cans. It’s not about cans… and they make a face because they think about wet, slimy beans coming out of a can.”

Hart says her recipe is so good that long gone are the divisive conversations surrounding green bean casserole. For starters, the recipe is made from scratch. “We knocked it out of the f—king park!” she says. “We got some green bean converts!” Here’s the exclusive recipe below.

hannah hart recipe green bean casserole my drunk kitchen

My Drunk Kitchen’s Hannah Hart shares her green bean casserole recipe with The Knot. (Credit: Dane Tashima Photography)

Green Bean Casserole from My Drunk Kitchen Holidays!

Ingredients: 
Fresh green beans
Kosher salt
Olive oil
Cremini mushrooms, sliced
Unsalted butter
Hella thyme
Flour Milk
Heavy cream
Hella garlic
Fried onions
Grated Parmesan
Salt
Pepper

Instructions:
1. Get your oven ready by setting it to 375 degrees. You’re going to have to be careful with your timing! Most of Thanksgiving is about timing. Think about it like an intricate dance. The kind of dancing that makes you sweaty and stressed out . . .

2. Boil green beans in salt water until cooked but still crunchy. Like an al dente pasta.

3. Drain and set to the side so they have some time to chill out and reflect.

4. Next sauté your cremini mushrooms

in olive oil. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to play with texture, you can cook the mushrooms on one side and then the other. This is a marvelously ambitious task and no one will notice, but I noticed, and now I am praising you for it—WELL DONE!

5. Add butter. Add thyme.

6. Cook them all together until the mushrooms are a texture you enjoy, then put them to the side to cool.

7. Make a roux! What’s a roux? It’s flour and butter. And milk. And cream. Look, it’s hard

to do. The internet can tell you! Probably far better than I can . . . but basically I would say that it should end up looking like the base of a creamy sauce.

8. OMG, you’ve made your roux into a béchamel.* Holy hell, you’re a cooking god!

9. Now that your sauce is thick and bubbling, slice up your garlic and add it in with salt and pepper.

10. OH GOD, IT’S BURNING, this is why you should slice your garlic beforehand!

11. Put your green beans in a casserole dish. 12. Pour your sauce over it.

13. Cover with foil and bake for 25-ish minutes. Better under than over!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The final step is to uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or so. If you’re attempting to cook a Thanksgiving feast, then do this closer to the actual dinnertime. You can prep your casserole long before you give it its final bake. Once you do, then top it with crispy crispies (that’s the fried onion) and Parmesan and call it a day!

The best part of making this dish is that it’s a conversation starter. I promise. If you bring up “green bean casserole” to any older generation, you are guaranteed to hear a great story.

Purchase your copy of My Drunk Kitchen Holidays! here.

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