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Posted at 09:57 AM ET, 11/22/2011

B. Smith wants you to spice up your Thanksgiving table

“I grew up with a great family, and Thanksgiving was my mother’s holiday,” says Smith, who has restaurants in New York and D.C. (Photo by Kevin Clark/TWP)
If you are reading this and have just realized that you have less than 48 hours to pull together the perfect Thanksgiving, or need ideas to make your meal pop - look no further than lifestyle guru B. Smith. The restaurateur, former television host and fine living expert gives us a few tips on ways to give your turkey a flavor boost and your side dishes an extra savory kick.

Go Jamaican with a jerk turkey : “Every year, that’s what we have,” says Smith, who was inspired to spice up her bird after making a trip to the island. “I didn’t see anybody there doing it, but they certainly had a lot of jerk seasoning [in their food].”

“It’s been a tradition now for years in my restaurant.”

Sweet potatoes make for an easy side dish: All your potatoes need is to be “blanched slightly and then baked in the oven with brown sugar,” says Smith, who enjoys adding cinnamon and nutmeg to her own spuds, “It’s all about giving it flavor.”

Another big hit at B’s table? Corn pudding, which has been passed down through generations. “My mom made it, I made it and my daughter makes it,” Smith says.

Think bread for dessert: The finishing touch to your Thanksgiving table “is probably the hardest thing” to create when it comes to completing a holiday meal, says Smith. The accomplished cook is an advocate for bread pudding, which can be made healthier with whole grain bread, agave sweetener and egg whites, “which would help bind it.”

Bring out the butter: While overall, Smith is an advocate for healthy cooking, big holidays warrant the occasional splurge. “We had margarine every day of the year - but when it was a holiday, she used butter,” Smith remember of her mother. Au jus sauce can make for a lighter substitute as well, but “If your folks don’t have any health problems...I say go for the gravy,”she says.

Always the entertainer, Smith would much rather provide the meal for her family and friends rather than them bring the holiday to her. “I like to be in control!” she says. “We’re not really into potluck. We want to know people - when they leave our house they’re like ‘Next year can we come back?’” she says.

For more recipes and tips, visit

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