Katie Lee on balancing life as a new mom and her holiday menu: 'It's 2020, all bets are off!"

Food Network star Katie Lee exclusively reveals that this holiday season will be nothing like last year's past.

Katie Lee
Katie Lee attends the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One
(Image credit: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NYCWFF))

For Food Network star Katie Lee, the holidays are looking a bit differently this year. Not only is she adapting to this "new normal" COVID-19 has us all facing, but the 39-year-old is adjusting to yet another life-change: a newborn baby girl, Iris — who she welcomed with husband, Ryan Biegel, earlier this year. 

But don't think for a second that all of these changes are slowing this new-mom down! In reality, this cooking pro is busier than ever. 

Ahead of the holiday season, Lee teamed up and joined forces (via a partnership) with both Duncan Hines and Orville Redenbacher. 

Her reasoning? This new mom is not only looking to avoid any new mom shame (or guilt) but also alleviate any of the inevitable stress that comes alongside the holiday season, and her key to achieving a stress-free holiday season? "[She's] looking for simpler recipes that don't take as much time." 

Since it will be just her and her husband this year (alongside their adorable newborn baby girl), the two will be sharing the responsibilities when it comes to their holiday menu. "He [is] making some of the recipes, and I am making others," she reveals, and if you're wondering how she feels about yet another change? She is all for it. 

When it comes to her upcoming holiday menu? " We have some things that are more labor-intensive and other recipes that are freaking easy," and if you need to take a short cut? Lee is here for it. 

"If you need to say, 'You know what, guys? We are having pizza this year!’ Go for it! It’s 2020 all bets are off." We couldn't agree more! And if you're looking to take a play out of her playbook this season? Now you can. 

As a result of her partnership —with both Duncan Hines and Orville Redenbacher— Lee revealed two recipes that are easier-than-ever to recreate. 

Cooking essentials you'll need: 

Meal Prep Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls Set (opens in new tab) l Was $22.99, Now $18.39, at Amazon

Need a complete set of mixing bowls? This 5-piece set (opens in new tab) offers enough sizes and versatility for every last one of your cooking need's. 

1. Holiday Peppermint Brownies

Katie Lee

(Image credit: Katie Lee / M Booth PR)

The reason Katie Lee and Duncan Hines teamed up for this brownie recipe? It's "because I like taking shortcuts here and there, and for me, brownies are not one of those things you need to make from scratch. The mix is so delicious, thick and fudgy," she explains. 

Katie Lee

(Image credit: Katie Lee/M Booth PR)

Supplies you'll need:

Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate Brownie Mix (opens in new tab)l For $1.00, at Amazon

The secret to successfully executing Lee's go-to recipe. Starting off with the same brownie mix she did — and this milk chocolate mix (opens in new tab) is her go-to. 

KitchenAid Ultra Power 5-Speed Hand Mixer (opens in new tab) l For $49.99, at Amazon

This traditional hand mixer features five-speed settings to help you accomplish a variety of whipping, beating, and mixing tasks. Designed to be incredibly simple to use, the mixer is lightweight and features a comfortable grip handle so you can tackle any recipe. 


Artisanal Kitchen Supply 2-Piece Ceramic Rectangular Baker Set in Red (opens in new tab) l Was $19.99, Now $15.99, at Bed Bath & Beyond 

This 2-set ceramic baker (opens in new tab) boasts a heat-resistant, durable stoneware construction, that's will last for years to come. 

Parchment Paper Roll - 50 sq ft (opens in new tab) - Up&Up l For $4.19, at Target 

Bake with confidence with this nonstick parchment paper (opens in new tab) that ensures baked cookies don't get stuck to the baking sheet or tin and also eases transfer to the cooling rack.

Ingredients: 

  • PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 1 pkg (18.3 oz each) Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 16 peppermint patties
  • 1 container (16 oz each) Duncan Hines Classic Chocolate Creamy Home-Style Frosting
  • 2 candy canes, crushed

Directions

- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, letting it hang over the sides so that it can be used later to remove the brownies from the pan.

- Prepare brownie mix batter according to package instructions. Pour half of the brownie mix into a prepared baking dish and top with an even layer of peppermint patties. Pour the remaining brownie mix on top.

- Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

- Remove brownies from the pan using parchment paper. Transfer to a cutting board. Using an offset spatula or a butter knife, evenly top with frosting. Decorate with crushed candy canes. Cut into squares and place on serving platter.

Top them off the Katie Lee-approved way, with the following:

Katie Lee Pro-Tip: "I put this layer of peppermint patties in there and decorate with chocolate frosting, and candy canes and they are just super fun and a great way to bring some holiday cheer!"

Duncan Hines Whipped Chocolate Frosting (opens in new tab) l For $16.99, at Amazon

Any chocolate lovers out there? Top off your brownies with double the fun and reach for this whipped topping.  (opens in new tab)

York Peppermint Patties Candy Party Pack (opens in new tab) l For $8.99, at Amazon

Perfect for snacking or topping off your favorite desserts, this party pack (opens in new tab) is the special treat you absolutely need. 

Spangler Red and White Peppermint Candy Canes 12-12 Count Boxes (opens in new tab)l For $32.26, at Amazon

Whether decorating the tree, having a family holiday get-together, or creating a favorite recipe, the candy canes will be a crucial part of the process. 

2. Peanut Butter Popcorn Bars 

Katie Lee

(Image credit: Katie Lee / M Booth PR)

As a longtime popcorn fan, Lee deems it "one of [her] number one snacks in her entire life." Which is why she "created these chocolate peanut butter popcorn bars. Over the summer when I was pregnant to satisfy some cravings; and now we make them all the time and are going to give them as gifts this year. They are like crispy rice treats but with Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn and peanut butter." 

Katie Lee

(Image credit: Katie Lee / M BOOTH PR)

Supplies you'll need to start: 

Orville Redenbacher's Butter Popcorn 6ct (opens in new tab) l For $4.19, at Target 

Prepare real butter over artificial butter on your popcorn? Reach for this 6-pack of popcorn (opens in new tab)that offers real butter and no artificial preservatives.

Cuisinart Chef's Classic 1.5 qt. Covered Saucepan (opens in new tab)l For 19.99, at Bed Bath & Beyond

Perfect all meals courtesy of this 1.5 qt stainless steel saucepan (opens in new tab) that features an encapsulated aluminum core for even heat distribution. 

Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips - 10oz (opens in new tab)l For $3.49, at Target 

Add some chocolatey goodness to your dish with these chocolate baking chips (opens in new tab). The robust chocolate flavor complemented with hints of real vanilla, that's sure to be a real crowd-pleaser. 

ONME Stainless Steel Balloon Wire Whisk (opens in new tab) l For $8.99, at Amazon

Made of high-quality steel and featuring a highly-polished processing method, this no-rust whisk (opens in new tab) is the long-lasting tool that you'll use tirelessly. 

Ingredients 

  • PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 1/2 cup Peter Pan® Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pkg (10 oz each) miniature marshmallows
  • 2 bags (82.3 g each) Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet® Butter Microwave Popcorn or 14 to 16 cups Orville Redenbacher’s® Gourmet Popping Corn, prepared according to package instructions
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

Directions

- Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

- Melt the peanut butter and butter together in a medium saucepan over low heat, then stir in the marshmallows. Continue to stir until the marshmallows are melted.

- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the popcorn to coat evenly in the melted marshmallow mixture. Pour the popcorn mixture into the coated baking dish and spread out into an even layer.

- Add the chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl and melt in 30-second intervals until liquid.

- Drizzle the popcorn with the melted chocolate mixture. Optional: Decorate with edible gold glitter or holiday sprinkles for a festive touch. Allow the popcorn treats to cool for 30 minutes, then cut into bars.

Top them off the Katie Lee-approved way, with the following: 

Wilton 19.3 oz. Holiday Mega Sprinkles Variety Set (opens in new tab)l Was $9.99, Now $7.99, at Bed Bath & Beyond 

Ideal for adding a tasty and festive topping to any cakes, cupcakes, or baked goods — this multi-colored set (opens in new tab) is sure to please. 

Lenox Opal Innocence Dessert Set (opens in new tab) l Was $100, Now $41.99, at Macy's 

Plate your desserts to perfection with this stainless steel 2-piece set (opens in new tab) that features distinct gold accents.  

Still, want more Katie Lee? Check out the following below: 

It’s Not Complicated: Simple Recipes for Everyday (opens in new tab) l For $29.99, at Amazon

From bestselling author and Katie Lee — star of Food Network’s The Kitchen — her latest cookbook,  It’s Not Complicated reveals recipes designed to simplify cooking (and life!)


Katie Lee's Easy-Breezy Eats - (Paperback) (opens in new tab) l For $11.99, at Target 

Simplify all of your culinary needs, courtesy of this cookbook (opens in new tab) that highlights easy-breezy-eats! 

Brittany Romano is a Shopping Editor, based in New York City. From her start as a fashion market assistant at Marie Claire to building a highly profitable commerce vertical at Us Weekly and AMI brands, Brittany has produced award-winning content covering everything from celebrity beauty hacks to must-have items from online sales. She is a graduate of New England College. When she isn’t writing, you can find Brittany indulging in yet another DIY project or cheering on her beloved Boston Bruins. 

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