Tiffany Thiessen on cooking, wine and her favorite ’80s snacks

Actress Tiffany Thiessen says her favorite childhood snacks include Cheez-It crackers, Abba-Zaba candies, and Hot Tamales candies.  (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Actress Tiffany Thiessen says her favorite childhood snacks include Cheez-It crackers, Abba-Zaba candies, and Hot Tamales candies. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Because food connects us all, Yahoo Life offers heaps of plates full of table conversations with people who are passionate about what’s on their menu at Deglazedseries about food.

Tiffany Thiessen has “never met wine [she] I didn’t like it.” In fact, the 48-year-old actress tells Yahoo Life that a good rosé or Sancerre is part of her go-to comfort food combo. When she’s feeling stressed or under the weather, she also turns to dairy-filled indulgence .

“Give me something with cheese,” she says, “and a side of wine.”

The Saved by the Bell star and host of a failed cooking show Deliciousness says she’s had her share of epic kitchen fails. The dinner disaster that haunts her the most happened a few Thanksgivings ago.

“I had done a lot of my cooking in advance because I’m such a planner,” she says. “All of a sudden, the other morning, my ovens weren’t working. Nothing was working. I don’t know what was going on.’

“I literally still had to put the bird in and start making recipes at the last minute, so I called my neighbors next door who I knew were out of town for the holiday and had a sitter,” Thiessen continues. “I said, ‘Do you happen to use your kitchen?’ Because if not, I will come.” I had to transport all my food back and forth using their kitchen, but I did. I had a lot of cardio that day.”

Thiessen with her daughter Harper.  (Photo: Tiffany Thiessen)

Thiessen with her daughter Harper. (Photo: Tiffany Thiessen)

Although she counts holiday meals among her favorites to cook, Theisen, who has two children with husband Brady Smith, also has a soft spot for the themed dinners she and her family routinely plan during the week. “We love pizza dinners,” she says. “We have taco nights and sushi nights that are really fun.”

Still, like any mom, Thiessen keeps things real in the kitchen. “But usually the kids tell me what they’re in the mood for, and then of course I force them to come in and cook with me, because I’m like, ‘If that’s what you want, you should help,'” she adds.

Thiessen also uses dinner time as a way to talk with his family about their lives. She explains that as a child, her family used dinnertime conversations as a way to stay “connected,” something she continues to do with her own children. “We would talk about our day, we would talk about things that were extremely sensitive, which I think when you have kids, those types of conversations can be difficult sometimes,” she says. “I generally choose dinner time if it’s a family conversation – I think food is kind of relaxing and we can reminisce about the day and talk about the good and the bad.”

In her cookbook, Pull Up the Chair: Recipes from My Family to Yours, Thiessen shares recipes from her own childhood dinner table that she tweaked a bit. “I’ve taken a lot of my family recipes and elevated them,” she says. “Beef Stroganoff and things like that looked a lot different when I was growing up—like dog food, really, to a degree.” Her next cookbook, It starts againis coming out in 2023 and will tackle using leftovers in creative ways.

The former host of Dinner at Tiffany’s says that if she could have any guest sit at her table, it would be the late Princess Diana. “I think she was an icon, of course, in terms of fashion and what she stood for, her politics and her charity work and as a mother,” she says. “It will definitely be Princess Diana.

As someone who rose to fame in the ’80s, Thiessen has a soft spot for the snacks she grew up eating on set. “I loved — and still will, if they’re on a snack tray somewhere — Cheez-Its,” she shares. “I actually have a recipe for cheddar crackers in my new book. When it came to candy, I was an Abba-Zaba or Hot Tamales girl.”

Theissen spoke to Yahoo Life as part of its partnership with the National Meningitis Association It’s time: Help stop the meningitis clock campaign where she hopes to encourage parents to talk to their children and doctors about immunizations. “I have two children and I have an almost 12-year-old girl,” she says. “For me, there were very, very big conversations in our house, especially because she’s a pre-teen … last year she got her first CDC-recommended meningococcal meningitis vaccine at age 11 or 12, with a second at age 16.”

“I grew up in a family that has a lot of faith in science and believes that vaccines are here to help protect us,” she adds, “so I wanted to get involved and help them spread the word. I’m here to talk about it and help educate a little bit about why vaccines are here.”

When her own children aren’t feeling well, Thiessen says there’s something special she does for them at home. “A lot of times when they’re sick, the food isn’t really what they want,” she admits. “I think a lot of times they want their parents and a good cuddle and maybe some hot tea. My kids actually love tea.”

“My mom used to make hotcakes all the time,” she says. “Who knows if they worked or not, so we stay for tea.”

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