The holidays are a magical time to celebrate with family and friends. Whether it's the first snowfall or a gift from a loved one, the season inspires us to celebrate and be merry. It's also a time when holiday hosts and hostesses are eager for entertaining inspiration.
Entertaining isn't effortless, but there are simple ways to host a festive time to remember. Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of each occasion:
Decorate with simplicity. Keep holiday decor quick and easy. Fill a decorative bowl with ornaments for a pop of color. Drape garlands in unexpected places, tie big bows on furniture and dangle bells on doorknobs. Most importantly, let the party decor reflect your style.
Illuminate the setting. Make a show-stopping centerpiece for the dinner table by filling a hurricane vase with water, add cranberries and evergreen sprigs and top with floating candles. Warm lighting is an affordable, handmade detail sure to set a festive mood.
Improvise space. Avoid kitchen traffic jams by designating separate spaces for drinks and food. Lay a cloth runner on a table behind a couch and line it with cocktail napkins and small plates. Set up folding chairs and arrange furniture to provide extra room for guests to mingle.
Surprise your guests. Delight everyone with a unique sweet treat. Try a different spin on snacking, like Pringles Crisps Holiday Flavors in Cinnamon & Sugar and White Chocolate Peppermint. Slip a can of these limited edition Pringles crisps into a gift bag or simply top the lid with a bow.
Start a tradition. Creating traditions provides lasting memories the whole group will cherish. Before dinner, have every individual share their favorite memories from years past. Play a classic game like charades as a group or candidly take a quirky group photo with props. Fun activities will give guests something to look forward to each year.
Tip of the Week: Cut the fat
Use canola oil to replace all or a portion of shortening and butter in the recipe, in order to reduce saturated fat in cakes, cupcakes, cookies and muffins. To cut total fat, use applesauce or nonfat Greek style yogurt for a portion of the oill in a recipe. Limit fat reduction to no more than 50 percent to help keep the recipe texture close to that of the original.
-- Family Features
Easy Recipe: Belgian Hot Apple Pie Cocktail
Yield: 1 serving
1 large scoop vanilla ice cream
1 ounce apple brandy
12 ounces Belgian apple beer
Place ice cream in a large glass. Pour brandy into a small glass. Carefully touch a lighted match to surface of brandy to ignite it. When flames die down, pour brandy over ice cream and fill glass with beer. Serve with a spoon and a straw.
Did You Know?
Never thaw or marinate foods on the counter. Many people are surprised at this tip. But since bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature, thawing or marinating foods on the counter is one of the riskiest things you can do when preparing food for your family.
What is a macchiato?
A. Espresso with chocolate syrup
B. Espresso with a dollop of foamed milk on top
C. Latte with chocolate syrup
D. Espresso with lots of steamed milk
Answer is at the bottom of the rail.
Wise to the Word: Mizuna
Mizuna is a Japanese salad green from the Bassica rapa family that is often found in mesclun. Dark green and feathery in appearance, with jagged edges similar to arugula, it has a delicate mustardy flavor.
Mizuna has been cultivated in Japan since ancient times and is thought to have originated in China. It can also be cut into a chiffonade and added to soups at the last minute, as it will wilt from the heat of the liquid.
The Dish On ...
"Bouchon Bakery" by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel
The tastes of childhood have always been a touchstone for Thomas Keller, and in this dazzling amalgam of American and French baked goods, you'll find recipes for the beloved TKOs and Oh Ohs (Keller's takes on Oreos and Hostess's Ho Hos) and all the French classics he fell in love with as a young chef apprenticing in Paris: the baguettes, the macarons, the mille-feuilles, the tartes aux fruits.
Co-author Sebastien Rouxel, executive pastry chef for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, has spent years refining techniques through trial and error, and every page offers a new lesson: a trick that assures uniformity, a subtlety that makes for a professional finish, a flash of brilliance that heightens flavor and enhances texture. The deft twists, perfectly written recipes, and dazzling photographs make perfection inevitable.
Food Quiz Answer
B. Pronounced mah-key-ah-toh, macchiato means "marked" in Italian and refers to a shot of espresso marked with a dollop or two of foamed milk.