The holidays are a great time to update your parties with new traditions. However when the time comes to plan a menu, or choose the wine, hosts and hostesses alike can tend to feel overwhelmed. Here to help you prepare a glamorous and stress-free event, Food Network personality, restaurateur, & cookbook author Donatella Arpaia shares her tips on how to set the stage for your best holiday party yet!
When shopping for your event, it can be difficult figuring out how much to buy. To avoid over or under buying, keep these numbers in mind. Expect each guest to have an average of three drinks, four to six hors d’oeuvres if a meal is served, and twelve pieces if it is cocktail only.
When choosing a menu, go with easy to prepare dishes like Donatella’s Sautéed Spicy Cracked Olives, Baked Figs with Prosciutto & Gorgonzola, or Mixed Italian Salami with Artisanal Jams. For dessert opt for holiday treats like Ricotta Cheesecake, Rice Pudding, or Donatella’s Popcorn.
While there may be a stigma surrounding the use of pre-made products, it comes in handy on cutting down prep time. The key is to choose wisely and add personal touches so that your creations appear du jour. Pick up a cocktail sauce from your local fishmonger, or an olive tapenade from an organic specialty shop, add your own fresh grated horseradish or chopped herbs for garnish, serve in your best flat wear, and surely no one is the wiser.
Change up the traditional red and green holiday colors for a sophisticated ambiance of red and white, using gold and silver to accent. Arrange tall branches of winterberries and pomegranates in square modern vases, and intersperse mercury glass votives with candles for a warm glow.
When sending out invitations—whether electronic or traditional- invite your guests to include a song request along with their RSVP. Compile their music choices and mix them with holiday tunes and perennial crowd pleasers like Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald for a playlist that appeals to everyone on your guest list.
When guests arrive, offer them mini sparkling wine bottles or signature cocktails so that the evening feels special and personal. During the festivities persuading guests to mingle is one of the greatest challenges of entertaining. When introducing strangers, help break the ice and incite a connection by sharing a bit of information about each guest. For formal dinner parties, separate couples and close friends to encourage new connections and stimulate a rich conversation.
I always like to give my guests a parting gift so they remember the evening! Beautifully wrapped gifted cubes, filled with a selection of nuts and chocolates, or homemade muffins, so my guests can enjoy them for breakfast in the morning, make for great goodbyes. If you don’t have time to bake your treats, send guests on their way with MARTINI Prosecco, Asti, or Rose mini bottles- they are easily adorned with ribbon to share your holiday blessing or wish!
This holiday season don’t just host your party, make sure you enjoy it. By following some of Donatella’s party tips we’re sure you will be able to accomplish just that!
For Donatella’s recipes, Donatella Cooks, BUY NOW, $6.12
Donatella has appeared on the Today Show, The Martha Stewart Show, and is a judge on the Food Networks’, Iron Chef and The Next Iron Chef. She has been featured in In Style, Elle, Glamour, and Women’s Wear Daily who said “if James Bond had a restaurateur girlfriend, Donatella Arpaia would be it.”
Fast forward to the day after Thanksgiving, and you’ve spent the last 48 hours (which felt like years) slaving over a hot stove preparing your turkey day feast. Well, the big day is over and you deserve a much needed cooking break. But, that doesn’t mean you need to spend the next 3 days in a monotonous cycle eating the same old leftovers and feeling like a stuffed turkey yourself. Here are a couple healthy and, most importantly, EASY dishes to spice up your post Thanksgiving meals and perhaps even slim down your waist.
There is no measuring, cutting, prepping, or stressing required. These are ‘non-recipe’ recipes, and they are meant to make a couple delicious meals out of whatever you have leftover. Throw a little of this and a little of that together using our guidelines, and you will have the easiest and most unique Thanksgiving leftover dishes to enjoy…before and after hitting the sales, of course. And, the best part? These recipes still allow you to stay on track with your Nutritious Life!
Black Friday Frittata:
• 3 eggs white, 1 whole egg (DHA fortified)
• Roasted vegetables: butternut squash, brussels sprouts, tomatoes (any vegetables will do)
• 2 ounces protein: turkey or ham (any leftovers will do)
• Fresh herbs: tarragon, sage, thyme (whatever you have on hand)
• Salt and pepper to taste
A frittata is just a fancy name for a messy omelet. There is no strict recipe for this “eggcellent” creation. You just must have fun and get in those good-for-you ingredients! So, don’t get caught up in nitty gritty cooking techniques, just add all of the roasted vegetables, even those Brussels sprouts, and some lean protein you have leftover. The Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, which helps support your immune system, and even boost collagen production in your skin. The protein from the eggs and turkey (or whatever protein you choose) will keep you satisfied through an entire department store hunt – there will be no dropping post shopping with this meal!
Method: After you have beaten the eggs with herbs, transfer your mixture to a skillet. Cook for 5 minutes then mix in your roasted vegetables and protein. Transfer from stovetop to oven (350 degrees). Bake the frittata for another 10 minutes until the eggs are no longer runny. Top with more fresh herbs and enjoy!
Gobble Gobble Pizza:
• Leftover turkey breast
• Whole wheat pizza dough (already prepared is fine)
• Cranberry sauce
• Brussels sprouts, beets, sweet potatoes, etc. (any leftover veggies)
• 2 ounces parmesan cheese
• Fresh Herbs: tarragon, sage, thyme (whatever you have on hand)
Pizza gone Pilgrim-style, with this new twist on an Italian classic. The cranberry sauce takes the place of the tomato base, and the whole wheat pizza crust gives you about 6 more grams of fiber than regular pizza dough, keeping you full long enough to wait out those shopping lines. Bake your creation according to the instructions on your whole wheat pizza dough. Exhausted after a day of shopping? No problem—this recipe is kid-friendly, so let the little ones do all the work!
| Nationally recognized nutrition expert and published author Keri Glassman is the founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City. For years, Keri has been a leader in advancing a “whole person” approach to health and wellness. She has dedicated her career to creating services and promoting education through her Nutritious Life brand.
She has authored two books; the most recent is The O2 Diet. The Cutting Edge, Antioxidant-Based Program That Will Make You Healthy, Thin and Beautiful. (Rodale, December 2009.) This book translates complex scientific research on antioxidants and the ORAC scale into useful and usable tools that everyone can benefit from. It empowers people to live a more Nutritious Life by combining a nutrient dense, high antioxidant diet with the other components of a Nutritious Life. The O2 Diet follows the Snack Factor Diet, (Crown, 2007.)
Keri is a contributing editor and advisory board member for Women’s Health Magazine, and was the first registered dietitian to create a real food based snack bar, KeriBar. Additionally, Keri is the Nutrition and Health contributor for NBC’s New York Live, and is regularly featured on national television programs including NBC’s The Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, Access Hollywood Live, The View, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, The Wendy Williams Show, MSNBC and The Fox News Channel.
Keri resides in New York City with her children, Rex and Maizy.
I met Dana Slatkin on a recent trip to LA through our children who go to summer camp together. I soon learned that Dana was a well-known chef in LA and her family owned a posh boutique hotel called Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, CA. Shutters is one of my all time favorite luxury hotels known for its low-key atmosphere and delicious farmer’s market-fresh meals. Dana was inspired to write her first cookbook, Summertime Anytime, by requests for the recipes from friends, family and guests. I love her cookbook so much and asked Dana if I could share some of her holiday dishes. Here are some festive Fall recipes below that are perfect for Thanksgiving or a holiday soiree:
Pumpkin Pie Champagne Cocktails with Toasted Marshmallows: (6 cocktails)
1 wedge of orange
1 bottle of dry champagne or California sparkling wine
6 ounces Monin Pumpkin Spice or Gingerbread Spice Syrup
6 large marshmallows (I love the handmade, cubical ones from Little Flower Baking Company)
1. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of cinnamon sugar onto a small plate. Rim a chilled champagne flute with the orange wedge. Then dip the flute into the cinnamon sugar to coat the rim.
2. Pour up to 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of syrup into each of the flutes. Fill with champagne.
3. Toast marshmallows over an open flame to desired doneness. Place on skewers and garnish each cocktail.
Sauteed Spinach with Porcini-Truffle Powder: (Serves 6)
1 cup dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms
1 teaspoon truffle salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1-1/2 pounds fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried well
A few drops of truffle oil
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a spice grinder or blender and process to the consistency of coarse dust (you will get about 1/2 cup of mushroom powder). Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the truffle salt.
2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant and just beginning to brown (a minute or two). Add the spinach and stir until coated.
3. Cover the pot and cook for 2 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted. Remove the cover and continue cooking until the liquid has mostly evaporated.
4. Sprinkle the spinach lightly with mushroom-truffle powder. Mound onto a serving platter, drizzle with the truffle oil, and dust again with additional mushroom-truffle powder. Store the leftover powder in an air-tight container for the next time (It will hold for months).
French Apple Pie: (Serves 8 )
1 prepared frozen pie crust, preferably whole-wheat
8 large Granny Smith apples (or combination of Granny Smith plus McIntosh or Gala), peeled, cored (I use a melon baler for this), and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 lemon (squeeze over the apples as you slice them)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter (optional)
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter or margarine, cut into small cubes
Vanilla ice cream for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
2. Prepare the apple or blueberry filling: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and allow to macerate for 15 minutes.
3. Prepare the streusel: In a food processor, mix the dry ingredients. Add the butter and pulse the machine to incorporate. The texture should be like coarse crumbs.
4. Fill the prepared pie crust with the fruit and juices, pressing down gently to accommodate all the filling (it will cook down during baking). Spread the streusel over the entire pie.
5. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350° F and continue baking for another 60 minutes, until the filling bubbles and the streusel is golden brown. If necessary, cover the crust and pie loosely with foil to prevent over-browning.
6. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a rack for at least two hours before serving. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Image Credit: mamiofmultiples.com
Sipping cocktails, relaxing by the pool, firing up the grill… few things mean summer more than a barbecue. We’ve got an eclectic roundup, from cool tools to great plates, that will create a fantastic outdoor soirée. Be prepared to entertain with all the essentials for an unforgettable time!
Rattan Globe String Lights
A summer barbecue can begin mid-day and continue all through the night! Luckily, with Pottery Barn’s Rattan Globe String Lights you can always keep the party going. These lantern-like lights create a magical mood and are the perfect decoration for any backyard party. Illuminate your night by adding these easy-to-use lights on a terrace, balcony, or in the trees.
Buy Now, Rattan Globe String Lights, $29
Chill Salad Bowl with Servers
Crate and Barrel’s Chill Salad Bowl with Servers is perfect for any summer festivity. Its bright orange and yellow colors suit the season while keeping your food fresh, even for your most fashionably late guests. This bowl combines a cooling ice-pack base with a lidded container that is ideal for storage and transport.
Buy Now, Chill Salad Bowl with Servers, $9.95
Citrus Sippers Ice Cube Tray
Keep your fruity, frozen concoction extra cool with these two-in-one ice cube straws. Sure to be a hit with both your pint-size party guests and cocktail-sipping contingents alike, these citrus slice-shaped ice cubes also make great stirrers! Try squeezing some lemon juice into the ice trays before sticking them in the freezer for an extra citrusy twist.
Buy Now, Citrus Sippers Ice Cube Tray, $7.99
Sewing Basket Aprons
The kids are out of school for the summer, so what better way to spend time with your tiny tot than by cooking? These lovely matching mommy-and-me aprons from Anthropolgie come in both adult and child sizes, featuring beautiful embroidery and dainty colors. Now you and your little one can cook in style.
Buy Now, Sewing Basket Apron, $38
Carter & Cunningham Candle Pot
Nothing can ruin a great outdoor gathering faster than unwanted guests: Mosquitoes. To avoid having your invited guests itching and scratching, light up a gorgeous citronella candle. This ceramic candle will truly keep those party crashers away for up to 35 hours of burn time. A must-have for all summer barbecues.
Buy Now, Carter & Cunningham Candle Pot, $16
French Bull 8-Inch Melamine Plates
Add a playful mix of color to your barbecue with French Bull’s 8-inch Melamine Plates. These are available in a number different patterns and bright colors – perfect for the summer season.
Buy Now, French Bull 8-Inch Melamine Plates, $32
Nito Rectangular Tray
Bring a tropical look to your table with this hand-woven tray designed by villagers in the Philippines. I love to use serving trays all summer long and can never have too many. A great and functional accessory!
Buy Now, Nito Rectangular Tray, $79
Fire it Up: 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything
The centerpiece for any barbecue is, of course, the food. Step up your grilling game with this cookbook full of hundreds of mouth-watering summer recipes.
Buy Now, Fire it Up: 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything, $16.47
www.hungry-girl.com and Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet, by Lisa Lillien
Living in New York City, where I’m limited by a tiny kitchen inside and tempted by countless restaurants outside, I never cared much for trying out my culinary skills. However, since I was introduced to the Hungry Girl cookbook, I have become hooked on cooking! Hungry Girl’s website and cookbooks offer amazing recipes that are healthy, simple, and absolutely delicious. Best of all, each recipe is low in fat and calories for those of us trying to slim down for summer. Great food that will help me look better on the beach? Pass me a fork!—Colleen Haggerty
Buy Hungry Girl 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet,
by Lisa Lillien, $11.95, at Amazon.com