(Family Features) If the very notion of holiday hosting has you feeling a bit overwhelmed, get organized with these simple ideas that can help you serve up a successful holiday celebration.
Entertainment: Ensure guests enjoy a good time by offering entertainment that is suitable for their personality types. If your guests are more drawn to energetic activities, choose light-hearted, competitive games like charades. For guests who are more laid back, organize classic board games. There are many popular games available in special holiday editions for extra-festive fun. You can also simply play holiday movies and music in the background for crowds that would rather just mingle.
Beverages: Stock up on refreshments all ages can enjoy. Keep a kid-friendly favorite like lemonade on hand, and tea is a traditionally well-received option for the grownups. Put a special holiday touch on your drink menu with a recipe like this Holiday Hot Tea featuring Milo's Famous Sweet Tea, which has been fresh brewed from custom-blended tea leaves with no added acids or preservatives for generations.
Favors: Send guests home with a sweet memory of the event, such as an ornament that connects to the party’s theme or a bag of seasonal treats like homemade cookies or candy to nibble on during the trip back home.
Simple Snacks: Building your menu around simple snacks and finger foods guests can nibble on while they mingle is perfectly acceptable for almost any type of holiday gathering. Include options that can satisfy all the taste buds. You can even combine sweet and sour with a seasonal crowd-pleaser like this Lemonade Cranberry Orange Bread, which draws its flavor from a secret ingredient: Milo’s All Natural Lemonade.
Find more holiday hosting ideas and recipes at drinkmilos.com .
Lemonade Cranberry Orange Bread
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
- 1 can cranberry sauce
- 3/4 cup Milo’s All Natural Lemonade
- 1 orange, zest only
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- In large bowl, mash cranberry sauce into small pieces. Add lemonade, orange zest, vegetable oil and egg; mix until blended.
- In separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Combine wet and dry ingredients; mix until batter is formed.
- Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake 1 hour. Let cool 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Holiday Hot Tea
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- 12 cups Milo's Famous Sweet Tea
- 2 cans (12 ounces each) frozen limeade juice concentrate
- 1 orange, thinly sliced, plus additional for garnish (optional)
- 12 whole cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 cup ginger ale
- raw sugar, for garnish (optional)
- In large slow-cooker, combine sweet tea, limeade concentrate, orange slices, cloves, cinnamon sticks, vanilla, cranberries and ginger ale; stir.
- Heat on high 30 minutes then reduce heat to low for 2 hours, or heat on low 2 hours then reduce setting to warm overnight.
- Invert moistened glass rims in sugar then fit orange slice over rim, if desired.
Note: For easier serving, place cloves in tea ball or double layer of coffee filters sealed with kitchen twine.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Lemonade Cranberry Orange Bread)
Source: Milo’s Tea Company
(Family Features) What can family members do special this year for Mom? Most Moms dream of a fine meal they don’t have to shop for, cook or clean up afterwards. Often going out for breakfast on Mother’s Day can mean dealing with long lines and slow service. But Dad and the kids can rise to the occasion and prepare a meal themselves at home that can be a real treat.
Even the dad who only makes breakfast on weekends can cater a fine restaurant meal at home, with kids as willing sous chefs. It’s easy when your family shops where the pros shop, such as Sam’s Club for frozen appetizers, readymade pastry, organic produce, fine wines, quality meats, great breads and fabulous cheesecake ready to thaw and serve. For a crowning touch, add an unexpected and affordable luxury gift and Mom just might decide to sign on for another year.
Check out www.samsclub.com — or the Sam’s Club nearest you — for more great Mother’s Day ideas.
Mother’s Day Game Plan
Here’s the game plan for catering a Mother’s Day meal at home.
- Chill the champagne or make a delicious punch a few hours before the meal.
- Read the instructions on the box, then pop those frozen appetizers in the oven.
- Prepare and cook the salmon.
- Slice up some fresh fruit or bread.
- Finish with a deliciously moist cheesecake - a Mom favorite. (Remember to thaw it beforehand.)
- Serve Mom in bed - let her relax and enjoy the meal and her day.
- Have the kids clean up the kitchen.
- Watch Mom smile.
Mom’s Secret Wish List
Mom usually puts the needs of her family first. But if she were really honest, she would say she’d love to have something from this list. And, Dads, when you shop smart, these become affordable luxuries.
- Diamonds. They’re always a girl’s best friend. Diamond solitaire earrings go with everything — jeans on the soccer field, a suit at the office or workout clothes at the gym.
- Designer Fragrances. Perfume and cologne in her special scent makes Mom feel pampered and special.
- Furniture. Surprise her with something she’s been wanting, whether it’s the armoire for the great room, a new desk for the home office or even a new leather sofa.
- Chocolate. Always a treat, especially now that health experts have declared that dark chocolate is actually good for us. Now, will it be Godiva or Ghirardelli?
- Culinary Ware. If Mom has been trying to make culinary masterpieces from a mismatched set of cookware from her early married days, it’s time for an upgrade. Or, maybe she’d love a stand mixer or a great platter.
Puff pastry encloses flavorful salmon, spinach and herbs in a main dish fit for a special occasion. Wellington preparations are thought to take a great deal of time and skill to make. However, with the time saver of purchased puff pastry, it’s a breeze. The bundles can be prepared up to a week in advance and then frozen. Just pop them in the oven when needed.
Note: Puff pastry must be cold (but not frozen) when placed into a hot oven in order for the pastry to become light and flaky.
Makes: 4 servings
- 1 tablespoon sweet butter
- 1-1/2 tablespoons shallots or onion, minced
- 1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and well drained
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon thyme or dill
- minced Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1-1/2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
- 4 thick, skinless fillets of salmon (about 6 ounces each)
- 2 packages puff pastry (defrosted in refrigerator)
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- 1 teaspoon milk
- Heat sauté pan with butter over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low and add spinach, nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes; remove from heat and stir in feta. Taste for seasoning and let cool.
- Lightly salt and pepper each piece of salmon and top with 2 tablespoons of spinach mixture.
- Roll out pastry sheets on lightly floured board. Cut 1 piece of pastry for bottom of each fillet — about 1 inch larger than the salmon. Cut a second piece large enough to drape over fillet and touch counter, plus 1 inch to spare all the way around.
- Brush edge of smaller sheet with lightly beaten egg mixed with milk. Place 1 piece of salmon in center of pastry. Drape larger piece over salmon and seal the two pieces of dough together by folding and pleating like a pie crust. Repeat for each “package.” Chill at least 30 minutes or freeze up to 1 week before baking.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush top of each package with a small amount of egg/milk mixture. Put on sheet pan lined with parchment paper and a dusting of corn meal. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 23 minutes, until golden. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Cranberry Splash Punch
Makes: 8 servings
- 4 cups cranberry juice
- 3 cups pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup cherry juice
- 2 cups puréed strawberries or raspberries (fresh or frozen)
- 6 cups ice cubes
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 2 limes, sliced
- 3 cups orange soda or ginger ale
- Mix all juices and puréed berries and chill thoroughly.
- To serve, put punch in handsome container and add ice and fruit. Slowly stir in orange soda.
Source: Sam's Club