Fabulous guest blogger, Roe Chlala from Festivities, is back with invaluable tips and delicious recipes for this holiday season. Take it away, Roe!
Happy Holiday Season!! The holiday season evokes every kind of emotion- trepidation to great joy and all in between. I have always loved the holiday season, however, being in the party business, it’s not always easy to be serene and welcoming at home when we are out making everyone else’s holiday celebration fun and welcoming and of course, delicious! Here are a few tales and tips that are my gift to you- fun and easy (F&E) ways to make your celebration fun, welcoming and remembered with joy for you and yours.
1/ Make it Festive!
No matter your tradition, a festive home is a welcoming home! Walk into your front door and ask the question, “What would make me smile?” Creating a welcoming atmosphere can be a wonderful tradition for you and your family. Charming holiday scenes can be created using any theme that speaks to you. Part of making it look professionally designed is to stay within a color palette and telling, what I suggest to our clients, “one story”. Too many stories or different designs is confusing to all.
2/ Where’s the bar?
Somehow this is always everyone’s first question! I invite you to set up a welcoming beverage station on a side board or a bar cart that is stocked with glasses, both elegant and fun. Bubbles are always a great idea… from Prosecco to sparkling apple juice for the younger set, nothing says holiday like bubbles! When the doorbell rings, you are all set!
Vodka in the freezer and wine in a cool spot (the garage) and you will always be ready with a welcoming drink. Want to take it up a notch? Freeze a holiday punch in an ice cube tray and add to Tonic or Sprite for a quick and unexpected touch.
Your furniture will love you with fun holiday coasters. It also helps guests remember which glass is theirs!
3/ Don’t invite Jack or Jill in the box to the party!
Easy foods make for an easy party! It can be very disconcerting to your guests if you have to keep getting up and running to the kitchen to heat up hors d’oeuvres, one tray at a time. Unless you have assistance for the evening, plan on starting your party with easy, room temperature foods that can be a prelude to heavier small plates or dinner. This gives you the opportunity to welcome your guests and enjoy each other.
Interesting nuts like wasabi nuts, almonds, and chickpeas all are delicious preludes to what’s to come. Set out unexpected platters and display Interesting cheeses with savory and sweet jams, salamis, olives and mustards. Shrimp cocktail with a kicked up trio of dips is also a happy start.
We love the idea of lining a large frame with holiday gift wrap! Display items that don’t have to be cut like our Shrimp Cocktail with two F&E sauces and Zucchini Roulades, a really fun vegetarian offering.
Once you have poached your shrimp in court bouillon, there is no going back!
12-14 servings (3 shrimp per serving)
2 lbs. 21/25 shrimp (21-25 per pound).
2 cups white wine/ 2 cups water
2 carrots/ chopped
2 sprigs parsley/2 celery stalks
1 tbs. Old Bay seasoning
In large pot, put all ingredients, let it come to boil
Drop shrimp (about a dozen at a time)/ poach for about 15-18 seconds
Pull out and place in ice bath
Dry and put in refrigerator until ready to serve
Mustard-lime dipping sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise/2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard.
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice/1 teaspoon honey.
1 teaspoon light brown sugar/1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce/Hot sauce to taste
Mix all together and let marinate for about 30 minutes
Mayonnaise/Sirracha Dipping Sauce: ½ cup mayonnaise/ Sirracha to taste (fits the F&E list)
Curried Yogurt Sauce
½ cup plain Greek Yogurt/ ¼ tsp. curry powder/ lots of salt (to taste)
Let this marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours to mellow.
Zucchini Roulades (A GREENWICH MOMS FAVORITE!)
3 zucchini (about ½ pound each)/sliced lengthwise into ¼” slices
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil/1/8 tsp. salt/Pinch freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder/1 large red pepper, julienned
2 oz. goat cheese (1 tsp per roulade) or 4 slices fresh mozzarella cut in ½
Discard the outermost slices of the zucchini and brush the rest
of the slices with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder
Place on preheated grill pan for about 3 minutes per side or until tender.
Julienne red peppers and toss with ¼ tsp salt, pepper and garlic powder
Roast for 8 minutes.
Put 1 slice of red pepper and cheese at one end of zucchini and roll up.
Place seam down on platter
If you like, drizzle with fig/balsamic syrup.
For the Young at Heart (SUCH A CUTE IDEA FOR A HEALTHY SNACK!)
All you need are 6” skewers/ strawberries/ bananas/grapes and
Miniature marshmallows – fun for all ages!
And taking it one step further – how about a chocolate fondue?
Holiday Sleepovers! – sometimes they last more than an overnight!
Put out throw blankets!/ Stock slippers/ a drink bar in the kitchen with packets of
yummy hot chocolate/ tea and a carafe of hot coffee with mugs will make all feel
welcome and comfortable/ mulled cider in a slow cooker with nearby mugs make
all feel cozy when, baby, it’s cold outside!
Ask for help! Our “Plated” Menus are prepared by our chefs in small batches, just for you, delivered to you ready for your table or oven!
Most of all, ENJOY and have FUN! Welcoming your friends and family to your home is always a good thing. Making it easy is even better!
We wish you a joyous holiday and a new year filled with all good things!
Roe, Bill and the Team at Festivities