Pretty soon the holidays will be over and things will go somewhat back to normal. But if you’ve been procrastinating in decorating your tree, here may be some help with how to make it go by a little smoother and more merrily.
Have a tree trimming party! Invite your friends over to decorate with you, bring an ornament, or just join in songs of the season. It’s a good time to have those you don’t see often or haven’t seen in a while around to share in the joyous holiday spirit.
Serve hot cocoa with marshmallows and chocolate shavings. Try the snowflake shaped marshmallows from Williams-Sonoma and the monogram mugs to add a personal touch to your gathering.
Or mulled wine for the adults: [recipe here]
The menu should be simple. Ask your guests to bring a favorite dish, one that isn’t fussy and is easy to prepare and carry. A vegetable and fruit tray is always a great staple for a gathering. Try with this ranch dip sauce:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, or 1 tsp. dried parsley
- 1 tsp. minced shallot, or 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 garlic clove, minced, or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
- Dippers for serving: raw cucumber spears or slices, carrots, snow peas, celery sticks, jicama sticks, cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, zucchini slices and bell pepper strips
In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, parsley, shallot, garlic, the 1/2 tsp. salt and the 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir until blended. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, if needed.
Transfer the dip to a serving bowl. Serve cold or at room temperature with your favorite dippers. Store any leftover dip in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes about 1 cup.
This salad is also a good side for guests.
Sonoma Chicken Salad
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
5 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 cups red seedless grapes
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes until completely cooked through. Remove cooked chicken breasts from pan, cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.
When the chicken is cold, dice into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing.
The good thing is, all these things can be prepared ahead of time, and don’t take a lot of time to make. So this holiday share time with your friends and family and be merry together. Trim your tree and hang your stockings. Happy Holidays!