Holiday Hosting Guide

It's the holiday season, as I'm sure you all know! Hope you haven't gotten a case of the holiday hosting crazies, but if so have no fear. I'm here to hit you with some tips for hosting and give you a killer holiday appetizer line-up! I teamed up with THE Pine Barren Beauty and did a fun shoot where we talked holiday eats & style!

Meg just so happened to be my woman crush wednesday this week for putting up with me & fending off my dog Otis during this shoot all while looking stunning in her holiday party styles. She really knows her stuff. I had such a great time coming up with my idea of a Perfect Holiday Party Line-Up of healthy, realistic, & delicious appetizers. We had filling protein, vitamin & mineral packed veggies, hearty whole grains, & brain boosting healthy fats! These apps were simple and so easy to make for big or small parties. Even my pup couldn't pass up on that kind of spread!

One of the most important things to consider for holiday hosting is the FOOD. So, if you're the one making it, you want a smooth & seamless plan to pulling it all off in a healthy & beautiful way. To help all you hosts out I wrote down my top tips for a smooth sailing holiday party because, believe me, If I can do it... so can you. Then you can cook & eat & eat & eat a little more. 

Whether you're hosting a huge banger this holiday or a small family gathering, these tips are what you need to keep your apps delicious, healthy, & realistic. Not only will your party be a breeze, but you (with a little help from meg's style guide) and your food will look fabulous all the while. 

Here are the tips: 

  1. MAKE A PLAN : The plan is important. At least a week before the big day, plan out the spread you want to have. Include what you're going to make as well as any dishes you know family or friends might be bringing. Make sure the dishes you make can stand alone though! You don't want to be left with an incomplete spread because Uncle Bob dropped Aunt Rita's dish on the way over!
  2. CHECK YOUR LIST TWICE: Check over that plan you made and look for good sources of healthy protein, carbohydrate, and fat in your appetizer ideas. Weight gain and mindless snacking is often a result of refined carbohydrate heavy apps at parties! Another thing to look for is the ability of your foods to be held/eaten standing up or sitting sans table. 
  3. SHOP, BUT DON'T DROP: Make a list of all the stuff you'll need for your dishes. Make sure not to way - over or - under estimate. Check how much each of your recipes makes and adjust ingredients accordingly. 
  4. PREP, PREP, PREP: Anything that can be made ahead of time, should be made ahead of time. You want to make the morning or afternoon of your party go as smoothly as possible, Having to prep & plate 5 dishes for 25 people is not the way to do it. 
  5. LESS IS MORE: Don't clutter or crowd your spread. If you find yourself with too many options (it happens) then only put a few out at a time. Swap when you're getting low. Simple serving is all the rage right now and much less hassle. Plus, a simple spread gives you plenty of time to get your fabulous on so that the food isn't the only thing looking on point. (Make sure to check out Megan's guide for looking as fab as she does in all these pictures over at Pine Barren Beauty).

Now go get to it! And start with my perfect holiday party app line-up!

Salad Skewers

(Recipe Coming Tomorrow!)

Happy Hosting!

Easy Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Honey

Some veggies get a bad wrap. Brussels sprouts are one of those veggies. Just the name elicits frowns and twisted faces on some. That's because it's pretty easy to make brussels sprouts taste terrible and once you've had them terrible, it's hard to believe they can be delicious, but for all you Brussels sprouts skeptics out there, there's hope. 

Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, known for their nutrient content and sulfur containing chemicals that turn into biologically active compounds thought to have cancer fighting properties within the body. They're part of a healthy diet and there are a few fool proof ways to ensure that they taste great. This recipe is one of them. It gives the healthy veggie a little sweetness, making it the star of the dinnertime show. 

The recipe makes enough balsamic honey for 2 pounds of brussels sprouts, so don't use it all! You can try to cut it down if you don't want to make it all or you can use the leftovers in a salad dressing or stirred into some plain greek yogurt the next day!

Easy Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Honey

SERVES 4-6

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thin sliced
  • 2 (9oz) containers brussels sprouts, trimmed & quartered
  • kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • shaved pecorino romano or parmesan cheese for topping

Directions: 

Add the olive oil and garlic to a large saute pan over medium heat. Allow the garlic to cook until fragrant and beginning to brown. Add in the brussels sprouts. Cook on medium, tossing periodically, until the sprouts become golden browned and begin to caramelize. If the pan becomes too dry add a splash of olive oil or a tablespoon water to provide some moisture. Season with salt & pepper to taste. 

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, brown sugar, honey, and bay leaf in a saucepan and whisk until combined. Simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until lightly syrupy (10-12 minutes). Remove from heat; let cool until thick & glossy (6 minutes). Remove the bay leaf.

Transfer the sprouts to a serving dish. Drizzle lightly with balsamic honey and sprinkle with shaved cheese just before serving. 

adapted from Food Network Magazine