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Menu Smarts: Plan for Fabulous Food and Fun

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Red Pepper and Tapenade Slices
Feta-Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms
Bacon-Wrapped Artichoke Hearts
Turkey with Cranberry-Merlot Sauce

(Family Features) - 'Tis the season to celebrate! Planning the menu for your holiday gathering should be fun - not fretful. Make a smart party plan for one-stop shopping, add a few delicious shortcuts and be the hostess of the season.

According to Sandra Lee, best-selling author of "Semi-Homemade Cooking," one of the secrets to a successful gathering is to make sure you enjoy your own party. Then your guests will as well. Adding style without sacrificing flavor is simple with a few menu secrets from Sandra that will have your guests serving up extra helpings of food and fun. 

These recipes are some of Lee's favorites for entertaining: They're irresistibly delicious and easy on the cook with convenient ingredients. They, along with 196 other great recipes, are included in Sandra Lee's Recipe Card Collection. The full-color recipe cards are beautifully displayed in a red recipe box and this unique gift item is available exclusively at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores this holiday season.

A smart party starts on paper, so pick up a pen and make a plan. Check out these easy entertaining pointers to deck the halls with holiday cheer.

Kick off the party with festive food

  • Choose friendly foods. Bite-size appetizers are easy to enjoy and easy to serve.
  • Try Sandra Lee's easy appetizer ideas, or pick up convenient, ready-made snacking platters from Wal-Mart. Order delicious shrimp, deli meat, chicken wing, cheese and fruit platters by phone a day in advance and display them on your own decorated dishes.

Keep the party moving

  • Serve in several different spots. This avoids traffic jams and helps guests move and mingle.
  • For the main buffet, make Sandra's Turkey with Cranberry-Merlot Sauce the centerpiece, or pick up a Sam's Choice Double Glazed Brown Sugar Spiral Ham. Round out the menu with favorite side dishes.
  • Ready-made holiday desserts like a cupcake cake or other festive treats top off the evening in sweet style - and they do double-duty as edible centerpieces.

Plan for one-stop shopping

  • Instead of running from store to store, shop at one Supercenter that offers everything you need for entertaining: groceries, beverages, home d├ęcor and even gifts - you'll feel less frazzled and save time.
  • Design your shopping list for moving around the store.
  • Saving time means less stress on you and more time for enjoying holiday fun with family and friends.

Enjoy your own party this holiday season, with good company, great food and lots of cheer. For easy, entertaining ideas all in one place, visit www.walmart.com and click on In Stores Now/Idea Center.

Red Pepper and Tapenade Slices

Description
This hearty appetizer will disappear, so keep ingredients on hand for making a second or third batch.

Ingredients
  • 1 8-ounce can refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive tapenade
  • 1/3 cup roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips

Preparation
    1. Heat oven to 425°F. Unroll dough, separate into 8 triangles. Arrange triangles on baking sheet.
    2. Layer each triangle with some marinara sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, blue cheese, olive tapenade and pepper strips.
    3. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden. Serve warm.

Serves
Makes: 8 pieces

Feta-Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

Description
These irresistible Mediterranean-inspired appetizers are so very satisfying - be sure to make plenty.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers (from jar)
  • 1/4 cup chopped ripe black olives
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 13 3/4-ounce can artichoke bottoms, drained and patted dry

Preparation
    1. Heat broiler. Line cookie sheet with foil.
    2. In medium bowl, combine peppers, olives, cheese and olive oil. Place artichoke bottoms onto prepared cookie sheet. Mound 1 1/2 teaspoons of stuffing onto each artichoke.
    3. Broil 7 minutes or until golden on top. Transfer artichokes to a platter and serve hot.

Serves
Makes: 15 pieces

Bacon-Wrapped Artichoke Hearts

Description
Feel free to double or triple this recipe.

Ingredients
  • 1 12-ounce jar marinated artichoke heart quarters
  • 9 slices bacon, cut in half

Preparation
    1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drain artichoke heart quarters, reserving liquid.
    2. Wrap each artichoke heart quarter with a half-slice bacon. Secure with a toothpick.
    3. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle with reserved liquid from artichokes. Roast 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.

Serves
Makes: 18 pieces

Turkey with Cranberry-Merlot Sauce

Description
Tender turkey breast, arranged on a platter with this sweet-and-savory sauce is perfect on a buffet table. If you're serving a crowd, this recipe doubles easily. Or serve this turkey breast alongside a spiral-sliced ham.

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 cup frozen chopped onion
  • 1 16-ounce can whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup Merlot or other red wine
  • 1 1-ounce packet peppercorn sauce mix

Preparation
    1. Sprinkle turkey with garlic salt; set aside.
    2. Place onion in a 5-quart slow cooker. Place turkey on top. In medium bowl, stir together cranberry sauce, wine and peppercorn sauce mix. Pour over turkey.
    3. Cover and cook on low heat 4 to 6 hours until internal temperature reaches 170°F.
    4. Slice turkey and serve with cooking juices.

Serves
Serves 6

SOURCE: Wal-mart


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