(Family Features) Hosting holiday dinners can be stressful, even for the most seasoned home cooks. Between gift giving, cookie baking, home decorating and more, there’s often little time left to think through a festive feast for a hungry crowd of family and friends.
While the main entree and dessert are usually the first courses to be accounted for when planning, seasonal appetizers and sides can set your spread apart. Perfect for intimate gatherings or larger parties, a simple app like Cranberry Walnut and Brie Bites, filled with ingredients like Willow Tree Classic Chicken Salad and creamy Brie cheese, can leave guests anxiously awaiting the rest of the meal.
Round out your menu with must-have sides like potatoes. For example, a traditional French dish like Dauphinoise Potatoes are easy to make and feature a homemade butter and garlic sauce, thinly sliced potatoes and rich Gruyere cheese.
Once the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, however, one of the last things many hosts want to do is cook another big meal. With an option like Willow Tree Chicken Pies, you can skip the hassle and get a meal on the table quickly.
For more easy hosting ideas and recipes, visit willowtreefarm.com.
Cranberry Walnut and Brie Bites
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
- 2 packages (17 ounces each) puff pastry
- 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup sugar, plus additional, to taste
- 1 orange or lemon, zest only, cut into strips
- 2 tablespoons water
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 container (7 1/2 ounces) Willow Tree Classic Chicken Salad
- 4 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 48 pieces
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
- Heat oven to 375° F.
- Thaw puff pastry sheets according to package instructions. Once thawed, unfold into thirds.
- Cut each third into 12 equal squares to make 48 squares.
- Grease two mini muffin tins; press each puff pastry square into muffin cup.
- Bake 8-10 minutes; remove from oven and press center of each cup in with end of wooden spoon.
- While puff pastry is baking, prepare cranberry sauce. Add bag of cranberries into saucepan. In pan over low heat, combine sugar, one strip orange or lemon zest and water; cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium and cook until cranberries burst, about 12 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add sugar, salt and pepper, to taste; let cool slightly and reserve.
- Fill center of each puff pastry cup with chicken salad, 1/2 teaspoon cranberry sauce and one piece Brie cheese.
- Bake 5-7 minutes, until Brie is melted.
- Top with chopped walnuts and minced sage. Serve warm.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30-45 minutes
- 8 ounces potatoes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 ounce Gruyere cheese, for garnish
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Peel and finely slice potatoes.
- Add butter to saucepan and melt. Finely mince garlic and add to saucepan; saute gently until garlic is pale golden color.
- Add cream to saucepan and bring to rapid simmer but do not boil.
- In oven-safe dish, arrange slices of potato in even layers.
- Pour warm cream over potatoes slowly, allowing to seep between layers without overflowing dish.
- Top generously with sliced Gruyere cheese and place in oven, 30-45 minutes per portion. When done, potatoes should be golden-brown on top, bubbling at edges and a knife should slide easily into center.
Note: Recipe can be multiplied for additional servings.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Dauphinoise Potatoes)
Source: Willow Tree
(Family Features) The to-do list for holiday hosts seems to be a never-ending one, starting with planning, guest lists and preparation then ending with goodbyes and cleanup. The hours of work that go into a festive get-together are almost always worth it in the end, and family members surely appreciate the hospitality – especially when it comes to food.
When hosting for the holidays, it can be a challenge to accommodate all of your guests’ favorite tastes while factoring in dietary preferences and restrictions. Building out a balanced menu, like other parts of hosting, starts with devising a thought-out plan.
To help accomplish this task without cooking up personal dishes for everybody in the house, consider these simple tips:
- Request that guests RSVP. Assuming you have a basic understanding of which friends and family members adhere to special diets, knowing exactly who is coming can be a major help before heading to the store.
- Think back to past festivities. Try to remember which dishes were hits at last year’s party, and which ones were hardly touched. Maybe the appetizers that disappeared in a flash will be good ideas to repeat this year.
- Create dishes that fit (almost) everyone. While you can’t control guests’ flavor preferences, it is possible to whip up snack trays, main courses, desserts and more that fit a multitude of dietary restrictions. For example, these Bacon, Baked Brie and Cranberry Holiday Melts feature Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers for a gluten-free, non-GMO, low-sugar, tasty crunch. Because they’re made with wholesome ingredients, these simple snacks are crafted to fit nearly every healthy lifestyle. Plus, if multiple family members adhere to vegetarian lifestyles, you can simply omit the bacon.
- Add “warning” labels. Despite your best efforts, it can be nearly impossible to create foods every single person can enjoy. If you make a dish containing a common allergen, such as peanuts, simply place a card next to the bowl, tray, plate or pan that informs guests of the ingredients included.
For other recipes, coupons, tips and nutritional information, visit crunchmaster.com.
Bacon, Baked Brie and Cranberry Holiday Melts
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
- 24 Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers, Sea Salt flavor
- 24 small slices Brie cheese
- 1/4 cup prepared cranberry sauce
- 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Heat broiler to high and position rack in center of oven. Arrange crackers in single layer on foil-lined baking sheet.
- Top each cracker with slice of Brie, 1/2 teaspoon cranberry sauce and sprinkle of bacon. Broil 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Tip: For vegetarian option, substitute chopped hickory-smoked almonds or pecans for bacon.
Nutritional information per serving: 200 calories; 13 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 45 mg cholesterol; 350 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 10 g protein.
Festive flavors and seasonal sips
(Family Features) The holidays are the perfect time to gather with friends and family to celebrate the season.
Take the stress out of hosting by shopping at a store like ALDI for your holiday must-haves, including everything from food and wine to holiday decor and even gifts for nearly anyone on your list, helping you to save time and money.
Toast to the holidays with an impressive appetizer spread, paired with award-winning wines, with recipes like Cranberry Shrimp Ceviche Cups paired with the creamy and tropical taste of William Wright Chardonnay. Or whip up quick and easy Party Poppers made with dates, Brie cheese and bacon to mesh with the fruit, vanilla and spicy fall notes of Peaks & Tides Cabernet Sauvignon.
Blue Cheese and Walnut Mousse provides a savory finish when matched with La Rue Côtes de Provence Rosé and its hints of lavender, rosemary and thyme. Finally, add a little something sweet to your spread by pairing the refreshingly ripe Landshut Riesling with a festive Gingerbread Trifle.
Find more holiday recipes and shopping solutions at ALDI.us .
Blue Cheese and Walnut Mousse
Recipe courtesy of Chef Scott, ALDI Test Kitchen
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 10 servings
- 2 tablespoons Simply Nature 100% Pure Avocado Oil
- 3 large yellow onions, sliced
- 5 ounces Happy Farms Preferred Blue Cheese Crumbles
- 8 ounces Happy Farms Cream Cheese
- Stonemill Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- 1 cup Friendly Farms Heavy Whipping Cream
- 8 ounces Southern Grove Chopped Walnuts, divided
- 5 cucumbers, thinly sliced
- In large pan, heat oil and saute onions until brown and caramelized.
- In food processor, combine blue cheese crumbles and cream cheese. Process until smooth. Season with pepper, to taste.
- In medium bowl, using hand mixer, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Fold in cheese mixture and 4 ounces chopped walnuts.
- Top cucumber slices with mousse, caramelized onions and remaining chopped walnuts. Finish by grinding black pepper over top for garnish.
- Pair each serving with glass of La Rue Cotes de Provence Rosé.
Tip: Mousse can also be served as a dip with baguette slices.
Recipe courtesy of the ALDI Test Kitchen
Prep time: 20 minutes
Yield: 12 servings
- 1 package (3.4 ounces) Baker’s Corner Vanilla Pudding
- 1 3/4 cups Specially Selected Premium Eggnog
- 1/2 teaspoon Stonemill Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 7 ounces Café Bistro Soft Gingerbread, crumbled, divided
- 1 1/4 cups Friendly Farms Whipped Topping, divided
- 1 cup Berryhill Apple Butter, divided
- 2 teaspoons Stonemill Ground Cinnamon
- Whisk vanilla pudding mix and eggnog. Add pumpkin pie spice and beat 2 minutes. Chill in refrigerator 10 minutes.
- In large glass bowl, layer one-third of gingerbread cookies, one-third of pudding, one-third of whipped topping and 1/2 cup apple butter; repeat two more times.
- The third layer will end with whipped topping. Garnish with cinnamon.
- Chill in refrigerator 2 hours.
- Pair each serving with glass of Landshut Riesling.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Alyssa, ALDI Test Kitchen
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 36 poppers
- 8 ounces Southern Grove Pitted Dates
- 4 ounces Specially Selected Brie Cheese Round
- 6 ounces Southern Grove Slivered Almonds
- 1 1/2 pounds Specially Selected Thick Sliced Hickory Bacon
- 2 teaspoons Stonemill Ground Black Pepper
- Heat oven to 375° F.
- Cut dates in half, lengthwise.
- Cut brie into bite-size pieces, about the size of peanuts.
- Place one piece of Brie and four almond pieces on each open date half. Place other half on top.
- Quarter bacon slices, wrap tightly around stuffed dates and secure with toothpicks. Sprinkle with pepper.
- Line baking sheet with foil and place wrapped dates on top. Bake 15 minutes, or until bacon is crispy. Serve warm.
- Pair each serving with glass of Peaks & Tides Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cranberry Shrimp Ceviche Cups
Recipe courtesy of Chef Kates, ALDI Test Kitchen
Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour chill time
Cook time: 3 minutes
Yield: 16 ceviche cups
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Stonemill Iodized Salt, divided
- 16 ounces Specially Selected Black Tiger Shrimp, thawed
- 1 cup Southern Grove Dried Cranberries
- 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 1/2 jalapeno, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon Stonemill Crushed Red Pepper or Ground Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Stonemill Oregano
- 13 ounces Simply Nature Organic Tortilla Chips, for garnish
- 2 limes, cut into wedges, for garnish
- fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
- Bring medium pot of water to boil. Season with 1 teaspoon salt. Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes. Immediately plunge cooked shrimp into ice water bath. Peel shrimp and place in flat dish.
- In food processor, combine dried cranberries, red onion, parsley and jalapeno. Pulse until finely chopped. Add cranberry mixture to shrimp.
- Add lemon juice, lime juice, remaining salt, pepper and oregano. Stir to combine thoroughly. Refrigerate 1 hour.
- To assemble: Spoon ceviche (about 4-5 shrimp each) into small clear cups or glasses. Garnish with tortilla chips, lime wedges and fresh cranberries, if desired.
- Pair each serving with glass of William Wright Chardonnay.
(Family Features) The holiday season is full of opportunities to eat, drink and gather around the table with the ones you love. Whether it's a family dinner, office potluck or neighborhood brunch, good food is a cornerstone of nearly every great holiday celebration.
From hosting guests to kids returning home on winter break, the holiday season can require more planning than usual. Ensure you're prepared this year with a savory centerpiece staple like Smithfield Spiral Sliced Ham or a crowd-pleasing favorite like Bacon French Toast Bake, giving you more time to soak in the best parts of the season.
To keep the holiday season fresh and exciting, consider putting a twist on a classic, like adding sausage to a traditional side dish like Sausage and Ciabatta Stuffing. Available as links, patties and rolls, Smithfield's line of Fresh Breakfast Sausage is made using premium, high-quality pork to provide big flavor that can be enjoyed any time of day.
For more recipes and tips that can help make your holiday soiree a breeze, visit Smithfield.com/HolidayHub.
Bacon French Toast Bake
- 1 small loaf challah or brioche bread, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- nonstick cooking spray
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 slices Smithfield Bacon, cooked and chopped
- 1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1 teaspoon powdered sugar, for dusting
- Leave bread slices out, at room temperature, at least 3 hours, or until slightly stale.
- Generously coat 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange bread, slightly overlapping.
- In large bowl, whisk eggs, heavy cream, milk, Gruyere cheese, maple syrup and cinnamon. Add chopped bacon, saving 2 tablespoons for later. Pour over bread in baking dish. With hands, press down on bread to submerge.
- Cover baking dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 5 hours, or overnight.
- Heat oven to 375 F. Remove plastic. Sprinkle remaining bacon and Swiss cheese over top of bread mixture.
- Bake 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and set.
- Top with blackberries and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Sausage and Ciabatta Stuffing
- 1 large loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 pound Smithfield Fresh Sausage Roll
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
- 2 cups celery, diced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus additional for garnish
- 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat oven to 325 F.
- Bake ciabatta bread cubes until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 375 F.
- In skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter.
- Cook sausage, breaking meat into medium pieces, until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer sausage to large bowl; set aside.
- Add remaining butter to skillet; cook carrots, onions and celery until soft, 5-7 minutes, and transfer to bowl with sausage.
- In large bowl, mix bread cubes, chicken broth, olive oil, parsley, rosemary and salt and pepper, to taste. Add vegetable and sausage mixture to bread cubes mixture and combine.
- Spread evenly in greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake until golden brown and bread is slightly crisp on top, 30-35 minutes.
- Garnish with additional parsley before serving.
Tip: Recipe can be made one day before and refrigerated overnight.
(Family Features) When deciding which dishes to serve this year at holiday gatherings, consider going beyond traditional recipes and use beloved seasonal ingredients in new ways.
For example, while pecan pie is top of mind for many dessert-makers, it’s also a perfect time to make new dishes with an ingredient like pecans, also known as The Original Supernut. Naturally sweet and nutritious, the pecan lends itself to nearly endless holiday menu inspiration.
It hasn’t been an easy year for the pecan industry, but you can support American pecan growers and #PledgePecans – that’s a promise to add one more pecan-friendly recipe beyond the pie to your table this holiday.
To pledge, visit Americanpecan.com/PledgePecans and click on seasonal recipes or watch the Pecan-A-Thon, an entertainment variety show spotlighting the growers behind the Supernut and showcasing ways pecans can be enjoyed this holiday season.
Pecan-Crusted Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream Sauce
Horseradish Cream Sauce (optional):
- 1 cup low-fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup horseradish, grated
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 lemon, juice and zest only
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely sliced
- kosher salt, to taste
- fresh black pepper, to taste
- 1 boneless prime rib roast (8-10 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1/4 teaspoon, kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh black pepper, plus additional for pecan topping
- 1 cup raw pecan pieces
- 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 garlic cloves, divided
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
- To make Horseradish Cream Sauce: In small bowl, combine sour cream, horseradish, mustard, lemon juice and zest, and fresh chives; add salt and pepper, to taste. Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead of time and refrigerated.
- Season prime rib with 1 tablespoon salt and pepper; let sit at room temperature 1 hour.
- To make pecan topping: Heat oven to 325° F. In food processor, process pecans, rosemary, thyme, breadcrumbs, butter, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon mustard, remaining salt and pepper until combined. Set aside.
- Cut small slits in fatty side of prime rib; stuff with remaining garlic. Rub remaining mustard over top of prime rib and apply pecan topping, making sure to press firm.
- Transfer prime rib to roasting pan. Place rib roast in lower-third of oven, insert digital probe thermometer in middle and loosely cover top of prime rib with foil so pecans don’t burn. Cook 1 1/2 hours, remove foil and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 120° F.
- Allow prime rib to rest covered 30 minutes so juices can redistribute. Serve with Horseradish Cream Sauce, if desired.
Pecan Apple Stuffing
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or pecan oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 ounces herb-seasoned cubed stuffing
- 2 cups tart apples, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
- 1 cup chicken broth, plus additional (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat oven to 350° F. Grease large casserole dish or 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In large skillet, brown sausage, breaking into crumbles. Drain on paper towels. Discard excess grease.
- In same pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Saute onions, celery and garlic 2-3 minutes, or until starting to soften and fragrant.
- In large bowl, mix sausage, onion mixture, stuffing cubes, apples and pecans.
- Add broth and stir to combine. If stuffing mixture remains dry, add additional broth as desired. Season with salt and pepper; stir to combine.
- Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes.
Source: American Pecan Council
(Family Features) The holiday season is meant for spending quality time with friends and family, not stressing out over hosting. With some simple tips, you can cut down on hectic preparations while creating a memorable holiday full of food and fun guests can savor.
Consider these suggestions from the entertaining experts at Real California Milk:
Heading into your seasonal soiree with a plan in place can help avoid snafus. Make a shopping list of ingredients and decorations. Then put together a schedule a few days prior to the event to cover last-minute preparations.
Elevate Holiday Classics
Elevating classic appetizers is a simple way to savor the season. A trend on the rise, the Grazing Table starts with the table as the canvas, adds elements of the traditional cheese board then takes it to the next level with an arrangement of appetizers or brunch dishes and seasonal decor. Another way to lift your holiday spread is using high-quality, authentic ingredients like Real California Milk cheeses, made with milk from California dairy farm families, which are key ingredients in this Sweet Citrus and Spice Cheese Board.
Prepare Dishes and Decorations in Advance
Preparing for guests can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of hosting. Decorating at least a day ahead and setting the table the night before, for example, can help minimize stress. Welcome guests with holiday cheer and trendy decor like a virtual yule log made of melting cheese, complete with holiday music.
For more holiday inspiration and recipes like antipasto skewers and yogurt-pesto dip, queso fundido and cheese logs and bundts, visit realcaliforniamilk.com/recipes.
- Toma cheese, sliced
- natural almonds
- Real California aged cheddar, sliced
- Real California burrata cheese
- olive oil
- blue cheese
- Real California braided marinated string cheese
- dry salami, sliced
- premade antipasto skewers
- yogurt pesto dipping sauce
- Real California aged Gouda
- brie cheese
- Real California cheese log
- Real California cheese bundts
- dry jack cheese
- sweet red piquante peppers
- green California olives
- premade Real California queso fundido
- tortilla chips
- dark chocolate sea salt caramels
- dried citrus, such as oranges and lemons
- artisan bread, sliced
- On large board, plate or tray, arrange sliced toma cheese, almonds, prosciutto, salami and aged cheddar. In center, place burrata cheese and top with olive oil and herbs.
- On separate small plate, place blue cheese; crumble.
- On medium board, arrange braided string cheese and dry salami slices.
- On serving platter, arrange antipasto skewers around bowl of yogurt pesto dipping sauce.
- On separate small cheese board, place Gouda, brie cheese and cheese log.
- On slate, arrange cheese bundts. On separate plate, place dry jack cheese.
- In separate bowls, place piquante peppers and green olives.
- Arrange boards, plates, bowls and skillet of queso fundido on table, as desired.
- Fill blank spaces on table with breadsticks, tortilla chips, dark chocolate sea salt caramels, dried oranges, dried lemons and bread slices. Add floral arrangements and holiday decor for finishing touches. Complete table with cheese knives and spreaders.
Sweet Citrus and Spice Cheese Board
- Real California brie cheese
- black olives
- green olives
- dried oranges, sliced
- Real California pepper jack cheese sliced
- Real California burrata cheese
- honey, for garnish
- fresh herbs, for garnish
- To assemble cheese board: On large board, plate or tray, arrange brie cheese, olives, dried orange slices, sliced pepper jack cheese and almonds.
- On smaller board, arrange raspberries and blackberries around burrata cheese placed in center of board. Garnish cheese with honey and fresh herbs. Place smaller board into empty space on larger board.
(Family Features) From office potlucks and cocktail parties to family dinners and beyond, the mealtime celebrations during the holidays are endless. Whether you're serving as a host or bringing your signature dish to a get-together, these tips can help you own the holiday season without breaking a sweat:
- Stick with fewer, easy-to-find, high-quality ingredients.
- Look for products that help you cut down on time but don't skimp on flavor, like Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork, which is pre-seasoned and comes in a variety of cuts and flavors.
- Sprinkle and decorate finished dishes with fresh, seasonal herbs for a festive touch.
To help get you inspired in the kitchen, try this recipe for Fresh Pork and Kalamata Flatbreads for a savory appetizer made with less than 10 ingredients, or Fresh Pork with Sweet Balsamic-Red Wine Reduction for a decadent main course you can have ready in just 30 minutes.
For more quick and easy holiday recipe ideas, visit SmithfieldRealFlavorRealFast.com.
Fresh Pork with Sweet Balsamic-Red Wine Reduction
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 Smithfield Applewood Smoked Bacon Marinated Fresh Pork Loin Filet
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Cut pork loin filet into 3/4-to-1-inch thick chops.
- In large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
- Cook half the pork chops 4-5 minutes on each side until internal temperature reaches 150° F. Remove pork chops from skillet and place on rimmed serving platter; cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining olive oil and pork chops.
- In same skillet, combine wine, vinegar and sugar. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; cook 3-5 minutes until slightly thickened, or until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup.
- Serve pork chops drizzled with wine reduction and sprinkled with rosemary.
Fresh Pork and Kalamata Flatbreads
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
- 1 Smithfield Roasted Garlic & Cracked Black Pepper Marinated Fresh Pork Tenderloin
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 can (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust dough
- 3/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
- 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives, drained
- 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- Cut pork tenderloin into 3/4-inch cubes.
- Heat oven to 400° F. In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Stir-fry pork 8-10 minutes, or until well browned.
- Unroll pizza dough and press onto greased sheet pan, about 18-by-13 inches; cut into six rectangles.
- Drain tomatoes, reserving oil. Brush tops of flatbreads with sun-dried tomato oil, reserving about 1 tablespoon. Top with pork, drained tomatoes, olives and rosemary, pressing into dough lightly with fingertips.
- Bake 18-21 minutes until edges are golden brown.
- Remove from oven. Drizzle remaining sun-dried tomato olive oil evenly over flatbreads; let stand on baking sheet 2 minutes before serving.
(Family Features) Thoughts of hosting and entertaining during one of the busiest seasons of the year can be stressful. With so much party preparation for the holidays, from decor to drinks and appetizers to activities, it’s easy to see how even the most experienced hosts can get a little flustered.
One way to make sure you get to enjoy this year’s festivities is to streamline preparation without sacrificing flavor, quality or appearance. By limiting the number of drinks and dishes you serve, you can wow your guests with both your culinary expertise and your smile.
- Stick to one or two signature cocktails so you won’t have to stock the bar (which can be expensive) or take drink orders and play bartender all night. Save even more time by serving make-ahead cocktails that simply require adding soda when ready to drink. Add white and red wine options, and offer seltzer and cranberry or pomegranate juice for mocktails.
- Make a festive centerpiece that’s also edible, such as this Wreath Centerpiece from Kaukauna Cheese. Assemble it the day before or the morning of the party, eliminating last-minute stress. It’s simple to make and appropriate for nearly any holiday gathering. Plus, the “No-Artificial-Anything” Cheese Ball, with no additives or artificial ingredients, can appeal to the taste buds of hungry guests.
- Let your hors d’oeuvres serve double duty as both appetizer and party decor. To make it nearly effortless, head to your local grocery store’s deli section. Pick up cured meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables, assorted olives, breads, crackers, nuts and fruits. Arrange on a large platter, board or tray then garnish with rosemary sprigs and scatter with pomegranate seeds for a festive finish in a flash.
For more easy entertaining recipes, visit Kaukaunacheese.com.
Edible Wreath Centerpiece
- 1 Kaukauna Port Wine Cheddar Cheese Ball (10 ounces)
- 1 container (11.3 ounces) Kaukauna Sharp Cheddar Cheese Spread
- sesame seeds or poppy seeds
- bacon bits or chopped walnuts
- 10-12 small pretzel sticks
- rosemary, for garnish (optional)
- Place cheese ball in center of large, round platter.
- To make mini cheese balls, shape 1-2 tablespoons of cheese spread into balls. Roll lightly in seeds and bacon bits or walnuts.
- Insert pretzel sticks into mini cheese balls up to 1 hour prior to serving. Store in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.
Source: Kaukauna Cheese
(Family Features) When it comes to preparing a spread for a holiday gathering, some may look to traditional wine varieties such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. However, as holiday traditions become less traditional, you can also branch out in your selection of wines.
Produced from the indigenous grapes of Sicily, wines from Sicilia DOC offer fresh taste, quality and variety. The wines come to life when paired with a variation of holiday dishes.
These three tips can help you pair Sicilian wines with the dishes you may serve as part of your holiday spread:
For the Light White Wine Fan
With a low alcohol percentage and fruity notes, an option such as Grillo can be a fan favorite at any holiday gathering and makes for a perfect hostess gift. This white wine features notes of white peaches and grapefruit and can pair well with seafood appetizers, baked casseroles, vegetarian sides or a well-known Sicilian dish like this Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad.
For Guests Looking for a Graceful Red Wine
A modern take on Pinot Noir, Frappato is a light-to-medium-bodied wine with a lingering freshness that’s persistent and balanced with notes of cherry and strawberry. This wine pairs well with both white and dark meat of flavorful holiday turkeys as well as pastas, pizza, roasted meats, potatoes and cheeses.
For Friends Who Favor a Complex Red
For guests who favor Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, an option such as Nero d’Avola is a nice alternative, with aromas of ripe cherry, rose, sweet spices, licorice and cocoa. As a go-to red wine, it pairs well with a hearty charcuterie platter, roasted meats, lamb, pizza and pastas.
For more holiday wine pairings and recipes, visit winesofsicily.com.
Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad
Recipe courtesy of Wines of Sicilia DOC Servings: 8
- 2 pounds thin green beans
- 6 blood oranges
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- maple syrup
- Add salt to large pot of boiling water. Add green beans and cook until tender and bright green. Drain beans in colander and transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Once cool, drain and pat dry with towel.
- Peel four oranges and remove white pith. Working over bowl, cut between membranes to release sections into bowl. Zest one remaining orange and juice both uncut oranges; reserve zest. Transfer juice to saucepan and add vinegar, honey and pepper flakes. Bring to boil then simmer over moderate heat until reduced to syrup, 10 minutes. Season with salt.
- In large bowl, toss beans, orange sections and 3 tablespoons vinegar syrup. Transfer to serving platter; drizzle with maple syrup, almonds and orange zest.
Pair each serving with a glass of Grillo.
Source: Wines of Sicilia DOC
(Family Features) If you manage to avoid hosting duties this holiday season, you may be dodging some of the hardest work, but remember that being a good guest goes beyond arriving on time and taking your shoes off at the door. This holiday season, ensure your host gets to enjoy the festivities by putting these ideas to practice – it may earn you an invitation for years to come.
Make a holiday playlist. Offer to put together a holiday playlist for the host who will undoubtedly have his or her hands full prepping for the holiday celebration. Try to choose songs specific to the guests, host and overall theme. A good playlist can be a conversation starter for everyone at the party.
Don't arrive empty-handed. Even if your host shrugs off an offer for help, a gesture of appreciation is always appropriate. It may be a bottle of wine, a seasonal flower arrangement or, better yet, an appetizer or dessert to share, such as this mouthwatering Slow Cooker Banana Cake. This crowd-pleasing cake is made using a Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry Slow Cooker, which has a locking lid and travel clips to help you get to your holiday celebration without making a mess. The 6-quart, removable pot can be used as a serving dish, and is dishwasher safe to make clean-up a breeze.
Stay off your phone. It may seem obvious, but these days, looking at your phone is almost as habitual as breathing, and chances are you don’t mean to appear standoffish or rude by sneaking a quick peek. However, playing with your phone can detract from time you get to spend with family and friends, many of whom you probably don’t get to see often. Tuck away your phone for the party and live in the moment.
Pitch in to help clean. No host likes to be stuck in the kitchen while the rest of the party carries on. After the meal, offer your help to clear the table, put away perishable items and get the kitchen back in order so your host can join the merry-making. If you’ll be opening gifts, grab a garbage bag and collect debris to help keep the mess under control.
Find more holiday recipes and tips at Crock-Pot.com.
Slow Cooker Banana Cake
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours
- Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry Slow Cooker
- nonstick cooking spray
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 3-4 ripe bananas
- 2 lemon wedges, juice only
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups honey or 2 cups white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups almond milk
- cream cheese frosting
- Grease slow cooker with nonstick spray.
- In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- In small bowl, mash bananas and lemon juice together; set aside.
- In large bowl, use mixer to cream butter and honey. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in vanilla then milk. Gradually add flour mixture. Once combined, stir in mashed bananas.
- Pour into slow cooker. Cover; cook on low 6 hours or high 4 hours, or until center of cake no longer looks gooey.
- Uncover and let cake cool. Once completely cooled, frost cake and, if desired, top with sliced bananas and walnuts.
Notes: If adding bananas, do so just before serving or they will brown. If using a non-oval slow cooker, cook 1 hour less on high heat or 2 hours less on low heat.
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