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Holiday entertaining made easy


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Updated: 1/25/2013 9:31 am Published: 10/17/2012 2:58 pm


(BPT) - The holidays are just around the corner, which means family and friends will soon get together at your home to celebrate. Whether you're hosting large or intimate gatherings, having a game plan in place well in advance of your event is essential. With a few simple steps, you can jumpstart holiday entertaining - and increase your own enjoyment at the event.

Theme it

Whether you're hosting your get-together in December or into the new year, there's simplicity in creating a theme and sticking to it. For inspiration, check out your favorite holiday films or books; or peruse home and garden magazines or Pinterest for creative entertaining ideas. Once you have a theme chosen, the rest of the details will quickly begin to fall into place. The theme can involve the types of food and drink served, the colors and types of decorations you decide to use, or even your guests' attire.

Plan it

Send out invitations a month prior to the get-together. Invites can be extended through the mail in a creative way, like a holiday card or a small gift box or cookie tin that guests can bring to the party to take home edible favors. To save time and money, manage party invitations online, with a website like evite.com or pingg.com. These sites can help you keep track of guest lists, send reminders and even generate post-event thank-you notes, ensuring you remain on-task, with minimal effort.

Two weeks prior to your party date, take some time to prepare the menu. This will ensure ample time to pick up all the needed grocery items, find any specialty items and avoid last minute runs to the store. Search for recipes with common ingredients and varying preparation times, so you can space out your cooking and baking in the days leading up to your event. Begin setting tables and decorating several days prior to your party.

Stage it

Consider whether your gathering will be a sit-down meal or more of a standing-room affair. If you're only serving drinks and hors d'oeuvres, consider clearing out areas for guests to converse. To keep guests mingling from room to room, strategically space out the food and beverages throughout the areas. If you are serving a full-course meal, be sure you have ample seating for everyone. Think creatively about places for your guests to sit. End tables can be covered with decorative tablecloths and placed in front of a sofa for additional, comfortable settings. Saw horses, a wood board, and a tablecloth can make a quick and easy table in a pinch.

Create it

Between baking holiday cookies and preparing decadent meals, you'll likely find yourself quite busy in the kitchen. Save some of your precious time and energy with a kitchen appliance that does most of the work, helping you to quickly and easily create your holiday menu and spend more time with guests.

The Vitamix Professional Series 750 makes holiday entertaining easy. By utilizing pre-programmed settings for smoothies, frozen desserts, hot soups and purees, hundreds of delicious recipes can be made at the push of a button and cleaned up just as quickly. The Professional Series 750 also automatically shuts off once the cycle is complete, resulting in no-fail, consistent results.

Impress your guests and streamline your holiday menus with the following recipes.

Vitamix Holiday Squash Soup

Ingredients:

2 cups (480 ml) chicken or vegetable broth

1⁄2 butternut squash, freshly roasted, peeled or 2 cups (410 g) freshly cooked squash

2 tablespoons (20 g) chopped onion

1⁄4 medium apple, seeded

1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1⁄4 teaspoon dried sage

1⁄4 teaspoon dried rosemary

1⁄8 teaspoon white pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 cup (60 ml) heavy whipping cream

Directions:

Place broth, squash, onion, apple, nutmeg, sage, rosemary, pepper and salt into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid. Select Hot Soup program. Switch machine to Start and allow machine to complete programmed cycle. Add heavy cream to the Vitamix container and secure lid. Switch machine to Start and slowly increase speed to Variable 8. Blend for an additional 30 seconds.

Nutritional information

Per 1 cup (240 ml) serving: Calories: 109, Total Fat: 6 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Protein: 2 g, Fiber: 3 g, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Sodium: 766 mg, Cholesterol: 20 mg

Vitamix Cranberry Lime Sparkle

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (120 ml) 100 percent cranberry juice

4 ounces (120 ml) light rum

2 ounces (60 ml) vodka

2 Tablespoons (25 g) sugar

1/4 small lime, peeled, seeded

1/4 cup (25 g) fresh cranberries

2 cups (480 ml) ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid. Select Variable 1. Switch machine to Start and slowly increase speed to Variable 10. Blend for 15 to 20 seconds or until desired consistency is reached. Pour into a sugar-rimmed glass and serve immediately.

Nutritional information

Per 1 cup (240 ml) serving: Calories: 193, Total Fat: 0 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Protein: 0 g, Fiber: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Sodium: 3 mg, Cholesterol: 0 mg


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