As we are winding down the calendar year, but gearing up for professional and personal holiday gatherings, the same question gets asked over and over: What to serve on a budget? For the month of December I want to take this morsel out of the banqueting kitchen and bring it into your home for the holidays.
I asked my friends who have a lot of experience with kids and families which holiday foods are most popular. I took their answers and combined it with my thoughts sprinkled in for good measure. Below are some helpful hints to see you through. The theme of my suggestions: simplicity.
My oldest friend, Brenda, has been an elementary school teacher for more than 20 years and is an expert in the cookie department. In her experience, Pillsbury Holiday Cookies are always a winner with kids and, if you have the time, any type of cut-out cookie. But don’t cut costs on the icing as it cheapens the cookie.
What I love the most about Brenda’s sweets is she adds unusual twists to the everyday. For example, she makes a fantastic oatmeal raisin cookie using chocolate-covered raisins. Another crowd pleaser of hers is pouring brownie batter in a cupcake wrapper, inserting a Rollo to create a creamy caramel center.
Is any of this time consuming? No. Is it thoughtful? Yes. More importantly, is it simple? That is a bigger yes.
Other fun food tips:
- Fudge – You can customize the flavor to suit your audience. Fudge is an item that people enjoy and yet don’t see very often. It is truly considered a treat.
- Jello – For low sugar; low calorie tasteful dessert make a sugar free jello parfait with whipped cream. The key is to dress this dessert up by putting it into decorative glasses. For the kids? jello jigglers.
- Chips, dips and spreads – Refer to your favorite church cookbook for a variety of true blue recipes.
Fun ideas for gatherings:
- Dust off the crock pot and let people serve themselves.
- If you’re on a budget, make a brisket. People love this cut of meat. But, the key is to use a trustworthy recipe (and don’t deviate!).
Need help figuring out how much to make? Follow these guidelines:
- Salad – 3 ounces per person
- Veggie – 2 ounces per person
- Protein – 6 (cooked) ounces per person. Pay attention to the amount of shrinkage to the meat and fat that will be trimmed.
- Starch – 3 ounces per person
- Dessert – Yes, please!
I do want to end this year of monthly morsels on a sweet note by recommending you experiment with dark chocolate. It is gaining in popularity, but you don’t often see it in the traditional holiday mix of treats. If you are going to make something using dark chocolate, however, spend the extra money as cheap dark chocolate tastes like chalk.
What am I grateful for this holiday?
My friends and clients who helped me through this challenging year. To all my readers thank you very much for your continued support, it is truly an honor.
This is my last story for 2010, and I will be sticking to it.