When you are getting ready for holiday parties from Thanksgiving to the New Year, of course you want to be sure they are successful and fun. Here are the three basic keys to making this happen.
1. THE SETTING. Think about the first impression a guest will have when entering your home. Do you have a decorations or flowers in the entryway? What kind of mood are you setting with lighting? You want your place to be appealing.
2. THE SCENT. What will guests smell when they enter your home? Aromatic candles, cookies baking, fresh holiday greens or bouquets will provide lovely scents.
3. THE SOUND. Put on some music to enhance the party. Pick your favorite CDs to create a musical tone for the event. Do keep the sound “low” so people can talk and hear each other!
If you are going to be a guest at a gathering, it’s customary to bring a small hostess gift. We also know our friends and what they like, but if you are unsure, call the hostess and ask if there’s something she would like you to bring. Some people love flowers or plants, but here are some other gift ideas.
Be creative with the hostess gifts you bring to a party. Here are some of my favorites: aromatic potpourris, scented candles, exotic coffees or teas with mugs and lovely hand towels. Other ideas: wine or liquor, gourmet cookies or candies.
Get recommendations from friends or family members who have used local caterers. Call as far in advance of your party date as you can because most caterers get booked for the holidays. Call two or three to get a comparison of prices and services. Here’s more info to consider.
* Be organized when you meet with the caterer. Make a list of everything you want and be as accurate as you can about number of guests, food, beverages, etc.
* Ask specific questions about the price per person and exactly what the caterer will provide and what you will and won’t do. Such as, who gets the leftovers? What if more people show up?
If after your holiday dinner you have leftover mashed potatoes, don’t toss them out. Instead, you can use them up by making potato patties, which you can serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or, just a plain old tasty snack!
1. Mix: 1 cup of mashed potatoes with ½ cup flour, 2 tablespoons of baking powder, 2 beaten eggs, salt and pepper to taste.
2. Form into pancake-size patties or small round, flat “silver dollar” potato munchies.
3. Fry in oil on both sides until brown.
If your turkey does not come with a pop-up temperature button, here’s what you can do to determine if it is cooked properly.
1. Grab a knife and stick it into the turkey thigh pretty far in.
2. If the juice comes out totally clear, the turkey is done!
3. However, you should always use a thermometer and make sure it reaches 180F. The turkey should be done then. Be sure to let it “rest” for 20 minutes or so before carving, to “seal” in the juices.
Try this easy Mayonnaise Method, which will keep the whole turkey moist and create a lovely golden-color skin. Here’s how.
1. Rub the turkey completely with REAL mayonnaise before cooking.
2. Put an aluminum foil tent over it and bake at 325F for the appropriate time for the size of the turkey.
3. Remove the tent during the last 20 to 30 minutes, so the skin will roast to a golden brown. You can also “cheat” a little by sprinkling a little paprika over the turkey and rubbing it around!
First, you have to remove the hazelnut skins. Here’s an easy way to do this task!
1. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet
2. Toast nuts under a hot broiler for several minutes. Watch them closely.
3. Pour nuts onto a clean terry dish towel.
4. Use the towel to rub over the nuts and the skin will come off.
After you’ve put away the leftover ham, don’t throw out the broth. Instead try the following hint.
1. Pour ham broth into an ice-cube tray, cover with plastic wrap and then freeze.
2. Store the frozen broth cubes in a freezer-safe zip bag.
3. You can use the cubes then to flavor, eggs, vegetables and casseroles etc.
With winter coming, we turn up the heat to warm our homes, but the cost of energy/electricity just seems always to be increasing. Here’s a hint for lowering your winter bills.
* Install a programmable thermostat that your can set, so the heat goes on-and-off when you want, which saves you from having the heat on when you are gone.
* Be aware that heating costs can go up from 2- 5 percent for every degree you set the thermostat above 68 degrees. Pull out a warm sweater!
We use these essential cleaning tools often to clean the floors throughout your home. But mops and brooms collect lots of grit and dirt and gunk! Here’s how to clean them.
* There are many types of mops—rubber, synthetic, sponge and cotton.
* Some have removable parts and these can be placed into the washing machine.
* Other mops should just be washed in hot soapy water.
* Synthetic brooms can be cleaned in soapy water. Do take them outside and give them a good shake or two so most of the dust is removed.