Spoon Up Tradition

When cooler temperatures call for something to warm you up, good, old-fashioned soups and stews may be just what you need.

You can create delicious, steaming pots that taste like they’re straight out of mom’s kitchen with flavorful, convenient ingredients such as Aunt Nellie’s Pickled Beets and READ Salads to help streamline preparation. With these contemporary recipes, you’re in and out of the kitchen in under an hour without any long simmering required.

Find more recipes to warm yourself from the inside out at AuntNellies.com and READsalads.com.

German Potato Salad Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

  • 1          cup chopped onion
  • 1          cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1          tablespoon olive oil
  • 2          cans (15 ounces each) READ German Potato Salad, chopped
  • 1          bottle (12 ounces) light beer
  • 3/4       cup reduced-sodium, fat- free chicken broth
  • 6          ounces (1 cup) diced ham, smoked turkey or sliced smoked sausage (optional)
  • 1/2       teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/4       teaspoon pepper
  • 1          tablespoon chopped parsley
  • rye croutons (optional)
  • crumbled bacon (optional)
  1. In Dutch oven or 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, cook onion and bell pepper in oil until onion starts to brown, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add potato salad, beer, broth and meat, if desired, and stir to combine. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt, if desired, pepper and parsley.
  3. Serve topped with rye croutons and bacon, if desired.

Rustic Vegetable Beet Soup

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 6

  • 1          jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Whole Pickled Beets, drained
  • 2          tablespoons olive oil
  • 2          medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2          medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1          medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2          large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2          zucchinis (about 5 ounces each), coarsely chopped
  • 2          cans (about 14 ounces each) vegetable broth
  • 1          teaspoon seasoned salt (optional)
  • 1          can (15 1/2 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2          tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • Gremolata (optional)

Gremolata:

  • 1          tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1          tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 2          cloves garlic, minced
  • 1          teaspoon grated lemon peel
  1. Coarsely chop beets; set aside.
  2. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions; cook about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add carrots, sweet potato and garlic. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add zucchini, broth and seasoned salt, if desired. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add chickpeas; heat through. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  4. To prepare Gremolata: In small bowl, combine all ingredients.
  5. Stir in parsley and dill. Stir in beets. Serve immediately; top with Gremolata, if desired.

Tex-Mex Bean and Butternut Squash Stew

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

Stew:

  • 1          can (15 ounces) READ Southwestern Bean Salad, divided
  • 1          teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2  teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1          clove garlic, chopped
  • 2          cups cubed or chopped butternut squash, fresh or frozen (about 1/2- 3/4-inch pieces)
  • 1          can (14 1/2 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2    cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1          teaspoon lime zest, plus additional for garnish (optional)
  • Chipotle-Lime Crema
  • chopped cilantro (optional)

Chipotle-Lime Crema:

  • 1/4       cup plain nonfat yogurt or sour cream
  • 1          teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/8       teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  1. To prepare stew: Place half of canned bean salad, cumin, chili powder and garlic into bowl of food processor. Puree until blended but still slightly chunky.
  2. Add remaining bean salad to large saucepan. Stir in butternut squash, tomatoes, broth, pureed bean salad mixture and lime zest. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until squash is tender and stew reaches desired thickness.
  3. To prepare crema: In small bowl, combine yogurt, lime zest and chili powder.
  4. Serve topped with Chipotle-Lime Crema, cilantro and lime zest, if desired.

Notes: If using frozen butternut squash, add to stew during last 2-3 minutes of cooking to prevent overcooking. Orange zest can be used instead of lime zest, if desired. Recipe can be doubled.

Bacon-Apple Red Cabbage Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

  • 2          slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1          medium red onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1          clove garlic, minced
  • 1          jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage, not drained
  • 2          cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1          medium apple, chopped (about 1 cup), plus additional for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4       teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/8       teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
  • 1/8       teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
  • plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)
  • crumbled cooked bacon (optional)
  1. In large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through and crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; reserve. Drain drippings; return 1 tablespoon to pan; discard remaining drippings.
  2. Add onion to pan. Cook about 2 minutes, until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook and stir about 30 seconds. Add red cabbage and liquid from jar, broth and chopped apple. Stir in cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add water, 1/2 cup at a time, if soup is too thick. Add bacon to pan. Continue simmering about 3-5 minutes, until apples are tender and soup reaches desired consistency.
  3. Spoon into bowl. Garnish with apples, yogurt and crumbled bacon, if desired. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Aunt Nellie’s

The Lincoln Center Theater Production Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I

Ambassador Theatre Group and NETworks Presentations, LLC announce a national tour of The Lincoln Center Theater Production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I, will play Bass Concert Hall in Austin for a limited one-week engagement, December 12-17, 2017. Tickets on sale now.

Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

THE KING AND I directed by Tony Award® Winner Bartlett Sher won four 2015 Tony Awards® including Best Revival of a Musical.  The production is currently playing an open-ended Broadway run at the Vivian Beaumont Theater (150 West 65 Street).

Bartlett Sher is reunited with the award-winning creative team from South Pacific and The Light in the Piazza. THE KING AND I has sets by Michael Yeargan; costumes by Catherine Zuber; lights by Donald Holder (all three nominated for 2015 Tony Awards®); sound by Scott Lehrer (2015 Drama Desk Award nomination); and casting by Telsey + Company/Abbie Brady-Dalton, CSA. THE KING AND I features choreography by Christopher Gattelli based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins.

Jose Llana as The King in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Jose Llana as The King in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, THE KING AND I boasts a score which features such beloved classics as Getting To Know You, Hello Young Lovers, Shall We Dance, I Have Dreamed, and Something Wonderful. Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher, whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.

Ticketes start at $30.Tickets are available at BroadwayinAustin.com, texasperformingarts.org, the Bass Concert Hall ticket office, all Texas Box Office Outlets, by phone at (512) 477-6060.  For groups of 10 or more, call (877) 275-3804 or email Austin.groups@broadwayacrossamerica.com

Throw a Festive Season Cookie Party

The next best thing to baking cookies for many home chefs is baking cookies with friends. Dust off your favorite recipes, create a festive playlist and fill your home with the tantalizing aroma of baked goodies for the ultimate Festive Season cookie party.

Turn things up a notch and swap classic sugar cookies for these festive Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies, Peppermint Truffle Cookies and Almond Gingerbread Cookies. Along with those tasty treats, don’t let your guests go thirsty. Add peppermint extract to a slow cooker hot chocolate so guests can sip and be merry throughout the party.

Find more holiday recipes at McCormick.com.

Peppermint Truffle Cookies

  • 8          ounces bittersweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2       cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1          cup sugar, divided
  • 1          egg
  • 1/2       teaspoon McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract
  • 2          cups flour
  • 36        milk chocolate kiss-shaped candies, unwrapped
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. In large, microwavable bowl, heat chocolate and butter on high 1-2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly. Add 1/2 cup sugar, egg and peppermint extract. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually beat in flour on low speed until well mixed.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Press chocolate candy into center of each ball, forming dough around candy to enclose it. Roll in remaining sugar to coat. Place 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until cookies are set. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Almond Gingerbread Cookies

  • 3          cups flour
  • 2          teaspoons McCormick Ginger, Ground
  • 1          teaspoon McCormick Cinnamon, Ground
  • 1          teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4       teaspoon McCormick Nutmeg, Ground
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 3/4       cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4       cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2       cup molasses
  • 1          egg
  • 1          teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/3    cups sliced almonds
  1. In large bowl, mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.
  2. In separate large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla extract; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into thick, flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours, or as long as overnight.
  3. Heat oven to 350° F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sliced almonds, pressing almonds into dough. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until edges of cookies just begin to brown. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days.

Slow Cooker Peppermint Hot Chocolate

  • 1/2       gallon (8 cups) whole milk
  • 1          can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1          package (12 ounces) dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2       teaspoon McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract
  1. Place whole milk, condensed milk, chocolate chips and peppermint extract in slow cooker. Cover. Cook 60-70 minutes on high, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is heated through, stirring every 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to warm or low to serve.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

  • 1 2/3    cups flour
  • 1/3       cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 1/2       cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 1/4    cups granulated sugar
  • 2          eggs
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons McCormick Red Food Color
  • 1          teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2       cup confectioners’ sugar
  • nonstick cooking spray
  1. In medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, food color and vanilla extract; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Refrigerate 4 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 350° F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in confectioners’ sugar to completely coat. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are puffed. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
McCormick

Helpful Festive Season Recipes for the Home Chef

With everything that goes into creating a full festive season menu for guests of different ages and palates, taking on that task can be a challenge for any host. However, simple recipes that please the masses can help make life easier for home chefs.

From the main dish all the way to dessert, plus the drinks in-between, put these recipes to the test to help make your festive season gathering a breeze. Put your adult guests at ease with a cranberry-flavored cocktail, followed by a main course made sweet thanks to this turkey brine. As things come to a close, finish off any leftover appetites with a quick cookie recipe.

To help make your festive season hosting easier, find more tips and recipes at Culinary.net.

Dessert in a Snap

After spending hours preparing appetizers, drinks and the main course for holiday get-togethers, many hosts are ready to call it quits in the kitchen. However, that won’t stop guests from getting those late cravings for a tasty treat. If you’re looking for a reprieve from being the lead chef, go for a quick dessert like these Gingersnap cookies, which take just 10 minutes to bake and can leave hosts with more time to mingle. For more quick, nutritious recipes for every meal, visit AICR.org.

Gingersnaps

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research

Yield: 24 cookies

  • 3/4       cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2       cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2       teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4    teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2       teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8       teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 1/3       cup dairy-free butter shortening sticks
  • 1/2       cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 2          tablespoons unsulphured molasses
  • 1          large egg white
  • Glaze (optional):
  • 1/3       cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2          teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. In mixing bowl, whisk flours, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, pepper and salt.
  3. In separate bowl, use electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat shortening sticks with 1/2 cup sugar 2 minutes. Add molasses and egg white; beat 3 minutes. Set mixer on low speed and mix in dry ingredients to combine. Don’t over-mix. Batter will form soft ball.
  4. Place remaining sugar in wide, shallow bowl. Pinch about 1 tablespoon batter and roll it between palms, forming 1-inch ball. Place ball in bowl with sugar and roll to coat then place on light-colored, ungreased baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls 2 inches apart. Discard leftover sugar. Using bottom of a glass, press to flatten each ball into 1-by-3-inch disks.
  5. Bake cookies 10 minutes.
  6. To make glaze, if desired: While cookies bake, in small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar with lemon juice, mixing until sugar is completely dissolved.
  7. When cookies are done, immediately use spatula to transfer to wire cooling racks. Using tip of knife, spread 1/4 teaspoon glaze on top of each warm cookie. Cool completely.

Note: Can be stored in cookie tin up to 1 week.

Cranberry Cocktail Cravings

If holiday cocktails are on your menu, give guests a twist on a classic with this Cranberry Moscow Mule made with Nemiroff Original Vodka. This premium vodka is bold with a smooth, full-bodied finish that hints of citrus and fruit. Combined with cranberry juice and ginger beer, it’s an ideal holiday cocktail. Find more holiday cocktail options at nemiroff.vodka.

Cranberry Moscow Mule

  • 1          part Nemiroff Original Vodka
  • 1          part cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2          parts ginger beer
  • 1          tablespoon lime juice
  • ice
  • orange wedges, for garnish (optional)
  • fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
  • rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)
  1. Pour vodka, cranberry juice cocktail, ginger beer and lime juice into copper mug filled with ice. Gently stir to combine.
  2. Garnish with orange wedges, fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs, if desired.

A Sweeter Centerpiece

A holiday meal is only complete with the centerpiece of the table: a tender turkey that side dishes and desserts can complement for guests of all palates. For a new twist on a holiday classic, add some sweetness to your main course with a Sweet Tea Turkey Brine, featuring Milo’s Famous Sweet Tea. It’s freshly brewed from real tea leaves using simple, quality ingredients free from preservatives, colors or added acids. The family- and certified women-owned business offers a multitude of beverages, all with the same dedication to quality and excellence. Find more information and recipes at drinkmilos.com.

Milo’s Sweet Tea Turkey Brine

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15-20 minutes per pound

  • 1          gallon Milo’s Sweet Tea
  • 1          cup kosher salt
  • 3          large sweet onions, quartered
  • 4          lemons, sliced
  • 8          garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5          sprigs rosemary
  • 10        cups ice
  • 1          turkey
  1. In large stock pot over medium heat, combine tea and kosher salt. Stir frequently until salt is dissolved. Add onion, lemon, garlic and rosemary. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. When brine has cooled, pour into food-grade, 5-gallon plastic container. Stir in ice.
  3. Wash and dry turkey. Remove innards. Place turkey, cavity-side up, into brine, making sure cavity gets filled. Cover and place bucket in refrigerator overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 350° F.
  5. Remove turkey from brine, draining excess, and pat dry. Discard excess brine.
  6. Cook turkey 15-20 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 165° F on instant-read thermometer, reserving drippings for gravy. (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Culinary.net

Simple Seasonal Safety Tips

Limit your home fire risk during the festive season

It may be the most wonderful time of year, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. Along with the cooking and decorations that make the season magical, the festive season presents risks for home fires and burns.

An independent survey conducted by Shriners Hospitals for Children® found that many Americans do not follow key fire and burn safety tips despite being aware of dangerous risks. For example, 25 percent of respondents reported leaving lit candles unattended, and 27 percent said they have left them in reach of children.

“Some of these findings seem alarming, but each year our burn hospitals see the unfortunate results – children who have been injured in cooking related accidents or in fires associated with holiday decorations or candles,” said Kenneth Guidera, M.D., chief medical officer for Shriners Hospitals for Children. “These injuries can mean years of ongoing treatments and extensive rehabilitation for a child. That’s why we encourage families to learn about fire safety and prevention before a tragedy occurs.”

Fire and burn hazards are prevalent in many homes throughout the festive season, and Shriners Hospitals for Children offers these tips to remind families how to stay safe:

  • Never leave lit candles unattended. If you must use flame-burning candles, make sure to extinguish them when you leave the room.
  • When cooking, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove, out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave a hot stove or oven unattended.
  • While cooking, keep a lid or cookie sheet nearby to cover a pan if its contents catch fire.
  • If you decorate using a live, fresh-cut Christmas tree, water it daily.
  • Keep trees and other flammable decor at least 3 feet away from heaters and flames.
  • Discard decorative lights with bare wires, frays or kinks.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
  • Have an escape plan in case of a fire and practice it with your family members so they know how to react if a fire does occur.
  • Know the burn care resources in your community.

The Shriners Hospitals locations that specialize in burn care provide critical, surgical and rehabilitative care to children with varying degrees of new and healed burns. Their state-of-the-art burn facilities are staffed and equipped to provide reconstructive and restorative surgery for healed burns, as well as treatments for various other skin conditions. With 22 locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the health care system provides advanced care for children regardless of the families’ ability to pay. Learn more at shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.

Visit beburnaware.org to learn key fire safety practices to help avoid injuries this holiday season. You can find activity books, tip cards and a five-minute online quiz to help identify and eliminate potential risks.

Candle Safety for the Holidays

Candles are one of the most common sources of holiday fires. Never leave lit candles unattended and take these additional precautions to have a safe and fun holiday season:

  • When candles are lit, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked over.
  • Keep candles, matches and lighters out of reach of children.
  • Be conscious of nearby surroundings. Never place a candle near drapery, decorations or other flammable items that may easily catch fire. Also avoid drafty areas or fans, which can accelerate flames or accidentally blow a flammable item onto a candle.
  • Know that the safest way to extinguish a candle is with a snuffer.
  • Consider using wickless or flameless candles. There are numerous options that cast a warm glow so you can enjoy the ambiance of a candle without the risk.

Kids and Candles Don’t Mix

Julianna and her mother, Tracy, know firsthand how dangerous the holiday season can be. While at a family Christmas party, Julianna, just 20 months old, snuck away from the activities and was in the bathroom playing in front of the mirror. A lit tea light candle on the corner of the sink ignited her clothes.

Tracy heard Julianna’s screams from down the hall, ran to the bathroom and saw her daughter’s dress on fire. She patted out the flames and family members called an ambulance. Julianna spent three weeks at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Cincinnati to treat the third-degree burns that covered the left side of her body. Julianna, now 8-years-old, is doing well but faces ongoing treatment as she grows.

“We are very lucky,” Tracy said. “Julianna will be fine thanks to the care she received. We all get busy during this time of year, but it is so important for parents to make sure they are following basic safety tips to keep their kids safe.”  (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Shriners Hospitals for Children

Picking Perfect Festive Season Presents

Gift-giving season is a time that’s special for many families and friends, and it’s the perfect opportunity to show the loved ones in your life just how much you appreciate them.

However, it isn’t always easy to pick out the perfect present, especially with so many options available. When you’re stuck in a gifting rut, turn to the professionals, like those at Macy’s, to help you choose just the right gifts for everyone on your list.

“The holidays are a celebratory time when loved ones can come together and show how much they appreciate having each other in their lives,” said Cassandra Jones, senior vice president of Macy’s Fashion. “I truly believe that the perfect gift can bring people together. To enhance that experience for our customers, we’ve created an unparalleled assortment of gift-giving items, from tech to beauty, so that each present is the perfect one.”

Find more gift ideas for the festive season at macys.com/gifts.

For Her

If you’re struggling to find just the right idea for the lady on your list, don’t take a chance on any random beauty product. Instead, give the beauty lover in your life the gift of options with a Macy’s Beauty Box subscription. For $15 a month, she’ll receive five deluxe beauty samples selected by experts, plus a bonus sample and a $5 coupon to use in-store or online on her next beauty purchase.

For Kids

Interactive technology helps get kids off the couch and provides them nearly endless entertainment. Give the children on your gift list the opportunity to dance their way to fun with a piano mat from FAO Schwarz. The 24 keys work just like a real piano, which allows for playing the included selections or creating your own works of musical art. Included with the mat are selections such as Beethoven’s “5th Symphony,” “Chopsticks,” “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and more.

For Him

Help him revamp his style in one easy step with a Sprezza Box, which makes it simple to add something new and coordinated to his wardrobe. Available in four distinct boxes curated by experts, each contains five items, including accessories such as ties, pocket squares, socks, sunglasses, wallets and money clips. Each box evokes a specific look and feel. Just pick the right one to match your gift list so you can add something new to his style.

For the Home

The natural interior decorator on your list likely loves the unique touch of comforting pillows throughout living rooms and dens. Let him or her cuddle up to the cozy style of this decorative pillow from the Martha Stewart Collection, featuring a festive color palette and polar bear perfect for the holiday season. At 18 inches-by-18 inches, it’s the ideal size for curling up on the couch during a chilly day.

For Entertaining

Searching for a gift for the natural entertainer in your life can be difficult if common items like wine glasses and electric bottle openers are already accounted for. An option like a bar cart from Hotel Collection can help make entertaining a breeze for that person on your list who enjoys hosting. With three shelves and wheels for easy transportation, it’s ideal for extravagant parties, small get-togethers or anything in-between.

For the Kitchen

Gourmet gift baskets from Di Bruno Bros. are sure to make an impression for home chefs who might need a little inspiration. Choose a curated basket filled with a wide variety of specialty foods and products hand-selected for top quality. Themes include options like this “Sriracha Foodie,” which comes packed with snacks, toppings and sauces infused with fiery Asian chili flavor in sweet jerky, pickles, gourmet salt, tortilla chips, horseradish sauce, mayonnaise, peachy jam and classic sriracha. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Macy’s

Festive Season Guesting 101

If you manage to avoid hosting duties this festive 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 festive 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 festive season playlist.  Offer to put together a festive season playlist for the host who will undoubtedly have his or her hands full prepping for the festive season 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 festive season 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 festive season recipes and tips at Crock-Pot.com.

Slow Cooker Banana Cake

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 4 hours

Servings: 12

  • 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
  1. Grease slow cooker with nonstick spray.
  2. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In small bowl, mash bananas and lemon juice together; set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour into slow cooker. Cover; cook on low 6 hours or high 4 hours, or until center of cake no longer looks gooey.
  6. 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. (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Crock-Pot

Popping Up a Winter Wonderland

Edible, handmade festive season decor perfect for gifting

’Tis the season to pop up some festive season fun by creating a scenic winter wonderland that tastes as great as it looks.

Gather the kids and make a hands-on family festive season tradition out of crafting festive, edible decorations. Popcorn is the perfect choice to pop up and eat while trimming your popcorn tree and decking out your creations. At 30 calories a cup, whole-grain, freshly popped popcorn offers a nutritious alternative to traditional festive season party nibbles. Popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO, gluten-free, has no artificial additives or preservatives and is sugar-free.

These clever recipes can help you make edible decor or gifts to give to friends, family and co-workers. Find more creative festive season recipes at popcorn.org.

Festive Popcorn Trees

Yield: 10 trees

  • 10        cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1          bag (10 ounces) miniature marshmallows
  • 2          tablespoons butter
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla extract
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • green decorating sugar
  • blue decorating sugar
  • 1          tube white frosting with decorating tip
  • small, colorful candies (such as sprinkles and miniature silver dragees)
  1. Place popcorn in large bowl.
  2. Place marshmallows and butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Pour mixture over popcorn in bowl. Toss well to coat popcorn evenly.
  5. Line baking sheet with foil.
  6. Spray hands with nonstick cooking spray then scoop up about 1 cup popcorn mixture.
  7. Shape mixture into cone, keeping base flat to form tree.
  8. Sprinkle tree with decorating sugars; place tree on baking sheet.
  9. Make nine additional trees.
  10. Pipe frosting on trees to make garland then decorate with sprinkles and silver dragees, as desired.

Serving suggestion: Place each tree on sugar cookie and decorate serving tray with shredded coconut to resemble snow.

Notes: For best flavor and color, start recipe with unflavored white popcorn. You can make your own colored sugar by adding food coloring to sugar then stirring in bowl or shaking vigorously in sealed container. Add additional food coloring for more intense tones.

Festive Season Popcorn Snowman

Yield: 5 snowmen

  • 1          package (1 pound) large marshmallows
  • 1/4       cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, plus additional
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla
  • 10        cups popped popcorn
  • sprinkles (optional)
  • licorice (optional)
  • gum drops (optional)
  • cinnamon candies (optional)
  1. In large saucepan, melt marshmallows and 1/4 cup butter.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  3. Let stand 5 minutes.
  4. Pour over popcorn and stir mixture.
  5. Butter hands well and form into balls.
  6. Decorate with sprinkles, licorice, gum drops and cinnamon candies, as desired.

Festive Season Wreath Popcorn Treats

Yield: 8 wreaths

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3          quarts popped popcorn
  • 4          tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
  • 3          cups miniature marshmallows
  • 3          tablespoons lime gelatin dessert mix
  • small red candies
  • jellybeans
  • red fruit leather
  1. Lightly spray large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place popcorn inside.
  2. In medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in marshmallows and gelatin dessert mix until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over popcorn and mix until coated.
  3. Spray hands with cooking spray and press firmly to form into 9-inch logs then bend to form wreaths.
  4. Place wreaths on wax paper. Press candies and jellybeans into wreaths as decorations; cut fruit leather to make ribbon and add.
  5. Serve immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap for storage. Add ribbon tie to plastic wrap as decorative closure.

Tip: Soak saucepan before cleaning.

Chocolate Popcorn Reindeer

Yield: 8 reindeer

  • 8          cups unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn
  • 2 1/2    cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2       cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
  • 2          tablespoons butter or light olive oil
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 16        pretzel sticks
  • 16        eyeball candies
  • 8          red candy-coated chocolate candies
  1. Place popcorn in large mixing bowl.
  2. In saucepan set over medium heat, heat marshmallows, chocolate, butter and salt, stirring often until smooth. Toss marshmallow mixture with popcorn until well combined.
  3. Scoop 3/4 cup popcorn mixture into ball. Repeat with remaining mixture to make eight balls total. Place each ball in paper muffin cup liner.
  4. Insert pretzel stick on each side of ball to resemble antlers, attach two eyeball candies for eyes and red candy for nose. Let cool completely.

Tip: Eyeball candies can typically be found in baking aisles of supermarkets or bulk food stores. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
The Popcorn Board

Festive Season at Hotel Ella!

Photography courtesy of Jake Holt.
Hotel Ella

Hotel Ella

The festive season is ramping up at Hotel Ella and we have all the delightful details.
Goodall's Kitchen

Goodall’s Kitchen

  • Thursday, November 23rd from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Featured dishes include herb roasted turkey breast, grilled acorn squash and sourdough stuffing.
  • $72 per person or $25 for children 12 and under.
  • Price includes buffet, soda, iced tea and coffee. Alcoholic beverages available for purchase.
  • Complimentary valet parking. 
  • For reservations, email goodalls@hotelella.com or call 512-495-1800.
Parlor Bar

Parlor Bar

  • Sunday, November 26th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Drink and be merry at the Holiday Trunk Show while shopping for the perfect gifts for your loved ones at pop-up shops housed in Hotel Ella.
  • Free to attend.
  • Drink specials available as well as champagne from the Champagne Supply Co. truck.
  • Mini manicures offered by tenoverten.
  • Includes a special takeaway gift from Hotel Ella.

Salon Series: Turk Pipkin’s Book of the Every-Other Month Club

  • Tuesday, November 28th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Presented by Austin Way and The Nobelity Project.
  • Hotel Ella welcomes author, actor, filmmaker and activist Turk Pipkin for an evening of selected readings from his new book project.
  • Free to attend.
  • Turk Wine will be available for purchase, with all proceeds going to The Nobelity Project’s Kenya Schools Fund that provides clean water and electricity to children in Kenya.

These Wreaths are Bananas: Recent Works by Maggie Stephens

  • Friday, December 1st from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Join us as we deck the Parlor Bar walls with one-of-a-kind handmade wreaths by local artist Maggie Stephens.
  • Wreaths are on display and available for purchase from December 1st to January 2nd.
  • Free to attend.
  • Complimentary bites and valet parking. Drinks available for purchase.
Santa’s Workshop (Ticket link coming soon)
  • Sundays, December 10th and 17th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Free photos with Santa and holiday kids crafts.
    • Toy donations to Caritas. 

Festive Season Events at Horseshoe Bay Resort!

Check out the variety of festive events that will take place at Horseshoe Bay Resort during the months of November and December!
NOVEMBER EVENTS
Thursday, November 23rd
  • 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Fall Festival & Turkey Trot for the whole family. Celebrate Horseshoe Bay Resort’s 21st year of celebrating Thanksgiving traditions with a 10k run or 5k run/walk while children ages 3 to 8 enjoy the 1k Kids Trot. After the Turkey Trot, head over to the Fall Festival for hayrides, pie walks, musical hay bales, face painting, arts & crafts and much more.
  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Thanksgiving Brunch at the Yacht Club, with a spread including a soup and salad station, iced seafood display, an assortment of meats on the carving block and assorted brunch classics and entrees. Thanksgiving brunch costs $67 per person, $27 for kids five to 12 and $6 for kids five and under.
Friday, November 24th
  • 5 p.m. – Pumpkin Chuckin’ at Turtle Beach, where guests can hurl pumpkins in the lake to celebrate the changing of the holidays. Pumpkins available for purchase for $3, with the owner of the furthest pumpkin receiving a prize.
  • 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. – Marble Falls Walkway of Lights with a complimentary shuttle for overnight guests and club members. Watch more than two million lights transform Marble Falls Lakeside Park into a Winter Wonderland.
Saturday, November 25th
  • 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. – Marble Falls Walkway of Lights with a complimentary shuttle for overnight guests and club members. Watch more than two million lights transform Marble Falls Lakeside Park into a Winter Wonderland.
  • 6 p.m. – Gingerbread House Village in the Hotel Lobby with complimentary hot chocolate and cookies.
  • 6:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. – Letters to Santa at Yacht Club Waterfront. Stick around until 7 p.m. to hand deliver it to Santa himself!
  • 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. - Holiday Laser Light Show at the Yacht Club and Candy Cane S’mores at Star Gazer Beach.
  • 7 p.m. – Santa Claus is coming to town! Stop by and get a picture with Santa.
Daily Activities
Throughout the month of November
Enjoy Horseshoe Bay Resort’s everyday activities in the month of November, including:
  • Whitewater Putting Course open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Course is closed until 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
  • Exotic animals on display between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Whitewater Putting Course.
  • Arcade at the Marina filled with classics like Pac-Man and Galaga.

DECEMBER EVENTS
Horseshoe Bay Resort Winter Wonderland
Saturday, December 9th from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Take a stroll through Horseshoe Bay Resort’s Winter Wonderland and enjoy the Laser Light Show, Texas State University’s Acapella Group Vocalibre, photos with Santa, arts and crafts, food and beverage stations, horse-drawn carriage rides and more. Check the resort event calendar for pricing and updates.
An Evening with Nutcracker
Sunday, December 17th starting with dinner at 5 p.m. and the show at 6 p.m.
Don’t miss a fabulous performance of a Christmas classic by Ms. Rhonda’s School of Dance, a Fredericksburg dance company that has been operating for more than 26 years. The evening includes a dinner buffet with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the students of the Fredericksburg Dance Company. Cost is $49 for adults and $25 for children ages five through 12. Reservations required.
Friday, December 22nd
  • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Holiday Hunt, find your scavenger hunt clue card at the front desk.
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Gingerbread House Decorating in the Yacht Club Ballroom, where pre-assembled gingerbread houses are made on property and are ready for you to decorate! $40 per gingerbread house with supplies and decorations included. Reservations required.
  • 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. – Mini Nutcrackers at the Kids Club where you can paint your own nutcracker for $3 each.
  • 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. – Holiday Sand Art at the Kids Club for just $3. Makes for a great holiday gift for your loved ones!
  • 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Candy Cane Course at Whitewater Putting Course (weather permitting) where you can enjoy a round of golf surrounded by holiday cheer and hot chocolate. Regular rates apply.
  • 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. – Marble Falls Walkway of Lights with a complimentary shuttle for overnight guests and club members. Watch more than two million lights transform Marble Falls Lakeside Park into a Winter Wonderland.
Saturday, December 23rd
  • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Holiday Hunt, find your scavenger hunt clue card at the front desk.
  • Kids Club activities include:
    • 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. –  Jingle Bell Canvas Art
    • 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. –  Tea Light Snowman
    • 12 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. – Holiday Ornaments
    • 3 p.m. – Ugly T-shirt Design
    • 4 p.m. – Christmas Bingo
  • 5 p.m. – Holiday Sunset Cruises on board the Ladybird Yacht on Lake LBJ. Cost for adults is $20 and cost for children ages five to 12 is $10. Other dates for Holiday Sunset Cruises include December 8th, 9th, 15th and 16th.
  • 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. - Marble Falls Walkway of Lights with a complimentary shuttle for overnight guests and club members. Watch more than two million lights transform Marble Falls Lakeside Park into a Winter Wonderland.
Sunday, December 24th
  • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Holiday Hunt, find your scavenger hunt clue card at the front desk.
  • Kids Club activities include:
    • 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. – DIY Stockings
    • 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. – Christmas Pillows
    • 12 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. – Cookie Decorating
  • 3 p.m. – Christmas Caroling in the Hotel Lobby
  • 4 p.m. – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas read by the Hotel Lobby Fireplace, with complimentary milk and cookies and a special fireside reading of the traditional book.
  • 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. – Candy Cane S’mores (weather permitting) at Whitewater Fire Pit, a traditional sweet treat with some holiday flare. Complimentary.
Sunday, December 31st
  • 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. – New Year’s Eve Celebration at Kids Club featuring new crafts and activities by the hour including a bird show, karaoke, video games, dancing, s’mores, pizza, glow in the dark shirts and more. $90 per child age four through 12. Reservations required.
  • 9 p.m. – Ring in the New Year with Rotel and the Hot Tomatoes Live at Horseshoe Bay Resort for a night full of good music and dancing with one of the premier party bands in Texas. Doors open at 9 p.m. with bar service, a champagne toast at midnight and a culinary treat after midnight. For overnight resort guests and club members only.
Daily Activities
Throughout the month of December
Enjoy Horseshoe Bay Resort’s everyday activities in the month of December, including:
  • Whitewater Putting Course open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Course is closed until 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
  • Happy Hour at Whitewater Putting Course featuring half-priced putting, candy and drinks excluding beer and wine.
  • Arcade at the Marina filled with classics like Pac-Man and Galaga.