Create Your Own Hot Cocoa Bar

Christmas, Holidays | December 21, 2014 | By

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Inject a little extra holiday fun into your day by creating a simple DIY hot chocolate bar. This is perfect for kids (or adults) at a holiday party or even just to make your kids’ days a little sweeter while they’re home from school. We set up ours in the TV room so we could enjoy a cup of hot cocoa while watching our favorite Christmas movie.

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Holiday Family Night Ideas

Christmas, Holidays | December 20, 2013 | By

oasted_pecan_chickenThere’s no doubt that the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. But even with all the shopping and prep work that needs to be done, the parties and get-togethers you plan to attend, it’s important to spend some time relaxing with your family.

Try making our Toasted Pecan Chicken with Mashed Potatoes for savory comfort food the whole family will love. Then whip up some hot chocolate and pick out a favorite holiday movie for a relaxing family movie night. Need movie ideas?

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National Cocoa Day (December 13, 2014)

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Though the weather outside is frightful, curling up with a cup of hot cocoa can make your day so more delightful. Especially when today is National Cocoa Day!

The difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate is that hot chocolate is made with melted chocolate and hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder. To make the perfect cup of microwavable hot cocoa, combine a heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder with two heaping teaspoons of sugar and a dash of salt in a mug. Add two teaspoons of cold milk and stir until smooth, then fill the cup with milk and microwave on high for a minute or until hot.

The great thing about hot cocoa is the endless variety of flavor combinations.

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Decorating Your Holiday Table

Christmas, Holidays | December 9, 2013 | By

While decorating for the holidays is all part of the fun, sometimes preparing your home for holiday entertaining can result in unnecessary stress. Instead of worrying about getting it all done by yourself, enlist a few helpful hands and take advantage of the opportunity to spend individual time with a loved one.

Decorating your table for holiday get-togethers is a great project to collaborate on with your mother, daughter or best friend. Whether you’re picking out the perfect place settings or creating your own floral arrangements, you can turn an item on your endless to-do list into quality time together. Here are some ideas for table décor that are simple to create, but are sure to impress.

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Creating Holiday Traditions with Your Family

The holiday season is filled with family traditions. From decorating a tree together to making a favorite recipe, these traditions are often the things that create the most treasured memories. Carrying on traditions from generation to generation is something special that helps to strengthen a family’s identity. If you have young children, here are some ideas for holiday activities your family could cherish for years to come.

  • Between the stress of holiday to-do lists and the anticipation of the day itself, it can be hard to remember to be thankful throughout the holiday season. Create an Advent Calendar that helps your family remain thankful this month by hanging 25 clear plastic fill-able ornaments from a ribbon. Each day, have a member of your family fill an ornament with a note about something they’re thankful for.
  • Help your kids give back this holiday season by introducing “Santa’s Toy Swap.” Have your kids pick out old toys to leave under the tree for Santa to take back to the North Pole to repair for other children.

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Turn Your Dream Dinners into Appetizers

appetizer-creamy-tortelliniMany of our meals on this month’s menu are appetizer ready! It’s easy to turn these dinners into delicious bites for any holiday gathering. Instead of spending hours prepping food in the kitchen, you’ll be able to join the party and enjoy time with family and friends.

Creamy Tortellini with Bacon
Boil the tortellini and place 2 – 3 on a 6-inch skewer, place on large serving platter and refrigerate. Before serving, heat the sauce as directed and pour over the skewers.

Want to get extra fancy? Pick up some mini appetizer forks and bowls. We used this set by Mozaik. Prepare tortellini per cooking instructions. Then place three tortellini in each bowl and serve with mini forks.

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2013 Holiday Cooking Timeline

Holidays, Thanksgiving | November 8, 2013 | By

Use this sample schedule for easy preparation of your Dream Dinners Holiday Roasted Turkey and sides. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • 3 -5 days before: Thaw all of your holiday items in the refrigerator.
  • Approximately 3 ½ hours before: Bake your Holiday Roasted Turkey. Remove holiday sides from fridge and bring to room temperature.
  • 2 ½ hours before: Bake your Holiday Green Bean Casserole 40-45 min., then add French onion topping and bake an additional 10-15 min with turkey in oven. ** hold
  • 1 ½ hours before: Bake Holiday Sweet Potatoes with Maple Brown Sugar 30-35 min., then add marshmallows and bake an additional 8-10 min. with turkey in oven. **hold

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Orzo Salad for 25 Guests

Orzo Salad
Serves 25
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Ingredients
  1. 3 c Orzo Pasta, boiled in water 10 min, or just until soft.
  2. 1½ c chopped scallions
  3. 1½ c drained and chopped Kalamata olives
  4. 1½ c crumbled feta cheese
  5. ¾ c fresh chopped dill
  6. ¾ c olive oil
  7. ½ c plus 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  8. 1 tbsp lemon zest
  9. ¾ c red wine vinegar
  10. 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  11. 1 tbsp black pepper
Instructions
  1. Rinse pasta with cold water.
  2. Combine the orzo, onions, olives, feta, and dill in a large bowl.
  3. Set aside.
  4. Whisk together the oil, lemon juice and zest, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour 1/2 of dressing over the pasta mixture and stir to coat all over.
  5. Toss with the remaining dressing just before serving.
Dream Dinners http://blog.dreamdinners.com/

Tossed Green Salad for 25 Guests

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Tossed Green Salad
Serves 25
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Ingredients
  1. 12 cups mixed greens, washed and dried
  2. 2 c arugula, washed and dried
  3. 5 med tomatoes, cut in wedges
  4. 2 med carrots, chopped
  5. 3 celery stocks, chopped
  6. ½ red onion, sliced thinly
  7. 1 c marinated artichoke hearts, drained and slightly chopped
  8. 1 14.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  9. 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  10. 2 cups garlic croutons
  11. 2 cups of your favorite Italian dressing
Instructions
  1. Place greens and arugula in large serving bowl.
  2. Top with the vegetables and beans, toss lightly.
  3. Top with cheese and croutons.
  4. Toss with dressing just before serving or serve on the side.
Dream Dinners http://blog.dreamdinners.com/

Festive Drink Recipes for Adults and Kids

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Tempted to forgo serving festive drinks in the hurry-scurry of holiday entertaining? Don’t be! A gathering is all the more memorable when it includes special refreshments. Whether chilled, sparkly, toasty-warm or invigorating, festive drinks put the panache in the party for young and old alike.

We’ve rounded up six recipes – three for adults and three just for the kids. All are remarkably easy and exceptionally tasty. Enjoy!

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