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How to Make the Most of Your Holiday Table

How to Make the Most of Your Holiday Table


When it comes to setting a showstopping holiday table, there are no rules! Yes, you read it correctly — no rules. At Lawrence Scott Events, we like to mix and match everything on the table to create interest and variety in a room. Whether we are doing a charity dinner with hundreds of tables, a celebrity event, or an intimate birthday party with one table, we mix it up.

How to Make the Most of Your Holiday Table (Slideshow)

We mix and match china, crystal, centerpieces, charger plates — it’s the variety that makes a room interesting and provides guests with a visual feast for the eyes.

As you prepare and pull items, remember Lawrence Scott Event’s mantra: what's old is new again — mix and match whatever you have. Go ahead, mix your grandmother's china with everyday dishes. Fabric, a satin bed sheet, and burlap can all be used as a tablecloth for the same setting. And once you have your eclectic mix of dishes and a cloth, move onto creating unique touches for the table to make it even more distinct.

Go to the closet where you stick jars, vases, containers, and things that you aren’t sure what to do with. These items are going to become your holiday decorating pieces. Pull out and use what you have — vases, interesting containers, and apothecary jars can all be repurposed to create an interesting holiday table.

A showstopping table is all about the mix of high and the low, formal and relaxed, and a table should always be unexpected to make for a "wow" factor when everyone walks in. Surprise guests with interesting visuals by placing lamps, vases, books, or whatever your favorite items are on your buffet table or as part of the centerpiece.


20 Hanukkah Recipes No Table Is Complete Without

Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

Hanukkah has been celebrated for centuries, and with this long-standing tradition comes a bevy of recipes that have been shared for generations. For years, tables have been set with latkes, of course, as well as other fried and dairy-based delicacies to commemorate both the oil that kept the menorah lit for eight days and Judith, a legend who saved her town by weakening the enemy with cheese and wine.

Hanukkah is an important holiday to many people, and it is a holiday that comes with no shortage of delicious foods connected to these stories. This year, set the table with recipes that honor the traditional Hanukkah foods while adding your own contemporary twist.

Here are 20 Hanukkah recipes no table would be complete without, served up in a way you might not have seen them before.


How to Make the Best Stuffed Mushrooms Ever

Say goodbye to soggy mushrooms with these game-changing tips from Valerie Bertinelli's live demo on the Food Network Kitchen app.

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The best part of cooking along on the Food Network Kitchen app is learning in real time what you’ve been doing wrong and finding a solution. Case in point, I’ve always wondered why my stuffed mushrooms are tasty but a bit soggy. While watching Valerie Bertinelli demo her Stuffed Mushrooms, I finally figured out why! Here’s her solution to the watery mushroom conundrum plus three other tips for making perfect stuffed mushrooms.

1. Roast the empty mushrooms upside down before stuffing them.

Valerie turns mushrooms on their heads for the first part of this recipe, literally. "What happens with mushrooms is they tend to have a lot of water in them and they release a lot of water," says Valerie. "So this way when the mushrooms release the water, they’re releasing it out onto the tray and not back into the mushroom." Brilliant!

2. Use the stems in the stuffing.

"The stems are just as delicious as the tops," says Valerie. She uses the finely chopped mushroom stems as the base of her filling to add more mushroom flavor to the dish. Bonus: This gives the appetizer a meaty bite without any meat.

3. Wash your mushrooms. Actually wash them.

There are two schools of thought on preparing mushrooms. Some people wipe them with a clean towel and others actually wash them. Valerie is a washer. "Put them under running cold water and that cleans them nicely," she advises.

4. Microplane the garlic instead of mincing it.

Huge chunks of garlic will overpower these single-bite mushrooms, so Valerie grabs her trusty microplane to make sure the garlic is dispersed evenly. "I prefer this technique when I really want the garlic to blend in … really melt into whatever I’m cooking," she says.

While these tips will help you make the best stuffed mushrooms with any filling, the best part about Valerie’s recipe is that it's so easy and the ingredients are inexpensive! You don’t need pricey crab meat or sausage, the mushrooms get their flavor from the stems, cherry tomatoes, onions and Pecorino cheese and an addictive crunch from the panko breadcrumbs. Plus, you can make the filling and stuff your mushrooms before your guests get there and then pop them in the oven to melt the cheese. And, Valerie advises, "Don’t throw away the extra stuffing. Toss that in tomorrow’s omelet!" Done and done.

Watch new epiosdes of Valerie's Home Cooking Sundays at 11:30a|10:30c. Plus, make one of her Perfect Party Recipes for any of your holiday events.

Check out the Food Network Kitchen app to find tons more ideas on creating the perfect Thanksgiving spread. Download the app and sign up now to get a 90-day free trial.

Here are some exclusive on-demand classes to get you in the holiday cooking spirit!


Go Grocery Shopping

Plan your party grocery shopping trip several days before the big event. This early shopping trip ensures you’ll pick up all of the items you need. After you finalize your party menu, write a list of every ingredient you need. Check your cupboards to verify you have the staples on hand that go into your recipes. If you assume you have plenty of flour only to find out it’s almost gone, you’ll have to make a last-minute trip to the store on party day. It’s always best to ensure you have everything you need in the proper amounts beforehand.


30 Keto Easter Recipes to Keep Your Holiday Table Light

We have brunch, dinner, and dessert ideas to keep all of your bunnies happy.

Believe it or not, Easter may be one of the easiest holidays to enjoy while working your way through the ketogenic diet &mdash after all, it's all about those eggs! An entire egg contains less than one gram of carbohydrates, making it a perfect fit for a low-carb diet plan, so you should load up on your deviled eggs this Easter without feeling an ounce of guilt. And because so many families love to eat eggs (or at least color them!) at Easter, it's also easy to work this keto staple into other dishes, too.

Since other Easter staples aren't exactly keto-friendly options (we're looking at you, sugar-glazed ham!), you'll be happy to hear that there are many other ways to enjoy a hearty Easter feast. If you're looking for a show-stopping Easter entrée, you can serve a whole roasted chicken that you can place right among your tablescape, or any of the other six ways you can serve chicken showcased in this collection. Turkey breast, pork, beef, and lamb are also on the menu, and if you're looking for something even lighter, sheet-pan-roasted salmon is also an option. Whichever protein you choose to serve for dinner, we're also sharing a handful of rich-yet-wholesome sides to round out your keto-friendly meal. Spring-forward vegetables like fresh asparagus, green beans, and leafy spinach are all naturally low in carbs, making them a perfect addition to any Easter menu.

Serving brunch instead? We've got you covered. In addition to the generous heap of bacon you'll cook up, we're sharing a few different ideas for better-for-you eggs dishes that any guest will love.

Keep these Easter keto ideas in your back pocket to help you plan a perfect family-style meal for years to come.


90+ Best Holiday Desserts to Make All Christmas Season Long

These cakes, pies, cookies, and more won't have a crumb left.

Though we're all having a lot fewer Christmas parties on our calendars this December doesn't mean that we can't fill the holidays with delicious Christmas desserts!

And if we're being honest, the cookies, cakes, pies, and other confections are half the reason we even end up showing up at all those work parties, church gatherings, and holiday cookie swaps that seem to take up so much time in normal years (Shout out to Melinda's shortbread. We'll always show up for that!). This year, though you may be seeing fewer friends and family, you can look on the bright side: You get to make exactly what you want to treat yourself with, and you don't have to share.

So, do you want to go elegant? Then we suggest the gingerbread pear loaf. Opting instead for a more traditional sweet? Peppermint brownies are hard to beat. We've got truffles for snacking on, trifles for scooping into, cakes and pies for cutting to, and even bowls full of jelly doughnut holes. We like to leave those out for Santa's reindeer, along with cookies and beer milk for the big man himself.

This year, we've gathered enough easy holiday dessert ideas to keep you occupied until 2021, including plenty of recipes for Christmas sugar cookies, Christmas treats, and Christmas candy. So yes, serve your Christmas appetizers, cook your Christmas ham, and make your Christmas cocktails&mdashbut when all is said and done, we all know it's the holiday dessert spread that really matters.


A Southern Green Bean Casserole Recipe for Your Holiday Table

Is there a more iconic side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter than a green bean casserole? We’ll wait… Yeah, we didn’t think so either!

Well, Paula’s Southern Green Bean Casserole Recipe is the best around, so we thought we’d share her delicious recipe with you all so you can spread some delicious joy on your holiday table!

Ready to get started? You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • ⅓ stick butter
  • ½ cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 2 cups sliced green beans
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (10¾-oz) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (2.8-oz) can French-fried onion rings
  • 1 pinch Paula Deen’s House Seasoning
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Now that you have your ingredients gathered, it’s time to get cooking, y’all!

To get started, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 350 °F, then melt the ⅓ stick of butter in a large skillet. Next, sauté the onions and mushrooms in the butter. Meanwhile, boil the green beans in the chicken broth for 10 minutes, and then drain them.

Next up, add the green beans, mushroom soup, and onion rings, to the onions, mushrooms, and butter. Then season the mixture with Paula’s House Seasoning to taste, making sure to stir well.

Pour the mixture into a greased 1½-quart baking dish, then toss it in the oven for 20 minutes. Lastly, top the casserole with the Cheddar cheese, and bake it for about 10 more minutes, until the casserole is hot and cheese is melted.

This classic Southern green bean casserole recipe is the perfect addition to any holiday table. It’s consistently one of Paula’s most popular recipes each year, and for good reason—it’s one of those universally beloved dishes that pairs well with just about any holiday entrée, including turkey, ham, and beef.


Copy These Christmas Table Setting + Decorating Ideas

Be the holiday host with the most and set the scene for an unforgettable get-together this year. Our 40 ideas will help you create Christmas table settings, centerpieces and holiday table decor with chic, seasonal style.

Related To:

Get Ready to Celebrate the Season

Whether your Christmas celebrations revolve more around a hearty brunch, a grab-and-go lunch or a formal sit-down dinner, we have you covered with pro pointers that'll make hosting the holidays a bit easier this year.

Weather Permitting: Take the Party Outside

If you live in a warm clime, take advantage of a clear winter day and head to a local park or your own backyard to host the holidays in the great outdoors. Get more tips for an alfresco winter fête, below.

Sparkle With Silver

Perfect when paired with a black-and-white theme, vintage silver flatware really shines. If your silver is looking not-so-shiny, put science to work to vanquish tarnish, then set a rustic-meets-refined table with our inspiration, below.

Or, Go for the Gold

Move over, stainless steel &mdash it's gold's turn to shine. Gold has increasingly become designers' metal of choice for fancy flatware but, like anything that's trendy, new sets are pricey. Check estate sales, thrift stores and yard sales for vintage sets, many still in their original box, with the same golden gleam as new flatware but without the hefty price tag.

Repurpose Pretty Paper

For a pretty tablecloth that's just as easy on your budget as it is on the eyes, sub leftover gift wrap for fabric. Bonus: Spills aren't a worry when the festivities are over, just toss the stained paper &mdash or, if it's still in good shape, save it to use again later.

Craft a Sweet Place Card Holder

This mini candy cane easel is perfect for place cards, and, bonus: guests can take them home as an edible favor. To make them: Leave the cellophane wrappers on three candy canes, hold them upside down, and position the cane ends into a tripod shape that will sit level on the table. Secure with a few dots of hot glue finish with a festive red ribbon bow, and place one next to each place setting.

Or, a Centerpiece You Can Eat

Get an assist from the kiddos to assemble this fanciful farmhouse that'll add a delicious scent and big dose of homespun charm to your Christmas table. Get crafting with our step-by-step instructions, below.

Rock Classic Christmas Colors

Timeless black-and-white buffalo check linens lend this holiday table a woodsy vibe, while red accents, mini Christmas trees and a sprinkling of ornaments make it an instant classic.


30 Elegant Christmas Table Setting Ideas

You won't believe what a difference a fir branch and holiday ribbon can make.

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and you're no doubt starting to plan the table decorations for your Christmas celebration. The key to any festive holiday table is a buying the right accents and statement pieces ahead of time, so you're ready to create an elegant and merry table when all of your party guests come knocking (or log in to the Zoom.) In preparation for the upcoming holiday season, we've rounded up sophisticated table setting ideas to inspire your holiday dinner table, whether you're using it to host an in person feast or as a festive backdrop to make your virtual celebrations feel special.

A little origami napkin-work can add an instant dose of holiday cheer (even if you left decorating the table until the last minute.)

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Craving something different from the traditional red, gold, and green? How about a pretty blue and silver palette for a more serene holiday.

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How to Assemble an Awesome Vegetable Platter

A good vegetable platter is a staple of any finger-food based buffet, but how often do you hit a graduation party or a concert reception only to find the same old stale, sorry-looking, dried-out carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumbers, and if you're lucky, bell pepper strips all sitting listlessly around a tub of store-bought Ranch dressing?

No wonder nobody likes to eat vegetables. Imagine instead, if you will, a world in which vegetable platters were actually made from fresh, seasonal vegetables. Crisp pink radishes frolicking through Elysian fields with bright green stalks of fresh-from-the-earth asparagus. Bitter endives make merry with sweet, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes under the vigilant but beneficent eyes of a baby zucchini. Baby romaine lettuce leaves shed their inhibitions, say "f*ck it," and dive bottoms first into the homemade dip, skinny dipping alongside the tender young heirloom carrots who were in the process of doing some very naughty things indeed.

Now is the time for you to upgrade your carrot-and-celery plate into a veritable orgy of hedonistic vegetal delights. All of this can be yours. All it takes is a trip to a good vegetable market, and just a bit of effort.

Tip #1: Get In The Right Frame of Mind.

Stop thinking of vegetable platters as the default table-space-taker-upper and start thinking of them as the centerpiece of a spring or summer buffet table. Once you start taking them seriously, then perhaps they will start taking you seriously as well.

Tip #2: Don't Make a Shopping List.

It's sad but true: spring and summer produce are ephemeral beasts. The asparagus that was perfectly sweet and crisp two days ago may be wilted and woody by the time you make your way to the market. The best way to shop for a vegetable platter is to go with a certain amount of vegetables you'd like in mind—say, an eight to a quarter pound per guest—then buy what looks best. Use your nose and your eyes to guide you around the produce section (or better yet, the farm stand or farmers' market). With few exception, there are no spring or summer vegetables that won't work on a vegetable platter provided you treat them right. We'll get to that in a moment.

Tip #3: Can't Make A Decision? Then Don't.

Those white asparagus look so fresh and crisp, but so do those baby zucchini, and wow—what about those tight-blossomed baby purply artichokes? Or hey, those juicy looking easter egg radishes, how about them? The good news is that you don't have to decide between one or another. The most surefire way to make sure that your vegetable platter is memorable is to put as many different things as you can on it.

Show off the bounty of the season. Go for as many different colors, textures, and shapes as you can.

Tip #4: Go Shopping The Day Of (Or At The Earliest, The Day Before).

All vegetables lose quality as time goes by. For the most striking vegetable platter, make sure your vegetables are utterly fresh by buying them the morning you plan on serving them. If you must store them overnight, here are a few tips:

  • Root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, radishes, fennel, and the like, should be stored in a loosely closed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper. If they have greens that you'd like to use, wrap the greens in a damp paper towel and place a plastic bag loosely over them.
  • Green vegetables like asparagus, snap peas, zucchini, broccoli, and such, should be stored wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper.
  • Lettuces and other leafy vegetables such as endive, radicchio, or baby romaine/little gem should be stored wrapped in damp paper towels in a plastic bag, and left on the root for as long as possible. Do not separate lettuce leaves until just before serving.
  • Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature. Never put a fresh tomato in the refrigerator as it negatively impacts texture.

Tip #5: Make A Good Sauce

It should go without saying, but how many times have you seen a crudité platter beautifully prepared and laid out, only to find a jar of gloopy, gloppy, artificial flavoring-packed dip-from-a-can in the center of the spread?

Just don't do it! You're putting in the effort to get great vegetables, they deserve a great dip do go with them!

My favorite is the classic Green Goddess Dressing, a mayonnaise and herb-based dip flavored with anchovies that was the most popular dressing in the West up until Ranch came and took it over. You say you like Ranch? Well OK, we can help you out on that front as well. Here's our recipe.

Is Blue Cheese your thing? (It's my thing, quite often), if so this three-minute, five-ingredient Blue Cheese Dressing should do the trick. Potato chips aren't the only thing that go well with Real French Onion Dip, though I'm sure guests wouldn't kill you if you added a side of chips to your veg platter.

Another five-ingredient dip that takes a Greek twist is our Tyrokafteri, made with whipped feta and hot peppers. Even a classic garlicky aïoli would make the perfect dipper for fresh spring vegetables.

Tip #6: Style!

You can go a few different routes with laying out your platter. Sometimes I feel like compartmentalizing by color, arranging my vegetables the way I'd put crayons back into a box of Crayolas, creating an even spectrum from one end to the other (yes, I'm anal about putting crayons and markers back in the right order). This can be particularly striking when you have a huge assortment of vegetables of all different shades and can really create a strong spectrum from the red tomatoes through the pink radishes, through to the bright orange carrots, to the yellow endives to the green broccoli, all the way to the purple asparagus or radicchio.

That said, more often then not these days I prefer the "overflowing cornucopia" approach. That is, jam everything possible onto the plate, using a bit of care to make sure that colors are spaced out and that all the vegetables are showing their best side.

Either of these approaches works better than the dried-carrot-in-a-plastic-clamshell method.

My 18 Favorite Vegetable Platter Vegetables And How To Prepare Them

There's no way I could ever get through every possible vegetable you can put on a crudité platter, but here are the ones you are most likely to find, along with tips on the best way to prepare them. The key is to remember that folks are going to be eating with their hands, so vegetables have to be pick-upable, as well as dip-able in shape.

  • Artichokes should be peeled and pared down to the heart, choke removed, and simmered or steamed until tender. Baby artichokes can be left whole with just the pointy tips of the leaves removed, simmered or steamed until tender.
  • Asparagus of all different colors can be served raw and unpeeled if very slender. Thicker stalks should be peeled from the top two-inches and below, then briefly blanched in boiling salted water and shocked in ice water while still tender-crisp.
  • Baby romaine, little gem, and other crisp small letuces should be separated into individual leaves as close as possible to serving time, washed carefully in cold water, and spun dry in a salad spinner.
  • Bell peppers should be cored a de-stemmed, then cut into strips.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower should be first separated into bite-sized florets, then depending on their tenderness, served raw, or more likely, blanched for just a moment in boiling salted water, shocked in ice water, and spun dry in a salad spinner.
  • Broccoli rabe and broccolini should be blanched for just a moment in boiling salted water, shocked in ice water, and spun dry in a salad spinner.
  • Carrots and parsnips will very by size. Full-sized carrots can be cut into sticks and served raw (store them in cold water to keep them moist), while parsnips should be blanched in simmering water until just tender. Baby carrots should be peeled with the stem end left on (make sure to get the dirty bits around they stem when peeling—they're like the dirt under your fingernails), then can be served raw or simmered until just tender in salted water.
  • Celery can be simply cut into sticks and served. For fancier platters, celery should be peeled to remove any long, stringy, fibrous threads. Store celery in ice water.
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes should be served as-is. Keep them on the vine if possible for a prettier presentation.
  • Cucumber should be peeled, split in half lengthwise, the seeds removed with a spoon, then cut into sticks lengthwise.
  • Endive and related bitter greens such as radicchio should be treated like small lettuces: separate into individual leaves as close as possible to serving time, wash carefully in cold water, and spin dry in a salad spinner
  • Fennel should have its central core and green stalks removed, the white bule cut into thin wedges.
  • Fiddleheads need to be lightly trimmed of any unfurled fronds or browned bits, then blanched for about 30 seconds in boiling salted water and shocked in ice water.
  • Green beans can be served completely raw if very slim and tender. Thicker green beans (or wax beans) should be briefly blanched in boiling salted water and shocked in ice water.
  • Jicama can be cut into sticks and stored in a moist paper towel until served.
  • Radishes can be simply scrubbed and served with a few leaves still attached as a handle. I especially like the sweet, tender, spicy little French breakfast radishes. If your regular radishes are extra large, they can be split in half or quarters.
  • Snap peas and snow peas should have their strings removed, then can be served completely raw, or very briefly blanched in salted boiling water and shocked in an ice bath.
  • Zucchini or summer squash should be but into sticks then very briefly blanched in salted boiling water and shocked in an ice bath. If you can find baby squashes, they make for especially tasty additions. They have a crunchier texture and more intense flavor than their larger counterparts, and blanching them is easier, as they are protected all around by skin.

What are your favorite vegetables and dips for entertaining?


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