Entertain to Win: 5 Tips for your Next Holiday Party


It’s the most wonderful time of the year - why spend it stressed out? With only a couple weeks until Christmas arrives it’s time to enter full planning mode. Recently my amazing friends at Kroger invited me to explore some ways to take the stress out of the holiday season with their Eatertaining Made Simple campaign. Today I am sharing five tips that will make your next holiday party a breeze.

Fill your table with local products
I am all about supporting Made in Michigan companies. From chips and jams to meats, honey and more Kroger is filled with all the Michigan made products that you can think of. You can easily discover new local favorites, just look for the “Made in Michigan” tags on Kroger sleeves. Honestly, every time I am at Kroger I am surprised by how many new “Made in Michigan” products that I discover. A made in Michigan favorites you will see this holiday season at my home are: Sander’s Bumpy Cake, McClure’s Pickles, Cason Infused Sparkling Beverage and Pop Daddy Popcorn just to name a few. 



Semi-Homemade
This holiday season be more present with the ones you love and head to Kroger for pre-made vegetable trays, deli trays, cheese boards, cake, cookies and more. All of the pre-made options are set up into a nice presentation and ready for you to share with your guests. These pre-made options are not only delicious but eliminate the number of dishes that you’ll have to do and allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with the ones you love.



DIY Cheeseboard
You can’t sign onto Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook without seeing a cheese board or charcuterie board. They’re all the rage this year, and let’s face it who doesn’t want to snack on a fabulous cheeseboard? Whether it’s your first time making a cheeseboard or you’re hundredth Kroger can help you find the perfect pairings. In select Kroger stores, you will find a Murray’s Cheese display, here you will find a large variety of cheeses that are perfect for any cheeseboard. Remember there is no right or wrong way to make your own cheese board, make it how you want - pair cheese with herbs, jams, nuts, and crackers. If you’re still undecided Murray’s has a few cheeseboards that are already prepared for you!


Signature Cocktail (or Mocktail in my case)
Typically my parties are BYOB, because I don’t drink at all. However, I do like to have a signature drink at any party I throw - think punches and Shirley Temples. This year I will be adding a little sparkle to my holiday party and will be serving up mocktails in my DIY mocktail bar.  What will you find at this mocktail bar? My favorite sparkling beverage over ice with a squeeze of the guest's favorite fruit (lime, lemon or orange).


Dessert
Who doesn’t love dessert? Personally, I am a big fan. If you’re not the best baker, no problem! Kroger has plenty of pre-made delicious dessert options, from cheesecake and brownies to cupcakes and cookies you’re sure to find something your guests will love. I absolutely love baking and always try to make a dessert that goes with my party’s theme. This year I am hosting a candy cane themed party and decided to make chocolate candy cane sandwich cookies with ingredients that I found at my local Kroger store.



Chocolate Candy Cane Sandwich Cookies
Chocolate Cookie Ingredients
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup nondairy milk (or you can use regular)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Peppermint Frosting Ingredients
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons vegan butter, softened to room temperature (you can also use regular butter)
3 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
4 candy canes, crushed

Directions
1. Sift flour, cacao powder, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
2. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter using a hand mixer or stand mixer.
3. Add in the sugar and whip for one minute - until combined and fluffy.
4. Add vanilla and gradually add the milk - while continuing to whip the mixture.
5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
6. Mix well using a wooden spoon or spatula.
7. Once combined form the dough into a ball.
8. Split the dough into two equal portions.
9. Place each portion into a piece of parchment paper.
10. Roll it out with your hands between the parchment paper until a log is formed. The log should be about two inches wide.
11. Try to flatten the ends - so you have a cylinder shape.
12. Wrap the two logs, and tightly secure the ends closed.
13. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or until firm.
14. Once you remove the logs from the refrigerator, unwrap them.
15. Using a sharp knife, cut rounds that are about 1/4-inch thick.
16. Place the cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets.
17. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
18. Bake 5-7 minutes.
19. Allow the cookies to cool completely before frosting.
20. For the peppermint frosting, combine the butter and confectioners sugar in a large mixing bowl.
21. Mix with a stand or hand mixer.
22. While mixing, add in the warm water and peppermint oil.
23. Beat until frosting consistency.
24. Pour the smashed candy canes into a bowl.
25. To assemble the sandwich cookies, spread some frosting onto the bottom of a cookie with a small icing spatula.
26. Place another cookie on top and lightly press so there is some frosting coming out of the sides.
27. Sprinkle crushed candy canes all along the sides of the sandwich - or you can roll the sides into the candy canes.
28. Repeat.
29. Allow the cookies to dry before layering them in a container.
30. These cookies freeze great and make the perfect addition to holiday parties and potlucks.

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