Keeping It Simple

'Tis definitely the season for open houses and parties.  While we have people over quite frequently, I don't always have a lot of time to do elaborate preparations.  Especially this time of year, when I usually have just a couple of days at home between long stretches of time on the road on TV tour.

Happily, I grew up in a house in which my parents entertained a lot.  One of the tricks I learned from my mom was to prepare as much as possible in advance, so you can actually spend time with your guests.  Whether it was a small dinner party or an open house for 100, Mom always had everything under control - and would be ready long before the first guests arrived.

This week, I had a great time sharing ideas for easy holiday entertaining for Sam's Club and Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits (Stamford, CT) on several shows.  When it comes to food and drink pairings, keeping it simple is definitely the way to go.  Even better, Sam's has a lot of ready-made appetizers and desserts, so you can keep your kitchen time to a minimum!  Here are a few ideas:

Food styling by  FoodStyl.

Food styling by FoodStyl.

Sparkling wine is festive for any occasion - especially the holidays.  The crisp flavors of Enza Prosecco ($14.99) pair nicely with tomato bruschetta, bacon-wrapped dates, and the creaminess of a wheel of brie topped with roasted pineapple and habaňero sauce.  Or, try this cranberry-orange baked brie.

A food-friendly white wine, Barone Fini Pinot Grigio ($11.99) goes with just about anything, but is especially nice with seafood like a shrimp tray with cocktail sauce.  It also brings out the creaminess of desserts like Sams' Member's Mark pumpkin cheesecake or Italian creme cake.

A full-bodied red wine such as Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ($16) and whiskey like Redemption Rye ($29) definitely call for heavier fare.  Pair these up with hearty foods like beef tenderloin skewers, BBQ or beef sliders, or a block of sharp cheddar cheese and crackers.  Red wine is also a fabulous pairing with chocolate, whether you prefer yummy sea salt caramels or a decadent red velvet cake.

Cheers to the holidays!

Thanksgiving Made Super-Easy

Scott and I are gearing up for one of our favorite holiday traditions: hosting several friends for Thanksgiving dinner.

While I generally make pretty much everything from scratch - including tons of leftovers for us and for people to take home - this year is a bit different because I am doing TV appearances both Thursday and Friday morning.

So - ready-made items to the rescue!

If you're in a similar boat this year, I shared some quick and easy Thanksgiving dinner ideas for Omaha Steaks, Teleflora and Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits (Stamford, CT) on today's "Daytime" show.  Click on the photo to see the full segment, and check out details below.

With "Daytime" co-host Jerry Penacoli.  Food styling by  FoodSTYL Tampa Bay .

With "Daytime" co-host Jerry Penacoli.  Food styling by FoodSTYL Tampa Bay.

If you don't feel like cooking everything from scratch this year, you can order a complete turkey and trimmings dinner from Omaha Steaks.  You still need to cook the 10-pound turkey that comes with it, but all of the sides - yummy sage stuffing, green bean casserole, smashed red potatoes, and turkey gravy - are all ready to heat and eat.  It even comes with a pumpkin pie.  If you prefer to customize your own meal, you can "build your own" meal for four, six or 10 people - choosing from a delicious assortment of savory meats, scrumptious sides and delectable desserts.

To accompany that meal, Barone Fini Pinot Grigio is a food-friendly white wine that complements many dishes on a traditional holiday menu.  For guests who prefer red wine, Josh Cellars Pinot Noir is a nice match for red meats and heavier dishes on the table.  Sparkling wine is perfect for any occasion, and greeting guests with a flute of Enza Prosecco will get any party off to a festive start.

For your own table or an ideal hostess gift, the gorgeous flowers in Teleflora's Autumn Gathering Centerpiece are nestled into a food-safe artisanal stoneware bowl/vase that can be used year after year.

Happy Thanksgiving!