By Chloe Coscarelli
Author of Chloe's Quick-and-Easy Vegan Party Foods
When you think of the holidays, do you imagine a table full of guests feasting graciously on your delicious meal? Or do you get flashbacks of Aunt Mimi lecturing you that you made the potatoes wrong, Cousin Susie crying because she doesn't like cilantro and you added it to everything, and everyone demanding to know "How much longer 'til we eat?" Unfortunately, the second scenario is closer to reality for most home cooks. Sure, food brings guests together, but it can also tear them apart if we the hosts don't plan properly to make sure everyone is happily fed.
In my new e-books, Chloe's Quick-and-Easy Party Foods and Chloe's Vegan Chocolate Classics, I share my go-to recipes for a mixed crowd. These recipes rely on everyday ingredients that can be found at any grocery store and are super-easy to prepare (I'd rather NOT feel like I'm solving an advanced math equation when I'm just trying to bake a cake). Most important, they are so delicious that vegans, vegetarians, and die-hard meat-eaters will all go nuts over them.
Trust me, I've served these dishes and desserts to men who consider themselves meat-and-potatoes guys, and even they don't believe the recipes are vegan. Some of my favorite savory party dishes are my Warm Spinach-Artichoke Dip, Garlic Knots, Phyllo Mushroom Turnovers, and Black Bean Baby Cakes with Pineapple Salsa. And what better way to say "Happy Holidays!" than with chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate? Bring out a platter of my Cinnamon Espresso Chocolate-Chip Cookies or serve piping-hot Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes with Raspberry Sauce-your whole party will be ooohing and ahhhing with excitement. All my recipes are meat, dairy, and egg-free, and most are also gluten and soy-free, too.
A few things to keep in mind as you plan your big feast:
1. Always ask your guests ahead of time if they have any food allergies or aversions. Even if you already know the answer, it puts guests at ease to remind them that they will be taken care of.
2. Make as much of the meal as you can the day before so that you're not scrambling in front of your guests. Once they arrive, you should only be assembling, not cooking. In my e-books, I give simple "Make-Ahead Tips" to make sure you get the hang of this. For example, my Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes can be made weeks in advance and popped into the oven straight from the freezer when your guests ring the doorbell. Nifty, huh?
3. Avoid serving too many different dishes that don't go together. Too many choices can be stressful and unappetizing for your guests. Serving one appetizer, entrée, and dessert is a more than plentiful menu, and your guests will appreciate the simplicity.
Sure, cooking for a huge family can be daunting, but with the right recipes and prep, the holidays will be fun and festive-like they are in our wildest imagination. Download my e-books, and if you have any questions along the way, please tweet me at @ChloeCoscarelli for immediate holiday help. Cheers!
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