Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

The holidays are here!  My favorite part of the season is getting the opportunity to spend time with my family and friends.  Throughout the month, there are a lot of get-togethers, holiday parties and work functions.  I really like to take the few days between Christmas and New Year’s to spend quality time with my close family. 

Traditionally, my entire family will host a holiday party the weekend before Christmas.  We have such a large family with a lot of small children, so it tends to be difficult to get everyone together on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  I actually like it this way.  It gives everyone the chance to have a small, intimate holiday celebration at their homes without the hustle and bustle of visiting with ten or so aunts and uncles, dozens of cousins, grandparents, grandchildren… and it can go on!

My absolute favorite part of this family time is sitting around the tree on Christmas Eve, listening to festive music, drinking hot chocolate and enjoying my favorite holiday treat, Brie en Croute.   My absolute favorite recipe comes from Campbell’s Kitchen®.  As you all may know, I do work for Swanson® and as a part of the Campbell’s family, I am always trying delicious recipes! I particularly love this recipe because it’s a perfect combination of the sweet and tangy apricots and dried cranberries along with the crunch of the almonds and the creamy smooth brie.  It really adds a special touch to a classic holiday treat!

Holiday Brie en Croute 

From Campbell’s Kitchen®
Thaw: 40 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 20 minutes
Stand: 45 minutes
Makes: 12 servings

1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
1/2 cup apricot preserves or seedless raspberry jam
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 (13- to 16-ounce) Brie cheese round
1 package (13 ounces) Pepperidge Farm Entertaining Quartet Distinctive Crackers

1.     Heat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.
2.     Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14-inch square. Spread the preserves on the pastry to within 2 inches of the edge. Sprinkle with the cranberries and almonds. Place the cheese in the center of the pastry. Fold the pastry up over the cheese to cover. Trim the excess pastry and press to seal. Brush the seam with the egg mixture. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Decorate with the pastry scraps, if desired. Brush with the egg mixture.
3.     Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 45 minutes. Serve with the crackers.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Best, and until next time, Kaitlin!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Holiday Gift-Wrapping Party!

Every year, I purchase about two to three rolls of wrapping paper with some to spare. My only gripe about the rolls is that I would like a little variety with my gift giving. Once all my gifts are wrapped, they all look the same! I recently came across the idea of throwing a holiday gift-wrapping party and I just had to share this wonderful idea with my Entertaining Escapaders. Perhaps this can even become a holiday tradition with your friends?

The idea is to have a festive holiday party, asking each of your guests to bring along one or two different styles of wrapping paper and a corresponding spool of ribbon for decorating. The hostess will provide tape, scissors, name tags and of course, delicious food, drinks and holiday goodies. It’s a really unique party idea, which will allow your guests to wrap their holiday gifts in a variety of different papers and ribbons.

Here are a few tips, courtesy of Campbell’s Kitchen®, to think about when you organize your holiday gift-wrapping party. Setting your party up into three worktables will help create a nice flow and keep everyone organized throughout the evening.

• The first table should supply boxes, envelopes, bags and other “outer” containers along with a few creative ideas for oddly shaped items (like mailing tubes). As a host, go through your own collection of boxes and packing supplies—it’s very likely that you’ll have plenty of material on hand to easily outfit the station without having to buy anything.
• The second station is for all the guest-supplied rolls or sheets of wrapping paper, tissue paper and decorative gift bags.
• The last table is for guest-supplied spools of ribbon, string, stick-on bows, tags and any decorative novelties or ornaments. Outfit this area with additional tape, glue/glue sticks, scissors, pens, a paper punch and stickers.

For more entertaining tips, recipe ideas and fun holiday tricks, visit Campbell’s Kitchen!

Best and until next time, Kaitlin.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Winter Welcomes Warm Soup

There is a chill in the air!  The only really nice thing about the colder weather on the east coast is a warm, cozy homemade soup.  I usually like to make soup on a Sunday afternoon and freeze all the leftovers for a quick, easy dinner during the week. 

Of course Swanson Chicken® has a ton of ideas, tips and recipes for soup and I am on a mission to taste them all!  Well, maybe I won’t be able to test them all this winter, but I would love to try.  The best part about the recipes feature below is that they are quick, easy and really fit my budget, especially when there are Holiday gifts to be bought! Here are a few of my favorites:

Easy Chicken Chili with White Beans 

In the mood for chili?  No problem...because you can have this flavorful chicken chili on the table in less than 1/2 hour.  It only tastes like it's been simmering all day.

Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup
Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup Using the Swanson canned chicken, prepared salsa and flavorful chicken broth allows you to make this satisfying soup in just 20 minutes.  Try's zesty and delicious.

Country Chicken Stew This hearty stew, chock full of carrots, green beans, onion, potatoes, and chicken, simmers in a creamy base to tenderness in just minutes. Garnished with crispy bacon and parsley, this colorful dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

What’s your favorite winter soup?

Best, and until next time, Kaitlin!