Well know television host and lifestyle expert, Sissy Biggers joined me recently to share her favorite tips in holiday entertaining, menu planning and festive DIY decor!
Television Host and Lifestyle Expert, Sissy Biggers. Image courtesy of Twitter.com/SissyBigg
Candace Rose: What are the first steps we need to take to plan a great holiday party?
Sissy Biggers: "You know, well the first thing that I do is take an inventory of my kitchen and that's from platters and serving ware to the pantry where I want to be sure that I have everything I need to get through the season and that alleviates the stress when you know you've got your systems down. And the first thing is when I'm shopping for my pantry; you know, when I'm talking about olive oils and salts and peppers, you know what's on the top of that list? It's coffee. And you want to have Dunkin' Donuts packaged coffees; they're right there in the grocery aisle – original blend and dunkin' dark or the decaf and it's really important to have decaf on hand, especially if you're not a decaf drinker. When you have guests you want to be able to offer them decaf. There's nothing worse than saying 'do you have a decaf' and have to say 'no.' So and the great taste of Dunkin' Donuts they love the coffee and it's also great to even put as a little gift in a mug. So and also quick other tip- you want to have more than just skim milk in your fridge. Somebody might want half and half, so you want their coffee experience to be a good one, so it starts with the Dunkin' Donuts packaged coffee, Candace."
Candace Rose: What are some delicious and easy recipes we should serve at our next party?
Sissy Biggers: "Well, you know it is tis the season to bake. If you're not a baker this still is the time you actually do bake; which is I'm professing that to be me. And another go-to ingredient in my pantry is the Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, it's the key to pumpkin pies of course and bars. This is the classic magic bar (seen in video) which you can find at EagleBrand.com. This is so good it's white chocolate cheesecake with apricot swirl. This actually is an award winning recipe; if you go to EagleBrand.com right now until the 7th of December you have a chance to win a $10,000 prize if you share your sweet secret to your baking. I mean if you've got a good baking recipe, why not enter, right? And at $10,000; so that's a really cool way to show off what you've got. You know, take it out of the kitchen and into the big leagues, right?
And then another quick idea is you gotta have good snacks on hand and nothing is better than the dips and spreads that Sabra makes. This is of course their humus's 20 different flavors. This is roasted red pepper (shown below) which I love and surrounded by fresh vegetables and pita. My daughter loves it for breakfast on a bagel, it's a wonderful savory start to your day. And this season if you go to Facebook and check them out there, you'll learn about; they've got a limited edition, it's a rosemary olive oil and sea salt hummus, so that sounds really good. You'll find other ideas about how to doctor it up. You know you can roast eggplant or other vegetables and toss it with hummus and it makes a really nice appetizer for people to share."
Candace Rose: I'd love to try that for breakfast. I'm not an egg person so that sounds delicious.
Sissy Biggers: "You know, it's delicious; like I say on a bagel- delish. And then you know another quick tip is when you're cutting all of those veggies, cut some extras. When you've already got the knives out and the cutting board, do a second cucumber, do some more broccoli and then be sure to store the fresh vegetables in resealable, reusable plastic bags and containers, that way you'll have them and they're ready especially if you have a busy household like I do. They can just reach in and get the plasticware and know that it's being stored freshly and you know it's lightweight, kids can pull it out and help themselves to a snack.
And one other quick thing in the plastics family is this time of year it's a great time to check out some of the innovations in plasticware, especially in baking. This is a wonderful little accordion cake and cookies decorator, it's lightweight, it's really precise, it's really fun. How much fun do kids have with this? It's like an art project, practically. And you know other things you'll find in silicone shapes. You know you can decorate cookies with these little stencils, so constantly changing. I go to the houseware show every year in Chicago and one of my favorite things I check out- plastics because there's always something new that's kind of an aha and this is one I wanted to share with you today."
Candace Rose: Do you have any quick and easy decor tips?
Sissy Biggers: "You know, my quick and easy decor is; you know you're out in Northern California- get a pair of clippers and just go to the best backyard you've got in the family and cut some beautiful boughs. I bring them in; I love to do mantels with boughs and berries; especially this time of year you find some really cool berries and stuff. I have a wonderful bush in my yard, I'm not even sure what it's called but I live in Connecticut and what I do is I cut it and it lasts. It's so pretty, I just poke it in an oasis and it's just a little piece of the outdoors. And my other sort of go-to tip is I'm kind of a – I like to take gold spray paint; I'll spray anything gold, Candace Rose. Anything. I just spray it gold; whole nuts, stuff like that. It's pretty!
Candace Rose: That sounds great.
Sissy Biggers: "Just you know, you don't have to spend a lot if you've got a yard and a pair of clippers or a friend with a yard."
Candace Rose: Friend's better!
Sissy Biggers: Yeah. Somebody's got a yard and they'll always be happy to have you trim a bush for them."
Candace Rose: There you go. Don't take stuff out of your yard, take it from somebody else's!
Sissy Biggers: "Yeah, well you know, actually I have a really nice holly tree in my hard and that's my favorite, is to have a holly tree.
Candace Rose: Oh, beautiful.
Sissy Biggers: "But the problem with holly trees is in Connecticut is we get some of the nasty weather (as we all do) and they don't take kindly to an early snowstorm like we just had in October."
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you'd like to share?
Sissy Biggers: "You know my last tip of the day is I always say to everybody don't be afraid when somebody says 'what can I bring?' For goodness sakes don't say 'oh, whatever.' Be specific. Actually I've decided today, have them bring something that requires peeling and mashing because I have to peel and mash."
Candace Rose: I'm with you on that.
Sissy Biggers: "Right? Have them bring turnips to Christmas. Let them do the sweet potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Yeah, how do you feel about mashed potatoes? Thanks."
Candace Rose: Love them but I'm not all for peeling.
Sissy Biggers: "Sneaky. Sneaky little tip. Delegate the peeling."
Candace Rose: And where can we go for more information?
Sissy Biggers: "The website is News2Know.com."