Entertaining guests can be very stressful, especially during the holiday season. With Christmas just a few weeks away now is the time to start planning the holiday party so you don’t feel overwhelmed once your guests start arriving from out of town. Award-winning cook, Kristina Vanni joined me for an interview recently to discuss how we can all throw a stress-free holiday party.
Candace Rose: How can we minimize the stress of having family over for the holidays?
Kristina Vanni: “This time of the year that’s definitely something we can all relate to. Stress is always high during the holidays and that’s why I’ve partnered with some really great brands in order to ease that stress a little bit. I have some tips that will help keep you sane.
My first tip is all about keeping a really well stocked pantry during the holiday season that you can use to create a really beautiful appetizer spread. I have the Santa Cruz Organic fruit spreads, I love these because they are USDA certified organic, they are NON-GMO and there are no artificial ingredients and no added sugars. This is something you can feel really good about serving your family and your guests throughout the holidays.
I have used their mango fruit spread and I just paired it with some beautiful artisanal cheeses and some crackers for a great appetizer option. You can also keep jars of the Santa Cruz Organic fruit spread on hand because they make a really great hostess gift. For more ideas or recipes you can check out SantaCruzOrganic.com.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any other dishes that will satisfy the whole family?
Kristina Vanni: “Absolutely. Another tip that I have is really all about the main dishes during the holidays, you want to keep it simple, easy and stress-free. Ragu, they’ve been delivering delicious tastes for over 75 years. I have their no boil lasagna recipe, this is always a huge hit, a big crowd pleaser. It’s so easy because it uses the Ragu Hearty Traditional Sauce and I love this one with all the delicious flavors of the traditional tomatoes and the herbs and the seasonings and it all comes to together into this main dish that is really a family classic that everyone will love.
Another idea if you’re thinking about side dishes, I love the Italian roasted potatoes that we have here. Those are made with the Ragu Chunky Garlic and Onion sauce, and again super simple recipe, and that’s the key. It’s all about using a few ingredients that comes together quickly and simply because in the end you want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with the family. For these recipes and lots of other ideas you can check out the Ragu page on Facebook or you can go to Ragu.com.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any final planning or prep tips?
Kristina Vanni: “My final tip here is an all natural do-it-yourself version for decorating during the holidays. This is really inexpensive! I love to pick up some cinnamon pinecones at the grocery store or if you’re lucky, you can even find them in your backyard. They make a beautiful centerpiece or you can turn one on its side and use it as a place setting. You can put the names of your guests there, get the kids involved…they can help out, or you can even take out some baker’s twine and wrap it around one of the pinecones and you have an all natural Christmas ornament.”
Candace Rose: Everything sounds amazing, Kristina. Where can we go for more information?