No Stress New Year’s Bash!

 

Everyone wants to ring in the new year in a happy and festive atmosphere, surrounded by friends or family and toasting to the hope of a fresh new year! There’s  no need to add stress to your holiday plate by trying to plan a massive and labor-intensive party. Stick to the basics and enjoy your countdown to midnight!

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Start the party late so your guests are awake and lively at midnight, Set the start time at 9:30 or 10.

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Don’t fuss with a full meal! Provide finger food to keep your party well-fed without the hassle of table settings or long drawn-out kitchen time! Bring out the  cheese, bread, olives, nuts, hummus, pita, carrot/cucumber slices, popcorn, mini-pizzas or mini-quiches!

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Provide Prosecco or Champagne for toasting when the clock strikes twelve but consider also providing a few EANABs (Equally Attractive Non-Alcoholic Beverages), not all guests want to imbibe, but they still want to feel included and festive!

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Have a pile of strips of paper, a bowl and some markers out on a table. Each guest can jot down a funny or thoughtful prediction for the new year! You can read these out loud after midnight and guess who wrote which one!

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Music! Don’t worry about planning the music too much, let Pandora help you out by choosing a “New Year’s Eve” station!

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful 2017!

-The LUX Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful Crafts!

The perfect ice-breaker is a low-pressure, interactive craft that all of your family and friends can participate in, taking time to truly reflect on the things and the people in our lives that we are grateful for!

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Cut a turkey body shape out of brown construction paper and attach googley eyes, a beak, and a top hat. Then place a basket with markers and another basket with feathers cut out of orange, red and yellow paper. Invite your guests to take a moment to jot down something in their life that makes them smile, brings them happiness, or reminds them to be grateful for each day. By the end of the night, your paper turkey will be overflowing with simple reminders that life is beautiful and worth being thankful for!

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Cut out as many strips of paper as you have guests at your party. Then write down a question on each piece of paper and place one question under each guests’ plate. The questions can be silly, thought-provoking, simple, or more complex, the more variety the better! “Do you prefer mountains or beaches?” “What is your favorite meal?” “When do you feel the most peaceful?” “What is your favorite place to take a nap?” “Do you think that every human is good deep down?” Then, throughout the meal, you can go around the table and each guest can choose another guest to ask their question to!

No-meat main dishes!

Sick of trying to cook an entire Turkey in your tiny oven? Or just ready to leave the meat behind for a while and focus on other sources of protein? Here are two of my favorite no-meat main dishes to round out your Thanksgiving meal…

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Pumpkin Pot Pie!  A vegetarian option of the traditional chicken pot pie, this flavorful pie with the sweetness of pumpkin and the hearty quality of celery, onion, carrots and kidney beans will keep everyone happy and healthy!

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Veggie Burger a la Thanksgiving! Add some November flare to your regular veggie burger by topping the patty with mashed potatoes, green beans and a dollop of cranberry sauce! Celebrate an American classic with a vegetarian spin!

Adorable Fall Placecards!

Every dinner party can be spiced up a bit with very little effort! Add a little elegance to your next dinner party and create personalized name cards for each guest. This will minimize awkwardness when is time to sit down and give you a chance to plan for optimal conversation in seating arrangements!

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Grab that jar of corks you have been collection and slice a small slit into each one. Then slip a piece of paper with each guests name on it into the slit! This works best if your meal will feature a great wine and dish pairing!

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Go full turkey with this adorable place cards that look like tiny turkeys! You can find bags of buttons at your local thrift store or craft store! These large birds have become a symbol of fall and can be used for any autumn gathering, not exclusively for Thanksgiving!

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Give your guests a feeling of fall with leaf cut outs on each place card. You can pick up the paper-cutters in autumn leaf shapes or cut out each individual leaf. Choose bright and warm paper colors to let your work really pop!

 

How to make Focaccia!

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Picture the utter satisfaction of casually letting your guests know that the bread you are serving with dinner is homemade! Picture how much more delicious your bread will be after you put love and energy into baking it! Picture how much money you will save by baking your own bread and limited those pricey trips to that fancy French bakery!

Gather the following ingredients and put on your most adorable apron…

-Flour

-Olive Oil

-Dry Active Yeast (in a jar or in packets)

-Sugar

-Salt

-Spice (Rosemary is a favorite, but Za’atar is quite delicious!)

-A ceramic bowl (it’s important that this bowl is not made out of metal!)

-A deep cookie sheet

-A bread maker! (if you don’t already own a bread-maker, check out your neighborhood’s craigslist or pick one up at Target or on Amazon! They don’t take up too much space and will make your baking life so much simpler!)

Pour 1 ¾ cups of warm water into your ceramic bowl.

Add about 2 tbsp of flour and a pinch of sugar. Whisk.

Then add 1 packet of dry yeast and whisk.

Let this bowl sit (preferably on your stove top with the oven on low to allow the heat to help activate your yeast!).

Pour 1/2 cup oil into the bottom of your bread-maker.

Then dump in 4 ½ cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 tablespoons of the spice of your choice.

Check to see if your yeast/water mixture has started to froth and bubble. This is a good sign that the yeast is active and eating up the flour and sugar you fed it!

Pour the yeast mixture into the bread-maker mixture.

Set your bread-maker to “dough”.

Take the next hour and a half to watch a show, read a book, do some gardening, take up needlepoint or go for a quick jog!

Then remove the dough from the bread-maker, spreading it out on your well oiled cookie tray! Lightly oil the top of the dough once it is flattened out so that the dough doesn’t dry out!  Let the dough rise even more for about 30 minutes.

Then poke gentle holes in lines all along the the bread to give it that distinctive focaccia pattern. Let it rise even more (about 30 more minutes! The more you let it rise, the fluffier your bread!). Give the top another coat of oil and sprinkle with sea salt! Place your tray into your preheated oven (425 degrees) and let it bake for about 20-30 minutes!

DIY Pizza Night!

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The first thing you need for your pizza night is a sense of adventure and an understanding that you might get a little messy. Sometimes accessing our inner messy child can help us enjoy our time in the kitchen and find simple joy in the act of creating delicious food!

Gather together the following ingredients:

-1 packet of Dry Yeast (in packets preferably! If not, you can use 2 teaspoons)

-3 cups Flour

-2 tablespoons Sugar

-1 teaspoon Salt

– 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

-1 cup Water

Place all of these ingredients into your bread-maker in the order they are listed. Set the bread-maker to ‘dough’ and be relieved that you live in the future and there is machine to help you make your pizza dough!

While your dough is mixing and rising, gather the toppings you would like on your pizza! Here are my recommendations…

-1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

-2-3 tomatoes sliced

-a handful of basil leaves

-sliced mushrooms

-sliced red onion

-sliced bell peppers

-olives

When your dough is ready, spread it out and let it rise for about 30 minutes. Place the dough on a greased cookie sheet. Then, coat the dough in olive oil, mozzarella cheese and the toppings of your choice! Bake for about 10-13 minutes at 225 degrees! Buon Appetito!

No-Bake Fall Desserts!

Why not throw together a couple delicious fall treats without ever turning the oven on? Removing baking from the equation speeds up your prep time and removes an imposing barrier that usually keeps us from baking: baking! Try these no-bake autumn desserts and let us know how it goes!

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Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches!

Mix heavy whipping cream with pureed pumpkin that you scooped out of your pumpkin before you carved your Jack-O-Lantern (or from a can!). Stir in a dash of pumpkin pie spice to add an aromatic quality to your dessert! Then smear this delicious mixture onto graham cracker squares, placing a square on top to make a mini-sandwich! Freeze, then enjoy!

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Pumpkin Pie Bites!

Mix cool whip, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spices, softened cream cheese, and a bit of sugar to taste. Place this in a clean Ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole in the corner! Squirt enough to fill each phyllo cup (you can find phyllo dough cups in the frozen section of your grocery store!) and then place one half-pecan on top as decoration! You can also lightly dust with cinnamon to add aesthetic appeal to these bite-sized yummies!