Holiday Party Platter

Still unsure on what to make this holiday season for an upcoming family dinner or swingin’ soirée? This party platter is easy to make, requires no cooking and is so aesthetically pleasing, it practically looks like decor. I enjoy making these snack boards because there truly are no rules and they are the epitome of a great return on investment. I personally like to add foods that are easy to pick up and eat while chatting. You can add fruit, veggies, cheese, cured meats, honey, jams, crackers, nuts and dips. We eat with our eyes first so don’t underestimate the power of color and versatility

Here are some simple rules to live by when making a party platter:

  1. Find the right platter – You want to find a piece that really pops. I love this Large Beatriz Ball Organic Nicola Pedestal Platter paired with this adorable Beatriz Ball Holiday Christmas Tree Mini Bowl that I used for the dip. These two pieces came from Bering’s Hardware here in Houston, my go-to spot for all things entertaining. If you haven’t been and you need some last minute gift ideas or serving pieces for your upcoming holiday party, Bering’s is your spot.
  2. Add your crudités – these raw veggies will be great with any dip you decide to add and they also provide a great opportunity to add fun pops of color to your platter.
  3. Add something sweet – Dried and fresh fruit are the way to go to satisfy the sweet factor here. Any fruit you like or have on hand would work. Just make sure to treat fruits that oxidize (like pears and apples) with a fresh lemon juice before putting them out so they do not brown.
  4. Add some crackers –  I enjoy using a mix of crackers, just because it’s fun, but use whatever makes you happy. I just pile them on the platter wherever there are openings.
  5. Add a dip or two – Condiments are a really fun addition to a party platter and can provide a flavor boost to all of those delicious veggies. Some of my favorite options: hummus, honey, fancy mustards, jams, and preserves. You can add sauces and chutneys and whatever else makes you happy.
  6. Fill spaces – This is what will help make your party platter look really amazing—fill in all the empty spaces. I like to do this with clusters of grapes, cherries, blueberries or nuts. They fill in all the nooks and crannies nicely, and they’re the perfect size for someone to grab and just eat a few grapes.
  7. Garnish – For the holiday season, I love adding a few sprigs of fresh rosemary – it looks a lot like a Christmas tree, and it smells great. Is this step important? No. Does it look great? Heck yes.

And that’s it! I know that was a lot of explaining, but honestly, the whole process takes less that ten minutes. It is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser this holiday season.

This post is sponsored by Bering’s Hardware.

Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Informal Grub possible.

Winter Minestrone Soup

Winter is here and with its transition I tend to shy away from cold, refreshing smoothies and find myself craving hearty soups and tea. Soups are a staple favorite of mine because the extras freeze well and come in handy during late work nights or lazy Sundays. Don’t get me wrong, I love broths and thin soups but nothing truly satisfies me like a dense, full-bodied soup overflowing with seasonal and flavorful ingredients. This soup has everything you need to get you through these cold winter months. The beans are a great source of protein, the kale, radish, winter squash and red potatoes are packed with vitamin C, the garlic has major medicinal properties and the carrots are rich in many vitamins and antioxidants. If you are sick or simply wanting to prevent illness this winter, this soup is for you.

Having great kitchenware to enjoy this soup on the couch or in bed doesn’t hurt either. Bering’s Hardware here in Houston has always been a place I love to shop for my home, meaningful wedding gifts, baby showers and baptism’s. Bering’s Hardware literally is my one stop shop and for many others here in town. I seriously cannot get enough of these adorable Juliska Le Panier Berry Bowls; the second I saw them in the store I knew this soup would be the perfect fit. Add in this versatile Vesta large cheese board, a Karen Lee Ballard Droplet Napkin and Bistro soup spoons and your table is set.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

5 carrots, sliced

1 white onion, diced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups butternut or acorn squash, peeled and diced

1 cup yellow squash or zucchini

2 cups red potatoes, diced

6 cups vegetable broth

1 can (15 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato paste

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

2 cans (15 oz) kidney beans

4 cups chopped Lacinato kale

1 box (8oz) gluten-free pasta shells, cooked according to package directions

Garnish with slices of radish and kale

Directions:

Heat a large stock pot to medium and add the avocado oil. When heated, add carrots and onion. Stir and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add minced garlic, stir and cook for 2 minutes.

Add both diced squash and potatoes, stir and cook for a minute or two. Add tomato sauce and fire-roasted tomatoes, stir to coat. Add vegetable broth, salt, pepper and herbs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer about 40 minutes, or until vegetables are mostly softened.

Add drained and rinsed kidney beans and kale. Stir and let simmer for additional 10-15 minutes. Add cooked pasta before serving. Enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Bering’s Hardware..

Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Informal Grub possible.