Guest Author - Sandra Lee Garth
After the holidays have passed the general mindset is to hunker down for a bit and wait for spring. The cold and dreary days of winter are no reason to just sit on your couch and brood. It’s the perfect time to throw a party!
This party is the epitome of laid-back. A simple phone call or online invitation is acceptable and appropriate. Also consider having guests bring a game or at least an idea for an activity.
To offset the doom and gloom of cloudy days and sometimes chilly temps, keep the music upbeat and lively. On line music stations like Pandora, that allow you to choose several genres is perfect for this type of party.
If you, or your guests have Wii or Xbox Kinect, the fun meter at your party will skyrocket! These interactive games are not only fun, but can also help you burn off any excess calories you may consume.
One of the most memorable parts of any party is the food, and comfort food rules during winter. Here are a few suggestions:
Chili and Cornbread/Crackers
Macaroni and Cheese
Hot Spinach Artichoke and Chicken Dip (recipe below)
This is one of those dishes that are hard to resist when you see it sitting out. It invites you keep taking a little sliver here and there. It is also a good go-to or party recipe. Extra seasonings aren’t needed because of the saltiness of the cheese.
Hot Spinach Artichoke and Chicken Dip
1 (22 oz) bag Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Breast Strips
1 (8 ounce) pkg 1/3 less cream cheese, softened
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
½ cup onions, finely chopped
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
¼ cup shredded Colby jack cheese
2 frozen ready made pie crusts, thawed
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, Colby jack cheese, and mayonnaise. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach. Divide mixture and chicken strips between both pie crusts. Top with grated parmesan. Bake in the preheated oven 40-45 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.
Even though this dish has a crust, the inside would be good to scoop up with pita or tortilla chips, and sprinkled with lots of hot sauce.
White Hot Chocolate
3 cups half-and-half or Silk Coconut Milk
¾ cup white chocolate, or white chocolate powdered mix
1 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate mint sticks, or chocolate coated stirring spoons
Coconut Rum (optional)
For an adult beverage, the optional coconut rum adds another warming element. On another note, as delightful as this drink is, it is high in calories. To reduce fat and calories, substitute low fat milk, or fat free evaporated milk.
In a medium saucepan over low heat combine ½ of the milk products, white chocolate or white chocolate powdered mix until white chocolate is melted. Add remaining milk product and turn heat to low. Then whisk until heated through. Remove from heat and add in vanilla. Let cool slightly and then add chocolate sticks or chocolate stirring spoons if desired. If using coconut rum add in one shot glass full. Makes 5 (6-ounce) servings.