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You’ll never stress about hosting again with these great tips!
Don’t Stress! Just follow these incredible entertaining tips!
Entertaining at home can be chic, fun, and easy. We love throwing formal dinners, and intimate parties help us to connect with new acquaintances and old friends. Guests always remark how wonderful it is to be surrounded by warmth and comfort and good food, yet most people shy away from inviting guests into their homes. Why not, though, when we invite people into our lives through social media each day? It’s time we invited them back into our homes.
With Easy Entertaining, you can be a guest at your own event.
- Design a guest list with one cohesive thread amongst guests. This could be as broad as an interest in the arts, or as narrow as kids the same age.
- When someone asks if they can bring something, say yes. Always ask for items that can be served room temperature.
- Decorate the table with eclectic items, plus candles and flowers. Use decorative objects like small statues, mini vases, and frames with photos. They make the table unique and interesting.
- Go online and find fun facts to share at the table. Have a few tidbits about local news or the history of an upcoming event. Use these to engage guests and as conversation starters.
- Set the dinner table in advance. Far, far in advance.
- Decide on seating. Use place cards. Have new people sit together, and seat couples separately.
- Plan out your drinks menu. Decide on a signature cocktail and champagne for hors d’oeuvres — there’s no need for a full open bar.
- Plate the salad or appetizer course before guests arrive. Again, choose an item that can be served room temperature.
- Curate the main meal carefully. Think through reheat time and cooking space and vary dishes between microwave, stovetop, and oven.
- Make dessert a buffet. Preset it in a different room. This gives people the option to move around and get to know new people.
For more tips and ideas, follow Andrea Adelstein on Twitter and Instagram @nyluxevents
10 Tips to Make Meal Prep Easier
But be honest: How many times have you finished work and thought, “I’m too tired to cook and there’s nothing in the fridge. I just I’ll hit the drive-thru”?
By planning and prepping, you can help prevent that from happening. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed how much time and money you might save!
1. Make a meal prep plan
Make a list of your favorite healthy foods, choose simple recipes that can be made quickly or in bulk, and decide what you’ll eat for every snack and meal.
This step will get easier and faster with practice. If you’re following the 21 Day Fix or want to use its simple approach, you can download its meal planning tools here.
Pro Tip: Save your plan for a future week. Once you have a few meal prep menus in your arsenal, you can rotate them to keep things interesting.
10 EASY and healthy recipes to meal prep
1. Five ingredient No Bake Cookie Dough Bars
- 2 cups almond meal
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 2 tbsp Healthy Mummy Smoothie powder vanilla
- 1/4 cup dark choc chips melted
2. Choc Mint Balls
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 cup dried dates pitted
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 2 tbsp cacao/cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
3. Wholemeal Choc Chip Muffins
- cooking oil spray
- 2 cups wholemeal self raising flour 240 grams
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate bits 75 grams
- 2 free-range eggs 100 grams
- 1 cup reduced-fat milk of choice 250 mls
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 62.5 mls
- 1/4 cup honey 62.5 mls
- 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 mls
4. Devilled sausages
A fussy eater friendly meal these devilled sausages will be a big dinnertime hit due to its simplicity. What kid doesn’t like a snag or 2 especially when they’re in a yummy sauce?
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce salt reduced
- 1 tablespoon corn flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 8 lean sausages of choice
- 1 brown onion peeled
- 1 apple peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 3 sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
- 2 cups trimmed green beans
- 2 cups cauliflower
- 2 carrots peeled
- Fresh parsley to serve
5. Warm Chicken and Quinoa Salad
6. Spanish Rice with Chorizo
- 1/2 cup brown rice uncooked
- 1 chorizo sausage chopped
- 1/2 brown onion diced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 Tomatoes diced
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup corn kernels fresh or tinned
- 1/2 red capsicum diced
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley
- 2 wedges fresh lime
7. Satay Fried Rice with Egg
8. Double Choc Mini Muffins
9. Slow Cooked Asian Chicken
- 2 Large Skinless Chicken Breast
- ½ Onion diced
- 1/3 cup Gluten free soy sauce
- 1/3 cup honey
- ½ cup water
- 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1 tsp Minced Ginger
- Juice of a small lime
- Rice of choice
- 1 tbsp Cornflour mixed with a little water
- Sesame seeds and spring onion to decorate
10. Rice Paper Rolls
- 2 cooked chicken breasts sliced lengthways
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 2 medium carrots grated
- 1 medium cucumber peeled into strips with a veggie peeler
- 1 avocado sliced into long strips
- 8 rice paper wrappers
Our Chilli recipe is a super versatile dinner option and can be served with a jacket potato and salad, or loads of rice and veg.
It can also be adapted into a variety of different dishes including our Chilli Pasta Bake – a tasty twist on two classic meals.
Or, use it in our Chilli Cheesy Nachos for a delicious, indulgent dinner that feels much naughtier than it actually is!
If you&rsquore missing IKEA&rsquos famous meatballs from regulations forcing some IKEA stores to limit their hours due to the Coronavirus, here&rsquos your chance to DIY them at home! The combination of a flavorful fried then baked meatball alongside this homemade buttery creamy sauce is so darn GOOD.
The Top News & Research in your Inbox
What is the basic structure of a successful event? What should you consider before running an event to avoid blunders? In this article, we take you through the basic steps of the event planning process.
Success takes more than just execution. Event planners are extremely prepared to face all the challenges that will inevitably come forward during the event planning process. It is very easy to jump to tactics and forget that without a strategy, things will inevitably go wrong. The following 10 items are by no means comprehensive but can give you a clear idea of the very basic elements you need to consider for a successful event.
10. Set Clear Objectives. In order to understand whether you made the right moves, you need to have SMART objectives. During the event you'll know what is important, after the event you'll be able to measure your effectiveness.
9. Pick the Right Team. Two people that contribute and listen to others are usually enough for a 600 delegate conference. Look for these two people.
8. Do your Marketing. 4p's are kind of an old concept. sure. But are you at least aware of what are your event 4p's are?
7. Think Ahead. If you are an event manager and do not have this capability, start understanding the benefits of planning.
6. Do your Targeting. Why are bored students 70% of your conference about getting old? Understand who is your main audience, describe them and talk to them.
5. Promote Well. Everything is set. Tables, chairs, mics but it's only you and the paramedics in a 500 capacity room? That might happen if you do not inform and persuade your target audience that your event is relevant to them.
4. Understand your Stakeholders. Who is going to benefit from your event? Who is going to judge your choices? Who is going to be upset if you don't clean what you've used?
3. Prioritize your Stakeholders. Who of the above is going to have more influence on my objectives?
2. Monitor Satisfaction. Service is intangible, intangible shouldn't mean not measurable. Find new ways to measure satisfaction. Satisfaction means retention, retention can become a massive business card for your next employer.
1. Know What's Going On. Are you aware of what is going on in the reception area of your meeting while people are leaving the main conference room? Is the buffet ready? Are the stewards able to drive the crowd? Do they know where to move them? Ask yourself questions and find the answers quickly.
12 Expert-Approved Tips to Make Meal Prep Easier
We asked four meal prep professionals for their secrets to successful meal planning.
You've seen them those geometrically perfect bento boxes filled with balanced meals. They are colorful and eloquent and … silently taunting you. Meal prep always looks great on Instagram, but it doesn’t always shake out the same way in your kitchen. If you need to enhance your meal prep vibe, look to these tips from true meal prep gurus!
Meet the Experts
Meal prep experts come from all over. We hit up some of the best of the best to share their top tips.
- Nick Quintero from Meal Prep on Fleek is a dad, Californian and super star meal prepper. He and his partner Sarah are championing all aspects of healthy meal prep and preaching their foodie goodness to a 430,000+ audience on Instagram.
- Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND is an award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook and Smart Meal Prep for Beginners. You may recognize the name, she is also a long time contributor at FoodNetwork.com
- Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD, CPT is the author of brand spanking new Meal Prep For Weight Loss. A book that teaches you how to cook today, eat for a week, and lose weight long term. You can get a sneak peek on her Instagram page @hungryhobbyrd.
- Alyssa Gagarin embodies meal prep to the masses. She is owner and founder of Meal Prep Chef a weekly personal chef service in New York City specializing in meal prep. For a taste of her effervescent style, follow her on Instagram @meal.prep.chef.
Nick’s journey to meal prep mastery is best described as slow and steady. His mindful steps help take the stress out of the entire process.
Plan Ahead: I know it sounds cliché, but believe it or not, meal prepping is also known as meal planning, with an emphasis on planning. Now, if you’re just getting started, this doesn’t mean spending tons of time researching and analyzing macros. It literally means spending 5-10 minutes thinking about dishes that you want to eat in the week ahead and asking yourself, “What sounds good to eat?” Once you answer that question, write it down on a piece of paper, in your notepad on your phone, or on a white board near your kitchen.
Have Patience: Meal prepping is the cornerstone to long term habits that produce results, so it’s going to take some time. For me, it took almost four months to figure out a lunch routine that worked and resulted in a 13% loss in body fat. Here’s what to do: Pick one meal that gives you the most trouble. Maybe you go out to lunch four times per week. Focus on that one meal and stick to making a plan for it!
Portion Control: Finally, one of the biggest problems I see is people assuming they're only eating one portion when, in fact, they might be eating two or three full portions for any given meal. In the interest of making this step as easy as possible, Meal Prep on Fleek teamed up with GoodCook to produce a Meal Prep Container line that has portion control built in.
Meal Prep Containers
Good Cook Meal Prep Red Containers + Lids - 10ct
Good Cook Meal Prep Green Containers + Lids - 10ct
Good Cook Meal Prep Dark Teal Containers + Lids - 10ct
Toby echoes Nick’s need for proper containers plus reminds preppers to keep things sensible.
Pack Immediately: The best way to make sure you pack enough food for each meal is to pack your meal prep containers immediately after prepping and cooking. If you don't do it immediately, you can end up serving yourself too much at one meal and won't have enough food later on. This also means that you may also be consuming too many calories at one meal and leaving yourself short on calories for later meals.
Don't Overdo It: You may see Instagram meal prep geniuses prepping 10 or more dishes at once. That's just crazy! Don't overextend your meal prepping talents and start slow (with three or four recipes) and work your way up to the amount you feel comfortable prepping. If you have access to a healthy lunch at work, then there is no need to prep lunch. Meal prepping is individual, so do what is right for you.
Prep Over Two Days: You don't necessarily have to meal prep only on Sundays. My Sundays are usually filled with kids’ activities, so I can't prep for an entire week in one day. I like to divide my meal prepping into two days (Sundays and Wednesdays) because that works for me. Before you decide to meal prep, look at your schedule to determine if you should meal prep one or two days a week and which day or days that should be.
Kelli’s tips are focused on maximizing your time. Kelli reminds us meal prep can be a huge time saver if you work efficiently.
Long to Short: My number one meal prep secret to save time is to start with the recipe that will take the longest and work your way to the shortest recipe. For example, begin with the slow cooker, then a sheet pan recipe, then a quick skillet recipe. That way, you’re always making something while something else is cooking, which saves time!
Incorporate Convenience: I also recommend using convenience foods as much as possible. Just because you are meal prepping doesn't mean you have to make everything from scratch. Utilize pre-made sauces, dressings, marinades, etc. to speed up the process a bit. The goal of meal prep is to save you time during the week, not take up your whole weekend!
This meal prep chef knows better than anyone that there is no right or wrong way to prep. You do you.
No One-Size-Fits-All: Meal prep might look different for everyone! It is a common belief that meal prep means cooking every meal for an entire week. However, meal prep could also mean prepping a large batch of breakfasts for the week. Or, assembling 5 lunches to take to work. You don't have to cook three meals a day, seven days a week to have a successful meal prep ritual.
Multitask: Multitasking is the key to a successful meal prep. Select recipes that utilize multiple cooking methods and equipment so that you can accomplish them simultaneously. You should always have items roasting or baking in the oven and cooking on the stove that don't require much hands-on maintenance. This will free up your hands for cutting, assembling and preparing some "non-cooked" items like salads. If you have an Instant Pot, slow cooker, countertop oven or other equipment, put them to work too! The more you have going at once, the more time you'll save!
Set A Theme: Tired of eating the same thing all week? Try setting a "theme" for your meal prep and making batches of items from similar flavor profiles that will all taste good together. Then, you can mix and match the items to create multiple various meals with different combinations! For a Mexican/Southwest themed meal prep, you could mix & match items to make a Taco Salad, Burrito Bowl over Rice, Lettuce Cups and Stuffed Southwest Sweet Potatoes.
Prep for Meal Prep: Do you find yourself buying lots of produce that you don't end up using, and it goes to waste? When you get home from the grocery store, before putting the produce in the fridge, do all of your peeling, cutting & chopping first! If your veggies are already prepped and ready to cook with, you are far more likely to use them. And when it comes time to do the cooking, your meal prep will go super smoothly.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.
5: Homemade Tomato Sauce
Why the Dutch oven works: Who knew?! An oven heats from every direction as opposed to the direct heat from a stovetop burner, which means it’s actually much easier to get the sauce to reduce gently in the oven, and it requires only a few stirs here and there – three cheers for that. Plus the top gets a little bit browned in the process which adds some really rocking flavor to this sauce.
Top 10 Tasty Plant-Based Lentil Recipes
Love lentils? These delectable, protein-packed legumes are one of the most versatile plant-based foods out there. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite lentil recipes, from appetizers to entrees.
Lentils are one of my favorite plant-based sources of protein. Not only are they full of fiber and other essential nutrients, they are relatively low cost, and very easy to prepare. Lentils are part of the legume family, along with beans, peas, and chickpeas. They are rich in folic acid, an important nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Lentils are also a great source of potassium, a mineral that has been shown to help reduce hypertension. The protein in lentils make them a great healthy substitute for meat, and their high fiber content helps keep you full and satisfied.
Lentils come in red, brown, green and black varieties, and each have a unique texture and flavor profile. Brown lentils have a mild nutty flavor, and can be used to bulk up soups, stews, and chilis. Green lentils, also called French or Puy lentils, have a firmer texture and make delicious salads. Red lentils are mild and delicate and are wonderful in Indian dishes such as dal. There are infinite ways to prepare this excellent edible seed, but today I’ve put together ten of my all-time favorite plant-based recipes. I hope you enjoy these hearty and flavorful dishes!
Top 10 Tasty Plant-Based Lentil Recipes
While it is the perfect elegant entrée, with its savory, aromatic lentil vegetable filling encased in layers of crisp puff pastry, these mini Wellingtons are also really delicious as an appetizer or a sophisticated hand-held sandwich at a picnic or outdoor event (LA folks, think Hollywood Bowl). You can make them in advance and eat them cold, or just warm them up in the oven prior to eating.
A French ami shared her mother’s traditional recipe for lentil salad with me years ago. This simple salad, seasoned with a French vinaigrette, is a classic dish in France. It makes a wonderful, protein-rich highlight of any meal. Because the flavors continue to meld, it’s also great the next day.
Pair this chili with a salad and a serving of rustic whole grain bread or my Cumin Cornbread Muffins, and you have a balanced meal in no time. You can also throw all of these ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning, and a savory, fragrant meal will greet you when you come home at the end of the day. You can use an Instant Pot to get the meal done even more quickly.
The secret ingredient in this recipe is fresh ginger—which offers just the right pungent, sweet-spicy bite. And the fragrance of this stew is quite impressive. Though this stew is so pretty, thanks to its sunny color of yellow lentils, red bell pepper, carrots, and tomatoes, you can shift the color palate with different choices of ingredients. You can try a different type of lentil (green, brown, red) or vegetables (green beans, peas, sweet potatoes) in the recipe.
This savory Red Lentil Stew with Root Vegetables is a bright, sunny shade of orange—the perfect way to cheer up the cloudiest of days. Its hearty flavor and texture make it ideal to pair with a simple salad or sandwich half.
Turn to savory lentils prepared with seasonal squash, earthy mushrooms, and aromatic sage for a simple, rustic meal you won’t soon forget. You can get this easy plant-based dish for Sage Lentils with Squash and Mushrooms on the table in 40 minutes. I love to serve it with whole grain bread and a crisp kale salad for a body and soul satisfying meal on a cool evening. The leftovers are wonderful, too.
These Spicy Lentil Tacos are filled with a variety of powerful herbs and spices, including garlic, chili peppers, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, and cilantro. Heavy on flavor and health, you won’t even miss the meat in this plant-based recipe!
Store-bought lentil pasta is another great way to get in lentils! This recipe was inspired by a trip to my farmers market, where a local mushroom grower sells assorted mushrooms—enoki, shiitake, cremini, hen of the woods, maitake, oyster—by the gigantic bag for $10. I bring home one each week and get creative in the kitchen all week long. In this recipe, I showcase lentil pasta, since this gluten-free, nutritious pasta is rich in protein and offers a nice texture and color to this dish.
Eating more pulses—beans, lentils, dried peas—is a healthy, cancer-fighting strategy too. In this super easy, one-dish meal, you swap out a traditional meat-based sauce for a tomato-forward, lentil and walnut Bolognese sauce, smothered over spaghetti noodles. Savory and delicious, your whole family will love it. Plus, it’s easy on the pocketbook and makes great leftovers the next day!
I love these easy Herbed Lentil Patties with Mushroom Sauce for a comfort food meal any day of the week. You can whip them up in no time. The creamy, savory mushroom sauce is an excellent topping. Serve this with whipped potatoes and a side salad for a hearty meal that will satisfy the mind, body and soul.
Ina Garten’s Top 10 Make-Ahead Tips
It’s the number one question Ina Garten receives from home cooks: “Can I make it ahead?” That was the inspiration for her latest cookbook, Make It Ahead, which gives readers a game plan for pulling off stress-free dinner parties, including recipes ideal for prepping, assembling or cooking in advance. Here, she shares her top 10 make-ahead tips from Make It Ahead for parties — perfect for a special holiday feast or a relaxed evening with friends.
1. A week ahead, instead of keeping everything in your head, write down a game plan for both the week and the day of the party.
2. A week ahead, shop for the pantry ingredients. Shop for the fresh ingredients the day before the party.
3. A week ahead, order cookies with people’s names on them for place cards. I order decorated cookies from EliZabar.com .
4. Three days ahead, set the table, as long as it’s not a table you ordinarily use during the week.
5. Up to a few days ahead, prep as many ingredients as possible and store them in plastic bags in the fridge.
6. Two days ahead, arrange the flowers so the petals have time to fully open up.
7. A day ahead, uncork, taste, and chill (if appropriate) the wines.
8. A day ahead, pull the platters and serving pieces you’ll need and place Post-It notes on each one to remind yourself which food goes where.
9. A few hours ahead, put ground coffee and water in the coffee-maker (but don’t turn it on until you’re ready to serve dessert).
10. Before the party, run the dishwasher and empty it so you’re ready for the cleanup afterward.
Find more of Ina’s tips and recipes for holiday entertaining here.