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Party Planning & Entertaining

Holiday Season Entertaining Tips & Recipes

(Family Features) - It's time to celebrate the season best shared with family and friends. Delicious recipes, which are surprisingly easy to make, will impress guests without keeping you tied to the kitchen. Add B. Smith's stylish entertaining ideas to the mix - then simply sit back and wait for the doorbell to ring!

"Entertaining shortcuts are a must, especially during the bustling holiday season," said B. Smith, national style expert, who also is a restaurant owner, cookbook author and radio host. "I'm a fan of quick scratch recipes that start with convenience products. All the makings for a memorable season are within reach with some planning, a little prep and a lot of fun!"

Holiday Hints

B. Smith, the maven of merriness, offers her top tips for the season:

Easy Elegance

At my restaurants, I love dressing up plated food with a fragrant spice or herb sprigs. This is easy to do at home, too. Lightly sprinkle cinnamon around individual plates of apple pie, and dust the whipped cream or ice cream à la mode. Use fresh herbs to add a splash of color and aroma. Chives, rosemary, tarragon and sage make lovely garnishes.

Candle-Berry Votives

Place 10 to 12 cranberries in clear glass votive candleholders. Fill them with tap water and top with a floating clear votive candle. Arrange these on the table and light them just before guests arrive. Look for votive holders in varying sizes and colors to match your table setting.

Wise Timesavers

Hosts know every minute counts, so I like to make the most of convenience products when streamlining. Pillsbury Frozen Dinner Rolls are favorite timesavers that deliver restaurant-quality flavor and texture. They store well in the freezer and can arrive hot from the oven to your table in eight easy minutes.

For more great holiday recipes, visit

Deviled Crab and Cheese Biscuit Cups

This delightful appetizer recipe is popular with B. Smith's guests when she entertains at home.

3/4 cup whipped cream cheese spread (from 8-oz container)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon red pepper sauce

1/4 cup finely shredded mild Cheddar cheese (1 oz)

2 tablespoons chopped green onions (2 medium)

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup garlic and herb bread crumbs

3 cans (6 oz each) white crabmeat, well drained

1 cup chopped celery

1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 16 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.

2. In small bowl, mix cream cheese, lemon juice, pepper sauce, Cheddar cheese, green onions, paprika, bread crumbs, crabmeat and celery until well blended.

3. Separate dough into 8 biscuits; then peel in half to make 16 biscuits. Press or roll each into 5-inch round. Place 1 biscuit round in each muffin cup; firmly press in bottom and up side, forming 1/4-inch rim over edge of cup. Place 2 tablespoons crab mixture in bottoms of muffin cups.

4. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until filling is set and edges of biscuits are golden brown. Sprinkle each with chopped parsley; lightly press into filling. Remove biscuit cups from pan; serve immediately.

16 servings; High Altitude (3500 to 6500 ft): No change.

Brown Butter Creamy Apple Pie

B. Smith's best bet for holiday baking: jump-start your homebaked pies by choosing a convenient premade crust that comes ready to fill, bake and thrill!

1 Pillsbury Pet-Ritz frozen deep dish pie crust (from 12-oz package)


1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apples (5 medium)


1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup cold butter


1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Place cookie sheet on oven rack. Heat oven to 400°F.

 2. In 1-quart saucepan, cook 1/4 cup butter over medium heat until melted and lightly browned, stirring constantly. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

3. In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup granulated sugar and egg with wire whisk until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in cooled butter. Gently stir in apples. Pour into frozen pie crust.

4. In medium bowl, stir together all streusel ingredients except butter. With pastry blender or fork, cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples. Place pie on cookie sheet in oven.

5. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F, and cover edge of crust with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake 40 to 50 minutes longer or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Cool 2 hours.

6. In small bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add remaining topping ingredients; beat until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spoon onto pie.

8 servings; Hgh Altitude (3500 to 6500 ft): In step 5, increase second bake time to 50 to 55 minutes.

Biscuit Bread Pudding

A rich, old-fashioned custard dessert is made simple with frozen biscuits.

12 Pillsbury Grands! frozen buttermilk biscuits (from 25-oz bag)

8 eggs

4 1/2 cups milk

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup raisins

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla

Caramel topping, warmed, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Bake biscuits as directed on bag. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, generously spray twelve 10-oz custard cups or twelve 4 1/2x1 1/4-inch disposable foil tart pans with cooking spray. In large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, sugar, raisins, cinnamon and vanilla; mix well.

3. Cut baked biscuits into 1-inch cubes. Add to egg mixture; mix well. Let stand 5 minutes. Divide biscuit mixture evenly among custard cups.

4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until set. With knife or metal spatula, loosen edges of each pudding; slide onto dessert plate. Drizzle with warm topping.

Timesaving Tip: Bake biscuits up to 2 days before preparing the pudding. After they have cooled, store in a sealed food-storage plastic bag at room temperature.

12 servings; High Altitude (3500 to 6500 ft): Follow High Altitude directions on bag when baking biscuits. Gradually stir 1/4 cup all-purpose flour into ingredients in step 2. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Garlic, Cheese and Tomato Bread Bites

Upgrade dinner rolls by filling them with a delicious cheese blend.

10 Pillsbury frozen soft white dinner rolls (from 12.4-oz bag)

1 container (6.5 oz) garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese

1 tablespoon diced sundried tomatoes

1 tablespoon diced pitted kalamata olives

1 jar (8 oz) marinara sauce, warmed

1 Heat oven to 375°F. Remove rolls from bag; thaw 10 minutes. With thumb, make indentation in center of each roll.

2. In medium bowl, mix cheese, sundried tomatoes and olives. Place 1 tablespoon cheese mixture in each indentation. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 12 to 17 minutes or until tops are light golden brown. Serve with warmed marinara sauce.

10 servings; High Altitude (3500 to 6500 ft): No change.

SOURCE: General Mills


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