Festivities, Not Fuss

Opening Local Flavor Holiday38

With the Holiday Season in full swing, now is the time for celebration, not stress. After all, the most wonderful time of the year should be filled with friends, family and festivities. Why waste time with elaborate menus and mile-long grocery lists when you could be outside playing golf or hitting the beach? Whether you’re hosting a gaggle of guests for a holiday cocktail party or planning an intimate dinner at home for New Year’s Eve, we’ve got the recipes to help you celebrate.

When it comes time to party, you want something that feels festive and special but doesn’t leave you slaving away in the kitchen all day. After all, this time of year in Florida is absolute magic. While the rest of the country is bundling up and fighting blizzards, we are reveling in (slightly) crisper temperatures, clear blue skies and something fun to do almost every night of the week. While chestnuts roasting on an open fire make for a lovely song, are they really practical? We’d much rather tuck into a warm dip or nibble on bite-sized finger foods while sipping a champagne cocktail.

Each of the following recipes requires less than 30 minutes of prep time, and most of it can be done the day before or morning of your party. Just before your guests arrive, you’re popping something into the oven — or popping open a bottle of bubbly — and voila, your work is done. Holiday entertaining without the stress? Now that’s something to celebrate.

Warm Artichoke Dip

This dip is a classic, and classics never go out of style. It’s always the first to disappear at parties, and the recipe can be multiplied to feed a crowd.

  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts (completely drained, then chopped)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1  teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2  teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together, then transfer to a greased baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let cool slightly, then serve warm with baked pita chips, raw veggies or, our favorite, sliced crusty bread.

*Make-ahead tip: Mix dip and transfer to baking dish, cover with foil and leave in the refrigerator up to a day, baking it right before guests arrive.

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