Organic Sense

Finger Foods and Festive Drinks

A Toast to Organic Holiday Entertaining

By Terese Allen, Organic Valley Food Editor

For many people the phrase “holiday food” conjures an elaborate feast of roast turkey or standing rib roast, with heaps of whipped potatoes, mounds of stuffing and all the myriad trimmings. But while first thoughts of seasonal fare may be of abundance, during the December revels there's also a demand for the small and the savory—not to mention the stress-free. It’s appetizers we need—something simple, delicious and organic to go with a festive drink, to share with loved ones and salute the day.

If you’re the host, throwing a cocktail-and-appetizer party can satisfy holiday obligations without exhausting you. Start with two or three outstanding potables and follow the same basic rules you would to create a great meal; that is, use the highest quality ingredients you can comfortably afford—real cream and fresh spices for the eggnog, pure, organic orange juice for a hot mulled beverage. Bring out your best stemmed wine glasses, those etched tumblers and heirloom teacups. Then add a special touch: For hot drinks, warm the cups with boiling water before filling them; for chilled ones, you could float star- and moon-shaped ice cube shapes in the liquid. Mix up something fun for the kids in the crowd—maybe cinnamon-spiked milk punch or a smoothie made with pumpkin, maple syrup and soy milk—plus a drink for non-imbibing adults, like hot mulled cider or Organic Valley eggnog, spicy and alcohol-free.

Match the food with the mood: happy, inviting, relaxing. It doesn't have to be expensive, or even traditional. Skip the brick fruit cakes and unsustainable-shrimp-with cocktail-sauce; look to the season and your locality for inspiration. Above all, be generous with your guests and with yourself. Offer easy-to-assemble platters of sliced Organic Valley cheeses and Organic Prairie cold cuts with two or three make-ahead finger foods (no forks, knives and plates to juggle or clean up).

Then: Drink—and eat—responsibly, and celebrate abundantly.

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