SOURCE: Betty Crocker Cookbooks

November 10, 2011 05:00 ET

Easy, Elegant Ideas for Holiday Entertaining

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Nov 10, 2011) - (Family Features) Having friends and family over for the holidays doesn't have to be difficult. With these tips and a savory recipe from the all new "Entertaining Chapter" of the latest edition of the "Betty Crocker Cookbook," (Wiley, 2011), experienced and novice hosts can pull off a festive party with ease.

Setting a Buffet Table
Buffets are a great option when the gathering is less formal or you're short on table space.

  • Buffets can be set up on a variety of surfaces, including a center island or counter, dining room table, sideboard or folding table. Allow ample room for people to move around the serving area.
  • Arrange buffet items starting with the main course and then the side dishes, salad, condiments, bread, flatware, with glasses and napkins last.
  • Make cutlery bundles for easier carrying.
  • If people will be standing to eat, skip paper plates and use dishes or plastic plates. If you must use paper, make sure they are heavy-duty. Avoid serving foods that require cutting.

What to Serve
Cheese plates are a great idea for an easy and elegant buffet. When selecting cheese, aim for variety -- try mixing textures (soft, semisoft, hard and very hard) and flavors (mellow and sharp). Plan on at least 2 ounces of cheese per person. Here are some delicious cheese plate combinations:

  • Flavored cheddar, like chipotle, queso blanco and pepper Jack. Serve with grapes, pickled chiles, dates, grape tomatoes.
  • Gruyère, Havarti and blue or Gorgonzola. Serve with apple and pear slices, dried apricots, olive assortment.
  • Chèvre (goat cheese), Colby, cream cheese. Serve with chives, crackers, breads, chutney.

Instead of serving a typical dip, try this scrumptious Smoked Salmon Cheesecake. It's one of more than 1500 recipes featured in the 11th edition of the "Betty Crocker Cookbook." In this edition you'll find hundreds of new recipes, brand new features, all new photography and plenty of helpful tips and techniques.

With the new "Learn to Make" feature to guide you through recipes, you'll become an expert in no time. And the "Heirloom Recipe and New Twist" feature brings many classic dishes to life alongside up-to-date recipe versions that you'll want to try. For more great party recipes and ideas from the book, visit www.bettycrocker.com/BCcookbook.

Smoked Salmon Cheesecake
Prep: 30 minutes
Total: 4 hours 20 minutes
36 servings

1 cup crushed buttery crackers (about 24 crackers)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded Gouda cheese (6 ounces)
1/4 cup sliced green onions (4 medium)
1 package (4 1/2 ounces) smoked salmon, flaked
2 tablespoons sliced green onions (2 medium), if desired
2 tablespoons red caviar, if desired
Pumpernickel crackers, if desired

Heat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, stir crackers and butter until well mixed. Press evenly in bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake about 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add whipping cream, eggs and salt; beat until smooth. Stir in Gouda cheese, 1/4 cup onions and salmon until well mixed. Spoon evenly over crust.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until center is set. Run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 48 hours.

Remove side of pan. Place cheesecake on serving platter. Top with 2 tablespoons onions and the caviar. Cut into wedges. Serve with crackers.

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