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Feeding a Crowd for the Holidays

(ARA) - If you're cooking for a large crowd this holiday season -- friends or relatives or a combination of both -- there's no need to panic. Entertaining a group of 15 or more guests can be relaxing, enjoyable, and yes, fun. With careful menu planning, advance preparation, and easy-to-make and easy-to-maintain dishes, anybody can enjoy themselves in a crowd.

Here's what the chef instructors of The Art Institutes say about stress-free entertaining for a crowd:

Start with smart shopping by stocking up on pantry items a week in advance and for perishables one or two days in advance. That way when you forget something, you have time to run back to the store.

Select menu items that can be made a day or two in advance so you are not exhausted and can enjoy the party. Select foods that can be served cold or at room temperature and that can be served family style on large platters for quick serving.

Try to incorporate healthy foods into your menu by thinking of ways to add fruits and vegetables to your menu; they are inexpensive, filling and healthy.

Don't be afraid to add color because the more colorful the food, the higher the nutrients.

Buffets mean folks eat more, so if you want to serve this way, remember your guests will have a tendency to eat one-third more food because it all looks so good. Think about lower calorie options for those that are concerned about their waistlines.

Stay with the types of dishes you're comfortable preparing. Go for familiar food with a twist and easy but beautiful presentations.

Set the table the night before if you're planning seating arrangements. That helps to reduce confusion among your guests as well as yourself. Arrange seasonal accessories the night before so you'll have plenty of time to enjoy your guests.

Here are menu suggestions for holiday entertaining from the professionals at The Art Institutes.

The following recipes are courtesy of Chef Stephanie Green of The Art Institute of Phoenix.
a. Sweet Tropics Fruit Salad
b. Roasted Red Pepper Crostini

The following recipes are courtesy of Chef Joe LaVilla of The Art Institute of Phoenix.
a. Caramelized Onion and Prosciutto Pizza
b. Roasted Beet Salad
c. Potato Parsnip Gratinee

The following recipe is courtesy of Chef Benita Wong of The Art Institute of Phoenix.
a. Red-cooked Turkey

The following recipe is courtesy of David Goldberg of The Art Institute of Phoenix.
a. Pumpkin Soufflé

Courtesy of ARA Content

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