December is moving along and that means bringing out those fall colors and twinkling lights. With holiday dinners comes a beautifully-set table, full of delicious dishes.
Story by Ali Garza
Photos by Ravin Lee
When you attend these festivities, all that you will wonder is how you are going to fit all of those foods onto one plate. No judgement there, but do not forget about the varied flowers, pine cones, pumpkins and the forest green or gold tablecloths used to decorate. The thought of the hard work and preparation it takes for a hostess to fulfill a successful holiday meal is far from your mind, but of course you appreciate the hospitality and your full stomach.
For you hostesses that seek to spice up the table and accompanying dishes, here are a few simple ways to throw together a successful holiday dinner.
Target is always a gold mine when it comes to decorating for the holidays. From tablecloths, to matching cups, plates and napkins, pastry dishes and twinkling lights, they have it all. You could go with a classic tablecloth or go a different direction and pick out a good-looking table runner. With a table runner, you would have to add placemats, since there would be nothing under the dinnerware. That is the only addition to the table runner, but it is never an idea fully kept out of mind. Tablecloths and table runners range from $14 to $18, and placemats range from $2 to $5.
Now that a well-adorned table is in place, you need something for your guests to eat off of. In case you do not own enough plates and silverware for your amount of guests, Target comes to the rescue yet again. They have a great selection of dinnerware sets, but they can be pricey at times. If you are not against going the plastic or paper route, Target also sells fairly-priced matching plates for the main course and dessert.
If you wanted to buy a simple beige tablecloth covered in orange and brown fall leaves, you could always dress it up with some green vases. A neat tip that will never go out of style is twinkling lights. Battery-powered twinkling lights could make your simple green vases turn into a picture-perfect table. Wrapping some lights around the vase and adding a gold bow to the stem of the vase might sound a bit much, but you would be surprised.
Next comes the flower arrangement. Even though sunflowers are in season in the summer, you can still find them at your local H-E-B or Whole Foods. You could use only those for your center pieces or you could mix it up a bit and try being a florist for a few minutes. With all of the colors already mentioned, you have to be able to match the flowers to the table. Use your creative eye and find some colors already in the display and add in some that might give it a bit of pop. In ORANGE Magazine’s example, there is beige, orange, brown, gold and green. What may be missing is a little bronze. Stick in some bronze-colored flowers or leaves and you will have a prime-looking centerpiece.
After the table is set, get ready for what you are really preparing for: the meal.
There are many different recipes introduced to holiday dinner tables, aside from classics. One recipe that I always looked forward to is my grandma’s macaroni and cheese. This recipe has been a staple in the Garza household for years. It was the dish that everyone went back to for seconds and possibly thirds. Not only is it appreciated in the Garza residence, but also to whomever I decided to introduce it to at any get-together.
- A jar of green olives (sliced with the pimento in the middle)
- Four packages of shredded cheddar cheese
- A package of elbow pasta (half or the full pack of pasta, depends on amount of people)
- Three cans of diced tomatoes
- Half stick of salted butter
- 9x13 rectangular dish
- Large saucepan
- Set oven to 400 degrees.
- Put half package of pasta to boil in water. Add in some salt for flavor.
- When pasta is finished, drain. Put half stick of butter in large sauce pan to melt. When melted add in the cans of diced tomatoes. When tomatoes start to boil a bit, add back in the pasta.
- Mix the pasta well with the tomatoes. While mixing add in one package of cheddar cheese, a handful at a time. While adding the cheddar cheese mix the pasta, so all the pasta is covered in cheese.
- When done adding the cheddar cheese start layering the pasta into the rectangular dish. After bottom layer of pasta is placed, top with green olives and cheddar cheese. Keep layering until you have three layers of pasta, green olives and cheddar cheese. You won’t have to use all of the olives, but use all of the cheese.
- Put rectangular dish into the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until you see that all the cheese has melted on the top of the dish. Don’t let it get too toasty at the top because the cheese might burn to the pan.
- Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.