A festive and memorable gathering can be achieved without the fuss by using things you already have around the house. Use these tips to help make your holiday dinner party a success during this most wonderful time of year:
- Keep things simple. White dinnerware, such as Mikasa's Ciara dinnerware, which features embossed swirling lines on a durable bone china body, makes a great backdrop to showcase your holiday meal. Look for Ciara, Loria and Ortley white dinnerware sets (16-piece sets) at Macys.com for $99.
- Add splashes of color and texture. It's OK to mix and match patterns, colors and textures on the table. If you have white or solid colored dishes, layer with decorative salad plates or add seasonal glassware or use red napkins, chargers or placemats to create a holiday atmosphere.
- Be creative with table decorations. Try using things you have in new ways. Scatter candles, ornaments and greenery down the center of the table. Add some holly leaves and berries to a vase or pitcher to complete the look.
- Don't skip the details. It's easy to focus on the bigger elements, but small touches can take your spread to another level. Coordinate details, such as place cards, napkin rings and placemats, with the theme to make your tablescape memorable.
Vanilla-Orange Cheesecake with Cranberry Swirl and Gingersnap Crust
Recipe courtesy of Mikasa.
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup orange juice, plus 1 tablespoon
- 1/2 cup water
- 24-32 purchased gingersnap cookies (to make 1 cup crumbs)
- 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 packages (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Heat oven to 300°F.
- Simmer cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice and water in saucepan over medium-high heat until berries burst and begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then in blender or food processor puree until smooth. Set sauce aside.
- Coat 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Process gingersnaps in food processor until fine; add graham cracker crumbs. With machine running, drizzle in melted butter. Press crumb mixture firmly into bottom of prepared springform pan and about 1 inch up sides of pan. Set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, blend cream cheese and remaining sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Scrape sides of bowl, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla and 1 tablespoon orange juice, then pour into prepared pan. Drizzle top of cheesecake with 1/4 cup of prepared cranberry sauce, then drag skewer, toothpick or knife tip through sauce to create marbled swirl pattern on top. Place cheesecake on baking sheet and bake on center rack until edges are set and puffed but center is slightly jiggly, about 45 minutes. Do not overbake. Turn oven off, crack door open slightly and allow cheesecake to cool inside for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely at room temperature, then cover cheesecake with tea towel and refrigerate overnight.
- Run knife around sides of cheesecake, then release and remove side of pan. To cut, dip blade of thin, sharp knife into hot water (do not wipe dry) and slice into wedges, cleaning blade between each cut to prevent smearing. Serve with remaining cranberry sauce.