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Bethenny Frankel Holiday Buffet

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Bethenny Frankel is known for candid, frank opinions, so it’s no surprise her approach to throwing a party is no fuss. “I used to be the one sitting in the kitchen stressing out,” she says. “But I’ve learned not to obsess and to enjoy myself.” Now she preps as much as possible in advance—or just buys ready-made party platters. “Replate it and make it pretty,” she says. And while presentation is important (“Jason and I do a clean sweep in 30 minutes,” says Frankel of her clean-up plan), Frankel always keeps her No. 1 hostess rule in mind: “Planning a party isn’t about perfection. It’s about having fun with friends.”

POM-OPOLITAN

Shake 1.5 oz. vodka, 1 oz. pomegranate juice and juice from 2 lime wedges in an ice-filled shaker. Pour into a chilled martini glass, top with a generous splash of club soda and garnish with a lime wedge.

BETHENNY’S BEST TIPS FOR HOLIDAY HOSTS

Pick a time “If it’s a time that anyone construes as dinner, you’re not going to get away with serving wasabi peas and chips.”

Pick your playlist “Make a playlist that includes jazz, classic rock and girlie stuff like Pink. For the end: ‘Closing Time’ by Semisonic.”

Pick one cocktail “Don’t be the bartender. It’s too messy! Serve premade cocktails out of pitchers.”

Pick pretty food Avoid casseroles, which “look great when you put them out but look like a mess at the end. Individual servings are easier.”

STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Makes 16 to 18 mushrooms

4 16 to 18 clean large mushrooms

5 tbsp. unsalted butter

½ cup finely chopped onions

4 cups fresh bread crumbs

1½ tsp. chopped fresh sage

½ cup finely chopped parsley

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1. Remove stems from mushrooms. Set caps aside and chop stems finely. Melt 3 tbsp. butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped stems and onions. Cook slowly until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in bread crumbs, sage, parsley, salt and pepper.

2. Preheat oven to 375°. Melt remaining 2 tbsp. butter and brush over caps. Stuff each mushroom with bread-crumb mixture, packing tightly. Place mushrooms in 13″ × 9″ baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, until tender and golden brown on top.

MINI SWEET POTATO SOUFFLES

Serves 6

4 medium yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 tbsp. soy milk or regular milk

1 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. nutmeg

4 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Put the yam chunks in a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until the chunks are tender when pierced with a fork, 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher. Add butter, milk, honey, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. Stir well until mixture is smooth.

2. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until they start to form soft peaks. Stir 1/3 of beaten whites into yam mixture until completely combined. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions, until just combined.

3. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper cups. Scoop the yam mixture into the cups. Bake for 30 minutes or until the soufflés are just firm. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully remove soufflés from tin and place on serving platter.

STAY-SLIM SECRETS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Avoid loose clothes “Wear something that hugs the body, rather than slouchy clothes. When you look sloppy, you tend to eat sloppy.”

Eat before you go “If you eat a 200-calorie high-protein snack before a party, like hummus and pita chips, you won’t grab the hors d’oeuvres.”

Be (a little) decadent “Don’t avoid treats. Decide on your indulgence for the day, and the portion, and enjoy it.”

Go outside! “Utilize winter activities and go ice-skating, sledding, snowshoeing or walk through the snow with your kids.”

PEAR AND GINGER CRISP

Serves 8

TOPPING

Combine ½ cup oat flour, ½ cup rolled oats, 1 cup raw sugar and 1/8 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in ½ cup cold butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

FILLING

3-3½ lbs. firm, fresh pears (about 8)

½ cup golden raisins

2 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup water

¼ cup diced candied ginger

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray large baking dish with cooking spray. Peel and core pears. Cut into quarters, then cut each piece in half the long way. Put pears and raisins in a bowl and toss with cinnamon and nutmeg. Turn fruit into baking dish and drizzle with lemon juice and water. Sprinkle with ginger followed by topping.

2. Bake for 1 hour, until fruit is tender (but not mushy) and topping is golden brown.

BETHENNY’S PEPPERMINT BARK

Serves 6 or more

1 (11-oz.) bag white chocolate chips

2/3 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

1 tsp. mint extract

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

1. In double boiler or bowl set over boiling water, melt white chocolate chips. Remove from heat and stir in crushed candy and mint extract.

2. Line a small sheet pan with wax paper. Pour in white chocolate mixture and spread evenly. Refrigerate until firm.

3. Melt bittersweet chocolate and spread evenly over white chocolate layer. Refrigerate until firm. Break into pieces. Store in refrigerator.