(BPT) - Holiday busyness can occupy your weekends, making it difficult to find time to prepare and share a special meal. Instead, why not commit to making Thursday evenings special throughout the season? Instead of trying to do one more thing on the weekend, organically fit together-time into Thursdays, and fill the evening with your closest friends, TV shows, board games or other favorite entertainment — and don’t forget your favorite foods!
The wholesome holiday fare professionals at Simply Organic offer four simple ideas for turning Thursday night into your favorite time of the week this holiday season:
* Make it a movie night. Whether you choose a timeless holiday classic or the hottest new release, an evening of movie watching can break the stress and monotony of the week. You can opt for something kid-friendly and let the kids stay up a little bit later, or put them to bed on time and settle in with more sophisticated viewing fare. Pair the movie with your favorite takeout (instead of popcorn) and a warmth-inspiring seasonal beverage.
* Serve a wholesome, organic meal. Invite friends to each bring a dish for an evening potluck. Eating together is a favorite way to share the spirit of the season, and serving organic fare communicates your values and caring. You can find plenty of seasonal recipes that incorporate organic ingredients at www.simplyorganic.com.
* Stage a baking party. You probably planned to do some holiday baking this season, so why not turn it into a fun event? Invite one or two good friends over, and ask them to bring their favorite holiday treat recipe to make. Pool your efforts — and results — to expand your holiday baked goods menu this year. Be sure to get an ingredients list from everyone ahead of time!
* Host a holiday appetizer and cocktail dinner. Instead of serving a big meal of foods that everyone’s going to overindulge in this holiday season, an appetizer gathering can be a fun, creative alternative. Whip up holiday appetizers and seasonal cocktails (liquor optional) to capture the spirit of the season.
Try these two festive recipes from Simply Organic:
Vanilla Clove French 75 Cocktail
This French 75 cocktail takes a well-spiced twist with organic vanilla beans, cloves and cinnamon sticks. This recipe makes enough simple syrup for 32 cocktails.
4 Simply Organic Cloves Whole
1 Simply Organic Madagascar Vanilla Beans
3 Simply Organic Cinnamon Sticks
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Rind of 1 orange
6 fluid ounces prosecco, chilled
2 fluid ounces apple brandy
Juice of 1 lemon
2 orange or lemon rind twists
To make the syrup, fill a small pot with water. Bring to medium and slowly add sugar, cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks and orange rind. Once sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes, until it is a golden orange color.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove cloves and orange rind. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
To make cocktails, divide prosecco into 2 champagne flutes. Split apple brandy and lemon juice between flutes, then add 1/2 fluid ounce simple syrup into each flute. Stir with a long spoon, then serve with orange or lemon rind twist.
Butternut Squash Soup Shooters
Butternut squash soup turns shooter in this recipe featuring organic squash and curry powder.
2 teaspoons Simply Organic Curry Powder
Simply Organic Crushed Red Pepper
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 3-pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 5 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups vegetable broth (or a water and broth combo, if desired)
1 cup canned coconut milk
fresh cilantro, for garnish
cooked chickpeas, for garnish
In a large stock pot, over medium heat, melt the butter or heat the oil. Add the onion and celery. Cook for four to five minutes, until the onions are translucent and the vegetables “sweat.”
Stirring frequently, add the garlic and cook for one minute, until fragrant. Add the butternut squash, salt and curry powder. Stir.
Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the butternut cubes are soft when pierced with a fork.
Into the soup, stir coconut milk, then remove the soup from the heat.
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth and creamy.
Serve in shot glasses with a garnish of cilantro, chickpeas and red pepper flakes.
For more “Thursday Moments” and seasonal recipe ideas, visit www.simplyorganic.com.