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Published: Wednesday, 12/24/2008

'Tis the Season for Easy, Elegant Holiday Entertaining

(MS) -- It's said to be the most wonderful time of the year, though the busy holiday host often feels far from wonderful when pondering menus, motifs and more for the impending festivities.

The good news is that entertaining experts are urging this year's holiday hosts to keep gatherings simple and stress-free to bring joy to guests and hosts alike. The culinary minds behind Salads of the Sea suggest an easy, yet elegant, menu of finger foods and other basics.

Try the following tips and recipes from Salads of the Sea, and you'll soon find yourself walking in a winter wonderland, rather than wallowing in the kitchen yet again.

* Implement an open-door policy. Instead of scheduling a sit-down dinner, encourage friends and family to drop by your holiday party at their convenience. An "open house" atmosphere means you won't be overwhelmed by receiving all guests at one time.

* No spoons, no forks, no problem. A menu of finger foods and appetizers, served buffet-style, is sure to please any crowd. Not only will there be something for everyone, but the less formal setup also promotes more relaxed conversation. Additionally, you may consider going potluck to help ease your hosting load.

* Less mess equals less stress. Minimize your time in the kitchen by sticking to menu items that can be enjoyed right out of the package. For example, an array of crackers and crudites, served with your favorite packaged dips, spreads and cheeses, can be set out at the beginning of a holiday party and simply replenished as needed. Seafood cheese balls from Salads of the Sea are another "set it and forget it" holiday favorite.

* Pack your secret weapons. One or two winning recipes are all it takes to keep your guests raving for weeks to come -- and you don't have to be a world-class chef to pull it off. Instead, take help from store-bought items by incorporating them with fresh ingredients to create a completely original masterpiece. This Cajun krab-stuffed chicken and rice ensemble is sure to be a hit at the fanciest of festivities or the coziest of family gatherings:

Easy yet elegant recipes, like this stuffed chicken with rice side dish, are sure to impress your holiday guests. Easy yet elegant recipes, like this stuffed chicken with rice side dish, are sure to impress your holiday guests.
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Quick-and-Easy Cajun Krab-Stuffed Chicken

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

1 package (6 oz) quick-cooking stuffing

1 package (8 oz) Salads of the Sea Cajun Krab Dip

1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken

Diced habanera peppers to taste

Directions:

Prepare stuffing mix as directed on the package. Combine stuffing with Cajun Krab Dip and diced peppers until well mixed. Fill chicken cavity with stuffing mixture and serve warm alongside Cajun Krab Rice.

Savory Cajun Krab Rice

(Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

1 package (8.8 oz) 90-second microwave rice

1 package (8 oz) Salads of the Sea Cajun Krab Dip

1 cup diced red, yellow and orange bell peppers

Directions:

Prepare rice as directed on the package. While rice is hot, combine with Cajun Krab Dip and diced bell peppers. Serve warm alongside Cajun Krab-stuffed Chicken.



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