The Hostess with the Mostest


Women's hands with crystal glasses of champagne

The holiday season is filled with hustling and bustling and holiday parties – some that you find yourself hosting. We asked our Executive Chef Josh Tomson and Pastry Chef Shannon Croney for their favorite advice when hosting a party. The most important advice that Chef Josh couldn’t reiterate enough was to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Which is why this post will be short, sweet and to the point.

  • KEEP IT SIMPLE. This is the one piece of advice that almost all hosts forget from the start. Your guests are there for good company, good drinks, and a few nibbles to hold them over so keep your focus in that order! One festive signature cocktail along with beer and wine makes for easy prep and cleanup.
  • Proper planning prevents poor performance (this advice can be applied almost anywhere in life). If you plan dishes that can be done in advance, it makes the rest of the day go a lot smoother. Chef Josh’s Kale Chips and White Bean Hummus are perfect examples of little nibbles with powerful nutrition that can be done in advance, saving the hustle for when it counts. Pastry Chef Shannon makes a mean Orange Scented Pecan Truffle.
  • The send-off can be even more memorable than the first impression! Send your guests off with a departing gift like a fresh-made granola bar for their morning breakfast.


Poached Pear Martini
2 ounces Grey Goose Poire
1 squeeze Spiced Ruby Port
Wine Reduction (Reduce 1 bottle Ruby Port, 1oz Mulling Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc)
1 squeeze Pear Puree
Shake well
Garnish, Dried Pear

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips with Zahtar
1 bunch Lacinato Kale, or curly leaf (about 8-10 steams)
1½ tablespoons distilled white vinegar (may need more)
1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & Zahtar to taste

Tear kale from the steam into bite size pieces. Place into a bowl and drizzle with white vinegar. Toss kale to get the leaves fully coated in vinegar. Place the kale in a single layer on a piece of parchment paper or tray. Let the vinegar air dry onto the kale. Lightly spray kale with Olive oil pan spray. Place the kale on baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle very lightly with sea salt and Zahtar. Bake for 5 minutes. Check the kale and toss if needed. Bake for another 5 minutes.

White Bean Hummus with Fresh Thyme & Basil
2 cups cooked cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1 small to medium clove roasted garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons water (may not need,
just to thin dip as desired)
Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except water, thyme, and basil.
Purée until smooth, gradually adding water as desired to thin dip and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add thyme and basil to mixture and purée briefly to incorporate ingredients evenly.

Expert Tidbit: A great dip for vegetables or sauce for sandwiches that adds proteins and antioxidants. White beans are a nice substitute for the traditional chickpea hummus with less calories, more protein and fiber as well as less sugar.

Raw Orange Scented Pecan Truffles
1 cup Medjool dates, chopped
1 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground sea salt
2 tablespoons orange zest
3.5 ounces dark 70% chocolate – grated

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until sticky batter is formed. Roll a tablespoon of mixture in your hands to form a small ball. Roll truffle in grated chocolate and plate. Other roll-on options which work well are shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or seeds. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours to firm before serving.

Expert Tidbit from contributor Diane Hoch: This delicious bite-sized treat is perfect for entertaining or to re-energize in the late afternoon. They satisfy a sweet tooth while avoiding processed foods.