Check out our list of helpful cooking and serving hints and helps for tea, punch, coffee, cocoa, dips and other appetizers just in time for your next party!
- Make your own spiced tea or cider. Place orange peels, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks in a 6-inch square piece of cheesecloth. Gather the corners and tie with a string. Steep in hot cider or tea for 10 minutes; steep longer if you want a stronger flavor.
- Another way to add flavor to tea: dissolve old-fashioned lemon drops, peppermints or Jolly Ranchers candies in it!
- Always chill juices or sodas before adding them to punch recipes.
- To cool your punch, float an ice ring made from the punch rather than using ice cubes. It appears more decorative, prevents diluting, and does not melt as quickly.
- When making fresh lemonade or orange juice, one lemon yields about 1/4 cup juice, while one orange yields about 1/3 cup juice.
- Calorie-free club soda adds sparkle to iced fruit juices and reduces calories per portion.
For Coffee or Cocoa:
- Never boil coffee; it brings out acids and causes a bitter taste. Store ground coffee in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh.
- Always use cold water for electric drip coffee makers. Use 1-2 tablespoons ground coffee for each cup of water.
- Place fresh or dried mint in the bottom of a cup of hot chocolate for a cool and refreshing taste.
For Dips & Appetizers:
- How many appetizers should you prepare? Allow 4-6 appetizers per guest if a meal quickly follows. If a late meal is planned, allow 6-8 appetizers per guest. If no meal follows, allow 8-10 pieces per guest.
- To keep appetizers hot, make sure you have enough oven space and warming plates to maintain their temperature.
- To keep appetizers cold, set bowls on top of ice or rotate bowls of dips from the fridge every hour or as needed.
- If serving appetizers buffet-style or seating is limited, consider no-mess finger foods that don’t require utensils to eat.
- Choose brightly-colored bowls to set off dips or get creative with hollowed-out loaves of bread, bell peppers, heads of cabbage, or winter squash.
- Cheeses should be served at room temperature-approximately 70°F