Serve Up Good Cheer

Easy ideas for feeding unexpected holiday guests

(Family Features) The holiday season brings friends and family from far and wide, and that often means you’ll be rolling out the welcome mat to guests who drop by unexpectedly. Whether you encounter a surprise visit or well-intentioned plans get shifted in the hustle and bustle of the season, make-ahead dishes will let you go with the flow and have fuss-free snacks and meals on hand, ready to serve your loved ones no matter when they arrive.

Ease your mind one step further and ensure each recipe comes out perfectly by using the right equipment during preparation. For example, Anolon Gourmet Cookware is designed for superior performance, lasting durability that stands up to rigorous kitchen use and easy maintenance. With sturdy ergonomic handles for lifting and leverage, the equipment is both comfortable to hold and aesthetically pleasing.

Explore more pots, pans and cookware options from Anolon Gourmet Cookware at to make it easy to welcome unexpected guests this holiday season.

Sausage, Cheddar and Sourdough Strata

Recipe courtesy of Anolon Gourmet Cookware

  • Large Anolon Advanced Umber Skillet

  • 8          ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing

  • 1          tablespoon olive oil

  • 1          large onion, thinly sliced

  • 3          garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 1/2    teaspoons fresh thyme

  • 1/2       teaspoon dried basil

  • 1          large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

  • butter

  • Anolon Vesta 9-by-13-inch Baking Dish

  • 1          sourdough baguette (12 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch slices

  • 4          ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

  • 8          large eggs

  • 2          cups milk

  • 1/2       teaspoon salt

  • 1/4       teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink, 7-8 minutes, breaking into smaller pieces with wooden spoon. Transfer to bowl with slotted spoon. Add oil to skillet; stir in onion, garlic, thyme and basil: cook 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5-6 minutes; remove from heat.

  2. Butter baking dish. Place single layer of bread on bottom; top evenly with onion mixture and sprinkle with sausage and cheese. Top with remaining bread slices.

  3. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well combined. Slowly pour mixture over top layer of bread. Cover with plastic wrap and place heavy objects (e.g., canned food) on top to weigh it down. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

  4. Heat oven to 350° F.

  5. Remove baking dish from refrigerator and uncover. Bake until strata is puffed and browned, and eggs are set, about 40-50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before cutting into serving pieces.

Pumpkin and Macadamia Soup

Recipe courtesy of Anolon Gourmet Cookware

  • 3.5-Quart Anolon Advanced Umber Saucepan

  • 2          tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/3       cup roughly chopped raw macadamia nuts

  • 1          small white onion, chopped

  • 1          tablespoon grated ginger

  • 2          cups diced squash or pumpkin

  • 1          apple, peeled and chopped

  • 3          cups chicken stock

  • roasted macadamia nuts, for garnish

  1. In heavy-based, large saucepan, heat oil; add raw macadamias, onion and ginger, and saute over medium heat 2-3 minutes, or until golden.

  2. Add squash and apple, and cook 1-2 minutes longer then pour over stock. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, or until squash is soft.

  3. Tip off some liquid and reserve then puree remainder using immersion blender, or in blender until smooth and creamy. Add reserved liquid to bring to desired consistency.

  4. Reheat and serve in bowls sprinkled with roasted macadamias.

Brown Butter Pecan Cinnamon Bars

Recipe courtesy of Anolon Gourmet Cookware

  • Anolon Vesta 9-by-13-inch Baking Dish

  • 10        ounces unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 1/2    cups firmly packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2       cup sugar

  • 2          large eggs

  • 2          teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 2          cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2    teaspoons baking powder

  • 2          teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/4       teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2          cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

  1. Heat oven to 350° F.

  2. Grease baking pan.

  3. In medium pot over medium-low to medium heat, heat butter until golden brown, stirring frequently and making sure to scrape bottom of pan. Remove from heat and pour into bowl when golden brown to stop more coloring. Set aside.

  4. Whisk together sugars, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk in butter in steady stream. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and pecans. Stir until evenly blended.

  5. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.

  6. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Do not overcook or bars will be dry. Let cool to room temperature then cut into pieces.

Anolon Gourmet Cookware

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