Jeanne Benedict’s Secrets to Party Perfection

Jeanne Benedict

Jeanne say the #1 Rule is to MAXIMIZE THE FUN & MINIMIZE THE STRESS

Jeanne Benedict is fast becoming a household name and face!   Benedict’s popularity has been on the rise since the success of her first book and a four season run as the host / chef / designer of the TV theme party show, Weekend Entertaining, on the DIY network.  Plus, TV viewers know Jeanne from over 100 appearances as a lifestyle / party expert and chef on shows such as The TODAY Show, Live with Regis & Kelly, The Ellen Degeneres Show, The CBS Saturday Early Show, The Bonnie Hunt Show and many more.

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Food & Drinks are a Huge Part of Any Holiday Party

Providing natural alternatives is important to many guests. I love honey. In fact, honey is the perfect natural addition to all of your holiday dishes and it will become your versatile go-to ingredient. Honey can be used in so many ways – as a glaze or marinade, in dips and sauces or all by itself as a scrumptious sweet note for any holiday dish! One of my favorites is honey ham. Instead of buying one from the grocery store, you can easily make it at home. Scrumptious!

This honey ham is super easy to make, just cover and bake on low for about an hour, brush on more of the glaze and continue baking uncovered on high for about 10 minutes more. That's it! It's quick and easy to make your favorite dishes at home with honey. And the best part is, honey helps lock in moisture and gives the ham a beautiful, caramelized coating. I also suggest making my Nuttin Honey Drink here and the Honeycomb Cheese and Fruit Platter see all the recipes below.

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Recipes with Honey

Photo of Honey Whiskey Clove-glazed HamHoney Whiskey Clove-glazed Ham
Makes 10-12 servings
3/4 cup honey
1-1/2 Tablespoons bourbon whiskey*
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (5-lb.) bone-in fully cooked ham, spiral sliced

Combine honey, bourbon and cloves in small bowl until well blended. Place ham, cut-side down, in roasting pan; brush with honey mixture. Cover pan with foil and bake at 275°F about 1 hour or until heated through. Remove foil from ham and increase oven temperature to 425°F Brush with honey mixture. Bake about 10 minutes more or until ham is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on serving platter. Pour juices over ham. *2 teaspoons vanilla can be substituted for bourbon.

Nuttin' Honey BeverageNuttin’ Honey
Makes 1 beverage
1 oz. frangellico
1 oz. irish cream
1 to 2 oz. cream or half & half
1 oz. Honey Simple Syrup
Shake well with ice and strain into a large cocktail or Martini glass. Garnish with chocolate shavings or chocolate straw (stick).
Honey Simple Syrup
Hot water
Mix 4 parts honey to 1 part hot water in a saucepan. Heat gently over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches a simmer. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. To store, transfer the syrup to a squeeze bottle or covered drink pourer for easy pouring. Store at room temperature.

TIP: While mixture is simmering, infuse the syrup with herbs or spices for a light, savory flavor note. Or, add a dash of vanilla extract to make Honey-vanilla Simple Syrup.

Honeycomb, Cheese and Fruit Platter
Chunks of honeycomb
Assortment of fruit
Assortment of cheeses

Some Saucy Suggestions

During the busy holiday season, making a simple salad is a great way to save time. There are a variety of salad dressings available to help provide a meal everyone can enjoy. And the healthy oils in salad dressing can help your body better absorb key nutrients. Kick up the flavor of your holiday meals with the versatility of condiments, such as mustard, horseradish, mayonnaise, hot sauce and salsa. I like to put them in decorative dishes that add to the festivities.

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Serves 6

3/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup prepared hickory barbecue sauce
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
8 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels
15 ounces black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups grilled chicken breast, diced and cooked
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded  
1/3 cup sliced red onion
4 strips cooked bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
Tortilla chips (optional to use for garnish)

Combine ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, cilantro, lime juice and chipotle chile in a small bowl. Mix well. Line a large platter with lettuce. Arrange remaining ingredients, in rows, across the lettuce. Sprinkle bacon on top. Serve with dressing mixture. Garnish with tortilla chips.

FIERY deviled eggs
Serves 12

6 large eggs, hard boiled
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise (you can use fat-free or low-fat)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese hot mustard
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Paprika (for garnish)

Cut boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the egg yolks and place into a bowl. Mash egg yolks with fork. Add mayonnaise and mustard. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce and stir well. Create mounds of egg yolk mixture and fill the egg whites. Refrigerate the deviled eggs up to 24 hours. Sprinkle with paprika for garnish prior to serving.

Fresh Baja Fish Tacos
Serves 10  

5 cups cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 jar jalapeno ranch dressing & dip
Canola oil
10 tortillas
2 pounds fish filets (true cod or halibut)
Cumin (optional)
Salsa (garnish)

Mix together in a large bowl the cabbage, carrots, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno ranch dressing & dip and set aside while preparing fish and tortillas. In large sauté pan, add 1/4-inch canola oil and heat. Fold each tortilla in half gently and lightly sauté on each side until tortillas holds shape and is just barely crisp. Drain tortilla and place on an oven-proof plate and keep in oven on warm. Cut fish in portions about 2 inches wide. Coat fish with flour. Sauté fish in canola oil for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, add salt to taste (cumin may be added sparingly). Fish should be just flaky. To each tortilla add a portion of sautéed fish and top with the cabbage dressing. Garnish with salsa.

ZESTY Potato salad with horseradish cheddar
Serves 4

3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
Salt and pepper
2 lbs. small redskin potatoes, cut into ¾-inch chunks and boiled in a large of salted water until tender and drained well
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, plus more for garnish
4 slices bacon (turkey or pork), cooked and crumbled

While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise and prepared horseradish. Season the horseradish mixture with salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl combine warm potatoes, cheddar, scallions and bacon to horseradish mixture, and gently fold to combine. Serve warm or cold.

Mango Tango Spinach Salad
Serves 8

2 mangos, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 avocados, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup finely chopped cucumbers
1 cup raspberry vinaigrette dressing
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine mangos, avocados, tomatoes, onion, spinach, and cucumbers in a large bowl. Add raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Toss lightly. Sprinkle cheese, almonds, and cilantro evenly over top of salad. Toss salad immediately before serving.

Delicious Desserts

My secret for dessert is to let someone else do some of the work so you have more time to spend with guests. You can entertain in style this holiday season with these new mini-treats, Cake Bites from Baskin-Robins. They're to die for, and they combine both ice cream and cake, in a bite size dessert. Cake Bites are reminiscent of French petit fours and are perfect for entertaining, especially during the holidays. Party hosts can serve their guests with these elegant, premade desserts that will be the talk of the holiday season.

Please visit to find your local store. Become a fan on the Facebook fan page or follow @BaskinRobbins on Twitter

Baskin-Robbins Cake Bites are available in stores now and are perfect for consumers that don’t have time to bake this holiday season. They cost $2.99 individually or are $9.99 for a 4-pack which is customizable with mix and match flavors. Cake Bites are available in the following four flavors:

double chocolate cake biteDouble Chocolate – Chocolate ice cream over chocolate cake, enrobed with chocolate ganache coating, finished with chocolate accent

praline caramel cake bitePraline Caramel – Pralines ‘n Cream ice cream over white cake enrobed with white chocolate ganache coating, finished with caramel drizzle & chopped pralines

chocolate mint cake biteChocolate Mint – Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream over chocolate cake, enrobed with chocolate ganache coating, finished with white chocolate drizzle

vanilla blondie cake biteVanilla Blondie – Vanilla ice cream over white cake, enrobed with white chocolate ganache coating, finished with chocolate accent