Wow your friends and family with this stress-free holiday dinner

For most of us, the holiday season means gathering in our homes with friends and family to enjoy company, conversation, and great food. If you’re planning a holiday gathering at your house, you may be looking forward to it with equal amounts of excitement and fear. I don’t blame you! It’s never a small feat to hold a gathering that involves food, and even small dinner parties can make your palms sweaty; the holidays only add an extra layer of stress! You’re not alone though, because even veteran hosts/hostesses can find it a balancing act to put together a great meal without spending all their time in the kitchen (and neglecting their guests).

The good news is that a holiday dinner party doesn’t have to be stressful, and you can pull it off easily and within budget. How? The secret is to plan ahead and to have an easy but delicious menu. The menu for our $2 Dinners “Stress-Free Holiday Dinner” is full of recipes that are delicious, super-easy and guaranteed to “wow” your guests! The best part is that each one has six ingredients or less (not counting salt and pepper)! For your upcoming holiday meal, try “Heavenly Christmas Ham”, “Scalloped Potatoes”, and “Bacon-y Green Beans”. With rolls and dessert purchased at your local bakery, you will have a delicious, stress-free holiday feast you can be proud of!

$2 Dinners Hints for a Stress-Free Holiday Meal:

- Read and re-read the recipes to make sure you understand the steps and to double-check that you have all the ingredients. Make a grocery list and do your shopping a day or two in advance.
- Set and decorate your table the morning of your party. Set out all your serving bowls and utensils as well. Guests who arrive early will most likely offer to help, so put a piece of paper with the name of the food it will contain beside (or inside) each serving dish. That way, your helpers will know where things go and you won’t be interrupted every 5 minutes to give them instructions.
- To avoid washing all those dishes, consider using paper plates. There are some really gorgeous patterns available and paper makes things so much easier. I love using my great-grandmother’s china, but since it has to be carefully hand-washed, I usually choose paper instead. While I still use my good flatware for the main meal, I do use plastic ware for appetizers and desserts (otherwise I would run out of forks!). I also purchase paper or plastic cups in a coordinating color or pattern for guests to use before and after the meal.

Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes

Heavenly Citrus Ham (makes 15 servings @ about $2.00 per serving)

Really Easy Scalloped Potatoes (makes 6-8 servings @ about .75 cents per serving)

Bacon-y Green Beans (makes 6 servings @ about .35 cents per serving)

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Share Our Strength's Progressive Dinner- Share Our Holiday Table

Today's post is really special to me because it's part of Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign during the holiday season. $2 Dinners and about 40 other bloggers were invited to take part in a seven-day, online progressive dinner series—Share Our Holiday Table—that will help raise funds for Share Our Strength during the critical holiday period.

Before I get to the post, I want to tell ya'll a little about the No Kid Hungry campaign. No Kid Hungry™, is an unprecedented, five-year effort designed to end childhood hunger in America. Our nation has the food and programs in place to end childhood hunger, but consider what we are up against: The stigmas and embarrassment that surround hunger, the challenges presented by access to healthy food, and the struggle to connect children with the resources they need to thrive. For 25 years, Share Our Strength has been confronting hunger head-on to break down these barriers. Together, with your support, we can put an end to childhood hunger. Won't you join us in the No Kid Hungry campaign?

Welcome to day 4 of SOS's virtual progressive dinner...we're serving up a family-friendly soup that's easy, delicious, and budget-friendly. Today's soup recipe is based on an American fast food favorite...bacon cheeseburgers with fries! I know it sounds off-the-wall, but the flavors we all love in this classic combination translate surprisingly well into a soup too. Besides, anything with bacon in it can't be all bad (can I get an "amen")? This soup is a snap to prep, goes from stove to table in about 30 minutes, and it tastes amazing! Give it a try this week...I bet your kids will love the idea of "cheeseburger soup" (my 7-year-old grandson, who loves soup, said he thought cheeseburger soup was "crazy" but after tasting it, his mom said he asked for more!).

P.S. Please check out the links at the bottom of this post to see more awesome recipes from other bloggers for SOS's "Share Our Holiday Table" virtual progressive dinner, and please click on the "No Kid Hungry" button on my home page to donate whatever you can to help stop childhood hunger.

Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes

Mimi's Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries Soup (makes 6 servings @ about $1.89 per serving)

Please check out these other great posts from the Share Our Holiday Table virtual progressive supper:

Day 1- Appetizers
             Gourmet- The Italian Dish
                              Recipe Girl
             Family Friendly- Family Fresh Cooking
                                          Giving Up On Perfect
             Vegetarian- Two Peas and Their Pod
                                  Smith Bites
             Gluten Free- Wenderly
                                   La Fuji Mama
Day 2- Drinks
             Gourmet- Food Woolf
                            The Gringo Chapin
             Family Friendly- Three Many Cooks
                                         Fat Wuz Here
            Vegetarian- Lexie's Kitchen
                                Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
            Gluten Free- Gluten Free Easily  

Day 3- Salads
            Gourmet- The Bitten Word
            Family Friendly- Food For My Family
            Vegetarian- Glugle Gluten-Free
            Gluten Free- Add A Pinch
                                  Gluten Free Diva

Day 4- Soups
            Gourmet- edible cville
                             The Runaway Spoon
                             A Girl, A Market, A Meal
            Family Friendly- Ladles and Jellyspoons
                                        All About Alton Brown
                                        Cookie Central's Great American Bake Sale
            Vegetarian- Good Life Eats
                                 Feed Our Families
            Gluten Free- Celiac Teen
                                  Celiacs in the House
                                  And Love it Too!
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Pumpkin is Perfect for More Than Just Pies

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and rows of canned pumpkin are beginning to appear in local stores, ready to be turned into holiday pies. With visions of delicious, whipped cream-topped custard pies dancing in our heads, it’s easy to forget that pumpkin is also a versatile and budget-friendly ingredient in many other recipes as well. Economical at around $1.89 per can, pumpkin can be used in surprising ways for both sweet and savory recipes. From soups and stews to pancakes and lasagna, pumpkin adds a delightful touch of holiday flavor to a wide variety of dishes. So, if you’ve never tried pumpkin for anything besides pie, you don’t know what you’re missing! The following recipes will get you started thinking about pumpkin in a whole new and delicious way.

Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes

Pumpkin Soup (makes 10 servings @ about $1.35 per serving)

Pumpkin Lasagna (makes 6 servings @ about $1.98 per serving)

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Apple Harvest Time Means Delicious Deals

For maximum taste at a minimum price, smart shoppers know that the best time to buy fruits and vegetables is when they’re in season. Right now in many parts of the country its apple harvest time, and that means delicious bargains await you in the produce section of your favorite store. Whether they’re sweet, tart, red or green, there’s nothing that beats a juicy, crispy apple. One of the best things about apples, however, is that not only are they a delicious and inexpensive snack, they’re also adaptable to a wide variety of sweet and savory recipes that are easy on your budget.

So what can you do with apples besides putting them in a pie? The following recipes are just a sampling of the wonderful dishes you can create with apples for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Don’t miss out on delicious apple deals at your local store…take advantage of apple harvest time and cook up some delicious apple-inspired and budget-friendly meals for your family this week.

Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes

Apple Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup (makes 4 servings of 3 pancakes each @ about 99 cents per serving)

Cider Pork Chops (makes 4 servings @ about $1.68 per serving)

Easy Apple Crisp (makes 8 servings @ about 60 cents per serving)

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Save Money and Time With This Double-Duty Dinner

When the mornings start to get cooler and autumn is right around the corner, don’t you find your thoughts turning towards comfort food? You know… dishes like soups, chili, meatloaf and pot roast? Here at $2 Dinners we love a good pot roast, but it’s not exactly the most budget-friendly meal in the recipe box is it? Even though it may not be an affordable option for just one meal, if you split one roast between two recipes, then it suddenly becomes a frugal cook’s new secret weapon.

Using one roast for two meals doesn’t have to be boring either. We love leftover roast beef sandwiches as much as anyone, but we also know that there is so much more you can do with your leftover beef. Our Italian-style pulled beef sandwiches and Vegetable Beef Soup with a Kick are perfectly delicious examples of what you can create from just one roast and they couldn’t be easier. Make the sandwiches for lunch or dinner one day, use the leftover beef for a delicious soup later in the week, and you’ve got two great meals for one budget-friendly price.

Click on the orange boxes for a printable version of the recipes

Italian-Style Pulled Beef Sandwiches (makes 10 servings @ about $1.36 per serving)

Vegetable Beef Soup With a Kick (makes 6-8 servings @ about $1.00 per serving)

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I just joined a great new food blogging community

Hey ya'll...I just joined a great new food blogging community that I want to share with you. It's called Foodie Blogroll and it's lots of fun.....they have community forums, great contests and lots more. Right now they are having a contest to promote Foodie Blogroll and the prize is a great customized FBR tote. It's easy to enter...all you have to do is join!

So if you're a foodie, what are you waiting for? Join Foodie Blogroll today and network with other foodies, get you blog noticed and be part of a fantastic food blogging community!