POPSUGAR Celebrity

Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian Shares Her Favorite Holiday Family Traditions

Dec 13 2012 - 11:24am

With cooking shows on both the Food Network and Cooking Channel, a cookbook [1], and four kids under the age of 8, Melissa d'Arabian [2] has her hands full (and then some). But the chef mom takes time out of her busy schedule every year to honor a tradition that she started more than 30 years ago with her late mom.

"I was raised by a single mom. We were on a tight budget, and she was putting herself through college, then medical school. When I was in kindergarten and my sister was in second grade, we invited friends for hot cocoa and cookies. It was just a lovely time to connect with girlfriends. Some years we went all out and did a big buffet. We'd start cooking a week in advance. It was our one party of the year, and we really put all of our energy into it," Melissa said.

She hosted 15 mother-daughter teas with her mom before she passed away. "I always said that if I ever had a daughter, I'd continue the tradition, and now I have four," she continued. "It's part of the holiday season for us. The girls get new dresses for it, they select the invitations . . . we're all in it as a team. It's a real lesson in hostessing."

This year, some 125 lucky little girls and their moms gathered for the d'Arabian mother-daughter tea, which featured delicacies like Melissa's signature potato bacon torte, yogurt granola trifle, cookies, coffee cakes, scones, and her favorite French tea from Le Palais des Thés [3]. Click through for three of Melissa's favorite "tea time" recipes and her best holiday entertaining tips for busy moms.

Photography by: Melissa and Philippe d'Arabian

Melissa's 3 Foolproof Tips For Holiday Entertaining

  1. "Make a 'dream list' for your event, then cross one or two things off of it. You don't need to overdo it!"
  2. "Don't forget that you are the most important thing you're serving! If you're tied to the kitchen instead of greeting and spending time with your guests, you should rethink your menu."
  3. "Serve fewer things, but more of them. I hosted a 'Polar Express' party for my girls' kindergarten class and just served chili, mac and cheese, and cornbread. There were probably 10 kinds of chili there, but it seemed intentional, and nobody went home hungry!"

Photography by: Melissa and Philippe d'Arabian

Yogurt Granola Trifle

"Layering yogurt with granola and some caramelized pan-seared fruit turns simple granola and yogurt into a special breakfast dish [4]. My favorite parfait fruit is bananas, but you can also use almost any seasonal fruit (apples, pears, strawberries, pineapple)."

Photography by: Melissa and Philippe d'Arabian

Easy Scones

"This is my go-to scone recipe [5] for bake sales, teacher appreciation days, and morning breakfast parties — any time I need a homemade treat but don't have a lot of time. They're infinitely versatile and such a breeze to throw together since I skip cutting butter into the dough and use heavy cream instead. Unbaked scones freeze beautifully, making them a great impromptu fresh-from-the-freezer start to a lazy Sunday. Semifreeze them on a baking sheet, and then transfer to gallon-size resealable freezer bags (label the scone flavor!). When you bake frozen scones, add 4 to 5 minutes to the baking time."

Source: Food Network [6]

Potato Bacon Torte

"This is not just my signature dish, but may actually be the recipe on The Next Food Network Star that won me my own cooking show. The contestants were challenged to cook the ultimate dinner party meal for an incredibly esteemed group of chef-judges including Bobby Flay [7], Masaharu Morimoto [8], and Francois Payard. There were three finalists remaining and we had a sky-high budget to execute our menu. What did I make? My humble 50-cents-a-serving potato bacon torte [9]! It proved definitively that you can create something special enough to serve the country's finest chefs while not spending an arm and a leg to make it."

Source: Ten Dollar Dinners

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