Molly Sims grew up in the south, so if there's one thing she knows about, it's entertaining and cooking for all her family and friends. Just because she also happens to be an incredibly famous model and actress doesn’t mean she isn't a great party planner. Actually, with a new book on the way called The Everyday Supermodel, being a new mother and running her own lifestyle blog, Molly is proving that she knows a thing or two about throwing a great holiday party. Here are some of her best tips on how to breathe new life into traditional holidays to create new favorites for family and friends!
To start, mix up the menu by creating an entire dish inspired by one of your guests or a sweet couple. "My good friend Kishani is a vegetarian, and when she comes for the holidays I always make sure there are 'veggie' options she can enjoy!" says Molly. "Our favorite dishes are my sweet potato coconut pecan casserole or my honey-roasted carrot and quinoa salad."
Instead of worrying about pairing every food item with a specific wine, choose a brand that goes well with many different dishes. "I love to serve Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Both wines are table essentials that complement everything from turkey to savory sides. If you have a large group, pick up Woodbridge 1.5 liter bottles. They’re fun, easy, I like to host a casual, family-style meal for the and generous!"
Like a good southern girl, Molly loves her mashed potatoes - not what you'd expect from a model. She loves creating a mini mashed potato bar, featuring crowd-please toppings like chives, cheese, bacon bits, onions, sour cream, and steamed broccoli.
To keep the kids from getting bored, Molly suggests letting them in on the fun early on. "Create a scavenger hunt and have the little ones retrieve holiday-themed items to fill a vase as a centerpiece. Have older kids set the table or package up desserts to go," she says.
Speaking of desserts, everyone loves pumpkin pie (if they say otherwise, they're not to be trusted), but sometimes it's fun to break tradition a bit. Instead of doing a pie, maybe go for some pumpkin spice brownies, which Molly plans on baking for her family and friends as gifts. Who am I kidding? You should still make pie.
Pumpkin Spice Brownies
Suggested Pairing: Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of dried cherries and notes of rich cedar. Deep flavors of blackberry lend a nice balance with a sweet, toasty finish.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup melted butter
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 ounces softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8"x 8" baking dish.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, stir together butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix in eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour mixture; stir to combine evenly. Divide batter into two bowls.
Into one bowl, blend cocoa powder and chocolate chips. In second bowl, stir in pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, cream cheese, nuts, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Spread 1/2 of chocolate batter into bottom of baking dish. Follow with 1/2 of pumpkin batter. Repeat layers, ending with a pumpkin layer. Gently pull a long kitchen knife or skewer through the layers in a wavy motion to create a marbled pattern.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool brownies in pan on a baking rack.