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holiday entertaining

Haylie Duff Shares Tips on Comfort Cooking During the Winter Months

Winter has arrived – the days are shorter, the temperature has cooled, and warm comfort foods are on the menu. From soups to casseroles, there is an endless list of delicious recipes packed with flavorful ingredients to keep you cozy and satisfied this season.  

A slow cooker is a winter cooking must-have. Not only can you set it and forget it, slow cookers have extended cooking times to better distribute the flavors, it tenderizes meat just enough to fall off the bone, there are minimal dishes to wash, and somehow the dish always turns out delicious.

Our Libby’s® team chatted with our partner, Haylie Duff, about winter entertaining tips, discussing her favorite seasonal recipes, tips for having a well-balanced diet, and fun indoor activities for friends and family.

Check out the below discussion for some winter dinner inspiration using Libby’s® Canned Vegetables, which help create quick and nutritious meals that are packed with flavor for the entire family to enjoy!

Haylie Duff shares tips on comfort cooking

Winter is here, but that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on flavor. What are delicious and comforting dishes you love to cook during this time of year?
I love all the warm and cozy recipes that winter brings – there are so many possibilities! But my favorite is my Winter Beef Stew made with Libby’s® Canned Vegetables. I cook it low and slow, and it has tons of flavor. It’s perfect for those chilly days spent by the fire!

Editor’s note: Haylie created a special Winter Beef Stew recipe just for Libby’s® consumers. Check it out here!

What are your go-to seasonal ingredients to include in your winter recipes?
I’m a veggie girl, eating them all year long, and they can be incorporated into so many recipes during these chilly months. In the fall I love making roasted carrots, and with Libby’s® I can enjoy delicious carrots all year long! Right now, Lulu, my littlest one, loves to eat them mashed.

Winter can be dark and chilly, and no one wants to leave their warm house to go to the grocery store. What are some easy and nutritious ingredients to always keep on hand?
I keep my pantry very well stocked (especially since I’ve become a mom!) with lots of vegetables that I can whip up into something tasty. Having a few cans of Libby’s® makes it so easy to cook a variety of dishes at the drop of a hat. My Shepard’s Pie is always a big hit with the family, made with canned peas, corn, and carrots. Yum!

Haylie Duff shares tips on comfort cooking

Slow cooker meals can make cooking a breeze. What are your tips and tricks to making sure every recipe is delicious?
Adding seasoning to your ingredients is really important. Things like fresh herbs always help boost the flavor.

The family can get antsy staying indoors, especially on a snow day. What are your favorite family-friendly games or activities that you can do together?
Cooking together is one of my family’s favorite activities. Ryan will sit on the counter and help me prep the meal. Or if she’s not in the mood to cook, she’ll bring a few coloring books into the kitchen and keep me company.

Haylie Duff shares tips on comfort cooking

Are there any winter recipes that remind you of spending time with family and friends around the table on a snowy night in?
Growing up in LA, we didn’t have too many snowy nights in but we loved to pretend! We would make stews, prime rib, and roast chicken to give you that warm-inside feeling when it’s chilly out. Today, I love the low and slow style of cooking. It’s easy and brings a calm feeling into the home.

Do you have any failsafe tips for hosting a stress-free party in the winter?
Keep your home nice and toasty, nobody wants to be cold once they arrive! Greet them with a cocktail and some delicious appetizers – stuffed mushrooms are my favorite during the winter – before gathering around the table for dinner.

Donatella Arpaia on Holiday Mealtime Traditions, Christmas Breakfast and Impromptu Entertaining

A Q&A Discussion with the Iron Chef America Judge, NYC Restaurateur and Mother 

Can you share a few holiday mealtime traditions that are unique and special to your family?

In our home, I would call it a long feast rather than just a meal! It always begins at 3pm. Since it’s typically a 7-course meal, we rest in between courses, then eat again. There is a lot of reminiscing and storytelling, and towards the end of the evening, we break out the old films of when we were growing up.

Christmas on the whole is about being around the table enjoying the food and reminiscing. The kids’ table is the place to be at my house! Crafts, crackers/poppers and plastic champagne glasses filled with sparkling cider make them feel special! We give a big toast and everyone goes around the table and gives thanks as we eat our meal.

What is your favorite classic holiday dish to serve when you’re entertaining and why? 

Italians eat a variety of fishes on Christmas Eve, so Christmas Day is all about the meatballs! They’re cooked with a slow braised ragu and we top our homemade pasta with the red sauce from the meatballs. It’s a classic everyone craves, including all the non-Italians we invite over! Everybody loves meatballs—they’re the ultimate family celebratory comfort food.

Holiday dining is almost exclusively focused on the big dinner (or late lunch). But breakfast is important too! What do you usually like to serve on mornings before the big meal? 

I actually make a point of having a good breakfast! Many people skip breakfast because they want to overindulge later on, but that just makes you ravenous by mealtime. I make scrambled eggs with shallots and truffle zest for me and my husband. On Christmas morning only, I make Elbe skivers – the Danish pancake – with confectioner’s sugar. My son calls them “elf “pancakes!” Great coffee and freshly squeezed juice round out the morning.

Holiday meals typically involve tried-and-true family recipes. But sometimes it’s fun to add a new twist to old favorites. Any tips for jazzing up the classics?

Yes, I pretty much stick to the classics that my mom made for holiday meals, but I love to experiment with salads. I recently added a new twist to one with my Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad!

Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad

 Many of us may be trying to plan a holiday menu for both meat eaters and vegetarians. How do you suggest balancing everyone’s demands?

Write the menu down before the meal and count how many items are vegetarian versus meat. Menus should always be balanced. I like to include a vegetarian dish that’s hearty and that has some protein like my Vegetable Fried Rice — the egg adds a nice protein for the vegetarians!

Vegetable Fried Rice

When playing the holiday hostess, what are your essentials for creating a warm, inviting ambiance? 

Creating a calm, clean environment for guests is the first step. The temperature of the room, background music and lighting are all important elements. Make sure you dim the lights a bit, and I personally love to have lots of lighted candles all around! But the most important thing is that even if you’re stressed or a recipe didn’t turn out the way you wanted, when guests arrive, let it go! The holidays are about being together and making memories, and your guests feed off your energy. Be happy and warm and your guests will feel welcome. After all, a happy host is the best kind. Lastly, a welcome cocktail never hurts. 🙂

Unexpected visits from family, friends and neighbors tend to happen more often this time of year. Do you have any tips for fabulous, fast appetizers to feed a hungry crew?

My family is famous for arriving on Christmas a little early and starving! Dinner often isn’t ready, so I like to create appetizers that won’t ruin their appetites, like this Peas and Ricotta Crostini. It’s satisfying without being too heavy and is also so elegant and easy to make!  

Peas and Ricotta Crostini

Maintain the Magic: Quick & Easy Recipes for Holiday Entertaining

Can you feel it in the November air? That buzzing, palpable excitement as the holidays draw near? With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, mealtime preparations are ramping up. But all too often, overwhelming obligations in the kitchen replace holiday delight with dread. This year, maintain the magic and minimize stress by prioritizing convenience and health. The following quick, easy and nutritious recipes will help you fully embrace the joy of the season.

A Palatable Warmup


Most guests arrive at holiday meals completely famished. Relieve their hanger with a low-maintenance, high-flavor appetizer: soup. This seasonal recipe for Roasted Carrot and Apple Soup combines Libby’s® Sliced Carrots and apples for a palate-pleasing warmup. Make the soup well in advance and freeze until the day of. Then, thaw it on the stove and keep at a low simmer until the crowds are ready to chow.

A Colorful Interlude


Balance out heavy side dishes with a fresh salad. This Colorful Chopped Salad, made with Libby’s® Whole Kernel Sweet Corn, Organic Garbanzo Beans and Cut Green Beans, is rich in color, flavor and nutrients. It also doubles as a next-day meal: just add protein from leftover ham, turkey, or chicken.

 A Fibrous Feature   


Turkey isn’t the only star in town: a tasty vegetable dish can easily steal the dinnertime spotlight. Veggies are a fiber-filled, low-calorie food option great for healthy weight maintenance and satiety. These Ginger Candied Vegetables—featuring Libby’s® Whole Baby Carrots, Whole Kernel Sweet Corn and Sweet Peas— provide gut-friendly fiber and an array of nutrients. The best part? Preparation requires just one pot and five minutes of your time. Now that’s pure holiday magic.