Recipes to Guarantee a Memorable Experience

By: District 3 (John Galligan, Sigrid Hazelwood, Danielle Jessup, Will Lessley Rachel Luoma, MS, CAE)

 During the holiday season, the first thing that comes to mind is food.  Thanksgiving for most people usually consists of a large multi-course meal followed by lots of eating, drinking, resting and even shopping.  If you really think about it, a healthy association or non-profit is similar to a multi-course meal in that all aspects of the association should complement one another to help form a well-rounded experience for those involved.  In associations for example, all departments must work together to ensure that efforts support the overall mission of the association.  When it comes to planning a big holiday meal, similar considerations may be made.

Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at



So, in the holiday spirit, we wanted to share some of our favorite recipes that have helped make planning a big holiday meal a success.  Please feel free to share this with your family and friends to.

Drink Recipe – by Sigrid Hazelwood

Just as you may pair fish with white wine or red meat with red wine, AMC’s match their staff with the client based on their needs.  Although the beverage may not be considered the most important aspect of the meal, if it is not paired right, it can change the taste of the meal. Prepare this delicious drink to start your morning or end your evenings on the right track!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Recipe (Makes 4 servings)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 drops peppermint oil
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish
Chocolate shavings, for garnish


  1. In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and salt and heat over medium-low heat.
  2. When the cream mixture just begins to steam, add the chopped chocolate, and stir, until melted.
  3. Stir in the peppermint oil.
  4. Divide the hot chocolate among mugs and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.Read more at

Appetizer Recipe – by Rachel Luoma, MS, CAE

If you ask me, appetizers are a crucial part of a meal! They provide an immediate satiation and serve to enhance the overall meal experience.  The same is true in associations.  A new member or participant is looking to receive some immediate satisfaction from the organization.  However, to keep them long term, they are going to need more from their association – like a main course perhaps.

Bacon and Ranch Deviled Eggs (Makes 24 egg halves)

1 dozen eggs
½ teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon Ranch Dressing
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
6 – 8 pieces of bacon crumbled
1 teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Place eggs in pot and add enough water to cover eggs. Bring water to rolling boil. Cover pot, remove from heat, and let eggs sit in hot water for 12 minutes. Remove from hot water and cool. TIP: I really like to have extra of the yolk mixture for the deviled eggs, so I boil 2 – 3 extra eggs for the yolks.
  2. Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise.
  3. Remove yolks from eggs, being careful not to tear the cooked egg white.
  4. Combine yolks with vinegar, ranch dressing, mayonnaise, salt, pepper. Mix together until smooth.
  5. Spoon yolk mixture into each egg half, but do not pack it in. TIP: If you want to get creative, spoon the yolk mixture into a small sandwich bag.  Cut the tip off one of the bottom corners to make a piping bag.  Gently squeeze yolk mixture into each egg half.
  6. Top with crumbled bacon. TIP: Perfect bacon is made in the oven.  However, you can save yourself some time by purchasing pre-cooked bacon crumbles too.
  7. Sprinkle with smoked paprika.
  8. Enjoy! TIP: Who needs a tip to enjoy?!


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Side Dish Recipe – by John Galligan

Advertising is a means for your group to reach out to members to provide them information about your organization and their industry. Advertisers will be other groups/businesses whose products and services are needed by your members. Offer this side to maintain a presence and a platform that can be used to recruit, retain and inform your members.

Lemon-Maple (Makes 8 servings)

4 lbs. of butternut or Calabaza squash
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1/3 cup of water
1 lemon
½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Salt and paper to taste
4 tablespoons of butter


  1. 1. Slice 4 pounds butternut or Calabaza squash into thick wedges and remove the seeds.
  2. Place cut-side up in a baking dish.
  3. Combine 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup water, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  4. Pour over the squash and dot with 4 tablespoons butter.
  5. Bake 20 minutes at 350, and then flip the squash and bake until caramelized and tender, 25 more minutes, basting halfway through.

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Main Course Recipe – by Will Lessley

Your main dish is the centerpiece of your meal. I view the main dish like membership for an association. Membership is the lifeblood of your organization and the jumping off point for all of your benefits, services and programs. Build a strong foundation with your membership and your main dish, and everything will flow from it harmoniously.

While at this time of year you may be thinking of stuffed turkeys or sugar cured ham, try this tasty deviation at your next holiday event! Tip: Pair it with your favorite red wine!

Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 beef filet steak, 8 to 10 ounces, 2 inches thick
1 piece thin bacon
1 tablespoon butter, more if needed
1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Generously salt and pepper both sides of the steak. Wrap the steak with the bacon and secure with a toothpick.
  3. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil. When melted, add the steak to the skillet and sear on both sides until a really nice color, about 1 minute per side.
  4. Remove the skillet from the stovetop and place into the oven to finish cooking. Cook until medium rare, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Dessert Recipe – by Danielle Jessup

I consider desserts to be the most essential part of a meal. They are like the encore of a performance. The rest of the meal could have been satisfactory, but if you end it with an impressive dessert, individuals are more likely to have a memorable experience as a whole.  When it comes to associations, it is important to end everything on a positive note. You want the participants to remember you, the meeting/event, etc. like a sweet taste of cake!  It can make the difference between whether your time and money was wasted or well-spent.

Perfect Chocolate Cake (28″ cake)

1 Cup Water
⅓ Cup Vegetable IMG_3047Oil
3 Large Eggs
1 box of Duncan Hines Classic Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 8 oz. Tub of Cool Whip
2 – 16 oz. Duncan Hines Buttercream Creamy Home-Style Frosting
¼ cup of Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 lb. of Fresh Strawberries (cut into halves)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F for metal or glass pans, 325°F for dark pans. Grease sides and bottom of each 8” pan with shortening spray.
  2. Blend cake mix, water, oil and eggs in a large bowl at low speed until moistened. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter in pans and bake immediately.
  3. Bake for 26-31 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool completely.
  4. Once cakes are cooled, flip one of the 8” cakes upside down on the stand/plate (flat side facing up). TIP: Dab a couple tablespoons of frosting on the stand/plate before putting down the first cake layer. This will help the cake from sliding. TIP: To release the cake from the pan without it breaking, use a spatula or knife to go around the inside of the pan to loosen to the cake from the sides.  Flip the pan over and put your hand on the top of the cake. Tap on the bottom of the pan to release the cake. TIP: If you put a piece of parchment paper on your hand, this will help the cake from sticking and you can then easily flip it to the plate/stand.
  5. Spread the tub of Cool Whip on the top of the first cake. TIP: Cool Whip will spread when you place the second cake on top so leave the outsides empty.
  6. Once the Cool Whip is on, release the second 8” cake from the pan and place on top of the Cool Whip with the flat surface down (rounded surface facing up).
  7. Icing the cake generously, top and sides. Smooth out the frosting or create any look you like.
  8. Once the cake is frosted, top with chocolate chips and cut strawberries to make the design you like.
  9. Enjoy! TIP: Cake must remain refrigerated.  Use a cake toper to keep it from getting dried out.

As we close, we hope that these ideas help elevate your holiday meal.  If you like one of these recipes, please feel free to comment on this blog or share them.  If you ever need help elevating your association or non-profit, Partners can always help.






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