Monday, December 31, 2012

Be Daring In The New Year

This is the time for resolutions.Most go for a better and heather dietOthers vow to give up certain foods.Why not be different and be daring?Make 2013 the year of trying new and interesting dishes . There are so many different foods and cuisines out there that's it's easy to explore.If you're tired of Chinese, then go for Thai or Malaysian. the food dissimilar but there are differences that give the cuisines zing. African cuisine is always an adventure and you can always get any recipes on line if you don't live near a major city.Arabian food itself is welcome change with it's rich lamb dishes and exotic couscous. Sometimes it's just a matter of changing up a recipe. Instead of the usual pizza, try one with shrimp or duck. Add a huge dash of hot pepper to your sauces for a spicy arrabiata.Switch from regular hamburgers to emu or bison for a leaner but tastier treat. try exotic grains or classic ones like quinoa or millet for a different mix up.Use more sauces if you don't already.Vary your veggies too for excitement. add asparagus and artichokes to your salads. Be fun and daring this New Year. See cooking and eating as new adventures. it'll heat up your kitchen and spice up your life!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Healthy Party Snacks

With New Year's around the corner , most people will be making a variety of different treats.Unfortunately the can be laden with calories ,salts and sweets. the answer is having tasty yet healthy party snacks. Crackers are always a good starter. instead of the buttery rich kind think the Swedish flat brods and Japanese rice crackers, You can top with chopped cucumber along with salmon. bruschetta is also healthy, because it uses simply tomatoes garlic and olive oil on thin slices of Italian bread. take away the cheese to strip it of calories. Hot hors d'ouevres can also be both tasty and healthy. try rice nests stuffed with anchovies and veggies.You can also fill then with tuna too. mini whole wheat pizzas are also a healthy treat too.You can use soy cheese which is much healthier along with toppings of chicken, and eggplants. if yours is a more Oriental theme then think spring rolls whack are light fun and crispy. let your guests feast on healthy but tasty fare.Mhake treat a that not only taste good but are good for them.It a nice way to indulge without the calories and fat.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday Detox

After weeks of goodies and more treats to come it's nice to have a day or two of food detox.Putting a cap on your diet can 've a good and healthy thing. you get away from the rich and decadent holiday grub.Your body will feel better and so will you. Consider starting with simple meals. Have a breakfast of hot oatmeal mixed with sliced apples and cinnamon. another simple breakfast is scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast. As for lunch, kiss good bye to rhose lush holiday noon meals. simple turkey salad or even an avocado and tomato on whole wheat.Broth and crackers are another smart choice too. dinner can be grilled chicken or salmon with aside of asparagus or green beans. keep the drinks to a scant minimum as well. holiday snacking can be the worst. This is cookie season where those little fat bombs abound.Instead of reaching for a handful, reach for a handful of grapes. these are high in iron which help in preventing colds and flus. pineapple is another sweet treat that healthy.Salty snacks are also putinfull force too. stick with almonds which are the best along with walnuts. if you want salty and crunchy nix the chips. eat pretzels and even celery for crunch. take sometime out from the holiday richness. Have a day of detoxing from those holiday goodies,You 'll feel better.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday Luxuries Caviar And Champagne

This is the time of year when snacking on  caviar and champagne seems completely normal. Why not?Christmas week and New Year's Eve and day are the perfect time for indulging in these rich treats. There's nothing like a nibble of caviar washed down with a bubbly based punch and cocktail.

Both these culinary gold standards were the topics of articles in yesterday's New York Times DIning section. Dave Tanis of City Kitchen  wrote about blini, those light and delectable Russian pancakes topped with caviar . Blinis(the plural) can be topped with anything from fruit to lox  however spreading caviar on them takes them to a whole new level.Like any pancake they are easy to make,using buckwheat flour  eggs and water. with the eggs being separated so the whites give them a fluffy texture. Caviar can be pricy however., Domestic can cost as much as $70 an ounce. Fo cheaper varieties try salmon or even trout roe(although even herring and lox would just as well) which are just as delicious and even lighter in taste

What would work well with this dish? A champagne cocktail,Robert Simonson., a newcomer to the Dining section revitalizes old fashoned champagne punch recipes. These were popular over a century ago during New York's Giulded Age (think Edith Wharton).A strawberry cobbler is a great twist on a fruity cocktail. It; just is a strawberry  along with a lemon wheel and simple syrup added to champagne.You can also try an Andean Dusk made with Peruvean grappa, Pisco .For something tamer (and something that will go with the caviar and blini) try a Champagne Julep. This is bourbon , simple syrup and champagne graced with mint leaves. You could also try the suggested Mayfair Delight which has the freshness of cucumber and lemon juices mixed with Cognac and fresh ginger along with agave nectar for sweetening.A caveat though, use a brut champagne. A sweet one will only turn the punch into soda pop.

Nothing beats a glam dish like caviar and champagne. Treat yourself to these lush foods. Now is the perfect time t indulge in them.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Indulgent Truffles

This is the time of year for rich foods and wonderful treats. Truffles, those aromatic mushrooms definitely fall into that category. If you;re lucky to live in or near a big city such as New York  you can easily buy them. They are a lush addition to any dish.

The fungi were the subject of an extensive article in today's New York Times Dining section. The piece was written by newcomer Eugenia Bone.Truffles re usually found in the Piedmont region of Northwestern Italy how lucky are my relatives who live there!).However they can also be found in the Pacific Northwest in such places as Oregon and also , surprisingly enough the Southern US where the Pecan truffle proliferates.They are still expensive, no matter where they 're grown, Truffles are hard to  raise, hence the exorbitant prices. They can go up to $350 an ounce.

Most good groceries and gourmet stores sell truffles, including the Piedmontese ones. However the smell and taste dissipate after a few days. This is due to  the mushroom being past its; prime.Also most buyers also have the trouble of buying the wrong ones. What they wanted for a particular dish  is mostly the wrong oneThere are about six different varieties of the plant.The Perigord and the Burgundy truffles are probably the most desired because of their respected flavors.Sometimes the truffles are packed with salt rice and flour, with the intention of their aroma getting absorbed by these mediums.It doesm;t work, The consumer winds up with an flavorless fungi surrounded by just rice ,salt, and flour.

Truffles are a decadent holiday treat. If you have extra cash buy yourself an ounce or two. Enjoy them anyway you can.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Feast Heartily And Joyously

Ti all my readers feast joyously today! Celebrate with egg nog or rum punch! Enjoy that cr own roast or turkey!Pray for those who need love and food!Happy Christmas to.all my foodies worldwide! Liz

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve And Sauce

Right now I'm in the middle of making a vegan Bolognese sauce. you read right. a vegan one with soy meat crumbles. I t will go with the already made ravioli and fennel salad. this is what I love about Christmas Eve, the fact that most of the world celebrates with centuries old family recipes. it laso means celebrating with special foods and sweets, usually deemed too special for everyday fare.It could be thirteen fishes in honor of Apostles or a prime rib to set off family gathering.All in in it's a time to celebrate one's faith and family .Food is the best way of doing this. Have a good holiday.Enjoy the joy as well as the foods of the season.Remember why we rejoice for our Lord's Birth. As for me, it's time to get back to the sauce.It's really a special meal for a special night.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Holiday Cooking Battle Zone

The next couple of weeks is going to be hard on any home cook. There are big holiday dinners  along with get togethers. Then there's dealing with everyone being at home and them expecting to be fed.It can wreck havoc even on the hardiest of home cooks. It pays to be prepared and to have some R & R for yourself too.

Cooking the Christmas meal can be daunting. It's the biggest holiday, outside of Easter, and there are so many expectations that come with it. How to get through it? Byy taking a deep breath. See the cooking as a marathon. Prepare by buying the food and having family and even friends aid in prepping. Another is sticking to tried and true recipes. This is not the time to try anything new on your tablemates. Play it safe with the dishes you know you excel in. Also have help later on for table cleaning and dish washing. This saves you the worry of dealing with a sinkful of pots and pans.

As for having smaller parties, again planning and list making are the keys to a problem free gathering. The best bet here isn't a sit down dinner but an antipasto buffet and trays of hot and cold hors d'ouevres. Many stores like Target and WalMart sell boxes of already made mini quiches and spinach puffs.These are a huge help for any busy cook.What about dealing with family staying over? Leftovers.That Christmas turkey can be turned into sandwiches for days.If you have any plain cake or pannetone , dip into egg and transform it into a new kind of French toast.Also have plenty of eggs for family brunches.Have them eat at eleven AM and they won't be hungry till seven.Also those antipasto meats and cheeses along with salads make excellent heroes. S is the season of heavy duty cooking time.You can get through it with relative ease. Just chill

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Cooking - Your Battle Plan

Christmas is only a few days away and it's time to put your battle plan for cooking into action. It's time to write out lists and check them twice to make sure your holiday dinner goes perfectly. Also no matter where you are in the world, you should be planning and plotting what you'll be doing from the first chore to washing dishes.Being completely prepared helps to create a smoother ,less stressful Christmas dinner.

By now you should have your turkey,ham or crown roast (or whatever you 're going to make on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day).For those serving fish on Christmas Eve , you can buy some fresh fish the day of cooking. Also make sure you have nut crackers for cracking crab legs or lobster.Root veggies should also have been bought already too. Make sure your spice rack is well stocked and you have what you want as far as dried herbs and condiments.Also double check to see if you have the right amount of pots and pans for cooking. Check to see if your oven and appliances are up to speed too.

Desserts are a little easier . By now you should have made your cookies and they should be all set to be baked or decorated.Cakes should be baked either tomorrow or Sunday for the big day. If you;re making cream pies, then do so either Christmas Eve Day or Christmas morning. If you;re settling on a simple ending of fruit and cheese , then you can buy those tomorrow. Both will keep. As for wine and champagne, again, you can buy tomorrow. Punches can be made the day of serving. They taste better when they're made an hour or two before serving.

Many hate holiday cooking because they feel it's too overwhelming. It doesn't have to be if you have a game plan.Be prepared. That's all it takes to have a wonderful Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Tamales

Christmas foods are always traditional no matter where you are in the world. It certainly is true in the Latin America  where centuries old dishes are brought out to every one's delight. In this case it's the tamale,  standard fare in any Western meal .It's made special with different ingredients and a lot of love.

It was the topic of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. The piece , written by newcomer, Fernanda Santos, explores this Latin.Tamales are a big part of Latinos holiday fare and also everyday fare.They truly are an American food, their origins dating well before Columbus where for centuries; before him various tribes were making different types of corn rolled baked in clay pots. The premise is easy .Tamales are a stuffed corn based roll, wrapped in parchment or corn husks and steamed. With practice anyone can make them.

Tamales vary fron country to country, Mexicans like theirs stuffed with pork or beef although chicken is also preferred too.Along the Mexican Gulf Coast, in Tabasco, the husks are filled with garfish. In Oaxaca ,it;s chicken with a spicy chocolate based mole sauce, Venezuela also has this tradition however they sweeten their fillings with raisins along with olives. The meat of choice there is pork. The Brazilians have something similar too filled with cheese and meat.Most beginners usually stick with a simple beef tamale and a tomato sauce made with cumin and chiles.

Tamales are a part of the Christmas feasting tables as any roast or ham, They can  be made in the traditional style or according to the region. They're a different and tasty way of celebrating a holiday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Whelks A Holiday Tradition

Whelks are normally not part of the greater holiday table. Yet they can be a  different addition to a meal, whether formal or informal. These sea snails can be eaten either with a delicate or hearty sauce and a great introduction to traditional holiday  seafood dishes .Seafood lovers will adore them ,Even those who are iffy  will come to appreciate their delicate briny taste and texture.

Whelks were the big topic of an article in today's New York Times Dining section. Florence Fabricant,a Dining regular contributed this piece , full of ideas and recipes. They're becoming popular again thanks to oyster farmers growing them for variety.  The sea snails are already a popular Christmas Eve dish with southern Italians. This is scungille, served always  as part of the thirteen fish dinner on that day. It's made with a peppery tomato sauce and then served with pasta., usually spaghetti.They come either big or small, however the larger whelks tend to be pinker in color and chewier.

What else can you make with whelks besides scungille. Since they are snails, they can be served with a garlic laced butter and parsley sauce as a starter. Ms. Fabricant also gives a whelk chowder recipe that's sort of reminiscent of New England clam chowder. Here the sea sails are mixed with bouquet garni along with potatoes and milk in a creamy soup, perfect for winter days, Whelks are big in England where they're simply boiled and eaten with bread and butter. However a better way would be with a garlicky butter sauce an crusty French or Italian bread for dipping.

Whelks are a holiday dish  that can be served a variety of ways. Try them as scungille in a peppery tomato sauce or with a delicate butter and parsley broth. You can also add them to a chowder or just have them plain with bread and butter, English style, Enjoy these treats from the sea any delicious way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mei Fun Holiday Fun

If you're looking for a different holiday fun  try mei fun those thin Chinese noodles from southern part of the country . They're a different spin on traditional pasta dinners so many serve at get togethers. What is also great is that it's easy to make  - which is perfect for a crowd. Whip it up and the sit down and enjoy with your guests.

Mei fun is made with super thin rice noodles similar to vermicelli.You can use vermicelli if there's no Oriental market nearby,.Instead of boiling , though they  are stir fried in a wok or skillet, usually with peanut or grape seed  oil.Singapore style requires curry, which is a nice spicy change. Most people like sliced chicken in theirs . Beef and pork are also popular too. If you want and have the time you can make two different meats. Fish also can be cooked into the noodles. For a fun ,lush dish combine shrimp and lobster chunks for a seafood mei fun.

Mei fun also requires veggies. Here you can vary them to suit tastes. Most mei funs, no matter what the main ingredient, usually add broccoli and snow peas. You can also add carrots along with celery . Water chestnuts are a neat, crunchy add and give the dish some texture. You can also toss in some spinach ribbons (spinach cut into thin strips) as well as julienned zucchini, Of course you can also make a vegetable mei fun for the vegans in your life too. You need to add eggs too for binding, because it's a little more concentrated than just a simple pasta dish. Some recipes also call for brown sugar or honey. What you add is up to your tastes.

Mei fun is a fun dish for any holiday party. It can be made either simply or elaborately , depending on how you decide to make it. Either way , the dish is a neat holiday party main meal that everyone will enjoy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rethinking Squash

Squash is everywhere this time of  year. You can get it in whole , in ripe globes and cubed in luscious cubes. It;s a perfect side to any meat. from ham to turkey to even seafood. It's also a rich in betacarotene and antioxidants which is a plus in this decadent season of rich nutrient empty foods  . best of all it's one of the most versatile to cook.

If you;re new to cooking squash  then start with the already  peeled cubes. This saves prep time as well as deseeding it and dealing with that mess.The best bet is cooking the cubes in boiling water. This usually just twenty minutes  or until the pieces are tender. If you want a creamy mash4ed side, add a half cup of either whole cream or for a lighter dish , milk along with two to three tablespoons of butter.You can also add margarine or vegan butter for a healthier twist. These cubes can also be baked. and then drizzled with melted butter and sea salt.

You can also use whole squash as a side  too. This requires either baking or even microwaving. The last is the easiest, especially if you're cooking a few other sides. One acorn squash can take up four and a half minutes., unstuffed.. Whole squash does take more prep time. It's just s matter of scooping  out the seeds and possible making slits in the gourd's flesh for better cooking. One you've done that you can think about what you want to do. Most just add some butter or olive oil along with just salt and freshly ground pepper.Rice is usually preferred, mostly a wild rice mixed with nuts and herbs.

Squash is a great holiday side. You can  use cubes or entire squashes  to create healthy tasty dishes . It's tasty and flavorful as well as being versatile.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Holiday Feast In Eight Hours

The holidays are a time of great feasting and partying. Tomorrow's New York Times Sunday magazine has a great party prep how to regarding a holiday dinner.Thanks to Times food gurus Mark Bittman and Sam Sifton , anyone can make a lush mea from appetizers to dessertsl in just eight hours.

This is a spoiler alert for tomorrow's Times however as soon as you get the paper tear it out or printit it. I like the variety of different flavors and foodsThere is lobster along with chicken liver on toast for lush holiday tastes and texture.To balance it ou there the the simple poached pears and the refreshing chopped herbs.Another simple yet delicious dish is the roast chicken with lemons. Both it and the lobster can be served with roasted root vegetables. these are winter veggies such as parsnips,potatoes, and carrots. There are celebrity asides too. Everyone from Joan Rivers to Marlo Thomas has suggestions about entertaining.Al Roker also has advice on eating at parties( eat nothing but vegetables,limit the good stuff such as pigs in blankets. Marcus Samuelssen ,the great chef, weighs in on how to pick a good cheese for a holiday table. he recommends both soft and hard to serve with figs and dates.There are also good holiday decorating tips as well as how toss when working with helpers. IF you're planning on a holiday feast ,use tomorrow's Sunday New York Times as your guide. It"s a great how to guide ,chock full of recipes and advice. Definitely cut it out and save, not just for this season but for many other holiday seasons ahead.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Genvieve's An Old Fashioned Candy Store

There's nothing like an old fashioned candy store, especially at the holidays' It's a travel back in time where treats were hand dipped and stirred  in copper kettles.This is the case of Genvieve's a sixty eight year old institution in Garfield, New Jersey. It has given the community some of the best local choclates for three generations.

Garfield, New Jersey is a gritty mill town on the local Passaic River with a long history.A place like Genvieve's stands out definitely. It is a sweet , old fashoned storefront decked out in curtains, much like what you see in old movies. The smell is reminiscent of an old fashioned candy store, redolent of freshly made chocolate,.What I like  about it is that there's a wide array of old fashioned candies such as chocolate covered cherries, flavored cremes and caramels.You can find the rare gems such as rum balls and brittle. There are also chocolate pops and holiday themed chocolate balls s. The candy doesn't disappoint.Genvieve's milk chocolate mini Santas are rich and creamy.They are what candy should taste like ,especially now at the holidays. it was smooth without the usual waxy taste most associated with mass produced chocolates.I would definitely try the cherries the next visit as both the milk and dark chocolate dipped pretzels. of course homemade brittle is always good too,andI 'm sure that Genvieve's uses fresh butter in making it's crunch. Garfield , New Jersey is an old fashioned town.Family businesses go back three and even four. Generations.Genvieve's is no different.For sixty eight years it has been producing some of the finest candy in the Southern Bergen county area.It is a true old fashioned gem ,producing those rare jewels homemade chocolates.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Good Holiday Choux

Holiday parties are nothing without fancy croquembouche or cheese puffs. However the key to both successful ones starts with a good choux paste. Don't panic though because of the name .It may sound fancy and French however the dough is simple to make.

It was the topic of David Tanis' A City Kitchen  in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.He has had experience in making the paste simply called pate a is made with a water , butter, flour and a few eggs.It's basically melting butter and water together  and then adding white flour followed b y a few eggs for color.It is then allowed to cool and put into a pastry bag. You can also use envelopes surprisingly, along with sandwich bags  for piping. If you're making cream puffs, then nix the bag,Use a tablespoon instead for a more rounded ,fuller puff.

What to stuff into a choux puff?Mr. Tanis recommends having them with a light sweetened cream  and then topped with confectioner's sugar.Another version required just pearlized sugar sprinkled on them before baking. However you can also fill them with a variety of puddings for a fun croquembuche.Choux puffs also make good hors d'ouevres. Have them cold with lobster or crab salad  or a tasty Gruyere . For cheese and even meat choux pieces  you can bake them in the oven again. Even though it was suggested you can also have dipping sauces too.

Choux puffs are a wonderful holiday addition to any table. Have them stuffed with salads,meat or cheese  for a tasty appetizer or with puddings and creams for a fancy dessert. They give a certain sophistication to any party or gathering

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


This is the time for a hearty wassail punch. It's an ancient British  custom that's  been around for centuries and influenced holiday punches around the world. What is it exactly and why is it so important to the Yuletide tradition?

This is  was the topic of an article in the New York Times Dining section today. The piece, written by Rosie Schaap tells of her Anglophile's addiction to this holiday punch. It's basically a fruit drink ,made with both hard an d soft cider along with Madeira for sweetness and ale for kick. Spices are added as they were hundreds of years ago.There are also spices such as cloves and allspice for bite. Some add orange or lemon peels for a refreshing citrussy taste and smell.

Wassail is a relatively easy have fun with.All you need is a punch bowl and some creativity.It is nice to have the alcoholic version however you can also make a tee totaler's one using apple juice and soft or non alcoholic cider. Wassail calls for whole sliced apples too . You can use any kind really however the honey crisp are the best Some also call for pineapple however that's your decision as is the decision  for eggs added too. Some other punches, usually cream based do call for this last t give it body however it can birder into egg nog territory.

Wassail is a fun tradition . Try it however you want , whether traditional or with twists. It's a fun way to bring in the holidays.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Theme Parties

Holiday parties can be exciting. You can spend time in Mexico, Italy, possibly even Israel or China/ How can this be ? By hosting a food themed party. This is always fun and it 's a bit different than the usual holiday party fare.

First of all pick a cuisine that you know your guests will like. This is not the time to spring something too exotic on unwitting guests. Usually Mexican or Italian is always a good bet because they're both popular and tasty.Also it's relatively easy to cook any of the dishes. People love tacos and tortillas and you can make them with a variety of meats from chicken to beef. You can also throw a spin into it by adding fish or pork too. End with Mexican hot cocoa with a dash of Kahlua. Italian food can be  great too. Think of having a sophisticated Roman meal complete with the tasty stracciatella soup and a fritto misto, a tempura like mixed of cod fish and different vegetables.

Of course you can also have an Israeli Hanukkah too.These are not just latke but also foods that reflect the Middle East influence, There are lamb kabobs or shishlik which can be easily grilled inside or outside, along with hummus served on pita bread. You can finish with the traditional jelly doughnuts or sufganiyot. Chinese food is another exotic cuisine that's party friendly. Instead of the traditional egg rolls try pork and shrimp dumplings or crab rangoon for appetizers.Sesame chicken on skewers is also good too.You can also set up hot pots , literally Chinese fondue for guests to share and mingle.

Holiday themed parties are a fun way to celebrate.It;s also a neat way of introducing guests to exotic dishes and fun cuisines.Think of it as a night of travel and culinary adventure.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Bring Alongs

This is the time of year when most guests are required to bring some kind of dish to a party or pot luck dinner. The big question is what to bring - hot or cold - sweet or savory?What goes best at a tree trimming party or at a church supper? There are so many choices. It is easy to choose.

Most cooks and bakers  usually go with their strengths. This makes sense because they know exactly how it should be and can make or bake it practically blindfolded. If you're new to the game. then stick with something simple.A salad can make a nice bring along dish. Try something fun like an avocado and celery mix for something different. If you want try a chef salad with different cheeses and meats.Another easy cold dish is an antipasto platter . You can add everything from prosciutto wrapped around bread sticks to artichoke hearts. Bring along small bottles of a simple oregano or rosemary dressing to pour over the different foods.

for hot dishes ,nothing beats a casserole. These can be anything and everything from an elaborate three or tier lasagna, complete with sausage, hard boiled eggs and ham, Baked mac is another good casserole dish that can have layers of bacon added for extra flavor. Chili is another good bring along . It;s easy to make and can go with anything from rice to cornbread.It's also fun to eat. For sides think candied yams or the classic French green bean bake.Both are pretty simple to make and then reheat. If the hostess is serving a roast think about making stuffing as a nice treat.Remember to get an estimate of how many people will be there and adjust your recipes accordingly.You may have to make two or three dishes of the same recipe to fit the needs of the crowd.

Holiday bring alongs can be fun. They're a great way of showing off your talent as a cook, They're also a great way of trying new recipes and enjoying new dishes,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Foodie s Day Off

sorry everyone for not posting. sadly I could not get out of bed, due to something I ate. Everything will be back to normal tomorrow.In the meantime get ready for the holidays. shop Smart Mart

Friday, December 7, 2012

Your Party Check List

Anyone planning a holiday party right now should have a check list. Good hosts and hostesses should have their pantries and fridges well stocked along with having actual lists to check twice.yet many don;t know what to get or to stock up on, especially novice party givers. What should be bought already? What should be snapped up last minute? Here's a guide to let you know what you should have and should buy in the weeks to come.

Any short list should have frozen hors d'ouevres. Mini quiches should be bought already as tiny taquitos and puffs. This saves you from going out last minute to get them. The second thing should be alcohol along with canned fruit juice for punches.Stock up on the last when your local store puts them on sale. As time get closer to your do, then think about getting the meats and cheeses . You can easily freeze wings along with sliders This is also the time to get anything jarred or canned like gherkins and olives for antipasto platters.

The day before or of the party think about getting all the fresh ingredients.This is the time to buy all the fresh veggies for salads and any meats for grilling. (although if you have a freezer you can store the meats there beforehand for a few days).You can also make any dips the day too because the main ingredient , sour cream does have a short shelf life. If you're not baking cookies, then buy cookies and cakes that day too.Get any sweet beforehand and it could be stale within a day or two.

Holiday party  time is here and with it comes a list of what to buy for the big wingding. Keep a list of what you have bought and need to buy. Stagger trips to the grocery market to ensure that you're not overwhelmed. It makes for easier planning and prepping.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Gift Ideas

The New York Times always has the best columns on gift giving.Go to their Thursday Style section and get neat ideas on clothing and makeup. Check out their Sunday Style section for  everything from jewelry to stationery . The same holds true for yesterday's Wednesday's Dining section. They offer great ideas from gadgets to cookbooks. There are suggestions from all the Dining contributors for any kind of foodie, from the creative to the gourmand,

You can never go wrong with a book or even a cooking magazine. The Dining section has some excellent ideas. Julia Moskin recommends the new ChopChop which is the perfect gift for any young chef.It comes quarterly and is only $14.95 a subscription. For those who like autobiographies try Marcus Samuelsens's novel Yes Chef. There is also the rare poetry book on food entitled.The Hungry Ear. Give any of these with a great snack, Red Kite's Candy Company toffee crunch and salted caramels (again recommended by Julia Moskin) or the lush panettone made by the top designer Giorgio Armani(!)

Gadgets and food are always appreciated.Jane Black offers up a sleek retro style toaster that not only toasts but also defrosts too. There is also a bagel setting that keeps the inside warm but maintains the crusty exterior, A suribachi, a Japanese version of a mortar and pestle is also suggested by A City Table's Dave Tanis. This is good for making everything from ground basil to garlic paste. Foods such as smoked okra or smokra is mentioned and actually would make a nice hostess gift as Jennifer Steinhauser suggests. There are also cherries and ginger (not together) that would be great presents as well.

Leave it to The New York Times Dining section to come up with some great gift ideas. Check out the Times website for the whole list. You'll get so many ideas for those foodies in your life.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A New Flip On Latkes

Hanukkah is the time for traditional recipes such as latkes. These potato pancakes have been associatd with the Festival of Lights for well over a century. Yet there is a whole new generation that want this standard but want it with a twist. Luckily , like any recipe it can be tweaked and updated.

Revamped potato pancakes were the subject of Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite column in today's New York Times Dining section. She changes them to be not only hip but tasty as well. Most traditional latke recipes calls for a crisply fried potato pancake that is topped with either applesauce or sour cream.Sometimes it's a combo of the two together. However she zings some different ingredients in it. There is Swiss chard along with celery root parsnip shreds added to create an earthier fritter.

As for toppings Ms Clark decides to switch  it up a bit. She does recommend sour cream but also a small slice of lox for a burst of flavor. There is also a topping made with beets, yogurt and garlic. This is made with the low cal  but sinfully thick Greek yogurt  for a nice thick creaminess. The beets are mixed with garlic and walnuts  along with dill and horseradish. It can also be used as a dip for raw veggies too. If the beets are too much then just add the garlic and olive oil along with the yogurt. This to is Israeli style and makes for a smoother topping.

Latkes are a true tradtion that has been enjoyed for generations. Spark it up by subbing in different root veggies to add some zest. Then add an unusual topping or stick with the usual sour cream or applesauce for extra flavor.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winter Salads

Even though it's December you can still have a nice salad.It's a great alternatie to the usual hot soup or sandiwch fare most are eating.Besides there's nothing like a refreshing cool dish to revive you after a morning of X-mas shopping or after a  night of heavy eating.A homemade salad is a great perk during this season.

Salads can be made with a variety of different ingredients or just one. This is the season for cabbages and they can be shredded into a tasty main dish, If you want to make it more substantial, then added shredded cooked chicken along with water chestnuts .This is also the season for avocadoes.Use them, not in guacamole but a simple , refreshingsalad  where they're cubed and dressed with a vinaigrette.Another winter favorite, celery  can also be treated the same way as can be fennel. You can also mix these two for a tasty salad. Mixed salads are also good, Add some canned veggies such as corn niblets, string beans and beets.

What kind of dressing goes well with a cold weather salad? You can always go with a mayo based one.You many want to rethink that though if you feel heay and bloated after all those holiday buffets.A simple dressing is always the best because it brings out the veggie's sharp, earthy  flavors
have simple mixes of just olive oil blend with a red wine or apple cider vinegar.Toss in a small pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.You can add some dried Rosemary or oregano if you want more taste. Even though it's the holidays , you can still indulge in a cool light salad.It's great antedate to all those hot , heavy holiday meals. Having greens now makes perfect sense, and a perfect alternative during these crazy days.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fun Holiday Snacks

The Christmas party goer does not live on drinks alone. There are also nibbles and bites that keep them happy and dancing throughout the season. It could be something as small as a handful of nuts or dried beans or a plate of hot appetizers. Whatever you serve , it will always be the right treat to go with the champagne or egg nog.

There's nothing like a handful of nuts to go with any holiday drink. Most hosts and hostesses have served smoked almonds for decades. These are still good and healthy but you can switch it up a bit. Try flavored pecans or walnuts. Pour a mix of melted butter and different spices over them and roast for five to ten minutes.Edamame is another fun party bite. These can already be bought dried or can be served steamed with a side of soy -ginger sauce. You can also  do the same thing with green peas. Sprinkle frozen peas with oil and sea salt and bake for an hour.Add some cayenne pepper for some punch and heat.

Parties can also have bigger nibbles. Bruschetta and crostini are always good and they go well with every thing from champagne to wine. Bruschetta is just Italian bread thinly sliced and topped with a chopped tomato and oil mix.  Crostini is just the same thing, except the bread is toasted and drizzled with olive oil, With both you cna have fun by adding meat such as salame or mortadella or even crumbled Italian sausage and some grated Parmesan or shredded mozzarella. Mini quiches are also great right now as are hot phyllo puffs. The last can be labor intensive. You can always buy a few boxes of them already made.

Parties always require some knd of nibble to offset the various drinks and punches. You can go big or go small, dpending on the amount of people you have. You can even mix it up, with havign just nibbles and bigger bites together for a really fun time.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Treats In Your MailBox

Your mailbox should be swamped right now with all sorts of holiday food catalogs. The treats are amazing  and would make wonderful gifts. However you can also use them to furbish your holiday dinner and party tables. There;s literally everything from nuts to tortes. An elegant party meal can be created just by a few taps on the phone or I Pad(along with speedy deliveries from UPS).

One of the best catalogs to order from is Figi's This is  one of the gold standards of catalogs and has everything to supply a meal. For a holiday cocktail party order their cheese spreads which come in a wide variety of flavors. There are also a few packages that have crackers and pretzels in them too,There are also cheese logs and tortes which would look great on any coffee table .They also have sausage logs too, perfect for slicing up. For main meals you can't beat Chicago Steakl or Omaha Steaks.These have smoked turkeys, hams and fish  as well as a good variety of steak cuts.Omaha steaks also has sides ,from yams to stuffing.

You'll never have to worry about ordering desserts on line. There are a huge amount of sites that offer homemade cookies , pies and tortes.>Mrs Fields is always a good one to start with, especially if you;re looking for a nice cookie platter.For fancier treats such as petit fours think of Figi's again.They have the traditional and carrot cake. For macarons think of a candy company. Atlantic City's famed Fralinger's Candy Company offers these French treats alongside of their famed candies.For a little healthier, try Edible Arrangements for chocolate drenched fruits.These alwso make wonderful centerpieces too for your holiday dessert table.

A lush holiday table is just a tap away. You cna have your whole party or dinner delivered to your doorstep with no fuss and no muss.It's easy and a present to yourself