Dec 28, 2010

Tip- Red

While they are on sale, pick up red napkins and red paper goods to use for Valentine's Day and for summer picnics and bar-b-ques.

Dec 22, 2010

Merry Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanza

I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa. What every you celebrate, please relax, enjoy and remember to help someone less fortunate.

I won't be posting from 23 December thru the 28th. Resume posting on the 29th.

Dec 21, 2010

New Year's Entertaining

Don't forget the party hats and noise makers.
Here are some great  sparkling wines that are fine to serve at your New Years Eve party. Be sure to include non alcoholic beverages including sparkling water, fancy juice drinks, soft drinks and bottled water
for the designated drivers.

Here are some appetizers to serve through out the evening. 

Italian White Bean Dip


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 (15 oz.) can can white beans (Northern White or Cannelloni), drained, rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil (yes you can taste the difference)


  • Peel garlic and add to the food processor and process until minced. Add beans, juice and salt, and process into a puree (smooth).
  • With processor running, slowly add olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube. Process until mixture thickens, about 1 - 2 minute.
  • Spoon into serving dish and serve as a spread for bread or crackers. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 1 cup
Pasta Salad in Martini Glasses Spoon store bought pasta salad into Martini glasses to make individual portions for guests. Serve with spoons

Shrimp Krispies from  Contessa Foods

 Contessa Foods

12 ounces Contessa Cooked Shrimp, thawed and chopped
8 ounces cream cheese
2 shallots, chopped fine
1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Wonton wrappers
Sesame seeds
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon cold water
Steps: Preheat oven to 425º F. Mix first six ingredients together until well blended. Place 1 tablespoon shrimp mixture in center of wonton wrapper. Bring corners together, twist and pinch tight. Flatten bottom. Place in baking pan, brush with water, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce made by combining soy sauce, rice wine and cold water.

Check out the Brie appetizer

Spanish Shrimp Cocktail

4 to 6 servings


  • 2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato  juice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
  • salt to taste
  • 1 ripe avocado - peeled, pitted and chopped
Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Mix all the other ingredients together except the avocado. Pour over the shrimp and stir Fold in avocado. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve in a martini glass with a salted rim. 

Check out the tip for New Year's decorations.

Dec 20, 2010

Tip - Decorations for New Years

After Christmas sales are a great time to pick up clear and silver ornaments for decorations on New Year's. Clear ornaments can be arranged to look like champagne bubbles.  Silver wrapping paper can be used for table runners and to cover boxes for lifts on the table.

Don't forget to fill in an gaps in the dish department, there are some great sales out there.

Dec 18, 2010

Baked Brie No Fuss Appetizer

Servings: 8 to 10
1 (9 by 9 and 1/2-inch) sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (8-ounce) wheel firm Brie cheese
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts or pecans
1/4 cup raspberry preserves
assorted  crackers and fruits


1.Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Roll the puff pastry into a 12-inch square on a lightly floured surface.
3. Trim the pastry to a 9-inch circle with a paring knife.
4. Brush the edges lightly with the beaten egg.
5.  Spoon preserves onto center of pastry. Place cheese on top of preserves. Sprinkle evenly with nuts.
6. Place the Brie in the center of the pastry circle and, wrap it in the pastry.
7.  Brush the exterior of the pastry with beaten egg and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
8. Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Cut pastry scraps into decorative shapes and arrange on top, if desired. Brush with egg mixture.
9. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.
10. Bake the cheese until the exterior is a deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
11. Transfer to a wire rack.
12. Cool for about 30 minutes.

Serve with crackers and sliced fruit.

Dec 17, 2010

Celebrity eggnog

Today we stray into the land of celebrity eggnog with the following links.

I love eggnog, to me it symbolizes the holidays. Don't forget to dust it with fresh nutmeg.  Enjoy.

Sides for Holiday Meals


Prep Time:5 min
Cook Time:55 min
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Serves:6 servings
4 large baking potatoes 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup milk Pinch salt and pepper 1 cup half Swiss and half cheddar cheese, grated
A couple of drops of hot sauce (optional)
Cooked bacon crumbled


  • Boil the potatoes until tender
  • Cool and slice thinly. 
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk flour into melted butter and cook over medium heat until it thickens. Whisk in the milk and stir until the mixture thickens.
  • Layer the 3 components ending with the grated cheese in a buttered 9 by 9 inch oven proof dish, Top with crumbled bacon

Dec 15, 2010

Host a Tapas Party

Tapas  is the name of a wide variety of Spanish appetizers, or snacks. These are served either cold or warm depending on the item.

With a few bottles of wine or a pitcher of Sangria (see recipe below) you can throw a tapas party that is quick and easy. 

Olives stuffed with garlic cloves are perfect right out of the bottle.


1/3 pound blanched whole almonds
1 teaspoon peanut oil

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Spread almonds in one layer in a roasting pan and roast in oven for 22 minutes. Remove, mix with oil, then mix with salt. Spread on a towel to cool, 15-20 minutes. These are best when eaten within a few hours.

Red Peppers Stuffed with Tuna Salad
1 jar roasted peppers

2 cans of oil packed tuna

Drain tuna and mix with a little mayonaise
Salt and pepper to taste. Drain peppers and stuff with tuna salad. Serve at room temperature.


1 dozen new potatoes, scrubbed

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons minced red onions

Place the new potatoes in a sauce pan and cover with water. Season the water with salt. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water up to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the eggs for 15 minutes after the heat has been reduced. Remove both potatoes and eggs from the water and shock in an ice bath. Remove the potatoes and eggs when cooled and pat dry. Using a paring knife, cut the tip of the potato off on both
sides, vertically, so the potato will stand straight up. Using a small melon baller, scoop out the center of the potatoes, leaving about a 1/8-inch shell,reserving the potato scraps. Peel and chop the eggs. In a mixing bowl, combine the reserved potato scraps, chopped eggs mayonnaise, garlic, parsley and onions. Mix thoroughly. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Season the new potato with salt and pepper. Fill each potato with the potato mixture. Garnish each potato with parsley. Yield: 12 stuffed potatoes.

Tortilla espanola makes 8-10 servings as an appetizer.


  • 1 lb shrimp, 25 count to a pound
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 oz of dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon for juice
  • 1 Baguette


This garlic shrimp recipe, makes 4 servings as an appetizer.
In a heavy frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for about one minute or until they begin to brown. Burnt garlic tastes bitter so watch the pan! Raise the heat to high and add the shrimp, lemon juice, sherry and paprika. Stir briskly until the shrimp turn pink and curl – about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer shrimp with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with fresh bread.

Try Pinchos Moruños

Dec 14, 2010

Punch and Alcoholic Beverages

Punch and Alcoholic Beverages
Looking for something different? Try this recipe for Puerto Rican eggnog

Christmas Punch recipe

1 quart of vanilla ice cream.
28 oz of Sprite, chilled.
2 cups of pineapple juice.
2 cups of orange juice.
½ cup of lemon juice.
¼ cup of honey.

Preparation Instructions:
Blend the juices and honey; and chill.

Pour the juice mixture and Sprite over small scoops of vanilla ice cream in a punch bowl, then stir until ice cream is almost dissolved.

Tequila Punch

1 quart (4 cups) tequila
4 750-ml. bottles sauterne
1 750-ml. (about 3 1/4 cups) bottle champagne
8 cups fresh fruit cubed
Chill all ingredients well before mixing.
Pour all ingredients but the fruit into a large punch bowl and sweeten to taste with simple syrup.

*Simple syrup: Heat equal parts sugar and water to boiling in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and continue cooking for just a minute or two. Cool.

Makes 40 servings or more.

Dec 13, 2010

How To Carve Your Turkey, Ham and Roast

The art of carving takes time and practice, the more you do it the easier it gets.  The links below will help you conquer that slab of meat in front of you.

Carving Beef
Videos for carving
Rules for carving

Dec 12, 2010

Tip - Holiday Table Setting

I told you that entertaining can be stress free and fun. I have gone from having 30 for Christmas dinner to two for dinner. You need to learn to go with the flow.

Great eye candy ideas for your holiday

Hors' Devours

Don't settle for cereal mixes, try something a little more grown up.

Antipasto Loaf

1  loaf of French bread
 (8 oz.)  Cream Cheese softened
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup packed in oil
drained peppers, chopped
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 lb thinly sliced salami
1/4 thinly sliced ham
1/2 cup finely chopped basil


Cut french bread  lengthwise in half. Remove soft insides from both bread halves. Spread cream cheese onto insides of bread shells. Layer salami and ham on bread.  Fill with tomatoes, peppers, Parmesan and sprinkle with chopped basil
Put on bread top; wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Bread Sticks
1 (11-ounce) container refrigerated bread stick dough
1/3cup grated Parmesan
sesame seeds to sprinkle on bread sticks (optional) 24 paper-thin slices prosciutto or ham.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. Tear the dough along the perforations into strips. Using a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife, cut each dough strip in half lengthwise to form thin strips. Roll each dough strip in the Parmesan cheese, sprinkle with sesame seeds and twist. Transfer the dough strips to the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the bread sticks are brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Cool the bread sticks completely on the baking sheet. Before serving, wrap 1 slice of prosciutto around each cooled bread stick. Arrange the prosciutto-wrapped bread sticks on a platter or stand up in a decorative container.

Small individual cheese pizzas

Individual pizzas can be topped with various items such as mushrooms, sausage, veggies and cooked.  Cut into small bite size pieces.

Dec 11, 2010

Fondue and Dips

Fiery Fondue from the Food Network Cook Time: 10 min  Ingredients
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages white Cheddar, shredded
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages Monterey Jack, shredded
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces light beer
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 chipotle chiles, minced
  • Vegetables, for dipping
  • Fruit, for dipping
  • 1 loaf bread, cubed, for dipping
In a large bowl toss together cheeses and flour.
To a 4-quart saucepan, add the beer, smashed garlic and chipotle chiles and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Whisk in cheese by the handful, making sure each addition melts before you add the next. Keep at a bare simmer. Transfer to a fondue pot and set over a low flame.
Serve with fondue accompaniments of fruits, vegetables
and bread cubes.

Cheddar, Garlic, and Zinfandel Fondue recipe from Fondue

12 ounces (4 1/2 cups) extra sharp Cheddar cheese (finely grated) 2 ounces (1/2 cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (finely grated) 1 cup Zinfandel (or another hearty red wine) 1 tablespoon corn starch 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1/4 cup roasted garlic puree (recipe below) 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS 1. In a medium saucepan, bring wine and vinegar to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Toss the Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Slowly stir in cheese mixture in small handfuls until completely melted. Stir in roasted garlic and season with pepper flakes.
3. Transfer to a cheese fondue pot and keep warm with burner. Serve right away.

Roasted Garlic Puree

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 large garlic heads in half, while trying to keep the cloves intact. Pour a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil over the cut surfaces and put the two garlic heads back together.

2. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake until the garlic is softened (40 to 50 minutes depending on size). Cloves should be a deep beige. Unwrap and let cool completely.
3. Squeeze garlic into a bowl, discarding the hulls. Mash with a fork until smooth. Use for seasoning for fondue or spread onto bread.
Tomato and Bacon Spread Ingredients:
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened, (8 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • garlic salt, to taste
  • 1 tomato, peeled & chopped
  • 6 to 8 slices cooked bacon crumbled


In a bowl, blend cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Add garlic powder and tomatoes. Add bacon to cream cheese mixture when ready to serve. Serve with party rye rounds or as a party dip.

Pizza Dip Ingredients:

  • 1 package cream cheese, softened (8oz)
  • 1 jar (14oz) favorite pizza sauce
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 6 oz sliced black olives or green
  • 2 ounces sliced pepperoni


Press cream cheese in bottom of 9-inch pie plate. Spread pizza sauce over cream cheese and layer remaining ingredients in the order listed. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Serve with slices of ciabatta bread or your favorite crackers. Serves 8 to 10.

Dec 10, 2010

Tip - Make the List for After Christmas Sales

As you go along, make a list of the items you need to fill  in your entertaining goody bag.  Watch for sale items after the holidays, to make your entertaining easier or to add a bang  to you party.


Remember you need a photo ID to mail packages through UPS and Mail Boxes Etc.

Dec 9, 2010

Glassware Warning

Be sure to read about glassware problems Shattering Glassware

Getting ready for Christmas week of party

  • Wipe down storm door and make a sign for party night inviting guests to come on in.
  • Clean and supply bathrooms.
  • Make sure you have rock  salt if you live in a cold region.
  • Shop for perishables at the end of the week
  • Get out serving dishes and china.
  • Don't forget extra ice.
  • Don't wear yourself so you don't enjoy the party

Dec 8, 2010

The Perfect Christmas Tree How To

 Have you ever wanted a perfect Christmas tree.  Follow the directions on this site and you will.

Quick Decorating Tips

Colonial Candles
Decorations shouldn’t be limited to one room. Pick up several  holiday hand towels for the powder room, maybe a small evergreen arrangements for the back of the tank. Adding small touches to each room gives a festive air. Put a glass bowl filled with ornaments in your book case, a Christmas fragrant candle (just not near food) on an end table, a cookie cutter tree in the kitchen. Look around for areas that could use a small touch. Also you can put out water goblets (empty)with small tea lights (battery operated) in them for sparkle. Check out Colonial Candles for some ideas.

Dec 7, 2010

Setting Up A Bar

Bars can be set just about anywhere there is a flat surface. Preferable where there is space for your guests to move around and not cause a traffic jam.  Pick up a cheap plastic table cloth to protect your surface, you can then cover it with a cloth to create the theme you are having for this event. Remember  a bar will give guests somewhere to congregate and get to know the other guests.

When setting up a bar, here are the basics: vodka, rum, gin, rye, scotch red and white wine. You will also need sparkling water, sodas and juices, non-alcoholic drinks and mixes.  Put out small bowls with cherries, olives and lemon slices and toothpicks for garnishes. Don't forget a cork screw for the wine, shaker for mixing, jigger and an ice bucket with tongs.

Dec 6, 2010

Dec 5, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas two weeks before party.

Finish deep cleaning. Clean out the refrigerator. Cook anything that can be frozen. Make list of perishable food items and any items still needed (linens, extra dishes). Order table decorations.

Dec 4, 2010

Tip -Alcohol

When ever you serve alcoholic beverages make sure you offer appetizers, even just cheese and crackers. Remember you are responsible for the safety of your guests.

Dec 3, 2010

Quick Appetizers

Here are a handful of links to some quick and easy appetizers:

This site has appetizers broken down by category, Not to be missed Great appetizers

As I come across more appetizers I will post them. Sorry for the late start yesterday, computer problems.

Spiced Nuts


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/8 teaspoon clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts (combination of almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts) What ever you like.


Prep Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
  1. Select power high.
  2. In a 2 quart microwave safe dish combine sugar, water and spices.
  3. Heat 1 to 1 1/2 minutes til sugar is melted.
  4. Stir in nuts.
  5. Place nuts on a microwave safe plate heat on high for 3 1/2 minutes or until syrupy.
  6.  Be careful to spread the nut mixture evenly on the plate and watch closely not to burn.
  7.  Place nuts on wax paper to cool completely.
  8. Break into pieces store in air tight container.

Dec 2, 2010

Tip - KISS

Keep it simple: Serve the number of people you can comfortably accommodate. Convenience foods can be a life saver. Your menu  should have some make-ahead recipes as well as a few last minute items.

Dec 1, 2010

Dessert Buffet

Looking for an  easy entertaining party? Invite your guests to a dessert buffet.  This can be as simple or as elaborate as you want.

First choose a date a couple weeks in advance so your guests can reserve the date. Next decide on a menu.  Your holiday decorations will help set the theme for your party.  Finger food will make this easy. If you are having a large group, use sturdy holiday styrofoam plates and heavy paper napkins. Makes for easy stress free fun.  Concentrate on the food.

Design your tablescape and make your table have several different levels (staggering heights) makes your food look more appetizing. Use cake stands, clear blocks or use sturdy boxes covered with Christmas wrap.

Beverages can be mulled wine, a large punch bowl filled with a bright red beverage or coffee. Offer a variety of cupcakes, assorted cookies, petite fours, brownies, and mini cheesecakes. Put bowls of wrapped candies on the table to fill out the menu.

All the food can be made or purchased before the party so you will be able to relax and enjoy your guest.

Things You'll Need:

  • Styrofoam Plates
  • Napkins
  • Glasses
  • Styrofoam Cups
  • Coffee Pot
  • Creamer
  • Sugar - Sugar Substitute
  • Stir Sticks 
  • Desserts

Tip - Less is really more

Less is really more. Take time to enjoy the holidays and your own parties.  Your guests are here to see you.