What's your favorite serving platter? Do you offer food on wooden cutting boards?
Porchetta takes a couple of hours to roast, but it's guaranteed to fill the house with a wonderful porky rosemary fragrance. To ensure that you get the correct cut, ask your butcher if he carries it a week before you plan on cooking the pork. With its succulent and well-seasoned meat, the resulting pork is a real crowd-pleaser. Read ahead for the highly-recommended porchetta recipe.
Now that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday countdown officially begins. There are exactly 33 days left in the calendar year, and if you haven't started planning your holiday party yet, pick an evening and invite friends over for some good eats, delicious drinks, and general merriment! From an ugly sweater party to a classic cookie swap, we've got 10 awesome ideas, complete with menu suggestions, drink recipes, and decorating tips, to inspire you.
All you have to do is pulse the crackers with butter and sugar until the mixture is fine and moist. Then you press into a pie pan, bake, and voila! Pie crust is ready for any type of filling. Now the only thing you have to worry about is what to fill it with.
This recipe is quite versatile — don't limit yourself to just graham crackers. For the recipe and more variation ideas, keep reading.
- Start by making all of the appetizers vegetarian. Serve things like baked goat cheese and crackers, olives, and nuts. Your meat-eating family and friends won't turn these down.
- When it comes to the sides, offer a variety of meat-less dishes. If you're cooking the stuffing inside the bird, set aside some for the vegetarians and bake in a gratin dish.
- Use vegetarian stock. One of the biggest mistakes people make when cooking for vegetarians is forgetting about the stock.
Since so much thought, time, and preparation goes into making the Thanksgiving meal I think it's important to properly set the table. From the utensils to the water glass, it can be hard to remember where everything goes. That's why I've put together this helpful slideshow — learn how to create an elegant place setting now.
- They're healthy. Anchovies are full of fatty acids that can help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease. They're also a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins E and D.
- They're sustainable. Although anchovies have been overfished in the past, they are currently a better choice when it comes to seafood that is sustainable.
- They add lots of flavor. Anchovies add a salty, nutty, umami-like quality to everything from pasta to pizza. When cooked down into a sauce or other dish, anchovies have an incredibly mild but rich flavor.
- You've had them before, you just didn't know it! Chances are, you've eaten anchovies on more than one occasion and you didn't realize you were eating them. Anchovies are a comment ingredient in Worcestershire sauce and other prepared fish sauces. They are also found in many Caesar salad dressings as well as tapenade and green goddess dressing.
Ready to experiment with anchovies? Use them in this fast and easy pasta dish!
Source: Flickr User stu_spivack
Crostini translates to "little toasts" and generally refers to small pieces of bread that are baked. These toasts are then topped with a variety of ingredients like cheese, vegetables, meat, or seafood.
Bruschetta, on the other hand, is a larger piece of bread that is cooked over coals or a grill. Bruschetta can be rubbed with garlic and is traditionally served freshly charred. Like crostini, bruschetta can be topped with a wide range of items. What do you like to top yours with?
Photo by flickr user Jeffrey Beall
Although it can be enjoyed all year long, I crave pound cake during the warmer months. Thick slices are transformed into a spectacular dessert when caramelized on the grill. Thin pieces become moist when smothered with fresh berries and fluffy whipped cream. Chunks can be layered with custard and stone fruit in a trifle or simply topped with ice cream and sauce in a sundae. With classic pound cake, the dessert possibilities are endless!
Traditionally a pound cake was made with a pound each of flour, sugar, and butter, but nowadays, the recipe is a little different. Once you've mastered the technique you can experiment not only with the final preparations, but with mix-ins as well. Stir in fresh citrus zest, different flavored extracts or liqueurs, chocolate chips, etc. But first: here's the basic recipe.
- Research the eatery before you arrive. Some places don't take reservations, but they will let you call in advance and add your name to the list. If that's the case, call up to two hours before you want to eat and politely give the hostess your name.
- Go earlier or later. Show up at the restaurant about 15 minutes after it's opened; chances are they won't be full yet, and you'll be able to enjoy a meal without having to wait. The opposite option is to get there on the later side: after 9 p.m. You'll miss the dinner rush and hopefully be greeted with a shorter line.
- Be prepared to wait. Don't eat at a hot spot when you have a limited amount of time to dine. Got to be someplace after the meal (the theater, a party, a sporting event, etc.)? Then, select an eatery that can get you in and out quickly, not one that has a long wait.
To see the rest of my tips, keep reading.
The last holiday weekend of the Summer is just around the corner and if you plan on hosting a party, you might be in need of a pitcher drink. My all-time favorite cocktail that can be made in a large quantity is sangria. It's super easy to put together and tastes better when it's made a day in advance, which is perfect for entertaining. I've been experimenting with different kinds of sangria since falling in love with Spain nine years ago; here's a roundup of the best sangria recipes out there.
Every baking enthusiast should learn how to make a scrumptious cheesecake. While I love variations like lemon or ginger, there's nothing like a slice of decadent and creamy vanilla cheesecake. During the Summer, look to a reliable no-bake recipe like this one. There's no eggs, which means you won't have to turn on the oven and heat up the kitchen. It does need fridge time, so get started a day before you want to serve it. Cheesecake makes a wonderful potluck dessert because you can transport it inside a cake box. Remove the springform pan just before serving. Read on for the easy technique to delectable no-bake cheesecake.
What's cold, creamy, and buttery? Butterscotch ice cream! If you've never made butterscotch before, don't be intimidated; it's much easier than making caramel. You simply put brown sugar, butter, and vanilla in a saute pan and heat it until the mixture magically turns into a rich golden brown syrup. The ice cream base is made in the traditional custard method with egg yolks, cream, and half and half. Like most ice cream recipes, you'll need to get started a couple of days before you want to enjoy it. It's worth the effort especially when served with peach pie. Read more to look at the recipe.
- Being a good hostess means that you make guests feel welcome and comfortable, that's why it's important to think about their diets. Don't serve a meat-heavy menu if you have vegetarians in attendance. A friend allergic to gluten? Offer a gluten-free meal. While you may have to think outside the box, there are millions of dishes in the world; it can be done!
- If it's easier for you to cook with a theme, like rustic Italian, casual Californian, or traditional Spanish, do so!
- Unless you are highlighting a special item on purpose, (like serving a blood orange meal, where each course features blood oranges), make sure there isn't too much of one ingredient. Too much cheese or starch or vegetables will result in an unbalanced meal.
We're in the middle of picnic season, and if you're in need of a delicious crowd-pleasing dessert, make these chocolate peanut butter bars. They are surprisingly simple to bake, absolutely addictive to eat, and easy to pack and transport. The bottom is a brown sugar shortbread, the middle layer is creamy peanut butter, and the top is melted milk chocolate.
These bars can be made up to three days in advance, which makes them perfect for entertaining. Fans of salted desserts: I recommend sprinkling them with coarse sea salt; it takes these chocolate peanut butter squares to a whole new level! Check out the uncomplicated recipe now.
I used watermelon, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives, but if you don't like olives, the combination of watermelon and feta is a classic crowd-pleaser. These skewers were drizzled with basil oil, but any herb you have on hand (mint, cilantro, parsley, etc.) would pair with the watermelon. Read more to check out the recipe that's so uncomplicated it almost shouldn't be called a recipe!
When Gwyneth Paltrow came out with her cookbook, My Father's Daughter, earlier this year, there was one recipe that was heavily promoted. It was a fried-zucchini pasta dish. While it sounded easy and delicious, I decided to wait until zucchini season (which is now!) to give it a try. With just the zucchini rounds, basil, and parmesan cheese, it's a simple spaghetti, but it's absolutely amazing. The cheese coats the pasta and the lightly fried zucchini is crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside. Don't skip the fresh-squeezed lemon garnish, it really adds a brightness to the pasta. Enjoy as a vegetarian meal or serve alongside grilled chicken or shrimp for a more substantial dinner. Here's the straightforward recipe.