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Wednesday, December 26 2007
Chimi churi sauce is an argentinian dressing primarily used for beef (asado) and lamb. Here I am adapting it for chicken (you can also use it to roast chicken, quail or duck if you like). I am not going to make the sauce separately but instead I will be making it up on top of the chicken. However it is a possibility to make a sauce separately and pour it onto the chicken or other types of meat. You may find a store bought variety of Chimi Churi sauce which you like and you could apply it in this way to your meat.

Ingredients:
Chicken fillet. (4-5 peices per portion recommended)
garlic
balsamic vinegar (red wine will do also)
finely chopped parsley
finely chopped oregano
julienne of red pepper
1 finely chopped chilli
olive oil
salt
black pepper
corn starch


method:

First add a little regular kanola or sunflower seed oil to your hot skillet add garlic according to your preferance and then add the fillets immediately afterwards. Stir fry by gently turning the fillets over from time to time.

After the fillets turn white add the red pepper and chili. Again, add as much as you like, there's no fast rule. Now add the oregano and parsley and stir in gently.

At this stage add about 1/4 cup of oilve oil and 1/4 cup of balsamic or red wine vinegar per 2-3 portions. Mix gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

At this stage add 1 desert spoon of corn starch to a little water and mix well. Add the mixture to the fillets stirring gently until the sauce has thickened.

Serve with rice or sliced potatoes, broccoli and/or carrots. Buon apetite.
Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:10 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, December 22 2007
Lobsters have shiny, greenish-black shells with orange trim. On the front of their heads, they have a pair of antennae and two eyes on the ends of stalks. They have 5 pair of legs, the front two often have big claws.

Now that you have had the anatomy lesson, here is the good stuff!

Before it is cooked, a lobster shell has a very dark color, it gets its deep red brick color only when it's cooked. They are available all year round.. so make sure yours is a good color when buying.

To save time you can purchase a halved, freshly cooked lobster that is ready to eat - the only thing you might need to do is to crack open the claws (if they haven't been cracked already) using a hammer or a pair of lobster crackers, in order to access the claw meat. Or you can cook your own fresh.

No matter which way you cook your lobster, it is the main event on your plate, therefore your side dishes should be simple not complicated.

Consider boiling new potatoes and basting them with some melted butter and seasonings, and a very basic green salad.. this makes a great colorful combination that looks gourmet and elegant.

If you are serving your lobster cold, then have cold side dishes, such as cucumber salad, which can be as simple as sliced or cubed cucumbers mixed with sliced tomatoes and drizzled in some oil and vinegar dressing and a crusty roll.

Another great side dish is corn on the cob, break the cobs in half and boil them and serve them in half sizes, as the lobster is likely to be taking up much of the plate and is the main event, and a crusty roll.

If you have spent all your time on the main event! and have very little time for side dishes, the traditional baked potato works great, make sure you have butter and seasonings. You can even buy pre-cooked baked potatoes already wrapped in foil.

Here is a great baked potato recipe:

Scrub a good size potato and then slice into it without going right through it, put at least 6 slices into the potato. Spread the potato open gently, and place sliced onions and thinly sliced cheddar cheese, in between the slices. Sprinkle the whole potato with salt and pepper and a bit of garlic salt, a dab of butter, and wrap it in tin foil. Bake as per usual, then open and remove from the foil when serving. Tastes great!.. Are you hungry yet?
Posted by: Send a Meal AT 12:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, December 15 2007
Gourmet cooking may seem inaccessible, something only wealthy people can enjoy, or even intimidating. There's no reason to feel this way about it. If you're interesting in gourmet cooking, that's the most important part. If you've never tried gourmet cooking before, don't be afraid. With a little trial and error and a sense of adventure, you can get into gourmet cooking. You know the difference between what you like to eat and what you don't, right? And you can tell what quality tastes like, right? Then you have the necessary tools to be an amateur gourmet.

To begin with, what makes a certain style of cooking "gourmet"? Gourmet cooking utilizes fresh, high quality ingredients. Take something common like garlic, for example. You can buy dry powdered garlic in the spice aisle at any grocery store. The gourmet will avoid this, though. They'll even walk by the jars of chopped garlic. Only freshly chopped garlic will do for the gourmet cook. Another example is basil. Let's say you have a recipe calling for basil. Again, you could get a jar of dried basil flakes from the spice aisle, or you can find fresh bagged basil leaves in the produce section. Gourmet recipes will prefer the fresh stuff. Better yet, grow your own! Whenever possible, if you can use ingredients you grew yourself, you'll find that they make a world of difference in the taste of your gourmet experiments.

Another word for gourmets is "epicurean". An epicurean is someone who likes only the finest food and drink. Or you can describe a gourmet as a "connoisseur". Like an epicurean, connoisseurs are people who know what's good and what isn't.

To get into gourmet cooking, there are a few ways you can go about learning how. Most obvious are books. Your local bookstore will have plenty of selections on cooking for novices. Don't be intimidated. There's tons of help out there for the newbie. Often grocery stores will have books which are meant to introduce you to gourmet cooking. They'll cover all the basics starting with describing all the different knives you can use to how to clarify butter and make stock.

Another resource for the budding gourmet chef is local restaurants. Nobody's going to give away their secrets but just by going out to eat in nice restaurants every so often and trying things you've never had before, you'll develop a broader range in taste and expand your knowledge of food. Don't be afraid to ask your server to describe an item to you which you don't know about. Ask what goes into the sauce. Ask what's sprinkled on top. Take mental notes and give it a try at home.

Of course you can always finds tons of information on the internet. The internet is chock full of information of all sorts and gourmet cooking is no exception. Innumerable sites provide recipes and cooking advice. Countless forums have been set up to aid the novice and give the experts a place to trade tips and recipes. Don't be afraid to go online and ask questions. Make sure you read what you can before posting questions, but rest assured that there are lots of people out there who are willing to provide advice.

Once you've decided to give a gourmet recipe a try, you may find that your local supermarkets don't have all the ingredients you need. Whenever possible, shop locally but if you can't find what you need there are a number of online food stores which will ship fresh food to your doorstop at a reasonable rate. Yes, gourmet ingredients tend to cost more but their quality and great taste will make it all worth it when your friends and family are being blown away by your latest excursion into gourmet deliciousness!

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 08:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 14 2007
Lobsters have shiny, greenish-black shells with orange trim. On the front of their heads, they have a pair of antennae and two eyes on the ends of stalks. They have 5 pair of legs, the front two often have big claws.

Now that you have had the anatomy lesson, here is the good stuff!

Before it is cooked, a lobster shell has a very dark color, it gets its deep red brick color only when it's cooked. They are available all year round.. so make sure yours is a good color when buying.

To save time you can purchase a halved, freshly cooked lobster that is ready to eat - the only thing you might need to do is to crack open the claws (if they haven't been cracked already) using a hammer or a pair of lobster crackers, in order to access the claw meat. Or you can cook your own fresh.

No matter which way you cook your lobster, it is the main event on your plate, therefore your side dishes should be simple not complicated.

Consider boiling new potatoes and basting them with some melted butter and seasonings, and a very basic green salad.. this makes a great colorful combination that looks gourmet and elegant.

If you are serving your lobster cold, then have cold side dishes, such as cucumber salad, which can be as simple as sliced or cubed cucumbers mixed with sliced tomatoes and drizzled in some oil and vinegar dressing and a crusty roll.

Another great side dish is corn on the cob, break the cobs in half and boil them and serve them in half sizes, as the lobster is likely to be taking up much of the plate and is the main event, and a crusty roll.

If you have spent all your time on the main event! and have very little time for side dishes, the traditional baked potato works great, make sure you have butter and seasonings. You can even buy pre-cooked baked potatoes already wrapped in foil.

Here is a great baked potato recipe:

Scrub a good size potato and then slice into it without going right through it, put at least 6 slices into the potato. Spread the potato open gently, and place sliced onions and thinly sliced cheddar cheese, in between the slices. Sprinkle the whole potato with salt and pepper and a bit of garlic salt, a dab of butter, and wrap it in tin foil. Bake as per usual, then open and remove from the foil when serving. Tastes great!.. Are you hungry yet?
Posted by: Send a Meal AT 08:56 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, December 11 2007
Inviting guests over to your home for an evening of food, conversation and fun, is an excellent way to give them a happy time and demonstrate that you value their friendship.

It can be a lot of fun, not only for the people you invite along, but for you as well.

The big make-or-break factor is so often your dinner party menu.

The menu you choose is vital. It's the single most important thing in determining whether the dinner party is a success or failure.

A poorly executed or served meal, will be unfortunate for the host and disappointing for the guests.

So how can you virtually guarantee, that you'll pull it off successfully?

The secret is to work out the menu courses, extremely precisely.

Start by thinking about your guests. Is there anything they don't eat?

If you're not sure about that, ask them.

Asking is far preferable to dishing up, say, a main course, that one or more of your guests will not eat.

It may be more than simply a dislike. It might be an allergy, a medical problem or a confirmed lifestyle choice like vegetarianism.

In any case, it is better to know in advance.

Having narrowed down the menu areas, then review the dishes you like to cook.

When giving a dinner party, you really should not start experimenting with new dishes or new cooking techniques. Stay with the dishes you know you can do well.

Remember also that it's much, much trickier to cook for eight, ten, twelve or more people, than it is to cook for three or four.

You can of course prepare variations on your standard dishes, say by adding an elegant garnish or something on the side.

It is pretty much essential to do what you can by way of preparation, before the party starts. If you don't, you'll be working too hard during the party and not talking and having fun with everybody.

As a suggestion you could serve a cold desert, made that morning or possible the previous day. Similarly, a simple but tasty starter, could be laid out just before the guests arrive and served at room temperature.

With desert and starter done prior, there could be just the main course to be prepared hot, when you are with your guests.

Bear in mind when selecting a recipe for the main course, it's best if it doesn't need precise timing. A dish like a casserole is good. Then if guests arrive late, or if the starter course takes longer than expected, the main food won't be spoiled.

Carefully selecting the most appropriate dinner party menu, should make for a much more relaxed and pleasant experience, both for your guests, and for you, the host.

Don't overspend on your next dinner party and spoil the experience.

Use this free Dinner Party Cost Calculator to think through your budget and work out the costs. Dinner Party Cost Calculator You can even calculate the Cost Per Person - are they worth it?

Get some good planning tips at.. DinnerPartyThemes.net

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:49 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 07 2007

This Christmas Wreath Appetizer is easy to make and looks like you spent hours making it. Your friends and guests will love it and it's soooooo pretty!

The holidays mean lots of parties and this easy appetizer recipe will be perfect if you are responsible for bringing an appetizer. You can make it ahead of time and when you serve it, watch it disappear!

What you'll need:
- 2 8-ounce tubes of crescent rolls*
- 1 8-ounce package of softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup of sour cream
- 1 teaspoon of dill weed
- 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups of broccoli florets (freshly chopped)
- 1 cup of celery (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup of sweet red pepper (finely chopped)
- Celery leaves

* found in refrigerator section of grocery store

What to do
First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Next, remove the crescent roll dough from its packaging (make sure you don't unroll it). Cut each tube into eight slices and then arrange the slices in a circle (about 11 inches in diameter.) I've found it very handy to make your circle on an pizza pan (ungreased - 14-inch size works well.)

Then, bake it for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the dough turns a lovely golden color. Cool for 5 minutes or so before gently removing your crescent dough wreath to a serving platter. Then, cool it completely.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the sour cream, cream cheese, garlic powder and dill until nice and smooth. Then, spread the mixture over the wreath and top with the chopped celery, broccoli, and red pepper. You can complete this pretty picture by making a bow with the leftover celery leaves.

This recipe for Christmas Wreath Appetizer serves 16.

Enjoy!

Sara Gray is an avid lover of appetizers and has created a great website called Easy Appetizer Recipes where you can find delicious ideas for all kinds of hot and cold appetizers, raclette grilling, tapas small plates, snacks, chips and dip ideas, and appetizer soups.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:17 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 07 2007

Two traditional Spanish Christmas recipes

Starter

ALMOND SOUP

Normally served as a dessert in Castille all through the year. At Christmas, however, it is served as a first course for Christmas dinner with saffron. This spice has found it's perfect growing conditions in Spain,

especially in La Mancha, where each autumn the saffron flowers are picked and in a traditional, process completely carried out by hand, the stigmas are toasted to produce the finest saffron in the world, known as Calidad Mancha.

1.25 litres (2 1/4pt) milk
75 g (3 oz) sugar
150 g (6 oz) powdered almonds or almond paste
2 tbsp fine fresh bread crumbs
2 cloves of garlic
Coarse salt
A few threads of saffron
A few sprigs of parsley
White peppercorns
200 ml (7 floz) olive oil

Garnish

12 small, very thin slices of bread, fried in olive oil
50 g (2 oz) toasted chopped almonds

Bring the milk to a boil.

In a mortar, mix together the coarse salt, saffron, pepper, garlic and parsley.

Mix the powdered almonds, sugar and the mixture from the mortar into the boiling milk.

Lower the heat and let cook gently for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve garnished with the slices of fried bread and the toasted chopped almonds.

Dessert

TOURON ICE CREAM

(ice cream made with two nougats) with chocolate sauce

Touron is a nougat of Arabic origin made with almonds and honey or sugar, without which it would just not be Christmas in Spain. There are innumerable variations - chocolate, coconut, praline, etc. - but the oldest and most authentic recipes are those for soft (Jijona) touron, made with ground almonds, or hard (Alicante) touron, made with whole almonds, or served as an ice cream, accompanied by chocolate sauce. The sauce is made not with butter but with olive oil, as it used to be made when cocoa was first brought to Spain from the Americas.

150 g (6 oz sugar)
4 tbsp water
6 egg yolks
150 g (6 oz) soft Jijona nougat
2 tbsp Malaga wine
200 ml (7 floz) liquid crème fraîche
3 egg whites
75 g (3 oz) hard Alicante nougat

Sauce

200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp water

Roughly break up the Alicante nougat.

Butter a 500 ml (1 pt) soufflé dish.

Place a paper collar around the edge of the soufflé dish, letting it extend 5 cm (2") above the rim. Place in the freezer.

Prepare a light syrup with the water and sugar.

Beat the egg yolks and the warm syrup together in a blender.

Break up the Jijona nougat into the two tablespoons of wine. Beat the crème fraîche. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Carefully fold together, in the same order, all of the mixtures.

Sprinkle the soufflé mould with some of the Alicante nougat.

Pour in the prepared cream mixture.

Leave in the freezer for several hours, or overnight for best results.

After removing the mixture from the freezer, remove the paper, sprinkle with the remaining Alicante nougat and serve with the warm chocolate sauce.

To make the warm chocolate sauce

Place the chocolate and water in a bowl or double boiler and melt over a pan of simmering water.

Gradually mix in the oil, whisking constantly.

Enjoy!

Posted by: Send a Meals AT 07:24 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, December 04 2007

When my first child was born, I realized that I wanted to make each holiday memorable. I don’t mean grand and glorious (although that may naturally be part of the beautiful holiday season), but rich with family experiences and rituals. I set about researching each holiday and finding lots of ideas. I quickly ran into the problem of trying to find all of the gems I’d discovered last year again this year. Also, I would try some things and they worked wonderfully for our family (holiday experiences advent calendar), but some were miserable failures (blueberry cranberry sauce). With each child, the holidays seem to get more and more complicated. Layers of tradition that I did not want to be forgotten made holiday organization all the more necessary.

It was time to find a permanent and convenient home for the lists and planning pages that I had been collecting from holidays gone by. I purchased a 3-ring binder, some tabbed dividers with pockets, a zippered pouch, and a ream of printer paper. Then I gathered my 3-hole punch, pens, and materials to begin my holiday organizational manual. Now not only did I gain a place to store all magazine articles, craft ideas, recipes, and pictures of decorations, but I now have a handbook in which to plan my attack. Here are some of the pages most vital to any promising holiday handbook.

 

  • Calendar Page –

     

    A blank December Calendar lets me plan how best to use the days leading up to Christmas to my best advantage. Armed with a calendar, I can project when I need to make my cards, when cards and gifts need to be mailed, which weekend would be best for our annual holiday party, what the last feasible shopping day should be, which date the annual pageant will be on, and so on.

 

 

  • Holiday Card List –

     

    A numbered page with blank lines that I can fill in the names of those to whom we are sending our family’s cards. This is an invaluable page to me as I can refer to it next year when preparing to send out cards again. No more starting lists from scratch and no more hunting for last year’s list.

 

 

  • Holiday Gift List –

     

    Get this list started just after the holidays. Use it to write down ideas for next year’s gifts as they come up. If your daughter tells you that she wants a certain kind of doll, don’t leave it to your memory. Then as you purchase gifts for your family, write it down. The best way not to over-gift someone is to keep a record.

 

 

  • Gifts Received List –

     

    The sweaters knitted by Great-Aunt Mildred, the cash given by Grandpa Henry, or the fruitcake baked by a childhood friend all can be recorded on this handy list as a way of looking back and remembering how loved you and your family have been over the years. This list also makes it easy when preparing to write holiday Thank You cards.

 

 

  • Holiday Guest List –

     

    If you plan an annual holiday party, then you’ll be needing some guests to fill your house with love and laughter. This is the page you will use to keep track of invitations you send and RSVPs you receive.

 

 

  • Holiday Party Planner –

     

    Prepare for the big day by plotting it all out on paper first. Use this page to help you decide what type of party you will throw, what food and drinks to serve, and what the preparation and party timeline will be.

 

 

  • Holiday Meal Planner –

     

    There are some who believe that it is not a holidays without a special meal. Use this page to plot out your family’s favorite traditional dishes. Include recipes, a timeline for meal preparation, and details (such as table decorations, music, and seating plan).

 

 

  • Holiday Memories –

     

    This is one of my favorite pages. This is the place you will get to record the best and most memorable parts of the holiday. You should try to include old and new traditions, parties you attended, ornaments and decorations made or bought, holiday movies enjoyed, holiday music played, and memorable stories told.

 

Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of http://ListPlanIt.com where you can find almost 250 lists, checklists, and planning pages (including all of the pages described above) to put your world-and your holidays-in order.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 08:27 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 03 2007
With the holiday season comes the dieters’ greatest fear, the calorie-laden party food. There are many tips and ideas out there about how dieters can avoid weight gain during the holiday season. Suggestions like filling up on sensible food, eating smaller portions, cutting the alcohol and exercising more. These are all wonderful, helpful tips, but even with the best intentions the temptations can be overwhelming, especially at holiday parties where the peer pressure to over eat makes dieting harder.

Just because it’s a holiday party doesn’t mean that all of the food has to be laden with calories and fat. The thoughtful host should consider adding some healthy and delicious holiday foods to their party spread this year. Instead of weighing down the party with the usual high-calorie fare, guests can be treated to some delicious dishes and desserts with fewer calories but all the taste.

Here are a few holiday recipes that are perfect for parties but without all of the extras that can hurt a dieter’s weight loss plan.

Low Fat Chicken Spread

1 ½ lbs chicken breasts, skinned
¼ (8oz) package light cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp reduced calorie mayonnaise
1 tbsp grated onion
1 tbsp sweet pickle juice
½ c finely chopped celery
Dash of curry powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tbsp chopped pimiento
Dash of hot sauce
Dash of garlic powder
Vegetable cooking spray
Leaf lettuce


Cook chicken in water until tender. Remove from broth, reserving 2 tbsp broth; cool. Bone chicken and chop fine. Set aside. Combine cream cheese and mayo, beating until smooth; add next 9 ingredients, and mix well. Stir in chicken and reserved broth. Lightly coat four ½ cup molds or one 2 cup mold with cooking spray; press in chicken mixture and chill. Unmold on lettuce lined plate; garnish with radishes if desired. Serve with Melba toast, party crackers or veggies. Calories: About 22 calories per tablespoon.

Crab Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes Appetizer

36 cherry tomatoes
salt ¼ c low fat cottage cheese
1 ½ tsp minced onion
1 ½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp prepared horseradish
Dash of garlic salt
½ lb fresh crabmeat, drained and flaked
¼ c minced celery
1 tbsp finely chopped green pepper


Cut top off each tomato; scoop out pulp. Sprinkle inside of tomato with salt, and invert on paper towels to drain. Place cottage cheese in blender and blend until smooth. Add next 4 ingredients, blending well. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon crabmeat mixture into tomatoes. Chill before serving. Makes 36 appetizers. Calories: About 12 calories each.
Posted by: Send a Meal AT 10:53 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, December 02 2007

Lasagna is an ancient dish and goes back to Biblical times. The pasta and cheese dish is found in many parts of Italy. Some food historians think Italian housewives invented the dish to use leftover pasta and sauce. According to "The Cooking of Italy," a Time-Life Book published in 1968, Italian cooking is not difficult to master and "its diversity is inexhaustible.

Lasagna is one of those diverse recipes. You can make it with ground beef, pork, beef and pork combined, smoked ham, cream sauce, meat and cream sauce, and tomato sauce. Many years ago I was invited to a friend's house for lasagna. "My lasagna is different," she explained, "and has a layer of spinach." I like the spinach addition so much I often add it to my homemade lasagna.

Though I know how to make tomato sauce from scratch and cook the lasagn noodles I avoid these steps during the holidays. Instead, I use sauce from a jar, precooked pasta, and pre-shredded cheese. When you assemble the lasagna you will see there is lots of sauce. The extra sauce moistens and plumps the lasagna noodles as they bake.

Keep a pan of lasagna on hand for unexpected company. Pair the dish with a green salad and breadsticks or garlic toast. After dinner, gather around the piano and sing a few carols. You've got the spirit!

INGREDIENTS

12 ounces of Italian sausage, cooked and drained OR 1 12-ounce roll 50% less fat pork sausage, cooked and drained

1 pound 10-ounce jar of no-sugar tomato-basil sauce

1 pound 12-ounce can low-salt tomato puree

24-ounce carton 1% cottage cheese (small curd)

1 large egg

1/3 cup egg substitute

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

10-ounce package chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and drained

16-ounce package 2% milk grated Italian cheeses

8-ounce package precooked lasagna (You will have a few leftover noodles.)

METHOD

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl combine cooked sausage, tomato-basil sauce, and tomato puree. In another large bowl combine cottage cheese, egg, egg substitute, Romano cheese, and spinach.

Coat a 9" x 13" glass pan with baking spray. Spread 1 cup of sausage-tomato sauce on bottom of pan. Lay four lasagna noodles over sauce. Spread 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture over lasagna. Spread 1/3 of the sausage-tomato mixture over cheese layer. Sprinkle 1/3 of the Italian cheese over this layer. Continue until you have three layers, ending with the last of the Italian cheeses.

Cover the lasagna with release foil and bake for one hour. Uncover the lasagna and bake 15-minutes longer. Let lasagna stand for 10-12 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese if you wish. Makes 12-15 servings.

Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson

http://www.harriethodgson.com

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 29 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Eduation and Counseling. her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find other reviews on the American Hospice Foundation Web site ("School Corner" heading) and the Health Ministries Association Web site.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 03:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, December 02 2007
Christmas is a time of year when different families around the world will get together and observe traditions that are the same for them year after year and yet vastly different from those that other families share around the block. There are very few universal Christmas traditions any more and there is nothing wrong with that. In America however, there are some items that many people consider traditional holiday cooking and there is little that will be done to dissuade these opinions. The truth is that many of these traditional holiday foods are largely traditional in specific regions rather than the United States having one nations wide traditional Christmas dinner.

Turkey or ham? For some families the answer is both while others answer quite quickly that it is neither. One of the best all-American Christmas cooking ideas I've ever seen was lasagna. It was a Christmas Eve tradition but a delicious tradition just the same. There are no right or wrong traditions only those traditions that work well for you and your family. If you feel the need to change a long-standing tradition for a large extended family by all means discuss it with everyone involved. Otherwise it is your tradition and you should feel free to make it your own.

At the same time, there is something comforting and reminiscent of home to have those traditions to come home to year after year. I can't help but think of the movie Christmas with the Kranks. The entire movie was spent in an attempt to break with the traditional Christmas trappings and trimmings only to make a mad dash to return to them in the end. That is often the way things go when attempting to break with tradition. If you are considering this for the first time this Christmas be sure to hang on to some of your old traditions in case you find that it just doesn't feel like Christmas without them. You certainly don't want it to be too late and miss out on the spirit of Christmas in your home.

Other great traditional favorites for many Americans as far as Christmas cooking goes are: sweet potato casseroles, devilled eggs, dressing or stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, apple pie, mince meat pie, and pecan pie. Of course there are regional favorites that are often highly dependent upon where you live such as key lime pie, lemon icebox pie, oyster dressing, deep fried turkey. If one of these is a Christmas tradition for you, no matter where you are in the world you will think of home or Christmas whenever you come across them. It's really amazing how that happens and quite nice too when family and friends seem far away to have something as simple as a dish of food make them seem that much closer.

That, of course, is the great, and almost perfect things about Christmas traditions. We pass them along to our children who one day will find that they are a little less alone because someone in an airport is eating a slice of key lime pie or having a dish or macaroni and cheese. If you don't have Christmas traditions it is time to develop a few just so that you can share something special and almost sacred with your friends and family.
Posted by: Send a Meal AT 12:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, December 01 2007
Preparing early for the holidays is something that we all have good intentions of doing but if you’re like most people, there are just too many other things to do first. We vow to save ourselves from the aggravation next year, and to try to get into the holiday spirit with some forethought and organization. Once again the holidays are upon us: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years, (lined up like ducks in a row), and there you are, unprepared.

While each occasion does not dictate the need for large gifts or elaborate preparation, there are definitely special times and people who do. Gourmet food, always a welcome gift, is suitable for most any occasion, and a great choice for the hard-to-buy-for person in your life. The gift basket, a staple even before the arrival of the internet, has been reinvented many times over, but is nonetheless, still a gift basket. It’s a great starting point but getting back to the internet, the biggest problem you’ll encounter now is that the choices in gourmet food gifts are endless.

Where to Start?

You can begin your search for the appropriate gourmet food item by considering the person or event you are buying for. A romantic New Year’s Eve dinner at home can now include fresh Maine lobster, shipped live, complete with recipes and pot to cook your lobster. Or exotic, hand made chocolates can be shipped to a chocolate lover direct from France. Gourmet appetizers can be ordered for delivery in time for your holiday party. So, with ideas in mind, you can do a little internet research. Using your keywords, for example, ‘fresh Maine lobster delivered live’ or ‘gourmet hand made chocolate’ you’ll find endless information and ideas in blogs and ezines. Keeping a few notes in front of you (to remind yourself of the purpose of your search as it is very easy to get off topic), your starting point will take some very creative slants.

Ordering Food Online

Since perishable food items must be shipped 2nd day air at most, these can be great choices for last minute gift giving. The turnaround time depends on how fast the company can process the order and most sites let you how long it takes from the time you place your order till the time they ship. Many offer a rush service and can send your order the next day. But it is important to note that orders containing perishables are shipped out Monday through Thursday as the package cannot sit in a warehouse over the weekend. And on that note, make sure the recipient of your gift is not off on a lengthy vacation while the specialty steak gift box you sent sits rotting on the porch. Also, don’t forget about yourself this holiday season. Dinner parties can be simple to prepare with oven-ready gourmet meals delivered to your door.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 08:16 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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