Who doesn’t love entertaining during the holidays? But with the hustle and bustle of the season, it's not always easy to plan a party from scratch. With simple tricks and effective presentation, you can make your holiday soiree look amazing, with half the effort!
Pick a palette:
I prefer snowflake blues and silvers for holiday parties, but any color scheme, such as traditional reds and greens, will tie your party together, as long as you use it consistently. Decorations, dishes, even glasses and utensils, should all follow your chosen palette. By using the same colors throughout the space, you’ll easily tie your whole party together with little to no effort.
There is only one month of the entire year when it is wholly acceptable to indulge in copious amounts of Eggnog. This creamy holiday cocktail, thick with flavor and calories, is synonymous with Christmas. Instead of buying the premade Eggnog at the grocery store, make some yourself following this adapted version of Paula Dean’s recipe. Yes, that Paula Dean, the sassy southern lady regularly featured on the Food Network.
6 eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
1 pint heavy cream
With my friends, any ocassion is a great excuse to get together and eat. With all of us coming from so many different backgrounds, we typically favor a potluck setting - and I've yet to be disappointed!
For this year's Secret Santa dinner, one of my friends brought a delicious, fun twist on traditional pumpkin pie - pumpkin dip. With subtle hints of pumpkin, cinnamon and even an orangey kick, this dip is as delicious as it is festive. The recipe is simple - it's sure to be a crowd pleaser at any holiday party this year.
Finding the perfect gift for anyone can be daunting enough, and when it comes to holiday shopping for foodies—a picky breed to say the least—you feel at a loss. But not to worry. Joonbug has scavenged the greater LA area to find the things most likely to please your gourmet enthusiast. Here's what we came up with:
Spice Station gift set, $35-65. Peer into this almost-hidden shop and
feel like a wizard in an apothecary, except instead of glass jars filled with unicorn dust and eye of newt, they’re filled with spices, chiles, salts,
sugars and teas from around the world. With items like “vintage merlot
sea salt,” Spice Station is sure to have something to please even the snobbiest of palates. Choose from pre-arranged sets tailored to your foodie’s favorite cooking genre, or ask the staff to help you put together
a customized kit. Spice Station, 3819 W. Sunset Blvd, Silver Lake;
(323) 660-2565 and 2309 Main St., Santa Monica; (310) 450-0505
Strawberries & figs dipped in chocolate and pistachios
‘Tis the season to be creative with food. If entertaining during the holiday is your “thing,” you might want to try this festive recipe of strawberries and figs dipped chocolate and pistachios.
The ingredients are as follows:
1 ½ pounds semisweet baking chocolate (inexpensive baking chocolate works well because it does not become grainy when it melts)
1-quart medium strawberries with hulls (cut in half)
The Jewish Festival of Lights, otherwise known as Hanukkah, begins on December 1st and ends December 9th this year, which gives both kosher and non-kosher alike another reason to celebrate and gather with loved ones this holiday season.
If you unfamiliar with the celebration and are invited to a friend’s place on one of these eight nights, or perhaps if you’re just interested in some culinary experimentation, here is a jazzed up version of a traditional recipe to get you feeling festive.
While tradition varies from house to house and person to person, and you should always check with your host/ess before committing to bring anything, so you know what your responsible for. Just to be safe the following recipe is Kosher.
-If you're serving alcohol, consider serving punches or whipping up a cocktail in a large pitcher. Punch bowls look festive and are less expensive and time-consuming than setting up a full bar for individual mixed drinks.
-Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. That means no tomatoes in winter.
-Buy generic brands whenever possible. Unless the name brand is significantly on sale, the generic brand is usually much cheaper and basically indistinguishable from the name brand.
-Start planning early and look for sales. A few weeks before your party keep your eyes open for the non-perishable ingredients you need. It will give you time to wait for the sales, rather than being forced to buy something at full price last minute.
Planning another holiday party this year? The same food, same wines and same old party music? Why not host a theme party by taking a cue from the best drama show on TV, Mad Men. Think groovy music, light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, cocktails, cocktails. Read my tips for throwing a holiday party Mad Men style.
The key to any successful party is having a good mix of people, tons of alcohol and great music. You should designate a bar area where guests can mix their own drinks. Make sure to have plenty of essentials on hand: cocktail shaker, ice bucket and tongs, mixing spoon, sliced lemons and limes, ice and mixers. As for Mad Men cocktails, it was the time of plenty so anything goes, but here are some classics. All recipes are from the Mad Men cocktail guide.
I first tasted Baci D’Alassio at the Palo Alto Il Fornaio Bakery (which no longer exists). You can probably guess that 3 cups of hazelnuts and a little chocolate makes a wonderful cookie. These are a bit involved so set aside two days to make them — After you pipe the dough, you have to let them sit overnight. Also, for advanced bakers, go ahead and temper the chocolate to join two kisses together.
If you're anything like me, you bought several cans of pumpkin puree just in case you needed to make 8 pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. But you didn't need to make 8 pumpkin pies, and now you have more cans left over than you really know what to do with. You could stick them in the back of your cupboard until the next Thanksgiving rolls around, or you could use them now to make a delicious breakfast that will leave you all toasty and warm inside.
These pancakes are perfect for those chilly winter mornings (or nights) when all you really want to do is cuddle up in your favorite blanket and drink warm apple cider or hot cocoa.