Category Archives: Recipes

Holiday Beverages Without Alcohol

Ah, the holidays.  I like to have people over, and you know what everyone asks to drink?

Water.

I kid you not! I put out a beautiful little bar of sodas, juices, wine and champagne. And the first thing everyone asked for was…water.

Lesson learned. Now I stock up on plenty of bottled water — Pellegrino sparking mineral water and Acqua Panna still mineral water — and lime slices, which everyone seems to like. I put the bottles on ice. It makes water look and taste special. Your guests will love it!

But some will also partake non-alcoholic beverages…eventually! so here are some suggestions…

Toasts without Alcohol

Sparkling Apple Cider

You need something bubbly for New Year’s Eve. The brand I like best is the one you see the most, Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider, about $2.50 a bottle. If you run out, you can almost approximate the taste by mixing apple cider or juice with ginger ale.

Un-champagne Punch

Here is a non-alcoholic “un-champagne” recipe to try (for a punch bowl or pitcher): combine 32-oz bottle of cold club soda with a 32-oz bottle of cold ginger ale and a 24-oz bottle of cold, unsweetened white grape juice.

Cranberry Spritzer

This is a refreshing drink to order at a cocktail party or bar when you don’t drink alcohol. It’s easy to make: fill a glass with ice, fill it about 3/4 full of seltzer or club soda, and top off with cranberry cocktail. Add a lime wedge and enjoy! This is also good with flavored seltzer – like lime or orange.

Shirley Temple

You’ll need some ginger ale and a bottle of maraschino cherries. Pour the ginger ale over ice and add a little cherry juice from the jar and a cherry. I like this best in small amounts, like 6 or 8 ounces. It looks and tastes special. No one needs to know the name of this drink, if it matters!

Hot Drinks

Hot Apple Cider

If you’re having a party or just staying home with your family, nothing beats a pot of hot spiced apple cider simmering on the stove’s back burner.  It will make the whole house smell wonderful and it’s always been a hit when I’ve served it.  Here’s a recipe for it from Betty Crocker (http://www.bettycrocker.com).

  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

In 3-quart saucepan, heat ingredients to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Before serving, strain cider mixture to remove cloves and cinnamon, if desired. Serve hot. So easy!

So many ways to love cocoa…

I LOVE hot chocolate. It’s so easy to make Try some of these variations.

  • Go classic with marshmallows or spray can whipped cream. Sometimes I sprinkle a tiny bit of green or red decorator sugar on top for a little color.
  • Jazz up cocoa mix with a peppermint candy cane and whipped cream on top.
  • Add a teaspoon of freeze-dried coffee or decaffeinated coffee to cocoa mix to make mocha.
  • Try white chocolate cocoa! Safeway makes my favorite kind. It is great on its own, with a little peppermint or mixed into coffee.

With this list, you’re always ready for holiday guests

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Entertaining guests and family is one of the most fun parts of the holidays. Sometimes, guests come over when you’re not expecting it. And sometimes, when you do! 🙂  It’s nice to be ready, right?

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For Thanksgiving: A Turkey Cheese Ball

turkey-cheese-ballI think this is pretty darn cute. It’s a standard cheese ball — nothing fancy in the way of ingredients — cheddar, chives, cream cheese, a little pepper and Dijon Mustard — but, ah, it’s the way you decorate this cheese ball that takes it into sublime territory.

My only worry is that people will not want to mess it up. But it sounds delicious! Put this out with your crudites this Thanksgiving!

From your friends at Hallmark. Download the recipe and decorating instructions.

Cool Yule Recipe: Candy Cane Brownies

A candy cane hanging on a Christmas tree

Here’s a holiday recipe from Sara Ayyash, pastry chef at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia.

Candy Cane Brownies

Yields: 2 dozen brownies

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 candy canes, finely crushed
  • 2 York ® peppermint patties, chopped

In the microwave, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring every 30 seconds till melted.

Let the chocolate cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 13×9 inch pan.

All at once, add the sugar, eggs, flour, salt, and vanilla to the cooled chocolate. Stir until completely
combined.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the crushed candy canes and chopped peppermint patties on top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Thalhimer’s Spoon Bread

My mom used to make this for us, as a breakfast dish.  I can’t wait to make it.

Finding Thalhimers

In today’s Food Section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, I noticed that they had included a recipe for Thalhimers’ Richmond Room Spoonbread in a “Recipes Remembered” column. What a great holiday side dish! Here it is for you to make at home. Mine never tastes as good as the ACTUAL Thalhimers’ spoon bread, but memories are always romanticized with the passage of time. Let me know how it works out for you by sharing your results on the Finding Thalhimers Facebook page!

THALHIMERS’ RICHMOND ROOM SPOONBREAD  

(courtesy: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Makes 9 servings

1/4 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup white cornmeal

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (Must be Rumford brand, according to Thalhimers’ staff)

1 pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour butter into an 8-inch-square baking pan. Place cornmeal in…

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Winter Berry Salad Wreath with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

Isn’t this a gorgeous salad for the holidays?

winter berry salad wreath

Full recipe and assembly instructions here:

Winter Berry Salad Wreath w/ Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing.

Diet-Friendly Thanksgiving Tips

Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008

Image via Wikipedia

“You can’t have Thanksgiving without turkey. That’s like Fourth of July without apple pie, or Friday with no two pizzas.” — Joey, Friends

Thanksgiving dinner can be a healthy meal, if you approach it sensibly, and it only comes once a year, so I think you should enjoy it.  But don’t let it sabotage your weight management plan, either.

Figure Out Those Calories!

Are you wondering how many calories will be in your Thanksgiving dinner?  You’ve got to try this very cool Thanksgiving dinner calorie calculator.

Before the Thanksgiving meal…

  • Eat breakfast. Skipping meals will cause you to overeat. Consider oatmeal, eggs or Greek yogurt.
  • Drink water. Sometimes you can confuse being hungry with being dehydrated.
  • Exercise. Take a brisk walk or join one of the Thanksgiving Day walks/races.
  • Skip the alcohol. Did you know that people drink more alcohol on Thanksgiving than on any other holiday? And the night before Thanksgiving is when the heaviest drinking occurs. Alcohol has lots of calories and it lowers your inhibitions, tempting you to eat more.
  • If appetizers are available, skip the crackers and cheese and eat veggies and olives, instead.

Preparing a meal vs. Dining Out

There is no question you will save calories if you choose to dine out rather than prepare a big meal. It is one thing to have one calorie-laden meal…it’s another to have second helpings and leftovers later.

The average, home-cooked Thanksgiving meal is about 3,000 calories, not counting alcohol or appetizers. That’s too much! By contrast, the Thanksgiving meal at Cracker Barrel is 570 calories. Portion control is EVERYTHING.

Cutting calories without sacrificing flavor

If you do choose to make your own meal, there are lots of ways you can save calories and still make your meal taste delicious.

  • Turkey is a real winner for dinner. It has more protein than chicken, ham or beef.
  • Make mashed potatoes with buttermilk and add some garlic or chives if you want more flavor. Result: 80 calories a serving.
  • Use a dry gravy mix or canned turkey gravy. You will save 125 calories a serving.
  • Make stuffing with chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of butter. It will still be moist and delicious but much lower in fat.
  • You’ll save 200 calories a serving if you eat steamed green beans instead of green bean casserole. I know, I love it, too.
  • One serving of cranberry sauce is 1/4 cup and 110 calories. See if you can get by with a tablespoon instead.
  • Just eat one roll — it’s about 100 to 150 calories.
  • Choose pumpkin pie for dessert. It has the least calories. If you choose apple pie or pecan pie, just be aware you are also choosing up to 400 extra calories. Fortunately, that spray can whipped cream only has 15 calories, so you can be lavish with that! I don’t eat the crust of my pumpkin pie — that’s where a lot of the fat and calories live and I’m fine without it or just a nibble of it.
  • Another treat? Coffee or decaf with Coffeemate pumpkin spice creamer (35 calories a tablespoon). Add some spray whipped cream and cinnamon on top! Or have a cup of peppermint tea to ease your digestion, or chamomile tea to relax.

How do you keep your diet on track during Thanksgiving?  Will you be working out on Turkey Day?