Need ideas for your Christmas celebrations?

My sister rocks at this. This is her list. Did I mention she trained at the French Culinary Institute? My girl knows food!. I would love your comments for ideas. For some reason, my mind always goes blank when I try to think of things to serve. Gratefully, I can easily refer to this list now!
Appetizers

–Sushi (only veggie or California rolls– don’t want seafood sitting out)—- always a hit!
— Olive tampenade with goat cheese on crustini.  (very easy, make tampenade ahead of time.  Toast just before party.  Spread tampenade on sliced french bread top with goat cheese and bake for  few minutes, until cheese looks like it is melting.  (Bring tampenade to room temp– take out of frig morning of party).  YUMMY– always a crowd pleaser
–Mini crab cakes — always a hit
–Crab dip– the real stuff
–Pizza dip, serve with pita points
–Brie with pesto and toasted almonds serve with crackers
–Pimento cheese with crackers, on sliced half (lengthwise) jalapeno, or with celery
–Candied/Spiced Pecans——– yummy (any left overs — save them for a salad!)
–Deviled eggs– a must.  For those who are on a low carb diet   (Fun twist– cut eggs in half at the fat part, not the length.  You may want to cut a little off the bottom, so the don’t slide on plate.  Makes them look more elegant to me!)   Top with caviar on some if you like.
–Veggies with ranch.  Seems dull, but I still love it.  Plus it is very colorful  (Cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, carrots….. )
–Smoked Salmon with crackers/bread  (chopped red onion, boiled eggs, capers, lemon, cream cheese)
-Meatballs
-Dates with bacon—– VERY easy and good.  Dates (seedless) dried.  Wrap with bacon– bake until bacon is done.
–Warm goat cheese with marinara served with bread
–Warm goat cheese spread with thyme.  served with bread
–Guacamole with chips– YUM
–Goat cheese on puff pastry squares or circles with sliced apples on top, garnish with thyme
–Spanakopita   Phyllo /spinach/red onion/feta/dill/salt/pepper/butter—– a little time consuming
–Texas Caviar  with blue chips (Salsa with either black-eyed peas or black beans– dress it up a bit– cilantro, garlic,  etc….)
–Canapés
–9 layer bean dip
–Hummus with pita
— Caprese’  Tomato/fresh mozz/fresh basil (or pesto) salad– with balsamic drizzle
–Mini quesadillas– black bean and goat cheese/  shrimp/cheddar
–Shrimp cocktail with cocktail (only with good shrimp)
–Chicken salad with bread/crackers (Chicken, candied pecans, blue cheese (if you want), mayo, grapes, salt/pepper)——– again, if someone is on low carb

Dessert
-Truffles
-Chocolate dipped strawberries
-carrot cake cupcakes

Drinks
–Sangria (yummy– drinks for the masses at very little cost!)
–Champagne drinks–  Royal Kir with fresh berries or I like to use frozen (keeps drink cold)  — put Chambord in with frozen berries, put into bottom of wine glass, then pour champagne.
–Mojitos
–Margaritas

Enchiladas Ole !

Do you love to sample new products in grocery stores? I admit, I just love it. It’s fun and FREE!

For a host of reasons, I get really excited about local products—not just with food but for nearly everything. So when I asked “Mary” if this enchilada sauce I was about to try was local, she said “yes, we are based in Fort Worth”. I said, “Oh, so this is your sauce?”. Yes, she said.

Our conversation continued about her launch of a new product and getting into stores. As she is talking — I am thinking about how I have to convince her to come and speak at a Think Tank Society meeting…. as I WATCH her magically take a corn tortilla, whip it around in some sauce, and roll it with cheese and onions into this amazing looking and SMELLING snack that I am about to sink my chompers into.

It left me spinning. The sauce is amazing. I don’t use that term lightly and I really don’t want to do reviews of products unless they are stellar. As Mary told me, this is restaurant quality available at the supermarket. Truly, the sauce is BETTER than even some of the great Tex-Mex restaurants around here.

With everything on my “plate”, I still try to have a   meat less each week—not  always on Monday. This is a great Meat less Monday option. You won’t feel deprived! Although my husband loved it so much, he did say—“wow…what would it be like if it had meat in it?”…(somethings are SLOW to change)

If you need a little help using her sauce, she has instructional videos on her site. Talk about a value add!

Enchiladas Ole is available in Central Market and Whole Foods….. and coming soon to everywhere else. Not only is Mary a rockstar in the kitchen she’s got some business savvy too.  Watch out world!

‘Tis pumpkin season!

Curry Pumpkin Soup!

The crunch of the pumpkin seeds, the contrast of hot soup with a dollop of cool sour cream covers all of the sensational bases!

Find it in Colorado Colore  page 64.

http://www.amazon.com/Colorado-Colore-Celebrating-Culinary-Artistry/dp/0960394672/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317747828&sr=1-1

Winging it buffalo style

 For the oven friend Chicken Wings

-2 Tablespoons salt

-2 cups warm water

-2 cups four

-2 teaspoons of salt

-1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)

Buffalo Sauce:

– 3 Table Spoons Cayenne Pepper sauce (Texas Pete is best! and it is made in NC)

-2 Table Spoons Melted Butter

Blue Cheese Dressing ( I make this to taste)

Crumbled Blue Cheese ( approx. 1/2 cup)
Sour Cream (approx. 1/2 cup)
Mayonaise (approx. 1/2 cup)
Italian Dressing (approx. 1 TBS bottled or powdered mix)
Half and Half (approx. 1 TBS)
Dashes of Pepper Sauce
Salt and Pepper

Accompaniments:

-Celery and/or Carrots

Directions:

Combine 2 TBS of Salt with warm water in a large bowl (large enough to hold chicken wings). After salt dissolves, add chicken. Add cold water to cover the chicken and top off with ice. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain chicken and pat dry. Place salt and flour in brown or plastic bag. Place a few wings in at a time to coat. Shake off excess flour. Repeat with all pieces.

Put butter on a sheet pan and put into oven until it melts. Place chicken skin side down onto the pan with melted butter. Cook up to 40 minutes. Flip and bake for about another 20 minutes (based on wing size).

Once chicken is done, take out and douse into the Buffalo Sauce mixture.

Directions for Buffalo Sauce:

Microwave pepper sauce and butter together

Directions Blue Cheese Dressing:

Mix all ingredients and taste—adjust accoringly.

Favorite Salad

When I was a road warrior, I had this similar salad at the Mall of America. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but I can’t forget my experience of all of these ingredients together in a salad.– Yummers!

Ingredients:
Baby greens
Kalamata olives
Crumbled Blue Cheese
Tomatoes
Toasted Pine Nuts

Toss with my new favorite dressing–mix to taste:
Zinfandel vinegar
Olive Oil
Touch of Maple Syrup

Jitas and Ritas

My mother in law can rock a kitchen like no other. Her cooking inspires us all.

While visiting for the 4th, she threw down some fajitas with my brother in law as her sous chef.

Her recipe thankfully is not a secret, so here goes:

Marinade for both the meat and the veggies:

Soy sauce

Canola Oil

Lemon juice

Celery Salt

Garlic Salt

Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

Meat: use chicken, beef or both.  Veggies: use onions, red bell peppers, green bell peppers (and yellow too!)

She, or her sous chef, cooks the meats and veggies separately on the grill.  She serves them with charro beans (recipe on page 142 of Matt Martinez Mex Tex), shredded sharp cheddar, flour tortillas homemade pico de gallo and homemade quacamole.

Her homemade guacamole is as follows—to taste)

mashed avocado

a bunch of fresh lemon juice

garlic salt

Cilantro

mayonnaise ( I was surprise by this. I haven’t ever used mayo in mine but it is GREAT!)

Margarita RX

No, I don’t self medicate, RX stands for rocks!

These recipe can be used for frozen also. When making your margarita, use this as a guide but always taste and adjust accordingly. Use less water for a more intense flavor.

Margarita Mix 1  (best and easiest to use for both RX and Frozen)
12 oz can Minute Made Limeade
2 oz of Roses Lime (approx)

This can be stored for a couple of week. Don’t add water to mix. Add the water when making your cocktail

Margarita Mix 2  (my favorite –Citrus Aide)
Ratio: 6 limes
2 Lemons
2 Oranges
Squeeze the citrus fruits into a container. Add simple syrup to create a Citrus-aide Margarita Mix
Simple Syrup– warm 2/3 water and add 1/3 sugar to melt sugar. Once cooled, add to Citrus fruit mixture. If you add while it is still warm, you will lose citrus flavor.
Make Citrus aide to taste.

Margarita Mix 3  (second favorite)
Squeeze key limes, add agave nectar. Make to taste.

Margarita RX
1 shot glass of Margarita Mix
1 shot glass of Tequila
1/2 shot glass of water
1/2 -3/4 shot of Triple sec (add more for sweeter margarita)

Shake, and pour over ice is a margarita glass. Make to taste. Do not use a wine glass or high ball glass. Just kidding.

Frozen Margarita
1 shot glass of Margarita Mix
7 oz of crushed ice
2 oz of frozen fruit
1 shot of Tequila
1/2 shot of triple sec
1/2 shot of frozen fruit matching liqueur*

* For mango margaritas use frozen mango and mango liqueur, frozen strawberries –use strawberry, frozen blueberries—use blueberry….duh. : 0 )

Kitchen Sink Sangria

Start with a great container, like a big glass punch bowl or an oversize glass cookie jar. Pour a big jug of Paisano wine by Carlo Rossi. It is an  inexpensive  way to refresh many of your guests and so perfect for your red sangria.

Then add what you have on hand. While in a restaurant  in Spain, I watched the service folks add gin, triple sec, sugar and freshly cut fruit. There are so many recipes that are just a google click away.

Flavors

What I do is use some of the same flavoring agents—otherwise know as flavored liqueurs that I use for my margaritas. On of my favorites that I have added has been a raspberry liqueur that I have swirled in my mango margaritas. You can use almost anything.Oh, and flavored brandy’s are great. Cherry comes to mind….

Juice

Continue to flavor your sangria with juice. Orange juice is the “safest” bet but be creative!

Fresh Fruit

Traditional sangria’s have fruit floating in them. If the apples and oranges have soaked in the wine long enough, they become a snack—packed with a punch. Fresh fruit makes the overall presentation pretty too!

What I do

For me, I start with the wine, add juice (almost always orange) add the flavoring agents of choice and then dunk the fruit. I never use the same measurement ratios twice and it is always a hit at my parties. Taste as you mix and adjust accordingly—that would be my recommendation.

Don’t forget to save some to swirl into your frozen lime margaritas!

Would love to hear from you about your favorite (and not so favorite) combinations.

It’s summer–Time for grilled pizza

So there she was–grilled to perfection with her homemade roasted tomato sauce —made with homegrown tomatoes. This recipe comes from Cuisine at Home. I highly recommend it.

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