Having a Party?
Holiday season is party season. What with Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, Kwanza, New Years, Diwali and probably some I have forgotten, there are many days to celebrate. Food is always a big part of celebrations. If you are planning large gathering a buffet is usually a good idea, especially with lots of finger food and easy to serve and eat items. A mix of hot (or warm) foods and cooler selections is nice. Don’t forget to have foods with a wide variety of qualities, vegetarian, non-dairy, gluten free, low carb, low fat, etc. And don’t forget to have some nice alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available. Flavored carbonated water is very popular now. Make up a pitcher with one or more flavors, add some ice and sliced grapefruit or oranges or lemons.
This week concludes our yearly cookie extravaganza. There are two new recipes for cut-out cookies at the bottom of the column. Hopefully by now you have at least a couple of types of frozen cookie dough in your freezer. So make a few cut-outs, bake off some of your refrigerator cookies and “hockey pucks.” Arrange them on some nice plates interspersed with a few chocolate truffles and chocolate dipped candied peel, and amaze your friends and family. They will think you have been baking all day. You don’t have to tell them how easy it is if you use your freezer.
Cut Out Cookie Recipes are at the bottom of the column.
Special Sales This Week
Fry’s—Some good deals. Buy One, Get One Free Sale on Fisher Nuts, Honey Nut Cheerios, Sabra Hummus, and a number of other items. Check out digital coupon good Dec 20-Dec 22 on Atlantic Salmon Fillets, $5.97/lb. Save 50% on Chefman Appliance Gifts, select types. Buy six bottles of wine (including Champagne,) get 10% off.
Fry’s will close at 9 P.M. on Christmas Eve and be closed all day on Christmas.
Safeway—3 Special just for u Digital Coupons this week. Challenge Butter, $.99/lb, first 2, Idaho Potatoes $.99/10 lb bag, first 1, and Jimmy Dean Bacon $.99/12 oz, first 4.
There is a 3 day $5 sale, Fri. 20th-Sunday 22nd with items like Kraft shredded or Cracker Barrel sliced cheese only $1.67/each, Fresh Asparagus, Broccoli Crowns or Cauliflower, $1/lb, and frozen shrimp only $10/2 lb bag. A number of good clip or Click coupons including Value Corner Paper Plates etc for only $.99/pk, Stella Parmesan Cheese, shredded or wedge, only $2.49/each or Hershey’s xl candy only $.99/each, select varieties.
Safeway will close at 9 P.M. on Christmas Eve but will be open 8 A.M. to 3 P.M. on Christmas Day.
Sprouts—Sprouts wants you to know that can provide artfully arranged catering trays including, Fresh Fruit, Fresh Vegetable, Dessert, Cheese, and Savory Antipasto. Please order from the Deli at least 48 hours before pickup. Notable low prices include California Cuties, $1.98/2 lb bag (do you put an orange in the toe of your Christmas stockings, a memory of the days when fresh fruit was not available at all times of the year) and Dark Chocolate Covered Cashews and Pecans $5.99/lb. Walnut halves and pieces or Dark Chocolate covered Walnuts $3.99/lb.
Sprouts Will close at 7 P.M. on Christmas Eve and will be closed on Christmas Day
National Days This Week
Dec 18—Suckling Pig Day (if you want to do this it is probably too late this year and I am not posting a video because I don’t want to gross people out, but they are on line.)
Dec 19—Oatmeal Muffin Day
Dec 20—Sangria Day
Dec 21—Winter Solstice—Yule. Have a bonfire and serve hot chocolate!
Dec 22—Date Nut Bread Day
Dec 23—Festivus (look on line for the full story, Seinfeld did not invent this)
Dec 24—Eggnog Day
Some Possibilities for Party Food (and Drink)
V= vegetarian, G = gluten free, C = low carb
Pigs in a Blanket
Jalapeño Poppers V, C
Cheese Sticks V
Cheese Thingies V
Assorted Veggie Sticks , and Apple Slices, wi. Dip V, G, C
Pumpkin Jalepeño Hummus with crackers or pita chips V, G
Proscuitto Mozzarella Balls G, C
Yogurt and Herb Dip V, G, C
Cucumber/Tomato Bites V, G, C
Mini Waffle Bar
non-Alcoholic Fruit Punch
A Few suggestions for quick meals pre-Christmas and post Christmas derivatives.
Composed Salad with Shrimp
Frittata (good light meal, good derivative)
French Toast (breakfast for supper anyone?)
Riced Cauliflower Fried Rice (good light meal, good derivative)
Turkey Soup as a derivative, or Quick Chicken Soup using a Deli Chicken and carton of stock or frozen from your freezer.
For more Derivatives see column from 12/3/19
Salads and Sides
Bacon is always good with egg dishes or Breakfast for supper.
Salad with Oranges
Oatmeal Muffins (specially good with Breakfast for Supper}
Date Nut Bread
A Plate of Christmas Cookies and/or Candy
Fruit Plate or Fruit and CheesePlate
Recipes and Videos
For your Party
Wouldn’t probably do the chicken one for a party—seems a little messy.
Pigs in Blanket, Jalapeño Poppers and Cheese Sticks look good though
These were originally called Mexican Hors D’oeuvres, but we soon started calling them Cheese Thingies and the name stuck.
You will need at least one loaf of cocktail bread, rye is best, or a baguette, sliced
Mix together in a medium bowl:
1 lb medium cheddar cheese, grated. (you can use pre grated but it won’t melt as well)
1 small onion, grated (about 3 Tablespoons)
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 small can chopped mild green chilis
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup neutral oil (sunflower, safflower, corn)
1 cup chopped ripe olives
dash Worcester sauce
small jar pimentos, chopped if necessary
The cheese mixture can be refrigerated for a day or two.
When ready to assemble—place a mound of cheese mixture on each bread round. Put on broiler pan or rack and put under broiler until cheese melts, but does not run over edges of bread. It may take a little practice to determine the right amount of cheese mixture.
The important thing is: Don’t Let them Burn. Someone will have to watch them (a good job for an older child or teenager.) If someone doesn’t watch them, they will burn. The line between slightly browned and burned is razor thin. (Recognize the voice of unhappy experience?) Remove them to a plate and circulate among your guests offering them. Then return to the oven and repeat.
Pumpkin Jalapeño Hummus
1 cup pumpkin puree Canned is fine or make your own.
1 clove garlic, peeled plus 1/2 clove grated for garnish
1 (15 0z.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed. Or cook your own.
1/2 fresh jalapeño pepper, or more to taste, seeded
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 Tablespoon for drizzling
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
To a food processor or blender add pumpkin, 1 clove garlic, garbanzo beans, lemon juice, olive oil, coriander, cumin and salt.Power on machine and slowly pour in water through chute, using only enough water to make a thick smooth consistency. Keep processing until well blended and thick.
Serve now, or cover tightly and refrigerate up to two days. When ready to serve bring to room temperature, grate 1/2 garlic on smallest size grater or micro grater Piace in small bowl with olive oil and grated garlic. Heat in microwave for 10-15 seconds, until warm, then set aside for a few minutes or until hummus warms. Drizzle flavored oil over hummus. Serve with pita chips, blue corn chips, crackers, veggie sticks etc.
Mini Waffle Ideas
Frozen Mini Waffles can be made into tasty finger food, both savory and sweet. Toast them until they are quite well browned (but not burnt) so they will be a little sturdier. Let them cool before adding toppings. They won’t stay crisp more than an hour or so, you can’t assemble ahead of time, but you can make all the toppings. This also makes a great “make it yourself” option. Just set out the toasted waffles and several topping options, a thickish and not too wet bottom layer, cream cheese with a mix in is great. Next you may want a slice or bit of something sweet or savory, top all with an attractive bit.
- Spread with chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella) or other chocolate spread. Pipe on a thin layer or a dollop of whipped cream, the canned kind is pretty, but it melts rapidly, or other whipped topping. Put a maraschino cherry on top, and/or shaved chocolate.
- Spread with a mixture of peanut butter, smooth or crunchy, and honey, about 2 Tablespoons honey to 1/4 cup peanut butter.Top with marmalade and shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles.
- Spread with orange marmalade or jam. Top with whipped cream. Put a few small pieces of soft candied ginger or candied orange peel and/or shaved chocolate on top.
- Spread with Lemon Curd. Top with clotted cream. Decorate with a sprig of mint and a scattering of very small lemon rind.
- Spread with a thin layer of cream cheese. Scatter with small pieces of crisp bacon and mushroom slices (sautéed in a little olive oil and well drained on paper towels)
- Spread with a very thin layer of mayo, place a lettuce leaf on top, another very thin layer of mayo, then a slice of fresh tomato and a strip of crisp bacon.
- Spread with refried black beans. Top with sour cream, then sprinkle grated cheese and chopped cilantro. Serve with salsa.
One discovery is Trader Joe’s Ginger Mango Chutney. It makes a great contribution to either sweet or savory. Also if you can find it, Garlic Onion Jam or Caramelized Onion and Balsamic Spread.
3 Quick Appetizers
Proscuitto Mozzarella Balls, Yogurt Herb Dip, Cucumber/Tomato Bites
Sparkling Pineapple Punch
This recipe uses cooked eggs, don’t forget to adjust temperature for altitude. Also since I don’t eat raw eggs I would use pasteurized egg whites, available in supermarkets.
Riced Cauliflower Fried Rice
Salad with Oranges
1 c. diced celery
1/2 cup chopped green onions
variety of lettuces (about 2-4 cups, torn)
2 cans mandarin oranges or 1 cup fresh mandarin sections (cuties or halos)
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
for dressing whisk together—
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) or a mix of tarragon (or apple cider) and balsamic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or 2 teaspoons fresh herbs, thyme, basil et.)
Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. When ready to serve pour dressing over and toss.
Date Nut Bread
For our high altitude you might try increasing the flour by a Tablespoon, increasing the heat by 25 degrees and/or cooking the bread in two smaller loaf pans instead of the 9 x 5 she uses.
Muffins don’t usually require much altitude adjustment but you should probably reduce baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons and add 1 Tablespoon extra flour.
On Sale This Week
Beef Roasts—$3.97/lb @Safeway, Ribeye. $3.97/lb @Safeway, New York. $4.47/lb @Fry’s, Ribeye. $7.99/lb @Sprouts, Presidential Cut Standing Rib Roast (limit 2)
Pork Roasts—$1.99/lb @Safeway, 1/2 boneless Pork loin or bone in shoulder. $2.99/lb @Sprouts, boneless loin or bone in Rack
Pork—$1.47/lb @Fry’s, Assorted chops, $2.77/lb @Fry’s, bone in natural, Center Cut
Ham—$1.27/lb @Safeway,Hormel cure 81, spiral sliced, limit 1. $1.47/lb @Fry’s, Kroger Spiral Sliced. $1.99/lb @Sprouts, Spiral Sliced.
Turkey—$.68/lb @Fry’s, frozen, while supplies last. $1.99/lb @Sprouts, All Natural Fresh Turkey, while supplies last.
Chicken—$1.99/lb @Safeway, B/S at the full serve butcher counter
Fish, Shellfish—9.99/lb @Sprouts, Sea Scallops or Sea of Cortez Shrimp. $9.99/lb @Safeway, wild caught Snow Crab Clusters. $9.99/lb @Fry’s, Sea Sea Scallops $13.98/2 lb bag, cooked shrimp, frozen.
Fruits and Vegetables
Bonus Video—4 Ways to Cut a Pineapple
Pineapple—$.88/each @Safeway. $2/each @Fry’s. $2.50/each @Sprouts
Blueberries—$.97/box @Fry’s. $1.25/box @Sprouts. $2.98/box @Sprouts (O)
Raspberries—$1.25/box @Sprouts. $2,98/box @Sprouts (O)
Blackberries—$.88/box @Safeway. $1.25/each @Sprouts $2.98/box @Sprouts
Mandarin Oranges—$1.98/2 lb bag @Sprouts. $3.99/3 lb bag @Fry’s.
Navel Oranges—$.99/lb @Safeway.
Cara Cara Oranges—$.88/lb @Sprouts
Apples—$1.99/lb @Safeway—Honeycrisp. $2.50/lb @Sprouts, Organic Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady.
Pears—$.98/lb @Sprouts, Comice
Greens—$2.50/bag @Safeway, Fresh Express Blends. $4.99/bag @Fry’s, Simple Truth (O)
Bell Peppers—$.98/each @Sprouts, red, yellow, orange
Avocados—$1/3 @Sprouts.$1.25/each @Safeway, Large.
Tomatoes—$2.50/pkg @Sprouts, Sunset, Campari, Kumato. $2.99/pkg @Fry’s, snacking
Carrots—$1.50/bag @Fry’s mini, rainbow. $1.25/bag @Sprouts, mini
Broccoli & Cauliflower—$.98/lb @Sprouts
Green Beans & Brussels Sprouts—$2.50/bag @Safeway, Green Giant
Potatoes—$.88/lb @Sprouts, red, gold, $2.98/3 lb bag @Sprouts,(O), @2.99/1.5 lb bag @Fry’s
Sweet Potatoes, $.99/lb @Safeway $2.98/3 lb bag @Sprouts, (O). $.99/lb @Fry’s
Other Good Deals
Eggs—$2.99/18 ct @Sprouts, Cage Free. $2,49/dz @Safeway, Cage Free
Hummus—$1.67/8 oz @Safeway, Tribe, $3/10 oz @Sprouts, Sprouts Brand. $BOGO @Fry’s, 10 oz. Sabra
Frozen Waffles—$2.49/box @Safeway
Bagels—BOGO @Fry’s, Thomas’ Bagels, English Muffins and Florida’s Natural o.j.
Sharp Cheddar Cheese,—$3.99/lb @Sprouts, Fresh Cut
Cut Out Cookie Recipes
Sugar Cookies for Cutouts
Favorite Cutout Christmas Cookies
This really is an old family recipe. My Mother originally found it in Zella Boutelll’s excellent cookbook, “The Christmas Cookbook” published in 1953. If you want toknow how to make real mincemeat from scratch or produce your own candied fruit, this will tell you how, with variations.
Our family has made some significant changes over the years, but two things never change—you really do need to use cake flour, and you really do need to sift before measuring. Some claim that you can use a combination of all purpose flour and cornstarch to sub for the cake flour, but it will not work in this recipe. And if you don’t sift, your dough will not come out right.
When properly made this is a wonderful dough for cutout cookies. It is smooth and supple, very forgiving, ideal for use by children. This recipe is only about a fourth of the original! You will still get about 2-3 dozen cookies (depending on the size of your cutters.) If you don’t use too much flour in rolling out the scraps can easily be re-rolled.
These mail well, either iced or un-iced. Make sure the frosting is dry and put some parchment paper between layers. They contain no eggs so they will not deteriorate quickly and are good for people with egg allergies.
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoons Honey
3T Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 fluid oz. Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate (or other liquid)
Grated rind of 1/2 orange (I usually leave this out because it tends to mess up the edges when you are cutting out the cookies)
2 1/2 cups sifted Cake flour + 2 Tablespoons
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground spices—suggested, 1/4 t cinnamon, 1/4 t mace, 1/4 t nutmeg 1/8 t clove, 1/8 t cardamom
1) Put honey, butter, sugar, orange juice, and grated rind (if using) in the top a double boiler over simmering water. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a metal bowl over simmering water. Heat, stirring from time to time until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Mixture should have a transparent appearance and if you rub a smidgeon between your fingers it should feel smooth, not gritty.
2) Sift cake flour, then measure out 2 1/2 cups into a medium bowl. Add salt, baking powder, and spices. Whisk together until well mixed.
3) Pour the honey mixture over the flour mixture.. Mix thoroughly.
4) Divide the dough into two pieces. Pat each into a smooth disc. Place in plastic bags or wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Overnight is fine. If you don’t want to use it all right now you can freeze it for up to a month (carefully double wrapped.)
When you are ready to cut out your cookies, set out the dough to warm up a little. Then work it with your hands until it is soft enough to roll out.
On a lightly floured surface (I use parchment paper) roll out to about 1/4 inch. Cut out cookies and place on parchment covered cookie sheets. Bake in a 300º oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until just golden brown.
Once cool the cookies may be kept tightly covered in a cool dry place, they may be frozen for up to a month undecorated. Just let warm and decorate a day or two before you need them. They are very crisp when first made. In a humid place they will begin to soften after a day or so. Anywhere they will be softened and delicious a day after icing.
Ice with butter cream tinted with gel food colors. Decorate with icing designs, sprinkles, colored sugar, red hots, etc. If carefully packed they travel well.
Hot coffee, Sherry, Other fruit juices or brandy can be substituted for the o.j.
Now half cup finely chopped nuts can be added (but this will make cutting out harder for kids)
Up to 1 cup finely chopped dried or candied fruit can be added. (Same caution as above)
My Mom used to put in nuts and fruits, but us kids finally talked her out of it. And the cutting process got a lot easier. I have contemplated using different liquids, but I really like the Orange flavor. Maybe some day. If you use frozen orange juice, use some of the undiluted concentrate. It really does taste good.