’Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry! We all love a good party, a cheeky drink and the odd naughty-but-nice nibble, but sometimes the season’s excesses can leave our bodies feeling less than tip-top, at a time of year when we’d really rather be at our best.
In between the Christmas parties, pack your diet with these nutrient-rich foods to help you stay fighting fit until Boxing Day and beyond.
These humble veggies contain high levels of selenium and B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, all of which are said to be good for your immune system. They’re also a great vegetarian source of Vitamin D.
Get your mushroom fix with this hearty, comforting soup.
Serve this hearty mushroom soup with a dollop of mascarpone
If you’re fighting a cold, load up on grapefruit, orange and lemon – they contain extremely high levels of vitamin C, which is said to help boost the immune system and protect cells. What’s more, eating whole fruits (as opposed to, say, juice or taking vitamin tablets) means you’ll also benefit from their fibre, and feel fuller for longer.
Try this vibrant winter salad. Feel free to mix up the citrus fruits as you like, swapping in grapefruit or clementine.
|Read more: Healthy food a Christmas
They may have a bit of a bad reputation, but health-wise, it’s well worth putting them on the menu for more than just one day of the year. These little round numbers contain high levels of glucosinolate compounds, said to help the body detoxify. Still not a fan? Consider opting for sprout tops, which have a milder flavour, but all the same nutritional properties. Cook them in the same way you would spinach or kale: simply wilted and dressed with a little lemon juice and olive oil.
Give your sprouts a Sicilian vibe in this elegant veggie side dish. Roasting them will bring out their natural sweetness, and a pinch of saffron takes things to the next level.
Spruce up your sprouts in this festive, gluten-free and vegan side
Packed with protein, natural yoghurt is a filling option for breakfast or an afternoon snack – meaning you’ll be less tempted to load up on party food later. It also contains lactic bacteria, known to support your immune system.
Try this minty yoghurt dip for a party-friendly snack that kids will love, too.
This really is an all-round nutritional powerhouse – it contains a winning combination of vitamin C (good for the immune system), vitamin K (to help strengthen bones) and folate, which is known to help with cell reproduction.
Try this nourishing broccoli and boiled egg salad from the new issue of Jamie magazine.
This punchy, crunchy salad is pure goodness on a plate
Okay, so a high dose of garlic might not make you the most popular person at the Christmas party, but this flavour-filled veggie is a wonder ingredient in the nutrition stakes. It contains allicin, vitamin C and B6, all of which are thought to be good for preventing colds and reducing blood pressure.
Up the comfort factor with this creamy Spanish-style roasted almond and garlic soup.
If you’ve overdone it the night before, ginger is heralded for its calming, stomach-settling properties, and is often used as a natural car-sickness remedy. It’s also an anti-inflammatory and a good source of manganese and potassium.
Pack ginger into your brekkie with this super-nutritious smoothie.
Pack in a few more of your 5-a-day with this smashing smoothie
It may seem obvious, but ensuring you drink enough H20 is more important than ever at this time of year. Two thirds of our body is made up of water, so staying hydrated is crucial for pretty much everything we do, as well as ensuring we don’t overeat, having mistaken thirst for hunger. When you’re consuming more alcohol than usual, water is doubly important. Alcohol is a diuretic, so drinking excessively can make us very dehydrated. Aim to have a glass of water for each alcoholic drink you have – you’ll thank us in the morning!
Give your water a fruity twist with these easy ideas for natural flavourings.
Be the host with the most with our best ever dinner party recipes. Choose from delicious starters, mains and stunning desserts.
Classy cocktail recipes
Raise a toast with one of our tantalising tipples.
Dinner party dessert recipes
Finish your evening in style with a decadent chocolate tart, fruity trifle, cheesecake or ice cream dessert. Our stunning yet simple puddings are sure to impress.
Dinner party main recipes
From easy crowd-pleasing recipes to more impressive dishes for special occasions, try our dinner party main course ideas for fuss-free entertaining.
Dinner party starter recipes
Kick off your meal in style with our chic selection of starters. From soups and salads to scallops and smoked salmon, these elegant dishes are sure to impress.
How to party and stay well Survive the festive season with our essential guide to safe eating and drinking.
IT'S Christmas when we eat, drink and. fall ill. Rich food, alcohol, parties, late nights and shopping trips - no wonder we are vulnerable at this time of year.
But today we show you simple ways to cope with the demands of the party season, using conventional and alternative therapies.
The number of UK sufferers is estimated to soar by five million during the party season, according to the makers of indigestion tablets Rennie - and, not surprisingly, too much rich food and alcohol is to blame.
Food takes up to 72 hours to pass through the system, and this is prolonged after lots of rich or fatty foods.
Your intestinal tract gets bloated and more acid is produced, which can cause two types of indigestion.
The first is heartburn, a burning pain in the chest caused by acid being pushed back up the gullet. This may occur if you've had a large meal within two or three hours of going to bed, you bend down after eating, or if you're stressed or pregnant.
The second type is abdominal bloating, when the stomach feels over-full. You may also get abdominal gas distension, or trapped wind. Rich and spicy foods are the most likely cause.
Conventional: Top pharmacist Derek Balon recommends alginate remedies which stop acid. Try Gaviscon (pounds 2.15 for 100ml) or BiSoDoL Heartburn Relief (pounds 2.45 for 20).
Alternative: Peppermint helps relax muscle contraction and soothes the stomach. Jill Nice, author of Herbal Remedies (Piatkus, pounds 9.99), recommends one teaspoon of peppermint to one cup of boiling water. A glass of milk or hot water mixed with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda may help.
Conventional: Antacid with dimethicone or peppermint oil will help free trapped wind. Try Rennie Deflatine (pounds 2.99, 18) or Setlers Wind-eze Gel-Caps (pounds 3.45, 30).
Alternative: Jill Nice recommends half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon in a cup of warm milk. Or try Weleda Carminative Tea (pounds 3.90, 50g) or GR Lanes Trapped Wind and Indigestion Tablets (pounds 4.59, 100).
Avoid eating a large meal two to three hours before you go to bed. nLoosen tight clothing after a meal to prevent pressure on the stomach.
nTake a brisk walk each day to keep your digestive system moving.
nEat fruit such as pineapple, which contains an enzyme that aids digestion.
nAvoid spicy pickles and sauces - a common indigestion trigger.
nAlternate large, heavy meals with light, simple ones.
One in three of us is likely to have a hangover at this time of year, according to research by Alka-Seltzer and 54 per cent of women now drink alcohol on a weekly basis.
A hangover is caused by several factors, including the accumulation of aldehydes, the breakdown products of alcohol. These cause dehydration, headaches and nausea, made worse by higher acidity levels in the stomach, from alcohol coming into contact with its delicate lining.
Heavy alcohol, such as port and some red wines, produce worse hangovers than some white wines, because dark drinks contain more toxins than white drinks. However, the main factor is the sheer volume of alcohol and whether you drink on an empty stomach. Women are more susceptible to alcohol than men because of their smaller body mass.
Conventional: Tend to be fizzy to increase absorption rate. It should contain citric acid, sodium bicarbonate and a painkiller such as para- cetamol to deal with that headache. Try Andrews Salts (pounds 2.59, 150g) or Eno (pounds 3.19, 150g).
Alternative: Bananas contain energy-giving potassium. Jill Nice advises you take two or three capsules of evening primrose oil, which is believed to normalise liver function.
Alternate alcohol with soft drinks.
nEat something before you go out drinking. Yoghurt or a glass of milk will line your stomach. It will also help to minimise any hangover.
nChoose light-coloured drinks such as white wine, rather than dark drinks such as red wine or port.
Drink several glasses of water before you go to bed.
A tension headache from stress is a tight, vice-like pain that can last from several hours to a few days. Muscles at the back of your head, neck and shoulders go into spasm because they've been tensed up.
Conventional: Painkillers should help within 30 minutes. Try paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen. If you need a stronger remedy, take a combination analgesic such as Solpadeine (pounds 4.59) for 32) which contains a painkiller and a sedative.
Alternative: Rub lavender oil, blended with a carrier oil such as almond, into your temples. Try Tisserand Lavender Roller Ball (pounds 2.99 for 10ml). Or relax in a warm bath with a few drops each of lavender, ylang ylang and rosewood essential oils, blended with a carrier oil. Nux vomica is also soothing.
Be organised to avoid panics.
Make time for a brisk walk each day - exercise relieves tension.
Try deep breathing. Dr Shantha Godagama, author of The Handbook of Ayurveda (Kyle Cathie, pounds 9.99) said: "Breathe in deeply from the abdomen, which will expand, up to the rib cage and then the collarbone. Breathe out and give the abdomen a gentle push to clear breath from the base of the lungs. Inhale to a slow count of four and exhale to a slow count of eight.
Tiredness weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to illness.
Conventional: If it's an ongoing problem, see your doctor to rule out anaemia. Otherwise, take supplements with vitamin B complex and magnesium. Or try a tonic, such as Labiton (pounds 4.15 for 200ml), with B vitamins, kola nut and caffeine.
Alternative: Remedies containing ginseng are effective. Try Health Aid Korean Ginseng (pounds 9.99 for 30). Yoga can also help, according to Fiona Acrombar, author of Beat Fatigue With Yoga (Element, pounds 8.99).
Alternate late nights with early ones to prevent getting over-tired.
Avoid caffeine and sugar, both of which cause energy dips after the initial high.
Exercise regularly to increase production of energy-giving endorphins.
Eat protein-rich foods such as fish and chicken, combined with carbohydrate, like pasta.
Around 40 per cent of us suffer from back pain every year and at Christmas it's even worse. Top physiotherapist Sammy Margo said: "We see more patients because people are doing things they're not used to, such as putting up decorations."
For severe pain, ask your GP to refer you to a physiotherapist or go to an osteopath.
For occasional pain, try heat treatment. A warm bath, or hot shower will help.
Have a massage to release tension.
Try a simple stretch. For lower back pain, lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and stomach muscles pulled in. Bend your right knee up to your chest, then follow it with your left knee. Tuck your hands behind your knees and pull gently to your chest. Hold for a count of five. Repeat five times. If your pain started after bending or lifting, try this: lie on your front, with your hands under your shoulders. Keeping your pelvis on the floor, slowly push up with your forearms. Lower and repeat ten times.
Take care when lifting anything heavy. Keep your back straight and bend your knees. After lifting, stretch backwards.
"Use a rucksack instead of a shoulder bag for shopping," said Sammy Margo. "And load heavy items at the edge of the boot of your car, so you don't strain your back lifting them out again."
Watch your posture. When standing, pull your navel into your spine to help keep your back straight.
nIf you're sitting for long periods, place a cushion in the small of your back for extra support. Get up every 20 minutes or so.
At Christmas we're in close contact with others and their germs. This makes us vulnerable to chills and flu.
Conventional: For a sore throat try a lozenge such as Strepsils Cough (pounds 2.55, 24 lozenges), Dequacaine (pounds 2.75, 24 lozenges) or a throat spray like Difflam (pounds 5.99, 30ml). For a blocked nose try a decongestant such as Contac 400 (pounds 4.79, 12) or Mu-Cron (pounds 2.60, 12). For general relief try Lemsip (pounds 2.75, 10 sachets), Benylin Day and Night Cold Treatment (pounds 3.79, 20) or Day Nurse Liquid (pounds 4.59, 160ml).
Alternative: Take 1-2ml of echinacea tincture, which shortens the length of a cold, every two to three hours. For a blocked nose, add a few drops of the decongestant essential oils eucalyptus and peppermint to a bowl of hot water. Inhale for ten minutes.
nTake a garlic supplement, which has antiviral and antibacterial qualities. Try Boots Odour-Controlled One-a-day Garlic tablets (pounds 2.49, 100).
The Ultimate Festive Season Survival Guide
Longer days in the sun, fresh seafood, summer fruit and if you’re lucky, a few days off work – what’s not to love about the festive period? For many of us a change in routine and a few more get togethers than usual can sometimes throw a spanner in the works when it comes to balanced eating. We understand that the lure of ‘treating yourself’ can be hard to resist even at the best of times, and during the festive season, it’s even more difficult. That’s why dietitians Anna and Alex from The Biting Truth have a few savvy tips to keep you feeling in control.
Check in with yourself: boredom vs hunger
The silly season for the majority of us means at least a couple of days off work and therefore a bit more down time than usual. A lazy day at home means 24/7 access to the fridge and pantry. To prevent the mindless grazing all day long, we recommend tuning in to those hunger cues before reaching for the nut jar. Is it hunger or are you just bored? If it’s boredom, try getting outside and being active.
Eat before you head out
Arriving at a party feeling ravenous usually doesn’t end well. Try and eat a small nutritious snack before you leave home to keep your cravings in check and to ensure you don’t go overboard (e.g. yoghurt, fruit, oats, nuts, veggie sticks and hummus). It’s best to save yourself for the main meal to prevent overeating.
Watch those portions
When the buffet table is overflowing, it can be easy to pile your plate higher than you would at home. Aim to fill your plate with lots of veggies, a lean source of protein and a low GI carbohydrate. Quick tip: try using a small entrée-sized plate to help prevent putting too much on your plate. Try using your hands to visually measure out portion sizes:
- Veggies – (non starchy) should be about the size of two hands
- Carbohydrates (e.g. pasta, rice, bread, potato) – should be about the size of your fist
- Protein (e.g. beef, chicken, fish, eggs) – should be about the size of your palm
Wait before having seconds
Before you start eyeing off that second helping, allow 20 minutes for your body to digest what it’s eaten. Chances are your cravings will die down as your body has enough time to feel full and satisfied. It’s also a good idea to stand away from the food, as otherwise you might find yourself mindlessly munching.
Drink in moderation
Alcohol, whilst truly festive, doesn’t offer much when it comes to nutrition. It contains almost twice the amount of kilojoules (energy) of protein and carbohydrate and few nutrients. Regularly consuming alcohol, in large amounts, during the silly season can contribute to unwanted weight gain and is often consumed in place of nutrient rich foods. We’re not saying don’t consume alcohol – let’s be realistic! If you do choose to drink, try to match each drink with a glass of water or soda water. This will also help keep you hydrated, which might help with the hangover! Choose your drinks wisely as some pre mixed drinks can contain the same amount of sugar as a block of chocolate.
Most importantly, have fun! The festive season is about enjoying good company, so make sure you opt to be outdoors and active with your loved ones. Who knows, you might even be able to enjoy an extra glass of wine if you run around enough!
To maximize the tangy flavor of the rye flour, use rye whiskey instead of bourbon.
Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.
Partnership helps children make.
Kindergarten children from Goodstart Morayfield. read more
Welcome to The Goodstart Way
A unique approach to the way in which we work i. read more
Behaviour in children under three.
In the first of three-part series, we look at b. read more
Sharing of tea creates special moments
The culture of tea ritual at Goodstart Red Hill. read more
Claremont set to reveal playground.
A $220,000 renovation will be revealed at Goods. read more
All families well catered for at.
A new cubby house, timber stage for performance. read more
Partnership helps children make smooth transition
Kindergarten children from Goodstart Morayfield will start school feeling confident and independent thanks to a special partnership. read more
Welcome to The Goodstart Way
A unique approach to the way in which we work is at the heart of The Goodstart Way. read more
Behaviour in children under three years old
In the first of three-part series, we look at behaviour in children under the age of three years old. read more
Sharing of tea creates special moments
The culture of tea ritual at Goodstart Red Hill has won the team a 2018 National Goodie Award. read more
Claremont set to reveal playground renovation
A $220,000 renovation will be revealed at Goodstart Claremont on April 2. read more
All families well catered for at North Melbourne
A new cubby house, timber stage for performances and a story circle are all features of the brand new North Melbourne centre. read more
Are you ready to bring that Moscow mule into the holiday season? If so, you have to get a taste of the Christmas mule. It's an easy hot cocktail for cold winter nights that uses a pear vodka base against steaming ginger beer. Add a cinnamon stick and allow it to infuse into the drink as you sip. It's comfort in a glass.
25 Ideas to Replace Your Traditional Holiday Party
What if you put a different spin on your annual holiday party?
Office holiday parties are a great way to connect and show appreciation to staff for their hard work all year long. Instead of making it a dreaded annual event with minimal participation, have a bit of fun by thinking outside-the-box.
Company Christmas party ideas can extend beyond the traditional food and drink spreads. No need for booze-filled events or fried food extravaganzas this holiday season.
Unique, healthy holiday parties don’t have to be time-consuming to plan, either. In fact, most can be organized with a few days of advanced planning, depending on the size of your office staff.
Here’s a list of 25 company Christmas party ideas employees will love:
1. Take the Team Ice Skating or Sledding
If you live in a place that gets a lot of snow during winter, take advantage of it. There's nothing more holiday-like than enjoying nature's winter wonderland. Plus, newbies on skates always provide good laughs. And, it’s great exercise.
2. Host a Coat Drive
Many children are without winter coats. Instead of spending money on a catered meal or fancy holiday staff party, consider purchasing coats for needy children. Reach out to the local school district to find out which schools have the highest need, and what size coats to purchase. You don't have to buy coats for an entire school to make a difference. Even one classroom might benefit from your coat drive.
3. Participate in a Holiday 5k Walk/Run
If you have staff who love to be active, sign up for a group holiday 5K walk/run. Instead of sitting around sipping cocktails at a holiday party, your staff will be burning calories instead. Once the run is over, encourage staff to head back to the office to celebrate. If the weather is cold during the run, have hot soups and hot chocolate waiting for participants.
4. Volunteer at a Local Food Bank
Believe it or not, 51% of food programs rely on volunteers. Holidays are busy times for food banks and programs due to the increase in need. Round up your employees to go sort, pack, and organize food and get to know some of the recipients who rely on such services to survive. It may just encourage your staff to become regular volunteers.
5. Go Caroling
How fun is it to revive an old-time holiday tradition? Even if your group isn't full of professional singers, it's a fun activity for all who go. Consider stopping by a local nursing home and bringing candy canes or cookies for residents to enjoy while your group sings.
6. Screen a Holiday Movie
Rent out a space to screen a holiday, family-friendly movie. Some good options include Elf, Jingle All the Way, and The Santa Clause. Serve refreshments like hot chocolate, apple cider, and Christmas snacks.
7. Vegetarian/Vegan Catered Meal or Potluck
Instead of bringing in fatty holiday treats for workers, offer delicious vegan or vegetarian options. Plenty of restaurants serve vegetarian and vegan meals for companies with a larger catering budget. Prefer a staff potluck? Encourage staffers to bring in healthy meat-free options. Pinterest has great recipe ideas for those who might be stumped. This healthier alternative to a traditional potluck encourages better eating habits. It also reduces the number of calories and junk food employees eat during the holidays.
8. Host a Spa Day
Hire a team of local massage therapists to provide massages at your office. Set up a separate room for employees to enjoy full-body massages. Ask therapists to bring in oils reminiscent of the holidays like peppermint or pumpkin spice. If your budget allows, give all employees massage gift certificates or raffle off an at-home spa day gift basket.
9. Deliver Care Packages to the Homeless
Spend the day with your team handing out care packages to the homeless in your community. Items to consider including in a backpack: socks, chapstick, and pre-packaged snacks like jerky and crackers. A roll of quarters for washing laundry is a nice touch, too. Add a Christmas card with a heartfelt message to brighten the recipient’s day.
10. Donate on Behalf of Employees
Hang stockings with various charity names. Let employees put their names in the stockings of the charity they love most. Donate to the charity on their behalf. Do this in addition to or in lieu of Christmas bonuses for employees who opt for it.
11. Local Chefs Demo
Hire a few local chefs to do a food demonstration in-house or during a private restaurant event. Employees can pick up tips on using locally-sourced, in-season ingredients for holiday meals.
12. High Tea Luncheon
This only works for certain groups, but it’s a unique one, nonetheless. Have employees come dressed to the nines for a tea party. Instead of indulging in heavy holiday meals, a tea party offers healthier meal alternatives like cucumber sandwiches and light soups.
13. Pajama or Holiday Wear Day
If your office is super low-key, let employees get comfy on the last day of work before the holidays. Pajamas or funky holiday costumes (flashing Santa hats, anyone?) create a festive atmosphere and let employees have some fun. Set a dress code prior to the dress-down day to eliminate any shocking outfits. Be sure to take a group photo and post your warm holiday wishes on Facebook.
14. Yoga Workshop
Bring in a yoga instructor to lead an all-day workshop for your team. Mindfulness training, meditation, and yoga stretching can benefit workers who are stressed due to holiday pressures.
15. Bell Ringing Helpers
Salvation Army always needs volunteers at store posts to ring bells for collecting donations. Have your team sign up for various time slots to help a good cause. After everyone has finished their shift, treat your staff to a meal at a local restaurant that offers healthy meal options.
16. Multicultural Holiday Feast
Not everyone celebrates the same holidays. Bring together your employees of different religious faiths and backgrounds with a feast featuring a variety of cultural dishes. This event allows employees to share viewpoints and unique cultural experiences.
17. Storytime With Santa
If your company has a large lobby that would nicely fit a winter wonderland scene, set up Santa’s shop. Set a time and day for employees to have pictures taken (pets and kids can be invited, too). Open it to the public for a small fee then donate proceeds to a charity like Toys for Tots.
18. Ugly Sweater Day
Have employees pull their ugliest sweaters from the back of their closets to wear on ugly sweater day. Let employees vote for their favorite, and give the winner a gift card. Download a free photobooth app or rent a photo booth machine with props for employees to use. Make ornaments out of the photos and hang them on the office tree. Or, add the photos to a private cloud account for employees to view.
19. Holiday Office Decorating Contest
Let the competitive holiday games begin! Encourage employees to decorate their hallways, bulletin boards, cubicles, or offices. Make it an official day of decorating. Turn on the Christmas music and offer light refreshments or a catered lunch. Then, have customers vote on their favorite decor and present a gift card to the winners (first, second, and third places) at the end of December.
20. Healthy Side Dish Swap
Instead of a cookie exchange, host a healthy side dish swap. Create a sign-up sheet for employees to bring their favorite healthy side dishes in. Ask each employee who brings a dish to also include a recipe card so coworkers can snag the recipe if they love it.
21. Santa’s Workshop
Encourage employees to come dressed up to an office holiday party. Have someone volunteer to come as Santa to hand out candy canes and employee bonuses. If your office enjoys hosting family-friendly parties, set up a cookie bar for kids to decorate desserts. Add an ornament-making station for the crafty types.
22. Gingerbread House Contest
One of the best parts of Christmas is all the wonderful activities for children. Let your office staff feel like kids again with a gingerbread house contest. Create teams to design the best gingerbread house in under 15 minutes.
23. DIY Tree Lighting Ceremony
If you have super festive employees who love the holidays, a DIY tree lighting ceremony might light them up. Assign a few employees to the task of Christmas tree setup. On the day you choose to light up your office Christmas tree, invite employees and their families to enjoy the lighting. Coloring activities, Christmas Bingo, and dance-offs will keep kids entertained and adults smiling.
24. See a Holiday Show Together
Take your staff to a holiday performance like The Nutcracker to get everyone in the spirit of winter magic. Or, for a cheaper alternative, watch a holiday movie together in theaters.
25. Creative Craft Day
Bring crafty individuals together as a team to create holiday decor for the office. Have employees bring in a variety of recyclable supplies such as popsicle sticks, bottle caps, ribbon, sequins, and more. Supply bigger items like greenery for wreaths, hot glue guns, and scissors to piece together projects. Spend the rest of the day hanging the creations around the office.
What nontraditional party ideas do you have? Share in the comments below!
Steelers-Themed Recipes Make For Festive Viewing And Tailgating
May 22, 2012 Pittsburgh, PA, USA Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) stretches during organized team activities at the Steelers training facility. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
(The photo is Deebo getting ready for a Big Snack!)
It's finally football season! There's a certain crispness in the air, although in the case of Pittsburgh this week the crispness is just the crunch of the masses of acorns my pin oaks are throwing on the sidewalk in their desperate race to reproduce themselves before it is too late. There's a pungent smell of barbeque in the air as the sacrifices begin wafting heavenwards to the football gods. And, most tellingly, the little Steeler flags and Steeler yarmulkes and Terrible Towels are blossoming like some sort of late-summer perennial in my neighborhood. Yup, the Steelers are playing soon!
So it's time to dig out the recipes and make some food for Sunday night. No giant bags of nacho chips and florescent orange "cheese" dip for me. We expect extraordinary things of the players, and why should we expect any less of ourselves?
Every year it seems somebody starts a fanpost, or several, with recipes for tailgate food. Some of the folks on this site are obviously pretty awesome cooks! But I prefer lighter fare, something a shade more elegant than the typical tailgate food. So here, for your dining pleasure, are some Steelers-themed recipes to add panache to your party and brio to your banquette.
8 Portabella Mushrooms (This is an estimate. If they are the really super giant ones, the ones the size of a small pizza, you only need a few. If they are more modest in size — linebacker size, say, or even a DB, rather than Hampton-sized, you'll want more. Use your discretion. You might want to make this critical decision before you start, um, celebrating. )
4 T. butter (do not, I repeat, do not use margarine!)
1 small bunch green onions (scallions)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. frozen crabmeat, thawed, drained, picked over (for random shell bits and so on) and flaked
Preheat broiler. Butter, spray with Pam, or otherwise prepare a shallow baking dish suitable to hold your mushroom caps.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Don't throw them out. Now place your mushroom caps, gill side down, in your dish, and brush them with olive oil. You want them to be well sealed so the inside doesn't dry out, but you don't want them to be swimming in the stuff, either. Utilize any remaining discretion you may have. Put them under the broiler for about 3 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven, flip them over, and lightly salt and pepper the gill side. Feel free to brush a bit more olive oil on the gill side if they look dry. You don't want them to be dry, in case I haven't mentioned this. Stick them back under the broiler for another minute or three. You want them to be about as cooked as you like them at this point, because the further oven time doesn't do much more than heat up the filling. Take them out when you think they are ready and turn the oven to 350 degrees. (If you wish to prepare the mushrooms to be ready to bake later on, just turn it off.)
Back to those mushroom stems you didn't disgard. Trim, chucking the woody bits at the end of the stem, and chop finely. Mince the green onions—use the whole bunch, including a good bit of the green tops, if you like onions, and modify accordingly if you're not so keen. Melt the butter and saute the mushroom and onion bits until soft. Mix in the breadcrumbs, then gently stir in the cream cheese and crabmeat.
Evenly divide your crabmeat/breadcrumb/etc. mixture between the mushrooms and spread it on. At this point you can wrap the whole thing up and refrigerate it until later. Or else stick them in the oven. If you're cooking them right away, bake them for 8 - 10 minutes, until the filling is nicely heated up. If you refrigerated them, you'll have to cook them a bit longer. How much longer? I don't know. This is where you have to hope you saved a few more shreds of discretion. You want the filling a bit bubbly but not toasted.
Serve these babies on a plate. Cutlery might be a good option as well. Unless you've got hands as big as Casey Hampton , this isn't really finger food.
Serves - well, I don't know how many people. It depends on whether they like mushrooms and crabmeat or not. If you're only inviting a few people, you might want to halve the recipe.
Black and Yellow Deeboed Eggs
1 T. capers, more or less, depending on how much you like them. If you don't like them at all, don't put them in.
1 small jar cheap black caviar (or use expensive caviar if you like, although then the eggs are too large and it doesn't look right. )
Hard-boil the eggs. Try not to overcook them so they don't get that funky greenish ring around the yolk. On the other hand they don't work very well if everything is oozing out when you try to peel them. You do know how to hard-boil an egg, right?
Anyhow, cool down your hard-boiled eggs in cold water, and when they are sufficiently cool to handle, peel them. Slice them lengthwise and place the yolks into a smallish bowl. Remember, this is 2012, and all things NFL are kinder and gentler. Lower them gently to the bottom of the bowl, just like James Harrison tackling a quarterback without getting a fine.
Once you've lovingly divested them of the yolks, arrange the egg whites artistically on a platter. Add everything except the caviar and the egg whites to the yolks. Mash it all up, but leave some texture. You don't want these as smooth as normal deviled eggs. Add a bit of salt, but don't go overboard, as the caviar is salty. So are the capers, if you're using them. Add a bit more sour cream and/or mayo if it seems dry.
Divide the yolk mixture among the egg whites. If you are AR you can use a melon scoop or some such to make it look tidy. Decorate with the caviar. The idea is to be able to see a good bit of the gold egg mixture peeping shyly out from under the bits of caviar. If you're REALLY AR you can place the caviar, bit by bit, on the yolk mixture in the form of a hypocycloid. Let me know how that works out. You are unlikely to need the whole jar, so save the leftovers for future recipes!
Makes 24, unless you messed up some of the egg whites. Try not to do that. Roger Goodell will fine you $75,000 smackers, like as not. (I don't guarantee you won't be fined, just for the name.)
Chicken wings seem to be a big part of sports viewing events. But surely we can do better than plain old chicken wings:
Ike and Antonio's Royal Squab(ble)
2 T. jerk seasoning, mesquite seasoning, or whatever other flavor you fancy
several crushed garlic cloves
Squabs, at least one per person, cut in half lengthways - your friendly squab butcher will probably be happy to do that for you. If your squab butcher is REALLY friendly, s/he might partially debone them for you, which has its advantages. Alternately you could use quail, or, I suppose, pheasant. If you're really desperate you could use chicken wings, preferably the drumstick bit of them. Don't tell me if you do. The marinade is sufficient for 4 pounds of "drummettes," but probably less squab or quail, because of the surface area issue. So if you want a lot of squab, make more marinade.
Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add your fowl, mix well so it is all thoroughly coated, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours.
When you're ready to grill them, let them warm up for 30 minutes or so. Spray the grate with Pam and heat the grill to medium-hottish. (If you spray the grill after you heat it you'll get flames whooshing up. Which is pretty cool, but not entirely safe. Please don't ask me how I know this.) Grill your fowl of choice for 12-18 minutes, for chicken. You'll have to adjust the time for squab or quail. Turn them often and baste them with any remaining marinade for the first half of the cooking time. After that refrain from further basting, because of the whole raw-fowl-juice-in-the-marinade-salmonella thing.
These are too nice to serve with buffalo sauce or anything like that. You may sprinkle them with chopped peanuts and scallions if you wish. Or an upscale brand of hot sauce. Sprinkle! Not drown! If you're going to put good whiskey in the marinade it's a waste to cover up the flavor with anything else. Serve with cloth napkins. Hopefully someone else does your laundry.
Finally, we have the quintessential late summer taste, with an Ambassador Rooney twist:
Lettuce, Tomato, and Bacon Jam Sandwiches
5 garlic cloves, smashed in a garlic press
1/4 c. maple syrup (the real thing, not in a bottle shaped like a lady, if you get my drift)
1/2 c. Guinness (accept no substitutes)
1 T. hippie mustard (you know, the kind that you can still see the mustard seeds in it)
Good bread with some integrity to it - ciabatta or some such
Good tomatoes with some integrity to them. Preferably heirloom tomatoes you grew yourself, or got from the farmer's market. They must be red, not pink (unless they are a different heirloom variety which is supposed to be pink.) They must have flavor. If you're desperate, you can get the stem tomatoes from the grocery store. The RED ones.
Good lettuce, preferably red oakleaf or something pretty and buttery
Butter. Preferably Irish butter. Really. Not mayo, in this case, although if you don't tell me I'll never know, I suppose.
First you have to make your Bacon Jam. Here's how:
Fry the (chopped) bacon over medium heat until it is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Remove all but a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease from the pan, and gently fry the onion in it. When it is translucent and just beginning to brown throw in the garlic and cook a few more minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic. If you do, you'll regret it, as it gets bitter.
Add in everything except the bacon and mix it up well. When it is amalgamated add the bacon, and continue stirring and cooking until it gets darker and stickier and starts to look like, well, jam. Or overdone marmalade, really. Turn the heat off.
Depending on how thoroughly you chopped your bacon and onions and so on, and how much texture you like, you may find you are now the proud owner of bacon jam. If you want it a bit smoother, feel free to chuck it in the food processor for a few spins. If it seems too stiff add a bit of your favorite liquid - maple syrup if you want it sweeter, balsamic vinegar if you want it more pungent, or Guinness if you want it more - well - Guinness-y.
Cool it down. DO NOT EAT IT ALL STRAIGHT OUT OF THE PAN. You will have trouble making the sandwiches in that case, for various reasons.
To make the sandwiches—do I really have to tell you this? Well, okay. If you want to make cute finger-sandwich-size sandwiches, cut circles of your good bread slices with a biscuit cutter. Or make them square. The shape doesn't matter all that much, although you'll want to make it roughly equivalent to the size of your tomato slices. What matters is that you only have bread on the bottom. These are going to be open-faced. Although if you put a second slice on top I suppose I'll never know about that, either.
Butter the bread. Liberally. This is especially important if you are making them ahead of time. Put a leaf of lettuce in a tasteful fashion on the bread. Dry the lettuce first. You did wash it, didn't you? Put a suitably-sized slice of tomato on top of the lettuce. If they are heirloom beefsteak tomatoes right out of your garden (or other-thick-skinned varieties) you may want to peel them. Otherwise don't bother. If you cut the tomatoes latitudinally (side to side instead of top to bottom) not quite as much of the insides gush out. If you're lucky. Spread a goodly dollop of bacon jam on top of your tomato. Voilà, as they say in la belle France. (A place, I might add, where they don't make bacon jam.)
You can, of course, put out the fixings and let people make their own sandwiches. But first thing you know your uncle Fred has eaten all of the bacon jam, and where does that leave the rest of you? You have been warned. Don't let Uncle Fred in the kitchen while you're making the jam, either, as he may drink the Guinness (or even possibly the maple syrup) before you can put it into the pan. You've got to watch out for Uncle Fred.
That's all for today. As the weather progresses towards that appropriate for fall I'll post some more recipes for cooler weather. The mushrooms are probably pushing it as it is, unless you've cranked the AC all the way up.
Here's wishing us all a gratifying viewing experience. Hopefully it will be gratifying because of the result of the game. But if not, there's always food!
A Lesson In Surviving Silly Season Without Killing The Party
By now you've probably attended your fair share of boozy dos but with Christmas and NYE still to get through, a run of sober nights you don't have. And while we're fully onboard, if you feel anything like us then your enthusiasm for skinny bitches - the drink, not the workout collective - is probably waning. It's time to hear from the experts.
DJ Zara Martin makes a living hurdling hangovers. If she's not djing the party, she's hosting a party to celebrate another collection with Skinny Dip.
Who better to talk remedying an excess late nights spent thinking you're part of Mariah's backing band with then?
45 Summer Dinner Ideas That Make the Most of the Season's Bounty
Fresh produce and alfresco dining? We love this time of year.
Rejoice, fresh food lovers, because summer is upon us! Tis the season of fresh berries, even fresher veggies, and of course tomatoes and zucchini galore! It's time to eat outside, to cook outside, and to basically spend as much time outside in every way possible. To make the most of the season, we've rounded up some of our most favorite summer dinner ideas, ideal for enjoying on a back porch with a pitcher of sweet tea or a chilled glass of rosé. Whether it's some stellar grilling recipes you're after or dishes for using up your fresh summer produce, you'll find everything you need in this list. And if you'd rather avoid the oven or stove on scorching days, there are several recipes that use the grill or can be whipped up without any heating like some delicious summer salads.
For dinners that can feed a crew, check out the Worcestershire-glazed burgers, grilled sausages, or grilled Margherita pizza. If you have a large back porch, you probably host a fair amount of summer dinners, meaning you're likely to be in the market for some summer side dishes as well. Look to the cast iron beans, Parmesan tots, or cauliflower mac-and-cheese for sides that will fill a crowd up. Don't forget a refreshing batch of summer cocktails that will put anyone in a good mood after a hot day. Your dinner guests will be pleasantly surprised with these delicious summer dinner ideas that are anything but boring.