Call me crazy, but chocolate isn’t my first choice for dessert. If you follow my blog, then you know there are some exceptions to this rule, at least when Chewy, Bittersweet Brownies are involved. Brownies aside, my sweet tooth tendencies are likely satisfied with something like this Raspberry-Ricotta Mousse or Lemon Icebox Bars. Why should Valentine’s Day be any different? This year I say think outside the box of chocolates and whip up one of these homemade treats for your sweetheart.
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Valentine’s Day isn’t Valentine’s Day without chocolate, right? This year, don’t just send your sweetie something sweet, but pair it with a little card that extends the sweetness too (like the one above from Little Sloth). Here are our favorite chocolate-filled cards to get your hands on for February 14.
While some get-togethers are all about elegantly plated entrees, individual servings and dainty dishes, big-game bashes aren’t among them. For successful football food, all that’s needed is something easy to eat on the couch and large enough to feed a crowd, which is why traditional picks include sticky, saucy chicken wings, eat-with-your-hands chips and dips, and bowls of meaty chili. Nachos, however, may be the ultimate tailgate-worthy dish, as they’re not only simple enough to chow down on with one hand, but they’re often served family-style, encouraging big-group snacking. The foundation of nachos is simple — just chips and some cheese or salsa — but beyond that, they can be customized to your family’s tastes or whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. Check out Food Network’s best-five nacho recipes below from Rachael, Guy, Marcela and more Food Network chefs to find winning platters that will wow your party guests.
5. Grilled Chicken Nachos with Cheese Sauce, Avocado Relish and Charred Jalapenos — The secret to Bobby’s moist, flavor-packed chicken is a marinade of lime juice, ancho chile powder and Worcestershire sauce. He lets chicken thighs rest in the mixture overnight before grilling the meat and adding it to a platter of chips with creamy Jack cheese sauce, cool avocados and jalapenos.
4. Guy-talian Nachos — Guy assembles his nachos in layers — first chips, then a combination of sauteed beef and turkey, and a sprinkle of mozzarella — before covering them with salami, basil and tomato-garlic salsa for an Italian-inspired plate.
If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling decidedly overfed right about now. A late Thanksgiving overlapped with Hanukkah, which rolled right into the holiday party season, which was topped off by Christmas and New Year’s. I feel like I’ve been eating nonstop for the last five weeks.
And so, while I’m not setting any hard-and-fast resolutions, I am making a point of eating a little bit better with the arrival of the new year. For me, this means less meat and sugar — and more vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
I find that resetting my eating habits has everything to do with advance planning. Instead of waiting until I’m hungry to start thinking about the next meal, I make a few hearty bean or grain salads to keep in the fridge. Then making a meal is as simple as putting a few handfuls of baby arugula or tender spinach in a bowl and spooning the premade salad on top. It acts both as a dressing and a hearty, filling element.
One dish that is very good for this keep-in-the-fridge treatment is Guy Fieri’s Turmeric Roasted Chickpea and Lentil Salad. You toss a drained can of chickpeas with a little oil and a few spices, then roast them until they’re crisp and meaty. While they cook, you simmer lentils with half an onion, a hunk of lemon and a few crushed garlic cloves until they are tender. The drained lentils get tossed with the chickpeas, along with some minced roasted red pepper and torn parsley. It is filling, flavorful and just the thing for a post-holiday Weekender.
As a Southerner, I’ve had some form of slow-cooked greens served alongside a serving of Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day nearly every year of my entire life. Hoppin’ John, a dish made of peas and rice, is supposed to bring luck — although no one’s quite sure why — and the greens are supposed to bring money. The resulting meal is a plate of hearty goodness, which, lucky and money-conjuring or not, is the perfect way to start a new year.
There’s no reason to limit greens to just one day! Winter greens such as collard, mustard, turnip, kale and chard are all good, good for you, and a most-welcome departure from sometimes-dreary starchy winter roots and tubers.
With a brand-new year nearly at your doorstep, you’ll need a few fresh dishes to fortify you and your guests for the New Year’s Eve festivities. To guarantee a happy start to 2014, try some of Food Network’s top recipes for New Year’s, starting with a fizzy toast, of course. Giada’s Sgroppino is a classic Italian cocktail that combines Prosecco with chilled vodka, fresh mint and a lemon sorbet float. Refreshing and full of festive sparkle, it’s a great way to cleanse guests’ palates before dinner and build excitement for the big night ahead.
Of all the traditions my husband and I have started since getting married, our annual New Year’s Day brunch is my favorite. It started as an informal thing, just a few friends gathering to eat homemade waffles and watch the television coverage of the Mummers Parade (a beloved Philadelphia institution). However, over the years, it has grown into something of an event.
The festivities start at 11am and run into the late afternoon. Friends bring their kids and something for the table and we eat, watch the parade and share our hopes for the fresh, new year.
Guests show up with sweet rolls, deviled eggs, fruit platters and makings for mimosas. I fill in the gaps with whole-wheat waffles, a big green salad and a few quiches of various types. I particularly like making the quiche, because they can be prepared and baked the night before and then just warmed in the oven a bit before we eat.
Because I’m something of a planner, I start mapping out my menu well before the big day. I’ve already settled on one of the quiches I’ll be making for the party. It comes from recent Food Network Star winner Damaris Phillips: Quiche with Country Ham.
I adore everything that New Year’s Eve represents: fresh starts, resolutions and Harry running through the streets of New York City to kiss crinkly-faced Sally at midnight. My one gripe is that the critical moment happens too late for my circadian rhythm. Still, I love the holiday too much to ignore it, blithely heading to bed at 10pm and casually waking up the next morning, as if the whole year didn’t just change. That feels wrong. Instead, I’ve developed my own system for celebrating the New Year with gusto, within the confines of a reasonable bedtime. I’d like to say that I have developed my New Year celebration strategies for the benefit of my four young daughters. But, the unapologetic truth is, I’m just tired. I need my sleep. Having little ones at home is just a bonus excuse for not making it to the midnight toast. Anyone else relate? Whatever your reasons for hitting the hay early this year, I am pleased to share my three secrets to celebrating the new year’s arrival without having to actually witness it.
1. Pick a different time zone
I learned this one nine years ago when my (French) husband Philippe and I moved to the United States. On December 31, we still called all of our friends and family over in France at midnight (their time) to toast the New Year. We listened to their noisemakers and laughed along with their parties in full swing. We celebrated with them via phone, felt the joy of the upcoming year and hung up. I felt partied out a good half day before the ball would drop in Times Square. So, what started out as a phone call has turned into a yearly tradition with our daughters: We celebrate New Year’s as the French do, meaning in their time zone. We do a sit-down dinner complete with fancy-looking food for our whole family, toast each other with sparkling cider and call the family back in France at midnight, which is 3pm for us. And even I can stay up for that. For ideas on a few festive holiday dishes that will excite both kids and adults, try my recipes for Bacon Ranch Cream Cheese Wellington, a Carrot Hummus Platter and Chocolate Chip Biscookies.
As we ring in 2014, you can’t forget that the new year means a new calendar is in order. And what better calendar theme than craft cocktails or beer pairings, junk food or even pie (like the ones above from Red Cruiser)? That’s right — you can get all of the above and more in month-to-month form, so that each time you flip your calendar, you’ll have a new delicious dish to stare at (and drool over). Here are my favorite food-filled calendars for 2014.
If you overdid it on the holiday spread this year (ham AND prime rib, anyone?) and ended up with a fridge packed full of leftovers, never fear. We’ve got five ways to turn them into delicious new meals.
1. Ultimate Ham Sandwich
Whether your Christmas centerpiece was honey-baked or cherry-glazed, pile thick slices on crusty bread with lettuce, tomato, dill pickles, cheddar and whole-grain mustard, and you’ll have a renewed appreciation for the holiday ham.