December 26, 2018

Simple & Delicious Appetizers for Luck at New Year's

New Year's is a time to celebrate....with reflection on the past and planning for the future. And the food. Of course there's the food. I've always tried to come up with a new twist on certain New Year's food traditions. So this year I've got some simple and delicious appetizers that you might want to incorporate into your holiday! 

Lucky Greens Flatbread Pizza 

Greens, which share the same shade as money, are said to bring prosperity in the New Year. I had a big bag of kale in the fridge so I decided to get creative and turn it into a topping for a tasty flatbread pizza. 

For my bread, I used garlic naan (bought at Aldi). For the toppings, I steamed some kale and stirred it with some mayo and shredded cheese. A very beloved restaurant in my hometown has a signature cheesy bread that incorporates shredded cheese and mayo. So I used this as a jumping off point and added the greens. 

A few minutes under the broiler and it's bubbly and ready to enjoy! You could use other toppings too, but  make sure to have some greens (spinach, chard, arugula, or whatever you like). 

Mini Bagels with Dill Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon 

Some superstitions point to eating food with a hole in the middle for good luck in the New Year.  It may be because they represent the circle of life, the way things flow from the end of one year to the beginning of another. 

This year I'm incorporating mini bagels as my ring shaped food, and this option would make a great evening appetizer as well as a midnight snack or addition to your New Year's Day brunch. 

First I added some dried dill to plain cream cheese. This will add lots of flavor that complements the salmon. Then you'll need the bagels, smoked salmon and whatever else you like to add to this combination. Capers are a popular option for some people, a' la Bobby Hill. 

Black Eyed Pea Bruschetta 

In year's past, I've made black eyed pea burgers, black eyed pea hummus, and just good ol' fashioned black eyed peas, but this year I'm making a tasty and simple eyed pea bruschetta. 

Black eyed peas are a traditional southern New Year's food, because they also symbolize prosperity and good luck. I'll take some of both in 2019 if you please! 

Start with a can of black eyed peas and drain. Then drain a can of diced tomatoes and stir in some chopped basil and parsley. Mix in a bit of store-bought olive tapenade or chopped olives. 

Spoon a bit of this mixture onto toast rounds and top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Delicious!  

Wishing you and the ones you hold dear lots of good luck, health and happiness in the coming year! 

December 5, 2018

Easy DIY Projects to Decorate a Holiday Table

The holidays are here and I love all the festive decorations that come with this season. I've been scouring old Christmas books, including some Southern Living albums from the 1970s and a Martha Stewart Holiday book from 1989. Who needs Pinterest when you have the original Pinterest? Ha!

I found three really fun ideas that I'm recreating and I thought I'd share them with you too! Each of these would make a lovely addition to your holiday table or mantle!

Gumdrop Trees 

Gumdrops evoke feelings of nostalgia for days gone by and there's no better way to incorporate them into your holiday table than with a gumdrop tree

This project can be completed for $5 or less, depending on what you already have on hand. I picked up a cone-shaped piece of polystyrene from Dollar Tree, plus about three $1 bags of gum drops and a $1 box of tooth picks. In just a few minutes, I had an adorable gumdrop tree! Easy peasy. And this project would be great for friends and family of all ages. 

You could also make a variation of this idea with a polystyrene ball, aka a gumdrop kissing ball for your doorway or tree! 

Walking in a Winter Wonderland Holiday Scene 

I had some extra polystyrene cones from the gumdrop tree project so I decided to put them to use in another snowy covered trees for a winter wonderland holiday scene. I started with a white ceramic cake plate on which to set my scene. Then I added the white cones, dressed up with a bit of white fuzzy pom pom garland. 

A few small deer and other accessories created a magical world. This would be lovely on a table of silvers and golds, or even royal blue. I love how different a tablescape can look with just a different color scheme.

I was inspired by this pretty scene on the blog Bless'er House!

Visions of Sugar Plums

Candied or sugared fruit traces its origins to the Middle Ages, when this method of preserving some of nature's bounty was popular. The original way to create fruits confit was by replacing the fruit's natural water with a concentrated sugar syrup. The fruit would have been pricked all over and boiled up to 15 times in syrup before being set aside. 

The the final step would have been to coat the fruit with a thin glaze of more sugar, to result in a glowing confection that takes a month or more to make.

I took an easier route by making sugared fruits with an egg white wash and granulated sugar. First coat your fruit (I used pears, pomegranate, oranges and grapes) in egg whites one at a time. Then roll each in a dish of sugar, making sure to cover all the wet spots. 

You need to allow plenty of time to dry, but this project is super easy. These sugared fruits could be used as a centerpiece or as individual place card holders on your holiday table.