How to Plan a Tasty Vegetarian Thanksgiving

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving at your house and are expecting vegetarian guests this year, don’t worry about preparing one large meat eating meal, and another separate vegetarian meal. Most vegetarians do not require a ‘meat equivalent’ at Thanksgiving. Yes, traditionally Thanksgiving has largely about the food. But more importantly it’s about family, togetherness, happiness and peace. And if this is your first Thanksgiving after transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle, try some of these ideas to incorporate healthy food preparation into your meal that your vegetarian guests, and you as host, will be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

– Bake some stuffing outside of the turkey for your vegetarian Thanksgiving.

– Make a small portion of vegetarian gravy.

– Keep cooking utensils separate to prevent “cross-contamination” between meat foods and vegetarian foods.

– When recipes are adaptable, use substitutions like vegetarian broth, soy margarine (the formulations without whey are suitable for vegans), soy milk, and kosher marshmallows which are made without gelatin.

– Use vegetable oils instead of animal fats for frying, and vegetable shortening like Crisco for pie crust.

– Read ingredients lists carefully on pre-packaged foods, being aware of terms like gelatin, whey, and “natural flavors” that can be animal-derived.

– Prepare plenty of vegetable and fruit side dishes, but leave them plain.

– Offer plenty of breads, beverages, fresh fruits, and non-gelatin desserts, which are suitable without modification for most vegetarians.

– Invite your vegetarian guest(s) to prepare a “Tofurky” or vegetarian ‘turkey equivalent’ entree to share with you the rest of your guests, or if you’re hosting Thanksgiving, prepare a small one. Your meat-eating guests might just be curious enough to want to try it!

– Ask your vegetarian guest for help, tips, or recipes for your vegetarian Thanksgiving. You may find that your guest offers to help out in the kitchen or bring a dish from home. Please don’t take a dish from home as an insult to your cooking; take it as a desire to share traditions at Thanksgiving. Even meat-eating homes can benefit from a healthy, nutrient-dense vegetarian recipe idea any time of the year!

– Most importantly – make TONS of new, delicious (not overly cooked) vegetables that are perfectly in season like squashes, sweet potatoes, and green beans, etc.

mocktails a new trend

Mocktails: A Hot New Trend

First, there was the advent of the low proof cocktails, but now there seems to be a trend of zero alcohol in drinks, dubbed the Mocktail. So, why have these non-alcoholic drinks become so popular? Gone are the days when executives would have the three martini lunch. Any drinking during the day time seems to be frowned upon in today’s society.

The evenings are a different story though. There’s a group of people that just choose not to drink whether that be health or beliefs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to have a nice tasting drink other than cola to clink glasses with their alcohol-loving friends.

Another group includes the part-times. These are designated drivers, the pregnant women, the marathon trainers, and the under-agers. These teetotalers may be ordering shots and downing twelve dollar martinis, but their drinking is tabled for the near future.

Here are a couple interesting mocktails we’ve heard of:

  • The Thyme-Ade (club soda, lime juice and thyme simple syrup)
  • The Apple Mojito (apple cider, mint, lime juice, and simple syrup)
  • The Kitchen Rickey (fresh-squeezed lime juice, blood orange bitters and ginger ale)

Chances are at your next gathering you will encounter a non-drinker, either full time or part time. Instead of relegating these guests to boring cola or lemonade, why not celebrate their sobriety by creating a special mocktail just for them? It doesn’t have to be super complicated as the ones listed above. Many cocktails can be made into mocktails and be just as tasty by simply omitting the alcohol. And don’t forget the best part – serving your craft mocktail in a special cocktail glass.

Super Bowl Killer Wing Recipe

Super Bowl Party Wings recipe

Super Bowl Party Wings

· Rinse about 3lbs of chicken wings in colander under running water
· Shake colander the pat dry wings using paper towel.

· 1&1/2 cups soybean oil
· 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice
· 1 tablespoon ginger powder
· 2 tablespoons white vinegar
· 1 tablespoon Sambal Chili paste
· 2 teaspoons salt
· Combine all ingredients in blender and blend on high until ingredients are emulsified together.
· Pour marinade over chicken wings and toss to coat wings evenly. Let sit minimum 1/2 hour.
· Grill wings on hot grill turning every 5 minutes (to make sure all sides are cooked through) until wings are cooked thoroughly.

Mahogany Sauce (this is where you can control the heat)
· 1 cup Oyster Sauce (you can find this in the Asian foods section of your grocery store)
· 1/2 cup Sambal Chili paste (also in Asian foods section)
· 1/4lb melted butter
· Melt butter in small sauce pan being careful not to boil.
· Add butter, Sambal and Oyster sauce in medium mixing bowl. Blend until dark and smooth.
· Toss grilled chicken wings in bowl making sure Mahogany sauce coats wings evenly.

Recipes courtesy: Ocean’s Catering
Feeds 4-6 people (Spicy)

Wine Varietal Substitutions: Change Up Your Holiday Party

holiday parties wineAs the holiday season officially kicks off, no doubt there will be parties to host and attend. Here are some fabulous wine substitutions to be made whether you are the host or guest. 

•  If you like white zinfandel, consider a Riesling.
White zin is the “Kool-Aid of wine.” It can be a good introduction to the wonderful world of wine because it’s sweet, and everybody likes sugar. But there are a number of wines at many price points that are also sweet and carry a much more interesting profile — a fuller body, honey and pear or apple notes and much more. Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines are a great place to start.

Fun fact: red zinfandel hails from the same grape as white zinfandel, except the red variety includes the grape’s skin – white does not. The skin gives the wine a more robust flavor and color than its popular cousin, deep, rich and full of zest. It’s quite different from white zin, but worth investigating with a curious palate.

•  If your go-to white wine is strictly Chardonnay, try a bottle of white from the Côtes du Rhône or a sauvignon blanc from just about anywhere.
Wine can be confusing because varieties may refer to a grape, a region or both. Chardonnay refers to a specific green-skinned grape and is grown all over the world, most notably in Burgundy, France. Côtes du Rhône is from the region of France of the same name and is usually made from a blend of grapes, none of which, by the way, are chardonnay.

Chardonnay is very popular and, it is said, a rite-of-passage grape for wineries. While Chardonnay is a relatively straightforward selection, Côtes du Rhône offers white and red varieties that will be fun crowd-pleasers at parties, and it’s inexpensive. An export grape from the region is Syrah, remarkable for its now-global prevalence, from Washington state to South America to South Africa to Australia, where it’s called Shiraz. For something completely different and light, try sauvignon blanc, which can be herbal and tart , with good acidity and complexity.

“Sauvignon blanc can be like drinking passion fruit – not quite orange, cherry or lemon – just passion fruit,” he says. “I’ll never forget one time I had it with tuna sashimi. It was such a perfect pairing…These are the things that make life great

•  If you like Moscato before dinner, try Sauternes or port wine with dessert.
Again, sweet wines are popular, but Sauternes from the region of Bordeaux with the same name, has a distinct flavor because of a unique geographical attribute. Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by a fungus that usually causes souring. But, thanks to the weather in the Sauternes region, the fungus instead adds sweetness and complexity to wine. Varieties range from very sweet to dry as a bone. Port, Portuguese fortified wine, and Sauternes are amazing with nuts, blue cheese and foie gras, or goose liver pâté, slathered on baguette, Kleinfeld says.



Delicious 4th of July Recipes for Everyone


Banh Mi Hot Dogs

Instead of serving boring old hot dogs this year, why not give them an interesting twist? Make Banh Mi dogs. I did this last year for my Fourth of July and not only were they super easy, but they had an incredible taste. Be sure to purchase nitrate-free dogs free from antibiotics and artificial ingredients.
Organic Hot dogs
1/4 Cup Cilantro
2 Carrots (peeled and shredded)
1 small onion (diced)
Hot dog buns
Sriracha sauce

Cook hot dogs according to package directions. Chop cilantro. Either shred carrots or cut them into matchstick pieces. Mix equal parts mayo and sriracha depending on how spicy you like your hot dogs. Spread mayo / sriracha sauce on bun. Place cooked hot dogs in bun. Top with carrots, cilantro and onion.

Summer Salad
summer salad

8 ears of white corn
2 quarts cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons high-quality balsamic vinegar
1 medium red onion
1 bunch asparagus chopped
1 small container blueberries
small container of almonds

Toss asparagus in olive oil and cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. In the meantime, strip raw corn from ears. If you don’t have a corn stripper just run your chef’s knife down the side of each ear about 8 times. Slice all cherry tomatoes in half. Chop the red onion into a large dice. Roughly chop basil or flat-leaf parsley. Toss all in a bowl, along with the vinegar, salt, and pepper.


watermelon margarita recipe

Don’t forget the cocktails. Sure, it’s easy to just put some craft beer out in a cooler, but why not offer one special cocktail in addition? Sangria is a good choice and is easy to whip up ahead of time. With all the cooking I have to do, the last thing I need is something complicated. So, my advice is to go with something simple like a Shandy (mix of beer and lemonade) or a watermelon margarita.

Watermelon Margarita Recipe from
2 teaspoons sugar
1 lime wedge
3 1/2 cups cubed seeded watermelon
1/2 cup tequila
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)

1. Place 2 teaspoons sugar in a saucer. Rub the rims of 6 glasses with 1 lime wedge; spin rim of each glass in sugar to coat. Set prepared glasses aside.
2. Combine watermelon and next 4 ingredients (through Triple Sec) in a blender; process until smooth. Fill each prepared glass with 1/2 cup crushed ice. Add 1/2 cup margarita to each glass.

Restaurant Recipe: Brussels Sprout Salad

This salad will turn anyone into a fan of Brussels sprouts.  Roasting gives the brussels sprouts
a nice nutty flavor. The sweet candied pecans, Dijon dressing and goat cheese, make it perfect for both weeknight dinners and holiday entertaining. The best part is you can make all the components ahead of time, and warm the
sprouts just before serving.

This dish is served as a special at Palazzo Giuseppe in San Luis
Obispo, California.

Palazzo Giuseppe’s Brussels sprout salad


1 heaping cup (4 ounces) pecan halves
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon honey

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, and add the pecans. Boil until the nuts are softened, about 5 minutes. Strain the nuts, discarding the water.

In a medium bowl, toss the nuts with the sugar, honey and a pinch of salt. Place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and cook until the nuts are dried and toasted, 45 minutes to an hour. Toss
the nuts after 25 minutes, and then check every 5 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. This makes more candied pecans than are needed for the remainder of the recipe; the nuts will keep for
weeks, sealed in a container in a cool, dry place.


1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Adjust the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, toss the sprouts with the olive oil, salt and pepper, then spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the sprouts until the edges start to crisp, 25
to 30 minutes, tossing halfway. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. The Brussels sprouts can be made up to 3 days in advance; cover and refrigerate until needed.


2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons honey
4 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a measuring cup or deep bowl, combine the mustard, shallots, honey and vinegar. With an immersion blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to blend. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, or to taste. This makes about three-fourths cup dressing, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the dressing will keep up to 1 week, covered and refrigerated.


1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
Brussels sprouts
32 candied pecan halves
1/4 cup Dijon dressing, or to taste
4 ounces goat cheese

In a large sauté pan heated over high heat, add the butter, oil and sprouts (depending on the size of your pan, this may need to be done in batches to prevent crowding). Sauté the sprouts to warm
through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the pecan halves and drizzle over the Dijon dressing, tossing to coat. Remove from heat.

Divide the salad among four plates and top each with crumbled goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves 4
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Source: LA Times

Halloween Cupcakes and Cocktails

Halloween Cupcakes

October 29th, 2012 Malika

Black Cat Cupcakes

1 1/4 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
18 1/4 oz reduced fat chocolate cake mix   
24 pieces Halloween Oreo cookies
16 oz reduced fat milk chocolate frosting
black string licorice
jelly beans
semisweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Prepare 24 – 2 1/2″ muffin cups with cooking spray and flour; set aside.
  • Prepare cake mix according to package directions; stir in cookie crumbs.
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove from pans; cool on wire rack.
  • Frost cupcakes with remaining frosting.
  • Decorate each cupcake with 2 jelly beans as eyes and 6 licorice pieces as whiskers. Cut and Oreo in half and use them as ears.
  • Place 3″ piece licorice string on back half of each cupcake for tail.

Servings: 24

Source – Spooky Fun Halloween Recipes


Halloween Cocktails

Wicked Witch Apple Punch

1 750 ml bottle SKYY Infusions Passion Fruit
1 750 ml bottle Sparkling Apple Cider
1 64 oz. bottle Cranberry Juice Cocktail
1 Liter Ginger Ale
2 cups Pineapple Juice
Red Apple Slices

Combine all ingredients in a large black witch’s cauldron with ice and
stir. Garnish with large slices of red apple floating on top and dry ice.


2 oz. Citrus Vodka
1 oz. Mango Nectar or Juice
0.5 oz. Orange Juice
0.5 oz. Fresh Sour*

Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake
vigorously and pour into a goblet glass and garnish with a slice of orange
and a mint leaf laid flat on top.
*Combine 0.25 oz fresh lime juice and 0.75 oz simple syrup.

Vampire’s Elixir

1.5 oz. Raspberry Vodka
.75 oz. White Chocolate Liqueur
1 oz. Half and Half
Strawberry Syrup

Dress strawberry syrup on the inside and rim of a chilled martini glass.
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and
strain into martini glass. Garnish with vampire teeth.


The Best Way to Rid Your Kitchen of Fruit Flies

What’s loves fruit more than you do? Fruit flies. These annoying creatures get right in your face as you are trying to eat or sip your drink. They come out of nowhere and are near impossible to get rid of. As bad as it is when you are with your family, fruit flies are even more annoying when you are trying to host a party. So, we’ve listed a couple ways to get rid of fruit flies.

Did you know that fruit flies only live about 10 days? But here’s the crazy thing: females lay about 500 eggs per day. So, we have to do everything we can to combat these pesky creatures. The first step to rid your kitchen of fruit flies is to destroy their breeding ground: ripe or almost ripe fruit. So, move your fruit to the fridge. Of course they are drawn to garbages, disposals and damp areas, so be vigilant about fruit fly magnets in your kitchen as well.

Of course, just removing the source of the problem doesn’t mean eggs aren’t hatching with new flies. So, here are a couple ways to rid your kitchen of fruit flies.

Photo Credit:

Funnel Method
Using a sheet of paper, form a cone shape. Tape it off and tuck it into a jar that contains a small amount of apple cider vinegar or a ripe banana (wine or any overripe fruit works too). The flies will pile up in the jar and aren’t smart enough to realize that they can fly out of the jar. Once you’ve trapped a fair amount of fruit flies, spray them with insecticide.

Plastic Wrap Method
Mix apple cider vinegar in a small jar and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and secure it in place with a rubber band then poke three or four holes in the plastic. This will attract and drown the fruit flies. The dishwashing liquid reacts with the vinegar causing the flies fall in.

4th of July Drink Recipes

When we think of the 4th of July, we think of gatherings with friends and family, cookouts and fireworks. But how about cocktails? If you are having a party, a terrific way to make it stand out is to offer a signature cocktail. Here are a list of some special cocktails just for the 4th of July. Make two or even one of these cocktails and your guests will be impressed with your skills.

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What’s In a James Beard Dinner

The James Beard Foundation is a New York-based national professional organization that serves to promote the culinary arts by honoring chefs, wine professionals, journalists, and cookbook authors. They host annual award ceremonies and frequently have dinners featuring various chefs that work alongside members and other industry professionals. Notable past chefs have included Daniel Boulud, Emeril Lagasse, Nobu Matsuhisa, Jacques Pépin, and Charlie Trotter.

Ever wonder what a dinner at the James Beard House is like? Well, wonder no more! We’re giving you a sneak peak into what a dinner is like at James Beard. On April 29th there was a Global Collaboration Dinner that featured some fantastic dishes. Some chefs that were lucky enough to attend chose to replicate the menu at their restaurants. Here’s the menu with dishes from this auspicious event:

Shaved Tuna with Chili Tapioca, Asian Pears, and Lime

Crispy Poached Egg with Caviar and Crème Fraîche

Grilled Black Pepper Octopus with Sweet Onions and Lime
James Beard Dinner Octopus course

Roasted Rack of Spring Lamb à la Jardinière
james beard dinner lamb course

Chocolate Stout Sundae with Pretzel Streusel
james beard chocolate stout dessert

So, there you have it. As you can see, James Beard dinners feature elegant cuisine. However, rather than being overly complex, most courses feature less seasoning, allowing the freshness of the food to come through course after course. Are you ready to try and replicate any of the courses in this James Beard dinner?