Monthly Archives: March 2020

Christmas Dinner Ideas

When the stockings have been filled then emptied and after Santa has made his appointed rounds families around the globe begin the preparations (or in some instances continue them) to prepare the family feast that is most often associated with Christmas Dinner. There are many traditions around the world though sadly far too few families have the opportunity to experience some of the rich traditions and delicious foods that mark the Christmas holidays in other corners of the globe, or even across each individual nation.

In certain parts of Italy, because of the Catholic tradition of abstaining from red meat on Christmas Eve day, there is a tradition of having fish for the evening meal. This is commonly referred to as a 7 fishes dinner and is a fascinating tradition for those who enjoy seafood. It’s certainly a new and refreshing dinner idea for many people if you are looking for something a little different from the ordinary. Even if fish really isn’t your food of choice there is no rule that says you can’t prepare a nice Italian feast for your Christmas dinner. The important thing is that you have friends and family gathered near and prepare the food with love. You do not have to have turkey or ham in order for the meal to qualify as Christmas and there is no reason that you have to stick with traditions that you really do not enjoy.

A traditional German Christmas dinner might be a neat tradition to try in America as well if you are looking to introduce your family to various cultures or just want to do a little something extraordinary for Christmas this year. One thing to note is that many Germans have their Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. A traditional German Christmas dinner often consists of dishes such as stuffed Christmas Goose, Potato Dumplings, Red Cabbage, and Baked Apples for dessert. Of course you do not have to choose a traditional Christmas dinner for your Christmas German cuisine there are plenty of great German dishes that can be enjoyed if you wish to bring a German theme to your Christmas table. Do whatever tastes good and it might be best to choose foods that are relatively easy to prepare rather than those that are time consuming so that you can enjoy time with friends and family rather than cooped up in the kitchen.

If a taste of the UK is what you have in mind for your Christmas Dinner table then you might find the foods bring a flavor that is a little closer to home than you may realize. Popular Christmas dinner favorites in the UK include dishes such as roasted turkey, roasted potatoes, brussel sprouts, dressing, and pudding pie. One interesting tradition that is popular in the UK is that of Christmas crackers, which hold little gifts and goodies inside.

Another interesting choice for your Christmas table may be to include your favorite Mexican dishes for dinner. Most Americans have a soft spot for Mexican cuisine and it is definitely warming to eat on a cold winter’s day. The point is to make your Christmas dinner menu fun to eat, fun to prepare, and something that is likely to make your guests smile while building fond memories of your Christmas day.

The same may be said of most cuisines, even those from cultures that do not traditionally celebrate Christmas. Thai, Indian, Chinese foods make wonderful themes for a Christmas table if you are knowledgeable about the cuisine and willing to undertake the tasks of preparation as part of your Christmas dinner plans. The trick is really in finding dishes that are relatively simple to prepare, difficult to mess up, and can easily be skipped in the event that something does go wrong. There are tons of distractions on Christmas in most households and you do not want Christmas dinner ruined because one dish is proving difficult or impossible or (heaven forbid) gets burned, dropped on the floor, or eaten by the dog.

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Choosing a Theme for your Holiday Cooking

For some families there is constant competition from one year to the next to top the efforts of the hostess for the last season’s holiday festivities and cooking. If you are looking for a great way to do just that when it is your turn to do the holiday cooking for the family how about breaking with tradition and creating your own theme for the holiday? I know it may seem a little rebellious and some may not like it but others may find it ingenious.

You can make your holiday cooking fit any theme or situation you like. You can create the perfect picnic complete witch a checked table clothe, seating on the ground, and baskets filled with goodies for everyone to dig in when ready. The idea is to do something a little bit (okay I admit it a lot) different from what others have done in the past and give them ideas to build upon for the next holiday cooking theme. If you decide to go with the picnic theme be sure to bring wine, cheese, and plenty of finger foods that travel well. If the weather permits (and it may depending on where in the country you live) you can actually make a picnic event of your turn doing the holiday cooking.

You can set your food up and display your cooking efforts like an all you can eat buffet if that’s what you like, though I hope your cooking is much better than most of those I’ve tried. The point is to make the theme something that is new and a little bit different but also that isn’t really related to the holiday but allows the family to enjoy the benefits of the holiday, which includes the pleasure of each other’s company.

If you really want something new go with an ethnic theme for your holiday cooking. This leaves a lot of room to explore and those who have the duties of cooking for the holidays next year will have a hard act to follow if you choose a theme that you really enjoy eating and cooking and decorate well to suit the theme. Let your imagination, personal tastes, and knowledge of your family be your guide as you decide what theme to incorporate and how far you want to take it. You can even have a lot of fun by issuing a challenge from the very beginning.

One fun theme that I’ve always wanted to bring into my Christmas cooking (specifically) is a Medieval Christmas theme. I think it would be fun to require costumes for the dinner, dancing afterwards, and observance of some of the cultural ‘manners’ of the time for the celebration of Christmas. It just seems like such a fun way to spend the day with family and loved ones even if you are doing the cooking. The good news is that with a Medieval Christmas cooking theme you have a little bit of room to let your imagination run wild and it will definitely be a hard act to follow.

The downside is that skipping tradition is always a risk. If you are worried that your family might not like it, ask first, and then decide if this may or may not be the right move for your family situation. You could always do the other as a Christmas party or for your own personal Christmas with immediate family only (though arguably that would be less entertaining).

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Chinese New Year Cooking Ideas

There are few festivities that are felt around the world on quite the grand scale that the Chinese New Year is celebrated. This is an event that affects people all around the globe and the celebrations are quite exotic and a lot of fun for everyone involved. One thing that many outsiders may not realize is that many of the aspects of the Chinese New Year celebrations have a very specific purpose and meaning even the food. Whether you are Chinese are not, I know very few people in the world that couldn’t use a small degree of good fortune to make things in their worlds run a little more smoothly.

When it comes to cooking for a Chinese New Year celebration there are a few things you might want to keep in mind. The foods that are prepared each have their very own meaning and a definite reason for being prepared.

Dumplings are believed to bring wealth in the New Year to those who eat them on this special day. Of course wealth is something that many people wish to accumulate so there are many paths to doing so. Other foods that are symbolic of wealth on the Chinese New Year are bamboo shoots, black moss seaweed, egg rolls, and oranges. Wow, this is just the beginning of the symbolic nature of food for the Chinese New Year so be sure to bring your appetite if you choose to celebrate.

Longevity or long life is something else that the Chinese are quite famous for. Eternal youth is what some may call it though these days it is far less eternal than may have been the case in centuries past. The secret however, to that long life was in consuming the proper foods as part of the New Year festivities. Those foods include: noodles, Chinese garlic chives, and peanuts (circus elephants everywhere rejoice at this news).

Prosperity is attributed to foods such as lettuce, whole fish, and pomelo. IN addition to prosperity whole fish and pomelo are believed to bring abundance and togetherness (as in marriage or romance) during the coming year.

Chicken is the main course when happiness is the goal. In addition chicken is associated with marriage, particularly when served with foods such as lobster that are considered to be dragon foods).

For those planning for children in the near future you might want to add eggs, seeds (such as watermelon seeds), and pomelo-the last two especially if you want several children.

Finally, if luck is what you are most in need of try to add a tangerine or some seaweed to your plate on this special day. If your run of luck has been really bad you may want to double up on your servings of both.

The Internet is filled with wonderful recipes for to help you celebrate the Chinese New Year in as traditional a setting as possible. Foods such as Jiaozi (Chinese noodles) and egg rolls are commonly found online and will go a long way towards creating the proper atmosphere for all good things to come your way in the coming year. Add a few lettuce wraps and longevity noodles and you have a good grasp on the good things that most of us hope will come our way in the coming year.

If you can’t manage to eat all of the foods that are believed to be symbolic of good things to come in the coming year be sure to pick those you feel are most important and focus on eating those. This is, after all, quite a bit of food to take in during the course of one day unless you are barely getting a bite in of any of them and that would most likely defeat the purpose. Take time and make sure that you manage to enjoy cooking and preparing the dishes that make a Chinese New Year so special as well as you enjoy eating them.

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