Weddings & Events

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

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Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone?  Here are some ideas.

Red Crystal Paperweight from Tiffany & Co (pictured above)

http://www.tiffany.com/Shopping/Item.aspx?fromGrid=1&sku=13459509&mcat=&cid=&search_params=s+1-p+3-c+-r+-x+-n+6-ri+-ni+0-t+paperweight-k+&search=1

Bronners Christmas Wonderland (from whom I order lots of my ornaments), also has Valentine’s goodies:

http://www.bronners.com/search/advanced/?keywords=valentine

 Dragonfly Cakes, maker of adorable petit fours (precious little cakes) for many seasons and occasions including Valentine’s Day:

http://www.dragonflycakes.com/proddetail.php?prod=valentines_day

Jelly Belly gift box:

http://www.jellybelly.com/Shop/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID=97008

More Tiffany Valentine’s Gifts:

http://www.tiffany.com/Seasonal/Modules/ValentinesDay2009/#p+1-n+6-cg+-c+-s+-r+-t+-ri+-ni+1-x+-pu+-f+/0

This Tiffany Cupcake charm is darling:

http://www.tiffany.com/Shopping/Item.aspx?sku=23019493&cid=562607&omcid=VGG2009

I love this Tiffany Pink Ring:

http://www.tiffany.com/Shopping/Item.aspx?sku=GRP02240&cid=562607&omcid=VGG2009

Valentine Gift Baskets

http://www.winecountrygiftbaskets.com/gift_basket_list.asp/GIFT_BASKETS/VALENTINE_GIFT_BASKETS/SKW/VDAY/FL/SO/CMI/73/

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

http://www.berries.com/valentinesdaygifts-sv1

http://ccberries.com/

Valentine Cookie Bouquets

http://www.gourmet-cookie-bouquets.com/Valentines.html

New Year’s Eve Appetizer Ideas

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Roast Garlic

Focaccia Bites and Roasted Garlic

1 pound or 1 can premade pizza dough (a refrigerated canned dough, such as Pillsbury, works well)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ to ½ teaspoon of each of the following: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to suggested temperature on dough package.  Roll out pizza dough on nonstick baking sheet.  Brush/spread olive oil on dough.  Sprinkle basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper on top.  Bake about 10 minutes (or as package suggests), until dough is lightly browned.

 Roasted Garlic

3-4 whole heads of garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ to ½ teaspoon salt

¼ to ½ teaspoon pepper

Large sheet of foil

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Cut off the very top portion of the garlic heads (about ¼ to ½ inch) and peel away some of the papery skin.  Place garlic heads on large piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Wrap foil around garlic heads, place on cookie sheet, and cook in oven for about 30-45 minutes (or until garlic cloves are soft).

 Cut up focaccia into bite-sized pieces and serve with roasted garlic.  Spread roasted garlic on focaccia pieces with a small knife.

Mini Calzones

2 10-ounce cans of refrigerated pizza dough (such as Pilsbury), or the same amount of other kind of pizza dough

1 package frozen, chopped spinach (thawed, drained, and squeezed dry)

1 whole medium white onion, chopped

2+ cloves garlic, minced

1 cup canned artichoke hearts, chopped

1 cup canned sliced mushrooms

1 cup cottage cheese

½ cup (or 4 ounces) cream cheese

¼ cup sour cream

1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup tomato sauce of choice

Cooking spray

            Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat oil in skillet, add garlic and onions and sauté until onions are softened (not browned), and then remove from heat.  In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream until smooth.  Then add spinach, 1 cup or mozzarella, garlic salt and pepper, and mix well.  Unroll pizza dough and spread out on flat surface.  Split each large rectangle of dough into quarters (for a total of 8 smaller rectangles).  Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray and place pieces of dough on sheets.  On each piece of dough, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce (on one half), and then spoon spinach and cheese mixture, some artichokes, mushroom slices, and sprinkle with mozzarella.  Fold the other half over and pinch the ends closed (to seal edges).  Bake according to canned dough directions, until dough is lightly browned (about 15 minutes).  Top each calzone with sauce and serve.  (Makes 8 servings).

Mini Italian Sandwiches

Mini Sandwiches2

These little sandwiches are a simple yet delicious and cute appetizer or snack.  Use the same recipe for Herbed Focaccia Bites (posted 10-13-09), and add your favorite sandwich fillings (such as salami and mozzarella).  Top with olives and secure with toothpicks.

Prosciutto Wrapped Melon

Proc and Melon

No recipe is really necessary here.  Just wrap slices of prosciutto around slices (or balls scooped out with a melon ball scooper) of cantaloupe and/or honeydew.  It makes a great salty/savory and sweet snack, and is a pretty addition to the table.

Prosciutto is also great wrapped around asparagus, shrimp, breadsticks, mozzarella, dates, figs, and just about anything else you can think of.

Mini Crab Meatballs

crabball

2 cans crabmeat

1 cup bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

¼ teaspoon basil

¼ teaspoon parsley

1 tablespoon fresh grated Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups prepared tomato/Marinara sauce

             Mix first nine ingredients together in a bowl.  Form small (about ½-inch) balls out of mixture.  Heat oil in pan until very hot.  Cook crab meatballs in pan, turning often, to lightly brown all over.  Heat tomato sauce in another pot.  Add crab meatball to sauce and simmer about 30 minutes.  Serve with pasta or on their own as appetizer.

Individual Seafood Cocktails

shrimplemonpic

Ingredients (for 6 servings):

24 jumbo shrimps (cooked, tails on)

3 large lemons

2 cans crab meat

Avocado

1 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon horseradish sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1-2 cloves minced garlic

½ teaspoon Salt

½ teaspoon pepper

 Wash lemons and cut them in half.  Scoop out insides of lemons (keeping peels intact).  Set lemon peels/cups aside.  Squeeze juice from lemons into a cup.  Mix together ketchup, horseradish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper.  Add crabmeat and stir together.  Chill sauce/crab mixture until almost ready to serve.  Scoop sauce/crab mixture into lemon peel cups, place 4 shrimps around each cup, and top with pieces of avocado.

Awesome New Year’s Eve Appetizer

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Here is a favorite re-post:

YummyAppsPic

These roll-up snacks are delicious.  People seem to love them, and often ask me to bring them to their parties.  They are pretty simple to make, although some of the prep (like cooking the bacon) is a little time-consuming.  You don’t have to be exact on the amounts of the ingredients, but here is a general guideline.

 Ingredients:

Package of large flour tortillas

Package of cream cheese

Bunch of lettuce (I like romaine) (washed and dried)

1-2 lb. sliced deli turkey

Package of bacon

2-4 avocados (diced)

Plastic wrap

Cook bacon to really crispy (I usually cook it in the microwave for maximum crispiness), then line up ingredients in the order that they’re listed above.  Spread thin layer of cream cheese on tortilla, place a leaf of lettuce on top, then a few slices of turkey, then a handful of avocado pieces, and then crumbled bacon (I place the majority of ingredients toward one end, making it easier to roll).  Roll tortilla starting from one end, then wrap it securely in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.  Do this with remaining ingredients.  Chill for about 2-3 hours.  Just before serving, remove plastic wrap and cut into rolls, about ½ to 1-inch thick. Arrange and serve.  Note: these are best when you prepare them about 2 to 3 hours before serving them (keeps bacon crispy and avocado green).

Quick and Easy Appetizers for New Year’s Eve

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Here are some quick, easy, and pretty appetizers just in time for New Year’s Eve. (reposted from January 2009).

Above: Celery filled with a mixture of cream cheese, minced garlic, chopped black olives, pine nuts, and black pepper (you can also add other ingredients such as chopped red and green bell peppers, onion, etc.); prosciutto-wrapped string cheese halves.

Above: Antipasto platter with rolled up salami, olives, artichoke hearts, and grape tomatoes.

Themed Christmas Trees

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Every Christmas, I put up several trees throughout the house: a main tree in the living room and some additional trees with different themes.  They include a police tree in honor of my husband’s profession, an Italian tree in honor of our heritage, and a pink tree in our little girl’s room.

Here are some of the themed Christmas trees in our home:

Police Themed Christmas Tree
Pink Christmas Tree
Italian Themed Christmas Tree
Leaning Tower of Pisa Tree Topper
Italian Landmark Ornaments
Gondola Ornament
Pizza Ornament
Legendary Italian Christmas witch La Befana (and friends)
Santa in gondola ornament I bought in Venice

Please share your themed Christmas tree ideas.

A related link:

http://www.bhg.com/holidays/christmas/trees/christmas-tree-themes/

Thanksgiving Fixings

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Here is a simple appetizer:  Celery filled with a mixture of cream cheese, minced garlic, chopped black olives, pine nuts, and black pepper (you can also add other ingredients such as chopped red and green bell peppers, onion, etc.); prosciutto-wrapped string cheese halves.

As another simple appetizer: Antipasto platter with rolled up salami, olives, artichoke hearts, and grape tomatoes.

Rather than cooking an entire turkey, with parts that nobody ends up eating, we sometimes order a few turkey breasts (such as from Marie Callender’s).  That way everyone gets some delicious breast meat and there are leftovers for people to take home and for making turkey sandwiches.

Tofurkey is a delicious option for vegetarian guests.

Stuffing

My favorite side dish is this Brussels sprouts recipe I found in Sunset Magazine last year.  I’ve been making it weekly ever since.  Here it is: https://tastylittlemorsels.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/the-best-brussels-sprouts-ever-from-sunset-magazine/

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Bon Apetito!