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Friday, September 18

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« Hound Dogs Burgers & Teriyaki: Wholesome Diner Food Available The Gift that Keeps on Giving, Indulging »

Feature Fri Nov 30 2007

Serving Suggestions

There is something special about December. Gap and Old Navy ads would have you believe that it's their striped and fair isle sweaters, but I tend to think that it has to do with all the gatherings and get-togethers concentrated into one month. Seeing so many friends and family members in such a short amount of time leaves me feeling exhausted, but exhilarated. And then there's the food. The combination of the two, and it's no wonder most of us emerge on the other side, in January, about five pounds merrier.

Some people complain that the holidays are stressful. For me, it's the obligatory gift-giving and the gift-getting. Financial beatings aside, its the sheer amount of stuff that ends up in my possession (and others') that gets me frantic, especially knowing that in a year's time, we'll just be adding to the pile. Hosting a gathering for friends or family, however, is one way to avoid all that. Plus, getting creative with a centerpiece and a menu is way more fun than being subjected to lame Christmas music performed by even lamer bands while you stand in a long line waiting to purchase a gift card so your office BFF can go back and pick out a striped turtleneck sweater.

Menu Planning
My mother always told me never to prepare a dish for the first time when having guests over. It's been a good piece of advice considering how the dishes I make tend to evolve into better and better variations the more times I prepare them. While there's something to be said for impromptu genius and spontaneity, there is also a time and a place. I'll leave it to you recognize when you should go either route.

Obviously, it's best to have at least some idea of what you are serving, so you can at least make sure to have the appropriate ingredients on hand. Some menu suggestions:

For really easy appetizers or hors d'oeuvre, follow Real Simple's guide to feeding guests with take-out. You can also learn how to prepare a stress-free, gourmet buffet.

If you're hosting a brunch, try this breakfast casserole recipe from Williams-Sonoma. [Via Apartment Therapy: Kitchen]

Check out's Hanukkah menus. Most of these are not for kitchen novices, but even if you don't know your ladle from your slotted spoon, take a gander and get inspired.

Create an Atmosphere
If planning a menu is like shopping for presents, this is the part that's like wrapping them. Decide on whether you want to go formal or funky, and then consider these ideas for getting the ambiance just right:

Cool centerpieces

Napkin Folding 101.

DIY table settings.

Entertaining tips from a guru.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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