Quick Guide to Italian Cheeses

Use this guide for cheese ideas that can be served as ‘antipasto’ or as a course before dessert and please the crowds during the holiday season!

Gorgonzola: is a blue cheese that can be buttery or firm, crumbly and salty with a bit of a bite. You can pair it with hearty breads, figs and pine nuts.

Mozzarella: is a generic term for cheeses made using spinning and then cutting and is a very mild cheese. You can pair it with cured olives, pesto and sliced tomatoes and basil.

Pecorino Romano: is a hard cheese with a sharp, salty flavor. It is preferred for pasta dishes with flavorful sauces. You can pair it with fava beans, radishes and arugula.

Mascarpone: is a triple cream, milky white cheese. You can pair it with pears and hazelnuts.

Parmigiano Reggiano: is a common term for cheeses with a sharp taste and slightly gritty texture. You can pair it with pesto, honey and walnuts.

Ricotta: fresh, slightly sweet cheese. You can pair it with almonds, spinach and croutons.

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Out of the Ordinary Halloween Sweets

Of course I admit that my favorite part of Halloween were the sweets. Dressing up was a second favorite. I’m amazed at the variety of sweets available for Halloween and here is a collection of the most out of the ordinary ones.

Chocolate Dipped Krispies by Edible Gifts Plus.

Chocolate Dipped Fortune Cookies by The Gift Basket Store.
Halloween Chocolate Covered Strawberries 12ct
Chocolate Covered Strawberries by 1-800-Flowers.
Chocolate Sunflower Seeds by Superior Nut Store.

Mini Lunch in a Box

I have been working in a spa party stationery for the Pink Moon Evenementen Collections in Etsy and while creating a mental picture of the event I realized that eating while you are getting beauty treatments can be a challenge.

Then I saw something that gave me a good idea, a bento box. A bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Absolutely tiny (like an airplane food tray) and you can use your imagination to fill it with any food you like in small portions.

Buy them at JBox Bento.

Lazy Breakfast or Early Lunch

I love brunch, waking up lazily and then preparing all sorts of goodies without any rush. Then seating down to enjoy the bounty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a list of must have brunch items:

1. Pancake mix
2. Maple syrup – splurge on the real one, you won’t regret it and you will notice the difference
3. Berries
4. Smoked bacon
5. Biscuit mix
6. Jam and butter (or margarine)
7. Peanut butter
8. Country ham or honey ham
9. Eggs – in any way
10. Cinnamon rolls dough
11. Coffee
12. English breakfast tea
13. Honey

Sweet Sushi

My friend Kate is about to celebrate her birthday soon and has in her mind to go to a sushi bar with some friends. I found this wonderful idea to recreate those beautiful looking pieces of food at home with a birthday twist: candy or cake sushi!

The sushi can be built on a base of cake, sliced to look like little cakes of rice. For the wasabi you can use icing dyed in green. Another option for the base of this fun food is a recipe of rice crispies and marshmallow cubes.

As for the seaweed paper fruit-roll-up is used and some people swear by the brand “Fruit by the foot” as it seemed the most stable under all temperatures, plus the bonus of the funky green color. For the toppings you can use sliced twizzlers or licorice strips and Swedish Fish. You can use your imagination and make countless combinations. Go to the web for insipiration on real sushi food and surprise your guests.

Quick French Appetizers

Would you like to serve some chic food for your next party but have no desire to spend a long time making them or a lot of money? Here are some ideas for French appetizers…

Don’t be afraid of your choices, the French offer nuts, chips, or crackers with an apéritif. They’ll also do cocktail weiners, raw vegetables, olives and slices of sausage.

Spreads normally will be on top of a small piece of bread. A triangle of toasted bread with a spread is called a toast, and a more elaborate presentation, featuring several layers, is called a canapé. Cream paté is a great option and is becoming more affordable and available in the deli section of supermarkets. Another option is a piece of Brie cheese.

Anything presented on a tooth pick or small wooden skewer could be considered a brochette. A popular combination is a piece of raw cured ham wrapped around a small piece of melon or a prune.

Is it popular to make bouchées, which literally means mouthful by shrinking down what could be served as a course at the dinner table such as mini quiches, tarts, and pizzas.

Verrines are small glasses (like a tall shot glass) that contain two or three bites of some food combination. One uses a small spoon to enjoy the contents. What do you think about some creamy tomato soup with bacon bits?

Savory breads, available in bakeries are known as cakes. Popular combinations are olive and ham, prunes and bacon, and salmon and goat cheese. Cut these breads into small pieces for everybody to sample.

Mini Foods

I tried this party trend recently and it was a success: I made sliders for my friends. Sliders are just mini burgers that give the opportunity to your guest of making their own mix and match of toppings. My favorite is a cheeseburger slider. How mini are they? Well, I use a quarter of an American cheese slice to top my little burger.

What I like the most is that there is almost no waste of food as guests can’t resist the treats. The trend is not contained to burgers but to almost everything you can imagine. Here is a selection of images of this topic.

A World of Hot Dog Toppings

While doing a bit of research for my husband’s birthday hot dog bar I came across of very interesting information about hot dog ettiquette and a variety of toppings that you can offer to your guests so they can do a bit of mix and match.

"Mike Johnson - TheBusyBrain.com".

The ettiquette rules regarding toppings…
1. Don’t put hot dog toppings between the hot dog and the bun. Always “dress the dog,” not the bun.
2. Condiments should be applied in the following order: wet condiments are applied first, followed by chunky condiments, followed by shredded cheese, followed by spices.

The topping list…
1. Mustard
2. Ketchup
3. Relish
4. Fried Onions
5. Jalapeños
6. Several kinds of cheese, including melted swiss, nacho cheese sauce, and mexican white
7. Bacon Bits
8. Salsa
9. Sour Cream
10. Chopped Onions
11. Sauerkraut
12. Onion Sauce
13. Diced Potatoes
14. Crushed Nachos
15. Potato Sticks
16. Chili
17. Guacamole 
18. BBQ Sauce
19. Tomato Slices
20. Pickles
21. Coleslaw
22. Grilled Peppers
23. Spaghetti Sauce
24. Mayonnaise
25. Tartar Sauce
26. Tabasco
27. Honey
28. Sugar
29. Garlic Sauce
30. Sweet Chili Sauce

Chocolate That You Can Breathe

I just want to hear your thoughts about this one. Le Whif is a small tube of pure organic chocolate powder that you can breathe into your mouth. It comes in different flavors including: raspberry chocolate and mint chocolate, and they will introduce a coffee tube in March. Their pitch is that the tube includes 8 portions and that you can enjoy the flavor of chocolate without the calories. I really have my doubts about this one…

Cupcake in a Jar

Okay, I have to admit that I’m into chocolate today and keep coming across of really inventive ideas. Yummy Cupcakes has an irresistible Blackout cupcake in a jar. The dessert is comprised of layers of moist chocolate cake, thick melt-in-your-mouth frosting, and cookie crumbs, all packed in an old-fashioned Mason jar.

Yummy Cupcakes