Friday, December 18, 2009

Know what your drinking!

Have you ever been to a Christmas or New Year's Eve party and taken a sip of that Champagne and thought "this stuff is nasty". That's probably because there are a lot of different varieties of Champagne. If you'll be ringing in the New Year this year it pays to know exactly what your buying. Here are the names that Champagne goes by and the type of flavor profile it will have.

Ultra Brut : No added sugar,
If your a first time drinker, don't even think about it.

Brut: Nearly dry, contains no more than 1.5% sugar.
This is the most commonly visible variety, Again, If your not a serious wine drinker don't buy it. This variety is the reason first time champagne drinkers "stay" first time champagne drinkers!

Extra Dry: Slightly sweeter, can contain up to 2% sugar.
If your into drinking wine and aren't hooked on the sweet stuff, you may enjoy this variety.

Dry: Can contain up to 4% sugar.
This is where the novice may want to dip there feet into. Shouldn't disappoint.

Demi-Sec: Just sweet enough, can contain up to 8% sugar.
I think this can convert some drinkers into Champagne Lovers! If your having a party
with a lot of different drinkers, this would be a great style to choose.

Doux: Sweet, can contain up to 10% sugar.
This one may be too sweet for some, but most people might enjoy it and may be surprised.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Have a "Semi-Homemade" potluck

It's great to have friends and family over. Potluck parties are a great way to save money and get together more often. Nowadays people are pressed for time, and cooking a dish can be a labor intensive project your friends might not be in the mood for.

Instead, why not just make several dishes yourself and ask your friends to "fill-in" the blanks with pre-made items they can pick up from the supermarket! This makes it easy for them to contribute and you will still be able to showcase your cooking skills!

One great way to do this is to meal plan ahead. Since you know what you'll be cooking you can plan your menu for your guests and give them suggestions on what to bring that will compliment your menu. Have fun cooking and enjoy your party!

don't forget to visit for more great party planning tools!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Run your kitchen like a Restaurant.

I'm not talking about cooking like Emeril. I'm talking about using your "noodle" when it comes to buying food for your family. Have you ever noticed why a lot of dishes at your favorite ethnic restaurants taste similiar. In Italian food, the sauce is the boss. Chinese food has a lot of fresh vegetable, the big difference in each dish is the protein you choose, Beef, Chicken or Pork.

This is by design. The more Items you buy and use more often, you make sure your dishes are always fresh. None of you Ingredients are sitting around too long. Also you can buy in bulk and save money knowing you will use it all relatively soon (waste not, want not). You can adopt this same approach in your home and watch how much money you can save, and eat healthier in the process.

I used the example of a Restaurant in the title of this article as a reference, but we all know how expensive it is to eat out. By Meal Planning during the week, you can phase out going out to eat and save money by eating at home.

You should start by writing all of the meals you plan to make for the week, and look at the Ingredients you plan to use to make those meals. It is important to make sure you are not forcing yourself into buying a lot of "unique" ingredients to make your meals. If you are, you'll wind up spending MORE money cooking at home. Here is an example.

If you wanted to have a BLT sandwich during the week and bought everything you needed to make one, here is the breakdown....

Bacon = $3.99 lb.
Lettuce = $1.99 a head
Tomato = $0.50 one
Bread = $2.99 loaf

The total is $10.50. If you only had two sandwiches during the week, each one wound up cost you $5.25! If you don't find a way to use up the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomatoes, you would have been better off going out for the sandwich. However, If you decided to buy the same ingredients and ADD some others, like some Salad Dressing & Eggs say. Now here is how you create two new meals with the same food.

French Toast & Bacon for Breakfast
Tossed Salad for Lunch
BLT for Dinner

Sounds like a lot of same things you can buy from your local Diner right? Now do you get the point! They all do the same thing and you should to. If you learn to use everything you buy, you can save a lot of money by eating home more often and wasting a lot less food every week when you go shopping.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Variety: Isn't always the spice of life!

Appetizers are a great way to extend the variety of items you have for your guest's at a party. The problem lies in the execution! Things to consider are the number of unique items you choose to have and the placement of those items.

Most host's lay out a cornucopia of goodies on the same table the entrees will eventually be served at. There's the first problem, your beautiful tablescape goes from looking like a Rockwell Picture to an animal feeding trough in a matter of seconds!!

Having everyone at your party hoard around a central hub and have to force there way into the crowd to get there grub is a bad thing. Try placing these snack Items throughout your party zone. Make sure there's ample seating near each snack area where your friends can gather in small groups.

This leads me to the next problem, variety. If you have a lot of different kinds of snack, you'll probably wind up buying way too much because you want there to be enough for everyone to sample everything. That can really raise the cost of your party. Instead, pick no more than two to three appetizers. This way there will be plenty of room for your snack "pods" to expand and converse comfortably. Without having to navigate through a table of bowls and cups!

We'll until next time, Party Smart!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hamburgers hate Herring!

Theme parties are all the rage nowadays. It seems like the perfect excuse to have a party just by picking a theme and inviting all your friends. The foods you serve go a long way in strengthening the theme of your party.

It's a great idea to ask friends to bring something along with them to your party, but making sure they stick with the party theme can be a challenge. By planning your menu ahead of time you can make sure your guest's bring items that stick to your theme and your party will go off without a hitch.

Party favors and music are another great way to reinforce the party theme your hosting. It's a great excuse to get together with friends and helps to bring the kid out in you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving's only part of the problem.....

Well, It's that time of the year again. When every News Agency in the U.S., starving for content goes out and tries to spoil everyone's Thanksgiving Dinner. Breaking down the calorie intake of every spoonful that goes into our mouth's is a ritual we all have to suffer through.

I think we all know by now that the Holiday season is a minefield of overeating that we all have to navigate through. But what about the REST of the year!!! Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve aren't the only times we celebrate with Friends and Family. Super Bowl Parties have become a Gastronomic celebration. During the Summer Bar-b-ques are now at competition level, and they can occur every weekend!

The point is that overindulgence goes on every time we entertain. And it mostly comes down to not taking the time to control portion sizes. If you created a theme for you party and controlled the courses, you could cut down on the amount of food that's left-over so you don't wind up eating it all! Try the next time you plan a party and see how quick and easy it is. Once you do, you'll never go back to planning your parties any other way!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Potluck parties are a pius affair

It only takes a small change to make a big difference in a persons life. Turning off the TV for an hour and reading your local newspaper can increase your vocabulary, and Inform you on local events. Taking you pocket change and saving it in a jar can add up to a large sum over time. And cutting out an extra snack or two can really increase your overall health by helping to drop a few pounds.

Phrases like "Waste not, Want not" are timeless messages in our culture that will always be relevant as long as humans exist. So are words like Gluttony, It's a word we don't use that often today, but it is practiced enough with no end in sight!
Invoking a word like that often turns people off because of the Religious tone it takes, But no matter how you slice it the Church has been dead on when it comes to this subject.

When soda shops opened up across the U.S. in the early 1900's, the Church was concerned about the amount of beverages being consumed by the public. When they came public with there discourse there was a backlash from the public. The Church reluctantly compromised and said "Soda's can not be consumed on Sunday's, that is the Sabbath." Hence the birth of the "Ice Cream Sundae" I don't think It helped the situation much, but you get the point.

Flash forward to 2007. Congress hears arguments on the dire health effects of sweetened carbonated beverages because of the findings there linked to Childhood Obesity and Diabetes!!!!! The Point: You may not want to listen to the Church, but they were right all along (and they didn't spend millions in tax payer dollars doing studies to figure out the problem was real.) It all comes down to one word "Gluttony," but most people aren't doing in intentionally. The problem is not taking the time to use portion control, especially during parties, when we all tend to overeat the most.

Planning your parties using will help you get an accurate head count, make a list with enough food for everyone, and cut down on all the excess! In the end you'll feel better before, during and after your event. Maybe even a little more virtuous.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Potluck Parties: Why we look back to move forward

The term Potluck dates back to the 16th century, it roughly translates into "food that is given away." This form of hospitality was a common practice, when poor travelers would wander from place to place. Tavern owner would offer them a "potluck." This meal often consisted of whatever was leftover from the night before, and combined into a stew. Not very appetizing, but satisfying none the less.

This translated well and was adopted by many churches. It's a core belief to share what you have with others, helping one another bring a group closer together. It also make economic sense. No one person has to bear the burden of feeding everyone when the cost is spread out amongst a group.

In our recent past, overindulgence and excess were the norm, with no one really worrying about the consequences. Now we know better. We are facing a reality that includes everyone having to do more with less. Less money, less resources, less time, less everything. It makes sense to explore other alternatives to better our every day lives.

Becoming more efficient and less wasteful is a perfect way to start. When most people plan to have a large party there is normally a lot of wasted food because guest's normally bring something with them. But that food normally goes to waste, or is eaten by the host days later (which isn't such a good thing, but that's another story.) Why not direct that money towards things you know you need for your party. That way the effort your guest's put forth isn't a wasted one.

Your the only one who knows how many guest's your having. Plan out your meal accordingly and use to post your menu online. Your guest's can choose item's from it and bring them to your party. It's time to start thinking smarter and living "smaller" by using today's technology's to help us preserve the resources we have to live a better life!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The anatomy of a party

So you've decided to throw a party.

Place the calls:
The first order of business is to call all your friends to let them know when the party is. At that time, some of your guest's might ask "what do you need me to bring?" Since your not really sure what you need yet, the most common reply is “I don't know, bring a cake, soda or whatever."

Here is where the problem's begin:
Now you get a final headcount and start planning your menu and go out shopping.
Since you don’t know what anyone else is bringing exactly, you have make sure to buy enough of what you need so you don’t run out.

Food overload:
It's the night of your event, you set everything up and your guest's start to arrive. Then comes all of the food they brought with them! You try to find a place for it and set it aside. By the end of the night someone exclaims "Wow! look at all the left-overs." It's something most people don't ever think about, but a lot of people just spent a lot of time and money shopping for your party, buying things you really didn't need.

Lets start from scratch:
The problem is in the delivery, there is normally only one instance when you communicate to your guest's, and that is when you call to invite them. But no one takes the time to create a menu until AFTER they invite everyone. Even If they did, who would take the time to tell there guest's what to buy, and try to keep track while trying to plan everything else. Why not take advantage of your guest's generosity by using the concept of a potluck party.

The everyday Shopping Registry: will change the way you plan your parties from now on. By sending your invitation to all your guest's and posting your shopping list so your guest's can see It when they reply to your invite, they will be able to see exactly what you need and bring it to your party. You'll also be able to get a final head count, and track who's bring what from your account page. When all your guest's are done replying, you can finish your shopping. When you see everything your guest's are picking up for you, you can get a really good idea of how much money you've saved by planning your party this way!

Once you find out how easy it is, you'll never plan another party without using!