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!