Posted in Holiday Fun

New Years Eve – Should You Go For a Club Or a More Refined Experience?

Date December 20th, 2009 Comment Comments Off on New Years Eve – Should You Go For a Club Or a More Refined Experience?

By Caterina Christakos Platinum Quality Author

The passing of another year is something that gives us all pause for thought. Over the course of a year so many things change, and it is a remarkable thing if you don’t become at least a little contemplative about what has gone before. Whether this is good or bad, it at least gives you the opportunity to audit the year, see what was good about it and what was bad, and take stock of what you want the next year to be about. It is something that allows us all to give a bit of thought to how we want to move forward. But as well as all of this it is something to celebrate. New beginnings, like new ships, deserve to be launched in style. There can surely be no better way to set the ball rolling than a good meal.

Anywhere in the world, most of people’s conversation tends to happen at the dinner table. For many of us it is the first time all day that we get to stop either preparing for work, traveling to work, working, or getting home from work. It is an opportunity to stop, think and talk about things in a relaxed manner. The best restaurants allow you to replicate this experience without concerning yourself with the preparation, serving nor tidying away the remains of the meal. All you need to do is eat, drink and talk about the year just past and the one that’s on its way. The time for singing karaoke and watching the New Year arrive on television is ahead, but a good meal will be the best way of getting into your stride.

At gourmet restaurants they are fully aware of how important the New Year is, and they will do everything to get your celebrations going. The staff, in such establishments, are a very friendly bunch and they will be happy to wish you a happy new year as well as taking time out to co-ordinate the meal so as to ensure maximum levity. Good waiting staff will always facilitate the evening by their words and actions – something that you will witness if you begin the celebrations on New Year’s Eve dining at a restaurant geared to pampering you. It makes the rest of the evening go a whole lot more smoothly. Basically, it is just how a New Year’s Eve should always begin.

As a rule, New Year’s Eve celebrations tend to be raucous, drunken affairs. You of course have that choice. But wouldn’t it be better to be somewhere festive where you can actually enjoy high quality alcohol and remember the evening the next day? You want to actually enjoy the taste of rather than the stuff you’re too drunk to distinguish. The wine list in many of these establishments is a triumph – carefully selected to ensure that every meal can be accompanied by its ideal partner wine, so that your dining experience is as perfect as it can possibly be. And the atmosphere in the restaurant should be relaxed and cheerful – exactly what you need to get you in the mood for celebration.

Caterina Christakos is a published author and gourmet food aficionado. Learn about one of the most awarded restaurants in the country here: fine dining Orlando restaurant. Or if you are heading to Vegas check out this review of discount Vegas show tickets.

Posted in Cooking, Holiday Fun

Holiday Recipe: Filled Cookies

Date December 19th, 2009 Comment Comments Off on Holiday Recipe: Filled Cookies

By LeAnn R. Ralph

From the book: Christmas In Dairyland (True Stories From a Wisconsin Farm)

When I was a kid growing up on our dairy farm in Wisconsin 40 years ago, cookies with a date filling were my dad’s favorite kind. Here is the recipe.

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine (softened)
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • several tablespoons of milk if the dough seems too dry
  • Jam: blackberry, black raspberry, strawberry, red raspberry, plum conserve, apple conserve, or date filling (recipes for plum and apple conserve and date filling are included below.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. If the dough is too dry, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk. If the dough seems too wet, add 1/4 or 1/2 cup of flour.

Roll out dough. Use either a small round cookie cutter or one large round cutter. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet. Put one teaspoon of jam (or other filling) in the middle of the smaller rounds or off to one side of the larger rounds. Place another small round on top of the small rounds; fold the larger rounds in half. Use a fork to crimp the edges together and to poke holes in the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until light brown.

This recipe makes about six dozen filled cookies.

The recipe can also be used to make cut-out Christmas cookies frosted with colored icing.

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~ Plum Conserve ~

If plum conserve is made specifically for filling cookies, store any that remains in the refrigerator and use on toast or biscuits. The conserve can also be sealed in pint jars. (This recipe makes about three pints.)

  • 8 to 10 fresh, large, ripe plums
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Pit the plums and chop into small pieces. Place in a large saucepan and add the sugar and water. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the lemon juice, raisins and walnuts and cook for 10 minutes longer, stirring constantly. (Note: Recipe can also be made using 3 cups of chopped apples instead of plums. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.)

~ Date Filling ~

  • 3 cups chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (10 or 15 minutes).

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About The Author

LeAnn R. Ralph is the author of the book: Christmas In Dairyland (True Stories From a Wisconsin Farm). Share the view from Rural Route 2 and celebrate Christmas during a simpler time. Free shipping on autographed copies. http://ruralroute2.com; bigpines@ruralroute2.com