Serve with a Side of Friends

Sides Party

The Turkey Party filled with Sides

For close to a decade, my dear friends Toph and Josslynne Welch open their home every November and host a pre-Thanksgiving potluck. The premise is simple: the hosts cook the turkey (plus some appetizers, a few sides, a couple desserts…) and the guests bring everything else. Josslynne says, “New York is a transient city, we created this party almost 10 years ago when we realized all of our friends scattered for the holidays; it is a wonderful opportunity to gather around a table to share the food and the people we love before the holiday crunch.”

This annual event, affectionately known as The Turkey Party, occupies a most-revered spot on my social calendar. It is a chance for friends to come together, celebrate the advent of the holidays and, best of all, feed each other delicious food.

In the early years, we stuck pretty closely to standard Thanksgiving fare and family recipes, impressing each other (and ourselves) with our burgeoning dinner party skills. Now that we’re older, wiser and much more comfortable in the kitchen, the Turkey Party has become a great excuse to try a new recipe or reinvent a family classic. Our hosts generously encourage us to try new things, “We want the flavors of each dish to be reminiscent of something mom made, but nothing you’ll find at her table three weeks later when the real deal rolls around.”…

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Fall Cocktails

Thanksgiving Cocktails

Warm up with these Cocktails – still perfect for after Thanksgiving!

Holidays means two things for most of us: feasting and family! As far as feasting, the panoply of dishes at the holiday table usually has hosts and guests alike wondering what they should offer to drink.

While I believe wine is best for the meal (and all your wine concerns can be quelled with one of our holiday six-packs….merciless plug, I know!), following are two cocktails that will certainly make cocktail hour and dessert a delicious success.

As far as family is concerned, these offerings should put a smile on the faces of friends and family alike and calm the nerves so often associated with entertaining for the holidays! Both the Gingered Apple and Kentucky Toddy can be served before or after your holiday dinner.

“The Gingered Apple” brings together the sweeter tones of Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur and Red Jacket Orchards All Natural Apple Cider with the savory elements of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Dolin Dry Vermouth, and Regan’s Orange Bitters. The resultant cocktail is a balanced expression of autumnal yumminess! If you’re looking for a lighter expression of the ingredients it is best to shake in your cocktail shaker. If a stronger drink is desired, simply add ingredients to shaker, fill with ice, and stir instead of shaking to avoid dilution….

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Easy Meal Ideas from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery

Quark dip

Entertain with ease by making a quick dip of Fromage blanc, Quark or goat cheese with herbs.

There are many times when I realize I love my job. Sometimes it’s when a co-worker will offer me a cupcake (or two) to try. Other times it’s when I get to interview food enthusiasts like Top Chef Masters winner Floyd Cardoz.

Recently it was when work involved trying lots and lots of delicious cheeses, butters and other products from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery.

Cheesemaker Adeline Druart walked us through all of the tasty products whose ingredients are sourced from local family farms. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these artisanal dairy products crafted in the European style.

The cheeses and butters are great on their own with crusty bread. But to amp up your breakfast, entertain with ease, elevate your dinners or whip up a sweet treat, check out these easy tips and ideas:…

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7 Party Tips for Kids with Food Allergies

Allergy Friendly Fruit

DIY ice pops are a good choice for kids who have one of the 8 most common food allergies.

I love to entertain – especially for kids.  My little nieces, nephews and cousins all get so excited when they see tables topped with colorful fruits, cupcakes and other goodies. Recently I attended a kids party and noticed all of the detailed food labels. The hostess told me that a handful of the kids had food allergies and this was one way to keep them safe.

Amongst my friends and family, it seems that food allergies in kids are on the rise. A recent study published by Pediatrics confirmed this observation. According to the FDA, the 8 most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews, walnuts), fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

I asked my friend (whose son has a soy allergy) to share her 7 party tips for kids with food allergies:…

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My Survival Kit for New Parents

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of meeting our close friends’ newborn. The new parents were glowing and proud, but also exhausted, a little delirious, and largely housebound (heavily nesting, by choice).

FreshDirect Box of Vegetables

Vegetables: Nutrition & Hydration

In a surge of maternal feelings of my own, I very much wanted to take care of our friends and help them navigate their way in taking care of their newborn son.

They had more than enough to handle at home with the newborn, mom recovering, nonna staying in the spare room, and a regular stream of well-wishers visiting, so I crafted a special FreshDirect delivery of my favorite foods custom-picked for them….

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Just Desserts: Pat’s Fast & Fancy Fruit Tarts

I can’t wait for my meal to end. I don’t want my guests to leave — I just want dessert.

Golden Delicious Apples

Golden Delicious Apples

Serve up prime rib and my mind is craving cookies. Give me baked potatoes and I’m daydreaming about créme brulee.

In fact, if I could skip the entire meal and munch my way from muffins to pound cake, I would be in heaven. But some people, (my husband and son) actually like eating the entire meal.

With our family’s busy schedule, any dessert to be enjoyed has to be quick and easy, but decadent enough to pass my rigorous crave test. Behold the wonder of frozen puff pastry! …

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Emma’s Saucy Secrets

Want to know my not-so-secret secret? I often over-commit myself.

Last week, for example, I offered to host a dinner for seven people in honor of a friend who was visiting from out of town.

Penne with Spicy Vodka Sauce

Penne with Spicy Vodka Sauce

I immediately started polling the FreshDirect Research & Development team on what I should make (admittedly, I’m lucky enough to have insider access to their professional advice!), and they came up with the idea of using our own Marsala Wine & Mushroom Sauce — which is truly to die for.

The party was scheduled for Wednesday, and while I was sure it would take me all night Tuesday to prepare for our dinner party — instead, I just took their advice… and it was brilliant. I was able to prepare everything in less than 30 minutes. Here’s how I did it:…

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Go Mad for Bean Dips

‘Tis the season to enjoy March Madness, and there’s nothing more satisfying on game day than settling into a comfy spot on the sofa with a good bean dip.

Fully Loaded Hummus Recipe

Fully Loaded Hummus

I’ve created two delicious — and extremely simple — dip recipes that make a nice break from all the heavy food that typically goes hand-in-hand with watching sports. …

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Classic Cocktails for a Mad Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is fast approaching (next Tuesday!), and those of us not fortunate enough to sample our way through the French Quarter of New Orleans may want to bring the party home instead.

Mardi Gras Cocktailsl

Mardi Gras Cocktails

All beads and debauchery aside, New Orleans is considered the birthplace of the American cocktail, so here are a couple of “Nawlins-born” concoctions to craft for your Mardi Gras celebration.

Our first cocktail is The Bourbon Smash, a 19th Century creation that has taken on different manifestations over the years. This is a more savory take on the Mint Julep that many derby enthusiasts are familiar with. …

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