New Year's Eve Party Ideas

It is New Year's Eve and you are rushing to the store at the last minute to stock up for your big party. Your menu is still up in the air. Ideas are spinning in your head but nothing is coming together. Fret not! I have some elegant and simple ideas to make your decade-end party feast one to remember. The New Year's Eve party is definitely the night to take some help from the store where you can and keep it simple.

The Cheese Plate is an elegant crowd pleaser every time. The best part is that this dish requires very little labor. Just buy great cheeses and fixings, and you are good to go. Display these nicely on a platter and your work is done. I suggest picking up a combination of a bleu cheese like Roquefort, Gorgonzola or Stilton, a Brie cheese, and something a bit sweeter like a Gouda cheese. Ultimately you should choose what you like but try to offer your guests a variety of flavors like salty, buttery, and nutty, and different textures including crumbly, soft, and hard. Serve the cheese plate with little dishes of apricot preserves, honey and nutella. Include some crackers, apple slices and candied nuts and this cheese plate will be superb to share with your friends to ring in the new decade.

For a rich and meaty hot dish, try this recipe for Drunken Meatballs. In a large pot or crock-pot combine one bag of frozen mini meatballs, one 16 oz. can of crushed tomatoes, 1 cup of Bourbon, and 1 cup of dark brown sugar. Let these ingredients simmer on medium to low heat for about 2 hours. Taste and add more Bourbon and sugar to your liking if needed. Serve these little delectable, savory bites with toothpicks. Your guests will be lingering near the stove all night to grab bites of these when you aren't looking. You won't know who is drunker-you or the meatballs!

With plenty of Champagne drinking, a lighter vegetarian dish is always welcome at a New Year's Eve party. Companata, an Italian staple, is a simple mixture of vegetables cooked down and served with bread. Sauté 2 cups of cubed eggplant, 1 diced yellow onion, and 3 chopped garlic cloves, and a dash of crushed red pepper in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. After sautéing for about 5 minutes, add 1/4 cup of capers, 1/2 cup chopped black olives, 1/2 cup chopped green olives, and a 16 oz can of diced tomatoes. Next add 2 tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Bring this mixture to a simmer and cook on low for approximately an hour. Serve the Companata in a large bowl hot with toast points, fresh bread or crackers.

Finally, one of my favorite party snacks has got to be the Stromboli. A Stromboli allows for you to choose whatever ingredients you want. This dish can be as simple or as elegant as you would like to make it. The main ingredient here is a Pillsbury pizza crust, which you can buy in the grocery right near the biscuits and cookie dough. For a cheesy, pepperoni Stromboli, roll out the pizza crust on wax paper, and cover lightly with marinara sauce. Top the sauce with a combination of pepperoni slices, and mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Roll the crust up like a jellyroll tucking in the sides, so the fillings don't leak. Try an elegant spin on Spanakopita, by adding a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and then topping the crust with thawed frozen chopped spinach seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano, and feta and mozzarella cheeses. You can roll up the Strombolis early in the day, and bake in the oven when you are ready at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. After 10 minutes of cooking, make a few thin slits with a knife on top of the Strombolis and continue cooking. Let the Strombolis rest after cooking for about 15 minutes before slicing. Slice in 1-2 inch slices and arrange on a dish. Serve these hot with a side of warm Marinara sauce.

One hot dish is all you need with the addition of some cheese, crackers and crudité (fresh vegetables and dip). You can throw in some nuts and candy and you are ready for a party. The number one challenge will be getting to the liquor store to stock up on Champagne before the New Year's Eve lines start wrapping around the store. Try to get your booze and beer as early as possible to avoid those lines. I hope these ideas will make your New Year's Eve menu a smashing hit. Remember to not take on more than you can chew as the host or hostess. A happy host makes for a great party. Keep it simple and do what you can in the kitchen but most importantly enjoy those last minutes of 2009 with your friends and family and ring in the New Year in style!

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!


Antoine's on Christmas Eve in New Orleans

Whether it be the simplicity of a Café du Monde beignet with its warm doughy center covered with so much powdered sugar that you might breathe it in or the complexity of a home-cooked spicy chicken and sausage gumbo that has been built upon layers and layers of spicy rich flavors, New Orleans cuisine is second to none.

My fav
orite memories of being raised in New Orleans involve food. For a few years before Katrina, my family started a new tradition of attending Christmas Eve mass at St. Louis Cathedral followed by a beautiful dinner at Antione’s. No place exemplifies classic New Orleans cuisine better than Antoine’s, an establishment that has existed since 1840 with a history so thick you can feel it when you walk through its doors. This tradition of ours was fairly new however some families have kept the annual Christmas Eve at Antoine’s for much longer than us some even had the same waiter for many years. We found this out one year when the maitre’d had offered us a better table because the famous New Orleans family of football, The Mannings’ would not be attending. My family, consisting of my mom, dad, older sister and her fiancé, myself and my younger sister, excitedly followed the Maitre’d to the prized table at the center of the Large Annex Room, one of the most beautiful rooms in Antoine’s decorated to the nines for Christmas. We felt special having the opportunity to grace the table that the Mannings’ had dined at for many years.

Just about the time when our first appetizers came out, we found out the Mannings did arrive albeit late but they made it and probably didn’t expect the Macaluso family to be occupying their table. Archie Manning and family coolly took another table at the end of the dining room not making a big deal of the situation. We felt awful anyway. My dad told the waiter that we would certainly move tables if there were any issue at all which he assured us there were not. Still feeling like imposters now sitting the Manning’s table as they were shoved over at the far end of the Large Annex Room on Christmas Eve, my father, always with the best of manners and pure sense of class, sent over a bottle of wine to the Manning’s as a peace offering in case they were secretly enraged. They nodded and smiled from across the room in thanks and each family went on with their dinners. My husband likes to tell people of this story even though he was not there. He likes to say, “the Macaluso’s stole the Manning’s table on Christmas Eve!”

Back to the divine meal, my father treated us and did it right by ordering a variety of appetizers, so we could try as much as possible. We would start with Antoine’s own Oysters Rockefeller, an oyster on the half shell topped with a sauce made of a puree of green vegetables and breadcrumbs and then baked. The baked oyster would melt in your mouth but then you would get a salty crunch from the toppings. My dad also ordered the classics: Shrimp Remoulade, Crab Ravigote, and Oysters Bienville. Shrimp Remoulade always excited the taste buds with its spicy tang combined with the fresh tenderness of the shrimp. The creamy richness of the Crab Ravigote has always been a favorite of mine. The Oysters Bienville I don’t remember as much as the others not because it wasn’t delicious but more because in those days I was much more cautious of oysters and it is possible that my young palate passed it up. By this point, we would all be laughing and talking as well as a bit tipsy. My dad would treat us to cocktails of our choice and then pick out wines to pair with our entrees. My older sister and I were well above drinking age and as for my sister 7 years younger than I…well she may have been 17 or something but its New Orleans. Everyone over the age of 15 or 16 should partake in a cocktail at Antoine’s certainly on Christmas Eve. My mother had a Cape Cod with a twist of lime, my older sister something sweet like an amaretto sour, for myself I’m sure it was a Kettle One dirty martini up, extra dirty with olives, my little sister probably had a Poinsetta, a glass of champagne with a hint of cranberry juice, and my father would be drinking Kettle One on the rocks with perhaps anchovy stuffed olives with extras for snacking.

Our meal would last for hours as we would have a more than a day’s worth of food to consume and plenty to drink. My dad would let us order exactly what we wanted never hindering us with the quantity or the cost as long as he could have a taste. My mom treated herself on this occasion but was generally the opposite of my dad in that she would eat very light and never want us to over order. Her appetite was no match for my dad’s or for her three food loving daughters who certainly took after their father’s Sicilian side. I recall ordering the classic Pompano en Papillote, which is another Antoine’s original recipe made by baking a filet of pompano in a sealed parchment paper envelope with a sauce of white wine, shrimp and crabmeat. The dish was made for a Brazilian balloonist, who was honored at a banquet at Antoine’s. The chef Jules Alciatore used the idea of baking the fish in parchment paper in order to have the paper steam up on the inside to create a balloon shape or hot air balloon. Pompano en Papillote, almost sensual in its name, is a simple delicate creation that may be considered outdated but when eating this at its home you feel connected to the history of Antione’s and its cuisine.

My family ordered mostly fish except for my now brother-in-law who may have partook in the prime tenderloin of beef. The ladies enjoyed some of the many simple items from the menu of Poissons. Some of our entrees included the fried filet of trout with toasted sliced almonds and a lemon butter sauce, the grilled trout with crawfish tails and shrimp in a white wine sauce, and the soft shell crab fried in a light batter with a hot melted butter sauce. My dad ordered a couple of side dishes to go with our entrees. Our favorite was the Pommes des Terres Soufflees or the classic Antoine puffed potato or even more simply the most delicious French fried potato you have ever had. The potatoes are served in large white cone propped inside of a drinking glass, the perfect compliment to your fish or beef. Along with our meal, we enjoyed a side of the steamed asparagus with butter and the spinach in a cream sauce.

The finale to our meal, the dessert, was a Baked Alaska another dated menu item, some may say, but it feeds a whole table and is still delicious. We also split a few different desserts-that was something we always did. It made us feel better because half the time we just wanted a taste of the dessert, and never could finish the whole thing after everything we ate during the meal. After our feast, we would gladly take family pictures by the enormous tree in the dining room holding in our overstuffed bellies. As a family of women except for my dad of course, we all took pride in our chosen outfits for Christmas Eve as if it were our own fashion show, so my dad never struggled to get us to take family pictures. We would get in the best pose to flatter ourselves and ask my dad to take it long ways to get our whole outfit and our shoes. My dad would do it no questions asked. He has always been proud of his girls.

We walked out of Antoine’s into the cool New Orleans night through the French Quarter filled with the sounds of a talented tap dancer on the corner or a saxophonist playing a Christmas carol. We would happily make our way to the car and then back across the Crescent City Connection to our home in Algiers where I spent the most of my young life from age 11 to 17. I probably ran upstairs to privately call my boyfriend, now husband, who was then at home in Philadelphia celebrating the holidays. Later my mom would distribute our annual matching Christmas pajamas that we would willingly put on for the night and then we actually would sing Christmas carols while my dad or my older sister played the piano-they both are quite musically inclined. The best part was that my dad would have already made his Christmas gumbo. The smells would fill the house as it was simmering away on the stove for Christmas day when everyone would come over but we would have a late night sample even after the obscenely large meal from Antoine’s-there is always a bit more room for some gumbo!

Enjoy your family traditions-whatever they may be or start a new tradition to call your own.

Merry Christmas!


The Pierogie Kitchen

With my husband’s Polish background, his mom’s side of the family loves traditional Polish cuisine like pierogies and kielbasa. A pierogie is a dough mixture stuffed with ingredients such as potato, cheese, and cabbage fried in a sauté pan with butter. When I first started dating my husband, I surprised him by making homemade pierogies-not an easy task to make from scratch-but I tried. My husband loved them, and that was all that mattered or at least he loved that I put such time and effort into making a meal that honored his family's traditions. Not being the most patient cook, I have not attempted that recipe since, but instead have often opted for the average frozen pierogies from the grocery store.

Every Christmas Eve, my husband’s family celebrates Wigilia, the traditional Christmas Eve meal in Poland. Wigilia also refers to the entire Christmas Eve day, which includes the evening meal and midnight mass at Roman Catholic Churches throughout Poland. Christmas Eve supper is a meat-free meal of many courses. Some of the traditional courses include red beet soup or mushroom soup, herring in oil, carp fillet, potatoes, a variety of salads and vegetables, stuffed cabbage (golabki), and pierogies. A special tradition from this day is always followed by my husband's family, The Koster's. The head of the household, my husband's grandfather, begins the meal with a prayer and the breaking of the Christmas wafer. The wafer or oplatek is broken and given to everyone at the table. Then each person breaks off pieces of their oplatek sharing it with everyone, and wishing each person individually good fortune and wishes for the next year followed by a kiss on the cheek.

Last Christmas Eve, the dinner started with a choice of soups usually a clam chowder (white and red) and a mushroom soup. The main course included a baked white fish in butter sauce topped with toasted, sliced almonds served with a variety of vegetables and of course a variety of meat-free pierogies. Since last Christmas, my husband was driving through the Philadelphia neighborhood of Roxborough, where he noticed a quaint storefront called The Pierogie Kitchen. The Pierogie Kitchen turned out to be the place to go for a lover of Polish cuisine and pierogies. Forget about being Polish, anyone would love this kind of comfort food- potatoes, cheese, sausage-what's not to like!

The menu from The Pierogie Kitchen is all about pierogies giving you more options than you ever thought were available for pierogies. This place has a modern, fun take on pierogies offering fillings such as cheese steak, kielbasa and cabbage, farmer’s cheese, loaded baked potato (potato, bacon, and cheddar cheese), and lump crabmeat. The standards are available as well like the potato and cheese and cabbage. The Pierogie Kitchen also makes a whole list of yummy, Polish style sandwiches like the PK Stacker, a Polish food lover's dream of kielbasa slices, kraut, potato and cheese pierogies stuffed between two slices of toasted rye bread. Side dishes of kielbasa, stuffed cabbage and kraut are also available. You can buy pierogies, kielbasa and many of the sides either frozen-to-go or made to order.

My husband and I are in the habit of stocking up on these delicious pierogies, which are 100 times better than anything found in the grocery store. With a dozen in a bag, we often buy a few different kinds at a time, which makes for a quick and easy meal whenever we want it. The frozen pierogies need very little thawing time, so these can come out of the freezer just an hour or two before dinnertime. In a large, non-stick sauté pan, I melt a tablespoon of butter on medium to high heat. I place six pierogies in the pan at a time, cooking for a few minutes on each side or until each side had a nice golden color. I serve the pierogies with sautéed peas, onions and kielbasa garnished with a dollop of sour cream. Although we will be out of town, my husband picked up a few dozen frozen, meat-free pierogies for his grandparent’s Christmas Eve dinner. We hope they love these as much as we have.

If you live in the Philadelphia area, then I highly recommend checking out The Pierogie Kitchen whether it is for a quick, hot lunch or to stock up on some frozen pierogies for your household. It sure is nice to have a quick and perfectly delicious dinner solution sitting in your freezer whenever you need. If you are having a football party or any kind of gathering, then these easy-to-make pierogies would make for a great appetizer with sliced kielbasa. If your family's Christmas traditions call for pierogies, then I suggest stocking up from The Pierogie Kitchen while supplies last!

Philadelphians, Yunkers, Roxys go to The Pierogie Kitchen today to place your order-you won’t be sorry.


30 Years and 30 Food Memories

With tomorrow marking my 30th year in this world, I thought a little reminiscing is in order. And in honor of myself and this blog, what better way to reminisce than through food and cooking. Here are 30 food memories off the top of my head at 11:30pm, 2 glasses of wine deep, the night before the 30th celebration of my life.

1. Learning how to cook red beans and rice from my Grandmother on my dad's side, "MeeMaw", on a little step stool in my grandparents cozy kitchen on Rue Renee. I remember that I even wrote something about this at school for Grandparent's Day. "I like to cook red beans and rice with my Mee Maw."

2. Waking up super early before my family to make my mom a birthday breakfast of my invented dish, fried biscuits. I was probably no more than 8 or 9 years old melting butter in a pan and frying store-bought biscuits. Once they turned golden brown, they were ready. I piled confectioner's sugar on top to finish this fine breakfast. It really was a yummy dish kind of like a spin on beignets. Appropriate for a New Orleans girl.

3. My grandfather on my dad's side, Paw Paw, taught me how to stuff an artichoke and cook it in the pressure cooker. This skill I couldn't be more thankful for because these cheesy stuffed Italian artichokes are to die for.

4. Dinner at Antoine's in New Orleans for Christmas Eve-nothing better. A detailed story about Antoine's Christmas Eve to come closer to Christmas.

5. Watching my Grandfather on my mom's side, "Bucko" cook his famous "Bucko Burgers" out on the grill during hot summers in New Orleans, waving his arm through the open flames to impress all of his grandchildren. Bucko's smoked turkey-he loved to "put it on the smoker". And finally, on one of his last days on this earth, I remember he felt good enough to have a beer. He drank a Heineken and put a sprinkle of salt on the opening of the can. The nurse said the beer would be good for him-lots of good carbs. He loved it!

6. The first meal my husband ever cooked for me. On Valentine's night, he brought all of his ingredients over to my apartment to make this special dinner. He prepared a fabulous meal of BBQ chicken fajitas, corn and salad. It was so sweet!

7. Going to PJs Coffee & Tea Co. for an iced mocha and hanging out with friends practically every morning before high school.

8. Dining at Made In China in China, while working at the Beijing Olympics, eating the "Beijing" or "Peking" Duck. Unbelievably cooked duck, carved at the table, the crispy skins of the duck were served with sugar to dip it in (sounds odd but it was divine). The roasted duck was served with little tortillas-I'm sure they were called something else but they looked like tortillas-so delicious!

9. Port of Call burgers and Monsoons with my college girls in New Orleans. Big, fat, juicy Port of Call burgers piled high with cheese and mushrooms was just part of the fun we had while dining at Port of Call. The real fun began while waiting an hour and a half for a table drinking Monsoons, a monstrous, sugary, hurricane-like beverage spiked with potent alcohol-yum!

10. Crepes and Champagne in Paris with my best friend in the world. We had just arrived in Paris for our weekend trip from London, where we were studying abroad. We didn't know what to do first, so we ordered a bottle of champagne and cheese crepes at a little cafe-the perfect beginning in France!

11. The night I saved my Mom's amazing meatloaf-she knows what this means.

12. The holiday meal when my 7 year old self announced, "I'm scared of the cranberry!" A quote that has stuck with my family to this day. In fact, I was sent a video message of my cousin and my sister quoting this to me in front of a plate of cranberry from Thanksgiving this year.

13. Log cakes at English Turn for my birthday. Our neighborhood country club always had this special Christmas Brunch/Lunch with Santa, decorations and all the weekend before Christmas which is always my birthday. Each table had a beautiful cake in the center that looked like a log decorated with red, green and white on top of the chocolate icing-so yummy!

14. Easter Dinner at Commander's Palace with my family, indulging in a beautiful Strawberry Shortcake dessert when I bit into something strange in a strawberry- A WORM! The meal was wonderful and I got over the worm incident quickly. The waitor immediately brought me another dessert and apologized however it wasn't the restaurant's fault. There was no way of knowing that something could be inside of a strawberry. It certainly showed me just how fresh those strawberries were.

15. Dining with my husband (just boyfriend then) at Mystic Pizza on Magazine Street in New Orleans.

16. Eating obscene amounts of sushi with my sister, Emily, when she came to visit me here in Philadelphia. The plate was so large that the couple next to us commented and with that we took on the challenge.

17. My rehearsal dinner at Mother's Restaurant, a spread of po-boys of every kind, fried seafood, jambalaya, turtle soup and dessert-just the thing every bride wants to indulge in the night before her wedding. Thanks Pepcid AC!

18. Amada with Ashley and Genny in September-The chef's selection tasting menu, the best meal I have had in a long time!

19. Eating ice cream cones from McDonald's in my best friend's mom's cherry red Volkswagon beetle with the top down. Ice cream was dripping down the sides of her beautiful, shiny car on a hot summer day in New Orleans.

20. Rainbow Pizza in Torino, Italy with my friend Penny. While working at the Winter Olympics in Torino, we had many dinners at the neighborhood pizzeria partaking in this delicious white pizza topped with proscuitto, arugula, tomatoes and cheese.

21. Annual Saint Joseph's Dinners with my Sicilian family in New Orleans on Saint Joseph's Day. This is a Catholic Feast Day where a meat-free meal is served.

22. Every 4-course meal I enjoyed with my husband on our honeymoon at the Ladera Resort in Saint Lucia. AND being called to the head of the "class" during the head chef's cooking demonstration. I had to help the resort's award winning chef cook a spicy shrimp dish. I added too much garlic and spice to the pan and the chef was making fun of me in his island dialect but I didn't realize. My husband was laughing hysterically at me.

23. My mom's chili or red beans and rice on a chilly fall day. Coming home from school and dance team practice famished, I would walk into my house smelling this delicious hot meal my mom was preparing.

24. Cooking gumbo with my dad during the holidays. Growing up, we usually had a big "open house" holiday party for all of our family and friends on Christmas night and gumbo was always the main dish. My family would always stay super late talking and laughing. One year it was so cold that the bridge was closed due to ice, so a bunch of my cousins and family had to sleep over-that was fun!

25. Christmas Day dinner the when it snowed in New Orleans before it all happened. "Before it all happened" refers to before Katrina, before my dad got so sick, before my parents moved to Texas, when New Orleans was just as I had always known it. My little sister, mom, dad, Maizzie and Riley (our dogs) were frolicking outside in the beautiful snow around the pool and palm trees. A truly happy moment.

26. Melting cheese or marshmallows in a cup with my sister, Christina, as an after-school snack when we were kids. Weird!!

27. Going to McDonald's with my Paw Paw when I was very little for McDonald's Big Breakfast. Also, my Paw Paw called me on April Fool's Day when I was like 4 years old. He told me that there was a hot air balloon outside throwing out free McDonald's burgers-and I believed him! I was 4 give me a break.

28. Making Rice Krispies Treats in MeeMaw's (my mom's mom) kitchen. I suppose this is where my love for Rice Krispies Treats comes from.

29. Friday night Pizza night in Philadelphia with my husband. To this day, my husband and I have our pizza and movie date night every Friday night. We play a little something called "Pizza Mind Games", which is when you aren't up front about what kind of pizza you really want. You have to be us to understand this.

30. Sitting in a private room in my wedding gown with my tuxedo-clad new husband as we were served a sampling of every food item at our wedding. We were so excited we could hardly eat, but the memory of all of those little plates and Champagne in that dim-lit room in the Royal Orleans Hotel alone with my husband for the first time is priceless.

There are so many more memories that are not listed here. Like I said, these were the first to pop into my head. I look forward to making many more in the next 30!

To the next 30....Cheers!


Happy Birthday Dad!

On my dad's birthday, I would like to say how he inspires me, encourages me and supports me in everything that I do. He has always been the person in my life that shares my passion and love for cooking. Growing up, my dad often cooked for our family when he had the time. Sunday lunch/dinner was usually his specialty since during the week he was busy being a surgeon, rarely getting home before 7 or 8 pm. His Sunday dinners included many Italian dishes like OssoBucco, eggplant, Italian sausage and other slow cooked meat dishes served with pasta and "red gravy". His dishes were never the same, always adding a different spin on a classic dish to make it his own.

My dad taught me creativity in the kitchen. I do wish I had the opportunity to cook for him more but since we live many states a part that is difficult. Often when I cook meals at my home, I wonder what my dad would think like if the dish was good enough or if it needed more seasoning. My dad could talk about food all day-what he cooks, exactly what ingredients he used, the meal he had at a restaurant, a meal he had when traveling, what his grandmother cooked for him as a child and more. I'll call my dad on a normal weekday and before I have time to start a conversation, he is already describing to me in detail what he cooked for dinner.

I look forward to heading home for Christmas to cook with my dad. I am hoping he will make his famous gumbo recipe while I am visiting because there is nothing like a hot bowl of my dad's gumbo during the holidays. But today, I hope my dad does not have to cook even though he would welcome the task. I also hope that he will enjoy his favorite kind of cake-Spice Cake with cream cheese frosting.

Enjoy your day Dad!

Buon Compleanno a te!
Buon Compleanno a te!
Buon Compleanno a Dad!
Buon Compleanno a te!


Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings represents comfort in a bowl much like the healing quality of chicken noodle soup when you are sick. However, the dumplings have such a rich buttery flavor that you will want this meal when you are well. On a cold wintry night, this dish will warm you and your family from the inside out. Indulging in a satisfying, steamy bowl of Chicken and Dumplings by a crackling fire will make you forget all about the chilly, gray weather of a long winter.

Chicken and Dumplings can be a time-consuming, complicated dish to make but I have come up with a recipe that anyone can whip together and enjoy just as much as the complex recipe. Traditionally, a whole chicken cooked in a large pot with broth and vegetables. Once the chicken is cooked, it is disassembled sometimes leaving large pieces of chicken with the bone intact or removing the chicken from the bone before returning it to the broth. Both ways are delicious and if making whole chickens is your thing then by all means go for it. As a home cook for usually just my husband and myself, I prefer using skinless, boneless chicken breast. This method is simpler and allows me to avoid dealing with an entire chicken.

My mom never took the shortcut of skipping the whole chicken but the shortcut she did use was taking some help from the grocery for the dumplings. Instead of making her own dough for the dumplings, my mom would buy canned biscuits and cut them into pieces making for the tastiest little dumplings. My recipe uses both shortcuts, which I find to be a hassle-free method to a traditional comfort food.

Lizzy M.'s Chicken and Dumplings

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup yellow onions, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 tsp smoked paprika
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1 cup carrots, largely chopped
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 tbsp flour
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup milk
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast (1 breast serves two; 2 breasts serve 3-5)
3 Grand's biscuits, pull each biscuit a part into 5-6 pieces (I like Grand's biscuits, but any brand will work fine.)


In a large pot add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over medium to high heat. Once the oil is heated, add onions, celery, paprika, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Let the onions and celery sweat out (the moisture from the vegetables releases) for about 5 minutes in the covered pot. Next add the carrots and garlic, stir well to distribute the grated garlic. Cook in the covered pot for 5 minutes. Add one tablespoon of flour to the vegetables and stir well. Let the flour cook for a about 3 minutes to get rid of the floury taste. Next add the chicken stock and milk. Stir thoroughly until all ingredients are incorporated. Cover and cook for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Next place the chicken breast in the pot. Cover and cook on low to medium heat for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the dish sit for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, the chicken will be steamed all the way through. With tongs, transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Letting the chicken rest will allow for juices to redistribute, so the chicken will not be dry. Slice the chicken into small pieces and return to the pot. Bring the broth and vegetables to a slight boil and add the biscuits. Cover and cook for 7 minutes stirring the dumplings occasionally.

Serve this dish hot and steamy in large, shallow bowls topped with chopped green onions for you and your family after a long day out in the elements. A classic dinner like this one does not have to be a great endeavor to prepare. Set yourself up for success by tweaking recipes to make them work for you without sacrificing flavor. In cooking (not baking), recipes are a guideline, not the law, so adapt recipes that you aspire to make to suit your style.


Southern Pecan Pralines

During the holidays, I always remember my mom, Renee, diligently making her pecan praline recipe for our family Christmas party or to give as gifts. She has been making this praline recipe since the early 1960s after she moved to New Orleans from Texas. I always wanted to make this treat myself, however I was often told how challenging pralines are to make. Knowing how long to cook the sugar mixture, being assiduous enough to stand over the stove stirring and stirring, and being ready to drop the praline mixture on wax paper when the time is right are all tricky when it comes to praline making. Even after all the warnings of the difficulties of this process, I decided to take on the challenge this holiday season and make me some pralines.

Louisiana Pralines evolved into what they are today because of the French settlers that brought their recipe to Louisiana. Clement Lassagne, chef of Marshal du Plessis-Praslin, a soldier, diplomat and industrialist, is said to be the creator of the fine confection known as pralines. It is rumored that Lassagne made these delectable treats for Praslin who would give the treats in a small bag with his name in it to the ladies he courted. The French originally made pralines by coating almonds in a caramelized sugar mixture. Almonds would be spread out onto a flat surface and then covered with the sugar. Over time, instead of just plucking out the sugar-coated nuts, the hard sugary part was left intact leaving a circular flat confection surrounding the almonds. When the French brought this recipe to Louisiana, the praline's popularity remained as sugarcane was readily available, however, with plentiful pecan trees, the almonds were replaced with pecans. New Orleans chefs added milk to the sugary recipe to give the pralines a creamier texture.

With all of my ingredients, cooking utensils, and wax paper covered surfaces ready to roll, I made the centuries-old French confection that I so loved growing up. With my mom's permission, here is her delicious Southern pecan praline recipe.

Renee's Pecan Pralines

3 1/2 cups sugar (granulated)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups pecans
2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Lay paper towels or newspaper out on a large flat surface (kitchen counter). Lay out 24 inches of wax paper on top of the paper towels or newspaper. Butter or spray the wax paper with cooking spray.

In a large, heavy pot combine the sugars, salt, milk and butter over medium heat stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 5 minutes and then add the pecans and vanilla extract. Continue cooking and stirring for about 15-20 minutes until soft balls form when you put a small drop of the mixture into cold water. You know it is ready when the little ball that forms in the cold water does not disintegrate when touched but is well formed like candy and flattens between your fingertips. Remove from heat, and stir to cream the mixture. With a spoon or ice cream scooper, spoon out small amounts of the praline mixture and drop on the wax paper. If the mixture is too thin, then cook longer. If it is too thick then add a few drops of milk and stir well. If it gets too thick then the pralines will lose their shine and just become dull and sugary. Give each praline enough room to spread out. Leave the pralines to dry and harden on the wax paper for about 30 minutes. Never double this recipe.

For my first praline-making e
xperience, I have to say it went pretty well overall. My sugar mixture stiffened a bit too much towards the end while I was scooping onto the wax paper. Instead of adding a bit of milk like my mom suggested, I grew impatient and just tried to finish. For my second batch, I realized that patience is key. If you have to go back, add more milk and stir for the best outcome, then that is what you must do. This recipe is not as challenging as I imagined, it just takes a little patience and a little time but the end result is so worth it. The pralines are delicate, each bite is sugary-buttery sweet with notes of vanilla and a sweet, nutty flavor from the pecans with an overall creaminess.

For the holidays, I usually make some kind of simple, edible treat like fudge or cookies but this year I thought I would share this Southern delight with my friends and family in Philadelphia. Being that pralines aren't easily found outside of the South, and that most of my family here in Philadelphia probably has never tasted a praline, I am hoping they will enjoy this unique Christmas confection. I challenge you to make something that you never thought you would or could make and share it with your friends and family. Great family recipes are meant to be shared, so start a collection of your own. Ask your mom, dad, aunts, uncles and friends for some of their family recipes. Write down the recipes and who gave it to you, and put these in a recipe card box. One day you will be so thankful that you have your family's recipes to pass down to your children like a little piece of your family's history.


Lucky 7 Tavern

In my current city of Philadelphia, my neighborhood restaurant, the Aspen Restaurant was terribly missed since its sudden close last fall. My husband and I had such fond memories of walking just steps from our front door to the warm atmosphere of the Aspen indulging in yummy appetizers, cocktails and conversation. After over a year, we finally saw some action going on late in October. We were elated to hear that our cozy hang out would be reopening as the Lucky 7 Tavern. Tucked in the charming Art Museum neighborhood of Philadelphia at the corner of 25th and Aspen Streets you will find the reopened version of the former Aspen Restaurant open for business with a new attitude. The once romantic, table-clothed, date-night friendly Aspen Restaurant has transformed into the bare tabled, Rocky themed Lucky 7 Tavern, a more casual, game-watching bar and restaurant with a great continental menu. While I did enjoy the more intimate feel of the Aspen, I love the new menu and prices. Lucky 7 Tavern, named for the bar in the Rocky movies, is filled with Rocky movie posters and paraphernalia. The back dining room now has 2 flat screen TVs in addition to the 3 flat screens in the front bar area making it perfect for large parties ready to kick back, eat some wings and watch the game or perhaps a boxing match.

Other than the few decor changes, the restaurant is ultimately unchanged with its wood floors and beautiful well-stocked wood bar while the menu has taken on some big, tasty changes. While there are some staples that have survived like the Aspen Burger, an Angus beef patty topped with bacon, bleu cheese and caramelized onions, there are many new interesting items like Truffle Fries, crispy hand cut fries drizzled in truffle oil topped with Parmesan and chives. These fries have a menu section all their own sharing it only with Poutine, traditional Canadian fries made with brown gravy and mild cheeses as well as Chili Cheese Fries, which speak for themselves.

Appetizers continue with the continental style with Fairmount Onion rings, beer battered and served with a Cajun mayonnaise dipping sauce, classic Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Pork Potstickers and Price Edward Island Mussels. Chicken Fingers come with options of sauces like Honey Mustard, Asian BBQ or Buffalo sauce served with bleu cheese. Lucky 7 Wings are served in the traditional variety as well as Asian BBQ or Honey Chipotle. The star of the salads is certainly the Black and Bleu Salad with crispy bacon, blackened chicken and bleu cheese. Prices stay within the $7-$16 range. The most popular price that you will find on the menu is $7.77, a fair price for the great quality and lucky too.

The burger menu is nothing short of creative with the Gaucho Burger, an Angus beef patty topped with roasted jalapenos, bacon and cheddar jack cheese or the BBQ Burger with spicy BBQ sauce, fried leeks, and cheddar jack cheese. The more refined burger items include the Bistro Burger topped with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese and the Mushroom Burger. The Mushroom Burger, Lucky 7's vegetarian masterpiece is a mixture of 7 different mushrooms blended with seasonings topped with caramelized onions, Gouda cheese and onion mayo. The masterpiece for the carnivore is most definitely the Lucky 7 Burger, a burger that I'm not even sure Rocky could handle. This burger, paying homage to Philly, boasts an Angus patty topped with scrapple, pork roll, bacon, cheese and a fried egg-KO!

After that extreme knock out, the menu eases up a bit with some classic sandwiches like Roast Beef and Pork Sandwiches, and a B.L.T. The delicious Grilled Cheese with your choice of spinach, tomato and fontina or bacon and cheddar is served on sourdough bread with a side of tomato soup. All of these sandwiches come to you for the reasonable price of $7.77 and all served with Lucky 7's fantastic house made potato chips. Borrowed from the old Aspen, Lucky 7 needed some kind of duck item, which is fulfilled with the Duck B.L.T., seared duck breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mango mayo on sourdough.

The big ticket entrees keep it simple with Steak Frites, another success from the old menu, along with Fish and Chips and Hoegarrdden Ribs. Like the Aspen, Lucky 7 keeps a Mexican flair with a menu section named "Afortunado Siete Cantina" featuring nachos, burritos, tacos and fajitas. Soft or hard tacos come with your choice of spiced ground beef, tequila and lime marinated chicken, Tecate battered cod, or slow roasted pork. This enticing diverse menu can be rounded out with a treat from the dessert menu such as Birthday Cake. Rocky would most certainly have had his Birthday Cake and eaten it too at the Lucky 7 Tavern.

Don't think, just do as Rocky Balboa would and go to Lucky 7 Tavern for some good brew and good eats! Rocky would want you to.


Italian Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers, one of the top game-day or large gathering meals, combines all aspects of what many of us Americans crave. Being from a family that is part Sicilian, Italian food was what we ate on a regular basis. So, I undoubtedly love Italian or Italian-American food. If you aren't like me than you still probably love this style of cooking as many Americans do. Sausage and peppers is like a deconstructed pizza, and anything that tastes like or reminds me of pizza is going to be good. Intense tomato flavor, rich and spicy Italian sausage and tangy, sweet peppers comes together in this crowd-pleasing staple of the home-cook.

Being a budget-friendly meal with minimum labor required, makes sausage and peppers a simple go-to meal for a casual gathering giving you, the host, plenty of time to be with your friends and family not fussing over a stove. Bang this dish together in the crock pot in 30 minutes in the mid-morning and by afternoon you will have yourself a winning dish. When guests arrive, put out a simple spread of cheese, crackers, veggies and dip. Buy the vegetables pre-cut and a pre-made dip to make things even easier on yourself. Sometimes, you just want to kick back with your friends and not be stuck in the kitchen all night. Check out this solution for a delicious, stress-free meal.

Lizzy M.'s Sausage and Peppers

1/2 lb Mild Italian sausage, cut into large pieces
1/2 lb Hot Italian sausage
4 Bell peppers, largely diced (red, yellow, orange or green or any combination)

Lizzy M.'s Tomato Sauce

Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil for sauteing
Dash Crushed red pepper
1/2 Large yellow onion diced
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Garlic cloves grated or minced
1/2 Cup Dry red wine
1 Tbsp sugar
1-16 oz can crushed red tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste


Start by preparing the tomato sauce. In a large pot over medium to high heat add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of crushed red pepper. Add the chopped onions and all chopped peppers to the heated pot and stir to coat thoroughly in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon of both oregano and Italian seasoning as well as 1 teaspoon of thyme. Stir well and saute the mixture for 5 minutes. With a microplane grate 2 garlic cloves over the saucepan or just mince the garlic and transfer to the pot. Mix well and let the garlic cook for just a minute before adding the tomato paste. Again mix the paste well into the pan and cook for a minute. Add the dry red wine and sugar at this point. Stir as ingredients incorporate and lastly add the crushed tomatoes.

Once the sauce is heated throu
gh add the sausage. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least an hour. This dish can sit on low heat on the stove for a few hours or as long as your party or dinner lasts. You can also prepare this dish in a crock pot and let sit on low for many hours. You and your guests can indulge in this meal by itself or piled onto a club roll with yummy provolone or mozzarella cheese.

Entertaining your friends and family does not have to be difficult. Plan a simple main dish like this one and you will have all day or night to spend quality time with your guests.


Get Back Into Your Roots.

Get back into your roots-root vegetables that is
. With the fall season into full swing heading rapidly into winter, I have cravings for those all-American, slow-cooked cooked meals filled with simple, classic root vegetables. Some of my favorite root vegetables include turnips, rutabaga, and carrots. Turnips, a bittersweet vegetable high in Vitamin C and K, are similar to rutabaga, a vegetable that began as a cross between turnips and cabbage. A sweeter flavor comes from the rutabaga with an almost identical texture to the turnip but it is slightly more colorful than the almost white turnip. My most favorite of root vegetables is the carrot. Carrots, filled with Vitamin A and beta carotene, are sweet enough to be a treat and get richer and sweeter the longer they are cooked.

In this dish, I also add Bruss
els sprouts, which are not a root vegetable, but I like the bright green color in the mix with the orange and yellow colors, as well as the flavor and texture of the sprout along with the sweetness of the root vegetables. Brussels sprouts, a member of the cabbage family, are densely packed with vitamins, especially Vitamin C. These flavorful vegetables get a bad rap but I encourage you to forget all that you have heard and just give the Brussels sprouts a chance. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

This perfect fall weeknight meal is simple, comforting and nutritious, and all cooked in just one pot. After finding that I still had a gift card to Williams-Sonoma, I picked out a 2-1/2 quart red Le Creuset cast iron enameled pot. I christened this pot with this meal. This kind of pot or dutch oven is the ideal vessel for this dinner but if you don't have that then any kind of covered baking dish will work as well.

Lizzy M.'s Chicken with Roots and Sprouts

Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
Dash of crushed red pepper
1 cup turnips, largely dic
1 cup rutabaga, largely dic
1 cup carrots, largely diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Thyme

2 dried bay leaves
1/4 tsp grated nutm
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 cup Brussels sprouts, each cut in half (remove stem from the bottom)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock or broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (For a generous portion use 1 chicken breast per person, and for smaller portions use 1 chicken breast for 2 people.)
2-3 green onions, diced for garnish


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large dutch oven pot, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil with a dash of crushed red pepper on medium to high heat. Once heated, add the chopped onions, turnips, rutabaga, and carrots. Stir well to coat in the olive oil. Season the vegetables while sauteing with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves and nutmeg. Stir well, cover and cook for 7-10 minutes. Next, add the grated garlic and Brussels sprouts. Cook for 2 minutes before adding the Dijon mustard, white wine and chicken broth. Let the mixture cook for another 2 minutes. Finally, salt and pepper the chicken breasts and rest them on top of the vegetable mixture. Push the chicken down a bit, so some vegetables and liquid are covering the chicken.

Cover the oven-safe pot and transfer to the oven. Bake the chicken and vegetables for 20-30 minutes. You may need more cooking time depending upon how many chicken breasts you are cooking. For one or two, 20 minutes should be plenty of time. When ready spoon out a portion of vegetables and chicken into a bowl and garnish with green onion. Serve this healthy chicken dish with rice or orzo pasta.

Don't be afraid to try vegetables that you don't normally use. Exposing yourself and your families to all different kinds of vegetables is the best way to have a family of vegetable-eaters. If you start trying different foods at a young age, you are more likely to be more of an adventurous eater and cook. And if you are a parent, don't limit your kids to only the things you like. Give them the opportunity to try everything, and let them decide for themselves.


New Ideas for Holiday Vegetable Dishes

At Thanksgiving, we tend to stick to the classics for our side dishes like green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. These side dishes are expected at the table for a Thanksgiving dinner but it doesn't hurt to excite your guests with a new, unexpected side dish, especially a healthy vegetable option. Most holiday vegetables are drenched in butter, cheese, or cream of mushroom soup, so how about offering something a bit cleaner and healthier to offset those rich, calorie-overloaded dishes. Try any of these vegetable recipes to give your guest something out of the ordinary.

1. Parmesan Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

1 bunch of broccoli, separated into bite sized spears

1 head of cauliflower, separated into bite sized spears

3 garlic cloves, sliced

Extra virgin olive oil (ap

proximately 1/4 cup)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs-larger than traditional bread crumbs)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Toss the broccoli and cauliflower spears in a virgin olive oil, sea salt, freshly gro

und black pepper, sliced garlic, 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs, and a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Roast in the oven for 30 m

inutes at 350 degrees on a large baking sheet.

2. Acorn Squash with Orange Marmalade (This recipe is a spin on my mother's acorn squash.)

2-3 acorn squash, each squash cut into 4 pieces with the seeds removed (Portion 1-2 servings for each guest)

3 tbsp salted butter

1/3 cup Orange Marmalade

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg, fresh grated

1/8 tsp allspice

Fresh Orange Zest

Carefully cut each acorn squash into four equal segments. Remove the seeds from the center. In a bowl, combine the butter, marmalade and spices. Place the squash on a large baking sheet or glass casserole pan and spray with cooking spray. Spoon the marmalade mixture on top of each squash segment. With a zester, micro-plane, or grater, zest a small amount of fresh orange peel. Use only the dark orange-colored skin from a cleaned orange. Don't zest so hard that you get down to the white part of the orange just the very outer skin.

Bake the acorn squash at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until the squash is tender all the way through.

3. Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic with Torn Basil

1 lb cherry tomatoes

3 garlic cloves, slices

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh torn basil

Place the cherry tomatoes and garlic on a large baking sheet. Toss the tomatoes and garlic in olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve in a large bowl topped with fresh torn basil.

4. Simple Swiss chard

1-2 large bunches of Swiss chard (Rainbow variety for the most colorful), washed and largely chopped

1 large red onion, cut in half and make long slices

2 garlic cloves, grated or minced

Extra virgin olive oil

Dash of crushed red pepper

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat a liberal drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of crushed red pepper. Add the sliced red onion, salt and pepper to the hot pan. Sauté until slightly caramelized (when the onions get a slight caramel color and have cooked down). Next add in half of the Swiss chard and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Using tongs, move the chard around and incorporate with the onions and olive oil. Once cooked down a bit about 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining Swiss chard and the garlic. Sauté the chard for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

5. Root Vegetable Roast

2 cups turnips, peeled and largely diced into cubes (about 2-3 turnips)

2 cups rutabaga, peeled and largely diced into cubes (about 3-4 rutabaga)

2 cups carrots, cut into large slices

1 large Vidalia or yellow onion, largely diced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Extra virgin olive oil (approximately a 1/4 cup)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sprig of thyme

2 dried bay leaves

In a large roasting or casserole dish, combine all ingredients with the olive oil. Place the thyme sprig on the top of the dish. Push the bay leaves down into the vegetables. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the thyme sprig and the bay leaves. Serve hot.

6. Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

16 oz. Brussels sprouts, each cut in half (trim off the bottom of the sprout and any dirty outer leaves)

1/4-1/3 lb of pancetta, diced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

On a large baking sheet, toss all ingredients well. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.

7. Gorgonzola Cauliflower Mash

1 large cauliflower head, cored

3 cups chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt

1 tbsp granulated garlic

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, add the chicken stock and the head of cauliflower, core side down. Cover and bring to a boil, boil until the cauliflower is fork tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Drain the stock from the pot into a colander that is placed inside of a large bowl. This way you can save the stock to add back to the cauliflower but you have control over how much.

Place the cauliflower back into the large pot, ladle in the desired amount of chicken stock (usually about 1-1 1/2 cups). Mash the cauliflower until the cauliflower almost looked like mashed potatoes. Add the Gorgonzola cheese, sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper.

8. Roasted Beets with Feta and Pine Nuts

1 lb beets, cleaned with stems removed

Extra virgin olive oil

1 cup feta cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (toast stove top in a dry pan for about 6-8 minutes)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 green onions, diced

On a large baking sheet, toss the beets (skin-on) with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Roast the beets in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the beets are tender. Remove from oven and let the beets cool down. Rub each beet gently with a kitchen towel to remove the skins. Once all skins are removed, slice the beets in half and then cut large slices. Toss the beet slices with feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, and green onion. Also, add more olive oil, salt and pepper if needed. Serve at room temperature.

9. Fennel with Baby Spinach and Romano Cheese

3-4 large fennel bulbs, cut each bulb in half and thinly slice each half (Remove the long stalks and feathery green ends. When each bulb is cut in half, remove the tough core.)

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups baby spinach

1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated

On a large baking sheet, toss the sliced fennel well with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes in the oven, toss the fennel around with tongs. After 30 minutes, the fennel should be tender and caramelized.

Transfer the roasted fennel into a large bowl adding the spinach and Pecorino Romano cheese. Toss well and serve.

10. Sautéed Seasonal Mushrooms with Herbs

1 lb seasonal mushrooms (Wipe off any dirt with a dry kitchen towel. Cut only the larger mushrooms in half.)

Extra virgin olive oil

Splash of dry white wine

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp Sage, chopped

2 tbsp Parsley, chopped

2 tbsp Chives, chopped

In a large sauté pan, add a liberal drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on medium to high heat. Add all of the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Next, add the white wine, salt and pepper. Sauté for another 5-7 minutes. In a bowl, add the mushrooms and herbs, and toss well.

Offer any of these simple and delicious side dishes for any holiday meal to bring something new to your guests' plates.

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