Goodbye 2017

goodbye-2017

Goodbye 2017

Well, it’s been a fun year but we’ve got to say goodbye. Christmas may not be over yet, but 2017 will be at midnight tonight. Why not party down while the clock ticks away?

If you like the excitement of a Times Square ball drop party without the crowd, police checkpoints and freezing temperatures, you can watch the whole thing starting at 5PM Eastern at the official site of Times Square!

New Year’s Eve Party Ideas

If you’re entertaining for family and friends tonight, you’ve got a lot of options for a marvelous year-end wingding. You’re going to want to determine if you’re planning to have a supper or just appetizers and drinks. If you’re having a supper, are you providing all the food or are you having a potluck? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

If you’re planning to have a supper, then your appetizer count should be about 4-5 per guest. If you’re just doing finger foods and drinks, you’re going to want to allow for at least 12-15 per guest. With a sit-down option, you can provide appetizers that can be eaten with a fork. If it’s a standing mingle, you’ll need to stick to finger foods. Likewise, if you’re having a formal get-together you’re going to want to avoid sticky or heavily sauced items that can get on nice dresses and suits. If you’re having a casual affair, messy snacks are perfectly appropriate but be sure to provide a lot of napkins so they won’t be tempted to wipe fingers on your furniture.

Another key point for a wonderful party is providing a variety of drinks. Providing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is key. New Year’s Eve is commonly associated with excessive drinking, but keep the kids and the designated drivers in mind. Cocktails and mocktails can be prepared to give a broad selection of flavor profiles. Mocktails are the non-alcoholic versions of their spiked counterparts. Pina Coladas, Margaritas and Daiquiris can be just as delicious without the booze but be sure to make it obvious which is which so the designated drivers and teetotalers don’t get an unfortunate surprise.

Holding a potluck dinner is a great way for family and friends to bond as the year draws to a close. Guests can bring their favorite foods to share with everyone and create an awesome year-end feast. This kind of comfort food can serve as a marvelous backdrop to a happy gathering. It also takes a lot of the stress off of the hosts both financially and in consideration of time and preparation.

However, if you insist on being the hostess with the mostest, you might opt to prepare all the food for the feast. If you are a hardcore foodie, this might be therapy for you. Some people absolutely love cooking and preparing food for others and this can be an excellent expression of your fondness for your guests. If you’re just a masochistic control freak, this could lead to a lot of stress just before the end of the year. Be kind to yourself. If you love cooking for your loved ones, by all means, go for it. If you’re just feeling like you need to pull out all the stops to keep up with the Joneses, do yourself and your guests a favor and just don’t. You should be getting together to have fun as you wrap up the year. Getting stressed out of your brain is going to make you an awful host and the butt of a lot of jokes in the coming weeks.

When it comes right down to it, as long as you are with your favorite people on this final night of the year it doesn’t much matter what you prepare to eat and drink. Dollar store soda and generic chips & dip are going to be just as memorable as a five-course meal and exotic cocktails if you’re having fun. What really matters is ringing in the new year with your loved ones. End the year on a high note and don’t stress about the victuals.

Five, four, three, two, one… Happy New Year!

Pork and Sauerkraut

Pork and Sauerkraut

Happy New Year! I can’t think of anything more traditional for New Year’s Day than good ol’ Pork and Sauerkraut!

Me on 01JAN16Where I grew up was on the border between the outskirts of Philadelphia and the eastern reaches of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. This led to two different traditions in my household. The Mummer’s Parade or the Tournament of Roses in the morning followed by Pork and Sauerkraut for supper.

Well, nowadays I’m the dad and we have a little tradition of our own. My sons’ Boy Scout Troop 624 holds an annual Pork and Sauerkraut dinner at Schuylkill Lodge 138 in Orwigsburg, PA. Every member of the troop shares KP duty serving up the holiday fare. It’s a wonderful time to get in touch with the community and share some fellowship with the troop families.

So, why Pork and Sauerkraut? Well, tradition holds that pork is lucky because pigs root forward rather than backwards like chickens and turkeys. As such, pigs are considered to be symbols of progress and are indicative of the promise of a New Year. Traditionally, when cabbage was harvested and preserved at the end of October it would take about eight weeks for the fermentation of sauerkraut to complete. This made the sauerkraut available right in time for New Year’s. They added on the symbolic meaning of the shreds of cabbage. The long shreds are meant to symbolize long life. In either case, the tart sauerkraut is a wonderful flavor pairing with the fatty, salted pork.

Here’s a video recipe that I hope you’ll enjoy.

Trivia Day and Spaghetti Day

Trivia Day and Spaghetti Day

Christmastime is quickly slipping away and we’ve only got a little bit of the magic left to share. So, why not sit the family down around a bowl of spaghetti and play some trivia games?

Spaghetti Day

Spaghetti Day Spaghetti is a wonderful comfort food for the chillier times of the year. You can enjoy the usual tomato sauce, alfredo sauce or garlic butter depending on your mood. You can also add proteins such as meatballs, shrimp, sausage or langostinos to fortify the dish. If you’re into vegetables, you can use a light broth and make a wonderful pasta primavera.

There are unresolved issues about the origin of spaghetti. Some say that it was created in Ancient Greece and others hold that Marco Polo brought it back from the East after dining on it at the court of Kublai Khan. Whatever the truth is, we’re glad we have this versatile dish to keep us warm and nourished.

Trivia Day

Is there anything more enjoyable for a family to enjoy than an evening playing a trivia game? From the classic Trivial Pursuit and all of its specialty variations (we really enjoy Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit) to the latest craze in trivia games, trivia games test your memory and teach you things you might not have known before.

If you want to tackle the latest trivia games, I’ve located 119 amazing facts that could help you in your next trivia challenge.

Click on this game to get your copy

Click on this game to get your copy

Click on this game to get your copy

It’s the Eleventh Day of Christmas and not a moment too soon. Who doesn’t love a band of pipers?
 

Eleven Pipers Piping

Ugly Christmas Sweater Day and National Roast Suckling Pig Day and Bake Cookies Day

Ugly Christmas Sweater Day and National Roast Suckling Pig Day and Bake Cookies Day

As we close in on Christmas day, the celebrations get more and more awesome. Ugly sweaters, suckling pigs and cookies are on the docket today. It’s the Friday before Christmas, so kick off a wonderful weekend with some classic holiday treats!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Day


Admit it. You know you want one.
National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day is celebrated on the third Friday of December each year to add some lighthearted fun to an already awesome holiday season.

What’s involved in celebrating this zany holiday? Just buy yourself the ugliest Christmas sweater you can find and wear it all day. Don’t forget to dare your friends to try to top you. It’s not a party if you’re the only one wearing one!

Want to add some meaning to the fun? Make a donation to Save the Children and their Make The World Better With A Sweater campaign.

Make The World Better With A Sweater

National Roast Suckling Pig Day

National Suckling Pig Day is a chance to have a super-retro medieval holiday dinner. A suckling pig is technically one that hasn’t been weaned from its mother’s milk, causing the meat to be extremely tender. Not everybody has the right kitchen or even the time and patience to prepare such a sumptuous meal, but some people are all about the BBQ pit. If you’ve got the time and the tools, this is a feast not to be missed. If you’d like to know how, ask Julia Child. National Suckling Pig Day

Bake Cookies Day

Sure, this is technically cheating, but boy do these look tasty!!! I’ve always wondered why if you bake cookies, you don’t call them bakies. Well, it turns out that the word cookie comes from the Dutch word koekje which means “little cake”.

It turns out that Dutch bakers used to check the temperature of their ovens by dropping a little cake batter in rather than risk losing the whole cake on an oven that wasn’t hot enough. Waste not, want not.

There are so many kinds of cookies and ways to make them. Since Christmas is next Friday, it’s time to get those batches cooking. Whether you make them from scratch with old family recipes or whether you just buy logs of pre-made dough at the store, baking cookies is a great family activity and makes a wonderful homemade gift for friends and relatives.

Fritters & Mutts

Fritters & Mutts

Today we’re going to fill your belly and your heart. December 2nd is National Fritter Day and it is National Mutt Day.

National Fritter Day

To celebrate today as National Fritter Day, we’re going to hook you up with breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Fritters are any sort of cake or pastry with fruit or meat inside and are a classic comfort food in many regions of the country.

Breakfast: Cheesy Bacon Fritters

This image courtesy of cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com

This image courtesy of cinnamon spice and everything nice.com

I just love the smell of bacon in the morning! My mouth is watering just thinking about these bad boys.

If you like the extra zing, the recipe includes a ration of jalapeños. Click through to get yours sizzling.

Lunch: Easy Zucchini Fritters

This is going to make a really tasty lunch for you today. I love zucchini in casseroles, stir fry, as a side or even in cookies! Click here to see how to have these for lunch.

This image courtesy of laurenslatest.com

This image courtesy of laurens latest.com

Dinner: Indonesian Corn Shrimp Fritters

Bakwan (seafood cake with whole shrimp).jpg

This image courtesy of Garrett Ziegler. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Also known as Bakwan Udang, this savory shrimp dish brings an exotic set of spices to your holiday table.

Click here to learn the secrets of this Eastern dish.

Dessert: Easy Glazed Apple Fritters

Is there anything as tasty as an apple fritter with a generous layer of glaze?

Click here to find out how to make this tasty treat for dessert tonight.

This image courtesy of cinnamon spice and everything nice.com

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National Mutt Day

We were watching the highlights of the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day and it’s neat to see all the exotic breeds, but not everyone has the cash for a purebred or the medical problems that are inherent in some of the breeds. A lot of people just want a furry friend who is going to live a long healthy life without the cost and drama of a pedigree. If you have room in your home and your heart for a fuzzy family member, today is specially designated for the rest of the canine community.

Fried Chicken for Sunday Dinner

Sweet & Savory Sunday

Fried Chicken for Sunday Dinner

Fried Chicken for Sunday Dinner

So, I promised recipes way back when the site began and it’s about time I gave you some.  We’re going to start with a delicious fried chicken recipe that is great for any day of the week.  That being said, there’s something really special about Sunday Dinner.  Sitting down around the table with the whole family to have a nutritious meal is a special treat and a time to enjoy the company of your whole family.

1 whole chicken or any combo of chicken pieces
1 to 2 cup of flour for coating
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. shortening
2 beaten eggs
2 cups of milk
2 tbsp. parsley

1) Wash and dry chicken partsNutrition Facts on Fried Chicken for Sunday Dinner

2) Combine salt, pepper, and flour and coat chicken

3) Dip each piece in egg mixture and brown each side in hot, melted shortening and butter

4) Lower heat and cook for about 15 minutes more on each side

Note: Use heavy iron or aluminum frypan if possible

5) Remove from pan and drain on paper towels

6) Pour all but 3 tablespoons of fat from pan and return to heat

7) Add 3 tablespoons flour to pan and stir with fat until lightly browned

8) Add 2 cups of milk and some parsley or parsley flakes and cook on medium heat until thick

9) Put in gravy boat and serve with the chicken that you have arranged on a platter

So, there you go.  You’ve got a marvelous fried chicken dinner that you can serve with your favorite sides.  Bon appetit!

Interesting Holiday Stats

Santa Checking His List

Interesting Holiday Stats

Did you know the vast number of resources processed during the holiday season? Below are a few interesting statistics regarding the number of cards and gifts sent, party food eaten, and more.

Holiday Shopping

Holiday sales are expected to hit $439.53 billion this year. December accounts for roughly 15% of stores’ yearly sales, with the exception of jewelry stores for which it is closer to 24%. Most Americans only expect to spend an average of $854 each this holiday reason. On Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday 2013, approximately $12.3 billion was spent.  The new experiment of opening shops on Thanksgiving rather than waiting until midnight on Black Friday resulted in lower percentage of sales on the infamous shopping holiday. Residents of the New England states are anticipated to spend more than the rest of the country, while the South is expected to spend the least overall.

Christmas Cards

Do you enjoy receiving lots of cards in the mail? There are roughly 1.6 billion Christmas cards sent in the United States every year to friends, family members and acquaintances. This makes Christmas the #1 card sending occasion, followed by Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.  The greeting card manufacturers are being heavily impacted by the prevalence of free, instant options available online.

Presents

The number UPS is expected to deliver this year is over 340 million. The busiest day for UPS in the 2013 holiday season was Monday, December 16th when they reached 34 million deliveries, which translates to 394 packages being delivered every second during that day.  FedEx’s busiest day was 22 million deliveries on Monday, December 2nd.

Toys

About 45% of shoppers will be purchasing toys this year, with video games and Barbie being the products most sought after.  California leads the nation in toy production with 10 locations that produce dolls and stuffed animals as well as 88 locations that produce games, children’s vehicles and other toys.

Party food

Are you tired of turkey once Christmas is over? This may be why. The USDA  approximates that there are more than 244 million turkeys raised in the United States with as many as 60 million making it to the table through the holiday season. Americans eat an average of 13.7 pounds of turkey every year! I know I do my share of compensating for the vegetarians among us.  It is also reported that 7.3 billion shrimp are consumed at as many as 46 million holiday gatherings.  According to a Reader’s Digest poll, the favorite Christmas cookie in Pennsylvania is the Pizzelle and the national favorite is the Sugar Cookie.  I certainly enjoy both, but I definitely have a soft spot for a warm chocolate chip cookie.

Decorating

Most malls and other stores begin decorating for the holiday season on November 1st, but as many as 40% begin well before Halloween to get ready for early-bird shoppers.  Shopping centers spend an average of $22,998 on their holiday decorations.  Many retailers begin receiving deliveries of holiday decor in June or July and begin closing out their summer and gardening stock to make way for the yuletide supplies.  You know I love Christmas all year long, but let’s at least wait until after Labor Day!

Christmas Trees

If it is your practice to go chop down a tree and lug it home, check this out. There are 20.8 million Christmas trees cut in the U.S. every year, with the most (over 25%) coming from Oregon. Tree farmers reap roughly $506 million from this tradition. There are $69 million in artificial trees imported from China each year. Artificial Christmas trees have outsold real ones annually since 1991.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

China is the largest producer of Christmas ornaments which totals $592 million from January through August. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are around 250 injuries per day from decorating accidents and Christmas tree fires.

Holiday Music

The holiday song most frequently played is “Jingle Bells”. Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” runs a close second, but it is the #1 best selling Christmas single of all time.

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