Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Office-friendly Thanksgiving treats

So you have to work on thanksgiving. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the day or have to forego all the good things to eat that come with the holiday. You and your fellow workers can each bring something from home to share with the rest of the crew.

If you are the one responsible for getting the Thanksgiving meal together, you might want to start a couple of days before the big day and get as much done as you can ahead of time. If this is the case, don't forget to put plan your special treat for the office gang. It can be an appetizer, dessert, or beverage. But, be sure it's something that you've already planned for your own family so that you don't have to prepare an extra dish.

Whatever you decide to make, be sure you make enough for both your family and the workplace. I have included an appetizer and dessert recipe below. Both can be made ahead of time. The amount you make will depend on how many people you will be serving. Be sure to adjust the recipes.

Appetizer: Cranberry Chutny and Cream Cheese (serves 12)
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 packages cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced green onions
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tblsp minced and cored jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tblsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup minced, fresh cilantro leaves
  • Cranberries and cilantro sprigs for garnish
Instructions:
  • Rinse and drain cranberries
  • In a food processor, pulse cranberries until finely chopped.
  • In a medium sized bowl, mix together cranberries, onions, jalapeno peppers, cilantro leaves, ginger, sugar and lemon juice.
  • Cover and refrigerate 4 hours till a flavor develops.
  • Place the cream cheese on a serving plate and cover it with the dip.
  • Garnish with cranberries and cilantro
  • Serve with taco chips
(you can substitute store bought cranberry chutney to save time)

*I serve this a Chrismas time with chunks of French bread

Dessert: Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars (makes 16 bars)
FOR THE CRUST
  • 20 chocolate wafer cookies, (half a 9-ounce package)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
FOR THE FILLING
  • 2 packages bar cream cheese, (8 ounces each)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  1. In a food processor, blend cookies with sugar until finely ground.
  2. Add butter, and pulse until moistened.
  3. Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan, and press gently into bottom.
  4. Bake until fragrant and slightly firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  5. Place cream cheese in food processor; blend until smooth.
  6. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, flour, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; process until combined. Set aside.
  7. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each, until melted.
  8. Add 1 cup pumpkin mixture; stir to combine. Set aside.
  9. Pour remaining pumpkin mixture into prepared pan. Drop dollops of chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture; swirl.
  10. Bake until cheesecake is set but jiggles slightly when gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes.
  11. Cool in pan. Cover; chill until firm, at least 2 hours (and up to 2 days). Using overhang, transfer cake to work surface.
  12. With a knife dipped in water, cut into 16 squares. Serve.
*this is a fabulous Martha Stewart recipe

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving on a shoestring

Enjoy the holiday

During this time when most of us are cutting back on our spending and trying to find ways to beat the economic slump, entertaining family and friends may be quite a challenge, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Americans love to eat. Some wait all year for that one day they can "pig out" and feel okay about it. Everyone stuffs themselves with all manner of food and drink on Thanksgiving. It's been a tradition since the pilgrims sat down with the Indians for the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth in 1621.

Keeping the cost down

Even if you are out of work, on employment or temporarily living with your parents, it is still possible to create an incredible Thanksgiving dinner, if you give it some thought. The secret is in the planning and in doing most of the work yourself. Rather than rushing out and buying up expensive bags of ready made dressing, cans of cranberry sauce and canned gravy, you might want to consider making these items from scratch. Lots of good recipes are available on the internet and making them from scratch costs a lot less and, in most cases, tastes better.

Planning your dinner

You first have to decide whether or not you can afford to buy a turkey. That might depend on the size of your family and the amount of money you have to spend. Turkeys are more expensive than chicken or other fowl and are usually quite large, so you might consider buying a chicken instead or Cornish game hens, if you're cooking for a smaller group. Chicken goes just as well with all the thanksgiving trappings. However, if you absolutely have to have a turkey, remember that if you buy one a little bigger than what you'll need for the big day, you can have at least three meals out of it by making wonderful dishes with the left overs. Some ideas are: turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pie, turkey/rice soup, turkey burgers, and turkey hash.

Food and Drink

After the meat, the easiest and least expensive dishes to include in your meal are potatoes (white or sweet), vegetables, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie. The first two items will probably be on sale at your grocer during the season. Vegetables vary in cost from inexpensive green beans, corn, broccoli and squash to more expensive mushrooms, artichokes and asparagus. A big cost saver would be to make your own dinner rolls or biscuits and pie, as well as the cranberry sauce, the dressing, and the gravy. They really are not difficult to make and you can actually have fun doing it, if you allow enough time. Figure your schedule out ahead of time and make some of your food and drink items the day before.

The kids most likely will drink milk, and some of the adults too. But, for something a little more festive, you might try a cranberry punch or serve a lovely white wine with your turkey. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio all go well with turkey, as does Pouilly Fuisse (which is a little more expensive, but might be an interesting choice if you are a guest and want to bring something special to the host or hostess). And, of course after the main meal, lots of delicious strong coffee to keep everyone from falling asleep from the the tryptophan in the turkey is a must.

Making a fabulous pie

If you don't like pumpkin, apple pie goes well with this type of meal. And if you have children, they really enjoy helping in the kitchen and can be assigned various jobs to help you out. Making pie crust seems to strike terror in the hearts of many cooks. So, buying them ready made has become common place. However, they are more expensive than homemade and, in most cases don't taste as good. For those of you who are adventurous, here is a video with exact instructions. Once you have your crust(s) made, you can either add apples for a scruptous apple pie or canned pumpkin for the traditional pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pamper yourself with our packages



SWEETHEART PACKAGES
(perfect for Valentine's Day)

Sweetheart package #1
-Spacious Victorian room with Queen 4-poster bed
-Private bath
-Bottle of wine, champagne (or non-alcoholic beverage)
-Cheese and fruit tray
-Sweetheart roses
-Chocolates
-Gourmet breakfast
Cost: One night: $165 Two nights: $275.00

Sweetheart Package #2
-Lovely, spacious suite with Queen bed
-Private bath
-Working fireplace,sitting area, TV/VCR
-Many other amenities
-Bottle of wine, champage (or non-alcoholic beverage)
-Cheese and fruit tray
-Sweetheart roses
-Chocolates
-Gourmet breakfast
Cost: one night: $235.00 Two nights: $380.00

SPA PACKAGE

(reserve at least 3 weeks ahead)
30-60 minute Massage in your room
spacious guestroom with all amenities
Bottle of wine
Cheese & Cracker tray
Gourmet breakfast
One-two nights (with two 1/2 hr massages): $195-290 for two.
One-two nights (With two one hr massages): $270-375 for two.
Suite available:one-two ngts:(two 1/2-1 hr massages)$290-450 for two
Extra persons: $20 each per night plus massage
licensed massage therapist available

ANTIQUEING PACKAGE
2-day package includes:
-accommodations
-Private bath
-Gourmet breakfast daily
-Two Antique malls
-Five Antique shops
-One Garden shop
-Architectual Salvage Shop
-Glassworks Studio
-Two Gift Shops
-Lunch daily at or near Antique Malls
For two: $350.00

CULTURAL PACKAGE
2-day package includes:
-Accommodations
-Private bath
-Gourmet breakfast daily
-Two tickets to JB Speed Art Museum
-Two tickets to Actors Theater
-Lunch at the Museum
For two:$375.00

GIRLFRIEND'S GET-AWAY

(in the privacy of your rooms)
-2 days accommodations
-Suite/private bath
-Great videos/TV/VCR
-Comfort food (Pizza, Pop Corn)
-Wine/Sodas
-Terry cloth robes
-Bedtime Cookies and Milk
Cost: 4-6 persons, without massages:$395-425
........With Massage:$37.50-75.00 extra pp

THE HUMANA FESTIVAL
Feb. 21-Mar 28, 2010

The Humana Festival of New American Plays is an annual site of pilgrimage where theatre lovers from around the world gather to get a glimpse of the future of the American theater. The Aleksander House is offering a theater package which includes two nights accommodations, one or two nights at the Humana Festival of New American Plays and two late morning Gourmet breakfasts. We will also make dinner reservations for you at a restaurant of your choice (dinner is not included in the price of the package). Theater is within blocks of our Inn. Cost: $320--375 (includes booking & handling fees.) (double occupancy)








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