Countdown to Valentine’s Day

We’ll be spending this Valentine’s weekend at the beach in Florida and while I’ll always relish a chance to enjoy warm ocean breezes and palm tree studded views, there is a part of me that craves the opulence and cool elegance of New York City this time of year. Maybe next year we’ll plan ahead for a swanky weekend in the Big (romantic) Apple. Cocktails by the fire at the St. Regis, anyone?

Valentine's Day in NYC

Global Christmas: Northern Italy

A home decor collage from December 2014 featuring nativity scene figurines, christmas home decor and christmas holiday decorations. Browse and shop related looks.
Some fun Italian Christmas tidbits:
In the Italian Catholic tradition, Christmas Eve is a day of abstinence from meat so the celebratory dinner features fish – sometimes as many as seven courses of fish!  Many families attend midnight mass after the Christmas Eve dinner, but in the mountainous Dolomites thrill seekers instead ski down the slopes with large torches at midnight.  Lunch on Christmas Day is the most important feast of the Christmas season.  Tortellini soup, roasts, and sausages are especially popular in Northern Italy.  For dessert, il torrone, a nougat, and a variety of light, bread-like cakes are common treats.  The panettone cake is filled with candied fruits while the il pandoro is sweeter and without the candied fruit.  Il panforte, a gingerbread with hazelnuts, honey, and almonds, is also popular and would be my choice (if chocolate wasn’t available!).  Italian traditions involving Christmas presents are varied.  Many Italians open their presents after the Christmas lunch, but some families wait until January 6, when it is believed that la befana— the “good witch” who is believed to have followed the wise men, but got lost—brings presents to children.  I’m sure it’s a struggle to get the little ones to wait that long to open their presents!

Global Christmas: Czech Republic

A home decor collage from December 2014 featuring recipes cookbook, christmas home decor and christmas tree topper. Browse and shop related looks.

Am I the only one who is having a hard time getting into the Christmas groove this year?   Maybe it’s the warmer temps or the fact that none of the houses in my neighborhood (including mine) are showing any signs of festivity as of yet.

Since I’m not finding the necessary Christmas inspiration here at home, I thought it would be nice to see what the rest of the world is doing for the holidays!  Let’s go global — starting with the Czech Republic!

The Czech Republic is full of rich Christmas traditions, including the festive markets held in the country’s picturesque squares.  The markets are filled with stalls selling homemade trinkets, jewelry, and ornaments, but most flock to the stands offering food and drink like honeyed gingerbread, vánocvka (a braided pastry studded with raisins), grog and mulled wine.  During the week before Christmas, the streets leading to the markets are lined with tubs full of water and live carp, the star ingredient in traditional Czech Christmas dishes.  December 24, called the “Generous Day,” is when most Czech families gather together for the big Christmas dinner of fish soup and fried carp.  Cookies are served afterward while the presents, which tradition says are gifts from the baby Jesus (not Santa Claus), are opened.  Many families then attend midnight church services to celebrate Christmas Eve.  Sounds like a lovely tradition!

2015 Flavor Forecast

A home decor collage from December 2014

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday.  You don’t have to buy and wrap presents, you don’t have to  put up an oversized Thanksgiving tree, and you don’t have to send Thanksgiving cards to everyone you have a current address for.  You just eat a great meal in the afternoon and then pile up with the TV remote and watch football games.  So let’s give thanks for Thanksgiving and give it the respect it deserves….by talking about the leftovers.  All those tasty leftovers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m honestly more excited about Thanksgiving leftovers than the actual Turkey Day itself.  My mind keeps wandering to all the mouth-watering possibilities.  Like you, I adore having one main feast to honor tradition with familiar and much-loved recipes, but the day after Thanksgiving I like to expand into different flavor-profiles.  Here are the recipes that I’ll be trying this year:

Turkey bahn mi?  Bahn yes!  I love the brightness that the cilantro, jalapeño, and pickled veggies add, especially after a heavy Thanksgiving feast.  I might even add a smear of cornbread dressing on the bread.  No judging.

Food Leftovers- Thanksgiving Bahn Mi

Mexican spices can really kick-up turkey leftovers.  Try fail-safe recipes like a simple posole, tostadas, nachos, or even tamales:

Food leftovers- Thanksgiving Posole  Food leftovers- Thanksgiving tostados  Food leftovers- thanksgiving tamales

Indian flavors work perfectly with the Thanksgiving leftover menu, too.  Just wrap leftover peas, mashed potatoes, and turkey in phyllo dough, bake, and serve with a spicy (maybe cranberry?) chutney.

Food leftovers- Thanksgiving samosas

For the less globally-inspired, you can’t go wrong with stuffing-stuffed mushroom caps.  Frankly, I could eat these all year, especially if the dressing is full of sausage….and why wouldn’t it be???

Food leftovers- Thanksgiving Stuffed Mushrooms

For more recipes please see our Pinterest page: