Growing up in New Jersey, Italian food was a big part of my life. It seems like no matter where you go in the state, you can throw a stone and hit a pizzeria. In fact, a quick search on Yelp for "pizza" in Newark, NJ, the largest city in the state with a population of 285,154 in 2017 (Wikipedia) brought up over 620 search results for me. By contrast, a search of Flemington, NJ (Wikipedia says it had a population of 4,621 in 2017), the town where I went to high school and location of the famous Lindbergh "Trial of the Century", still brought up 28 results. I even worked at a few of those pizza places... three, actually, while I was in high school.
Posts published in “Menu Ideas”
It makes me cringe to know that we're already a full month and then-some into 2019. January is in the books, and in a few days we'll be coming up on Valentine's Day. (We'll be talking about spring next, then Memorial Day will be coming up on the heels of summer... yikes.) For the last several years, I've found it more fun to lovingly plan a menu of delicious, home-cooked foods that both of us enjoy rather than going out for Valentine's Day. Going out to eat on a holiday is rarely great, in my experience. Restaurants are often so crowded and everything, even at finer restaurants, feels rushed. It's hardly worth getting dressed up only to come and go in a matter of an hour, maybe two, and not really have time to savor everything. The planning of a special V-Day dinner menu only adds to the fun, and Dave and I have now made a little tradition out of it.
Are you planning to watch the Grammy Awards this weekend? If you're like me, I always like something to nibble on when I'm watching an award show or special event. There's just something so satisfying about eating different, small plates of foods that I love, too. Dave and I often have tapas for dinner instead of a full meal. These portable caprese skewers couldn't be easier, or faster, to make. You can make as many or as few of these skewers as you'd like, and serve them with the creamy pesto dip that can be made in advance. I've made these for parties in the past, as well as "just because".
Comfort foods are far-from fussy and everyone loves them, which makes this menu perfect for a casual get-together—whether celebrating a birthday, the upcoming Super Bowl, or just because. For a country-inspired birthday party (think bandannas, plaid shirts, jeans) I attended years ago, this menu was a winner. It fed a group of 30 adults and children with enough variety so everyone, meat eaters and vegetarians alike, could find something to enjoy. Most things on this menu would be also be great for an outdoor party because they travel well. A few of these things, like the cornbread, don't have to be served hot. Chili can be made in advance and heated up outdoors in the slow-cooker, if you have power where you're going; transferred to a chafing dish; or heated right over a camp fire in a cast iron pot (very outdoorsy!)
A year or two ago I got on a big kick with German food. I'm not quite sure what started it, but it could've been as simple as drinking a lot of Weihenstephaner at the time and wondering, Hmm, I haven't made a lot of German food. I wonder what kind of delicacies I'm missing out on... At any rate, the proverbial Pandora's box opened and I ended up creating a German-inspired feast for Christmas that year. Many of the recipes have since become staples for me—especially right before or after big holiday gatherings when people are tired of turkey, ham, and other traditional holiday meats. Try a combination of the these recipes to create a delicious, globally-inspired menu for your next gathering.
To all of my friends, family, and visitors from the U.S.: Have a wonderful, safe, and food-filled Thanksgiving holiday! I'm taking a little break from work, definitely looking forward to the long weekend ahead and what will be our first Thanksgiving at the new house! I'll make it a point to share a few photos on Twitter of my holiday table and things I'm making, so if you haven't already followed @fromannakitchen on Twitter, do it (and note the lack of an "s" in "Anna's" there because of the Twitter username character count...) New posts will start up again until next week. If you need some last-minute inspiration for your holiday menu, check out my round-up of some of my favorite recipes below.