Tag Archives: Christmas

Xmas Morning Strata.ai

The Dish: Xmas Morning Strata

The last thing you want to worry about Christmas morning is what you’re going to feed your family after they’re done tearing through presents. Strata is the perfect solution. A savory bread pudding, great hot or at room temperature and can be made ahead of time and either cooked later or reheated.

Assemble the strata the night before and let it rest in the fridge. If your oven has a timer on it, set it to preheat before you wake up. That way all you have to do Christmas morning is toss the strata in the oven and let it bake. No missing out on the kids opening presents and no ungrateful starving children demanding breakfast.

This dish is extremely versatile. Any or all of the vegetables can be substituted as well as the cheese. For an even heartier dish add some crumbled sausage or bacon.

 Xmas Morning Strata

Serves 6-8

3 Tbs. olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, diced

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

about 2 cups kale, finely torn

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 can cannellini beans, drained

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp paprika

1 Tbs. fresh basil and thyme, chopped

8 cups French or Italian bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 cups gruyere, grated

1 cup taleggio, grated

2 3/4 cup milk

9 eggs

cooking spray

 

Saute onions and garlic in oil until softened. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute until lightly golden brown. Add kale and saute until wilted. Pour in tomatoes and cook until liquid is reduced and veggies aren’t too watery. Add beans and herbs. Check seasoning and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl beat eggs and milk together. Add the paprika and about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Spray a large (at least 3 quarts) baking dish with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Spread 1/3 of the bread in the bottom of the dish. Top with 1/3 of the vegetables and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat until dish is full ending with cheese on top. Pour egg mixture evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill over night or up to 8 hours for bread to absorb custard.

Preheat oven to 350°F. If you have an oven with a timer, set it to preheat before you wake up so you don’t have to wait as long in the morning. Let strata sit and come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before putting in the oven.

Cook strata in middle of the oven until golden brown, set and puffed up, about 45-60 minutes (may take longer depending on your oven). Let rest about 5 minutes before serving.

Great hot or at room temperature. This dish is perfect for breakfast or brunch. Slice leftovers into single servings and freeze for a quick and hearty breakfast or lunch.

Eggnog

The Dish: Kentucky Eggnog Spike

Georgia has the best peaches and everyone loves California wine but Kentucky knows its bourbon. Celebrate the holidays with a taste of the South by making this eggnog spike. One glass will be sure to have you kissing under the mistletoe in no time!

This particular concoction is best made at least a week in advance and given time to marinate. So, if you want to be drinking it by Christmas Eve get going now!

Check below the recipe for complimentary gift labels, wrapping suggestions and a tutorial on removing labels from wine bottles.

Kentucky Eggnog Spike

Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bourbon
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 2 large cinnamon sticks
  • 7 whole cloves

Preparation

Pour bourbon, rum and brandy into 1-quart bottle. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into bourbon mixture; add pod to bottle.

Using mortar and pestle or bottom of heavy small skillet, crack whole nutmeg into 4 or 5 pieces. Add nutmeg pieces, cinnamon sticks and cloves to mixture. Cork bottle tightly. Let stand in cool, dark place for 1 week. (Can be prepared 3 months ahead.)

To make the eggnog

Ingredients

Makes about 6 servings

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1 quarts half and half
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1+ cup spike
  • 1 cup milk or more as needed
  • freshly grated nutmeg

Preparation

In a heavy saucepan with an electric mixer beat together half-and-half, cream, sugar, and yolks until combined well. Cook mixture over moderate heat, continuing to beat, until slightly thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Continue to beat mixture until slightly cooled. Stir in vanilla and nutmeg.
Transfer eggnog to a bowl and chill, covered, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

Add 1 cup of the spike to start and adjust to taste.

Just before serving, thin eggnog with milk to desired consistency. Garnish with cinnamon or nutmeg.

 

Preparations and Gifting Suggestions

For a quick and easy way to remove labels from wine bottles, check out this tutorial at DIY Idea Time.

Once labels are removed, thoroughly wash and dry your bottle. Using a funnel, pour the eggnog spike in to the bottle followed by the vanilla and spices. Seal firmly with a cork.

Using a thin layer of glue, attach the eggnog spike label to the bottle.

To make your bottle extra special, drip red or green sealing wax around the cork to ensure no leakage and make opening it part of the fun. Finish it off by tying a Christmas ribbon with a big bow around the neck. A fresh piece of nutmeg and a grater would also be great attached to the ribbon.

Use these special touches to let your friends and family know how much you care about their buzz this Christmas.

Click on the image below for complimentary labels or try your hand at designing your own!

Eggnog Label Sheet

4-sm

The Dish: Biscotti

With Christmas right around the corner and Black Friday just past, it’s time to start seriously thinking about what to give your friends and family this year. Edible gifts are great any time of year. They’re a creative gift from the heart that shows your loved ones how much you care.

In the past, we’ve offered a lot of great recipes that would make perfect Christmas or hostess gifts. Find a nice mug and fill it with gourmet hot chocolate and some homemade marshmallows to warm them up on a cold winter night. A beautiful basket filled with artisan breads and cheeses pairs perfectly with a jar of honey butter. Take a look through past pieces from The Dish and get inspired this holiday season!

Didn’t see anything you like? Don’t despair, I’ve got the perfect edible gift for you to make this year!

Do you have a particular recipe that friends ask you for time and time again? I do! For years now friends and family have asked me to bring my biscotti to gatherings or make for them to give as gifts. Cookies are a classic Christmas favorite that get a new twist with my Cherry Pistachio Biscotti.

Keep reading after the recipe for wrapping suggestions and custom gift tags.

Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

Makes about 3 dozen

3 ½ C flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 ¾ C sugar

3 eggs

½ C vegetable/canola oil

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 C dried cherries loosely chopped

1/2 C pistachios loosely chopped

+ 1 egg for glaze and 2 Tbsp sugar to sprinkle on top

 

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Mix dry ingredients together. Set aside.

Whisk sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy. Add oil, vanilla and whisk until blended. Slowly fold in dry ingredients. Before fully mixed, add fruit and nuts. Fold batter together until well combined but not over mixed.

Spoon half the batter onto one sheet and the other half on another. Wet hands with water or spray hands with PAM to prevent sticking. Form into logs about 2 ½ inches by about 10 inches. Make sure its even width. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. (Can also make smaller cookies by making 4 logs instead of 2)

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until firm and lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. Turn off oven. Slice logs into about ½ inch pieces. Each log should yield about 18 slices depending on the mix-ins (or about 10 if in 4 logs). Arrange cookies upright on sheets and return to turned off oven. Let sit in cooling oven for about 1 hour until cookies are golden and have firmed up. Remove and let cool on a rack.

Let cool completely. Cookies continue to dry out after baking. Store in airtight container for 2 weeks or freeze forever.

Substitute any fruit or nut you like or even add chocolate chips.

 

Wrapping Suggestions

Wrap cookies in cellophane bags, tie with decorative ribbon and attach label.

For best results, print labels on card stock or a heavier weight paper. Cut out around edges and punch hole. Write your holiday greeting on the back. Your friends will love getting such a personal, creative gift!

Click on the image below and print for custom designed gift tags.

Biscotti Labels sheet

Biscotti, photograph by Susie Poole Anderson

Josh Welp

Josh Welp Joins Kitchell as Safety Director

Josh Welp has been appointed Kitchell’s new Safety Director.

Welp has more than 15 years of safety engineering experience, including six years as Safety Manager and then Site Safety and Health Officer at Sundt Construction.

Recent projects include safety oversight of a new $21M hangar and aircraft wash facility for B-52 aircraft at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and construction of a $20M dormitory renovation project for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lackland AFB in Texas.

Welp received a B.S. in Safety Engineering from Kennedy Western University in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in International Business from the University of Iowa.

Currently working on a M.S. in Safety and Environmental Management at Columbia Southern University, Welp holds various safety and risk certifications. He has received numerous awards including Projects of the Year from the American Public Works Association APWA (safety in the environmental category (Gilbert Water Treatment Plant), safety in the transportation category and safety in structures, among others).

In addition he was given the Project Safety Manager award of the year by Valley Metro Rail in Phoenix.

Welp will oversee safety programs for all Kitchell construction projects, bringing his extensive experience refined working on safety initiatives for highly regimented Federal projects to Kitchell’s diverse portfolio of projects.

 

230-775-61

Molina offers holiday gift advice

Az Business magazine sat down with Alfredo J. Molina, owner of Molina Fine Jewelers, to talk about trends he is seeing and suggestions he has for holiday gift-giving this season. Here is what he has to say:

Question: Are you seeing any trends regarding holiday gift giving this year?

Alfredo J. Molina: The major trends that reaches across major gift giving is quality, value and capital preservation. The current depreciation of worldwide currencies is motivating consumers to invest in hard assets as a form of investment. Jewelry represents a vehicle that meets many of the criteria of todays investor. It represents international currency, has great mobility, it can be held, meaning that they can see it, hold it and touch it and its appreciation is not taxable. Precious gemstones and precious metals have been the foundation of every monarcy and were used as the guarantors of all paper currency. The most emotionally charged gift a woman can receive is fine jewelry, especially the one’s containing large gemstones!

Q: What options do you suggest for gifts for female executives this year?

AM: Opinions vary as to the proper use of jewelry for women executives. One opinion is that less is more. The other opinion is the one I agree with and that is jewelry transmits a message of success. Imagine the financial advisor that transports himself to your office in a old dirty automobile. We are all in the people business and studies have shown that within the first 30 seconds people decide whether they are going to do business with you, trust you or believe you. The clothes you wear and the way you accessorize your wardrobe defines who you are and sends a strong message to the subconscious mind of the person you are delaing with.
The staples of a jewelry wardrobe for a professional woman are diamond stud earrings, cufflinks, a fine jewelry brooch, a fine timepiece and o fcourse a diamond ring that is appropriate for daywear. A pearl necklace has great versatility as does a diamond solitaire necklace.

Q: What options do you suggest for gifts for male executives this year?

AM: The rules of engagement for men are the same as for women. They are dealing with people and trust is the most important aspect in developing a mutally beneficial business relationship. My mentor John Teets, past CEO of Dial Corp., used to say ‘A man without cufflinks is improperly dressed.”. Cufflinks are a great opportunity for men to express their tastes and can break the monotony of a mans wardrobe. My grandfather used to say that you could judge a man by the quality of his shoes and his belt. Today, I believe that men are judged by the quality of their timepiece. The more complications a watch posseses the greater the culture and refinment of the man. A wedding ring with diamonds sends a message that a man is comfortable with who he is. A larger diamond transmits a connoisseurship of style. I would caution pinky rings due to their historic association with gamblers.

Photo Credit: Sweet Evie

Glendale Glitters and Glow Block Party

During the holiday season, one area of Arizona outshines all others. The small, historic town of Glendale is lit up by more than one million Christmas lights that are strung throughout the trees and shine brightly on the small, antique homes and shops that compose the 12-blocks from Old Towne and Catlin Court Districts.



Photo Credit: Sweet Evie



However, one of the more popular events of the Glendale Glitter festivities takes place on Jan. 8, when the city hosts their traditional Glendale Glitters and Glow Block Party to finish their annual celebrations. From 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. friends and families will make up an attendance of more than 75,000 people who stroll the sidewalks of the district for one last chance to witness the twinkling, colorful lights.

Adults have the chance to enjoy looking through each of the antique shops, which are decorated for the holidays, for fine crafts and historic relics. The kids will be entertained by large, tethered hot air balloons as they are blown up to reveal fantastic designs and patterns from the glow of their flame. Together, families can feel the festive spirit from the multiple live bands and performers throughout the evening. Other kid-friendly and family-fun activities will be available, as well as an assortment of food vendors.



Photo Credit: Sweet Evie



Parking for the event is limited but if you can find a spot in the neighborhood, it is free. Otherwise, you can use the Glendale Community College parking lot where a free shuttle, which runs all night from 3:30 until 11:30 p.m., will take you to-and-from the night’s event. This event, like all of Glendale Glitters festivities, has no admission charge.

Shop local stores in the Phoenix area for the holidays

Shop Local For The Holidays

We all know major department stores have big holiday sales, but so do local stores.

Local stores also have the added bonus of being good for your conscience. They’re greener – many of their products aren’t shipped in from all over the world – and they help the local economy more than chain stores. See our recent Local First Shift Arizona article.

If you’re looking to shop local this holiday season, here’s a few Phoenix-area shops to help you on your search for the perfect  Hanukkah, Christmas or Christmakkah gift.

1. Souvia Tea

Souvia Tea is stocked with more than 140 teas and gifts for tea lovers. Souvia Tea is part of Local First Arizona’s Buy Local Week that offers deals on local products from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5.

15414 N. 7th St. Ste. 8
Phoenix, Ariz. 85022
(602) 938-1216

2. Natural Paws

For the month of November, Natural Paws is discounting all Web sales 10 percent and offering free shipping. Natural Paws is part of Local First Arizona’s Buy Local Week that offers deals on local products from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5.

3. Pink House Boutique

Pink House Boutique is a one-of-a-kind co-op bursting with home décor, recycled, new and vintage clothing, and much more. The boutique also features local designer Bri Bridge.

7009 N. 58th Ave.
Glendale, Ariz. 85301
(623) 298-1766

4. SeeSaw Designs

Find unique stationary, prints and calendars at SeeSaw Designs.

6125 E. Indian School Road Ste. 2009
Scottsdale, Ariz.  85251
(480) 284-4987

5. Embellish Home

Give the gift of embellishment from Embellish Home. The store offers everything from decorative crowns to whimsical tea towels.

5202 N. 7th St.
Phoenix, Ariz. 85014
(602) 277-1499

6. Frances & 7. Smeeks

Here’s a double dose of local. Frances and Smeeks, both owned by the same woman and located on the same stretch of Camelback Road, are chalk full of everything from vintage candy to clothes to paper goods.

Frances
10 W. Camelback Road
Phoenix, Ariz. 85013
(602) 279-5463

Smeeks
14 W. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 279-0538

8. Sphinx Ranch

For the foodie in your life, look no further than Sphinx Ranch. The shop specializes in gift baskets, but you can pick up anything from Arizona wines to chips and salsa produced locally at their store.

3039 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, Ariz. 85251
(480) 941-2261

9. Maria Funicello Jewelry Designs

If your gal likes to shine, check out Maria Funicello Jewelry Designs. These beautifully crafted silver pieces are sure to wow her this holiday season.

10. Etsy.com

Etsy.com is the perfect place to shop several shops at a time. Just use Etsy’s Geolocator to find sellers in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Flagstaff, Tucson and many more cities. You can find practically anything from a local seller on Etsy, from aprons to jewelry to soap to home furnishings.

Here’s a few Arizona Etsy sellers to check out:

Petite Bonfire – Sewn goods, Tucson
Wing Flash – Jewelry, Tucson
Rose & Root – Soaps, Phoenix
The Tom Kat Studio – Party supplies, Chandler
Jason Hill Design – Artwork, Phoenix
Mommy’s Little Monsters – Children’s clothing, Phoenix
Nesta Home – Home decor, Phoenix
Pink Dandy Shop – Bath and cosmetic products, Phoenix
Spinup Yarns – Yarn, Flagstaff
Red Canyon Glass – Glassware, Flagstaff

Visit Local First’s Web site for a list of local shops and Tucson shops participating in Buy Local Week.

Black Friday deals in Arizona

2010 Black Friday Deals

It’s almost Black Friday – get ready for crowded malls, packed parking lots and maybe even a bit of elbowing for that amazing deal.

The malls will be teeming with eager shoppers hungry for a deal, especially since the National Retail Federation predicted a holiday sales increase of 2.3 percent this year. That’s a big bump since last year there was only a .4 percent holiday sales increase.

Most, if not all, major chains are slashing prices in an attempt to boost this year’s retail sales. Some stores are even keeping their Black Friday deals going through the weekend or they’re open Thanksgiving Day.

Apple

Apple’s having Cyber Monday sales on Black Friday. Apple announced at one-day shopping event on Black Friday for the online store only. The announcement says: “You’ll find dozens of great iPad, iPod, and Mac gifts for everyone on your list.”

Macy’s

Open: 4 a.m.
Locations
Preview:

  • All remote-controlled helicopters are 60 percent off.
  • Selected bedding is 60 to 70 percent off.
  • Stock up on selected Christmas ornaments that are 50 percent off.

See the deals

Kohl’s

Open: Shop online Thanksgiving Day until 2 p.m. Stores open at 3 a.m. on Black Friday.
Locations
Preview:

  • Half off selected Fisher-Price, Playskool, Barbie and other children’s toys.
  • Selected fashion jewelry 50 to 60 percent off.
  • Save more than 50 percent on selected cookware sets.

See the deals

Best Buy

Open: 5 a.m. – But, to get these deals tickets will be handed out starting 2 hours prior to open. Tickets are necessary to buy certain products.
Locations
Preview:

  • Save $1,000 on an LG washer and dryer set.
  • Save $25 on several EA Sports Xbox360 and PS3 games.
  • Save $30 on Wii consoles.

See the deals

Target

Open: 4 a.m.
Locations
Preview:

  • Target is being rather tight-lipped about their Black Friday deals. All we know is Target’s having a two-day sale, Nov. 26 and 27, and you can sign up to get an e-mail alert about the Black Friday deals. You can also get alerts for Target’s Cyber Monday deals. But don’t worry if you forget, we’ll remind you again.

See the deals

For those who just can’t wait until Friday, Kmart and Sears are open Thanksgiving Day at 7 a.m. and 6 a.m., respectively.

Kmart

Open: 5 a.m. (Note: “Blue” Friday deals last from 5 – 11 a.m.)
Locations
Preview:

  • Six-foot Christmas tree for $19.99.
  • Billiard or air hockey table with table tennis attachment for $189.99.
  • Kids’ graphic tees for $2.99.

See the deals

Lowe’s

Open: 12:01 a.m. Nov. 25 (Yes, that’s one minute after midnight on Thanksgiving) online. 5 a.m. Nov. 26 in stores.
Locations
Preview:

  • DeWalt cordless drill with case for $99.
  • Frigidaire eight-bottle wine cooler for $49.
  • Skil 10-inch compound miter saw for $59.
  • Deals valid from Nov. 26 – 29.

See the deals

More Black Friday resources:
BFInsider.com | MyBlackFriday.com | 2010BlackFridayAds.com | BlackFriday.org