Category Archives: Food Holidays

Here are some of our favorite food holidays of the year.

Heat Up The Kitchen This Valentine’s Day


Image by: sloanpixThe countdown to Valentine’s Day 2012 is almost over. If you haven’t made a dinner reservation by now, your choices are probably narrowed to White Castle, Arby’s or Subway. But, hey, if you’re a romantic you can make one of those work.

If you’re looking to spend a quiet evening at home but are drawing a blank on what should be on the menu, we might be able to help out.

Here’s a selection of cookbooks with recipes that will make your Valentine’s Day a special one. There’s something here for all levels of expertise. I included mostly digital selections in case you don’t have time to run to a bookstore. Just click, download, cook and enjoy!

FEED YOUR LOVE: Romantic Recipes - 2012 Valentine's Day Special Sneak Preview Edition cial Dinners for Two (Easy Recipes from Scratch) Romantic Valentine's Day Soup and Sandwich Recipes Table for Two: French Recipes for Romantic Dining ing Love In The Kitchen - 25 Valentine Day Delightful Recipes To Keep Your Stove Lit! Valentine's Day Cocktails: Special Drinks for Romantic Dinners Cooking for Two: Add Candles for a Romantic Meal Espresso Coffee - The Romantic Coffee Romantic Meals: Romantic Cooking & Valentine's Day Food

Hope one of those will help make your Valentine’s Day one to remember.


Want to Throw A Dazzling Dinner? Help is Here


The difference between dull and dazzling can be a pretty fine line.

Table Ready For A Party

I’ve published my own book. It’s hard. There’s a BIG difference between something being “not easy” and something being “hard”. Self publishing is the latter.

The book I published wasn’t a cookbook. It wasn’t a tell all novel or a how to manual. It was 168 pages of restaurant and dining information for Sarasota Florida. It sounds relatively simple. I’m here to tell you it’s not.

Every month I get cookbooks from self publishers delivered to my door to take a look at. Every time I open the shipping envelope I have an appreciation for the hard work, sweat and worry that goes into the process of creating a book on your own.

I’m not here to try and convince you that cookbook authors and writers who have a deal with a publishing house have it easy. They don’t. Anytime you attempt to produce something original the process comes with it’s own unique set of problems. But, I am here to tell you that those challenges are far more difficult to overcome when you’re out there tackling them alone or with a partner and without a clue (as was my case).

I’ll admit it. I have a soft spot for those willing to go it alone to see their vision become a reality. When Billa Reiss Rubenstein contacted me this fall to have a peek at a book she had published with two friends, Luci Paul and Michele Salomon, how could I say no?

I like to entertain. And, their book, Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Décor and More looked like a natural party throwing asset. It’s crammed full of menus, recipes and tips each designed around one holiday a month. It’s creative too.

Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Decor and More. Complete Dinner Plans for Parties with WOW!

Some of the “holidays” highlighted here would never be associate with food, April Fool’s Day? I have never been even invited to an April Fool’s Day brunch. Maybe I have the wrong group of friends.

I was a little disappointed to see that July’s menu didn’t revolve around Pandemonium Day (July 14th), but, maybe it will get it’s moment in the spotlight in my proposed sequel, Dazzling Dinners: The Forgotten Celebrations. Or, maybe not.

This book is at it’s best when you’re searching for a new idea. Something fun and out of the ordinary (think Columbus Day). It’s always great to get friends and family together to enjoy some great food and fun. So, why not make a celebration out of it? In my view, that’s the beauty of this book.

Since we’re right at the start of our holiday season, we thought we would share a recipe from the December section. Plus, this recipe uses one of my favorite, old school kitchen toys…

Potato Masher

The much beloved potato masher!

Here’s How To Do It

Box of Gold (Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes)

1 large, sweet potato, diced 1 inch
3 lbs., Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, diced 1 inch
3 Tbsp., butter, melted
¼ cup, heavy cream
½ cup, sour cream
½ cup, Gruyere cheese, grated
1 Tbsp., orange zest
1 tsp., salt
¼ tsp., white pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 8X12 casserole dish. Line the bottom of the dish with parchment paper.

Place both the sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. When contents comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer 15-17 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. When cooked, drain and return pot to heat. Cook for an additional minute or so to remove any excess moisture.

Put the cooked potatoes through a ricer or mash (see utensil above). Add butter, cream, sour cream, Gruyere. orange zest, salt and pepper. Mix well to achieve a consistent color. Spread the potatoes into the casserole dish. Cover with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and rest covered for 5 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, divide into eight rectangular pieces. Remove each piece and serve.

Serves 8

Recipe, Box of Gold; Courtesy Dazzling Dinners, Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, Michelle Salomon, Three Fare Ladies 2011.

Sweet and Yukon Gold Potatoes

Just look at that photo. Cantaloupe and pineapple maybe? It’s amazing how similar some foods look when there is no context to them. It’s a bowl of Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes. I swear.

The Bottom Line.
It’s a unfair to compare Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Décor and More to a cookbook that has been released by a major publishing company. The advantage of having a crew of editors, professional photographers and recipe testers is unimaginably huge.

What do you look for when you buy a cookbook? There are so many answers and yours is right for you. If you’re looking for a coffee table cookbook, this isn’t it. If you’re more interested in a book that will help you plan a party and maybe get your creative juices flowing then this is a great choice. I guarantee after you throw a Grandparent’s Day party your friends will look at your entertaining prowess in a whole new light.

Authors: Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, Michele Salomon
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Dazzling Dinners
ISBN-10: 0615478697


Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Decor and More. Complete Dinner Plans for Parties with WOW!

Great Last Minute Father’s Day Cookbooks

Beef Kabobs Grilling

Father’s Day=BBQ. That’s the formula that plays out in a lot of households around the country every June. And, to be perfectly honest, it’s a formula that works for me. If your Dad wants to grill, I say, by all means let him. If he wants throw a big old pork shoulder on the smoker, get out of his way. It’s his day and you certainly wouldn’t want to ruin his good time.

If you happen to be scrambling around right now hunting down that unforgettable Father’s Day gift you’re probably not alone. But, maybe I can be of some assistance. Here’s a list of books that any Dad would be proud to own!

Dad’s Own Cookbook
Fire It Up: 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything
Falling Off the Bone
Sam the Cooking Guy: Just Grill This!
The Good Stuff Cookbook: Burgers, fries, shakes, wedges, and more
Pig: King of the Southern Table

I don’t think that any of those books will sit on a shelf collecting dust. Now get out there and show your Dad a good time!

It’s Your Day, Eat What You Want

If you thought the days of eating whatever you want were over, think again.

Mini Nathan's Hot Dogs

Do you have a craving for that big sloppy double cheeseburger? How about a nice thick slice of chocolate layer cake or a fully loaded hot dog?

If you’re like me, sometimes there’s a more than slight twinge of guilt associated with chowing down some of your favorite pig out foods. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but, I suspect it’s my scale (or my Cardiologist) talking. Damn them both.

But, all hope of a remorse free meal or snack is not lost. I’m here to give you a one day only pass to eat whatever your little heart desires (you can thank me later). That’s because today is, Eat What You Want Day!

I’m not certain who dreams up some of these crazy food holidays, but, this is one that everyone can enjoy. Since it’s not a singular food event, you can make it what you want it to be. And, who doesn’t like that kind of culinary freedom? It’s a personalized food holiday!

As a public service and in hopes of giving your brain a jump start, I’m going to suggest a few cookbooks as a source of inspiration. As you can easily see, there are a virtual wealth of Eat What You Want Day possibilities.

Now do your job and get out there and eat!

Spice Up Your Cinco de Mayo With These Flavorful Cookbooks

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Yes, it’s Cinco de Mayo once again. And, what does that mean beyond the usual swell of Corona, margarita and enchilada specials? Here in the U.S., it is a celebration of Mexican pride and heritage. It’s also a fantastic excuse to try out some new dishes inspired by our neighbor to the south.

Not feeling creative? Do you still want to celebrate in a culinary way, but, you can’t see past a wet burrito? Not to worry, we can help.

Here’s a list of cookbooks to put some zip into your Cinco de mayo celebration.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

There’s More To St. Patrick’s Day Than Corned Beef And Cabbage

St. Patty’s Day is upon us once again. For me, it’s kind of the unofficial start to spring. If you live north, there’s still a descent chance you could have a white March 17th, but, there’s an even better probability that short sleeve weather is right around the corner.

I’ve put together a collection of books rejoicing the Irish way of cooking. There’s more to all of this than a plate of boiled potatoes and lamb. Trust me.

Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes from Ireland’s Heritage

Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes from Ireland's Heritage

Author Darina Allen shows off some great traditional Irish dishes (you probably guessed that from the title). All of the classic recipes from that region are featured here, plus some ones you probably have never heard of. Darina runs the Ballymaloe Cookery School over in Ireland, so she not only knows her stuff, but, teaches it to others!

The New Irish Table: 70 Contemporary Recipes

The New Irish Table: 70 Contemporary Recipes

Right from old school to new school. The New Irish Table does more than just put a new spin on some old recipes. Author Margaret Johnson invents some completely original dishes in keeping with the style of cooking that has defined Ireland. These dishes contain ingredients for the healthier lifestyle of today.

Irish Potato Cookbook

Irish Potato Cookbook

This cookbook is exactly what the title suggests. Lots of recipes for cooking what has become Ireland’s national food. it’s 125 pages of pure potato pleasure. Hey, I love potatoes. And, I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them. So, this book is a natural for my collection. If you’re like me you’ll want a copy of this one too.

Mcguire’s Irish Pub Cookbook

Mcguire's Irish Pub Cookbook

Lastly, we travel all the way to, Florida? That’s right, Pensacola to be exact. That’s where Molly and McGuire opened up their traditional Irish pub back in 1977. And, whenever you open up a traditional Irish pub (at least in this country), the cookbook can’t be far behind. Now you can re-create, in your very own home, some of the great dishes from this quaint, 20,000 square foot, Florida/Irish eatery.

That wraps up the tour of the cuisine of the Emerald Isle. If you want to do your own thing in the kitchen this St. Patrick’s Day we’ve just given you a good way to get started. If you want to get out and celebrate with the masses and let someone else do the cooking, I know the feeling.

“May the wind at your back always be your own”.  – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

You can click on any of the book covers for additional information or to purchase that book.

National Cherry Month, But, Where Are The Cherries?

Honestly, this post was supposed to turn out differently. National Cherry Month, easy, quick post. Great, enticing cherry photo. So what happened? NO CHERRIES!

That’s right. February, designated as national cherry month by who knows what group, person or organization has one major flaw in it. There aren’t exactly tons of cherries grown and available here domestically in the middle of winter.

Why didn’t the powers that be give the noble and deserving cherry a month it could be proud of, say like July? An actual time of year when lots and lots of cherries are grown, harvested and eaten. The National Cherry Festival is held each year in July. I mean, this is easy, right?

So, instead of a great, mouthwatering image of a huge bowl of ripe cherries, you’re stuck with this. Sorry, not my fault.

Without further adieu (or ranting), here’s a list of some cookbooks that feature a bunch of things you can do with cherries (if you’re lucky enough to find some). You may want to bookmark this post and check it out again this summer when you actually have some cherries to work with (oh, was that ranting again or just sarcasm, sorry)..

Very Cherry Cookbook


Published back in 2006, Michigan author, Judith Bosley has assembled a nice collection of 60 cherry based recipes. She’s from Michigan and they know their cherries in that state. In fact, the National Cherry Festival is held each year in Traverse City Michigan. Check out Judith’s recipe for Frozen Cherry Salad. That one sure sounds different.

The 50 Best Cherry Recipes


When there’s a cookbook out there that’s titled, The 50 Best Cherry Recipes, it’s kind of hard not to include that. That title in itself is a big, bold statement. I’m not trying to call out author, Barbara Morgenroth. But, that’s a title is just asking to be challenged. This book is only eighty pages long, so, you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly if you think it’s contents lives up to it’s name.

Life’s Little Cherry Cookbook: 101 Cherry Recipes


The third and final entrant in our cherry cookbook roundup is entitled Life’s Little Cherry Cookbook: 101 Cherry Recipes. Over twice as many tempting cherry recipes as the “50 best” book. Are there really that many more things you can do with cherries?

Frankly, I was a little surprised at how few cookbooks there were on this single subject. I had thought, there would be a lot more our there than there is. It’s not like we’re talking about some exotic, impossible to obtain food here. It is cherries after all.

I wonder how many books are dedicated solely to the majestic crown pork roast. You’ll have to wait until March 7th to find out.

You can click on any of the book covers for additional information or to purchase that book.

It’s President’s Day, Eat Like The Commander in Chief

I realize that for most of us dining in the style and elegance afforded the nations Chief Executive isn’t something that is within out grasp. But, all is not lost. Now you can enjoy the next best thing (kind of).

Here’s a collection of cookbooks that will help you chow down like the leader of the free world.

Presidential Cookies: Cookie Recipes of the Presidents of the United States

Do you have a Presidential sized sweet tooth? Here’s a collection of some of the best cookie recipes from the White House. This guide to cookie baking goes all the way back to George and Martha! I wonder what flavor the Father of Our Country liked for milk dunking? I also wonder if that’s even an appropriate to ask question!

First Ladies Cookbook: Favorite Recipes of all the Presidents of the United States

I didn’t think First Ladies had to cook. It must be recipes before they were spoiled by the White House dining staff. I’m trying to envision Abigail Powers Fillmore scurrying around the kitchen whipping up a nice Prune Pie. When she was First Lady, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was pretty much of a mess. I think “disrepair” might be the right word. I’m guessing no robot coupe or immersion blender to work with back then.

The White House Family Cookbook

Henry Haller, the former Executive Chef at the White House gives us a nice assortment of recipes that our first families have enjoyed. He was the kitchens main man for five Presidents. That’s an amazing run considering the shelf life of most Washington insiders. Yeah, I think he qualifies as an insider. He’s cooking food for the President for crying out loud.

The White House Cook Book (1887 Edition)

And finally, this classic collection of White House cuisine. The Original White House Cookbook. Originally published way back in 1887, this book was the how to manual for anyone who aspired to cook for or host dignitaries of all stripes. Party planning, recipes and detailed prep instructions make this a must have if you are even thinking about being D.C.’s top chef.

There’s some very presidential cooking resources here. Why not try your hand at whipping up a feast even our Commander in Chief would be proud to enjoy.

You can click on any of the book covers for additional information or to purchase that book.

Looking For A Few New Thanksgiving Menu Ideas?

Thanksgiving is on top of us once again. It’s my favorite holiday. And I love it for the obvious reasons. Fantastic home cooked comfort food, family, football and more food.

Like most of you, I love the traditional Thanksgiving foods. Turkey with all the trimmings, cranberry something,  green bean casserole and don’t forget the pumpkin pie (the women in my family eat theirs on Thanksgiving morning for breakfast so they’re not cheated). All these foods scream Thanksgiving.

But, let’s just go out on a limb and say you’re looking for a change of pace this year. How about starting a new tradition with a new holiday dish. But, then you ask yourself the question, “where to find a dish worthy of the Thanksgiving dinner table?”.

Lucky for you, I’ve got a few ideas. Here are some great cookbooks with all kinds of new things for you to try.

If you have the courage to shake things up a bit and try something new this year. Leave us a comment and let us in on all of the juicy details.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!