As the holidays approach, a lot of us are hitting the gym, jogging and trying to trim down in preparation for all of the delicious food we're going to be cooking, serving... and best of all, eating! But besides the stress of adding some extra inches to our waistline, we're also worried about what we're going to be putting on our holiday menu.
Make a Change and Add Spice to Your Holiday
With our jobs, holiday shopping and all the party prep ahead of us, we're sometimes at a loss for holiday menu ideas. The perennial favorites aside, families are bored of seeing the same old dishes year after year, so it's about time we got creative with our go holiday menu.
This year, why not try adding a few dishes from across the world to the holiday table? Those of us with more recent immigrant relatives are used to seeing Mediterranean, Mexican or even Asian dishes on the table at holidays, so why don't you try adding a little ethnic flair to your Thanksgiving or Christmas spread?
Tired of the same old unhealthy spinach dip? Why not try Greek dishes like Tzatziki or Hummus with some pita bread or some baked pita chips? These are both super easy to make and, besides Tahini for the Hummus, all the ingredients you'll need for either can be found at the regular old grocery store. Not only are they more interesting and refreshing than the traditional spinach dip, they're much healthier than all that frozen creamed spinach, sour cream, etc.
And why not add a delicious tomato salad to the mix? This is an absolute favorite among Italo-American families in the country and is seen at almost every family gathering involving lots of food (and what Italian-American family gathering isn't about the food?). It also couldn't be easier to make. There are many variations, but the basic version goes like this: cube and de-seed some ripe tomatoes, toss with some chopped onion (red or green work best), some fresh garlic, some fresh basil and oregano and some good-quality olive oil and either balsamic or apple cider vinegar. Optional ingredients could be mini-mozzarella balls, capers cucumbers, whatever! Use your imagination, but don't go overboard as the beauty of this classic dish is it's simplicity.
In the southwest, a popular holiday dish is Pozole, especially in New Mexico, which has its very own, very unique cuisine based on one plant: the New Mexico chile, which is made into two sauces, green (made of the fresh chiles) and red (made of powdered dry chiles). If you can get your hands on some New Mexico green chile, great! If not, Pozole is also delicious with any kind of roasted chile. It's a hominy-based stew and is nutritious and delicious.
In Mexico and other places in Central America, the holidays are synonymous with one food: Tamales! Tamales are generally not only eaten as a family, they're made in vast quantities by the whole family. Tamales are essentially stuffed cornmeal steamed in either a corn husk or a banana leaf. The possibilities for the stuffing are endless!
You can make sweet tamales, vegetarian tamales or stuff them with any kind of meat. Be creative! You can add an American holiday flare by making yam or sweet potato tamales, ham and pineapple tamales, even turkey and cranberry tamales! Don't be afraid to experiment, just consider the cornmeal your canvas and let your creative juices flow!