We have been so busy the last month! Weddings. Holiday Parties. Open House and Ribbon Cutting Events. And all of our clients have been so much fun! Allowing us to experiment and play with traditional menu items to make them more modern and more fun. While we have a very deeply held respect for all things traditional during this time of year (can you say “Squash Casserole?”), we thought you all might want to liven up your standard holiday fare with a few twists on the old classics…so before you cook that Christmas casserole or your  “go to” hors d’oeuvres for the New Years get together, take a look at some of these ideas!

Comfort Food Mini Muffins: Take your favorite winter comfort food (pot pie, mac & cheese, meatloaf or meatballs) and follow the recipe right up until it says to put the “mixture” in a baking dish. Instead, spoon it into fun, festive cupcake liners. Tah-dah! Yummy treats everyone loves but no one will see coming.

Soup Shooters: Ever wonder what in the world to do with those shot glasses your husband collected in college or those tiny coffee cups that match your wedding china…well, this New Years Eve, try filling them with a welcome dose of seasonal warmth. Champagne IS delicious, but what could be better after the cold of the fireworks show than a nice warm sip of decadent soup. Our favorites: A Spicy Thai Butternut Squash with a Wonton Strip “Spoon” or  Classic Tomato Bisque with an oooeeey-goooey Grilled Cheese “Crouton.”

Seasonal Salads: Just because its made mostly of veggies doesn’t mean it can’t be special or decadent enough for the holiday table. Winter Salads can be lots of fun! Try adding some of those gorgeous winter fruits like Grapefruit or Pomegranate. “Fatten up” a spinach salad with a warm bacon dressing, toasted pistachios or pecans, and crumbles of a  decadent Smokey Bleu or a dopllop of local goat cheese. Update a classic and make a beautiful Waldorf Salad “Trifle” or go for old school broke and whip up a double batch of  Aunt Edna’s Ambrosia-just use FRESH produce instead of canned. We guarantee that a good winter salad can be just as satisfying as a lot of your favorite casseroles, and maybe you’ll have more room for dessert!

Don’t forget the cookies! We have explicitly tasty childhood memories of making cookies for Santa. And every year about this time, we get the itch to play with our cookie cutters! We highly recommend reconnecting with your inner cookie baker And just think, now you can drink Irish Coffees and Spiked Egg Nog while you bake. Whether its the timeless chocolate chip or a more “adult” recipe, making cookies with friends and family should be a highlight of everyone’s holiday celebrations! Some of our favorites: Molasses Crisps, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Spicy Curried Sugar Cookies, “Grown Up” Crispy Rice Treats with added nuts, dried fruits, dark chocolate or toffee chips etc, and Cookie Sandwiches: Two mini cookies stuffed with  cheesecake or flourless chocolate torte. oh my.

Whatever you cook this Holiday Season, we hope you get to do it for and with the people you love most! And we hope to cook for all of you in 2011!