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New Year’s Traditions to Treasure

Traditions are a part of our culture and serve as an anchor for celebrations from generation to generation. During the holidays we treasure the traditions we’ve established with friends,  family and in our community. One of the most time honored of those is how we ring in the New Year. From champagne toasts and midnight kisses to game nights and countdowns in city squares, celebrating a new year has a common thread for all of us.

Why Champagne?

One of the most enduring New Year’s tradition involves a special beverage. A New Year’s Party isn’t complete without a champagne toast at midnight, but why?

It all began when Champagne was first produced roughly 15-hundred years ago. At the time it was a flat wine product fermented in the champagne region of France and was shipped in barrels and drunk right away.¹

Eventually champagne was left to sit a few months longer, allowing it to ferment and produce the bubbles it is now known for. French vintners began shipping it in bottles, rather than barrels, to maintain the effervescence and soon European nobles and wealthy merchants alike were demanding a bit of the “bubbly” for special occasions.

Wine has long been a part of New Year’s eve celebrations – first in religious rituals ,then in secular ceremonies. Champagne’s reputation as a wine “fit for the gods” and as the ultimate celebratory beverage has been reinforced by today’s marketing and has led to the traditional midnight champagne toast.

Food and Champagne

Wondering what to serve with champagne for your party? It is best with pastas in cream sauce and is known as a regular partner to oysters and  lobster. But champagne can pair quite well with simple foods such as these:

Fried mushrooms

Mac-n cheese

Corn dogs with Dijon mustard

Vegetarian chili

Fish tacos

Looking to create something special for your New year’s eve menu? Try some of these recipes

 

The Kiss

It is said that a kiss at the stroke of midnight will mean a year full of love. It is common for couples to participate in this long-standing tradition, but often families and friends hug and kiss each other on the cheek as a way to ensure that the year ahead will continue to be marked with friendship and familial love too.

Here’s a List of some great New year’s kissing scenes on film!

The “drop”

The most notable New Year’s Eve drop takes place each year in Times Square in New York. The 10-second countdown as the glittering ball slides down the pole serves as a visual marker for the moment when one year ends and another begins. It is also cause for a gathering that attracts thousands of people from all over.

In many other cities drops occur as a local event. In 1989, Atlanta began the “peach drop” at Underground Atlanta. In the past, the drop has attracted more than 100-thousand revelers. This year, however,  it may not be announced until closer to the date whether or not there will be a drop. Last year there was also a last-minute notification of the event.²

The day after

A New Year’s Day brunch is a tradition that has many sleepy people gathering to feast on such classics as black-eyed peas, collards, and cornbread. The notion that black-eyed peas bring good luck for the new year actually began 1,500 years ago and was a Jewish custom. It spread to the southern United States in the 18th century and has become a regular feature on the first day of the year.³

Tradition holds that also serving greens, such as collards, represents wealth in the new year and that cornbread represents gold. Whatever you eat, it’s fun to celebrate the New Year with some long-standing traditions.

Try something new

Not a fan of black-eyed peas or collards – order some of our delicious breakfast items and start your own tradition!

 

sources:

¹https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2012-12-31/why-do-we-drink-champagne-on-new-year-s-eve

²http://www.newyearsevelive.net/cities/atlanta-georgia.html

³http://americanfood.about.com/od/resourcesadditionalinfo/a/New-Years-Day-Tradition-Black-Eyed-Peas.htm

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Atlanta-Bread-Holiday

Big, Small, Easy or Gourmet – Holiday Entertaining Your Way

Entertaining this time of year takes on an entirely different meaning as we are all focused on enjoying the holidays.  Personally, I love to decorate and I spend countless hours bringing up boxes, assembling villages, decorating trees and arranging my favorite collections of snow globes, figurines and snowmen.  If you’re like me and have gone to extremes to decorate for the holiday season, why not entertain so your friends and community neighbors can enjoy your decorating efforts?

Holiday entertaining can be as complex or easy as you decide to make it.  I can tell you I have done it both ways, and each party format has its own merits.  Obviously, it depends on what type of gathering you’d like to have.  Do you want to have an intimate dinner setting with a few close friends, or do you want to entertain your extended family, community neighbors and friends near and far?  Here are a few party ideas to help you enjoy your holiday entertaining big or small!

Enjoying the BIG Holiday Party

Entertaining large groups can be challenging but also fun and rewarding. If you’re considering inviting a large group to your home during the holidays, do as much as you can in advance so you end up enjoying your party time as much as your guests do.

Look for finger food recipes (Pinterest is a great resource) that can be prepared in advance and if you’re serving hot items, consider a warming tray so you don’t have to spend your time reheating.  Sliced meats can be a great party item as they don’t have to be hot.  They can be served with flavored mayo (check out our recent blog post flavored mayos A-Z for some great ideas) and an assortment of breads.

Keep your bar area away from the food and mingling area to keep traffic flowing, and place small bowls with snacks spread throughout the area for guests to munch on. If you are serving alcohol, consider a festive punch to keep costs down.  Bottles of wine can add up quickly, and a nice, sparkling punch will go a long way with thirsty guests.

Impress your guests with a gourmet steakhouse quality meal.

This dish may sound a bit intimidating, and is not for the faint of heart (or those who can’t whisk up a Bearnaise) but I assure you, you’ll have one of the best meals of your life if you give this recipe a try.  If you know how to rock your double boiler and your goal is to serve a steakhouse quality meal to an intimate group of guests, this recipe will not disappoint.  Emeril’s Lobster-Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Bearnaise Sauce…need I say more?  Okay, I will…imagine a whole tenderloin, butterflied, and stuffed with steamed lobster, a pancetta-vegetable mixture and finished with Bearnaise sauce.  WOW, right?

This dish is just delicious and can be found in its entirety on foodnetwork.com as it’s a bit long to share in this post.  There’s not much else you will need to accompany this extraordinarily rich dish, except possibly some steamed asparagus or potato side, as long as you keep it simple.  Serve along with a nice Cabernet and enjoy your efforts in the kitchen!

Easy does it, with a little help from Atlanta Bread.

No matter what type party you’re having, every hostess needs a little help now and then!  Our catering menu can save you when you’re in a pinch.  We have wonderful appetizer and snack trays that are perfect for holiday entertaining.  Our Veggie Fresco Selection Tray comes with fresh, healthy vegetables and your choice of sauces.  It’s the perfect complement to your party spread.

Need a bit more help?  Head on over to our catering menu to see the variety of items we have to add to your table.  Choose from desserts, soups and salads, sandwich platters, fruit trays, or our Crisps N’ Cheese Tray to complete your party.  Spend more time enjoying your guests…these are your holidays too!  Happy Entertaining!

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Uncooked sliced butternut squash on wooden background

Fall in Love With Butternut Squash

Fall brings the changing leaves, cooler temperatures, football, and autumn vegetables that signal a shift in what we’ll be enjoying over the next several months. One of the best ways to enjoy the new season is to sample new flavors, experience new adventures, or start a new relationship. Fall in love with someone or something.

Take a risk

You can do this by visiting local festivals, traveling to places you’ve never been, or to go where some people fear to go – squash.

O.K., don’t bail on me just yet. I’m not talking about the slimy yellow squash that your mom overcooked when you were a kid. I’m referring to the delicately sweet taste and hearty texture of the Butternut Squash.

The bio

I have to say it’s got a very nice shape, and when you cut it open, the deep golden-orange color says “fall is here”. But where does Butternut Squash come from and how do you prepare it? Let’s delve into a few fun facts about this healthy item and get you inspired to go gourd!

It’s technically a fruit that grows on a vine but is cooked and served as a vegetable. While the lineage of the most common type, the Waltham Butternut, originated  in Massachusetts (there is some question as to who actually developed it¹)  it’s true ancestry is all-American and goes way back.

First cultivated about 8-thousand years ago it was present in what is now the Americas before humans roamed the earth². But our species has been attracted to this smooth-and-curvy-on-the-outside, firm-and-tasty-on-the-inside delicacy for some time.

Oh, and it’s healthy for you too.

The recommendation

The Butternut Squash is low in calories and loaded with vitamins A and C and other anti-oxidants (which help prevent cell damage caused by free-radicals³) They contain no cholesterol or saturated fats but are a good source of fiber⁴. Definitely a fresh and healthy choice.

Butternut Squash is not only healthy and beautiful, it’s got a great personality too – it’s a bit nutty and mildly sweet.

Make a date

So why not go on a new adventure  this fall with new flavors. Don’t be shy – make something happen with Butternut Squash and see where the relationship goes. It can be baked, fried, steamed or pureed – it’s versatile that way. Here are some great recipes to try from Real Simple

And if you don’t feel like cooking – come in for a bowl of our brand new Butternut Squash Soup at Atlanta Bread and fall in love with the gourd!

Sources:

¹https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butternut_squash

²https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cucurbita

³http://greatist.com/health/what-are-antioxidants

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/butternut-squash.html

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Series with college football fans tailgating and having fun before the game.

Try this Healthy Kickoff Menu for your Football Party

It’s that time of year again…football season is upon us, so get out those party platters and begin planning to root on your favorite team with a fun community gathering or tailgate party.  No matter if you’re a fan of college football, NFL, or your community high school team, football parties and tailgates are always fun, and people across the nation look forward to this time of year for that very reason.  Football parties and tailgates are also notorious for not-so-healthy menus, like sausages, greasy wings, heavy dips and meatballs drenched in sugary sauce, but that doesn’t have to be the case.  You can throw together a delicious football or tailgate party with healthy food and fresh ingredients in a flash with these easy entertaining ideas.

  • If you’re entertaining at home, throw together some quick chicken kabobs like these we recently featured in our recipe blog, or, just throw whatever veggies you have in the fridge onto skewers with cubed chicken marinated or seasoned with your favorite flavorings. Our favorite fresh ingredients for kabobs include bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, mushrooms and zucchini, but throw on whatever suits your party guests.
  • Skewered foods are great for tailgate parties and caprese skewers are always a favorite. For this “salad on a stick” use cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and mozzarella balls on toothpicks.  Flavor tip:  Use the pre-marinated mozzarella balls found in local stores like Costco for instant flavor, or drizzle with balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Deviled Eggs are always a popular finger food, and for a healthy spin, replace the mayo with low-fat Greek yogurt or how about fresh avocado for a green alternative like we found in these guacamole deviled eggs.
  • Crispy kale chips are enormously popular these days. Making your own is super simple…all you need is a head of kale, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and your oven.  These chips will remain crispy for the duration of your football festivities and can be served as a healthier salty snack that even the kids will enjoy.
  • For “wrapping up” your football or tailgate party, how about a wrap with healthy, fresh ingredients? Spread a bit of mashed avocado on a whole grain tortilla and layer turkey or chicken with fresh greens, tomato slices and a bit of salt and pepper.  Cut into sections and place a toothpick in each and, viola…it’s a wrap!

If you’re looking to throw together a football party or tailgate in a hurry, check out our catering menu for fresh foods like our Fresh Fruit Selection, featuring fresh seasonal fruits, or our Veggie Fresco Selection with fresh seasonal vegetables served up with your choice of our delicious dipping sauces.  We also have a fantastic variety of sandwich platters with fresh ingredients.  With our catering delivery option, you’ll find yourself enjoying your tailgate without all the preparation!  Check out our healthy, fresh offerings and have your football party delivered right to your door.

See…it’s easy to put a healthy spin on your tailgate party.  Why not try some of these healthy tailgating idea and hopefully you’ll find your football fanatic friends enjoying healthy foods and community comradery as you cheer on the home team!

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Happy Young Friends Eating Together Outdoor

We’ve Got Your Recipe for Enjoying Summer Entertaining Success

We tend to think of summer as a schedule free, more relaxed time of year, but summer can be a difficult time to plan a get together with community friends and neighbors, despite their close proximity.  I can tell you from experience, occasionally, some of the best shared experiences can be last minute plans for entertaining.  If you’re afraid you can’t pull of the perfect menu with wine pairings on the fly, we’re here to help!  With just a little guidance and a positive attitude, you and your guests will be enjoying the shared experience of food and drink and you’ll be the entertaining envy of the neighborhood!

When it’s hot outside, you want to keep your menu light and your guests cool.  Think of light, healthy food and for many, the grill is the perfect gathering spot for neighbors and friends on a summer night.

If you’re looking to grill up a party in a flash, here’s a great recipe from allrecipes.com for Chili-Lime Chicken Kabobs that you can throw together in a little over an hour.

Chili-Lime Chicken Kabobs

  • Prep15 m
  • Cook15 m
  • Ready In1 h 30 m

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • skewers

Directions

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice. Season with chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish with the sauce, and stir to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade.
  • Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear.

Pair simply with your favorite skewered, grilled veggies and steamed rice and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a shared experience that will leave your guests talking!  If you’re looking for an easy option for salads or appetizers to to enhance your party, add a delicious selection from our catering menu, which includes appetizers like our Crisps’N’Cheese Tray, Veggie Fresco Tray, and delectable salads like our Italian Pasta Salad, Roasted Red Potato Salad, or Balsamic Bleu Salad, just to name a few.

So what’s a host or hostess to do for wine pairings?  Well, we’ve got a great resource to share with you.  If you’re clueless about which wines to serveat your summer gathering, our favorite go-to wine pairing resource is this great Wine and Food Pairing Chart from Wine Folly.  They even have a printable poster for you to use at home!  If it’s just too hot out to enjoy a room temperature red, go with white wine or consider a light or fruity red slightly chilled.  As a cool alternative, why not try serving up a sangria like this one from Food&Wine:

Simple Sangria

1 750 ml bottle of fruity red wine, like merlot

4 oz brandy

3 oz simple syrup

1 cup mixed chunks of seeded oranges, lemons and limes

Ice

In a pitcher, combine the red wine, brandy, Simple Syrup and fruit. Refrigerate until the drink is chilled and the flavors are blended, 4 to 8 hours. Serve the sangria in chilled, ice-filled wine glasses.

No matter what you serve or how you serve it, you will find the shared experience of enjoying food and wine with your friends and neighbors at the last minute can sometimes be the most rewarding of all.