Food (and wine) for the frugal gourmet
One of the easiest ways to curb spending this holiday season is to trim the grocery bill.
To inspire home chefs on a budget, Chef Brigitte Nguyen, host of Cooking Channel's "From the Kitchens Of," shares the perfect holiday dinner menu for eight people under $100. From award-winning wines to gourmet cheeses, this menu offers a flavorful three-course meal - double the deliciousness for half the price.
Sip, Snack and SocializeGet the party started with a spread of seasonal drinks and appetizers to get guests mixing and mingling:
- Nix the open bar plan and stick to a classic. Bubbles and vino are always crowd pleasers. This will save you big on your wallet and keep you from making drinks all night long.
- Individual appetizers are perfect to keep guests nibbling until the main course. Try a trendier take on casseroles like gratins, featuring fresh produce and a breadcrumb crust baked to golden-brown perfection. Prep the night before and pop in the oven right as guests arrive for a warm and bubbly fresh-out-of-the-oven taste.
- Serve a quick, but fancy, crostini platter and watch guests eat it up. Top toasted baguette bread slices with a smooth, fresh spread. Use a frozen vegetable you already have on-hand, such as cauliflower or peas, and blend with staples like lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Spread the mixture on top and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Simple and oh so good.
Revamp the ClassicsWith so many food-friendly events surrounding the holidays, infuse your dishes with unexpected tastes and added bursts of flavor:
- Give your salad the star treatment. Roast grapes and sweet potatoes to bring a natural sweetness and a pop of color to your seasonal salad. Top with crumbled goat cheese, chopped pecans and pomegranate seeds for added texture and crunch. A homemade salad dressing using fresh lemon juice and olive oil couldn't be easier.
- Swap out the age-old sweet potato casserole recipe with baked butternut squash. Top with chopped pecans, dried mixed berries and honey goat cheese for a rich, sweet taste.
- You can never go wrong with bacon. Add it to your green bean casserole along with sweet corn to wake up an old favorite by layering in a whole new flavor.
- For a wow-worthy dinner finale, try blackened, oven roasted turkey breasts immersed in a spicy homemade Southwest marinade. Top it off with a fresh cranberry mojito relish to sweeten the smoky, spicy flavors of the turkey. Not only is this recipe a show-stopper, but turkey breast is an affordable entree option for a large group.
Wines - $35
Grandi Mori Valdobbiadence Prosecco
Broken Clouds Chardonnay
Outlander Meritage Red Blend
Los Andicos Malbec*
*2015 Beverage Testing Institute World Wine Championships Award
Appetizers - $20
Pea Pesto Crostini
Mini Celery Gratins
Main Course - $41
Roasted Grape and Sweet Potato Salad
Not the Classic Green Bean Casserole
Twice Baked Butternut Squash
Blackened Turkey Breast with Cranberry Mojito Relish
*Based upon a price comparison of comparable products sold at leading national retail grocery stores.