The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

Some Cheesy Recommendations for Holiday Parties and Braised Bok Choy

Welcome to mid-December! Are you revving up for the holiday season, shopping your heart out, keeping an eye out for snow, trying to figure out what parties you’re going to, where those parties are and what you need to bring? Our schedule is pretty easy: in Minnesota, maybe Greg’s company party although it was canceled last year and I haven’t heard anything for this year. I think it may be a potluck which means Annie gets to make something for her husband to bring without getting anything in return (why I am speaking about myself in third person is baffling even me).

When we arrive in Indiana though it’s go go go with nearly every day scheduled with something or another. The family gatherings start the day after we arrive on Christmas Eve for my dad’s side, then our immediate family gathers Christmas day (we’ll be staying with my parents), then to my mom’s side and since my brother and sister-in-law are coming from California the day after Christmas, the in-laws on the 26th. Then, there are several visits with friends and friends of family, more family visits and a trip to our alma mater Purdue University in West Lafayette where we will visit some of our favorite places, reminisce around the campus and more visits with friends. I wake up every morning counting down the days (9) although I’m not looking forward to the 12 hour drive. I hope the weather cooperates….

Since I am overwhelmed by holiday recipes in magazines, from suggestions and due to my never-ending daily search, I am going to supply you with a few cheese ideas for this season. Maybe they will help the both (bolth for any Minnesotans) of us free up some brain space.

herbed cheese log from Sunset magazine (simple, elegant looking, lots of things going for this appetizer)
sharp cheddar fondue, gruyere fondue and baked camembert (previously posted by me)
– cheese tray recommendations from several magazines: Sunset, a few guides from Food & Wine, and Real Simple

Can you tell I’m craving cheese? Well that and I think cheese, besides chocolate, is a party pleaser. Don’t forget your New Year’s celebration…even if you aren’t going anywhere, you can still dress up (although I prefer my pjs and slippers) and treat yourself- annoying horn, 2010 glasses and all.

Last night, we got together with our friends Bill and Kim and had a wonderful time. We had crab dip a la Bill and shrimp po’ boy sandwiches, both delectable. I was quite happy to have more carbs since I’ve been watching my calories the last two weeks. We had some toffee and caramel with sea salt a la Target and Trader Joes. (I was lazy-sorry.) We played a game new to us, Apples to Apples (I won). This is the game I will beg people to play while we’re visiting home. I don’t want to attempt an explanation so check it out. (It’s simple and guaranteed laughs.)

Speaking of simple and guaranteed laughs, I think I’m due to post a healthy side dish (there’s still butter in it). To counteract all of the high calorie (do you really care) holiday food, you could make this easy gem along with the sure-to-please treats/wine. I had never had bok choy outside of stir-frys and Asian cuisine so when I came across this at epicurious from Gourmet magazine, I wanted to try something that didn’t overpower the sweet, crisp flavor. I would recommend less butter for this feat.

Braised bok choy

Braised Baby Bok Choy
Serves 4

1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ lb baby bok choy, trimmed
½ tsp Asian sesame oil

Bring broth and butter to a simmer in a skillet, arrange the bok choy evenly and simmer uncovered for 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the bok choy to a serving dish and keep warm.

Boil the broth mixture until reduced to about ¼ cup, then stir in the sesame oil. Pour the mixture over the bok choy or you can skip this last step and simply keep the bok choy warm but not for too long or it will become mush.