Parties/entertaining

Aviva's Blog

Holiday Gift Ideas for Food Lovers, Gift Ideas for Busy Parents, Gift Ideas for Kids Who Love to Cook, Plus Edible Holiday Gifts

If you’ve been part of The Scramble for a while (thank you!) you may remember that I’m not a huge shopper or consumer.  Because a) I feel I have everything I could want or need, b) our house is small so we don’t have a lot of room to put new things, c) Since I’m a crazy environmentalist, I don’t put a huge focus on giving or receiving traditional holiday gifts. I usually focus on giving consumable gifts or gifts of experiences for my friends and family, and those are the things I prefer to receive, too. That being said, The Scramble team put our heads together and created a list of some of our favorite gifts for busy parents, food lovers and cooks in your life.  I would love you to add your ideas to our list by leaving a comment at the end of the post—then we can update the list to include your ideas of gifts for food lovers, gifts for busy parents, gifts for kids who love to cook and edible holiday gifts. Holiday Gifts for Busy Parents • You’ll never...

Holiday Treats: Chocolate Bark with Pomegranate Seeds, Coconut and Ginger

This chocolate bark with pomegranate seeds gets a tiny kick from the ginger and a pop of texture from the juicy pomegranate seeds.  This is so easy to make, just like our Dark Chocolate Bark with nuts, marshmallows, and dried cranberries.  This chocolate bark makes a great holiday gift or colorful holiday dessert. Thanks to my fellow Her Corner member Alison Cardy for introducing me to the idea of pomegranate chocolate bark! Chocolate Coconut Ginger Pomegranate Bark 18 servings 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, or 12 oz. of any dark chocolate 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (use reduced fat if you can find it) 1 tsp. ground ginger seeds from 1 pomegranate (1 cup arils/seeds) (here's how to seed a pomegranate in 3 minutes using a wooden spoon) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler (if using the microwave, heat it in 30 second increments).  Stir it until smooth, then stir in the coconut and...

Healthy Halloween Recipes: Witches’ Fingers and Terror-ific Tomato Soup

While this might seem rather gruesome, you can serve this with a free conscience as no witches were harmed in the making of this recipe.  In fact, it's completely vegetarian -- and a hearty healthy Halloween dinner to serve before trick-or-treating.  This smooth and creamy soup, from Six O'Clock Scramble editor Kathryn Spindel, tastes like a fresher version of the classic Campbell’s tomato soup I loved as a child.  Serve this or other healthy Halloween recipes with Witch Finger breadsticks (see recipe below).

Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil

Prep + Cook Time: 25 minutes

2 Tbsp. butter 1/4 yellow or white onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup) 2 Tbsp. flour 4 cups low fat milk 1 bay leaf 2 tsp. sugar 1/2 tsp. salt (optional) 1/2 tsp. baking soda 28 oz. crushed tomatoes, with their liquid 1 - 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped In a stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and stir occasionally until the onions are softened but not browned, about 3...

Healthy Halloween Recipes: Spider Black Bean Dip

Black beans, fresh tomatoes, and vegetables (spiders optional) make this a healthy yet deliciously fun dip for a Halloween party or as a meal before heading out to Trick or Treat.  Serve with cheese cut like pumpkins, our homemade tortilla chips, and your favorite veggies -- fresh sweet peppers, blanched green beans, jicama, celery sticks, carrots for a healthy Halloween recipe.  This might become your favorite Halloween recipe.

Black Bean Dip Prep (10 minutes) Makes about 2 cups of dip, 8 servings, 1/4 cup each 15 oz. canned black beans or 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp. orange juice 1/2 lime, juice only, about 2 Tbsp. 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or use 1 clove fresh garlic, minced) 1/4 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. chili powder 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

In a food processor or blender, puree all the ingredients. If too thick, and 1/8 – 1/4 cup water.  For spicer flavor add 1 chipotle pepper or 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper....

Summer Potluck Recipe: Corn, Tomato and Bacon Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing

I think corn and tomatoes are a perfect pair. They ripen at the same time of summer and the tangy sweet flavor of tomatoes complement the crisp juiciness of the corn kernels. Here, with a creamy basil dressing and a smattering of bacon, it’s downright irresistible. I think you’re going to want to make this dish a summer potluck staple. “I couldn't believe how easy it was to throw together! It was absolutely delicious. I'd definitely make this for a summer potluck!,” according to recipe tester Nikki Wolf.

Try two other great summer potluck recipes:

Roasted Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Spinach Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

Luscious Chickpea, Avocado and Cucumber Salad Corn, Tomato and Bacon Salad with Creamy Basil Dressing Prep + Cook = 25 minutes 4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each 4 ears corn 6 strips bacon, pork, turkey or meatless 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream 1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. minced...

Zucchini Recipes: Stuffed Zucchini Gondolas

Summer’s the season of bounteous crops of zucchini and yellow squash, which is also affordable because it’s so plentiful and easy to grow. I don’t find zucchini to be the most flavorful or exciting vegetable, but I love it as a crunchy crust stuffed with flavorful filling. I was going to call this zucchini boats but our son Solomon saw them and said they looked like canoes.  Recipe tester Samantha McKenzie’s 10 year old son said, " I don't generally like zucchini but this dish was great!" Serve it with garlic bread and grape tomatoes.  Add this to your repertoire of zucchini recipes.

Stuffed Zucchini Gondolas

Prep (30 min.) + Cook (10 min.) 6 servings

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 3 medium zucchini, 8 – 10 oz. each 1/2 bell pepper, any variety, finely diced 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced 1 tsp. minced garlic, about 2 cloves 8 oz. lean ground beef, turkey or meatless crumble 1 cup tomato basil pasta sauce 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped 2...

July 4th Top 5 Burger Recipes and Salad Recipes

Independence Day in our neighborhood means a neighborhood cookout at the pool with burgers, hotdogs, watermelon, iced tea, lemonade and other summery favorites.  As many of our neighbors become more health and environmentally conscious, the demand for alternatives to beef burgers has grown stronger: At the most recent pool barbecue, the veggie burgers were gone long before the hamburgers (granted fewer had been purchased, but they were more popular than anyone expected.) Over the years I’ve developed at least 8 types of burger recipes.  If you want to add a burger recipe to your Fourth of July menu this week, here are the 5 highest rated Scramble burgers: 1. Asian Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries 2. Zesty Southwestern Burgers with Cilantro Slaw 3. Black Bean Burgers 4. Solomon’s Smoky Stove-Top Burgers 5. Sautéed Mini Chicken Burgers Here are 5 highly rated Scramble salad recipes that are perfect to serve with or instead of the...

Summer Drink: Mango Lime Coolers

Temperatures just hit the high 90s in Maryland, so I thought we could mark the first week of summer with a fruity cocktail recipe to keep us cool. This sparkling summer drink, invented by my colleague Linda Wolpert, is wonderfully refreshing on a hot summer day. For an adult cocktail, add an ounce of rum to each glass. Mango Lime Coolers 6 servings 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 cup fresh mint leaves, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish 6 limes, juice only (about 1 cup) 6 cups seltzer water 1/2 cup fresh mango, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, or use frozen. Thaw the frozen mango, if using it.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil.  When it comes to a boil, stir in the  mint, cover, and remove it from the heat.  Let it cool for at least 5 minutes. Strain the mint syrup into a pitcher (I use a fine metal strainer). Add the lime juice, seltzer and mangos. Serve it over ice, garnished with the extra ...

Fun Family Dinner Recipe: Baked Mexican Egg Rolls

The burrito meets the egg roll and my family approves of the match up! Great anytime of the day and as fun family dinner recipe.  Serve them with avocado and cucumber salad or mangoes. Baked M-egg-xican Egg Rolls Prep (30 minutes) + Cook (25 minutes) 8 servings, 2 egg rolls each 16 oz. ground turkey breast, or use 12 oz. meatless crumbles 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed 15 oz. black beans, rained and rinsed 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder 1 tsp. ground cumin 1 cup salsa 8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack, Mexican blend or Cheddar cheese 16 egg roll wraps, sold frozen or refrigerated 1 egg, beaten olive oil nonstick cooking spray 1 cup sour cream, for serving Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Meanwhile, brown the turkey or crumbles in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. While the turkey is cooking, season it with the chili powder and cumin (if using meatless crumbles, add the spices with the corn and beans). Drain, if...

Light Desserts: Mini Phyllo Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

One of my favorite things to do with our 15 year old daughter, Celia, is to develop new dessert recipes.  Usually we come up with the concept together and then she creates the recipe, and the whole family enjoys tasting and rating them.

I’ve wanted to create light desserts to go in Mini Fillo Shells (we used Athens brand) and we thought a healthy little cheesecake bite would be delightful. These are fun to make and eat—I like to pop the whole thing in my mouth to enjoy the combination of crunchy, creamy and tart all in one bite.

The timing for this recipe coincides with the Jewish holiday of Shavuot (June 3rd). This holiday celebrates the harvest and commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jews on Mount Sinai, and also marks the 7 week period from Passover.  According to the lore, the Jews had to study the Torah and learn the new rules and laws surrounding what they could eat and how it must be prepared (called Kashrut).  While they were learning how to prepare their...