Chinese New Year – A Great Idea For A Dinner Party

What a great theme for a party with not a lot of expense. Don’t be deterred by the fact that Chinese New Year is not always on a weekend. I know it is hard to believe but people actually socialize Sunday through Thursday nights too. A party doesn’t have to be on a weekend. Just keep it light and inviting.

What do you need?

Friends, Food & Drink, Chinese Dishes & Chopsticks, Laterns or Luminaries, Party Favors

How to execute? (Remember our basic entertaining rule – always plan and have a list):

Guests:

Make your guest list. We recommend that you keep the gathering small. 10 close friends who aren’t intimidated by a Wed night social event work well. However, when you have a small gathering it is important that every person attend so it doesn’t look like you have no shows. Make sure you get rsvps. If your friends are reliable email users, use http://www.evite.com and select the Chinese New Year themed invitation. If not, send out paper invitations 3 weeks in advance and follow up with a phone call.

Food:

Find a local dim sum restaurant. Do not attempt this cooking yourself. If there isn’t one, use your local Chinese restaurant and order appetizers. Call ahead and ask them to fax you a menu or drop by and get one. While you are chatting, find out how far in advance they need the order and inquire about pickup vs delivery. Allow extra time if you are having it delivered.

Small Group (10-12 people): Choose 4-5 items and make sure you order enough pieces for each guest.

Large Group: Choose 6-8 items and order ½ the number of pieces as you have guests.

Order one or two sweet pastries using the same rule for number of pieces.

Beverage:

If you are concerned about it being a “school night” even though we told you to get over that, serve Chinese tea. If not, serve Chinese beer or select one Asian influenced mixed drink. This is not the occasion to stock the full bar.

Supplies and Decorations:

Take a trip to Chinatown and pick up chopsticks, dishes, cups, lanterns or luminaries and little party gifts for your guests. Don’t want to go to Chinatown, shop from the comfort of your computer (or call us of course). Pearl River Mart in NYC has everything you will need and you can shop via internet if you aren’t in NYC. HOWEVER, make a list first. It is easy to get carried away and buy things you don’t need.

Lanterns range in price from $3 each up to $20. Make sure you have a place to hang them without starting a construction project. An alternative is a string of lights that have paper lantern globes on them. Luminaries are also great. Whatever you decide, you want candle or mood lighting for your party. Be creative but use Asian influences.

Chopsticks: Again, don’t get carried away. If you are not a regular chopstick user then don’t buy $5/pair sticks. You can get them in packs of 10 for $2.50 and they come in all different colors and shapes.

Tableware: If you are picking up the dim sum or appetizers right before the party, then you can serve them on platters/dishes or if the restaurant provided nice containers serve from the containers with chopsticks although we don’t recommend this method. If you are purchasing earlier in the day, you might want to invest in one or two tiered bamboo steamers. They run about $7 each. Otherwise, get some nice Chinese/Asian serving plates (square or oval).

Then you need dishes for your guests. This is very basic. Plates, tea cups if serving tea and dishes for sauces. Pearl River Mart has several different designs that come in melamine (approx $4/person for a whole set), which looks nice, doesn’t break and is dishwasher safe. It is less expensive than buying china or ceramic. However, if you eat a lot of Chinese food in a structured setting (take out on Sat night does not count) then you might want to invest in the real thing.

Favors for your Guests:

This is Chinese New Year and not a regular dinner party so party favors are appropriate. Again, check out your local Asian stores for inexpensive trinkets. Again, it is CNY so ticky tacky gifts are OK. This is fun, not a gift to the visiting Ambassador from China. Put them in Asian style mini-gift bags or take away containers. Pearl River Mart has a whole section of CNY paraphernalia. I found a ton of Asian themed items for $1 each at Target a few months ago. You just never know where your party favors will be. Keep your eyes open.

The budget (112-195 if starting from scratch):

Decorations: $10-30

Tableware: $30-50

Beverage: $2-20

Food: $50-75

Gifts: $20

If you don’t want to spend that much on a party, here are some ways to cut the budget:

  • Find a paper store that sells square small plates in paper. Select a pattern that is plain red or black or select something in an Asian style.
  • Use Christmas lights instead of buying lanterns and luminaries
  • Make Origami paper gifts
  • Non-alcoholic beverages are always cheaper than alcohol

And now it is time to celebrate!

(This article is not intended to be a how to for an actual Chinese New Year celebration. It is just a fun party idea for those who are bored with the traditional sit down dinner or cocktail party.)

Debating Weight Gain During Pregnancy

An article published today titled, Expectant Moms Packing on Too Many Pounds, experts say there are new guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. (This outta be good.) And they go a little something like this:

– A normal-weight woman should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy.
– An overweight woman should gain 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.
– For the first time, the guidelines set a standard for obese women – to gain 11 to 20 pounds.
– An underweight woman should gain 28 to 40 pounds.

Thankfully, the article stresses the importance of gaining weight in a healthy way. Just because you're preggo does not mean you can live on Dr. Pepper, Skittles, bacon sandwiches, Cheetos and a daily Frosty! You can not throw all of your knowledge about nutrition out the window just because you see a plus sign on the little stick. It is tempting, but it's not smart.

Keep this in mind – you will probably want to lose everything you gain. (If for no other reason than you like your existing wardrobe and do not want to say goodbye to those William Rast jeans forever, right?) See, that takes the fun out of your nightly rendezvous with Krispy Kreme, does not it. It may sound odd, but my big craving was those old-school multi-colored rainbow popsicles. I probably had one every day and have not had one since I was pregnant. Strange, huh?

When I was pregnant, my doctor told me my goal weight gain was 25-30 pounds. Well, I gained a ton more than that. (I may have been on the underweight side when I got pregnant, but only by a few pounds.) I probably gained close to 55 pounds during my pregnancies, maybe more. I was freaking out, but my doctor was fine with it. My diet was good and I was exercising, but I packed on weight no matter what. I passed all of my blood tests and check-ups with no problem, etc.

My point is if you gain more weight than you¡¯re supposed to, do not starve yourself to stay within the "recommended" numbers. Do not beat yourself up mentally or try to exist on a unrealistic diet. Every pregnancy is different. These guidelines are exactly that – benchmarks. You may be within that range and you may not. Be honest with your doctor and if you're doing everything you can do to be healthy, yet you're packing on the pounds – so be it. You need to be smart. Your body will do the rest.

Weight gain guidelines – friend or foe? How much weight did you gain? Do you agree with these guidelines?

Get Dramatic And Cook Fish Whole

If you have never cooked a whole fish before, you will find that it is a dramatic way to cook and serve up fish for a healthy meal. This is also a great way to get the most for your money, since you will not lose much meat. Cooking the fish whole will allow you to bring a smoky and tasty meal to the table for everyone to enjoy.

To get started, make sure that you start out with a fish that has been gutted and scaled. The gills should also be cut out when you start. Then you need to make slashes down the sides on both sides. The slashes should be a couple inches apart. This is done to ensure that it all gets cooked evenly. Some of the best types of fish to cook whole include white seabass, salmon, striped bass, bluefish, walleyes, snapper, and trout.

Grilling a whole fish can get a bit tricky, since they tend to stick. Ensure your grill is hot, clean, and oiled. It is a good idea to use some oil on the fish as well. Coat it with some sesame or olive oil. This will keep seasonings on it and will also help you to avoid a problem with sticking.

The next step is to make sure that you salt the fish very liberal. In fact, it is best to use more than you think should be used. The salt should be sprinkled over the cavity, the tail, the head, the inside, and every other part. At this point, you do not want to add other seasonings, since they may actually get burned on the grill.

Now you are ready to start grilling your whole fish. The grill should be nice and hot and you will want to lay your fish on the grill making sure the tail is as far away from the heat as possible. The head will cook slower than the tail. If you have very large fish, avoid grilling over high heat, since this will result in a middle that is uncooked and an outside that is crisp. Large fish do better on medium heat. For a fish that is about 20 inches long, usually about 10 minutes on each side should ensure it is fully cooked. Avoid flipping more than once for the best results.

After your whole fish is done on the grill, you will notice that the backbone is exposed in your slashes. Now you can take it off your grill very carefully. Put it on a nice platter and allow it to rest before you try serving it. Serving can be a bit tricky, so you need to do so carefully. Take a spatula and slide it under a section that was scored, lifting out the section. Do not forget to make use of the tails of the fish as well as the cheekers which have a nice taste as well.

Why You Must Use Lemon Water For Fertility

If you are trying to get pregnant and yet cannot conceive, doctors recommend different methods to remedy this. Certain factors have been identified to lower the chances of conceiving. Some of these factors are alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise, improper diet, and many more. Because of the different scientific studies that established the effects of diet on fertility, many doctors recommend that proper diet is a key to increase fertility.

Have you heard of lemon water? It has been said that this type of water is good for fertility. In fact, it has many health benefits. How does it help for most infertility couples?

For many years, lemon water for fertility has been gaining popularity among women who find it hard to conceive. Lemon water for fertility is from the Traditional Chinese Medicine, which uses natural ingredients to treat and prevent diseases.

Lemon is a great fruit because it is loaded with vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants. First and foremost, drinking water already does wonders for fertility. Water thins out mucus and increases it as well. And cervical fluid is very important in conception. Without cervical fluid, the sperm won’t be able to reach the egg. Furthermore, if the cervical fluid is of good quality and quantity, it can help the sperm stay alive for several days while waiting ovulation.

And if you add lemon to your drinking water, you are even increasing the likelihood of getting pregnant many times. The bodies are bombarded with harmful free radicals from pollution and food. And these free radicals can harm the sperm, egg, and reproductive organs. This is the importance of antioxidants. Antioxidants in this beverage will help destroy these free radicals thereby making your bodies more ready for conception. This is why it is effective for infertility treatment.

Another great advantage of lemon water for fertility is that it has no adverse effects since you are using an all-natural ingredient. You can continue drinking this even if you are already pregnant. You can also continue with your water regimen even if you are prescribed with fertility drugs or in conjunction with other fertility treatments.

Other health benefits include: detoxification, hormonal balance, enhanced immunity, liver health, digestive health, and great skin. How do you make this type of water? You simply have to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to your warm drinking water.

Lemon water for fertility can be consumed any time. Although many people believe that it is best early in the morning. Instead of drinking coffee or hot chocolate, drinking this beverage is great for re-hydrating your bodies. Furthermore, it can help to stimulate bowel movement in the morning.

How To Grill Entrecote

Entrecote, which is also known as prime rib or rib steak, is one of the most tender and flavorful cuts of beef you can get and it is easy to learn how to cook it on the grill. This premium steak is taken from between the ribs. You can usually get the best meat from your local butcher, although the local grocery store is likely to stock good entrecote too.

You might like to marinade the meat and, since this cut of beef is so tender already, the marinade will just be for adding flavor rather than breaking down any tough connective tissue, so opt for a thirty minute marinade.

Entrecote Marinade Ideas

Fans of traditional Mexican foods and the associated south of the border flavors might like to use chili, cumin, coriander or other spicy ingredients to give their entrecotes a vibrant kick but there are lots of different marinade ingredients to choose from.

Combine twelve ounces of red wine vinegar with a tablespoon each of minced garlic and Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of black pepper and half a tablespoon of minced onion. This makes a very flavorful marinade for a pair of ten ounce entrecotes.

For garlic-lovers, try combining six minced garlic cloves with half a cup of red wine, two tablespoons each of fresh thyme leaves and olive oil and some salt and pepper to make a wonderful marinating liquid.

Put the meat in a two quart glass dish and season it with salt, pepper and your chosen marinade. Cover and chill for half an hour. Preheat the grill to moderately hot, if you are using a gas one or preheat your charcoal grill and wait until the coals are white-gray and glowing before you add the meat.

On The Grill

Grill the marinated beef for about six minutes on one side. This might be too little or too much because it depends on the entrecote thickness, so add, or subtract a minute or two if you think it is necessary. Do not use a steak which is thicker than an inch because it is hard to get the center hot on a grill without burning the outside of the beef.

Flip the meat over and grill the other side for four or five minutes. Flip them again and close the grill for a minute or two to finish them off. If your finger leaves an indentation in the steak when you press down, it is still rare in the center. The firmer it is, the more done it is.

Let The Entrecote Rest

It is important to let the beef sit for five minutes on a plate when it is cooked, before you serve it or cut into it. This allows the juices to redistribute and means the entrecote will be juicier and softer.

As with most steaks, this cut is best cooked to medium rare. You will ruin it if you cook it to well done, unless you want to sacrifice succulence and juiciness for a dried-out, gray interior. Give this meat the respect it deserves and cook it like a professional chef would and both the flavor and the texture will be amazing.

You can serve steak with any side dishes you like. If you enjoy authentic Mexican food recipes, what about some grilled vegetables? Rub some Mexican herbs and spices over them before you begin. Spanish rice would go well with grilled steak or you could make some potato salad.

Top 5 Pests to Expect and Prevent in College Dorms

When students go away to college, they are on their own to maintain their dorm room. Here is some information on the pests to expect in a dorm room and some tips that will help you control them.

Spiders: Most people jump at the sight of a spider. Spiders are un-welcomed guests that always tend to make their way into a room. Spiders are attracted to two things, moisture and light. Often your will see spiders make webs in the corners of the room or by the windows. If you do see a web forming, a hand-held vacuum is an easy way to get rid of it. Try not to leave clutter around. Spiders can easily make a web in a stack of papers or in a cup that is just lying around.

Stink Bugs: The Western Conifer Seed Bug, often called the stink bug, is a bug that seems to make its way onto dorm walls. You will see stink bugs more likely in the winter months because they will go inside to look for shelter. When you kill them, they give off a foul odor. The only way to prevent them is to seal off entry points from the outside, like windows and doors.

Lady Bugs: If you see a small dot on the wall, don’t be surprised if it is a lady bug! Lady bugs are around 1/4″ long and are red or yellow with black spots. Like the stink bug, lady bugs will come indoors to look for shelter. They best way to keep these out is to seal off all entry points.

Flies: Flies and gnats are a big nuisance in dorms. You will find a significant number of gnats in the bathrooms. Flies and gnats love moisture and will hover around pipes that condensate. If a fly does enter your room the best this to do is have a fly swatter handy. Flies are very quick and a hassle to get rid of! Flies are either attracted to decay organisms or food. Hopefully a fly will be in your room just from crumbs and not a dead mouse!

Silverfish: Silverfish look like hairy centipedes. They are usually 1/2″ to 3/4″ long and appear silver to brown from their scales. They are flat and oval shaped, with three long tails and two antennas. Silverfish are attracted to moisture and will thrive in rooms 70 to 80 degrees. Silverfish are nocturnal but can be found in the day time.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to stay bug free in your dorm:

– Make sure the screens in your windows do not have tears or holes.

– Frequently dust. By dusting the areas that you rarely use will reduce the amount of pests your see significantly.

– Try to make sure there is not a big space between your door and the floor. Often there will be a small space which is big enough for pests to crawl under.

– Do not leave damp clothes or towels around. Hang up all wet clothes before you throw them in your hamper.

– Make sure all food is securely stored. Most people will be eating a bag of chips then leave the room for a bit. You’d be surprised how fast bugs can sense food!

– Position furniture right against the wall or in an area where you can move it. If there is an inch between a closet and the wall, pests will likely hang out there.

– If you do see pests, try not to kill them. Some insects, like the stink bug, will give off a scent that attracted other to the area. Catch the pest and throw it outside.

– Don’t leave clothes lying on the floor. Even if the clothes are not damp, a shirt can make a warm environment for a pest to live under!

Weight Loss on a Low-Carb Diet

Losing weight is one of the most strenuous tasks that overweight people face in their weight loss journey. Many of the people are not educated in this sector and end up following diets that do more harm than good. Yes, there are certain diets specifically tailored for certain body shapes, but if you want to lose weight quickly and effectively, then low-carb diets are the one to follow.

Low-carb Diet

A low-carb diet is the one that is moderately, or sometimes extremely, low on carbohydrates that are found in abundance in grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, wheat products and pasta. Being low on the carbohydrates, this diet is excessively high in proteins and fat derived from the animal and the vegetables alike.

How a Low-carb Diet Works?

The intake of the products high in carbohydrates causes the insulin levels to spike. The high amount of insulin locks the fat which leads to the burning of the glucose instead of the fat.

A person loses the most weight during the initial period of the low-carb diets. The reason for this is because the low levels of the insulin in the body causes the kidneys to shed an excessive amount of sodium. Moreover, the carbs in the bodies are stored in the form of glycogen. The glycogen binds water molecules to the liver and muscles. When the level of the carbohydrates reduces in the blood stream, the amount of glycogen automatically reduces, bringing the level of water down with it.

The initial reduction in the intake of the carbohydrates leads the body to lose sodium along with water which leads to the most weight loss in the initial period.

Foods to Target on a Low-carb Diet

A low-carb diet requires the individuals to cut down on the high carbohydrate foods. What this means is that the people would need to tailor a specific diet that is high in protein and fats. Fortunately, there are a plethora of healthy alternatives that are extremely high in healthy fats as well as protein.

Meat and Poultry: Meat includes every type of unprocessed meat that you can imagine such as beef, lamb, veal, and pork. When it comes to poultry, always try to eat turkey, chicken, duck and any other fowl with their skins. The processed meat should be avoided at all costs but if your cravings take over you then always opt for one that has the lowest amount of carbs in it.

Seafood: Always avoid cultured or farmed fish or shellfish. Instead, choose wild or freshly caught seafood.

Healthy Fats: All the fats and oils that are solid at room temperatures such as lard, butter, and ghee are extremely healthy. Avoid trans-fat and hydrogenated oils.

All in all, everything in this diet is recommended except the foods that are high in sugars, starches, and inflammatory oils.

A low-carb diet might work wonders in the beginning, but a healthy amount of exercise plan is to be followed throughout to aid in the weight loss journey. Moreover, losing weight fast on a low-carb diet without any direction or guidance can be harmful so always try to take help of the professionals in this regard.

Plan to Lose 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks By Cutting Salt From Your Diet

If you are looking to get healthy and get in shape for the new year there are a few things that you need to do, somethings are creating a solid diet plan that is going to work for you. All people are different and a simple diet plan that works for you may not work for others. The first word of advice that I can give you would be to cut out all salt, sodium retains water in your bodies system and can cause bloating. The best way to create a diet plan is to map out the nights prior what it is that you are going to eat. Here is an example:

Day 1: Breakfast, 3 eggs, 1 wheat toast, 1 cup of oatmeal

Snack, Yogurt

Lunch, Tuna sandwich

And so on, that is just a basic example of what you can do creating a daily meal plan and pre-making your food can save you from washing what to eat during that day. It can also create a routine for you as well. You want to make sure that you stay away from fast food, soda, candy, and you also need to make sure that you are getting some exercise. Even if you can not exercise a lot a simple 30 minute cardio brisk walk will help. This is a start. Once you get into the routine of this you can bump it up by five minutes every day until you start walking 1 hr a day. So remember, stay away from soft drinks and food with sodium because a high sodium diet can also cause high blood pressure as well.

Planning For A Special Occasion

If you are planning a party, you may want to hire people to prepare the food. You should consider a wedding catering service or for a more casual event hire a BBQ catering company. There are some important considerations to think about prior to selecting a caterer and to choose the kind of food you want to feature on the menu for your guests.

Budget:

Budget is a very important factor to consider when you are planning for your special event. Weddings are really an expensive event, in which you have to keep in mind the costs. Choose the caterer which follows your budget and try to set the menu accordingly. It is really important to stay within your budget because you have many other things to consider as well.

Presentation of the event:

Apart from the food, take some time choosing the location of the event. If you are considering doing the event outside, you have to make the caterer aware that this is an obstacle that they will face. An outdoor environment can be beautiful but is tricky when attempting something like a sit down dinner. They might recommend that a buffet is best suited for this type of atmosphere. With some planning you can make sure that the food you choose is a perfect complement to the venue.

Food and drinks are not the only thing you must consider but also what type of dinnerware, glassware and flatware you will need for your party as well as tables and chairs. All of these things work together to make a cohesive theme or feel for your event. It is important that each of these things are selected and approved by you so that you can be sure the event remains true to your vision. A caterer can suggest places where you can rent such items or hire a planner who can take care of this for you.

Listen to the caterers suggestion:

Listen to caterers that you are interviewing. It is important that you take you time in choosing someone that you have complete confidence in. You should choose someone that you feel will not only deliver good food but that really understands that concept that you are trying to convey with the party. Once you have chosen the caterer, you should show your trust in them. They have experience and will guide you through the process. Also keep your opinion alive and share it with your caterer, maybe both of you can incorporate your ideas with whatever will work out for the best. For good planning, you have to communicate with them and let the professionals know what you expect and how you would like it. They may offer some good suggestions as to what to serve for your guests especially if some of them have special dietary needs.

Have Fun:

Whether it is a simple birthday party or a grand ball, it is important at some point to relax and enjoy yourself. Although the planning and execution of a great party is a big task, it should be a fun one as well.

Does Robert Ferguson’s Food Lovers Fat Loss System Work?

I was watching to late one night and saw the infomercial for Robert Ferguson’s Food Lovers Fat Loss System. It was interesting to watch because the infomercial seemed kinda unbelievable – not to me but as I would imagine, the thousands of other people watching who needed to drop some pounds.

Pizza? Biscuits and Gravy?

Robert Ferguson says that you can eat anything you like and still lose weight. Weren’t we always told to stay away from these foods if we wanted to lose weight? How they can make you fat?

Haven’t you watched longingly as others who always seemed as if they could eat anything and still didn’t gain an ounce of fat, eat all the “off limits” foods they could.

See the problem is we love those foods and wish we could have them when the rest of the family is indulging and enjoying them. We get so guilty when we have to sneak into the kitchen late at night just to satisfy our cravings.

But as Robert says of his Food Lovers Fat Loss System, there is a way you can have your cake and eat it too (literally).

The Food Lovers Fat Loss System allows you to eat these foods in a way that kicks your metabolism into high gear to help you burn off fat instead of storing it. This, in a way that doesn’t seem to make any logical sense to the ordinary dieter, is much healthier than avoiding these foods altogether and getting no where with your fat loss.

In fact, you’ll not only burn fat but you’ll find that you’re doing better emotionally since you no longer feel guilt because you ate that chocolate cake. You feel much more happier because you ate ice-cream and lost a pound.