Don’t be a Scrooge!

‘Tis the season to get out and enjoy a full slate of holiday fun and favorites, from “A Christmas Carol” and “The Nutcracker” to Santa time and soirees.


Hosting an elegant holiday party should be all glitter, deliciousness and accolades. Toiling in the kitchen isn’t often festive, so take the smart and stylish route and assemble an appetizer board that is delectable and simple.Start by procuring some of the best staples Madison has to offer—salami from Underground Meats, a baguette from Madison Sourdough, preserves from Quince & Apple and any of the fantastic locally produced cheeses. Round it out with some marcona almonds, honey and briney olives and all you have to do is slip on your heels and join the party.If you don’t feel that your hosting mission is complete unless you’ve turned on your oven, here are a few fast, uncomplicated ideas for appetizers:

SWEET PEPPERS STUFFED WITH CHEESE: Slice mini sweet peppers in half and stuff with creamy goat cheese. Sprinkle with minced fresh parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

CHEESE STRAWS: Roll out a sheet of puff pastry to 10”x12.” Brush with a lightly beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk. Sprinkle with ½ cup of grated parmesan or gruyere cheese. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Slice dough into 12-14 strips. Twist each strip and lay on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until light golden-brown, turning each stick over three-quarters of the way through baking time.

CHICKEN SATAY: Cut chicken breast into approximately 1-inch cubes. Marinate in purchased peanut satay sauce for 1 hour (reserve 1 cup for serving) while soaking short bamboo skewers in water. Thread chicken on skewers and bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Serve warm with reserved satay sauce.

CRUNCHY ROASTED CHICKPEAS: Rinse a 28-ounce can of chickpeas and pour onto a towel-lined baking sheet. Rub lightly to remove skins, then let beans dry. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden and crunchy. Toss with salt and favorite spice blend.

– Anna Thomas Bates


Going the gift certificate route for the foodie in your fam? From which restaurant? Mmmm, how about several, instead? The Madison edition of City Tins includes discount coasters to 20 fave local joints. Grab a coaster, head out and cash it in for a $discount on purchases over $25. Available at several local Madison business or at
– Kelsey Engelke

IF TOPPING LAST MONTH’S HOLIDAY table left you stressed about doing it again in December, make a reservation at a destination where family-style is on the menu. No matter what cuisine you crave, Madison is home to a wealth of ways to enjoy the company of those you love, while sharing large plates. And the best part of these family feasts? They’re prepared by someone else.Eldorado Grill puts a scratch-made spin on meals from multiple regions and its sizzling sirloin or chicken fajitas, marinated in fresh-squeezed lemon juice, chile puree, tamari, garlic and a secret blend of spices are perfect for passing. If low and slow is more your speed, the smoked brisket coated in eight herbs and spices, smoked tender for 12 hours is your best bet.

Indo Mac & Cheese at Bandung Indonesian Restaurant is a grown-up nod to every kid’s favorite side: Thick rice noodles, green and yellow onion, bamboo shoots and mushrooms are stir fried in a creamy red curry. And your family will feud with forks over the Ikan Rica Rica: Mahi Mahi is lightly battered and pan fried, then served over steamed vegetables, tomatoes, ginger and sambal, with a candlenut sauce that’s slightly sweet, slightly spicy and downright addictive.

Lettuce wraps get gussied up for the holidays at Heritage Tavern,where roast Heritage pig shoulder, black-fin tuna sashimi, fried headcheese, pickled ginger and caramelized market vegetables are accompanied by ssamjang, truffled fish sauce and crisp lettuce cups. For those seeking seafood, the peanut-oil-fried whole snapper with lobster, coconut red curry sauce, market vegetables, sticky rice and scallions is a catch—and perfect for a pair to share.

– Corey Dane, Madison’s community director for

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