This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BIGSeason #BigLots #CollectiveBias
To help make the holidays easier on you, we are working with Big Lots to showcase how to create a simple, yet stunning holiday meal.
There is an old bit of culinary rhetoric that asks whether a prime steak is still a prime steak if it is served on the lid of a trash bin. The answer, of course not. Then there is the trope about the taste of ‘fine’ wine increasing in proportion to its price and the designation on the bottle. In other words, presentation is everything because it effects ‘how’ the dish is perceived before if it has even been tasted. The same holds true with parties, restaurants, or even a simple dinner party.
Presentation is the key.
Like simplicity, elegance is its own virtue. It is that invisible barrier that separates the gentleman from the brute, that special ‘quality’ that transforms a bland weeknight into an unforgettable evening. In short, to put it plainly, if Falcons from Malta are the ‘stuff’ dreams are made of, elegance is the quality memories are made of.
That is precisely what I was thinking with this “Early Season” table setting I decided to put together for my brothers, both of whom have been having an unfortunate year thus far. To start things off, I needed table settings and decorations, and decided to pick them up while on a supply run to Big Lots. I wanted this to be as seasonal as possible without being gaudy or ‘cheesy.’ Instead, I wanted to capture the best the season has to offer, while still keeping things simple, and I knew the selection at Big Lots would allow me to put together exactly what I had in mind (please note however styles and assortment vary by store).
To do this, I decided to use a bold red theme, employing a chiefly red plaid tablecloth complemented by deep maroon place settings. I then assembled a centerpiece with seasonal red flowers in a clear vase which I filled with decorative red paper as shown below. To complete the scene, I strung white lights along the bay window beside the table, and finished the setting with seasonal napkins, plates, and bits of floral decorations.
However, while presentation maybe everything, it runs only eye deep. To compliment the setting, I wanted a ‘warm’ and ‘hearty’ meal, but not something one would necessarily expect for such a decidedly ‘Christmas Theme.’ To achieve this, I put together a rustic eggplant parmesan, and paired it with artisanal bread and infused oil.
Living the Gourmet
10 minPrep Time
60 minCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
- 2 eggplants, peeled and sliced
- 3 – 4 bell peppers, charred and sliced
- 2 cups Italian style bread crumbs
- 1 bunch of Italian parsley, chopped
- Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 16 oz. mozzarella, shredded
- Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 24 oz. jar of your favorite red sauce or homemade sauce
- 1 egg plus 1 cup of milk, for egg wash
- Olive oil
- Preheat Oven 350 degrees F.
- Char the bell peppers on a dry griddle; cool and slice
- Dip the eggplant first in the egg/milk wash then in the breadcrumbs and place on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle the eggplant slices with olive oil and bake until slightly golden in color; approximately 20 – 25 minutes.
- Drizzle a baking dish with olive oil and place a spoonful or two of sauce at the bottom of the baking dish.
- Layer the baking dish with the eggplant, sliced peppers, grated cheese, shredded mozzarella, chopped parsley, basil and sauce. Repeat this process until all of the eggplant is used and finish with mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes.
Needless to say, everything turned out exactly as I had hoped.
What are some of the ways you make the season memorable? What are some of your favorite decorating tips? We would love to hear from you.
Enjoy with Love,