This Week in Houston Food Blogs: Holiday Entertaining Ideas

This week, we've got several ideas for your next holiday get-together, plus an exciting new gourmet burger in an unexpected place and so much more!

If your punch recipe has been the same for the last few parties you've hosted, it's time for something new, and we found just the thing for you on the Shopgirl blog. This Charles Dickens winter punch uses lots of rum, plus cognac, sugar, lemon and nutmeg, which give it a warm zing. Bonus: this is a punch that you can set on fire for extra pizzazz, and there are instructions on how to do that properly, too. 

This week, Hank on Food stumbled across Izakaya Wa at 12665 Memorial, an authentic Japanese izakaya by his standards.  An izakaya is a kind of bar-meets-tapas establishment that specializes in alcoholic drinks and small bites. He found that the daily sushi special was fresh, high-quality fish and the panko fried chicken was flavorful with delicious sides. He gave the establishment an overall A-, with points taken off for the somewhat plain atmosphere. 

Nancy of Tag Sale Tastes has a holiday snack idea for your to try– Swedish nuts, or pecan halves covered in butter, egg whites and brown sugar, then baked. They make sweet, delicious finger food for a get together, or you can put them into decorated jars for a cute and edible gift. Don't be afraid to tweak the recipe a bit; we think these would be perfect with a little cinnamon or vanilla.

If you don't want to make your own holiday party treats, Kim of Adventures in a New(ish) City has the scoop on some of Houston's best holiday cookies. She participated in the Holiday Cookie (C)Rumble, where she and many other food bloggers separated cookies from popular bakeries into different categories, then ranked them. On her post, you can find plenty of photos, the winners of each category and Kim's top picks. The event was organized by our own Erika Kwee, so be sure to check out her article about the results of the cookie face-off as well.

Ford Fry's new Houston restaurant, State of Grace at 3258 Westheimer, received an absolutely glowing review from the Burger Blog, where the Butter Burger is described as "love at first bite." State of Grace is seafood-centric, with an emphasis on Gulf Coast cuisine, so the burger, whose patty has butter blended into it, is served with a fried oyster skewered on top like the crown it apparently deserves. We can't say we're very surprised that River Oaks' latest darling restaurant puts as much care into its burger as its duck carnitas or whole crispy snapper, but we're tickled that the results have sent the Burger Blogger over the moon.

It can be difficult to find time during the holidays to cook, but Bev of Bev Cooks has a slow-cooker recipe that will help you cook dinner and get your holiday shopping done at the same time. This pulled pork gnocchi will satisfy hungry mouths and sophisticated palates with red onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, tomatoes and whatever cheese you'd like to top it off with – Bev recommends romano and fresh parsley. The gnocchi doesn't require any cooking before you throw it into the pot, so just sit back, relax and watch your dinner cook itself.

That's it for this week's food blog round-up! Leave us a comment or send us an email if there's a blog that you'd like to see featured here.
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Alexandra Doyle