For those who love to entertain or just want their culinary masterpieces to look as good as they taste, the art of plating your food, as many top chefs attest, is nearly as important as the flavor.

Here are five of the most useful, and beautiful, methods of garnishing virtually any entree, according to http://www.chefseanbone.com:

— A sprig of rosemary or mint — A great option for meat dishes, soups or anything where you need a little green.

— Sliced lemon or lime — A classic method that is often overlooked.

— Dried chilies — A perfect visual compliment to any southwestern meal.

— A drizzle of sauce — A few drops or splashes of a colorful sauce help fill in the empty parts of a plate.

— Grated cheese — Not only can grated cheese bring out a lovely flavor, it also adds texture and style.


Snowflake Mix makes great snack, gift

Need a quick hostess gift that tastes as festive as it looks? Package this salty and sweet trail mix in boxes that look like takeout containers and you’ll have the perfect holiday accessory, says Midwest Living.

Ingredients: 3 cups bite-size rice square cereal, 3 cups bite-size corn square cereal, 1 cup small pretzel twists or sticks, 1 cup honey-roasted peanuts, 2 12-ounce packages white baking pieces, 1 12-ounce package mint-flavored candy-coated milk chocolate pieces.

Combine cereal, pretzels and peanuts in large bowl and set aside. Melt baking pieces according to package directions. Pour melted chocolate over cereal mixture and stir gently to coat. Spread on a large piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. Sprinkle with chocolate pieces. Cool and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or in the freezer for 1 month. Makes 16 cups.


4 unique hostess gifts

The holidays are known for their traditional gatherings, festivities and dinner parties. With these ideas from MarthaStewart.com, you can show each host your appreciation without breaking the bank.

— DIY herb blends: Tie bunches of herbs with twine, and hang them upside down until dry, about a week. Use equal parts of two kinds of herbs, plus a pinch of another dried ingredient for a deeper flavor. Package in labeled tins.

— Vintage corkscrew: A vintage corkscrew will add charm to any bottle of wine.

— Tea sachets: Fill sachets with a mix of favorite loose teas. Add tags and place in a gift box.

— Scented sugar: Scented sugar adds flavor to coffee and baked goods. Layer granulated sugar with aromatic edibles like rose petals, dried orange and lemon peel, or vanilla beans. Let sit for a few days in tightly sealed jars while the scents infuse the sugar.

— Brandpoint


Japanese manufacturer introduces noise canceling fork

To help combat the noise of slurping ramen noodles, which some people find annoying, Japanese food manufacturer Nissin developed a connected fork that can drown out the sound of slurping. When the fork is in use, an app uses the forks’ built-in directional microphone to detect the sound of slurping. When slurping is detected, a flash of electronic dance music is played to drown out the noise. Nissin is hoping to crowdfund the Otohiko fork and will begin producing the fork once 5,000 units are pre-order for $130.

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