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From the Bookshelf: “Celebrate With Babs”

Get it on Amazon here: “Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions” by Barbara Costello

By Paige White

If you’ve been on Tiktok or Instagram in the last couple years, then you might recognize Barbara Costello, better known as “Babs” to her followers. Babs is known for sharing recipes that have been in her repertoire for years, as well as helpful kitchen and hosting tips. In her cookbook, “Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions,” she shares recipes and tips for hosting all kinds of holidays and events throughout the year. From New Year’s Day to a summer barbecue, Babs covers it all.

“Celebrate with Babs” opens with tips to make hosting and party planning less stressful – how to prepare, create the invite list, set the table, plan the menu, prep the food. A lot of work goes into hosting and curating the perfect menu for each occasion, and Babs’s tips should hopefully alleviate some stress that comes along with hosting.

Once you know how to tackle the party, the book is divided into sections by holiday, and each section provides a carefully curated menu for celebrations throughout the year, starting with New Year’s Day. Kick off the new year with recipes like Cheddar Pecan Cheeseball, Good Luck Salad, Virginia au Gratin Potatoes, Oven-Barbecued Brisket, Four-Layer Delight, and Bloody Mary’s. Recipes also include notes on how to prepare dishes ahead of time and tips on how to elevate each dish, like shredding your own cheese rather than using pre-shredded.


After New Year’s Day, one of the biggest food holidays of the year is next – Super Bowl Sunday. Indulge in dishes like Hot Corn Dip, Buffalo Wings, Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Sausage Bisquick Bites, and Texas Sheet Cake.

If you want to avoid the crowded restaurants and have a nice meal at home for Valentine’s Day, opt for Babs’s Valentine’s dinner menu that includes Greek Salad, Lebanese Pilaf, Slow-Cooked French Onion Soup, Marinated Lamb Chops, Pots de Crème, and Prosecco with Strawberry Puree.

 
 

Next up: St. Patrick’s Day. Many people might not think to host for St. Paddy’s, but with Babs’s help, now you can, with thoroughly Celtic dishes such as classic Irish Soda Bread and Irish Coffee, as well as Whiskey-Glazed Corned Beef and Cabbage, Guinness Cupcakes, and Baked Reuben Casserole.

After St. Paddy’s Day, it’s time to host Easter lunch. Recipes include Strawberry Salad, Apricot-Bourbon Glazed Ham, Roasted Leg of Lamb, Curried Rice, Easter Bread, Carrot Cake, and Champagne Punch.


Mother’s Day follows soon after with recipes like Mixed Green Salad, French Toast Overnight Casserole, Pecan Cinnamon Rolls, Italian Cream Cake, and Elderflower Mimosas – everything that mom will love.

Once Mother’s Day is in the rear view, summer is in full swing, and that means summer cookouts. Babs’s Summer Barbecue menu includes all the classics – Broccoli Salad, Summer Fruit Salad, Corn Salad, Ranch Baked Beans, Flank Steak, Lemon Barbecue Chicken, Pecan Pie, and Southern Slushies.

When summer comes to end, the celebrations keep going, and Oktoberfest is next up. Host your friends and family to an exciting Oktoberfest celebration with dishes like Beer Cheese Dip, Brats, Pickled Carrots and Daikon, German Roasted Potato Salad, German Cheesecake, and, of course, Soft Pretzels.


If a Halloween party is more your speed, recipes for Halloween include Chili, Corn Pudding, Baked Caramel Corn, Taffy Apple Salad, Peanut Butter Bars, Pumpkin Loaf, and Mulled Apple Cider.

After Halloween, it’s time to roll out the red carpet for Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving menu is extensive with dishes like Cranberry Fluff, Green Bean Casserole, Buttermilk Biscuits, Sweet Potato Balls, Traditional Roasted Turkey, Warm Pumpkin Pudding, and several more.

Not long after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are also a great time to showcase your hosting skills.


On Christmas Eve, Babs’s family celebrates with seafood dishes like Hot Crabmeat Dip, Scallop Chowder, Linguine with White Clam Sauce, and Seafood Pasta. For dessert, try sweet treats like Peppermint Bark, Chocolate Shortbread Bars, Chocolate Walnut Fudge, Pecan Tassies, and Brown-Eyed Susans. For Christmas Day breakfast, choose from recipes like Overnight Monkey Bread or Overnight Breakfast Casserole, Biscotti de Natale, and Gingerbread lattes.


No matter what event or holiday you host this year, “Celebrate with Babs” has you covered. She even includes a Birthday Cake section so that you can create a delicious, homemade birthday treat for yourself or loved ones. Find “Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions” at major book retailers. For more content from Babs, follow @brunchwithbabs on Tiktok and Instagram.

 

New Year’s Good Luck Salad (Kale & Spinach Salad with Black Eyed Peas)

  • 1 bunch curly kale, ribbing discarded, cut into thick ribbons

  • 8 ounces baby spinach leaves

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced and chopped

  • 1 medium red or yellow bell pepper, diced

  • 3/4 cup cooked or canned black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

  • 2 Tablespoons chopped chives for garnish (optional)

In a large serving bowl, combine kale, spinach, onion, bell pepper, black-eyed peas, and crumbled bacon.


For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until emulsified. Toss salad with desired amount of dressing and top with chives (if using) and serve.

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