published Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Side Orders: Consider dining booklets as gifts

The day after Thanksgiving, when stomachs are stuffed and you're just beginning to relax from the biggest feast day of the year, comes one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday.

Area stores will be jam-packed with shoppers out to grab the huge bargains offered by local retailers. And most will stay busy for weeks to come.

But you can do all your shopping in one place by buying copies of Adventures in Dining 2013. Priced at $35, the coupon books offer two-for-one dining opportunities in restaurants and attractions located throughout Chattanooga, Dalton, Ga., and Cleveland, Tenn.

Your purchase will support a local charity of your choice. It's a win-win for you and the local nonprofit organizations selling the books. It's a perfect gift for the person on your list who enjoys dining out.

While most of the charitable organizations will be closed on Black Friday, they'll reopen Monday, ready to start selling. So during this time of thankfulness, it's a good time to support the organizations who help those in need.

This year's publication has 87 restaurants and attractions, such as Chattanooga Double Decker and Euro Med Spa, both of which are new this year. In addition, there are 25 new restaurants for the 2013 edition, including Chianti Ristorante and Pizzeria in Soddy-Daisy; Kyoto Japanese, Poblano's Mexican Cuisine, Cupcake Kitchen, New York Pizza Department and The Food House in Chattanooga; and Farm to Fork and The Apocalypse Greek and Italian Restaurant in the North Georgia/Dalton section.

Barbara Oxenhandler, regional manager for the publication, said the value of the book comes to $1,100, with the value of each coupon averaging $13. Several restaurants have multiple locations, such as Southern Star (Signal Mountain and downtown Chattanooga) and La Altena (Chattanooga and Cleveland).

Once again, the Chattanooga Civitan Club will be among the many charitable organizations selling Adventures in Dining. The club's Adventure books chairwoman, Caroline Johnson, said due to the overwhelming popularity of the coupon book, sales have earned more than $100,000 over the 20-plus years the club has been selling the books.

"We've been able to provide financial support for the causes close to every Civitan's heart -- the health, education and love of disadvantaged and physically or mentally challenged children," Johnson said.

The organizations the club supports include the Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter, Children's Hospital at Erlanger, Bachman Academy, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Ronald McDonald House, Orange Grove Center and FACES: The National Craniofacial Foundation.

To find organizations selling the books, or if you are a nonprofit, school or church looking for a good method of raising funds, call 265-8394 or 886-6936 or log onto www.adventures coupons.com.

Most of you have your Thanksgiving menu planned for Thursday, and there's a good chance you have pumpkin pie on your list. Here's a recipe that's as pretty as it is tasty, and it's also good for those who aren't so fond of pumpkin pie. I've had the recipe for years and don't remember where I found it, but sure am glad I kept it. It's kind of a cross between a pie and a cheesecake but definitely easier to make than cheesecake.

Pumpkin Swirl Pie

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup evaporated milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

Beat cream cheese in small mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/4 cup corn syrup and vanilla extract, if using; beat until smooth.

Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, remaining corn syrup, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt, if using, in medium bowl. Pour into pie shell. Drop cream cheese mixture by rounded tablespoon onto pumpkin filling. Swirl mixture with spoon, pulling pumpkin mixture up to surface.

Bake in preheated 325 F oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, and sprinkle with a little pumpkin pie spice, if desired.

Here are more last-minute suggestions for your Thanksgiving meal from Spice Islands. Put some pizzazz in your dinner rolls by adding these toppings:

• Quickly flavor dinner rolls and bread by brushing them with a seasoning mixture. Combine melted butter with a combination of your favorite spices, such as garlic, oregano and parsley, and brush it on top before and after baking.

• Garlic rolls simply sound more impressive than plain old rolls. As you're preparing homemade bread or rolls, simply add garlic (or any favorite spices) to your standard go-to recipe for a new twist.

• Create flavored butter to serve at dinner. Soften 1 stick of butter and stir in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite spices. Italian seasoning and garlic work well for creating compound butters.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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