Table for One: How to Dine Alone (and Love It!)

There's an Art to Dining AloneAll right, let’s get this out of the way, right up front.

Dining alone in a restaurant is neither a shameful thing nor an experience to avoid.

Maybe you’ve had an experience like Jason Segel in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Sometimes a server does make a fuss, but, really, most are happy you’re there — if you are happy to be there, yourself.

There’s an art to the solo dine. In the right frame of mind and with reasonable expectations, a solo diner can have a delicious experience.

It helps if you like to eat, of course.

These tidbits should help the reluctant learn from my own mistakes. Know thyself, dear diner, and feel free to enjoy a great meal, regardless of situational solitude!

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How to Host a Denver Vs. Seattle Super Bowl ‘Snackdown’

How to Host a Denver Vs. Seattle Super Bowl ‘Snackdown’

It’s almost here: The biggest day in American football, the granddaddy of the gridiron, the super-est of Sundays. MetLife Stadium in New Jersey plays host to the Super Bowl this weekend, where the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will engage in an epic battle for NFL supremacy and the country will divide its loyalties between Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson.

But enough about sports. What about snacks?

Whether you’re attending a Super Bowl party or hosting your own, the food is only slightly less important than the game itself (or, to some, more important.) Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or just looking forward to the funny commercials, you’re going to need something to nosh on while the action is happening.

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How to Dine Like a Professional Foodie (and Not Spend a Fortune!)

We offer tips to help informed foodies stretch their dining budget. Eat smart, eat well!

We offer tips to help informed foodies stretch their dining budget. Eat smart, eat well!

Ahoy to all you local-source-loving, sustainable-seeking, dedicated foodie enthusiasts!

As you well know, the ship has sailed on boring dining. A resurgence in the experience of eating well is waiting to be found in great restaurants across the nation – likely in your city!

When your cravings dictate a trip outside your apartment kitchen, you know you’re going to spend some dough, however.

If you’re going to splurge on cuisine, how can you ensure you’ll enjoy a worthwhile meal? We’ll help you make the most of your on-the-town budget with these considerations and tips.

Good eating to you!

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Happy Thanksgivukkah! How to Celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the Same Day

Happy Thanksgivukkah! How to Celebrate Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the Same DayIf you like your turkey with a side of latkes, you’re in for a very rare treat this year: The second night of Hanukkah is also Thanksgiving.

Hanukkah begins on the exact same date every year in the Hebrew calendar, but because that’s different from the 365-day Gregorian calendar commonly used in the United States, the eight-day Festival of Lights starts at different times in November or December each year. This year, the two holidays overlap – an exceedingly rare occurrence. The last time this happened was in 1888, and by one estimate, it won’t happen again for another 77,798 years!

Of course, this hasn’t gone unnoticed. There’s a full-blown “Thanksgivukkah” movement afoot – and we didn’t make that up; there’s even a Thanksgivukkah Facebook page. And while Thanksgiving and Hanukkah aren’t usually connected, they have more in common than you might think. Both relate to religious freedom: The Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving as they sought liberty in the New World, and Hanukkah marks the ancient Jews’ fight against their Greek oppressors.

So, whether you’re celebrating both holidays anyway or you just want to mark this rare occasion on November 28, we have some ideas for how to combine these two holidays into a special once-in-a-lifetime day.

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Formal Table Vs. Buffet: Pointers to Perfect Your Thanksgiving Food Style

No matter how you choose to arrange your Thanksgiving feast, always make sure there's a utensil in every dish.

No matter how you choose to arrange your Thanksgiving feast, always make sure there’s a utensil in every dish.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, the food takes center stage. Each November, there’s nothing we love more than seeing a perfectly roasted turkey surrounded by stuffing, cranberry sauce, casseroles and more pecan pie than you can shake a Pilgrim at. It’s a feast for our eyes before it even get to our stomachs.

Depending on the size of your kitchen and your family, it can be daunting to arrange all that food. Do you go for the formal setting and set everything on the dining room table, resigning yourself to a neverending chorus of “Pass the yams, please”? Or do you throw formality to the wind and set up everything in the kitchen, buffet-style, and let everyone get their own gosh-darn yams?

Either way is OK by us. No matter your Thanksgiving style, here are some pointers to arrange the food so everyone gets to gobble to their heart’s content.

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Single Serving: Tips on Cooking Smart for One

Become your own connoisseur with these tips on cooking for yourself with efficiency in mind!

Become your own connoisseur with these tips on cooking for yourself with efficiency in mind!

Living solo can have its advantages. The feeling of freedom in solitude can be truly welcome, and, hey, you’re your own boss.

But some aspects of living alone can be daunting, especially if you’ve been used to sharing space and expenses with others.

The kitchen is one place where the adjustment is most apparent: how do you cook for one person when recipes and container sizes often seem meant for more?

Fear not, apartment dweller! We’ve got tips ahead for cooking alone… and loving it.

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Keep Calm and Make Ice Cream in Your Apartment

Making homemade ice cream is a fun way to spend time in your apartment before summer comes to a close!

Making homemade ice cream is a fun way to spend time in your apartment before summer comes to a close!

The long-awaited summer season might be halfway behind us, but there’s still plenty of time to scream for ice cream!

Find your perfect apartment now!

If those pre-manufactured pints of Rocky Road just won’t do, you can always opt for making a creamy concoction right in the comfort of your own apartment.

Sure, some methods will take longer than others, but they all yield that creamy, dreamy, custardy goodness that’ll keep you cool and satisfied until summer’s end. Check out these methods for making homemade ice cream in your apartment.

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Grill Out! How to Barbecue Like a Pro in Your Apartment Community

Summer is the time for a grilling party. Check out these great grill tips!

Summer is the time for a grilling party. Check out these great grill tips!

Want to get a rep as the grillmaster with the fastest flip?

Be known as the neighbor with the sassiest sauce?

Find your perfect apartment now!

Learn how to work your apartment community barbecue grill like a pro when you follow these rules of the roast!

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Explore Your Local Food Scene Online

Dig in to your city food search with these awesome online culinary guides.

Dig in to your city food search with these awesome online culinary guides.

When your stomach is grumbling, you may not feel inclined to debate dining plans. But if you are new to a city or have found an apartment in a different part of town, you might not know just where to indulge your taste buds.

Find your perfect apartment now!

Why not hop on the Internet and check out the food scene in your town with online guides and apps, like these fabulous foodie finders?

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How to Host a Dinner Party in Your Apartment

Whether it’s for a special occasion, holiday or just because, a dinner party is a great excuse to get together to enjoy the company of others, eat delicious food and perhaps indulge in a few adult beverages.

Whether it’s for a special occasion, holiday or just because, a dinner party is a great excuse to get together to enjoy the company of others, eat delicious food and perhaps indulge in a few adult beverages.

Hosting a dinner party in your apartment doesn’t have to be stressful. With a little creativity and DIY flair, you’ll have a great night with close friends.

Gather a list of guests and use our tips to help throw a glamorous dinner party in your apartment.

Start your apartment search today!

Guest List
Look at your space and figure out how many guests you can seat comfortably. You want to create a cozy, intimate atmosphere – not a space where your guests can barely move and are bumping into one another.

Dining Table
If you don’t have room for a dining table in your apartment, take advantage of furniture you already have in your space. Use a dresser, desk and other available tables in your apartment to create one large surface. Heights may vary, but knowing that things don’t have to be perfect will take a lot of the pressure off of the host/ess. If you’re inviting neighbors, don’t be shy and ask to borrow a few chairs for the night – and you can even ask very close friends attending to bring their own chairs.

Another important aspect to hosting a party is the seating arrangement. If you are having assigned seats, arrange it so your guests can be near someone new. Split couples up, and don’t sit your work colleagues next to one another. This will force your guests to mingle and break out of their comfort zones.

Décor
Keep your decor simple. Add bold-colored, low-profile floral arrangements to the dining table and throughout your apartment. Dim the lights and add a few candles to create an intimate atmosphere.

Food and Drink
Make sure you’re aware of dietary preferences and requirements in advance. You don’t want to prepare a large meal that only a select few of your guests can enjoy. If a guest has dietary restrictions that are unusual, feel free to ask for suggestions on what will work for them.

For your dinner menu, keep it simple and delicious. Choose dishes that can be mostly prepared ahead of time so you can spend more time with your guests and out of the kitchen. A sample menu could include a green salad, crusty bread and lasagna. Remember to not cook anything you’ve never tried before, and avoid potentially messy foods like spaghetti or lobster. If it’s easier, set up a buffet-style area so your guests can serve themselves. This frees up space on the dining table.

For drinks, provide bottled waters, sodas and beer to keep possible spills to a minimum. For adult beverages, you don’t have to get the most expensive bottle, but provide something that your guests will enjoy. Consider making a punch, like a champagne punch, that becomes your “signature cocktail.” When your guests offer to bring something, it’s okay to encourage them to bring a bottle of wine they like.

Be a Good Host
Prepare everything ahead of time in order to spend quality time with your party guests. Make an effort to connect with every guest, and be sure to introduce your guests to one another. Instead of just introducing your guests by name, add an interesting fact that could help jump-start a conversation. For example, “Joe, this is Jennifer. She just got back from a trip to Spain.” If you’ve invited a mix of work colleagues and personal friends, avoid talking only about work. Create conversations in which everyone can participate.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/arsenik