Category — Recipes
The only course I plated for the Fall Picnic was the soup, the rest of the meal was served buffet style. As a result, I didn’t get a decent photo of the soup. I’m going to try and make up for it with quite a few in-process cooking pictures and a bunch decor photos.
The first thing I do when I set about to create a theme for a party is to hunt and gather from around my house for decorating items. For this dinner party I was thinking – picnic baskets, blankets, thermoses, wicker, plaid, pumpkins and squash.
I had two main areas to decorate, the buffet table and the dinner table. We’ll get to the buffet table in a later post, today we’ll focus on the dinner table. I started with a plaid throw as the tablecloth and plaid salad plates.
The centerpiece was a rustic stand with fresh pumpkins and squash above and below, a garland of fall leaves, a couple of candles and my Bundt Pan Pumpkin from last year’s craft class.
Add in the setting sun…
… and it’s easy to have a pretty table!
November 18, 2014 1 Comment
Do you remember my posts about Deer Lake in Canada? They were from July, 2013. Deer Lake is the gorgeous property owned by our friends, Paul and Kim Howard. Barb and Terry Fenzl, Dave and I, and the Howards had a wonderful week at the lake that summer. Afterwards, we talked about having a reunion dinner in our backyard. We were supposed to do that in the fall of 2013, but it didn’t happen.
When Barb, Kim and I were at Rancho la Puerta in September, we were talking and realized we still needed to have our reunion dinner. On Saturday night, we finally did!
I decided on a Fall Picnic theme and then I asked Kim to bring the appetizer and Barb to bring the dessert.
All of the recipes will be posted in the coming week, with decorating ideas to boot. Today, we’ll start with the salad.
November 17, 2014 2 Comments
Peggy had a Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) party on Halloween night. The day before, I was at her house helping her make posole, just so I could give you her recipe.
The sacrifices I make for you lovely people!
November 6, 2014 1 Comment
Let’s be honest, the best part about a Moscow Mule is the copper mug.
Without the mug, the Mule is just vodka, fresh lime juice, a bit of mint and ginger beer.
With the mug, the Mule is the most refreshing drink on a hot day. It almost makes it worth it to be sweaty in the summer … almost. It has become the “it” drink in recent years.
I became interested in Moscow Mules when I purchased this serving set at Sweet Salvage last year at about this time. Someday the set will be given to Marissa, but in the meantime, I’m making the most of it.
The Mule was introduced in 1941 as a way to promote Smirnoff vodka. For the full history of the drink and a recipe that is slightly sweeter than mine, check THIS out.
Since I’m lucky enough to have the copper pitcher and serving tray, I love to make a batch of the lime juice and vodka mixed together and then leave instructions for guests to add a 1/3 cup of the vodka mixture to an ice-filled mug, then top off with 1/2 bottle of ginger beer. Finish with stir, a garnish and drink with a straw.
The recipe below is for one drink. To make a batch, just multiply the ingredients by the number of mugs you have, set out a tub of chilled bottles of ginger beer, write out the directions and let your guests have fun making their own.
November 5, 2014 6 Comments
Do you remember your first artichoke?
I was about 10 years old. There was an Italian family who lived across the street, three doors down from us. The family consisted of a very handsome dad, a seriously gorgeous mom and an only child daughter who was a year or two older than me. I idealized the girl. She was pretty and nice and very well-mannered. Their home was calm and quite and they were polite.
At my house, we were loud and there was always at least one of the four of us kids crying, screaming, yelling or getting in trouble at any given moment of any given day.
Their family and home was like a perfect rose among a bunch of thorns. They only lived in our neighborhood for a year or two. No wonder with all that crying, yelling and screaming going on!
Anyhow, one summer afternoon, the girl invited me to have dinner at her house. I was so excited. I remember being on my very best behavior and minding my manners. When the mom brought dinner to the table, there was the strangest looking, yet somehow intriguing, green thorny looking things on one of the platters.
All three of them could see by the perplexed look on my face, that I had never seen an artichoke before. Of course, they were very kind and helpful in teaching me how to pull off one leaf at a time, dip it in the melted butter and scrape it with my teeth. I remember that when I had finished all the leaves, the mom expertly cut out the artichoke heart for me. I was hooked, I was enamored, I was in love with artichokes!
We lived a block away from the intersection of Chaparral and Pima, just down from Scottsdale Community College. A year or two after my introduction to the artichoke, Artie the Artichoke was adopted as SCC’s mascot to express a difference of opinion between the students and the administration concerning budget priorities. I remember that even as an 11 or 12-year-old, I felt a special kinship to those students and was thrilled by their mascot choice.
Strange what you cling to as a kid!
I use bouquet garni for my steamed artichokes. You may recall that we made bouquet garni at last winter’s craft party. If you don’t have any one hand, just throw in a few sprigs of fresh parsley instead.
November 4, 2014 4 Comments
My BFF, Peggy, and I try to walk in the early morning hours at least 4 or 5 days a week. Either she drives to my house or I drive to her’s and we walk our neighborhoods.
When I entered her house a couple of weeks ago, I smelled something delicious. She said she had made Green Chile Stew for a family dinner.
From the smell alone, I knew I HAD to have the recipe. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned before, but Peggy’s a great cook. She didn’t have a written recipe but she did share that she’d found a new product at Trader Joe’s that made her stew super easy.
Hatch Valley Salsa! I’m not sure how long they’ll have the salsa in stores since Hatch chiles are seasonal, so get over there and grab a bunch while you can.
After our walk, I drove directly to Trader Joe’s and bought seven jars of the stuff!
Then … on the morning of the Craft Party, I browned up a bunch of pork and when Peggy came early to help me set up, I made her help me put the stew together. Below is the delicious result!
October 22, 2014 15 Comments
Our grandnephew, Greyson, spent the long weekend with us. He is 4 1/2 … so his parents, Tony and Amy, were along for the ride too. They are from Wisconsin. Tony is the son of Dave’s oldest brother, Roger. Amy is a dental hygienist and she had some continuing education classes to attend, so they made it into a mini-vacation.
On Friday, we met up with Tram, Steve, Zak and Zoey along with Raechel and Brooklyn at The Simple Farm for their Pumpkin Patch and Tour.
Greyson especially liked the goats, I have no photos to share of Grey enjoying the goats because I was holding Zak at the time. Holding babies always trumps photo taking!
On Saturday morning, I made pancake dippers for breakfast. Grey and Tony enjoyed them poolside. Well, not exactly pool “side” more like swim-up bar “side.”
I have posted about pancake dippers before, but the last time, I did not include a recipe. This time, I shall!
October 20, 2014 5 Comments
At the Craft Party last weekend, it may have been warm outside and most of the guests were wearing shorts and sundresses …. that doesn’t mean we can’t begin to dream about and enjoy the fun and flavors of fall and winter!
What the heck!??! We were making fall and winter crafts so we may as well eat food associated with the season! With that in mind, I made these tasty gingerbread muffins.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 8-ounces sour cream
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
Grease 12 muffin cups; set aside.
October 17, 2014 3 Comments
This is Rainy and the crafts she made at the Craft Party. Cheryl and Angie provided the Fall Wire Tray (with all the trimmings) as their craft and Sloane brought the Thankful Glitter Leaf Garland that Rainy chose to make.
Below is the second egg dish I served at the Craft Party. A quick note about it – leftovers are only good the day after. By the third day, the tomatoes have given off too much of their liquid and it gets soggy. If you don’t have a crowd of 10 to 12 to serve, feel free to cut the recipe in half and assemble in an 8-inch square baking dish, bake for the same amount of time.
Z & T Strata
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 green zucchini, ends trimmed then sliced in half diagonally, then thinly slice
- 1 yellow zucchini, ends trimmed then sliced in half diagonally, then thinly slice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups dry French bread cubes
- 3 cups shredded Swiss cheese (12 ounces)
- 8 eggs
- 3 cups milk
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup julienned fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet, melt butter over low heat. Use a brush and take some of the butter and grease a 3-quart baking dish; set the baking dish aside.
Add tomatoes and zucchini to skillet, season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 6 minutes, , stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to lose their firmness but do not allow them to pot; remove from heat.
October 16, 2014 5 Comments
The original craft that Tram planned to bring for the Craft Party was a very cool black and white-painted harlequin pumpkin. She and I looked at several options on Pinterest and we were both quite excited about it. Then… time passed and well, if you’ve read this blog for more than a few months, you know that Tram has adorable 7-month old twins, Zak & Zoey.
Yeah, I know! They are just about the cutest thing on this Earth! And to think that when they start talking up a storm, they will be calling me “Aunt Linda” – I’m super excited about that!
Anyhow, Tram has her hands more than full. As the party approached, I decided to take the pressure off and offer an easier craft option. One that I could help her with and one that was close to her strength. One with coffee! You also probably know that Tram and her husband, Steve, own Press Coffee Roasters.
So… I found some awesome bottles. Here are the bottles we used. Next, I gathered up all the ingredients needed – except some cinnamon sticks, and the coffee, of course, which I left to the expert! Somehow, between the two of us, we came up with the most popular craft at the party.
And not just one flavor, but three delicious options!
They come together in no time and make THE perfect hostess gift for the holidays. Or just a super cool thing for your own bar. Enjoy!
To make the Cranberry Infusion:
Gently remove the cork topper.
Place about 5 of each of the three varieties of cranberries in the bottle. Add 2 brown sugar cubes and 8 white rock sugar pieces. Tear 2 of the large pieces of the dried Mandarin fruit into the bottle.
Return the cork topper and add the Cranberry Infusion label.
(Trader Joe’s carries at least three varieties of cranberries. All have slightly different coloring and texture, so I bought 3 packages for added interest. You can use just one variety and drop in 15 cranberries of the same type.)
To make the Ginger-Cardamom Infusion:
Gently remove the cork topper.
Place 4 pieces of the Crystallized Ginger and 6 pieces of the Uncrystallized Ginger in the bottle. Add 2 brown sugar cubes and 8 white rock sugar pieces. Add 1 tablespoon Cardamom seeds to the bottle. Tear 2 of the large pieces of the dried Mandarin fruit into the bottle.
Return the cork topper and add the Ginger-Cardamom Infusion label.
(Same thing with the ginger. It would be perfectly fine to just use either ginger, but the two add a better look to the bottle with more variety and interest.)
To make the Espresso Infusion:
Gently remove the cork topper.
Place 2 tablespoons coffee beans (preferably Press Coffee!) in the bottle. Add 2 brown sugar cubes and 6 white rock sugar pieces. Next add 1 piece of vanilla bean (cut a vanilla bean in thirds and just add 1/3 of the bean) plus 1 piece of cinnamon stick, and 3 whole loves.
Return the cork topper and add the Espresso Infusion label.
October 15, 2014 5 Comments