Our soup at the European Dinner Party uses one of my favorite vegetables – the artichoke.
Fresh artichokes are not the easiest vegetable to work with, but when you use canned (or frozen) artichoke hearts, they are a snap to use.
November 7, 2013 2 Comments
If you know anything about my entertaining style, you know that I love to offer a “Signature” or “Welcome” cocktail when my guests arrive.
For the European Dinner Party, I decided I needed two. That may seem a bit excessive for only four people, but I honestly couldn’t decide between apple or pomegranate on that beautiful autumn evening, so I settled on both.
Sangria is a Spanish and Portuguese beverage that is traditionally served throughout Spain and Portugal during the hot summer months. It is made with summer fruits and juices.
I figured, why not use fall and winter fruits and juices and serve it all year long? Ole!
Spiced Apple Cider Sangria
1 bottle Pinot Grigio
2 cups spiced apple cider
1/2 cup brandy
2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and then chopped
2 Bosc pears, cored and then chopped
1 cup club soda, chilled
Combine all ingredients together, except the club soda, in a large serving pitcher.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Pour sangria into ice filled glasses; use a slotted spoon to add a few of the apple and pear pieces to each glass. Then top each with a splash of the chilled club soda.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
Note: I found the sparkling pomegranate soda for the next recipe at Trader Joe’s.
November 6, 2013 2 Comments
The recipe for these marinated chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, comes from Real Simple Magazine. I tweaked a tiny bit.
This was appetizer #2 for my European Dinner Party. I used the chickpeas as the centerpiece for a Spanish tapas plate, which also included prosciutto, Manchego cheese, olives, Iberico cheese, salami, and baguette slices.
November 5, 2013 2 Comments
A couple of weekends ago, we had dear friends over for an intimate dinner party. There were just four of us and it could not have been a more lovely and relaxing evening.
Both the husband and the wife of this chic and well-traveled couple are fabulous cooks – so obviously I wasn’t planning on serving them hot dogs and baked beans.
At first I was thinking French cuisine. Maybe Italian … or what about Spanish?
Oh, forget it, I’ll just do a bit of everything. From that, my Eclectic European Dinner Party was born.
I’ll be posting a different recipe from the menu- including appetizers, cocktails, soup, salad, and main course – each day this week.
First up: Antipasto Numero Uno….
November 4, 2013 1 Comment
Once I made the decision to serve chili at the 2013 Fall Craft Party, I knew I wanted one with beef and one with chicken. I already have a Favorite Chicken Chili recipe, but if I made that, then I wouldn’t have a new recipe to blog about!
And, that my friends, is why I came up with this recipe.
Because I’m always thinking about you, your happiness and well-being – your desire for new and tasty recipes. That’s how I roll. It is who I am.
OK, enough of that, on to the recipe!
October 23, 2013 3 Comments
Are you looking for an easy and family friendly side dish?
Look not further, this is it.
It’s as easy as steaming and mashing a whole head of cauliflower, core and tender leaves included.
Add a little Parmesan, serve with chicken or fish and dinner is on the table in no time.
October 15, 2013 No Comments
Even though I may be a food industry professional who generally avoids big chain restaurants, even I have to admit that Olive Garden’s all-you-can-eat salad and bread-sticks are hard to pass up!
Not that we are frequent diners at Olive Garden. In fact, I believe the only times we’ve eaten there in the past decade have been on road trips.
This is the salad I made for work-weary Marissa and Jeff on Friday night. I have a few more photos of the apartment kitchen too. Here you can see that 6′ 3″ Jeff doesn’t have to stretch much to touch both ends of the kitchen at the same time.
After I complained about how dark the sink area was at night, Dave went to Costco and bought a cool light strip that Jeff and I installed around the kitchen and over the sink. It even has a remote and you can have a full-color light show! Most importantly, it really lights up the place.
Lastly, Marissa used the velvet pumpkins I made for her last year, to cover up and camouflage the TV cords and components on her mantel. Cute!
And most wonderful of all… I found the Jarrahdale pumpkins, that I so love, at Marissa’s corner market which is only two blocks from her house. I smuggled home three of them in our luggage! So excited!
October 8, 2013 3 Comments
We return later today from a glorious long weekend, spent with Marissa and her boyfriend, Jeff, in San Francisco and Napa.
Marissa had a very busy and stressful work week, so I made dinner on Friday night in her very small kitchen. When I say small, I mean really small!
In May, Marissa moved from the Outer Sunset neighborhood to Pacific Heights. Part of the tradeoff to live closer to the center of the city was less space.
The closet-sized kitchen is only 7 feet wide by 10 feet long, with less than 25 square feet of walkable floor space and only 3 linear feet of counter space. No dishwasher, no garbage disposal, and a smaller than average sized refrigerator.
Speaking of the refrigerator… remember this Friday Funny I posted last week?
It is Marissa’s reality! Here is her refrigerator…
… and here is how mine typically looks. Just a bit of a contrast!
So, what did I make for dinner in the tiny kitchen, you ask?
After a quick trip to Trader Joe’s, I unpacked it all, which took up every inch of counter space, then I proceeded to make a one pot (no drain) pasta dinner, rounded out with salad and garlic bread. The salad recipe will be posted tomorrow.
The one pot Marissa owned, that was big enough, had a lid with holes, for draining pasta. I needed a solid lid so I covered the pot with foil, then added the lid, for a tight seal.
October 7, 2013 6 Comments
I can not begin to tell you how difficult I find it to even think about decorating this house for fall. It is still in the high 90′s during the day. Even attempting to place a real pumpkin outside would be asking for disaster.
At least the mornings and late evenings are finally cooling off to the low 70′s. That helps a little.
Plus, one of my favorite areas to decorate for the season is the front entry.
Today, it looks like this.
Hmm, at least the “caution” cones are a bright pumpkin orange. That might be all the entry decorating we get this year.
No matter ~ I vow to dig out the fall and Halloween decorations today and then do something with them.
The morning and evening cooler temps did instill in me the urge to make a double batch of yummy fresh corn chowder. A double batch because I wanted to share with my very generous neighbor, Cheryl.
A few days ago, Cheryl anonymously dropped off culinary treasures at my front door (yes, she tromped through the dirt to get there). I don’t know for sure if she meant for the gift to be anonymous, but I wasn’t home and she left it with Connor.
Not surprisingly, Connor had no idea who Cheryl was, all he said when I ask who dropped it off was, “I don’t know, she was thin and pretty.”
Oh, thanks Connor, that describes all my neighbors!
After a little detective work on my part, Cheryl fessed up.
This is Cheryl at the Christmas Crafts Class back in December 2012. On that note – watch for info tomorrow about my upcoming Fall Crafts & Decor Class …
So what was the culinary treasure that Cheryl gifted me with?
There were three of them!
Connor was home … so coincidentally there were three of us.
I ate one, and immediately hid the other two – eventually eating all three.
Connor did not know what was wrapped in the towel he had accepted.
Dave never knew they even existed.
They were mine. All mine. And they were delicious!
Thank you, Cheryl!
September 30, 2013 6 Comments
Seriously! This is not a want, this is a need.
Construction, permits, late sub-contractors, inspections, failed inspections, rescheduling, early morning noise, dirt constantly at the front door, men, some men who act like little boys, “the city” and re-inspections.
I’ve been up since 5:45 AM, it is now 7:00 … and I need a cocktail! I did not have any alcohol (meaning a glass of wine with dinner) last night or the night before or the night before that. I am overdue and entitled!
I am going to throw caution and good sense to the wind and imbibe in a morning drink – I deserve it and I believe it will make construction more bearable.
September 27, 2013 5 Comments