February 28, 2011

And The Oscar Goes To...

My very favorite party of the year! An Academy Awards Viewing Party with a thematic menu, featuring courses inspired by each of the ten 'Best Picture' nominees. And this year, having teamed up with Amy, who made incredible ballots and film-inspired decor, it was the very best. I can't lie or feign modesty, this party gets me pretty excited and worked up. Going into the night, my favorite idea was for Inception: a Turducken (a thing inside of a thing inside of a thing)!! A close second: The King's Speech with Tongue Tea Sandwiches (surprisingly delicious). And the most fun? Toy Story 3's Little Kid Dessert Bar (see details and all other courses below). And new this year? A Documentary Drinks Menu (e.g. dirty martini for Inside Job and virgin mint tea for Restrepo). Amy printed mini film posters to label the food and placed movie stills throughout the party. Um, she also had a little Oscar stamp made and got pretty carried away with gold embossing (show-off). Favors? Popcorn and candy bags for a home movie night. If I could throw such a thematic party every week, I'd pretty much live in a state of ecstasy. I'm already excited to start going to movies and get inspired for next year!!!
The Menu

'Dancers' Crudites with Black Olive Tapenade and White Bean Dip'

'Cracked Out Crostini: Goat Cheese with Cracked Peppercorns and Cracked Fennel Seed'

'Gambas al Ajillo'

'Tongue Tea Sandwiches'

'Open Face-book Lobster Rolls'


'Deconstructed Deer Stew with Venison Sausages'

'Arm of Pork Burritos with Guacamole, Fresh Cheese and Pickled Red Onion'

'Chipotle Kid (Goat) Meatballs with So-Cal Garden Cactus Salad'

'Painting the Roses Red Slaw'

'True Grit Cakes with Whiskey Cowboy Beans'

'Little Kid Dessert Bar'
Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
Hostess Cupcakes
Rhubarb Pop Tarts
PB & J Cookie Sandwiches
Strawberry Fruit Leather
Dark Chocolate Pudding Cups

February 24, 2011

President's Day Sunday Supper

I really just wanted an excuse to throw a party and President's Day was the perfect excuse for an All-American Sunday Supper. I've been working a lot and miss my friends so my 'the more the merrier' attitude meant a big L shaped table and casual decor. Butcher paper, crayons and votives made for a playful table (thanks Amy for sewing the paper garland-kind of nuts!). Greg and I love eating at The Hitching Post in Buellton and every time we're there I imagine it's what my grandparents would consider a fancy dinner out. Their menu--always a dirty martini, always a crudites, always a shrimp cocktail with club crackers, always a baked potato with loads of chives, butter and sour cream--served as my inspiration for the meal. Plus, this retro feel was a brilliant excuse to bust out some Lipton onion soup mix--delicious!!
The Menu

dirty martini bar

homemade potato chips with lipton onion soup dip

old fashioned crudites with black olives and pepperoncini

bay shrimp cocktail on club crackers

for dinner

company pot roast with carrots, celery and onion

baked potato bar featuring russets and yams
sour cream, flowering chives, dill, apple smoked bacon, chipotle salsa, greek yogurt, hot sauce, tillamook cheddar

butter lettuces and peppery greens with lemon vinaigrette

chocolate pot de creme

the apres-fete (after party)
very fun to discover everyone's drawing the following morning (even though i was feeling slightly 'dehydrated'

February 14, 2011

Fancy. Fun.

It started with lobster tails. What would someone order as a side with lobster at a steak house? Creamed spinach. How do you divide creamed spinach into two dishes? How about mac & cheese and tomatoes stuffed with spinach? Done. For this 'Dinner at the Boss' House' menu we started with some classic passed hors d'oeuvres and ended with a whimsical ice cream sundae bar. In the middle, a classic lobster tail with retro sides. My mom suggested the tomatoes stuffed with bacon and spinach. Like most of her mom's "recipes", there is a combination of cheese, breadcrumbs and mayo. I embellish with some fresh herbs and feel like I've reinvented the epicurean wheel. Guess what never needs reinventing: bacon!!
The Menu


lemon herbed goat cheese on endive spears

wild mushroom crostini with pecorino romano

roasted shrimp with spicy horseradish cocktail sauce

to sit

little gems, romaine and radicchio with blood oranges, pink navels, tangerines, pomegranate seeds, candied pistachios and parmegiano reggiano

broiled lobster tails and claws with drawn butter

3 cheese macaroni and cheese

baked bacon and spinach stuffed tomatoes

sourdough with garlic herbed butter

to finish

ice cream sundae bar
hot fudge, fleur de sel caramel sauce, strawberry, mint chip, vanilla bean and chocolate ice creams, malt balls, peanut butter cups, chocolate chip cookie crumbles, roasted peanuts, slivered almonds, rainbow sprinkles, strawberries, cherries and whipped cream

Happy Valentine's

I'm a big dork. Fact. So it really shouldn't be shocking that I had an inner giggle every time I looked at my conversation heart-filled-votives in my window sill all month. They just make me happy!! Growing up my mom always had dishes of seasonal candies and treats abundant: jelly beans for Easter, candy corns in October and candy canes and spice drops for Christmas. Her house is always so tricked out for the holidays, I often feel inadequate: when will I ever acquire so much holiday decor? But I've realized that just candy-probably the easiest and cheapest holiday decorating option around --tells the story, and captures the spirit of each holiday. Now I just need to figure out a way to curb my sampling ways...Happy Valentine's Day.

February 9, 2011

Sweet & Sour Cucumber Slaw Recipe

serves 4-6

6-8 cucumbers, peeled
1 t. salt

1 C. white vinegar
1/4 C. sugar
2 T. rice wine

1/3 pound bay shrimp, optional

Halve cucumbers length wise and scrape out seeds. Slice thinly. Transfer to a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle the cucumbers with salt and let rest 3-4 hours n the refrigerator for liquid to drain.

In the meantime, combine vinegar, sugar and rice wine in a saucepan and boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to a serving bowl and chill thoroughly. To serve, divide between small bowls and garnish with bay shrimp, if desired.

Then, combine cucumbers with vinegar mixture and cover. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Enjoy.

February 6, 2011

Pregnancy Pickles

There were a few years there where I felt that most weekends were spent at friends' weddings. Now I'm entering the phase of pregnant friends. And I'm copying my Aunt Di (the queen of all things pickled and canned) who gives moms-to-be her famous spicy dill pickles to satisfy the classic pregnancy craving. I love these two easy pickling recipes because they work overnight and can last in the fridge up to a month: Spicy Dill Quick Pickles and Curry Quick Pickles. Plus, you can use any vegetables you want (carrots are delicious pickled with ginger and the curry brine). Have friends keep the mason jars so you can replenish for nine months, changing up the vegetables with the seasons.