Tuesday, November 8, 2016

It's My Turn!

I finally get to cook Thanksgiving Dinner for my family this year!! (Now I am going to try and write this post without any exclamation marks.)

Reflecting on my previous post - Dream Thanksgiving and Christmas Meals - I find that my menu has not changed.  I am sticking to the Pioneer Woman's Beautiful Brussels Sprouts, and my Mother's Party Mashed Potatoes.  I am still going to have only two pies. My Mother is going to make her Apple Pie, and I am going to order Chocolate Pecan Pie from Great Harvest, along with rolls.
Questions to contemplate:
1) Should I order my turkey from Midwood Smokehouse? It comes smoked and is probably phenomenal.
2) What wine should I buy?  Definitely on the list - two bottles of Biltmore Champagne, North Carolina at its finest.  Should I take advantage of the Harris Teeter 15% of a half dozen bottles this weekend? Most definitely.
Elisabeth has awoken from her mini nap.  Maybe I will just write mini posts now instead of waiting until I have a larger chunk of time. My appetite is back, and I have a lot to say.

(Also, I will throw away that Miso Paste in the refrigerator. I can't believe it has been over a year since it was purchased.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Salmon Salad with Herbed Yogurt

Salmon Salad with Herbed Yogurt

I wish I had a photo of our meal. It looked just like this.....  My parents visited from Cohasset, MA this week and helped out immensely with the children and the house. (Thank you!)  I was able to prepare this easy Salmon Salad with cucumbers, canned beans, lemons, prewashed spring mix lettuce, and grilled salmon. Went perfectly with the perfect 80 degree weather.  Low in carbs, and definitely a keeper!  

Hopes I Have for my Daughters

I started this blog last summer, when I had my two daughters in camp every day.  I see that I have not posted since February. This is because we are expecting daughter number three(!), and daughters one and two were only going to school three days a week.  Now they are back in camp!  I have my iced coffee, and I could not resist the computer.

Since we are expecting our third daughter, I thought I would write a list of expectations and hopes for them.
I hope you:
never get tattoos.  There should be no explanation needed.
enjoy reading.
love learning.
are respectful of your elders.
are kind to workers in the service industry.
write thank you notes.
appreciate nature.
go to church.

I realize this is only a short list. Don't want to make expectations too high!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Super Bowl Family Get Together

Normally, my brother in-law and sister in-law take on the burden of family entertaining during this great American pastime. But, they have a five month old, and it was "our turn" in the family cycle of entertaining, and I was up for the challenge.

The goal, an "easy" prepare-ahead meal that could be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

Result: meh.....

Chips and guacamole:  Bought.

Baked Potato Bar:  Made real bacon bits ahead of time - great. Bought shredded cheese (usually a big no-no for me, but with nine people eating, a necessity) and sour cream, and shredded some broccoli. Potatoes came out lovely. Well received and very-doable.

Chicken Wings:  Had to make this classic super bowl meal. I didn't eat them (can't look at chicken while pregnant....). Adults liked them. Kids liked them.  My daughter ate THREE.  Made the sauce in the morning.  Should have used aluminum foil on the pans. My husband is still soaking them two weeks later.  

Caesar Salad: My Mom's classic.  Made the dressing in the morning.  Have to write a separate post about this someday. Not my best....Mom can make it better.  

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert.  She who makes it gets to pick the flavor. Made ahead of time.  Fabulous and finished by all!

"Meh" explanation:

Positive:  The food was happily eaten by all (except my daughters won't eat potatoes that are not in the form of a fry).  The preparation was not difficult, with salad dressing, ice cream, chicken wing sauce, and potato ingredients all prepared ahead of time - only took about an hour in the morning. Meal presentation looked good. I am blessed with appropriate serving dishes and utensils, and coincidentally "Panther" colored plates.

Negative:  The dishes.....  what are we going to do with these.They took forever, an it was not because of plates, bowls, and glasses.  I HATE PAPER PLATES, BOWLS, AND CUPS. Not only do you feel guilty using them, they are not the items that take masses of time putting in the dishwasher. Five minutes tops for all those dishes.  It is cleaning and drying the cooking and serving dishes, and figuring out how to store the leftovers (I HATE leftovers, mostly for this reason) that took took over an hour and left me in shambles.  I could not move. There needs to be a solution to this problem.  I am not entertaining until summer.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Finally, A Dinner Party!

The husband and I used to host many dinner parties when we lived in NYC.  First, I loved to cook. Second, it was cheaper than eating out. Third, people were readily available and always willing to come over. And finally, you didn't need to hail a cab home.  Even after we had our first child, we invited people over for dinner so they could share stories from humanity with us and maybe bounce our baby while we sipped a drink.  Dinner parties were a win win.

Then, we moved to Charlotte. While we have made many friends, we have also had another child, and said children have grown into wild animals who have taken over our house.  Our friends also have young children, and inviting parents and children for a sit down dinner party/booze fest around dinner time, well......you can imagine.

Then, a few months ago, some friends of ours invited us over for dinner. The kids ate (a bit) and ran around like wild animals in princess dresses, and we drank wine and ate chili.  When our hosts managed to kick us out, we went home to our clean kitchen, and, lo and behold, the kids crashed.  I started thinking that a dinner party might be future possibility.

So, we invited our previous hosts to our house, and they were willing to come!  While the kids ran around in princess dresses destroying the upstairs, we were able to sit uninterrupted for ten minutes while we sipped drinks and ate with real napkins.  It was practically civil!

The following was served (to the adults):

Steak Teriyaki  - A family go-to that originated with my Mother. Always a hit! The link is to a similar recipe.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad - I know that it is Winter, but I could not resist. I paid way too much for tomatoes, and they still were not great.

Caesar Salad - I used the pre-made salad mixes and added extra croutons.

Warm French bread - People of my generation really don't eat bread anymore. Was useful for the kids, but we had a lot leftover.  

Almond Cake - Made this for the first time. Giada DeLaurentis' recipe. Lots of holding the hand held electric mixer (when I get more counter space, you can bet on the first item I will be acquiring!).  I also used white cornmeal instead of yellow. Tasted amazing.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Wine Curmudgeon's 2015 $10 Hall of Fame is published!

One of my favorite wine bloggers, the Wine Curmudgeon, has just published is 2016 $10 Hall of Fame.  Some of the wines on the list that we enjoy everyday are:

In the words of the Wine Curmudgeon himeself:

" Ch√Ęteau Font-Mars Picpoul, a French white that “is everything picpoul is supposed to be.”
• The $5 Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red: “All I can say is that the Wine Curmudgeon is as surprised as you are.” I drink this wine so often, and marvel at how it does for $5 what others can’t do at $10."
The Picpoul is available at A Taste for Wine and Spirits, in Cohasset, MA (only place I have seen it).  The Rene Barbier is found at our grocery store and Trader Joe's,
The Wine Curmudgeon also lists these wines we consistently buy and enjoy:  
- Bogle brands. Always well made, consistent, and inexpensive.  Available most places.   
- Little James Basket Press wines - available at Whole Foods (at least here in Charlotte).  
Anyway, enjoy searching for these wines. Wine-Searcher.com is a great web site to start!  Many are not available in North Carolina, so I have not been able to try as many as I have wanted.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dream Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners (Food only)

I have come to the realization recently that I will probably not have the opportunity to host a holiday for a very long time.  The husband and I are grateful that we still love our families and enjoy spending our holidays with them. Since, thankfully, we still have grandparents in the picture who spend holidays with our parents, we must travel to our childhood hometowns to break bread and give thanks with those we love.  And while I am not going to complain about the fabulous rib roast and mashed potatoes I devoured at my parents' house, I will always be taking notes for the time when I get to host a holiday meal.

Therefore, here is my "present" dream Thanksgiving menu:

Beautiful Brussels Sprouts - The Pioneer Woman - Brussels Sprouts, butternut squash, red onions, roasted. What more do you need? - oh - maybe some pomegranate seeds!  No more green bean casserole.

Turkey - obviously. Simply made, perhaps following the instructions on the store-bought turkey. Might spring for an organic turkey, but will have to settle on ogling the stack at Whole Foods.

Gravy - via Mark Bittman. Simple, perfect gravy. Little fuss.

Cranberry Sauce - a simple, fresh, recipe, perhaps from the back of the Ocean Spray Cranberry package.

Party Mashed Potatoes - I need to do a whole post on these. Old school recipe of my Mother's.

Dressing - I would have to peruse many recipes - but it would have to involve fresh (stale) bread, and mushrooms, or maybe apples and sausage. I have NEVER made dressing before. And that is because I have NEVER hosted. I will say one thing though, it will NOT be that Pepperidge Farm gray dung calorie bomb.

Two pies - Apple and Pumpkin. Preferably bought. I don't eat pie crust. With HOMEMADE whipped cream. If you don't have time to do this, you should not be hosting Thanksgiving at all.

And, that is it. Maybe, some roasted squash, or sweet potatoes, if I can be convinced.

Dream Christmas Menu: 

Beef Tenderloin:  I have never had the opportunity to roast one of these. Though, the rib roast we had this Christmas made me question this decision.  I have never roasted one of those either.

Mashed Potatoes:  Lots of butter.

Roasted Vegetables - either squash, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables. Whatever looks the freshest.

A salad with feta, nuts, and dried cranberries, with homemade dressing.

Chocolate Cake with whipped cream for dessert. Just because.

Caveat for Christmas Menu:  If I was hosting a large group - ie - 10 or more people, I would probably do a baked ham with individual rolls, a squash casserole (most likely this one - from the NY Times), good ole' party mashed potatoes, and a big salad.

Wine choices will have to be a completely different article entirely!