Thursday, June 30, 2011

Baby Shower , Party Planning

Parties, I love them! Big, small, anywhere in between. Over the years we have only had 1 or 2 bombs, I don't credit success to myself but to the fact that I have great friends and fabulous family.

 The only thing I feel qualified to do here is give you some tips to ease the stress and keep details in some semblance of order. The first thing is to detail, on paper, what exactly you want for the event. My younger daughter was in charge of this special event but enlisted me to do all the food. In turn, I asked my friend, Heather, to help because Heather has a special flare for presentation, and Linda and her daughter Sylvia to help assemble and serve because they are the very special kind of people who can deal with flaky women like me even when we don't know what we are doing.
After Heather and I met for lunch to decide on the menu, it was our excuse to go out and have lunch somewhere quiet, I started my lists. I pulled out recipes for everything we had planned and multiplied how many of each I would need according to the number of guests, I love sticky notes.
From here I was able to make the grocery list. This is an excellent way to stay organized especially if you need to pick up ingredients in a couple trips, staples first then the last minute items. Just check off the items as you purchase them and set them aside properly labeled so no one mistakenly uses them. 
The menu for the baby shower:
Cucumber sandwiches
Egg salad sandwiches
Greek salad with citrus vinaigrette
Assorted tea breads (blueberry, lemon, zucchini)
Iced tea, Lemonade
Cream puffs
After making the menu, list all the components to each recipe, like this:
Cucumber sandwiches-Bridge rolls, cucumbers, mayo
So for this sandwich I needed to make the rolls the day before and slice the cucumbers the night before. I had a separate list detailing what to do day before, night before and that morning. A list of kitchen items to take is necessary if you are not using your own home, this should include the serving dishes and table ware needed for every item served. If you are having more than a couple helpers they should have a list of the things for which they will be responsible. 
Do all the prep work possible the day before, especially the baking.

I have found that there should be more quick, easy components than complicated. If you are plating the main  food items in the kitchen then serving each person after seating then you should have any breads or toppings/condiments on the table so you are not running all over. I placed a plate of the assorted breads on each table so the guests could help themselves.
I have to mention that Leah had decorated the tables with great care and made lovely centerpieces from little buckets and homemade sugar cookies on sticks. She made beautiful invitations, planned the guest list, made all the decorations (except the balloons) and rented a room. She was amazing!
Drinks were place on the table just as people began to arrive so the ice would still be fresh.

In the kitchen the sandwiches were assembled as someone else arranged the rest of the food on the plates. Heather had the salad arranged so perfectly on the plate, truly artistic, you think I'm kidding, no, every detail, even how the cheese was sprinkled on top. Incredible.

We had help with the tables and chairs too. Dave spent quite awhile untangling the balloons, I would have lost patience and cut them apart. 
So, here it is in an organized list, just for fun.
1. Stay organized, preferably on paper. 
2. Have help if you are going to do anything large.
3. Divide your lists into time segments.
4. Have all your ingredients gathered before you begin baking.
5. Have a transportation plan if you are not working at home.
6. Get a good nights sleep the night before. 
7. Have fun with it, that's what it's about!
I hope this gives encouragement.
If you have a question , ask, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blueberry Scones!

I said I wouldn't post another scone recipe but these were really good and a little different than the rest using both cream and butter, half of each so this is about the same amount of fat as the others. Very light and tender crumb, bursting with fresh blueberries, glazed or not they were well worth trying.
The sun was streaming in the window by the time I drizzled glaze over these, perfect, makes for very pretty shadows.
2 cups sifted, all purpose flour (I used spelt)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup cream, plus 3 tablespoons, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 375F.
Grease or line a sheet pan, set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together.
Cut in the butter
until it looks like coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the 1/2 cup cream, egg and vanilla,
add to the dry ingredients with a large spoon or fork.
Stir until just combined, over mixing will result in a dry, tough scone.
Stir or fold in the blueberries,
 I used my hands, clean of course, to incorporate with minimal squishing of berries.
Place dough on greased sheet pan and pat into a disc.
Cut into 8 or more pieces.
Brush with remaining cream,
bake for 18 minutes.
Lovely. Yummy. I need more vocabulary.
If you want to glaze this beauty, use your favorite glaze or the one I used follows.
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
enough cream or milk to make drizzling consistency.
Stir this all together and drizzle on top after cool.

Yes! Have to test to see if it's edible...
MMmffoufuool, sorry, I shouldn't type with my mouthful.
Now go make it, enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Roll Ups-Quick, Easy, Healthy

I had some chicken I had cooked in salsa left in the fridge and needed a quick meal ready on time for someone who was dashing in and leaving again.
This doesn't look like much -here, try this photo-
This was so good and the best part is that you can change the ingredients to suite you or what's in your fridge.
I don't have a photo of the chicken because it was blurry and I didn't realize it until just now. But...
(diced orange pepper, tomato, cilantro, avocado),
sour cream, hot sauce, cheese.
Now, just roll this baby up and enjoy!
You could use beef, or just beans for vegetarian, skip the cheese and sour cream for vegan, add corn or jalapenos for sweet/spicy flavor or adobo sauce for a smokey taste. Or instead of diced avocados use guacamole. Loads of options, I'm sure you can think of a few yourself, let me know what you like so I can try it!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Perfectly Peachy Pound Cake

I got the original recipe for the pound cake from my mail carrier, Miss Margie, she is such a sweet a spicy sort of way. One of those people you love to be around, a wonderful sense of humor, genuine compassion for others and a sparkling personality.
This is good with a cup of coffee or beside ice cream after dinner, just make it, you'll thank me.
I increased the salt and added peaches, other than that it is the same recipe she gave me a few years ago. 
So make it with or without the peaches, it's just that good it can carry itself.
1 pound butter (only real butter)
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup milk
4 cups all purpose flour (I used spelt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped peaches
Generously butter and flour a tube pan or 3 loaf pans, set aside.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Beat the butter until fluffy, add the sugar and beat until light in color.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add milk.
Add flour, one cup at a time, mixing just until incorporated. 
Add salt and vanilla. 
With a large spoon, turn the chopped peaches into the batter--gently.
Pour into pans. 
Bake 50-55 minutes or until the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10-15 minutes, remove to a cooling rack. 
Cool completely before slicing or it will crumble.
Thanks Miss Margie! 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Butterfinger Shortbread with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

I served this for lunch with some new friends, the fellowship was as sweet as the dessert even though I forgot to make coffee...sure could have used a cup of coffee.
The shortbread was so tender and crisp, truly a melt in your mouth cookie. Paired with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel ice cream sauce, perfectly simple for family or company.
Butterfinger Shortbread Recipe:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted all purpose flour (regular or spelt work very well, I have not tried rice yet)
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1  2.1oz Butterfinger candy bar, chopped
Preheat oven to 325F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, sift together next 3 ingredients.
 Blend dry ingredients into butter just to combine.
Stir in the chopped candy bar.

Press into an ungreased tart pan or 9x9" baking dish.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden.

Carefully remove from pan and cut while slightly warm.

Set aside to fully cool before serving.

Serve plain with coffee or tea, beside ice cream, or dream up something completely different.
I think I will try a Skor or Heath bar next time...yum.