Using some simple tips I made a luxurious lunch inn little time
Sorry again for a week in between posts. It was one of those weeks that just flew by. I’ve been busy and happy and more than a little bit tired (the Olympics threw off my sleep schedule badly). Anyway, I’ve been having a lot of fun working on my youtube channel and movie blog. I am almost at 1,000 subscribers so if you aren’t subscribed help me out! 🙂 I have particularly enjoyed doing podcasts with friends. My friend Tom and I are almost finished reviewing all the Star Trek movies (that’s 13). The last one will be this week.
I also posted my Disney Canon video of Hunchback of Notre Dame and my friend Christine felt really differently. We did a podcast and talked about our differences. I’m really proud of it and how it came out. It shows to the internet you can disagree without being disagreeable.
On non-youtube front there has been lots of stuff going on. The biggest news is my parents have officially moved to Utah. There was definitely a time when this would have annoyed me, having my parents so close. But now I’m actually really excited about it. It’s nice to have them close by so I can drop by and visit and have support when I need it. I’ve also enjoyed being close to Sam and Madeline my siblings who will now be living close to me. I went to movie screenings with both of them last week (went with Madeline to Kubo and the Two Strings– fabulous. And Sam to Morgan– not good). I’m really excited for the years to come and having all of that family support!
Other fun development is I’ve started entertaining a little bit more. I had people from my new singles ward who all live by me come over to watch the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics. I got Trader Joes appetizers from all over the world! I was having so much fun I didn’t even take a picture. 🙂
I also went to my blogger book club last week where we read the graphic novel One Dead Spy which was very charming history book for kids. Then yesterday I had 4 of my friends over for my smaller book club where we talked about The Martian. The ladies all seemed to like it even if it did have a little more bad language than they are used too. It was so much fun because I had freeze dried ice cream and tang for the treats! Perfect for your astronauts!
So that’s what has been going on. I’m very busy at work creating a game day campaign and my channel and blogging takes up most of my free time but I love doing what I’m doing.
What do you guys have going on in your life? Anything exciting? Let me know. 🙂
Also if you have any ideas for a regular series I could do on this blog let me know. I was doing the Teaser Tuesday book reviews but they didn’t seem to get much attention, so I stopped. I could review books or music. Something simple I could do each week.
I’ve been having a great time the last few days. My sister Anna is here for a visit after having been in Japan for the last year. It has been great catching up and spending time together. As a special treat for her visit I decided I wanted to throw a little party.
I love entertaining but had gotten a little burnt out last year and so hadn’t done much. I also got a game from a kickstarter I sponsored called The Jane Game. It is all based on Jane Austen and was done by a woman here in Utah. I also got a party pack as a perk for my kickstarter, which I hadn’t used. It seemed like the perfect time to combine both needs and have a Jane Austen Tea Party!
The party turned out really well. I had teas/hot cocoa to choose from with sweeteners and cream. Then for food we had chicken salad croissants, cucumber sandwiches, meringue cookies, strawberries, shortbread and two treats from bake 360.
I think it all looked very pretty and I enjoyed putting it all together. I also dressed up in as close to a regency dress as I have! Most importantly in any party I enjoyed spending time with my friends and catching up since I don’t get to see any of them as much as I would like.
After visiting we played the Jane Game and it was a lot of fun. And I am proud to say none of us ended up as old maids! We also learned that all of us need to brush up on our Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. I’m seeing a movie night in our future.
Overall the party was a great success and everyone seemed to have a good time. I feel encouraged to try again and get back to entertaining regularly. It’s a part of my life I really missed and had been feeling very discouraged about it last year. It seemed so hard to get anyone together for anything that I wondered if my party planning days were over. Today let’s me know it’s not.
Hurray! I think Miss Austen would approve. 🙂
Happy St Patricks Day! I love entertaining and finding an excuse to celebrate and today I celebrated St Patricks Day a day early.
I also got to celebrate using my pressure cooker for the first real time! It’s pretty intimidating putting it all in there, hoping you have it right and then hearing it whistle and sputter.
It sounded like it was about ready to explode the whole time but I didn’t peak and after an hour my corned beef and cabbage was looking good and tender (normally takes hours, so the pressure cooker was a success!). I finished off rubbing it in brown sugar and roasting in the oven so it got crystallized and sweet.
I added mashed potatoes made with sour cream, milk, russet potatoes and butter to the meal and it was delicious! (See recipe below)
My cousin Danielle and her husband Corey came and my sister and her roommate Becca. In between dinner we played Balderdash and then Danielle brought a yummy cheesecake. All in all it was a great and delicious night!
Btw, according to Wikipedia St Patrick’s Day is a day of feasting to commemorate the arrival of Christianity into Ireland. What better way to celebrate then by feasting with friends on Sunday.
Life is good and I hope you all have a wonderful day and week.
Top of the morning!
Pressure Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
3 lb corned beef brisket
1 large green cabbage
1 bag baby carrots (or 3 carrots peeled and diced)
2 apples diced
1 onion chopped
1 packet of pork rub seasoning (I used this brown sugar rub I got in my Tyler Florence fancy box. It is for pork but worked great with the corned beef)
brown sugar and agave for roasting
Put apple, cabbage, carrots, onion in bottom of pressure cooker.
Cover beef with spice mix on all sides, put on top of veggies. Add water until just gets to the bottom of the beef.
Put pressure cooker on high for about 10 minutes and then turn to low (for me it was a level 4 on the stove).
Let cook on low for an hour and 15 more minutes.
Then take meat out and rub with brown sugar and drizzle on some agave. Put in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes until brown sugar is crystalized and bubbly (don’t let it burn!)
Make sure to cut it against the grain and as thinly as possible to keep it from being tough.
Serve veggies and meat.
8 russet potatoes peeled and diced
1 cup sour cream
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup of milk
salt and pepper
Cook potatoes till tender then mash adding milk, butter and sour cream to taste. If I’m going to splurge and eat potatoes I make them really good but it’s up to you.
The downside to using the pressure cooker is that it is too watery to create any kind of gravy but the sour cream in the mashed potatoes made them flavorful enough on their own. You could also add garlic if you wanted.
So, that was my fun night. What did you guys do this weekend? Anything fun? And don’t worry. I will be wearing green on the actual holiday. In fact, check out the youtube channel because I will be opening a very special My Ireland Box in honor of the day. So fun!
Recently Before Midnight came out to great acclaim. It is the third in a trilogy of movies starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. They start out with Before Sunrise in 1995, then Before Sunset in 2004 and just recently Before Midnight in 2013.
They are very simple, but lovely movies. It starts out with an American man played by Hawke and a french woman played by Delpy meeting on a train from Budapest to Vienna. He is finishing up 2 weeks travel after being dumped by his girlfriend in Madrid and has an early morning flight out of Vienna. They begin talking on the train and on a whim decide to spend the next 14 hours together. They visit a ferris wheel, a graveyard, a church, restaurants, parks, etc but mostly they just talk. Talk about what they want out of life. What they hate about the world, their parents, and the fears of the future.
It is dialogue that feels real and natural. The chemistry is perfect. I can’t help but think of teh scores of lame romantic comedies that involve convoluted premises to get the character together such as bets, articles, challenges, or unrealistic work situations. You don’t need any of that when you have good characters who live and fall in love! This my friends is how you do a romantic movie!
Keeping in the European mood I made a cheese plate. It was really fun. I got most of the food at Pirate O’s a local gourmet food shop. These types of platters are great because they give the appearance of a lot of work when truly it was just opening containers and putting them on a plate. No work at all.
Starting at the top we had a swiss cheese, blue cheese, salami with herbs de provence, irish cheddar and apricot stilton (our favorite). The dips are a bruscheta topping and a salmon spread (both excellent). Oh and we had gluten free crackers to keep all stomachs happy.
Doesn’t that sound like the most delightful evening? Come with us when we watch Before Sunset and then go to the movies to see Before Midnight.
So everyone knows I love entertaining and making food look beautiful. The item I’ve probably had the most practice on over the years are fruit and vegetable trays. I used to work for BYU catering where we made hundreds of fruit trays. It was there I learned how to cut a pineapple and could get a pineapple cored and cut in about a minute.
Soon after college I got introduced to the Barefoot Contessa and her amazing fruit platters always filled me with glee. They just looked so pretty :). Granted she has food stylists and a bevy of helpers (not too mention quite the budget) but I think if you invited Ina Garten to a party she’d bring about as pretty a fruit tray as shown in the pictures. Incidentally I wonder if Ina Garten’s friends are terrified to invite her over to eat. How could you measure up?
Anyway, I started a diet on Monday and had to bring a treat to activity days for the young girls at church. (Age 8-10). I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t derail my diet and as I had been a slacker leader the last few months store bought seemed too lame. So I decided to put together a fruit tray with my famous chocolate yogurt dip (so good!).
I must say I think it is my finest fruit tray creation yet:
The fruit tray included strawberries, cherries, envy apples, banana and just for fun star fruit. I had my chocolate dip (recipe below) and some store-bought caramel sauce (I’ve never quite mastered homemade caramel sauce).
I didn’t know if the girls would like the dark chocolate sauce but I think you can tell from this after shot that they liked it!
Here are Ina Garten’s fruit tray tips:
“Once the base is set, you can add any kind of fruit that’s available.
I like to have one thing that is taller than the rest, such as a large bunch of grapes or a decoratively cut papaya, to give the platter height.
Then I add raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and fresh figs in casual but organized groups. The platter can look like a bowl of M&M’s if there are too many colors scattered with no order.
Visually, your eye needs to have a focal point and to be able to see each type of fruit.
After all the fruit is arranged, I add flat green leaves around the outside of the fruit, to set off the colors. Use lemon and galax leaves from your florist, or fig leaves and grape leaves from your garden. Make sure they are pesticide-free and well washed.”
Some day I will be so on the ball I have lemon leaves on my trays but I’m proud of my attempt. I think even kids respond better to something that is presented beautifully and it really doesn’t taken any more effort than throwing it on a plate. Ok maybe a tiny bit more effort but hardly anything.
Here’s the recipe for the chocolate sauce. Its super good. This makes a lot of sauce.
Chocolate Yogurt Sauce
3 Lindt Dark Chocolate Bars- Lindt has tons of flavors including roasted almond, sea salt, chili, mint etc. They are the best!
1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt
2-3 tbsp whole milk
heat chocolate over double boiler until melted. Add milk, mix together over heat. Will get a little thicker as it heats up.
Add yogurt once its cooled down.
Since I was making this for kids I added about a tsp of agave to make it a little sweeter.
You can add chopped nuts, toffee bits or whatever you like. Can dip anything in it. Shortbread is amazing!
I made enough this time that I am setting little servings of it aside and freezing them for a quick treat.
As best as I can calculate on myfitnesspal.com these servings have 120 calories, 18 carbs, 8 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 11 grams sugar.
As I mentioned in my last post I had a little gathering today to celebrate the Olympics and watch some great athletics with my friends. We decided to make healthy appetizers for the party and I think we came up with a pretty good spread:
Have you ever seen the movie Mermaids? Not a great movie but in it the mother cooks only appetizers. I think that would not be a bad way to live. You can pack so much flavor into a little bite. The 2 appetizers I made were cucumbers with lentil spicy hummus and apricots with goat cheese and almonds. The recipe for the apricots I got from the blog The Reluctant Entertainer. A simple but delicious recipe.
Recipe: Apricots and Goat Cheese Bites
Summary: Makes about 20 bites. I always double the recipe.
- 2 oz. goat cheese at room temperature
- 1 tsp. milk or cream
- 20 dried apricots (preferably from Trader Joeâ€™s for the best flavor and tartness)
- 20 almonds
- 1-2 tsp. honey
- Place the apricots on a platter.
- Mix the goat cheese and milk or cream until smooth.
- Put a spoonful on each apricot.
- Top with a whole almond.
- Drizzle with honey.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
The cucumbers are just sliced cucumbers with spicy lentil hummus from Eat Well Enjoy Life Hummus. It is expensive but very delicious and good for you! I like they say ‘a new hummus experience’ on the label. I didn’t know you could have a hummus experience but there you go!
My pictures of the group turned out fuzzy but here’s some of the girls:
Thanks everyone for coming! So fun to cheer on the US team in all their success today. 🙂
I’ve mentioned on this blog that I have done cooking lessons for my sister and her friends. I love entertaining, cooking and teaching others. It is fun to just cook together with others. My sister is gone to Japan but Taylor and I have kept in touch via facebook. She asked if I could give her a lesson minus Anna and I said why not! (I told Anna that she is more than welcome to hang out with any of my friends and she laughed 🙂 ).
So we decided to make shrimp tacos with a cole slaw made with a light vinaigrette. The shrimp was fresh from Harmons and rubbed with chili powder, cumin, cayenne, black pepper and paprika. Then they were cooked in a cast iron skillet with a little bit of lime juice to deglaze. The cole slaw was made with purple cabbage, cilantro, red bell pepper, radishes, with a vinaigrette of champagne vinegar, agave, lime juice, olive oil.
The taco was made with corn tortillas, and then topped with cole slaw and cotija cheese (new to me, yum!) and avocado. The shrimp was spicy so you didn’t need a lot of other flavors in the toppings. It was very fresh, light and flavorful.
If anyone wants to do other cooking lessons let me know. I love exploring different cultures (our last cooking lesson was Chinese food. Yum!). As any teacher will attest you learn more from the preparation and teaching than your students ever do. My kitchen is really small but we make it work.
I had an interesting experience today. There is a family in my ward who I had greeted but didn’t know very well (that’s true for most of the family’s in my ward!). Especially without a ward activity I don’t feel like I’ve had a chance to really get to know people. Last week being Easter a number of people asked me to their home for dinner because they wanted to make sure I had some place to go for the holiday. I had a lovely evening with one of those families but another one I said ‘please invite me over another time. I’d love it.’.
So this week I saw the Mom of the family and said ‘would you like to come to dinner tonight? We’d love to have you. It’s totally up to you’.
My immediate reaction was ‘I don’t want to be a bother. I have food at home. I don’t need to bother them.’ but then I reasoned ‘She is inviting me, so why not?’
With a shrug I said ‘sure. That’s so nice. Thank you.’
I offered to bring something, we chatted and then I joined them later for dinner. We had a wonderful meal with her in-laws and the whole family. It’s fun to go to someone’s house because I can have just a little bit of food I don’t normally indulge in because I can’t make a whole batch for myself. For example, she had rolls that were big and fluffy. I could never make a batch of rolls because I would eat too many on multiple days!
In the course of our conversation she said ‘I was pleasantly surprised when you said yes. I think that shows great determination to accept an invitation from a stranger who you don’t know very well’.
What I didn’t tell her is that I’d almost said no but living alone has taught me to take advantage of the social opportunities presented before me and gather with others when you have the chance. Its interesting to me that I would have held off from having a pleasant experience where I wasn’t a bit of a bother out of a fear of breaching some kind of social protocol. Do we fear that the offer is not really sincere? Kind of like when someone asks you how are you doing and you just expect a ‘fine’ in response even if their world is falling apart?
Do we worry that we really will be a bother even if they don’t think we are at the moment of the request? Or are we just too prideful to accept an offer when it is presented?
Why do we hold ourselves aloft from positive experiences because of a mysterious social fear? Have you noticed yourself doing this? Someone offers you help or says ‘I’d like to do _____ sometime’ but you never pursue their request out of an embarrassment or you outright refuse knowing it would be a good experience?
It’s a funny part of human nature that’s for sure. Why do we hold ourselves off from good experiences? Strange. I’m going to try and not do that any more. Take advantage of every good thing that comes my way. I’m not saying you have to accept every invitation offered to you but to not except out of some type of social protocol is ridiculous.
Anyway, just so you know I love getting invited to others homes and hopefully I’m helpful and can return the favor sometime. So all you friends out there invite away. I won’t be offended! 🙂 .
(Big Bang Theory on non-optional social conventions)
Had such a wonderful morning! With my family being in town I decided to host a little brunch before the Saturday morning session of my church’s General Conference. This is an event put on by the leadership where we hear talks, beautiful music and inspiring words from the prophet and apostles. I look forward to it every 6 months, but with all the challenges lately I was particularly anxious for the guidance of my leaders.
The first session was wonderful with an emphasis on families and on enduring trials. President Eyring’s talk especially moved me. He said “Trials aren’t always for punishment, but rather for polishing”. I’ve felt polished lately! He also said “If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts the power to endure will crumble”. This a sobering reminder that without studious watch-care my faith could erode. I will not let that happen. I will do whatever it takes.
So, back to the brunch. I love to entertain and make things beautiful and appetizing. It was a pitch-in (or potluck) but I made 4 quiches and an Easter Cake.I also got some daffodils and have a few other Easter decor pieces. All and all I think it turned out pretty well.
I’m getting my freezer in a few hours so it will be a great to store my leftover quiches in it right away! Hurray for appliance purchases.
What a great day!