Tag: entertaining

How to Do Fancy Easy

Using some simple tips I made a luxurious lunch inn little time

Parents Moving and Other Happy News

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.

Jane Austen Tea Party

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!

tea partyThe 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.

wpid-snapchat-7897501167389300295.jpgI 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.

jane gameOverall 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 Irish Day!

irish dinner

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.
irish dinner 3

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!

corned beef and mashed potatoes
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)
rub
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.

Mashed Potatoes
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!

Cheese Plate and a Movie

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.

cheese plate

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 this just scream EUROPE
Doesn’t this just scream EUROPE

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.

 

Fruit Trays

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:

Isn’t it pretty? White platters are easy to use for any occasion. The best entertaining tip my Mom gave me.

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!

That’s what you call a plate licked clean!

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!

ingredients for sauce

I made enough this time that I am setting little servings of it aside and freezing them for a quick treat.

single servings of sauce

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.

Enjoy!

I love sauces and dips. It makes me very happy

Olympic Bites

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:

the spread. 3 different hummus!

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.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. goat cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. milk or cream
  • 20 dried apricots (preferably from Trader Joe’s for the best flavor and tartness)
  • 20 almonds
  • 1-2 tsp. honey

Instructions

  1. Place the apricots on a platter.
  2. Mix the goat cheese and milk or cream until smooth.
  3. Put a spoonful on each apricot.
  4. Top with a whole almond.
  5. 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.  🙂