Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Assembling a Large Cheese and Meat Platter

This cheese and meat platter was the focal point of my daughter's birthday party so I wanted it to really stand out.  I have a lot of large platters which I normally use when making one of these for an event, however I wanted something larger for this party so I had to think outside of the box. the platter held sliced, imported Italian meats, assorted cheeses, truffled mustard, fall honeycomb, nuts, olives and grapes.  A pate de campagne which I also made was served on a smaller platter on the side.
 I went to a local recycling store and found this old window.

 Not only was it perfect for what I had in mind, it was only 5.00!

 I removed all of the hardware, plugged all of the holes with wood putty and sanded it down. I spray painted the frame and turned it over and sprayed the underside of the glass with mirror paint.  Then I trimmed it out with heavy rope and had the perfect serving tray for the event.  You can click on the first pic for a closer look.

 I made so many bread sticks that they almost made me cry.  I made a double recipe and they took 9 hours to make.

 I made hundreds of crackers.

 I also marinated and broiled 3 large flank steaks, cut them into thin slices and served them rolled up on toothpicks.

 Always a favorite, I made brown sugar, bacon wrapped smokies. Lots of them.

 These are one of my daughter's favorites, Asian chicken salad sandwiches on pullman bread with toasted sesame seed edges.

I ordered 50 of her favorite petite fours instead of having a big cake.  When I was little these were my favorites too and the same bakery still makes them.
The bread sticks were served with thinly sliced proscuitto.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Sweet Daughter

My daughter's friends planned a surprise party for her 30th birthday.

They asked me to make the food.

These girls really outdid themselves.  They thought of everything.

They had a special drink menu.

And a red, black and white theme.

They even had a candy buffet.

I made LOTS of bread sticks to be served with thinly sliced proscuitto. I also made a huge meat and cheese platter.

And Asian chicken salad tea sandwiches coated in toasted sesame seeds.  I made all of my daughter's favorites!

Translation: Grab a Bag, Choose What You Like, Leave Some for Others, Please be Polite.  As You Enjoy Your Bag of Treats, We Would Like to Thank You for Making Braedon's Birthday Extra Sweet!

I will show more pics tomorrow, I have a lot to sort through.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Inspection

 Teddy says that it is time to check out the lower gardens to see what is poking out of the ground.

 She stops and shakes her tail to tell me to hurry up.

 She stops to observe what is happening in her domain.  Are there any bad kitties lurking about?

 It's so easy to see everything this time of year.

 Crocuses are blooming under the rocks.

 Tulips are poking through the frozen ground.

 Rhubarb hidden amongst the brown leaves.

 As well as chives.

 Teddy checks on her fish.

 And takes a drink.

Nothing like the taste of fish juice.          
It's so empty that you can see the guest house. This shall all be green and filled in soon.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

How to Clean Those Greasy Stove Hood Filters

 I have Spring cleaning fever really bad this year.  I've been cleaning everything I can get my hands on.  My greasy hood vents drive me crazy.  I wash them under hot water and put them in the dishwasher but they just never get as clean as I would like.  Recently, I saw this tip and my problem is now solved.

 All you do is bring a deep pot of water to a boil.  Place the filter in the boiling water.  Slowly, add 1/2 cup of baking soda.  Do this slowly as the water will bubble ferociously.

 The water almost instantly starts to look like gross sludge.

 Turn your filter over to get both sides. Once they looked clean, I ran them through the dishwasher for good measure.

Perfectly clean.  I love it when I find good tips like this! Just throw the gross water down your sink and run hot water to wash it down.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pancakes for the Kids

I made 100 pancakes the other day for the kids at the center.  None of them had ever tasted real maple syrup and I really wanted to give them this experience and what better way to eat it than on good pancakes?  Here is the pancake recipe: 

3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sour the milk with the vinegar for about 10 minutes.  Mix it with the rest of the ingredients but do not over mix. Let the batter sit for about 15 minutes before cooking.


I sent 1-1/2 gallons of maple syrup thinking the kids would drown their pancakes in it.  They ended up only using about a quart.  They were very respectful about overusing it which really surprised and delighted me.  If I had served these to my friends they would have used all of the syrup.

Within 10 minutes of opening the slow cooker, this is all that was left!  These disappeared soon after.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spaghetti With Garlic and Basil Oil

 But first, look what I found at my grocery store the other day!  One of my favorite things in the entire world.....passion fruit.  We don't get them here very often but when we do, I splurge and buy some for myself.

 These are from New Zealand.  If you have never eaten one, you should give them a try if you ever see them.  Mmmmmm!!!  Looks like snot, tastes like heaven! I once was on a trail ride in a rainforest in Hawaii and there were passion fruits growing all around me.  I could pluck them off the trees as I rode by.  It's one of my fondest memories.

 Now to the spaghetti.  Pour 1/2 cup of olive oil into a heavy sauce pan.  Add 8-10 cloves of garlic in their skins, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and a bunch of basil.  You can split the stalks with a knife and use them.  Bring to a low simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes.  Turn the heat off and let it cool.  The longer it sits, the more the flavor will be infused.

 Make a simple tomato sauce.  I had this one frozen from last summer.

 When you are ready to use the oil, drain the solids.  Squeeze the garlic out of their skins, chop it and add it to the tomato sauce.

 Set the oil aside.

 Cook a box of spaghetti to slightly less than al dente and mix it with the warm tomato sauce.  Sprinkle in some diced fresh basil.

 Place a serving in a bowl.

 Drizzle it with the infused oil.

 Sprinkle it with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

 Save the extra oil to use in many other ways.  It makes a good dipping sauce for fresh bread.