Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Menu, with a sore back

A sore back does not lend itself to cooking, easily. Lots of pain. It's difficult to adapt or to find another way of moving. Can't lift, can't pick up, can't even carry a box.
So, how to cook for my clients....I decided to go the 'ready made route this week. Here are my menus:
BBQ Chicken
Twice Baked Potatoes
Roasted Peppers

Beef Lasagne
Garlic Bread
Tossed Salad

And for Saturday, a reception, I'm hopeful that I'll be somewhat recovered to provide the following menu with possibly carried out sweets.
Saturday reception:
Small sandwiches
Shrimp Spring Rolls
Tortilla Roll ups
Fruit Platter
Sweets Platter

And for the other client ~




Everything has already been made by the store it came from. Should be easy, right?!?


OH MY ACHING BACK! Literally! I think it all started a week ago when I had the client from Hell. She was so nice and buttered me up and offered me a cocktail and to mingle with the guests...then she turned off the faucet, told me to take off the apron and come mingle. So I did. After I left, and returned home, I realized I had left something in the oven so I promptly called her. I didn't want anyone to find it the next day. And then, that's when she let me have it. My husband and I tried to analyze why she was so brutally uncomplimentary and there were several things going on. But now, I have a very sore back. Nothing has taken the pain away so I'm going to have an MRI tomorrow to see what 's going on.
Last week when I was teaching, I noticed how easily stress made the pain worse! Last night my husband and I had a few of the leftovers from the party- you know, when someone really makes you ill, you want nothing to do with anything related to the situation- it took me a week to put away my cooking /catering items; and a full 8 days to have some of the leftovers- which really weren't leftovers. They were remnants. It was such a delicious dinner. In fact, it was the third time I had served this menu.

Potato Potato Dauphinoise
Tossed Salad with avocados, red onions, hearts of palm, hard boiled eggs, mushrooms, toasted pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Beef Tenderloin Steaks
Poached Salmon
Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes

Ice Cream Sundae Pie

When planning the menu with the client, 7 days earlier, she did not care to have an estimate nor a tasting. And it was agreed that I'd get paid that night.
Here is a picture of the Potato Dauphinoise. The nice part about this dish is that it has to be made the day before. They are baked in the oven in a pyrex 9 x 13 dish. Then cooled and chilled in the fridge.

When you're ready to serve them, you place them on parchment paper and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

They are made with thinly sliced russets and a sweet potato.
And these were the leftovers that I trimmed that my husband and I recently had with our dinner:

I wish I had a picture of the tenderloin steaks- the flavor was so delicious- several guests came in to ask how I made it. The key ingredient was Sweet Vermouth! I wish I had more pictures from the dinner- it was so pretty.....
I kept thinking, ok, what did I learn from this....and when I shared this thought with a friend, who is very complimentary to my catering style, her response was " Jeannie, I've been trying to think about the same thing about something that happened to me, 10 years ago"!
I felt better.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mystery Dinner Destination

I usually try and do some sort of dinner party in either November or January. January is usually my 'Blues' theme. But I have done several in November over the years and I started thinking about doing one this past November- I actually started thinking about it last July when I was on the golf course with friends who were going to be invited and I casually started asking them when they would be out of town for 'parents' weekend as I didn't want a conflict and really wanted them to come.
The idea.....

I set up another gmail account and sent emails out to nearly everyone. I signed the email, 'Mystery'. I told them they were invited to a mystery destination in their zipcode. Many people ignored the email. Or, maybe it went to their spam folder? So I sent a snail mail to those who never responded. In the end, there were several that never responded. We wanted to make it feel safe for everyone so we continually added clues that would help/encourage them to respond and become enthusiastic about the evening.

You have been invited to a Mystery Destination Dinner, November 5.
We hope you are free. Please respond to ........

Mad Men theme~
For those who did respond, I had to send them an email often so they wouldn't forget. I decided to base this 'dinner party' on Mad Men. So my first email was: I'm not a blonde but it's a 'Betty Draper' kind of dinner party.

I also asked the guests to submit a clue about themselves. These are a few:

She swears like a truck driver and beats most men at golf.
Her husband thinks she’s coachable
original COKE models
placed second in her first sprint triathlon
Miss Bock Beer
She fiddles, he strums... a new vintage happily paired.

And for the attire:
“What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”
”You’re the most hireable man on Madison Avenue”

I told them a little bit about the service for dinner ~

'You’ve been axed' ( knife)
'When God closes a door, he opens a dress' ( spoon)
'If you had your way, I’d be stranded in some paperweight with my legs stuck up in the air' ( fork)
'She wanted me to be beautiful so I could find a man. There’s noting wrong with that. But then what? Just sit and smoke and let it go till you’re in a box? '( napkin)

Some of the guests worked very, very hard to find out who was hosting. Some thought it was a spoof. The tricky part was to get them to our house. I told them all that the last email, with directions would be coming the night before the party. They were told to drive down a certain street and look for the 'Welcome' sign. I think the directions were the most difficult part of this event.
The Menu was printed on both sides- one side used Episode titles and the reverse side of the card had the real menu

MENU- Mad Men terms~

Appies-Mad Men titles excluded
Potato Balls fried in Duck Fat
Onion Dip in a Savory Shell

First Course:
The Good News

.Second Course ~
My Old Kentucky Home

The Public Relations
Wee Small Hours

Salad ~
Love Among the Ruins
A Small Raise

Dessert ~
The Suitcase

MENU -real terms

Potato Balls Fried in Duck Fat
Onion Dip- in a mini cup

First Course – amuse Bouche~
Fig in Pear Broth with Gorgonzola; Fois Gras

Second Course
Root Soup with Cilantro Oil

Third Course
Caesar Salad

Fourth Course
Beef Tenderloin with Bordelaise Sauce

Fifth Course
Pumpkin Cookies with Rum Raisin Ice Cream and salted Caramel Sauce

The menu had names for various Mad Men episodes. Name tags were given and the name tag, instead of a name, had a quote from an episode. Not everyone knew everyone else. I thought it was a good conversation starter. It was an interesting mix but I have to say they were all truly the fun, and adventurous friends I like to have surround me/us.
What to do if it was not going to be a fun evening? I passed out Mad Men questionnaires. There was one for women and one for men. There wasn't enough time to read the results so I told the guests there might be a sequel next year.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ladies/chicks party

My friend Mary, hosted her third January chicks' party this past Jaqnuary and she asked me to put together a menu. This is what I came up with:
I call the salad the STAFF SALAD because it gets used by so many people at various 'staff luncheons' and it has just about everything/anything in it that you want. In Mary's salad I had greens with chopped carrots, celery, red onion, cranberries, eggs, avocado, toasted pecans, hearts of palm, feta and a Balsamic Vinaigrette.
We also had Marinated Tomatoes with fresh basil and mint; Buffalo Chicken Puffs, Honey Goat Cheese Dates, Korean beef salad in lettuce cups and Mini Caramel tarts and Mini Citrus tarts.

Honey Goat Cheese Dates

Buffalo Chicken Puffs

Two puffs that didn't make the cut because they split

Korean Salad- I was going to make Korean Tacos but gals always like 'light food' so I did the lettuce cups instead

Mini Citrus tarts and Mini Caramel Tarts

I just got an email from Mary and this is what she wrote:


Just to let you know, the food got rave reviews. People were still talking about it today. The chicken balls and wraps were wonderful. The salads gobbled up. The desserts all eaten this time. I think they were great choices and a good combo.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Weekly Menu

Chicken Breasts with Roasted Red pepper Cream Sauce
Iceburg wedge with bacon and choice of dressing
Green Beans Almondine
MOD Special Sweet

Pork Chop and Scalloped {Potatoes
Glazed Carrots
Green Pepper Saute

lasagne Rolls
Root Beer Braised Short Ribs
Lettuce Cup with chopped vegetables

Slow Cooker Savory Beef Brisket
Zucchini with herbs
Hearts of palm salad with pomegranate seeds

Sloppy Joes on Texas Toast
Cauliflower with Toasted panko topping

2010 holiday pics

Not too much going on this year but here are a few from this past holiday season that made it a memorable holiday!
Greek Lamb dinner, Chocolate Stout Cupcakes, Grilled Mahi, 'all smiles' family and friends, French onion Soup, Pumpkin Whoppie Pies, night bowling



Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Day

We spent most of the morning washing glassware and putting things away till next year. I took a break from the computer and enjoyed sitting with my husband, in our jammies ( !) and watching football games. I almost went on FB to talk about the games we were watching, but naw... My sister called us and we set up a time to visit her family later in the afternoon. When we got to their house, the NYD party was in full swing...but the girls were still in their jammies! But they looked so cute and they were very comfortable. Good for them!

And then there were some guys who just couldn't get up until....

well, cocktail time and more football!

My sister made so much food but it was such fun food to eat! She made a delicious chili ( you know there had to be some liquor in it! ) and she had all kinds of cheese dips, baked chutney rounds, a yummy ham and a chili con queso. WHERE ARE THE PICTURES? I was too busy eating!

The Bump

New Year's Eve

It was just great waking up NYD without a hangover. Does this mean I'm growing up? It made it much easier to enjoy all the delicious foods I cooked up and devoured from family and friends.
This year I even got my husband to watch the Rose Bowl parade. For years, I'd be up getting more food ready for those sleepy head sons and I always encouraged them to 'come watch the parade' just s my sister and I did when we were young. But, they never were interested. My husband who watched it with me actually said how much he enjoyed watching and hearing the commentaries. It's pretty great how that all comes together. I think my favorite one was with the dogs. They were having a heyday!
While we watched the Parade, we noshed on nothing, really.
But, the night before, my sister linda and her husband, my friend Cheryl and her husband joined us for a delicious 'simple' NYE dinner with things we had in our fridges with just a few purchases.
We started our dinner with my sister's French Onion sup- it's always betta with liqua! She adds brandy and who knows what other liquor to it- but it was so delicious.

We started dinner about 8 pm and we actually timed it pretty well....we had some shrimp spring rolls and a delicious blue cheese and walnut dip which was served with apple and cucumber slices before we had the soup.
My friend supplied us with the entree: Beef kebobs and avocado filled with lobster louie- we made that up.

I made a Gran Marnier souffle. And, after the timer beeped, and I turned off the timer, I also forgot to take the souffle out of the oven! The resulting texture was similar to an angel food cake. Fortunately I had some peppermint ice cream in the freezer and covered my mistake. We all ate the flopped souffle and gobbled up the ice cream. We thought we'd try playing a gme or two but the time got away from us. We got busy posing for pictures!

And then, there was the next day......