Saturday, June 30, 2012

Entertaining - Hosting a Summer Cookout

When the weather is beautiful and the sun setting well after 8 PM, it is the best time of year to have a barbeque or cookout.  Setting a table outdoors means easy clean up and a few extra touches go a long way to delight your guests.

Tips for Success

Procure a large tray to help carry several items to your outside venue
Buy funny and cute plastic plates that can be easily thrown in the dishwasher
Invest in a large pitcher for drinks (Goodwill sells these by the dozen and for super cheap)
Paper napkins are your best friend!
Fresh cut seasonal flowers are the perfect adornment to your outdoor table

The Menu

Appetizer #1 - Hummus and veggies
Appetizer #2 - Grilled Radicchio with Goat Cheese
Appetizer #3 - Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Entree - Hot dogs or bratwurst served with Homemade Sauerkraut
Salad - Fava Bean and Potato Salad
Side Dish - Corn Salad

Dessert - Chocolate Whiskey Cupcakes

Drink - Gin and Lemon Cocktails

Monday, June 25, 2012


I resisted this for so long and I'm so happy I finally gave in.  I thought for sure this would smell up the house or cause some crazy bacteria growth, but actually, homemade sauerkraut is officially a winner in my book.  Insanely easy and delicious on hot dogs (think upcoming BBQ holiday), sandwiches, salads, etc. you definitely have to give this a try.  The biggest thing here is to get a container that can hold all the ingredients. We used a large plastic container and draped a clean dish cloth over it to keep dust, etc. out.

Ingredients for 1 lb sauerkraut

1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 jalopeno, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons salt

1. Thinly slice all the veggies and add to the plastic or ceramnic container you will store the kraut.  A 2 gallon container is plenty big enough.
2. Add oregano, red pepper flakes and salt to the veggies and stir very well to coat
3. Place a smaller tupperware filled with water on an extra cabbage leaf to create a barrier.  Once the salt starts to extra the liquid from the veggies, it will eventually cover this and protect the kraut from bacteria.  If you don't have it covered by about 1 day, you can add water to cover the veggies.
4. Let sit at least four days to marinate
5. As you want to eat it, remove it from the container and serve.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Single Girl Dinner #3 - Strawberry and Bleu Cheese Salad

I haven't posted in this category for a while.  For those of you new to this blog, the "single girl" dinners are meals that I eat when David is out with his friends and it is just me for dinner so I can experiment and do different things.  This salad is so fresh and delicious and perfect for the upcoming summer nights.  Of course anyone can make it, but this recipe is just for one salad so make sure to multiply the ingredients as necessary.


1 small head butter or red lettuce
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small salad onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh strawberries, tops removed
1/3 cup bleu cheese crumbles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
fresh black pepper

1. Clean and rinse lettuce and rip or cut into desired size.  Place on plate.
2. Top salad with cucumber, salad onion, strawberry and bleu cheese.
3. Drizzle olive oil and then vinegar over the veggies
4. Top with fresh black pepper
5. Enjoy with a delicious glass of white wine!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pulled Pork Green Chili

This recipe is adapted from an insanely awesome looking Mexican Pulled Pork Stew from Rachael Ray.  I used less ingredients here to make it more user friendly and I was very pleased with the result.  I love pulled pork and I always forget how economical a piece of pork shoulder can be (and how many people it can feed!).  This recipe can feed a lot of people (6+), so make sure you are ready to serve to a crowd.


2 lbs pork shoulder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz bottle of amber beer
1 onion or leek chopped
2 14.5 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
1 7 oz can green chilis
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 275.  Combine pork shoulder, spices, salt, beer and onion in a dutch oven.  Place lid on dutch oven and put in oven for 4 hours.
2. Remove from oven after 4 hours, check that meat is tender and pulling away easily.
3. Use a fork to carefully pull the pork apart (watch out for the hot liquid)
4. Add fire roasted tomatoes and their juices, green chilis, beans and chicken broth to the pot.
5. Heat over medium high heat until the soup is bubbling.
6. Serve with homemade tortillas, sour cream, cheese and scallions!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lavender Ice Cream

Our ice cream maker was one of the best presents we received when we got married.  I spent a lot of time making frozen yogurt last summer and this summer I'm determined to make a lot of real traditional ice cream.  This is my first pass and it is excellent!  The ice cream is really simple and has a perfect subtle lavender taste.  A big thank you to Christine for bringing me lavender sugar and inspiring this recipe!


1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons chopped lavender
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

1.  Take a large heavy sauce pan (or enamel pan like Le creuset) and heat heavy cream and 1 cup of whole mean over medium heat.  You will bring this to a simmer (about 10 minutes).  Make sure to stir and watch that this does not boil!
2. Meanwhile, put 1 cup of sugar into a bowl and the lavender.  Use your fingers to rub the lavender and the sugar together to combine the essence of the herb and the sugar.
3. In another bowl, whisk together egg yokes and 1/4 cup sugar.
4. Here is the tricky part.  Once milk and simmered.  Remove from the heat.  Take a 1/2 measuring cup and scoop out warm milk/cream mixture.  Slowly and carefully whisk into egg mixture to temper the eggs and bring to the same temp as the milk.  Feel free to repeat this process with another 1/2 cup of milk mixture.
5. When eggs are tempered, slowly stir them back into the pan of milk/cream mixture carefully whisking to combine into the milk.
6. Cook this mixture over medium low heat until it coats the spoon.  About 10 minutes.
7. Move liquid to another bowl and add remaining 2 cups milk, vanilla and pinch of salt.  Stir to combine.
8. Cool mixture completely in the fridge, do not skip this step or you will regret it.
9. Put in ice cream maker of choice and go per manufacturer's instructions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Entertaining - Hosting an Effortless Brunch Party

My friends will tell you that I love hosting brunch (and I'm always up early on the weekends so this is never a problem!).

The key to brunch is starting off with a nice beverage and "appetizer" pairing.  My the menu has two options for drinks (one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic).  This allows people to relax and enjoy conversation without feeling utterly famished while waiting for everyone to arrive.   Once all of the guests have arrived, you can move on to the more formal part of the meal, which I prefer to serve at a table on casual plates with a colorful napkin and simple flower arrangement.

Brunch is the entertaining event to really use colors that aren't necessarily "matching" but are appeasing to the eye.  If you have mismatched dishes they are perfect at brunch because most people are too sleepy to notice.  This also gives of a casual feeling while still keeping the paper plates in the cupboard.  I also recommend everyone have at least one tablecloth that is bright and emits a feeling of energy, this is the perfect occasion!

Check out these cute napkins from Anthropologie - Storybook Romance Dishtowels

You will notice there is no meat on this menu and it is something I do often when serving to a large number of people.  When food is this delicious, they even hardly know it's missing and your vegetarian friends will be silently thanking you.



Blueberry Lemon Coffee Cake
Prosecco cocktail or Faux-secco cocktail - Replace prosecco and vodka with sparkling water

Main dish:

Creme Fraiche Quiche with Chard
Rhubarb Applesauce


French Press Coffee
Apricot and Mozzarella Dessert Caprese