Party ideas: Grown up Tea Party

I love to host a gathering but I don’t need to do an expensive, lavish affair to make it fun. I’m not being filmed on a reality show after all. I also don’t enjoy spending all day in the kitchen so I do take a bit of a short cut. It’s less about the what and more about the intent which is to have fun.

So if you want to have a girls night, couples night or whatever, I’ll be sharing some fun theme party/small gathering ideas and general tips to help you make it a fun affair.

First up: A Grown up Tea Partytea party

I did this with my girls one Christmas Holiday season but this is a great idea for the spring season or even summer season as well. I combined my holiday event with a white elephant party but I made it special by doing my own English style high tea party.

Food:

  • Tea sandwiches- It’s a good option to make a couple of these as a savory option to all the sweets. Unless you’re serving high level foodies, I suggest keeping it simple for people not as used to high tea.
  • Scones with clotted cream- I simply went to a gourmet grocery store to get the scone mix, clotted cream and fancy jam. World Market is a good option.scones
  • Fruit- grapes, orange slices
  • Dessert- Petit fours and mini cookies. I was actually and just went to the French bakery near me. Wegmans and Wholefoods are also good places to get tea cookies.

Drink: Tea of course. I suggest limiting the options to 2 or 3. Also add coffee. For something stronger, offer champagne. For something fancier do mulled wine in the winger. In the spring how about an Aperol Spritz.spritz

Music: I play Christmas music in the background for Christmas. For the spring for fun songs maybe some pop or even old school R&B from the 60s to 90s.

Décor: This is an easy one. Holiday décor of your choice. And burn a cinnamon, vanilla or apple inspired candle. For spring, go for fresh flowers in varying sized vases and burn a candle with a flowery or fruity scent. You can even blend this in with watching the horse races during the spring season and have guest dress in spring dresses and fancy hats.

Extra: If you want to be super special give guest little party gift bags filled with little chocolates or scone mix put in little fancy jars.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Cooking at Home Review: Home Chef

 

So if you don’t know I am on a home cooking kick. For a while now I was all about Blue Apron but I have to admit some of their recipes were starting to not connect with me. Since I don’t eat red meat or pork the options get slim and although you have limited opportunities to pick your own meals there still weren’t many non carb heavy options. Not to say the food isn’t good but I needed a change.

Enter Home Chef. I hadn’t seen as many commercials for them compared to Blue Apron so I was nervous. However, it works just like Blue Apron with a weekly delivery. But here is where it differs. Where Blue Apron only lets you pick three meals a week at the least, with Home Chef you can go as little as one meal a week. Note that they will include shipping feels for orders under $59, therefore you get more bang for your buck if you do three meals a week to even out at $10 a meal; the same as Blue Apron.  And like Blue Apron you can skip weekly meals if you’re going out of town or nothing on the menu interest you.

Also Home Chef gives you more flexibility of meal choices as well. With Blue Apron some meals can’t be ordered together for reasons I don’t get. Home Chef lets you put any meals together. Further there are more low carb options and they even have breakfast options.

As far as cooking and prep, it’s very similar to Blue Apron with each meal taking an average of 45 minutes to prep and cook. I also like that they add how soon you should cook the meal before the ingredients aren’t as fresh.

Finally, regarding taste. So far everything I ate was very delicious. Very flavorful and fits my particular taste buds since I have the ability to be more selective.

Overall I would definitely recommend this service. If anything you can have both services and just rotate weeks depending on meals you might like.

 

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Salmon and green beans with special soy sauce

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Shredded chick sandwich and sweet potatos

 

Quick Cook: Spice Cake

So for the holidays I’m usually on desert duty. My sister and mom are excellent cooks and they don’t like to give up certain dishes to me. I get it. I’m not a sit in front of the stove all day make everything like your grandma use to make kind o gal. Baking is my thing. Mix the right ingredients, put it in the oven, keep it stepping.

This past Thanksgiving I made a Quick and Tasty  Spice cake. So here is what I did.

Ingredients

2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 1/4 stick of butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

3/4 cup butter milk

finely chopped nuts for garnish

butter cream frosting (any kind from the store)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8-9 inch round cake pans with cooking spray. In a small mixing bowl whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and salt with electric mixer until cake-1

fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk alternately ending with the dry. After mixing  divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 25 minutes. Use a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes to check to see if it’s done (the toothpick should come out clean).  Wait until completely cool.

Take first cake out and put butter cream icing on top. Put on second layer and spread icing on top and on the sides.  Garnish with the finely chopped nuts.

Done! cake-2

Yum.

Blue Apron: Overall Thoughts

So after a month of various meals from Blue Apron I can finally give a full unbiased opinion of my time with it.

Pros

You make some nonstandard meals so it makes you feel all fancy and stuff.

Everything I make, if I stick to the directions, is tasty. Some more so than others but I feel more confident when I cook. Which makes me more confident to cook for others.

It’s fresh. All ingredients are all natural, farm to table style.

You can pick the type of food you like and don’t. So if you are vegetarian or don’t eat red meat you aren’t stuck with meals you won’t eat.

It’s affordable. Especially for a single person. At $60 a week, that’s like 6 meals, since each meal is two serving sizes, for $10.  Not bad

Cons

It can take some time. Usually the recipes show that it’ll take around 30 minutes to make. Welp, that ain’t true. On average each meal takes 45-60 minutes to prepare. But most good meals aren’t fast!

Serving Size. It’s a bit big. Most meals are about 700 calories. Which isn’t great for those trying to lose some pounds. You have the benefit of making your own food, which is always best. And it’s tasty. But it won’t matter if it’s still high calorie. However, I won’t say the company should reduce their size. Sure some folks might think that the calories work for their diet; other’s should just be mindful and reduce or substitute certain ingredients.

You can’t pick all of your meals. You get six types of meals a week if you are on the 3 meal a week plan. However, you can’t mix and match everything, which is annoying. I know there is a reason for it but I don’t like it.

Outstanding Thoughts

Not sure if they do meal repeats; I’d really like to get certain meals again. However, at the very least I still have the recipes…

Wish they had this for breakfast, lunch, and dessert.

In sum, I’d recommend it if you have the patience and dedication.

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Brown Cod Fish

So I’m doing another post on my adventures with mail order cooking via Blue Apron.

This time a brown butter cod fish.

Here’s what they sent me:

butter

oregano

3 cloves of garlic

purple potatoes

corn on the cob (which I had to cut the corn off of the stalk)

2 pieces of cod

malt vinegar

shiitake peppers

shallot

Here’s the process in pictures

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cooked the cod in olive oil and butter and then put the malt vinegar over it. Extra sauce went over the vegetables.

 

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The final result: Another win!  So far Blue Apron has an advocate in me. Next up…Tinkerbell Pepper Quesadillas

Cooking: Chicken Burger

So I finally gave in and decided to subscribe to Blue Apron. I’ve been eye stalking them for some time and I think food services like these are awesome for single people or just a couple who wants to do more home cooking but may not be as creative or talented on their own in the cooking division.

Out of all the many services out there I picked Blue Apron because I could tailor it to the type of food I would eat (I don’t eat red meat) and it was priced well for the market.

They shipped the ingredients in a large box with ice in it. All of the ingredients and step by step picture recipes are included. The sauces, butters, seasonings are all included as well (except for salt and pepper and olive oil).20160805_121210

I decided to go for what I thought would be the easiest of the bunch to make: Chicken Burgers.

I won’t go into the recipe (unless requested) but I will give the basic ingredients and tell my cooking story through pictures.

ginger

2 cloves of garlic

tomato

one stalk of lemon grass

2 small/medium potatoes

cilantro

ground chicken

mayo

soy sauce

hoisin sauce

sriracha suace

2 burger buns

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The end result was super good. I cut up the potatoes and baked them and made the burgers on the stove top. I don’t like mayo but the mayo-hoisin sauce was actually pretty good. Even after burning the buns, it was still good.

First meal a success. Next up…brown butter cod fish.

Quick Cook: Turkey and Rice

Found this recipe in a magazine and tried it out. Pretty tasty and super quick to make!

rice dish

Here’s what you need:

skillet

sausage of your choice

2 cups rice of your choice

2 cloves crushed garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1 red bell paper sliced thin

1 small yellow onion, sliced thin

1 package broccoli or fresh broccoli

1/2 cup chicken broth or water

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and garlic in skillet, add sausage until browned. Add pepper, onion, broccoli, broth, tomato sauce and black pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile make rice according to package instructions. Stir in cooked rice to skillet and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Done in no time.

 

 

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Still cooking ya’ll. Sometimes its a hit, other times it’s a miss. However, I think I found a hit with my stuffed bell peppers.

Here’s the recipe with my short cuts:

I got two red bell peppers that I cut in half length wise

Set the oven for 350 degrees.

Then I cooked half a pound of ground turkey  and sprinkled with onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and black pepper (about 1 teaspoon for each)

I mixed in a can of diced tomatoes (or tomato sauce or paste)

I also made rice (I just use the microwave packs, just one pack)

Stuff the peppers with the rice and turkey mixture.

Put in oven with foil covering for 10 minutes, then uncover and continue for 15 minutes.

Remove and sprinkle with a cheese of your choice (you can also bake with cheese). Done!

bell pepper

Jambalaya

Here’s another quick post on a crockpot dish I made. This time I went for jambalaya.

Here’s what I used:

1lb boneless/skinless chicken which I chopped up

1 or 2 hot sausage links

1 cup shrimp

1 stalk chopped celery

1 can diced tomatoes

1 medium onion chopped

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 red bell pepper chopped

2 tsps oregano

2 tsps bay leaves

2 tsps Cajun seasoning

2 tsps red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp thyme

Throw it all in the crock pot. Set it at high for about 3 to 4 hours. Throw in some cooked rice after and your done. Boom.

jambalaya

My Online Go-Tos

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As a blogger, I spend more time than I care to admit online. Don’t worry, I venture out of my house. However there are times when I just don’t want to deal with the hassle of a brick and motor store and just order something quickly. I am also a person that likes to get answers quickly so I have sites I like to visit to get answers. So here are my favorite websites for the various areas of my life: