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!

 

 

Advertisements

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.

 

16649388_1795685957360608_6055247075543576734_n

Salmon and green beans with special soy sauce

16807510_1795685954027275_5233185876519486689_n

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.

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

20160805_121525.jpg

20160807_182315.jpg

20160807_181814

20160807_182939.jpg

20160807_183349.jpg

20160807_184037.jpg

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

 

20160807_184521.jpg

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

20160805_121308

20160807_152350.jpg20160807_15383920160807_155942

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

1

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

Back to Puerto Rico

As you know I loves to travel and I a winter getaway is a must for me as I despise the cold and all it stands for. This year, a bunch of friends and I did San Juan, Puerto Rico, which I’ve gone to a couple of times but decided to finally do a post. Here we go.

Hotel:

We stayed at the El San Juan Resort and Casino. Very nice and lively hotel (on the weekends it gets packed due to the live salsa bands). It has three pool areas and two Jacuzzis. On the weekends its a big party with a DJ. The hotel which is on the beach, is in Isla Verde which apparently has the nicer beach than the other beach areas in San Juan, although not as big in the night life (more to come on that, Condado has more of the nightlife but the beach isn’t as nice). They have a few fancy restaurants on site as well as a gym and spa. The casino is no Vegas site but it’s there. They also have one of the only clubs in Isla Verde. All in all, I’d stay there again for sure.

hotel

pool

Nightlife:

The first night we stayed in the hotel and did the salsa in the lobby and the bars (there are three in the lobby as well as a dance floor and stage for the bands). Then we headed over to Club Brava, also in the hotel, which is more top 40 dance club and has two floors.

The next night we ventured out to the La Placita area which is a bunch of casual bars and cafes to listen to top 40 and Latin. Much cheaper than other areas so that was good but it wasn’t really my vibe. Perhaps if I were in my twenties I’d like it more. We also checked out our hotels rooftop bar which was just okay but the view was nice.

The final night we were in Old San Juan and we swung past the popular Nuyorican Café (which is kind of hard to find). It’s a very popular salsa club. I’m not a huge salsa dancer but wanted to go. It was a Sunday night and they started the band very late in my opinion (maybe 11pm?). The place is pretty small, divvy, and the bathroom was unusable. If you just want to dance in a casual atmosphere and have used the potty already, I think it’d be a fun place.

roof top

Food

The first night we went to Casita Miramar which was my best food visit there. I had a grilled chicken and mixed salad which I sadly did not take a picture of. It was very tasty. We also had a Nutella flavored flan which I still dream about. It’s a small spot that gets packed. Seems very family friendly.

The next night we went to Ropa Vieja in Condado where I had shrimp mofongo (mashed plantain) in garlic sauce. Deliciousness. Larger than the other locations we went to. Again, not super fancy but nice fun atmosphere.

The final night we went to Mojito at the suggestion of a friendly local. Much more affordable than the other spots. I had chicken filled mofongo in a tomato sauce. Delish as well. Located in Old San Juan and nothing fancy, just good food. Family friendly.

Other Stuff:

We also went sailing on this trip which was fun. In past trips I visited El Yunque which is a rain forest and a fun visit. I’ve also gone snorkeling and done the Bacardi Tour, also a good trip. Next time I’m hoping to check out the bioluminescent bay.  This trip we pretty much chilled at the beach and pool all day which was just fine by me. Ready to go back!

 

Jamaican Curry Chicken

1

Hey folks, another quick cook post. As I’ve said before, I’m trying to cook more as I enter my weight loss journey and so far so good. As always, I don’t like cooking anything that’s going to take me forever and a year so whatever I can make that expends the least energy is my friend. Here’s a dish I did well with:

Ingridents:

chicken (boneless/skinless and cut up in bite sizes)

6 tbps. curry powder

1 1/2 tps kosher salt

2 tps garlic powder

2 oz cooking oil

2 1/2 tbps vinegar

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 potato (cut up in bite sizes- I used red potatoes this time)

1 onion cut up

1 green bell pepper cut up

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

2 sprigs thyme

1 cup coconut milk

Dump all of the above in your slow cooker (you can do it over a stove as well for about 30 minutes, cook chicken first) and heat in crock pot on high for about 4 hours. Make some rice according to the way that works best for you (I did an instant rice pack) and pour the curry on top. Done

curry chicken

 

 

 

Quick Cook: Turkey Chili

So in an earlier post I mentioned how I am trying to cook more. One weakness of mine is that I don’t like being in the kitchen all day. I like to make a quick meal. My other focus is making food tasty enough for me to want to eat over, say, getting some pizza. For an impatient girl like me that is a real challenge. But one I am willing to take one. So here is a quick and easy dinner option. Chili! I make mine with turkey but you can use beef, pork or ground chicken instead (or skip meat altogether).

Use:

A pound of meat of your choice  (I used ground turkey and hot Italian sausage (skin removed))

Chili seasoning packet (or do your own seasoning but, I likes a quick cook)

corn (drained)

jalapenos

can of diced tomatoes (undrained)

2 cans of dark kidney beans (undrained)

First cook the meat in a pan. Then transfer to a slowcooker (or for faster results a pot). In the slowcooker pour the meat, then the chili sauce, add the beans some sliced jalapenos, diced tomatoes and corn. Set the slowcooker on high for about 3 to 4 hours. I like my chili super spicy and I add shredded cheese on top. Good to go.  Little hassle.

chilli