Friday, March 28, 2008

Fabulous food / condiment must haves...

After attending a baby shower this past weekend and listening to all the moms give advice to the soon to be new mom, I realized that passing on the things we've learned is important. Therefore, being a "foodie", I thought I should pass on some of the things I've learned / can't live without to others who may be newer (or "greener"). As an added bonus, perhaps I'd learn something from others as well!

I do love to cook, however I am usually pretty busy, so I'm a big fan of anything that can make my life easier while making my food 100% better. Therefore, over the years I have come across some serious favorites that I can't live without.

Thankfully all of these also have websites as I don't live where you can access these stores close by! =( (I know, I should move, right?)

(In no particular order)

Super Target:
* Archer Farms Syrup
- It has cinnamon in it -- to die for.

* Tupelo Honey
- Fabulous flavor, perfect consistancy alll the time - NEVER congeals!
- Only problem, it's only made (and thus sold) once a year, so you have to make sure to get one when it's on sale!

* Nielsen - Massey Vanilla
- Trust me, you can taste the difference between this and the cheap vanilla extract - it's worth every penny.

* Fig and Meyer Lemon Balsamic Vinegar
- Makes the BEST salad dressing w/ only a little olive oil and pepper
- Only drawback, it's a "refrigerate after opening" item unlike most vinegars....
* Gourmet Seasoning Sheets
- Easiest seasoning ever, fabulous flavor, and last forever in your pantry!
- My personal favorite is the "Yucatan Chipotle and Lime" (killer on shrimp for a great salad topper), but I haven't tried one I didn't like.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Dinner Party

Since I moved into my new apartment, my parents have been wanting to see what it looked like. So, I decided to host an Easter dinner w/ my parents, and Brad and I. It gave me an excuse to have them over and an excuse for me to get fully unpacked and the apartment decorated in time for guests to come over.

I've also never held my own dinner party before, and growing up with a mother who could win awards for Best Hostess, I really wanted to make a good impression! I also wanted to make a good meal that everyone would enjoy and not be too stressed out as well.

So I planned a menu...
Cheese & Crackers
Wasabi Almonds
Deviled Eggs

Fresh Green Salad
Warm Sour Dough Rolls

Main Course:
Honey Baked Ham
Yukon Gold Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Asparagus w/ Hollandaise Sauce

Vanilla Ice Cream w/ Spiced Pear Compote -- Provided by my mom

My new table all set up - isn't it pretty?

And let everyone drink wine, enjoy good food, and play a fun game called "Blokus"!

Overall, I was pleased - seemed like a success!

Friday, March 14, 2008

German Chocolate Cake - Dad's B-day

My Dad LOVES German Chocolate Cake like none other. However, noone in my family ever liked it much so he didn't normally get it as his birthday cake (sad!) when I was growing up. Therefore, now that I'm an adult, and have no clue what to buy him for his birthday, I've started a tradition (this year being the 3rd year) of getting him a GC cake and bringing it in to work (since we work together) and doing the whole singing / celebrating thing there. The past two years I've bought him a store bought cake, and even though I had them write "Happy Birthday" on it, it just felt a little trite. So this year, I decided I'd try to make him a home-made one.

Needless to say, it got rave reviews. My Dad said it was one of the best GC cakes he'd ever eaten (hey, at least he's complimentary even if it wasn't true) and I was proud b/c I've really been trying to make things not just taste good but be pretty too.

Here's the final cake:

I made a little one for Brad too while I was at it. I know I spoil him, but isn't that what girlfriends are for? =)