Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Halloween Celebration!

This Saturday, since we are no longer going to VA for the wedding, we're celebrating Halloween in style!  B and I are doing a pre-game, and so I am ready for a celebration!

The first essential to a killer Halloween party is to have an inflatable beer pool!  You add ice, pumpkin beer, seasonal ales, and get ready to serve them up!

The next step is to have a killer seasonal cocktail.  I am making Cinnamon Snaps - a large pitcher of them!  

Cinnamon Snaps
1.5 cups vodka 
1 cup apple schnapps 
1 cup apple cider 
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

1. Mix the vodka, schnapps, and cider in a pitcher.  Add ice cubes and stir.  
2. On a plate, mix the sugar and cinnamon.  Moisten the rims of champagne glasses, and dip in the mixture.
3. Pour the cocktail into your glass, serve, and enjoy!  

I'm making some delicious treats too!  The traditional piggies in a blanket, with turkey little smokies, Halloween cupcakes, mushrooms stuffed with boursin cheese, and a chicken with roasted red pepper pesto bread...  

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Bread 
1 Package of raw bread dough
1/3 cup roasted red pepper pesto
6 oz grilled chicken breast, sliced thin
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 

1. Grease a cookie sheet with a little olive oil
2. Spread out the bread dough, put the roasted red pepper pesto down in the middle
3. Layer the chicken on top of the pesto, top with cheese 
4. Roll up the edges of the dough, and pinch the seams tightly
5. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until browned on top.  Slice and serve!  

Stay tuned for Halloween brunch...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Believe in Forever...

A lot of people don't believe in forever anymore, but I really do.  I guess I am old fashioned in the sense that I think when you are dating someone, the second that you feel like you can't see your future being with them, you should end things, but if you make a committment to love, honor, and cherish someone forever, you stick with it, no matter how difficult things get. 

Lately we've been busy with weddings.  We had three in August, and then another in October.  You may remember me saying about a month ago that my friend had her engagement called off, and I thought the guy was a big jerk. 

Well, Gimpy and I were supposed to drive to VA for a Halloween wedding on October 30th, and last night after kickball I went to his place.  He was looking at something on his computer, and asked if girls often get cold feet before their weddings. 

It turned out that the girl his friend was supposed to marry packed all of her things in the house that they shared while he was in Vegas for his bachelor party this past weekend.  When he got home, all traces of her were gone, and she'd moved back in with her mom. 

I think what really bugs me about both situations, is that clearly they've been having these feelings for a while.  Why wouldn't they feel comfortable talking about them with someone they loved so much that they asked/promised to marry them?  Does anyone have any thoughts? 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Super Exciting Party Announcements!

The joke with my friends is that I'm like Brett Farve.  A few weeks ago in frustration, I retired from party planning, but added the addendum that it didn't include pub crawls, and was really mostly limited to events that required tickets or money. Everyone knew it wouldn't last long.

Now, here's one thing, for my friends in CT who read my blog, and speak to my friends here, stop reading if you can't keep this strictly confidential.  Just go on and read the next post about making a fabulous mushroom pasta.  If you can keep a secret, go ahead and read on.

So, last night after volleyball, I was sitting with my friend BG and discussing the frustration that while I am blissfully, perfectly, amazingly happy to have the hands down best boyfriend on the planet in Gimpy, all I want is for my friends to find that same happiness with their perfect person.  He's 30, and is in the same boat as a lot of my huge group of single friends - he wants to find someone special to share his life with.  We discussed that while it's amazing to have such a huge group of friends, it really hurts you when it comes to meeting new people.  As does going to the same bars, over, and over, and over again, where you've met all of the regulars. 

That's when it hit me.  I turned to him, and said "BG!  I have an idea.  I'm planning an event.  It will be a bar scavenger hunt, played as individuals, at the bars in SoNo.  I'm going to make all sorts of challenges for everyone, and it will be the perfect icebreaker to meet new people at the bar, and a great way to force everyone to talk to people they normally wouldn't approach, but might be super cool." 

The questions will be fun, and for some you'll have to get photo evidence on the phone, and others, people will have to write down parts.  The end will come at 12:30, and they'll have to follow the clues to where Gimpy and I are waiting to determine the winner.  Some examples will be "Identify someone wearing the shirt to a band.  Find out their favorite song."  "Get 2 people to send Flip a facebook friend request asking to be invited to The 12 Bars of Christmas".  I'm really excited for it, and I think it will be really good and fun for my friends.

Second piece of exciting news... I'm going as a gingerbread girl for the 12 Bars of Christmas this year, and Gimpy wants to go as the gingerbread man from Shrek!  Not matching, but coordinating for sure...  I've got to start making them both! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meatless Mushroom Pasta

Last week I was visiting my friends in Texas after a 3 day work conference in Austin.  On Saturday, I went to stay with my friend Jena, who is partially responsible for my love of cooking.  Jena and I lived together right out of college, and we'd cook our meals together.  When you're cooking for 2 instead of 1, you can really experiment and try new things. 

Jena and I went to my favorite place - Central Market - to pick up some things to cook for dinner.  It was during their Hail to the Cheese festival, so there were lots of yummy samples to try.  We decided to do a very mushroom pasta dish, and picked up 4 kinds of mushrooms. 

Mushroom Pasta
2 bunches fresh fettucini
Fresh thyme
Handful shiitake mushrooms
Handful chanterelle mushrooms
Handful hen of the woods mushrooms
Handful of matsutake mushrooms
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
3 TBSP half and half - or light cream, whatever you have
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup each shredded asiago, manchego, and parmesean cheeses

Bring water to a boil with salt and three springs of thyme - this will impart the flavor into your pasta.  In a wok, melt the butter, and add all of the chopped mushrooms.  Sautee until tender, add salt and pepper, the leaves of 2 sprigs of thyme, and the cream.  Add in 1/4 cup of the assorted cheeses. 

Drain your pasta, remove the thyme sprigs, and add to the wok.  Mix together the mushrooms and pasta, and top with remaining cheese.  Serve with wine, and enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to Start a Wine Tour...

Some of you may remember me telling you that I was taking a group of people wine tasting this Fall, and last weekend was the big Saturday! 

This was one of my most challenging events to organize, but one that paid off big time.  I created a facebook event asking people in the subject line to read all of the details before responding.  No brainer, right?  Not so much.  So I had my 24 people committed, most paid in the timely manner that I asked, and then a few who I got so mad at (3 weeks delinquent with their money) so I sold away their spots. 
  • Step 1 - Determine pricing, and availability of the minibus.  I used Bus Bank, and would highly recommend them!  I found out it would be $775 for the bus, 8 hours, unlimited stops, and seat 24.  They are nationwide!
  • Step 2 - Find 23 people who will commit and pay upfront by a deadline
  • Step 3 - Book the bus, collect the money
  • Step 4 - Notify the wineries!  We went to 5, and I mapped out ahead of time how long it would take to drive between each locations, and got an idea of how long it would take to have 24 people taste and pay for their wares.  I then called each winery to let them know approximately when we would be there.
  • Step 5 - I traveled with my friend Michelle to Christmas Tree Shops to buy 24 white shirt boxes and a few bunches of tissue paper
  • Step 6 - Have amazing friends, and a boyfriend who is basically perfect...
So the night before wine tasting, I went out and bought 15 bottles of Andre, and my amazing friends Betsey and Chelsea made a ton of sandwiches. 
The next morning everyone met at our local high school at 9:45, and we boarded the bus to take off at 10am!  I was making pitchers of mimosas - 3 bottles of champagne, and a splash of oj.  Gimpy loaded the bus first with stuff, and then with people.  Seriously, I have an awesome boyfriend.  Later that day when I was beyond the point where I could any more, he took over my role of shephearding people onto the bus and keeping us on track. 
When everyone was on the bus, I explained how things would work.  Everyone had a box and some tissue paper, as every winery we went to would be providing them with a tasting glass that they would then take home with them.  They should write their names on the boxes, and keep track of their glasses so that everything made it home.  I then poured everyone their first mimosa of the day, and we did a toast!
We were on our way!  We finished up 18 bottles of andre (Michelle brought a few) before we hit the second vineyard, and began to instruct people to buy a few bottles to share with the bus.  It was an amazing day!  The CT Wine Trail does these neat passports where all 23 wineries have a page that they will stamp and date for you.  I collected all of them and passed them out at the end of the trip.  I had some reservations because of how much work it was, but it was totally worth it in the end!
See?  Wine to Share...

Lessons learned for next time:
1. There's tax on the bus.... Find out how much, and add that into the cost...
2. Don't stress so much about filling the seats, we had a waiting list for this trip, and it will definately fill
3. Add in $5 per person for the bus drivers' tip, and $10 for the beverages.  I lost a ton of money on the champagne and mimosa materials

Next Spring... we're going to hit the Eastern half!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Grains & Chicken Sausage

Last Week I wanted to introduce Gimpy to one of my favorite Fall vegetables - acorn squash.  I started with one acorn squash, cut in half, with the inside (seeds, strings) scraped out and baked in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.  When you put it in the oven, bake it with the cut size up.

In the meantime, I put 1 3/4 cup chicken stock in a sauce pan with 1 1/4 cup of mixed grains - wild rice, quinoa, and couscous.  Bring that to a boil and cook for 15 minutes until tender.  On another burner, melt 1 tablespoon of butter, and chop up 2 jalapeno mango chicken sausages and sautĂ©.

Steam a cup of peas, and then mix the grains, sausage, and peas together.  Place them in the acorn squash and serve!  You can either have them just fill the cavity...

Or you could have it overflowing the edges and cascading down!  Gimpy loved it :)