Monday, April 25, 2011

Salmon Shells in a Creamy Tomato Sauce

A few weeks ago we had free biometric screenings at work.  The good news, is that everything about me was wonderfully healthy except my good cholesterol levels were low - they told me I need to eat more salmon!  Gimpy and I love salmon, but it's one of those things that I feel like I have to buy the day I'm going to cook it.  So, on Good Friday I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up some salmon fillets and made a creamy tomato sauce with shells and salmon.

Salmon Shells in a Creamy Tomato Sauce
2 salmon filets
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp tomato paste
15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 cups small shells

Spray a sautee pan with a little olive oil and heat to medium.  When the pan is hot, add the salmon filets.  Make sure your pan is hot, or the fish will stick!  In the meantime, bring salted water to a boil and cook your pasta.
In a small bowl, mix the heavy cream until it gets foamy and doubles in size.  Mix in the tomato paste.  Cook your fish about 3 minutes per side, until they turn more opaque.  Remove the skin, add in the tomato halves, and chop the fish into small pieces.  Add the pasta.
Once the pasta, tomatoes, and salmon are mixed together, add the cream sauce, toss together and add salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

You've Been Invited to a Dinner Party

You've been invited to a dinner party.  Your hostess is known for how much she loves to cook, entertain, and being your only friend that has a dining table that extends to seat 12 comfortably.  It's a major religious holiday, and she's stressed several times that she'd like you to bring wine.  Wine only.  Please, please don't bring anything but wine.  I'm serious, all she needs you to bring is wine.  You know that stuff that they mostly make from grapes that's got an alcohol content and comes in a pretty bottle?  Yeah... that stuff. 

Do not bring:
  • Any side dish
    • She's probably got that covered
  • Any appetizer
    • Chances are this hostess already has appetizers planned
  • If you've asked her if you should bring it, and she says no, don't bring it
  • Anything to be consumed that night that she hasn't specifically requested
When someone invites you to a dinner party, it is lovely and thoughtful to bring a gift to your host and hostess.  Chances are, they've spent a fair amount of money on food, flowers, candles, etc., and it's a lovely gesture.  Chances are also good that they've spent weeks planning their menu and they don't really want you to bring anything else for people to eat, because it can be perceived as a bit insulting (What?  You don't think I'm going to serve enough that you like or want to eat?  You think I'm not going to have appetizers, or enough sides?).

Flowers Brought to me for Thanksgiving - Great Idea!
 The things you can bring as a hostess gift to a dinner party are pretty simple
  • A nice bottle of wine or champagne for them, not something you're going to drink at said party, but actually a gift for your hosts
  • Flowers.  Flowers are always welcome and nice
  • A gift basket - you can bring them cheeses, crackers, jams, coffee, etc in a gift package for them - JUST NOT TO BE SERVED AT THE DINNER PARTY
  • A thoughtful gift for their house
  • If you must bring something edible, bring a dessert.  Italian cookies, brownies, etc.  Something simple.
I had a conversation with B this morning about this.  I don't understand if people just weren't raised the way we were to know these things, but I am always shocked when someone informs me that to Easter they are bringing wine, and like 6 kinds of cheese to sample before dinner!  Just say no, and practice safe dinner party etiquette. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wine Tasting Makes a Long Drive Easier

This title makes me sound like I drink and drive.  I don't - that's dangerous people!  It was just a little wine tasting!  As I mentioned before, Gimpy's brother got married this weekend down in Virginia Beach, which is quite the drive from home for us!  We were making pretty good time, when I saw a sign that said Chatham Vineyards, 3.2 miles with a left facing arrow.  I clearly had to stop, because you know Gimpy and I love to wine taste!
We tried all of their wines and had a lovely chat with the woman who works there.  She was funny, because she tried to talk a good game on the whites, but you could tell she loves her red wine!  We did too, and purchased our tasting glasses and some of their Vitner's Blend, before getting back on the road!  

As we drove further down the road, we saw another vineyard, but missed the turn off.  Apparently there are 140 wineries in the state of Virginia, so we figured we might see another one!  Sadly, we did not, until we got to Maryland. 

Gimpy was sleeping, I was driving, and we were supposed to be finding a place to stop for lunch when I saw it - a simple road sign that was just a bunch of grapes and an arrow.  I had to think fast, so I quickly jumped in the left lane and slowed for the turn.  Gimpy woke up in a daze, and I simply said "Vineyard, 5 miles this way."  It was on.  We drove down some windy twisty roads and came upon Bordeleau Vineyard.  It was stunning!  A beautiful brick house nestled among vines, and right along the lake.  Their tasting room was exquisite, and we were fortunate enough to meet Tom, the owner and winemaker! 
We tasted, we tasted some more, and we fell in love.  No, not with each other (silly), but with their 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and their 2009 Cab Franc.  Tom ensured that we'd be back after the wedding we have in June because these two wines that we needed - were not yet bottled.  We'll be back Tom, and we'll be buying several of each!  

We came back with a bottle of their Wicomico Red for my sister and a bottle of cabernet for us.  All in all, a great little detour that I'd totally recommend! 

I Cook More Than You, and Entertain More Than You....

So why can't I have a registry too?

We just got back from Gimpy's brother's wedding this weekend, and last night had dinner with some friends who are getting married in June, so I have registries on the brain.  Plus with Easter coming up, I keep thinking of all the serving dished and things I wish I had. 

I also want a new wine rack.  Gimpy and I have been venturing to more wineries lately, which is a lot of fun, but we have too much wine now and no place to put it.  Gimpy told me I can't buy one because we both need to save money, and I agree with him totally because I really want a house.

What I should probably do, is just bring my wine rack, that never stays full, over to his place, but then we'd have nothing at Liberty, and there would be no place to put my wine glasses.  I basically just need to stop indulging myself, save my money, buy my little house, and then pull a V and invite everyone over for a housewarming, where they can buy things off MY registry...  I just don't understand why you have to wait until you're married to have people buy you things to "help you get started on your life together".  I've started my life, and it's a pretty darn good one! 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Do You Love Jello Shots Like I Love Jello Shots?

A few months ago, a friend sent me a link to an Austin Wedding Blog that was talking about these amazing little jello shot creations.  I wanted ALL of them.  Today, I finally found the genius behind it all. 

The Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.  Have you heard of it?  Go.  Now.  It'll change the way you look at alcoholic jello forever.  I mean, who wouldn't want to make Candy Cane Martini Jello Shots?

Or Cosmopolitan Jello Shots?  Seriously, if I ever get married, I WILL be serving these.

Or espresso style at a brunch?

Oh!  Watermelon Basil Martini Shot.  I might be in love... sorry Gimpy, these look amazing!

Or for those of you who know my deep love of Sweet Tea Vodka, you know I'm going to try to make these Arnie Palmers with the Skinny Sweet Tea Vodka!
Oh Summer... You're about to get more interesting...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Koozies Ordered, Countdown Begins!

We are officially 45 days from the Third Annual Preppy Pub Crawl. That's approximately 1,080 hours, or 64,800 minutes, or 3,888,000 seconds.  Last year was so much fun, that I am already thinking about my outfit for this year, and just ordered our koozies today.  They'll be teal, with pink writing and an anchor - so excited!

For my outfit this year, I want something like this:

  Or something like this:

I am leaning toward the Vineyard Vines option because my friend works there and can get a discount... Thoughts?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Easter Menu 2011

Last year for Easter I adopted all of my "orphan" friends.  People who either weren't going to be with their families because of distance or scheduling, and hosted dinner at my house.  It turned into a crazy night

This year I've decided to step it up a notch and have started working on my menu, it's nearly complete, and I'm getting excited.  The one snag, is that I've decided I really want to make two tarts.  One is a wild mushroom tart with a bit of truffle oil, and the other is an asparagus tart.  Lovely and filled with Spring flavors!  Leftover they would also be amazing for dinner with salad.  I don't have any tart pans right now, but Williams Sonoma has a great one for $9.  I think I may have to invest in a few...

I'm thinking my menu will lay out like this...

Shrimp cocktail
Baked brie
Deviled eggs
Artichoke dip

Sugarcane baked ham with spiced apples and pears
Honey glazed carrots and sugar snap peas
Asparagus tart
Wild mushroom tart
Caesar salad in parmesan bowls
Rolls (according to Gimpy, as long as they are soft, warm, and buttery, he'll be happy)
Maybe another side?  Not sure....

Strawberry rhubarb crumble with vanilla bean ice cream
Rhubarb wine sangria 
       (Putney Mountain Winery makes a rhubarb wine that we got a bottle of that would be perfect with this)
Carrot cake with homemade cream cheese frosting

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge

Tomorrow is the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Finals, and my dad is racing his snowboard in the finals (he qualified in the 60+ category, yes, he's badass). While he has no expectations of winning, he invited us all to go up and ski/snowboard for the day and have a fabulous tailgate in the parking lot.

It's a small group heading up, but I found some great discounted lift tickets on Liftopia and we'll be on the road at like 6:30 in the morning (yikes!).  All day long there will be tons of free stuff they are giving away - muscle milk, mountain dew, cranberry juice, floss (haha), etc., music, and games.  It should be a great time!

I am bringing my little tailgating grill, and will be grilling up some of my favorite jalepeno mango chicken sausage, turkey burgers, veggie skewers, and rocking the chips and salsa.  Oh and beer.  Lot's of beer - though mostly for everyone else to drink because I'll be driving home... It'll be a long day, but it should be a blast!