Sunday, December 23, 2007

2007 Dessert Banquet II

Ok, I'm just having blog issues, so you're going to get everything backwards and in sections. ARG! Anyway, read the other ones for today first if you want this to be in order.

So the next thing is Sesame Crusted Chicken Salad Sandwiches. These ended up being a big hit and were all gone less 2 at the end of the banquet. These are basically a chicken salad containing chicken (obviously), chopped red grapes, pecans, and some seasoning. I used some mayo to hold them together and then sprinkled sesame seeds on the outside for appearance. The regular recipe calls for more sesame seeds, but in order to get them to stick you have to slather the sandwich sides in butter and I did not want to do that.

Numero six is Baklava. This is a distinctly Middle Eastern dessert and I did enjoy some in Israel during my stay there several years ago. It is a combination of crisy buttery phyllo dough, macadamias, pecans, coconut, sugar and honey. It's crispy, sweet, nutty, and yum all in one. I have made these before and they never last. I think they are one of Brandon's favorites.

My last dish is Meringue Mushrooms. These were fun to make because they were super easy, they came out super cute, and they were super melt in your mouth yummy. They didn't go to hot at first because some people thought they were real mushrooms. Others thought they were mushrooms covered in something sweet, but those who indulged got a cotton candy feel of meringue with a hint of dark chocolate in the center. Nothing more, just a meringue cap and a little "hershey kiss" looking bottom attached with some melted chocolate. Lots of fun.

And last, but not least, here is a picture of the table and it's fare. We had more desserts this year than ever before, though until the last two days, there was a question as to whether we had enough. We also had less people due to a threat of a snow storm so there were plenty of leftovers. It went well though and I look forward to the fun next year as well.

Merry Christmas!

2007 Dessert Banquet Offerings

As requested, here are pictures of the things I made for the dessert banquet. They aren't the best pics because I forgot to take pictures until they were almost ready to serve, so forgive me.
First, we have Peppermint Bark. This is the traditional white candy with crushed peppermint in it, only I used white chocolate, and finely crushed candy canes (and not as much as called for) and instead of placing it in a pan and breaking it up it went into candy molds- shapes of hearts, stars, roses, and little wheels. They were easy, cute, and yummy.

Next we have what our family has for years called, "Aunt Bertha's Apricot Nectar Cake". I use the phrase "what we call", because once I got the recipe from Aunt Bertha's cards and discovered that it originated with a friend of hers, but Aunt Bertha (who is 104 years old and still kicking) is the one that made this cake famous. It's similar to a pound cake in texture, but much more moist, has a bit of tart flavor thanks to a combo of lemon flavor and apricot nectar and is incredibly easy as it begins with a box cake mix. AAAAAAAAAH! Scandal! You say....well, don't knock it till you try it!Third is Ye Olde Bloated Cheeseball. I did a little different recipe this year and wasn't as pleased with it. It had less cream cheese than I remembered and the seasonings, while good weren't quite right. So, I'll definately be taking this one back to the kitchen for some more work. I definately prefer the extra sharp cheddar flavor of this one, but I think it will take some tweaking to get it just right in taste as well as in texture. It was a little crumbly and I prefer a smooth spread.

Fourth is Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Mango Chutney. I think these were my favorite thing to make because of the combo of yummy flavors, nostalgia from days in Puerto Rico, and cuteness. Jerk chicken is a Jamacan dish and features chicken with a "jerk" sauce, which is by definition and sauce rubbed on the meat before grilling. It is pasty in texture and the flavor is a variety of cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with onion, jalapenos, garlic, and cilantro. Delicious! The mango chutney is also spicy and is a cooked mango sauce also containing red bell peppers, jalapenos, and some herbs and spices. I was a little disappointed with the selection of mangos, but it didn't seem to ruin the sauce even though I felt the mangos themselves were pretty much a disaster. Sometime I will enjoy making it with some properly ripe, not overipe, sweet as candy mangos and I'm sure then I will see how my earlier attempt pales in comparison.

Now for the nostalgia part. The chicken and chutney goes inbetweeen two tostones, which for the ignorant out there are fried plantains, which are similar looking to bananas, but are more starchy in taste. They are always eaten cooked and when fried in circles and smashed and fried again, taste like french fries (only better) and you would feel quite at home to dip them in ketchup if you adorn your fries in such a manner. Ok, so tostones and then they are tied with a blanched chive to hold it all together. A sensational package and best eaten right out of the pan. Someday, I will do this meal for my family on a non hors d' ouerve scale and I will relish this heaven on earth again.

Long Overdue Update in Pictures

This is our costumes at the Harvest Party at the end of October. Brandon and I are a couple that live on the prarie and the children came as, well...themselves- a bunch of wild indians. Joseph had a little head dress to wear also, but he ended up in bed for the entire thing and thus was not present for the picture taking session. They had a great time with their rock and stick tomahawk and their drum. They played with the headdresses for several days afterwards. Many thanks to my mother for her unending costume collection.

Next we have Joseph at nine months (mid November) and he is now in fact ten months. He is crawling, standing up, drooling like mad and being a generally happy baby. His one fault is that he thinks he is the center of the universe and until I manage to let him know that is my spot, we will be having a few unpleasant times. He's a cute cuddly little boy and sort of feels like holding a little ball or rolly polly, though he is not fat. I love him very much! He's a lot of fun.

Here we have the monthly toilet episode. What you cannot see in that rubbermaid container is actually the entire toilet bowl from the down stairs bathroom. You see, we have had issues with it for quite some time. Actually, it wasn't the toilet's fault as much as it was the 3 yr old's fault. The seat was clogged in before the feast in September and so after begging on my knees someone replaced it, desite their busy schedule. We had been unable to keep it unclogged. So we had the feast and the new one worked beautifully during that time and the few days after. Then we went on vacation and from the time we returned from vacation, the toilet refused to flush properly. Since I have been taught by my father that I can fix anything if I want to bad enough, I decided that after plunging it and getting others to plunge it and seeing that unsuccessful and others VERY busy, I would attempt to fix the problem myself. I pulled the toilet up and worked on it for quite some time. I got a toy purse out of the toilet and then assuming that was the problem, put the thing back together again. I was quite proud of myself, but when I flushed it, I immediately felt more in the failure category as it managed to remain clogged. SO, I PULLED IT UP AGAIN!!!!! And after hours of working on it, discovered that their was a clog in the drain pipe AND something else still in the toilet. I unclogged the pipe fairly easily, but the THING in the toilet wouldn't budge. I tried everything. A "snake", a piece of hose, a coat hanger, Brandon and I even tried to bribe the kids, "If you can reach your hand in that pipe as far as it can go and pull out a toy, you can have a prize. " Alas, all children participated in the bribe and none came up successful. The closest we came was James who said he felt something like a block in their but he couldn't get it out. At this point I was ready to use a sledge hammer. Brandon saved the toilet's short life and tried another tactic. He took it up to the tub, put the toilet bowl in a rubbermaid container and filled it full of soapy hot water. After letting it soak for a while, he went up and plunged on it in the bucket. When that didn't work he resorted to plunging the toilet up and down in the water, thus, in a way, plunging the toilet backwards and up floated a little toy- the playmobile treasure chest, complete with lid. After a thorough scrubbing and a nice LONG soak in hot soapy water and and nice LONG soak in lemon juice, we returned the treasure chest to the pile of toys (so we know where our toys have been and now you do too) Wanna come play? Bwa hahahahaha!

This is the celebration of the holiday, "Pile on Mama Day". Actually we celebrate this numerous times in the year, but there are only one or two days that I find the energy to enjoy it. And as with many other things in life: why do we do this? Answer: It feels good when I stop.

And finally for this post, we have Joseph at 10 Months. Complete with food on his face.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Bug that won't Go Away

Just a quick note to say that I am not dead....yet. The family has been sick now for almost 2 and a half weeks. Brandon started it...for the record. He came down with some sort of nasty flu and cough and such that kept him virtually in bed for a week. We drug him to Thanksgiving at his parents and there he began to recover after getting an antibiotic for a sinus infection. Jonathon is on his second round of antibiotics for two ear infections that were so bad they didn't get any better with the first round and in fact he couldn't hear hardly at all. I was practically yelling at him to hear me at all, James also had ear infections, but one round of antibiotics took care of him and he has been doing well every since. Jeff got an ear infection and it's too bad because he only has one to hear from anyway and it is not working right now. Rachel took a visit to the ER for and ear infection (I couldn't get a dr. apt.) and thus joined the crew of those on ammoxicillin. The latest was Joseph and he got his drugs today. I got sick on Tuesday, felt better Wed. and Thurs., felt miserable Friday, had a fever and felt yucky on Saturday. better on sunday and better today, though my throat feels like is was scraped with a serated knife. So, we are continuing on and I think we are over the hump, but we still have a ways to go.

And on that note, I must retire from this excitement to match socks.