Category Archives: Entertaining

‘Tis The Season

I have been a terrible blogger lately.  Where have I been?  I don’t know, really.  But I suppose it is time for a life update, as Christmas (and two long weekends in a row!) is coming.

My house is clean right now.

The living room has been vacuumed.  The floors have been swept.  The kitchen and the bathroom have been wiped down.  Generally, having a clean house isn’t a massive concern of mine because we clean our house on a weekly basis.  But right now it is clean and I am feeling centered.

Last weekend, I offered my house up for the annual holiday party one of my sorority sisters throws because she felt her place was too small.

Last night we hosted our annual Chrismakkuh party.  It was a hoot.  I think when all was said and done, we probably had about 40 people through and most of them were in our tiny townhouse at the same time.  We love throwing this party every year, but this year it was more special because we will not see a lot of these friends again until after Critter is here.

This week, Marcus and I will host both of our families for our first ever holiday at the townhouse – Christmas Eve.  I know that right now you are all thinking that this is of course the most traditional first holiday for a young Jewish family to host.  But my parents sold my childhood home this year, they still haven’t bought a new house, and our space is larger than theirs for entertaining.  So we will have it here.

As we enjoy this tiny break in the action, I am just happy to be at home with my feet up on the couch.  After Christmas Day is done, I want to say that I have all of five plans on the calendar between December 26th and Critter’s due date.  This is simultaneously Appropriate and Really Bizarre because I don’t know that I’ve ever not had plans like that before.  But who knows when Critter could arrive!

Despite the slew of pies I have been actioning lately, today I decided to bake some cookies because I have done zero cookie baking and I feel like holidays call for…cookies?  My first batch of cookies (thumbprint) were a total failure.  As in, the centers of the cookies fell out and I had to toss them in the trash.  This would be a tragedy, except the cookie base was from a Betty Crocker bag (I should have known better) and thus not a great deal of effort was exerted.  It was mostly horrifying as I transferred the cookies to my cooling racks and watched as the centers slid through the racks and right onto the towel below.

Not to worry, my second batch of cookies, Egg Nog Logs, were big winners.  Look.

Egg Nog Logs

I even got to wheel out my really tiny sieve for the first time so that I could delicately sift some nutmeg on top of the frosting.  I scarfed down two of them as soon as they were frosted, without hesitation.  It is safe to say that I will be making these every year for the rest of my life, such is their deliciousness (and non-excessive level of difficulty).  There’s still time for you to whip up a batch before Christmas, too.

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Party Weekend

Hey hey, friends.

In case you are wondering what the definition of insanity is, it is hosting two parties at your house the weekend before you head off on vacation for two and a half weeks.

That being said, you have to make hay while the sun shines.  And we know that we have one heck of a long weekend coming up!

First on the docket: The third annual Magyfest.

Three years ago, we decided that we weren’t going to attend the Winterfest thrown by the Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild anymore because to be totally honest, it was really expensive.

So instead we e-mailed all of our beer fest-going friends and invited them to our house.  We told them to bring $30 of good beer each and a dish to pass.  Three years later, we’re still doing it and the people are still coming.

Magyfest 1 Magyfest 2 Magyfest 3

The food is good, the beer is better and we’ve found that everyone brings enough beer that the party serves as a sort of impromptu beer swap – because everyone gets to bring a “party favor” six pack back home with them!

Tonight (Sunday) we hosted an engagement party for Emily and Chris.  Emily is one of my sorority sisters and bridesmaids and I am so glad to share in this next part of her life.  We worked a heavy belated-Valentine’s day theme because that was her request and I think that it was really quite perfect.

The food.

EParty 2

The decorations.

EParty 3

The bride-to-be and me!

EParty 4

Another one of our dear sorority sisters, Jenna, was such a saint and brought balloons, some appetizers and some desserts.  It would have been just impossible to do without her!

As you can see from the snap above, I made everyone wear nametags so that friend groups and family could mix and mingle.  It was a real lifesaver.  There was eating, drinking and merriment.  And, no sooner had our party guests left than I directed Marcus to drag out our suitcases because it’s time for us to get packing!

 

 

Dinner Party

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Most Important Order of Business: This morning I woke up and felt fine. We are already battle-planning for October 22nd.

Prepare Yourselves Emotionally.

Tonight, a dinner party. With The World’s Greatest Trifle as a grand finale.

The cake? Not sponge, rum. WITH a glaze. Yes, it’s exactly like you imagine.

Run, don’t walk.

Perhaps if we’re lucky, Mom will share the recipe in the comments!

A Shower of Yellow and White

When Christine asked me on New Year’s Eve if I would plan Madelyn’s bridal shower with her, I said Absolutely Yes.  She is one of my loveliest friends and I am honored that I get to share in and celebrate this part of her life with her.

So, celebrate we did.

What I failed at: Getting pictures of the guests ensemble.  Getting pictures of anyone other than Madelyn.  Getting pictures of Madelyn doing anything other than unflattering shower game stuff.

So we’re just not going to go there.

Let’s go here instead.

On the tables: a mix of tulips, spider mums and daffodils.  Crystal candlesticks.  It was a lovely mix of high and low, and created a nice sight line across the table.

I didn’t even know I had that description in me.

For lunch: Party Salad.  Gruyere and Swiss fondue with the following dippers: Tots, Baguette, Broccoli, Bell Peppers, Apples.

Beverages: Raspberry Simply Lemonade.  Red and White Sangrias.  Water.

For the “Bride” frame (and some menu printables that didn’t really show up in the tablescape snaps) I used these Chevron Stripe printables from The Wedding Chicks.

I will be using them for everything in the future and you should too.  Because how easy is it to send something to your printer and cut it out/frame it and call it a day decor-wise?

I was completely miserable at getting snaps of the dessert display, which is basically a crying shame because we had the sterling, the cake stand and the cupcake tree going ensemble.

So, rather, here is a view of what remained in my house as of 7:30 PM CST.

The Orange Crunch Layer Cake.  For the record, even though it’s a profile shot, there’s still like 1/3 of a cake there.

And Christine’s infamous Crack Bars.

What didn’t survive: Emily’s German Chocolate Brownies.

All in all, it was a successful afternoon of feasting, laughter and celebration for one of our favorite girls.

What are the highlights of the best showers you have attended?

Like the Swan, Paddling Furiously

Kittens, I must be on a roll this week.  Or something.

Christine and I are throwing a bridal shower tomorrow for Madelyn.  We’re having it here.  I think it’s going to be 11/10 lovely.

Based on the flowers that have taken over my table, I didn’t believe such pretty things could happen in these four walls.

Apparently they will.

There will be time for that later.

But like the swan, even though everything looks fine above the water, underneath I’m paddling furiously.

Today I made my first layer cake.

Yes, seriously.

It went well, I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

And because I was majorly wanting to check things off of The List, I frosted it on the cake stand.

Not a big deal.

Except for that part where I decided that it should definitely take up residence in my already-packed refrigerator for the night.  And the revelation that apparently Crate and Barrel sells cake stands that don’t have covers.

Even with the skewers that I inserted into the cake, my attempts at fashioning a cake-sized pup tent out of tin foil and plastic wrap failed miserably.

I took a breath, I took a step back.

I found myself improvising once more.

White Trash Cake Stand Cover, get at me.

What has the most colorful part of your weekend been?

Pairings Tasting Dinner

Last night’s tasting dinner at Pairings was an absolute hit.  When I found out I had won the event, I felt pretty darned lucky.  Last night made me realize that it was kind of like winning the beer drinker/foodie’s lottery.  It was the perfect night to be able to spend with good friends.

When we arrived, we were informed that another group was holding our room hostage.  It was not the most ideal situation, but thankfully we’re an extremely patient group.

Their events planner was incredibly apologetic and their beer/wine manager shared a sour cherry beer from Odell with us while we were waiting.  Beyond the odd lambic, I’m a total newcomer to sour beers, so it was really great to start off the night by sampling a new-to-me beer.

Once we got seated, things were really above and beyond.  In retrospect, I should have taken a menu with so I could do a better job of describing the Belgian beers we sampled, but at least I managed to get a snap of everything that was poured from a bottle.

For our first course we enjoyed a lovely cheese platter that included a couple of wonderful hard cheeses and a beautiful bleu cheese from Mankato (about 1.5 hours outside of the cities).  Three passes around the table later, we had devoured it all.

The second course was a crab cake slider with a saffron caper aioli and truffled fries.  The wooden boat-spoon combination is kind of lovely from a plating perspective, no?  Quite honestly, I could have called it a meal (and a night!) at that point, but what fun is a tasting dinner if the food doesn’t keep coming?

For our main course we were served a fried chicken breast covered in a whole grain mustard sauce with roasted root vegetables and brussels sprouts.  They also tucked in a few cornichons, which provided the dish with a  great texture/acidity contrast.

Last but not least (because obviously we were still starving), we had chocolate tarts for dessert.  They were a ganache base with a mocha whipped mousse topping and decked with crispy pearls.  I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I ate all of mine and part of Marcus’.

To finish, we wrapped up the meal with a couple of glasses of Barley Wine.  Once the beer/wine manager found out that we were beer fiends, he felt that we should sample more than the basic Belgian spread he had originally planned.  Even though those capped off the meal as samples six and seven, they were 11/10.

Are you a slider person or do you prefer full-sized sandwiches?

There are a few sandwiches that I prefer in their full size (Burgers from The Bulldog NE, Reubens) but other wise I LOVE sliders 11/10.  Especially if there’s some sort of sampling involved.

Beer drinkers, what is your favorite beer?  Feel free to share a style or your favorite brewery/bottle!

1991 Called…

As I type this I’m enjoying a glass of Pinot Grigio and a bowl full of Healthy Pop kettle corn.  That stuff is magic.  We’ll be bolting out the door in a few minutes for the beer tasting dinner I won at Pairings forever ago.

When I sat down with their events planner in September, I basically gave them free rein to surprise us.  We’re beer lovers, and letting people do what they do best usually gives you the best end result.

It’s like we’re throwing another holiday party, except someone has gone and done all of the work already for me.  I can’t wait to relax and enjoy it.

Last night we threw our first annual Catanmas party.  It was a tribute to good friends, good beer, ugly sweaters and Catan.  Linds made me swear up and down that I would try to capture the glamour that happened.

Here is our one and only photo.  Behold.

It’s hard to process, really.  1991 called.  They want their Made in the U.S.A. polyester back.

Have you ever attended a tasting/pairing dinner before?