Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hawaiian Style Grown Up Party and then, my first catered Kid's Party...

Wow! Last week was big. Two parties in one weekend, and again, both total successes. Robin Dawson was AGAIN the most amazing friend ever and swooped in with her graceful hard working dedication to help me bust out loads of food - and even brought treats to keep me nourished through the long prep hours. I really don't know what I would do without her... THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

On to the Parties...

The first was my trade party for Erin O'Kelly-Muck for her AMAZING work on my web site - www.azparties.com - check it out if you haven't already done so. It was her husband Chris's 40th Birthday and they chose a wonderful Hawaiian Style menu. Her family flew in from Colorado and close friends from all over town showed up to celebrate Chris' new celebrity status by a listing in the Ashland Daily Tidings that Erin surprised him with. We were all surprised by the first warm day of spring, and everyone found it highly enjoyable to lounge outside in the late afternoon sun and enjoy each others company until it got to cold to bear.

The menu as follows:
~Mini Kalua Pulled Pork Sandwiches w/ a Pineapple-Sweet Chili BBQ Sauce
~Fresh Spring Rolls w/ a Peanut Sauce
~Sesame Rice Balls stuffed w/ Pickled Vegges and Fresh Sushi-Grade Ahi served w/ Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
~Mac Salad (what Hawaiian Party is complete w/o mac salad?)
~Tropical Fruit Salad (mango, kiwi, pineapple & blood oranges)
~Fresh Cucumber Salad
~Pineapple Upside-Down Cake for dessert - yum yum yum!

The second shin dig of the weekend was for my neighbor Milo's 4th Birthday. He helped me plan the menu, and I've got to say, I had so much fun preparing food for this party. His mother, Shannon, was looking for an all organic and reduced sugar menu; I was impressed with both the menu she chose and the flavor and quality of food that came out.

The Menu:
~Organic Fruit Skewers w/ Strawberris, Kiwi, Blood Oranges, Blueberries, and Apples
~Mini Gorgonzola Tarts w/ Cranberry Chutney on the Side
~Tea Sandwiches (crusts off) cut into small triangles
*Cucumber w/ Dill Cream Cheese on Sourdough
*Almond Butter and Bilberry on Whole Wheat
~Crudites w/ Ranch Dressing
~Reduced Sugar Carrot-Maple Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

I used Maple syrup to sweeten the cake, and thought it turned out absolutely delicious! For those who always wondered how, here's the recipe:

Reduced Sugar Carrot-Maple Cake
w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven 350˚
Line a 15 x 11.5 inch baking pan with parchment paper for easy removal from pan

In a Large bowl, whisk together then set aside:
*3 3/4 cup AP Flour
*2 tsp. baking powder
*1.5 tsp baking soda
*2 tsp cinnamon
*1 tsp nutmeg
*1/4 tsp cloves
*3/4 tsp salt

In cuisinart fitted with shredding blade, process, then add to dry ingredients:
*1.5 pounds carrots, peeled

Wipe out cuisinart, the process for 20-30 seconds:
*1.5 cups maple syrup
*4 eggs

With the machine still running, slowly add until emulsified:
*1.5 cups oil

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, making sure that all is incorporated but take care not to over-mix. Pour prepared batter into pan. Bake 30 minutes total, rotating after 20 minutes to ensure even browning. Done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan up to 2 hours. Invert cake onto sheet pan, then back on to whatever platter you plan to serve it on. Frost (recipe below). Garnish w/ small shreds of carrots placed in a star pattern over cake with poppy seeds in the center of each star. YUM!

Process in clean Cuisinart until combined (about 5 -10 seconds):
*12 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool (1.5 pkg usually)
*8 Tbs. butter, softened but still cool (1 stick)
*2 Tbs. Maple syrup
*1 tsp vanilla extract

Scrape down workbowl as needed then add and process until smooth (about 10 seconds):
*3/4 cup powdered sugar

Enjoy! Let me know how it turns out for you - I'm sure you'll be impressed!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

35th B-Day Party - Appetizers Galore!

Great hors d'oeuvres and cocktails were enjoyed by all last Saturday (the 7th of March) for Megan Danforth's 35th Birthday Party. Frank the Spank poured beverages for the party-goers, and I noticed a marvelous dance party later in the evening where the crowd let loose and looked like they were having a great time. Megan mentioned that many people commented on and loved the food - success! I had so much fun at this event; Appetizer parties are a great way to show off a wide range of culinary delectables and make a large group of folks really happy.

Her menu was as follows:
*Bloody Mary soup Shots
(served in Shot Glasses and Garnished w/ Pan-Seared Spiced Prawns, Celery & Cilantro)
*Mini-Gorgonzola Tarts w/ a Cranberry-Pear Chutney
*Chorizo Stuffed Dates wrapped in Bacon
*Baked Brie with Raspberries
*Savory Fennel and Onion Rolls
*Sun Dried-Tomato & Green Onion Stuffed Mushrooms w/ Parmesan
*Endive Boats w/ Crisp Pears & Apples tossed in a White Onion-Poppyseed Vinaigrette and Garnished with Garden Chives