May 22, 2012

A Sweet and Southern Welcome Party

When I get party submissions from readers, I get so jealous. Case in point, this Sweet Southern Welcome Party, just submitted by Meghan and her team at OFD Consulting. I know you’ve seen her parties here before. Just last winter, Meghan submitted “A Winter Wonderland Holiday Cookie Box Social” and last May, I attended her “A Very Royal Wedding Viewing Party.” Well, she did it again with this Welcome Party for wedding expert Blaithin O’Reilley Murphy all the way from Ireland! Blaithin was a keynote speaker for her wedding marketing workshop called Illuminate. To welcome Blaithin to Virginia, Meghan and Ariana, her stylish partner in crime, themed the party to center around the South and welcomed her in style to Richmond.

Ariana used a navy and yellow color scheme with DIY projects including a doily garland (spray painted to match the party), a repurposed thrift store window for the drink/food menu, an elaborate dessert display set up on top of a desk created from a vintage door, polka dots made from paint chips, and food signs in white frames to match the linens. DIY heaven! Love it all!

A bona fide hit of the evening were the Sweet Tea Lollipops from Mihow on Etsy. Check out her shop!

Located in the corner of the dining room was an old window placed above an old wine barrel. If you look closely enough, the menu was written on the glass panels of the window. Very creative. I see a lot of this done at weddings when brides actually write the seating chart on these old windows. With the addition of a sweet pop of color from the yellow flower, this menu board area is quite attractive.

Love Meghan’s parties because she always have plenty of beverages for guests. The drinks for the evening included sweet tea (with the option to add Firefly Vodka to it…sign me up!), lemonade and Horton’s Cabernet France, a personal favorite of Meghan’s. Now this is my kind of bar area. Look how nice this bar area is put together. Love how the sweet tea and lemonade are both in beverage dispensers. You can find inexpensive ones at those bargain shops like Ross or TJ Maxx, but most likely Bed, Bath & Beyond.

I love mason jars! For my next party, I’ll definitely invest in a case or two. Just adds character to every event. The straws are pretty popular, too. They come in a variety of color and can easily be purchased anywhere online.

The simplicity of the flowers are just so delicate and pretty. Placed in milk-white vases, they go great with the pale yellow tablecloth and the other decoration.

Last, but not least, the barbecue! Here, they set up an area with buns in mini bushel baskets, yellow plates, napkins, sauce and wooden utensils. Great spread to get guests organized before they get to the goods.

The menu was an easy decision for them. Q Barbecue is a regular “guest” at their parties. Blaithin, their special guest, had never eaten Pork BBQ or Macaroni and Cheese, so this was the perfect introduction to Virginia.

Friends at the welcome party. The party planner is Meghan in the right photo in blue. Thanks so much, Meghan for submitting your party to Pretty Tasty Things! Your parties are always so beautiful and whimsical, a true inspiration for anyone planning a party. I know I found some great ideas for my next event, especially recommendations on some local vendors. Thanks!

Here are the special vendors that made it happen:
Catering: Q Barbeque
Linens: Classic Party Rentals
Flowers: Coleman Flowers
Straws: Shop Sweet LuLu
Sweet Tea Lollipops: Lollipops by Mihow
Pies: Westhampton Bakery
DIY Projects: OFD Consulting
Wooden utensils: Webstaurant
Mason Jars: Elegantly Yours Events
Plates/Napkins: Target
Wine: Horton Vineyards

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May 17, 2012

Roasted Corn Salad

From the kitchen of: Isabel   Makes: 6-8 servings
Total time:
30 minutes to prepare

If you’re in need of some color in your life, I have the solution. Make this salad. This is a beautiful, bright, colorful roasted corn salad good-looking to the eyes and to the stomach. The secret is the corn. There’s something about grilling corn directly on a charcoal grill that is out of this world. All the sugars from the corn come alive giving this salad a little sweetness. But with the texture from the pepper, bite from the red onion and heat from the jalapeño, it gives this salad some dimension. It’s light. It’s different. It can be eaten at room temperature or chilled. I’ve added it to a bed of spinach and salad dressing, I’ve even used it as a topping for tacos, or simply, just eaten alone. A seasonal salad, effortless to put together, but very memorable to eat.

6 whole corn
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup orange bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 large jalapeño, fined diced
1 1/2 lemon, juiced
olive oil
salt + pepper

1. Roast the corn.
On a preheated charcoal or gas grill, roast the ears of corn directly on the rack. This will probably take 15-20 minutes. Be sure to rotate the corn occasionally to get a good color all over the corn.

2. Prep veggies. While the corn is grilling, prepare the vegetables. Finely dice the red onion and orange bell pepper roughly the same small size. Chop the cilantro and finely dice the the jalapeño. Place everything in a serving bowl. As soon as the corn is ready, remove from the grill. Allow to cool off for a few minutes. On a cutting board, stand each corn vertically and glide the knife down the cob to remove the kernels. Add the roasted kernels to the bowl of vegetables.

3. Combine everything together. Once you have all the veggies in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, drizzle a heavy dose of olive oil and squeeze fresh lemon juice. Toss everything together. Taste to be sure it’s flavored nicely. Add more seasoning if you think it needs more. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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May 11, 2012

Brown Rice with Chicken Broth & Scallions

From the kitchen of: Isabel   Makes: 2-3 servings
Total time:
45 minutes to cook

I am a white rice kind-of-girl. Always been since the day I was born. It’s what I ate for dinner almost every day growing up in a Filipino household. Never got sick of it or gained too much weight from eating a not-so-healthy grain. For some odd reason though, Jared and I were walking through the grocery store and decided to pick up a bag of brown rice. Yes, brown rice?! Couldn’t believe it myself. My first attempt at preparing brown rice at home went pretty well. There’s really nothing to it. I did, however, add some special touches by using chicken broth instead of water and incorporated chopped scallions to give an oniony taste. This was a nice change of pace to the ordinary white rice. I will definitely give brown rice, more credit.

1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or 2 1/2 cups water, 1 bouillon cube)
4 scallions, chopped

1. Cook the rice.
Prepare the rice according to the instructions on the bag. On medium high heat, bring to a boil the chicken broth (or water with bouillon cube) in a medium saucepan. Add the brown rice and reduce heat to low. Cover and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes until water evaporates and rice is cooked through. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

2. Add scallions. When the rice is cooked fully through, add the chopped scallions and mix together.

3. Serve. As soon as you mix the scallions in, the rice is ready to serve. Pair it with the red snapper with vegetables in a parchment pouch!

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May 8, 2012

Red Snapper with Vegetables Baked in a Parchment Pouch

From the kitchen of: Isabel   Makes: 2 servings
Total time:
15 min to prep, 15-20 min to bake

This technique of cooking isn’t new at all. It’s been around since I can remember watching cooking shows on PBS. Yes, before the Food Network and all those cooking channels we have now, all the cooking shows were on the one and only — Public Broadcasting Service. Well, this particular technique has stuck with me since then because it’s one of my favorite ways to really impress people. I’ve prepared fish in this manner several times before, and I think the best thing about this recipe is the flexibility of ingredients. I’ve used salmon previously, but today I’m using red snapper. I’ve also used a variety of different vegetables in season. The end result is like unwrapping a present. When you remove the pouch out of the oven and unfold the creases, the steam escapes. You peak inside to find a perfectly cooked fish sitting on a bed of vegetables cooked al dente with a salty and rich broth. Best present ever.

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 zucchini, julienned
4-6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 filets of red snapper, or a fish of your choice
1/2 lemon, juiced
soy sauce
olive oil
salt + pepper

1. Prep the vegetables.
Thinly slice the red onion, julienne the zucchini (aka cutting into long thin strips) and slice the crimini mushrooms. Just a tip, be sure to just slice the vegetables uniformly so they all cook fairly evenly. Set the vegetables aside for now.

2. Start assembling the pouch. Lay 2 20-inch parchment paper slices flat on the counter. Place half the veggies on one side of the parchment creating a bed for the fish, and do the same for the other parchment paper. Season the vegetables with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the red snapper (be sure the fish is skinned) on top of each bed of veggies and then season the fish with olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, salt and pepper.

Season the fish!

3. Create the parchment pouch. Fold parchment over the fish and vegetables. Start at one corner of the fold and continue to fold and crimp the edges tightly to seal and enclose the filling completely.

4. Bake and serve. In a preheated 350° oven, place the pouches directly on the rack and bake for 15-20 depending on thickness of the fish. Remove the pouches from the oven and open them carefully. Enjoy with brown rice, which I’ll show you later this week!

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Apr 26, 2012

First Canfield Beer Olympics!

If you enjoy drinking copious amounts of beer while competing in yard games, then this is for you. Jared and I hosted the first “Canfield Beer Olympics” in honor of the summer games and for the honest reason of just because. Technically, it was my idea since my best friend from college was visiting for the weekend. We held Beer Olympics during our senior year at JMU and it was utterly ridiculous. Lets just say, I ended up in the creek tossing a yearbook in the water. LOL. This time around, we were a little older and wiser so there was no falling in the creek or tossing around books. But, it was still loads of fun with some friends. I also came to the realization that I’m not as young as I use to be, and drinking beer fast is not my forte.

I seriously went all out with a handmade Olympic rings and “Canfield Olympics” sign courtesy of Jenny. We prepped the yard with tables, got all the materials out, printed out the games/rules on my clipboard and got the medals ready for the winners. Oh yes, when I throw an event, I go all out. Paper for the rings were from Dollar Tree. Medals from Party City.

If you’re interested in hosting a Beer Olympics at your home, definitely keep it outdoors. Beer on hardwood floor is not a good idea. Have a variety of games that doesn’t involve TOO much drinking. Lets be real here. You don’t want people puking. Invest in a keg and have some can reserves in the fridge. We started around 3:30pm and the keg was kicked by 7 or so. Also, we got a keg of PBR. Go for the cheap, but still drinkable stuff. Last but not least, stick to your house rules. Be loud, if you need to. It makes it easier if you have a game plan and that you stick to them. Now, lets take a look at the games we played:

1. Straw Sippin’ Beer Tray (Team Race): This was the first game, which was probably a good idea since it was a lot harder than you think. This game is a timed-relay challenge. The first team member must drink an ice cube tray full of beer with a regulation-size straw before the next team member begins. The team to complete the race the quickest wins this event.

2. Flip Cup (Team Race): We played this bracket-style. Since we had four teams, 2 teams would compete against each other in a best out of five in the first round. The winners of round one moves on to the championship round.

3. Egg Toss (Partner Race): Each player pairs up with a designated partner from their team. Partners line up across from each other at the top of the yard. Start about a foot away and toss the egg to your partner with the right hand while the left hand is holding a beer. The partner tosses back the egg. After everyone has completed that first toss, the back partner takes a few steps back and the tossing continues. At one point someone will drop their egg. Once that happens they are out of the game and they have to chug a beer.

4. Survivor Flip Cup (Individual Challenge): The rain came and we moved inside to the side-covered porch to play my favorite game, Survivor Flip Cup! Unfortunately, I didn’t last very long, but it was still my favorite. This is like flip cup, but every man for themselves. No teams. Chug, flip the cup and then raise hands. Last person to raise their hands are out. Continues on until you have a winner! Shout-out to Jared for being the ultimate Survivor Flip Cup champ!

5. Beer Pong (Team Race): Last, but not least, Beer Pong. Played bracket-style as well. My house rules were, no bounce, girls can blow and rack at 3-2-1. At that point, I had enough beer and didn’t play. Since this was the fifth game, it was more casual. People were just chilling and watching. I usually play with 6 cups per side, but as you see in the image, that’s clearly not 6 cups. Some teams were playing a very different style of beer pong called Chuck Norris…haha.

Also, had Dizzy Bats ready to play, but no one really wanted to! Incase you wanted to include this in your Beer Olympics, here are the rules: Chug a beer. Run to your bat across the lawn. Spin around the bat three times and then run back to the end of the yard. Each member of the team must compete. Quickest to complete the race wins.

Congratulations to Team Sticky! Beau, Scott, Kyle and Bartos definitely killed it winning three of the the five events becoming the ultimate Beer Olympic Champs! As a prize, they got beer mugs I got from the Dollar Tree :) Thanks everyone for coming out. Hope you had a blast!

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