Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — Entertaining

cooking day 1- Friday

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

My real work for Chanté and Cody’s wedding weekend, began on Friday morning. Extremely. Early. On Friday morning!

Sleeping in a “camping cabin” was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it gave me more hours in the day to cook and get all I needed to get done finished. A curse because I was bright-eyed but not quite bushy-tailed at 4:45 AM on Friday morning and 3:45 AM on Saturday morning.

On those mornings, at those times, I awoke needing to use the bathroom. At home when that happens, I stumble a few steps, in the dark to the toilet, with eyes closed, do my business, stumble back to bed and immediately fall back to sleep.

When the bathroom is in the forest, across a little road, up a slight incline and it is a public bathroom … well, the eyes closed, barefoot, nearly naked, stumbling routine does not fly. Shoes must be put on, more clothing is needed and the flashlight on the phone gets activated.

And on that first morning, when I turned on bathroom light, what I thought was a bat flew in through the slightly cracked window and into the stall I was in. It turned out to not be a bat, but an extremely large bat-size moth. So basically, by the time you get back to your little cabin after that experience, you are fully awake. Time to start the day! In the dark.

Friday morning, I got dressed, drove up the windy road to Rec. 2 and started cooking. Since it was still dark and there were not only the cabins that our people had rented out, but also campgrounds nearby, I locked myself in the kitchen. Once the sun came up, I opened the windows and the door and kept working.

The photo above was taken from the doorway into the kitchen. Soon after I opened that door, I was standing at the sink, with my back to said door, when I heard a little rustling behind me. I quickly turned around to see a deer standing in the kitchen. He was fully inside, with his hind feet on that door mat. He had walked up the stairs of the stone patio and came inside without an ounce of fear.

When I turned, he slowly stepped back, out the door and onto the patio. Obviously, it was breakfast time. I grabbed my phone and pulled out a bag of carrots.

It wasn’t until then that I noticed that he’d brought his herd of 6 more sweet deer along for the morning meal.

I fed them all, then they were on their merry way. The next morning, they got corn. I’m aware that they are used to this treatment, but it just made my day.

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

June 20, 2018   2 Comments

wedding weekend – Thursday

Yesterday, I gave you a lay of the land for the wedding weekend in  Hualapai Mountain Park. I failed to mention that this all took place over Mother’s Day weekend and that the Hualapai Mountains are just outside Kingman, AZ., in the northwest corner of our beautiful state.

And see those deer in the corner of the map above?

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Yeah, they are there because the deer are so tame in the park, that they eat out of your hand, walk into kitchens and pose in wedding photos.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Yes, that is the handsome groom, Cody, trying to have wedding photos taken. Obviously, the deer didn’t want to be upstaged. I too, had a fun encounter with a herd of deer… we’ll get to that tomorrow.

First, I want to tell you about the brilliant and life-saving idea my friend and mother of the groom, Kim Howard, had.

A few weeks before the wedding, Kim realized that we had much more food to bring up than we could ever fit into coolers. She knew there had to be refrigerated trailers out there that we could rent and she went about searching for one that would fit our needs and budget.

She found the perfect one at Mobile Cooler. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without this thing! As you can see, it can be used for beer kegs, but we just used it as a mobile refrigerator.

The refrigerator in the Rec. 2 kitchen would not have held a tenth of the food we brought up. In fact, this photo shows us toasting after my first full day of cooking and as you can see, items are nearly falling out… this is nothing compared to what was still in the refrigerated trailer at this point.

Here is a photo I sent to Kim on the Wednesday before we left. It is my kitchen island after unpacking the goods I bought at Food City. I also shopped at Costco, Safeway, Fry’s, Trader Joe’s, A.J’s and Smart & Final. I didn’t begin shopping for perishables until after the trailer arrived, because I didn’t have room in my two refrigerators for it all.

Kim really did save the day. Actually, she saved the weekend!

The trailer was delivered to my driveway on Tuesday evening. I plugged it in and it was chilled to the perfect temperature in less than an hour. I began filling it up on Wednesday morning and we had it filled and ready to hitch up to Kim and Paul’s mid-size SUV on Thursday morning.

Cody enlisted the help of one of his employees, Eloy, to help get everything up to the site, unload it all and then reload and bring it all home on Sunday. Eloy was the first to arrive at my house on Thursday morning. He had his truck and an open flat-bed trailer. He filled both to the brim with the majority of my patio furniture, 20 folding chairs, two 60-inch round, two 6-foot folding tables, an 8-foot folding table, card tables, etc. along with quite a bit of goodies from Miscellany Shed. The photo above shows some of the decor/serving items that went back into the shed on the Monday after the wedding.

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

June 19, 2018   2 Comments

Hualapai Mountain Park

Photo credit: Lake Havasu LIVING Magazine

Hualapai Mountain Park, in the beautiful Hualapai Mountains, was the setting for Chanté and Cody’s wedding.

Hualapai means “People of the tall Pines” in the Hualapai language and the park is part of the Mohave County Parks Department.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

There are 24 rustic cabins that sleep from two to twelve. Nineteen of those are equipped with beds, tables, gas ranges, refrigerators, heaters, electricity, bathrooms and showers, hot and cold water and most have fireplaces or wood stoves. Each cabin also has a barbecue grill and picnic table outside.

One of the five camping cabins

The remaining five cabins are called “camping cabins” and have a double-size bunk bed, table, microwave oven and an under-counter refrigerator. The restrooms/showers for the camping cabins are located just across a small road.

Cody and Chanté visited in November, 2017 and rented all the cabins. All but the one that was already reserved, that is. In mid-January, 2018, over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Cody, Chanté, along with Cody’s parents, Paul and Kim, and I visited to get a lay of the land and make a plan for the wedding and reception. Well, honestly, the couple already had a grand vision, they shared it with us and we collectively made a plan on how to execute it.

They knew that they wanted the reception to be in front of three of the five camping cabins. The three were on level ground, while the remaining two cabins were down a slight incline. When partying, dancing and alcohol are involved, it’s rather important that level ground is also involved.

The first cabin was to be the bar, the middle was for the band and dance floor and the third was my staging cabin for the food, with a buffet dinner set-up directly in front of it.

Along with the cabins and camping facilities, the park also has three recreation areas. Each has a full kitchen, restroom, playground and a lighted ramada with picnic tables. We had Rec. 2 – Pine Knoll. The stone and wood lodge was built in 1983 and has electricity, hot and cold water, a sink, refrigerator, stove-oven, wood burning stove and two tables to use as work area.

Rec. 2 was up a steep switchback road from the camping cabins. I can’t even count how many times I drove from the camping cabins up to Rec. 2 and then back down again. My cabin for the weekend was the fourth of the camping cabins. That will come into play in later descriptions of the wedding weekend. Although, I spent the majority of my time inside Rec. 2. Not a bad place to work for a weekend!

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

June 18, 2018   No Comments

Connor’s birthday pie

Connor asked for Banana Cream Pie for his birthday this year. He’s always been a chocolate sort of guy, but I’m thinking he gets enough chocolate at his job. Funny thing is, I love pie. I prefer it 100% over cake. But I don’t care for Banana Cream Pie. Any other cream pie, and I’m game, but banana, no thanks. Thing is, it wasn’t my birthday, so banana cream pie it was!

I used a Martha Stewart recipe. I think the only thing I changed was I did not make my pie crust. Instead, I used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. It is my recent go to and can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, near the “pop and fresh” rolls and such.

I intended to add shaved chocolate to the top before serving, but forgot. It would be a nice touch, if you’re so inclined.

Unfortunately, in the rush to get the candles on the pie and serve it, I forgot to take a photo of the finished product.

Instead, please enjoy this photo of a half eaten pie. 🙁

Banana Cream Pie

  • 1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 large whole egg, lightly beaten, plus 4 large egg yolks, divided
  • 8 medium-ripe bananas
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Shaved chocolate, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Unroll refrigerated pie crust and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Fold under overhang so it extends slightly beyond edge of pie plate. Crimp edge as desired. Prick dough all over with a fork. Brush rim of dough with beaten egg. Chill pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line the chilled pie crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges of crust turn golden, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights. Return crust to oven, and continue baking until golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes more. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare an ice bath; set aside. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks; set aside. In a saucepan, whisk together milk, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Bring to a simmer (do not boil), and cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.

In a slow and steady stream, whisk about a quarter of the hot-milk mixture into egg yolks; whisk in remaining milk mixture.

Strain into a clean saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until custard is thick and bubbles appear in center, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Set in ice bath until completely chilled, 30 to 35 minutes. (Filling can be kept in refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day.)

Cut 4 of the bananas into 1/4-inch slices, slightly on a diagonal. Beginning on the outside edge of the pie crust, arrange the slices, slightly overlapping.

Make another circle inside the outside circle and a few more in the very center.

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

June 11, 2018   1 Comment

Creole Potato Salad

This is the last of the creole recipes from Connor’s birthday, which was now more than two weeks ago. Plus, I still need to post the recipe for the dessert he requested, banana cream pie. Oops.

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

June 9, 2018   No Comments

better than cornbread

This may have been my favorite dish from Connor’s birthday dinner. I found the recipe on Saveur.com. It’s originally from Brigtsen’s Restaurant in New Orléans.

Baked in individual ramekins, this cornbread with jalapeño and shrimp, is so much more than cornbread.

To make them hot and fresh: Just before serving. I cooked the shrimp mixture and set it aside, whisked together the flour/corn meal mixture and set it aside. Then, combined the wet ingredients, covered and refrigerated that, all done in the late morning. Thirty minutes before we were to sit down at the table, I preheated the oven and put it all together. They were ready to serve at exactly the right time with very little last minute effort.

And, of course, I served Harmony Boards for his dinner too. I’m creating and serving them every chance I get. It helps to practice before Kim and I make our new business venture official.

These birthday boards were fruit and cheese, with only a few slices of salami thrown in for good measure.

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

June 4, 2018   1 Comment

the other entrée

I served these chicken breasts along with the pop-pop-popular Baby Back Ribs at my Memorial Day BBQ. People raved about the ribs but must have enjoyed these too, since they were all gone at the end of the evening.

I also made a couple of Harmony Boards, one fruit and one crudités.

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

May 31, 2018   2 Comments

Trader Joe’s quick app

In the span of seven days, I had people, mostly family, over for appetizers or dinner on four separate occasions. If it’s not the same people each time, I tend to repeat at least one or two of the dishes, over and over.

This time around, one of the easy appetizers I put out was a mix of two of my favorite frozen items from Trader Joe’s.

I like TJ’s frozen Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip and I love their frozen Mexican-Style Roasted Corn with Cotija Cheese.

I thought that they would be great mixed together and served warm with chips. I was correct!

First cook the corn according to package directions. It has yummy frozen sauce chunks just as their risotto and some of their other frozen products do … yummy!

Next, microwave the spinach-artichoke dip according to package directions, then add as much corn as you would like. I added about 1 cup of the corn.

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

April 25, 2018   No Comments

dirty little secret

Honestly, it’s more of a dirty little tip that I have for you today.

It’s no secret that one of my favorite cocktails to make is Mules. Everyone knows that Mules are best served in copper cups. They’re hip, on trend and they keep the cocktail ice-cold for a very long time.

They most recent Mules I made were for Steve and Tram’s St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. Here are links to some of the Mule recipes I’ve posted:

My collection of copper mugs has grown to 20. Most are vintage. Seventeen of the twenty are as shiny as a new penny. They stay that way because they are sealed.

Sadly, the sealant has come off the other three and they tarnish quickly. But there is a fix for that.

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page

March 24, 2017   No Comments

Guinness Fondue

Sweet Zoey and me testing the appetizer I made for Tram and Steve’s St. Patrick’s Day/Going-Away dinner party last Friday night. Zoey and Zak were not fans of the Guinness Fondue, but they did love all the dippers for it.

One of the dippers is blanched Brussels sprouts.

To blanch them; trim the ends and cut in half. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add sprouts and boil for 3 or 4 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces a sprout easily. Drain and then shock in ice water. Drain on paper towels and leave at room temperature until serving time. Note: When you’re trimming and halving the sprouts, you’ll end up with a pile of single leaves. I blanched the leaves first for about 30 seconds, shocked and drained them and used them in a salad the next day. Zero waste!

Also a note about another dipper – the pretzel roll cubes. I didn’t have time to get to Costco and buy a package of their pretzel rolls, which are the best around, in my opinion. Instead I bought the Trader Joe’s pretzel rolls. You know I love my Trader Joe’s, but there is no comparison between the two rolls. The Costco variety are saltier and way more pretzel-y. Lesson learned.

One last note before the recipe. I know, I’ve got so much to say about this easy-breezy appetizer! A third and very important dipper is apple cubes. In my rush to assemble and set out the appetizer when I arrived at Tram’s, I forgot to add the apple cubes to the serving tray. I felt like something was missing, but I brushed it off. Finally, a guest asked, “What is this container of apple cubes for?” Darn it! Don’t forget to put them out because they add a much-needed light and bright color to the tray of dippers and are a delicious fresh addition to the overall taste choices. *If you look closely in the left upper corner of the photo above, you’ll see them in their storage container with the purple trimmed lid. Oh well.

[Read more →]


Print pagePDF pageEmail page
Related Posts with Thumbnails

March 23, 2017   No Comments