Thursday, November 12, 2009

Holiday Menu: Thanksgiving Desserts

I've decided to start posting some of my upcoming holiday menus to help others get ideas and plan some of their parties and holiday events.

For Thanksgiving, my mom put me in charge of desserts again this year. We are having 21 people (I think) at the dinner, so I've decided to go with 6 desserts so there's a nice variety and some leftovers for everyone to enjoy.

Thanksgiving Dessert Buffet Menu

Classic Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

Apple Pie with Salted Pecan Crumble

Black Bottom Chocolate Pie

Cranberry Chocolate Tart

All American Apple Pie

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My China Hutch

I have had quite a few people (including very persistent family members) asking for some house photos. Tonight I finally finished part of the house - my china hutch! I absolutely love the hutch we (ok, I) picked out, but what's inside is even more special.
When I became engaged 3 1/2 years ago (crazy!!), my grandma gave me a set of silver flatware that is a family heirloom (which my wonderful mother polished for me and put in a gorgeous mahogany box). Then when JJ and I got married, his mom offered his grandmother's china to us. I've been waiting close to two years to actually get it though, because I told my mother in law I didn't want it until we moved into a house.Finally, when registering, I chose the Mikasa cheers glassware because it's cute but still formal.
Well, the day finally came and JJ's parents brought the china over tonight! As I was unpacking it, I found 8 regular cups and saucers, and then 8 tiny little cups and saucers! I suppose I could use them for shots of espresso... but then I'd need an espresso machine. The would also be perfect for a little girl tea party :)

This shot shows the tiny cup and saucer on top of 2 regular ones!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Vegan Potato and Vegetable Chowder

Apparently my mind can only be creative and plan one part of life at a time. For the past few weeks, the creativity in my cooking has been lacking... but my new home is almost completely furnished, decorated, and ready for entertaining!
As the weather falls (yes, falls) into the 70's here in Florida, soup is all I want! During the past few weeks, I've made large pots of Minestrone, Curry Stewpot, and Pasta e Fagioli. However, I decided it was time to make something new!
I thought about making a baked potato soup, but I wanted it to be lighter and have more vegetables. As I was making this chowder, it just kind of happened, and it turned out to be vegan (except for my sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top!) The way I get my chowder to be so creamy and still vegan and healthy is by adding half the potatoes to the vegetables in a dice and pureeing the rest with vegetable stock I finished the soup with a drizzle of hot sauce and it was absolutely perfect! Next time I might add some pureed cannelini beans (or whole) to give it a little more protein.

Vegan Potato and Vegetable Chowder

2 tbsp. EVOO
2 cups sliced, well cleaned leeks
1 cup sliced carrots
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 red onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, diced
Salt and pepper
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup corn kernels
1 tbsp. minced parsley
Garnishes - cheddar cheese, hot sauce, chives, crumbled bacon

Slice leeks into thin, half moons, add to a colander with large holes, rinse under running water for a minute. Swish around with fingers while rinsing to get rid of all of the dirt and sand.
Heat a dutch oven over medium heat, add EVOO, leeks, carrots, peppers, onion, garlic and half of the potatoes.
Season with salt and pepper, saute' for 10 minutes.
Add 2 cups of vegetable stock to a small soup pot.
Add half the potatoes to the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender.
Add corn and 4 cups of vegetable stock to the vegetables, stir, turn to low.
Add stock and potato mixture to a blender, puree until smooth.
Pour into dutch oven with vegetables. Add parsley, stir to combine.
Taste soup, adjust seasonings.
Ladle into a bowl and top with garnishes.