Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bye Bye 2010!

I don't know how people manage to blog regularly over the holidays! The theme of the holiday for me has been "Shelly is tired." I'm definitely looking forward to the new year, if only because it will give me a chance to go to bed early and eat lots of vegetables!
Things to talk about since I last blogged: Dinner at Upperline was delicious and it was great to see Bonnie and Gabe again. I spent Christmas with my parents, saw the Pinta and the Nina (excuse the lack of a tilde) which were docked in Biloxi, and recieved an awesome quilt made from all my old Sorority T-shirts from my Mom. I met up with Kristi and Colin in Hattiesburg and walked 6 miles on the Longleaf Trace while chatting and catching up with them. (I'd have preferred an actual trail to hike, but I think that walking and talking definitely beats sitting in a coffee shop or a restaurant all day!)
I get to see two more friends soon. My friend Daniel (and his friend Shauyi) are staying with me over the weekend for NYE, and I get to see my friend Ginny in Baton Rouge for brunch in a couple of weeks. It's definitely been a holiday for catching up with people I haven't seen in a while!
As for resolutions, I'm not sure I have any formal ones. I didn't do very well on my resolutions last year (I think I resolved to go to the eye doctor, the dentist, and to stay in shape and only succeeded on the last resolution- I'm gross, I know...but at least I floss all the time!)
There are a few things I'd like to do in 2011, of course. Get hitched and go to Spain are obviously on the top of my list, but I'm also thinking about running a Marathon in Feb., and in light of all of the life changes that may or may not be happening this year (getting married, and, depending on where my darling fiance ends up doing his residency, moving and finding a new job) I'd just like to handle anything that comes my way with grace. (Which obviously won't happen because I am, as ever, a stress ball.) I'd also like to keep up my good eating and fitness habits, and not get too behind on wedding planning.

What are you looking forward to in 2011?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mississippi Blasphemies

I don't keep the fact that I am a terrible Southerner a secret. Here are some of the the blasphemous thoughts that have crossed my mind this week.

Why do I need 3 deviled egg trays when I have never actually made deviled eggs?

I don't need to put on makeup just to run to the grocery store, do I?

Am I the only one who realizes that Faith Hill's Mississippi Girl is just a countrified rip off of Jenny from the Block?

And somewhere, my mother is hanging her head in shame.....

Feel free to add to my list of Southern Blasphemies!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Spirits

This weekend was SO busy! After the Christmas party on Friday (which went swimmingly), I attended an afternoon wedding on Saturday, the first of two family Christmases on Sunday (which involved a 3.5 hour drive each way), and a latkes party at Sarah and Jon's house on Mon. The holiday season is clearly in full swing! As for the rest of the season, I'll be seeing my friends Bonnie and Gabe (who now live in Sacramento) on Thurs. (and having a Reveillon dinner at Upperline- Yum!), spending time with my family (and eating Christmas dinner #2!) over the actual holiday, and seeing my friend Kristi (now living in San Francisco) the Monday after Christmas!
I promise I'll put up a few pictures from my Christmas party soon (my Mom sent me a fabulous homemade ugly Christmas sweater!) but to tide you over, I thought I'd post the drink recipes from our party.
The first year we threw a Christmas party, I made a list of the alcohol and mixers I thought we should buy for the party- basic stuff like wine, beer, rum, vodka, orange juice, and Coke. My darling fiance read my list, declared that screw drivers and rum and cokes were off the list due to this being a "Christmas party rather than a frat party" and sat down and came up with a list of fun holiday cocktails to make during the party. He even printed up a drink menu for our guests!
Since then, fancy drinks and a printed drink menu have been a big part of our Christmas party. Much like my food menu, the drink menu has evolved over the years- we keep the things that everyone loves and rotate out the drinks that didn't go over very well (this painful candy cane martini from our first party springs to mind- it went the way of the gougeres I made that everyone mistook for biscuits). Regardless of the drinks we decide to make, I think my darling fiance does a great job as a bartender every year, and I think that this year all the drinks were very good.
The classics that we've kept year after year are the Poinsettia Cocktails (my absolute favorite), Peppermint Patty shots (tasty and not overly alcoholic), Brandied Port (the gentlemen always love this one), and Brandy Milk Punch (a New Orleans classic).


3 ounces cranberry juice, chilled
3 ounces champagne, chilled
1 ounce triple sec

Pour into a fluted champagne glass, stir, and serve.

Peppermint Patty

1/2 oz. crème de cacao
1/2 oz. peppermint schnapps
1 oz. cream

Stir with ice , strain into shot glass

Brandied Port

2 ounces ruby port
1 ounce brandy
Dash fresh-squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Shake well with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass; garnish with twist of lemon or orange peel.

Brandy Milk Punch

1 ½ ounces brandy
1 ounce simple syrup
½ bar spoon high quality vanilla extract
A couple ounces of Half-and-half
Cubed ice
Grated nutmeg

Pour brandy, simple syrup, vanilla extract and half-and-half into a pint glass. Add ice to a shaker and shake the concoction until well mixed and frothy. Add cubed ice to a rocks glass and, using astrainer, pour the mixture into it. Top with a bit of grated nutmeg.

The new drinks we tried this year were the Cherry Gin Sling (this one seemed to be the least popular, but I enjoyed it), the Rosemary Salty Dog (the Rosemary provided a delicious aroma and made this drink very Christmas-y), and the Elf in a Blender (which tasted like a really delicious strawberry daiquiri).

Cherry Gin Sling

2 ounces gin
1 ounce cherry brandy
4 ounces club soda
grenadine or Pom Cherry Pomegranate juice (optional)

Pour gin and brandy in serving glass over crushed ice. Top up with club soda and garnish with
maraschino cherries. You can also add a splash of grenadine or juice for a little added sweetness and color.

Rosemary Salty Dog

1 grapefruit wedge
Kosher salt
One 1-inch piece of rosemary sprig, plus 1 sprig for garnish
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces fresh red grapefruit juice
1 1/2 ounces gin

Moisten the outer rim of a martini glass with the grapefruit wedge and coat lightly
with salt. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the 1-inch rosemary sprig with the sugar. Add
the grapefruit juice, gin and ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the martini glass and
garnish with the rosemary sprig.

Elf in a Blender

3 pounds strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons citrus vodka
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup chilled Riesling

In a bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar and let stand, stirring occasionally, until
the strawberries release their juices, about 10 minutes.
In a blender, combine half each of the strawberries and their juices, the vodka, wine, and
lime juice with 1 cup of ice and puree. Pour into a pitcher. Repeat with the remaining
strawberries and juices, vodka and lime juice and 1 more cup of ice. Fill 10 tall
glasses halfway with ice. Pour the cocktail into the glasses, top each with about 1/2
tablespoon of Riesling and serve.

What's your favorite holiday libation?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You might be a foodie...

  • If you've ever been late to work b/c you were opening a pomegranate when you should have been drying your hair....
  • If your cat is addicted to Greek yogurt.... (it's like having a small, sharp toothed food critic yowling at your feet whenever you go near the fridge)
  • If the thing holding you back from vegetarianism is your love of pâté.... (and if you google pâté so you can copy and paste it to get the proper accents on the word)
  • If you've ever made a vegetable dish for your non-veggie loving family and found out that they planted that very vegetable in their garden the next week....(I guess they liked my chard!)
  • If that same family still complains about the time you made them eat "paper" and "foot cheese".... (the paper in question was rice paper wrapped around pork and shrimp spring rolls, and as for the cheese- they were on the Atkin's diet so I took them out for Charcuterie plates!)
  • If everyone you know asks for recommendations about where to go for dinner....
  • If you come up with an awesome recipe to blog about then realize that you're going to have to make it all over again so you can actually figure out what quantities of ingredients you used... (I'm officially promising you a healthy shrimp and grits recipe of my own devising- I made it last night and it was awesome- but I'll probably have to put off my re-do until after the holidays)

Do you have any weird quirks related to your hobbies?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tis the Season

Today is my office's Christmas party. We're having a fancy 4 course luncheon at a nice restaurant. Of course, I decided to wear something festive! This is a ruffly red plaid button down paired with a pencil skirt, heels, and a skinny black belt. It looked better tucked in with a wide black belt around the waist but there is no way I'm tucking my shirt in on a day I'm going to be eating a big meal! Excuse the low quality bathroom cell phone shot, but hopefully it captures the Christmas-y nature of my outfit!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Party Planning

Yesterday I mailed out the invitations to my yearly Christmas party which means it's time to start thinking about what I'm going to make this year!
Food I'm going to carry over from last year includes Baked Brie, Cranberry and Blue Cheese stuffed Endive, Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts (always a hit), and Rotel Dip (everyone LOVED this last year).
Additionally, I want to make meringues and either rosemary chocolate chip shortbread or Scottish shortbread for my sweets because they are all easy and can be made a couple days in advance. I also want to get a veggie tray. I enjoyed having pickled veggies last year, but I enjoyed a veggie tray at a Mardi Gras ball even more- so I think that's what I'll get this year. I'd also like to do some sort of bruschetta but I haven't decided what kind yet. Maybe fig and caramelized onion? I also think that this Beluga Lentil Crostini looks amazing but am not sure it would be a crowd pleaser... Cheese twists might be a fun way to use up the rest of my puff pastry left over from the Brie...

As usual, my darling fiance will be in charge of the drinks. I've had one request for Brandy Milk Punch already, and I don't think it's a Christmas party without a Poinsettia Cocktail- but the rest is up to him!

Do you like to host parties? I love to cook for a party, but I get stressed out by all the cleaning and preparations before hand- so one big party a year is perfect for me!