Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Best Friend's Wedding: Bridal Shower Tea

 I was forced to change the date of my best friend's bridal shower from Saturday to Sunday evening this past weekend due to Hurricane Irene.  I'm so glad I did, my electricity was out for about 36 hours and with so many fallen trees it was dangerous to be out driving.  Some of the other guests were grateful too, it seemed like everyone had a story to tell but on this beautiful Sunday the hurricane was a distant dream.
Katie's favorite flowers are gerber daisies so I wanted to include them in the centerpiece.  Unfortunately I had to get the flowers on Friday and they had to ride in the passenger seat, buckled up of course, for several hours on Sunday while I went to my mom's to get ready before having to set up at the bridal tea sight.  That picture on the left is of the happy couple, they love to cycle together!

 The shop owner set up all the tables with antique linens and mismatched antique tea sets.  We were served blood orange herbal tea, ginger peach black tea, and honeybush apricot tea.

 Each table had it's own set of tea treats.  The menu included gourmet cheeseball and crackers, cranberry scones with devonshire cream and lemon curd, cheddar thyme quiche, rosemary parmesan shortbread cookies, cucumber sandwiches, and red velvet cupcakes. 
 I love savory scones but this was my first sweet one.  I'd definitely make it again!  I have to say I like the term Devonshire cream much better than "clotted cream" - what an unappetizing name!
The beautiful bride sat at the head of the table.
 We played a game where the guests had to answer questions about the bride and groom and another where the guests had to guess which characteristics the groom loves about the bride using the letters of her name.  I'm so glad we decided to play games, they didn't take a lot of time and helped everyone interact with each other.

 It wasn't all food and games, the bride had to get down to business tearing all that wrapping paper so she could view her loot.  I love this shot of her gasping at her new crystal glasses.
The bride, myself, and another bridesmaid.  My outfit was from Ann Taylor Loft and I love that skirt and top combo!

This was the invitation, the bride loves turquoise and monograms so this was perfect.  It was purchased from Wedding Paper Divas.  They really are a great company and their site allowed me to customize the wording and the lettering and they sent me a proofread, electronic copy within 24 hours.   I wouldn't hesitate to order from them again.
This was the party favor for the event.  I wanted everyone to go home with a treat they could enjoy on a bagel, toast, biscuit or scone of their choice.  I've had several flavored butters before and this is one of my favorites!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Roaring 20s...

I lost electricity for more than 24 hours during Hurricane Irene and I took the time to read a book that has been on my nightstand for months.  Now I'm obsessed with the 1920s...
I've been looking up drop waist flapper style dresses, something with 20s inspiration.  No not a Halloween costume
I really would like to learn the Charleston, I fell asleep last night after watching several youtube videos featuring the dance.  It looks really complicated but also kind of anything goes as long as there is rhythm.  I've been tinkering with 20s lingo, especially the phrases that are in the book.  I've considered calling R, Daddy-O a few times and managed to refrain.  It just seemed like a very "free" time and I love that flappers danced in protest of prohibition....all protests should include a high cardio dance!
This book is definitely a fun read, I'll give it a couple of enthusiastic thumbs up!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Irene...

In a few hours Hurricane Irene could bring strong winds and rain to the Eastern Carolinas.  Already we've had a lot of rain today.  I went out today to purchase some bottled water and peanut butter "just in case" and a few other items...
The Thundershirt!  Baby has terrible seperation anxiety and a fear of thunder and other loud noises.  I've heard a lot of great things about this item and I can't wait to see if it helps.  She calmed down a few minutes after I put it on her and was able to take a nap through today's rainstorm.  It is suppose to have the same effect on a dog as swaddling a crying infant.  I think she looks great it in!

We can't go through a storm without dog treats!  Baby has been out for a couple days so I bought her these adorable Buddy's All Natural Peanut Butter Flavored Cookies.

These weren't exactly purchased for the storm.  I actually bought these a couple weeks ago because I wanted a good pair of rainboots that could function in muddy conditions and even snow.  After quite a bit of searching I went with an Orginial Hunter Wellington.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Calm before the Craziness

I thought I should explain to ya'll wonderful gals who have stuck around for me what I've been up to the past several weeks.  I take these "blog breaks" from time to time and I miss it so much!  When I've had free time lately the computer just hasn't been my top priority.

Aside from my normal daily dietitian activities at my clinic, I'm also "the planner."  Next month I am planning an "end of summer" cookout for each of my clinics, along with a health fair and a free community kidney disease screen in October.  I'm also looking ahead to see what we will be doing for the patients as a special treat during the holidays.   My Spring health fair in the one clinic was such a great success I wanted to host a Fall event for the other center - I'm just hoping for a great turnout.

My weekends have been spent party planning (See Maid of Honor duties) and watching movies along with several trips for frozen yogurt.  On Sunday we visited a new church that I'm hoping will be a keeper.  We also saw The Help in theaters.  I was surprised that R liked it...I thought it was one of the most well acted, well directed films I've seen in a long time.

Football begins in a couple short weeks and we are gearing up for the first game.  This is definitely where R shines, he talks about tailgating all year long and makes plans several weeks months in advance.  Even more exciting news, next month R and I will be here:
  I'm so excited for our trip.  I haven't had a proper vacation in a couple of years. 

Maid of Honor Duties.
I am co-hosting a bridal shower with another bridesmaid and it's this Saturday!  I'm so excited!  I had a terrible dream that I was there with all the food and no one showed up for it.  Luckily I've had several RSVP so I don't think it'll be a party for one.  Speaking of which...R S V P.  I had to hunt down a couple of people and I really think it could be a generation thing - maybe ladies my age like to keep their agendas open until the last minute.  The owner of the tea shop has been so wonderful to work with, I'd love to be a reference for her business because she really has bent over backwards to make sure this is special.  I'm planned the bachelorette party back in March so now I only have to touch base with all the girls before we travel in October. 
I'm looking forward to that girls weekend as well - it won't be a relaxing getaway, oh no, I'm expecting it to be a fun and festive couple of days!  The bride has scheduled a couple of other events in September but then I think it'll be smooth sailing until the wedding date (for me anyway, certainly more stressful for her).

Expect to read more from me in the upcoming weeks.  I have a couple of product reviews that I want to post and photos from all these great events!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In the Kitchen: SkinnyTaste Crab Cakes

I made these delicious crabcakes from SkinnyTaste's blog.  Oh my, this is the stuff dreams are made of.  My mouth was literally watering in anticipation.  Please refer to her blog for the exact recipe as I'm posting my version of it.

12 ounces lumb crab meat
3/4 cup Back to Nature whole wheat crackers crushed
1 whole egg and 1 egg white, beaten
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup green pepper chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mayo
Juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper
PAM spray

Combine onion, pepper, mayo, eggs, crackers, lime juice, and salt and pepper.  Mix well and then gently fold in crab meat.  Shape into patties using a 1/2 cup measuring cup.  Chill in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour before baking.  Preheat oven to 400*.  Spray a baking pan with PAM before adding crab cakes.  Bake 8-10 minutes on each side until browned.

Now SkinnyTaste has an excellent recipe for Chipotle Lime Sauce but I through together a homemade Tarter that is definitely not a "skinny" recipe.

3 Tablespoons Mayo
1 Tablespoon chopped dill (I probably added a lot more because I LOVE dill)
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon miniced onion
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Stir all ingredients together and place in the refrigerator.  This is best when chilled for several hours but it can be used right away.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gift From R...

I have been eyeing these Kate Spade "All Wrapped Up" earrings for a while now thinking they would be the perfect addition to my dress for Best Friend's wedding.  I also thought it would be a nice excuse to get a new accessory (*wink).  R beat me to the purchase and wanted to surprise me - either way now they are all mine!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In the kitchen: Shrimp Salad

R started a new job a couple of months ago and one giant downside is the lack of "hot" meals during lunch.  Because he travels and works onsite there isn't a communal break room with a microwave.  He quickly tired of fast food and usually takes sandwiches / chips for lunch.  I'm trying to find delicious recipes that he will love that are great cold...enter Ina Garten's shrimp salad. 

Years ago I worked at a fine foods market and we had the best shrimp salad, I fully believe that recipe was derived from Ina's version because they taste so similar.  It'll be a great change from the standard turkey or peanut butter sandwich.

Here is the link for Ina's version.  My version with only minor tweaks:

1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
S and P
3/4 cup orzo pasta
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup white onion, chopped (this is what I had on hand, Ina uses scallions)
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 small container of feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Spray Pam cooking spray into a pan and place over medium low heat.  Add shrimp, salt and pepper.  Cook 3-5 minutes until just pink but don't over cook.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and add orzo pasta, cook to package directions and drain water.  In a small bowl whisk salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to great a dressing.  Add the dressing to the cooked pasta and shrimp.  Add cucumber, red onion, onion, feta cheese, and dill.  Mix to incorporate and refrigerate.  I served mine on a bed of mixed arugula and spinach.

Monday, August 1, 2011

In the Kitchen: Chicken N' Dumplings

I was completely stumped this week for a dinner meal.  I needed to go to the grocery but didn't feel like going that day.  I searched my freezer and found chicken breasts, premade pastry, and frozen peas....yep, it was chicken pastry night.

Some parts of the world call these chicken n' dumplings - whatever you prefer they are delicious.  I like to keep pre-made flat dumplings available because you can use them to make Asian pork dumplings or ravioli or for this meal the Southern inspired dish.  I'd like to preface this by saying, nothing compares to a homemade dumpling so if you have the flour, the water, and the extra few minutes they are worth effort.  I however was making dinner for R and didn't have a ton of time.

1 package of chicken breasts (you can really use the parts you like, I prefer light meat)
1/2 package of flat pre-made dumplings (I use Annie's Old Fashioned brand)
3 small bay leaves
S & P
1 small package of frozen peas
1 can of cream of celery (this is what I had but cream of chicken would probably be preferred)
2 containers of fat free, low sodium chicken broth (I use Swansons)

Bring a pot filled with the chicken broth to a boil.  Add the bay leaves, and S& P.  Place the chicken breasts in the pot and bring back to a slow boil, cover with a lid.  Cook chicken for 30-45 minutes.  Take the chicken out of the broth when it is cooked and place on a plate to cool.  Bring the broth back to a boil.   Add the dumplings about 6 at a time ( I break my dumplings up) and add more when the broth returns to a boil.  Dumplings take about 8 minutes to cook through.  Add a little water if necessary as the broth will have reduced some.  Add the cream of celery (or chicken) soup and stir.  Take two forks and shred the chicken before adding back to the pot.  Check the broth to make sure it doesn't need S&P, the soup could make it too salty so be cautious.  Add frozen peas at the end, they should only need about 3-5 minutes to heat through.  Remove bay leaves.  Place the lid on the pot and take it off the heat.  Let it sit about 20 minutes before serving.

It isn't exactly my grandma's recipe but it was very good and yielded lots of food for the meal and leftovers.  I'd definitely make this way again.