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Bonne Fêta | a cheesy birthday party

28 Feb

party

This past weekend our friends hosted a cheese-themed dinner party.* Attendees were tasked with making a dish for one of the six courses, with the only rule being that one of the main ingredients must be cheese. Did I mention most of us were from Wisconsin? It was an exciting meal. Also exciting was the abundance of cheese puns in the pre-party email chain.

Here’s a breakdown of the dishes, all of which were delicious.

Appetizers:

Spinachoke bites made by Rebecca and Paul.

Brie, apple and pecan crostinis made by Keith and Alex.

appetizers

Cheese Course:

Manchego and gruyère, along with a divine creme fraiche, strawberries and toffee dip combo (not pictured) made by Elizabeth and DJ.

Cheeseplate

Salad & Bread Course:

Micro greens with goat cheese, and spicy candied pecans and Cheddar Bay biscuits made by Alex and Seth.

saladandbiscuits
First (Pasta) Course:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Mac & Blue Cheese made by Tyler and me. Winner of the “Most Inventive Use of Cheese” award.

gnocchi

Thoughts/notes on the dish: We tripled the recipe to feed the crowd and ended up with a ton of sauce. Not that I’m complaining—I could eat the stuff with a spoon. I also think we were juuust under triple the amount of sweet potato, so we had to take out a bunch of sauce to keep it from being too soupy. Overall, the dish was just ok to me. While I loved the sauce, the gnocchi recipe was just too cinnamon-y for my taste (I’m not a fan of cinnamon). However, it did get better the next day (thinking a dish is just ok does not stop me from gorging on it a second time, apparently.)

Second (Meat) Course:

Tenderloin of Beef stuffed with Spinach, Leeks, and Goat Cheese + Red Wine Sauce with Mashed Potatoes with Garlic, Mascarpone, and Caramelized Leeks made by Libby and John. Winner of best overall dish and star of my  daydreams for the past week.

tenderloinpotatoes

Dessert:

Brie & Jam-stuffed Puff Pastries made by Gina and Ryan.

Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake made by Steph, which also served as Libby’s birthday cake. This was my other vote for best dish. Delightfully decadent.

Dessert

bdaygirl

Overall, I’d say it was a Grade AA party.

*Idea for party inspired by Vicky’s friends’ annual party.

kitchen adventures

27 Mar

There once was a time when I absolutely, positively could not cook. I ruined spaghetti when my dad told me to watch it. I had no idea how to brown meat. Bowl Appétits® were a staple in my college-student diet.

Those days are long gone my friends.

It all started when I lived in Spain. The easy, pre-packaged food was no longer available, and I realized I could not survive on bread and olive oil alone (at least not without getting even fatter. Ugh.)  So my friends and I started cooking family dinners on a regular basis and my confidence in the kitchen grew.

Fast forward to now, and in an effort to eat healthier and save money, Tyler and I have been trying a lot of new, delicious recipes.

Here are two of them. Photos aren’t great – my presentation skills could use some honing.

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup via skinnytaste.com

Steak with Cilantro Garlic Sauce via Epicurious

I’ve even tried my hand at baking. We made these Guinness chocolate cupcakes with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting for St. Patrick’s Day and they were a big hit.


Stay tuned for more kitchen adventures!

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