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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

This past Saturday, Ryan and I hosted a small Christmas party for some close friends. Needless to say, I busted out my best Ina to get ready for the party. I think I had almost as much fun getting ready for the party as I did at the party. As if we had any doubt, I think it’s official; I’ve caught the Gerrard-women, crazy entertaining bug. Thought I’d share some fun “detail” pics of the party.

A day before the party, I pulled out all the serving platters that I thought I’d want to use (I tried to stick with white and green platters) and any decorations that I thought I could make look “Christmasy.” I didn’t buy any new decorations for the party— I either used fresh fruit and herbs to decorate, or used things I already had.

I found these adorable mini-pears—apparently called Seckel Pears— at Foods of Nations for only $2.39 per pound! I got 10! I thought they would go perfectly with my green and purple theme. I nestled them in little folds of fabric around the table. The fabric, incidentally, I used as curtains at one point in college— I told you, nothing new!

I labeled the dishes so people would know what they were eating. Why, yes, in fact, I am related to Terry Gerrard.

Prepped the bar.

And sent Ryan on his errands.

Put the finishing touches on the decor.

And the food… caprese skewers.

Brownie bites with pistachio whipped topping.

I wish I had a good picture of what the table looked like completely finished but, of course by that time, I was so excited about people getting to the party I completely forgot about taking pictures! Here’s the best picture I have from Ryan’s iphone.

Our menu:
Caprese Skewers
Zuchini and Pepperoni Bites
Chicken Meatballs with Ginger and Lemongrass
Potato Salmon Cakes with mustard creme fraiche
Spinach dip with chips
Brownie Bites with pistachio whipped topping
Hot Cider with Whiskey
Ethan & Allison’s Holiday Punch

I get so much pleasure out of having people in our house and (hopefully) making them feel comfortable and welcome. And, I find the process of prepping everything so creative and fun, I’m glad I was able to capture and share most of it. Hope this inspires your next party!

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Fall Table

On my table right now. Thanks, mom!

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Seriously. Brixx Wood Fired Pizza in Barracks Road. Artichoke Pizza with gluten-free crust.

I’m not gonna say that I would have eaten the crust on its own. But, when you top it with artichokes, red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, mozarella and basil, it is pretty darn tasty.

I think it helps if you know going in to expect a thin-crust, almost bruschetta-like texture. If you’re looking for a gluten-free, soft, deep-dish crust— this isn’t going to do it for you. And, honestly, I don’t think it exists. You can get any of their pizzas with the gluten free crust, not just the veggie pizzas. So nice to have a good, gluten-free pizza option in Cville.

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I just wanted to quickly share an appetizer I’ve been making a lot recently that is perfect for the upcoming tailgate season: mini twice-baked potatoes. They’re super easy and adaptable, and they end up looking very chic. Plus, there’s no actual baking involved unless you really want to go the extra mile.

I start by finding the tiniest white potatoes I can find (you really only need about 15-20 even for a group because you get two appetizers out of every potato). Then, I boil the potatoes whole until the insides are soft but outsides are still firm (I test them by cutting one or two in half). Then, drain them and rinse them under cold water until they are cool enough to touch.

Cut them in half keeping in mind that you will scoop out the middle, so make sure that you pick the side to cut that will leave you with the two deepest halves. I use a little melon-baller to scoop out the middles and discard the middles into a bowl. Then add a combination of sour cream, cheese (cheddar or whatever kind you like) and chives to the potato mixture and mash it all together. Then, begin the process of re-filling the potatoes.

Continue ’til they’re done!

At this point, you could pop them in the oven to make them a little oosier and crispier, but I’ve been serving them at room temp and they’ve been delicious as-is! Enjoy!

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Can you believe this guy? How cute is he?!? I found this pint-sized, yellow colander at the Seasonal Cook today. At $19.95 it was a sweet little splurge, but I figure it’s a tool that will not just be handy in the kitchen (it’s just the right size for straining a can of beans), but it will also be a piece that will look great on the table. Double-duty, I couldn’t resist! And, it will go perfectly with my everyday plates and my vintage, coca-cola crate.

Whoever said retail therapy doesn’t work is very, very wrong. I’m not exactly sure which ailment I’m treating with this colander, but I can tell you it sure is working! This little guy just makes me smile. Happy Friday, everyone!

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I thought I would share a recipe for how to make homemade ginger tea. When I first heard about ginger tea, I thought: how hard can it be? I don’t need a recipe, I’ll just whip some up using my general kitchen know-how. Well, that resulted in a cup of tea that was—well, it wasn’t tea— it was just warm water. Bleh. It turns out that making ginger tea is not hard; it’s just not made the way you’d think it would be (e.g. pouring boiling water over herbs, flavors, etc.). The process does take a little bit of time— it’s not a single-serve kind of recipe. But, it’s worth the wait, especially when it means you can have a big batch of ginger tea in your fridge for the week!

Ingredients

10 cups  Water

1  Medium-sized piece of ginger root

1/3 cup  Sugar

 

You want to start with raw ginger root, like the one pictured above. Depending on how strong of a ginger taste you want your tea to have, you can use all or just a portion of the root. For my taste, I chose to use about 3/4 of a similarly sized piece of ginger root. I used a vegetable peeler to peel off the majority of the peel. Because you will eventually discard the ginger, you don’t need to peel it perfectly, but you do want to keep in mind that you want to expose as much flesh of the root as possible so that the water can seep into it.

After you’ve peeled the root, cut it into very thin slices. Add the slices to 10 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it’s boiling and the ginger becomes very aromatic, you can take the mixture off the heat. Now, the steeping process begins (this is what makes this recipe long!). You want to let the mixture steep for about 30 minutes… longer if you want a spicier, more robust flavor. I recommend tasting it along the way, every 10 minutes or so, to gauge your preference for flavor. The mixture will get darker the longer it steeps and you’re ideally going for a nice, light golden color— like the the color of a light, green tea.

Once you’ve gotten the tea to a flavor that you like, strain the mixture into a pitcher.

See that pretty golden color? That’s what you’re going for! At this point, the tea should still be warm but not hot, so it’s the perfect time to add sugar. I used about 1/3 of a cup, which I consider to be a just a tad sweet, perfect for an afternoon treat. For a healthier version, skip the sugar all together, and for a super-yummy, indulgent version add more sugar until it’s just short of a syrup. I poured my fresh ginger tea over some ice cubes and added a few blackberries from the farmer’s market.

Ginger tea is terrific on it’s own, but I also found myself adding it to my morning cup of green tea as a sweetner. And, Ryan has found that ginger tea makes a good mixer for vodka!

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Wait… what’s going on? I don’t bake. Must be something big, something really special…. the DODSON’S are coming!!!

In their honor I baked some chocolate chip cookies (the good ol’ Nestle Toll House recipe never fails) and, boy, are they delicious.

You can probably expect some fun picture uploads on Monday, especially since I recently took a photography class. This past Sunday, I spent the afternoon with Jen Fariello and Robert Radifera and some other eager learners in a 3 hour class called “Take Better Pictures”— go figure. They went over the super, super basics— words I’d always heard but never knew what they meant like aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. It was exactly what I needed. Now that I know a little more, I feel like I will be able to get much more use out of my camera and use it for years to come, rather than get frustrated with it, forget about it and eventually buy a new camera (which is what has happened with every other camera I’ve ever owned).

After going over the basics, we spent a good portion of the class taking pictures. Some lovely couple was nice enough to lend their beautiful children to be our models. Some of the pics I took were bad. Really bad.

But then I got a little better.

And a little better.

And then I got some pretty good ones.

Looking forward to putting my skills to good use and showin’ ’em off on my blog! Have a good weekend!

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