Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Photos: Memorial Day BBQ

This year my honey's birthday landed smack dab on Memorial Day. It took us approximately 10 seconds to decide that a BBQ was definitely in order. 30ish friends and family joined us to celebrate. We, and by "we," I mean my honey, cooked up some bratwursts and chicken apple sausages on our new grill and we served them with ketchup, a selection of mustards, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and sauerkraut. Our guests helped out the cause by bringing an incredible selection of appetizers, side salads, and desserts to add to those we prepared.

We had two families planning to bring their children so I picked up some inexpensive toys, including beach balls and bubbles, to give them when they arrived. The goody buckets got a thumbs up from both the littles and their parents.

Goodies for the littles.

How -- Food Labels/Place Cards: 
These food labels are so easy to make. All you need is decorative labels (two per food label or place card), toothpicks, and whatever you plan to stick them in. To hold the finished labels, I used lemons and limes, either halved or with just a little bit sliced off to create a "bottom." I also used some wine corks that had a nice flat end and stuck the toothpicks in the not flat end. To make them, first write the food or person name on two of the labels, stick a toothpick about 3/4 of the way up and in the center of one label and, carefully lined up so the labels match, place the sticky side of the second label on the opposite side of the toothpick.

DIY food labels.
Food Labels.

DIY label holders. You can also use wine corks.

We kept things pretty simple but I did try to bump things up a notch. You know, like with those food labels, tissue paper lined plastic cups as plastic utensil holders, and white wine sangria with pear and mango.

Left: Utensils in tissue paper lined cups.  Right: White wine sangria.

Crudités with Arugula Pesto.

Rosemary Roasted Almonds. Recipe.

Smoked gouda, fresh mozzarella, and manchego.

So much food, including marinated tomatoes and mushrooms.
(Recipes coming soon.)

Sausage toppings: roasted bell peppers, caramelized onions, and sauerkraut.

Caesar and spinach salads, made by family/friends.

Stella kitty spent most of the afternoon in a basket on top of shelves in our office but did make an appearance or two to charm the crowd.



P.S. We will be eating leftovers all week.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Recipe: Black Bean and Mango Salad

Black Bean and Mango Salad.

It is starting to warm up in our part of the world. This, combined with the fact that our lovely built-in-1951 house does not have air conditioning, means that I am starting to experiment with recipes that don't require any inside heat. 

I made this black bean and mango salad yesterday to be served alongside grilled flank steak and chunky guacamole. Easy peasy, healthy, and tasty!

Black Bean and Mango Salad
Serves: 6 

2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 cups diced mango (approximately 1 large mango)
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (approximately 2 limes)
2 tablespoons salsa (I use Trader Joe's Salsa Especial)
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil 
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir in combine. Refrigerate before serving.

I stuffed some of the salad leftovers into a tortilla with a little pepper jack cheese, grilled it up in a skillet, topped it with salsa, and it made for a delightful lunch. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring Cleaning Challenge: Final Update

Soooooooooo...I totally didn't finish my spring cleaning challenge. *blush*

I suppose it was a bit ambitious to think that I could get through 30 spaces in 30 days, especially since I was gone for a bunch of days last month due to our wonderful 2nd anniversary weekend away and a business trip.

Since I always try to see the bright side, at least I cleaned out a number of spaces I wouldn't have otherwise and I cleaned, decluttered, and reorganized our entire family room and bathroom. I know I will get to the other spaces someday.

Here is my updated list...with still a ways to go. Whoops.
  1. Bathroom
  2. Bedroom
  3. Bedroom - Closet
  4. Bedroom - Nightstands
  5. Bedroom - Dressers
  6. Office 
  7. Office - Desk/Filing
  8. Office - Bookshelves
  9. Office - Closet
  10. Guest Room 
  11. Guest Room - Closet
  12. Living Room
  13. Dining Room
  14. Dining Room - Bar Cabinets
  15. Kitchen
  16. Kitchen - Refrigerator
  17. Kitchen - Pantry cabinets
  18. Kitchen - Under sink
  19. Kitchen - Other cabinets
  20. Kitchen - Drawers
  21. Family Room 
  22. Family Room - TV stand
  23. Family Room - Cubbies
  24. Family Room - Bookshelf
  25. Garage 
  26. Garage - Laundry
  27. Garage - Holiday storage boxes
  28. Garage - Other storage
  29. Garage - Yard work supplies
  30. Backyard - Garden