23 June 2008

Go big or go home…

I have always firmly believed in the old adage, “Go big or go home.” This expression particularly applies to my attitude towards party planning. It is becoming a well-known fact that hubby and I reign supreme when it comes to throwing ‘theme parties’. Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day are two standard favourites and now we can officially add “Tropical” to our repertoire.

In honour of hubby’s upcoming 28th Birthday and in celebration of the first day of Summer, I decided to throw a “Tropical” beach-themed party at our place this past weekend. Think ‘tacky tourist’ complete with tiki torches, inflatable tropical animals, paper lanterns, leis, sultry Spanish tunes and loads of rum-filled food and drink. It was a recipe for fun and the perfect opportunity to let our hair down, share some laughs and generally not take ourselves too seriously. Sadly, in my case, it was also the impetus to try a new Sangria recipe that had me feeling ‘sea-sick’ without the ocean…if you catch my drift…. Something tells me, however, that I was not the only one grabbing their head and groaning the next day.

Despite the hours of preparation and decorating, Dan and I cannot take full credit for the success of parties past and present. I am also a firm believer that, “the people make the party.” It is our friends that truly make each event memorable. We are fortunate to be blessed with a group of friends that embrace the opportunity to act a little silly from time to time. Despite the fact that many of us are now husbands, wives, mothers and fathers, we still take the time to be ‘kids’ ourselves – a very refreshing change from our usual day-to-day roles and responsibilities.

And now for your viewing pleasure, some photos of our wonderful friends who thankfully always get into the spirit of things…

What's a tropical party without some time in the sun?

Inevitably, it always turns into a kitchen party

Happy Birthday to my one and only!

Party people

Los Hombres

Island beauties

My Brother-In-Law seems 'very' excited!

Obligatory cheesy tourist shot

Sharky gets some love from the B-Day boy

Outdoor fun in a haze of Citronella

IT-Science guy by day, beach bum by night

Boys will be boys

Mommy and son boogie down to tropical beats

16 June 2008

One woman, one tiny kitchen, seven hours and loads of ingredients

Judging by the title, can anyone hazard a guess as to how I spent Father’s Day yesterday?

As with any special occasion or holiday, I am a firm believer that a good homemade meal is the best gift that anyone can give or receive. Perhaps I’m just obsessed with food, but I personally appreciate the time, thought and effort that goes into preparing a meal much more than the usual hokey commercial gifts.

For Father’s Day I decided to prepare the quintessential Man Meal - a feast befitting a king…or at least a man with a “very” large appetite!

I won’t get into all the little boring details, but I will tell you that I was glued to my kitchen from 7:30 in the morning to 2:30 in the afternoon. Some folks would call me crazy, but I think the effort was worth it in the end; I walked away with several ‘winner’ recipes and a happy ‘Pappy’ with a full belly.

Le Menu

Baked Brie with Strawberry Mint and White Wine Coulis
Frozen Grapes

Dijon Potato Salad
Pickled Cherry Tomato Salad

Rotisserie Eye of Round Roast with Beer Caramelized Onions
Seasonal vegetables
Tea Biscuits

Rhubarb and Strawberry Galette with Fresh Whipped Cream

Wine: Peninsula Ridge 2001 Arcanum

What truly sets this meal apart in my mind, is that fact that everything was made from scratch, right down to the biscuits and garden picked rhubarb. Typically I focus on just a few select recipes and cheat it with my side dishes or desserts, but this time I decided to challenge myself.

The only setback of the meal was a torrential downpour provided compliments of Mother Nature right before hubby was supposed to get the roast on the BBQ. Because the motor for our ‘spit’ is fairly flimsy, we decided that it would be best to throw the roast in the oven rather than having rotisserie conk-out half way through cooking. The meat was still tasty (thank God for 24 hour-marinades) but it would have been much better on the BBQ. Poor hubby was so excited to use the rotisserie and had spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to elongate the rotisserie to fit our unusually long BBQ (very much à la MacGyver); it thought I detected a few tears in his eyes when the storm came rolling in.

Overall, I think I'll give myself a 9 out 10 for the meal. Perhaps I’ll top my performance next weekend when I prepare more delectable goodies for Hubby’s “TROPICAL 28” Birthday Bash. I’ve been dying to make some Peruvian Empanadas and I have a feeling that the ideas will only grow from there.

Cheers and Bon Appetit!