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NYE Smorgasbord Party

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New Year’s Eve is generally annoying in the Seattle area. This is my blog, so my opinion is fact. You can either spend $100+ per ticket to attend a gala with hundreds of ostentatiously dressed drunk people, or buy your way into a private, deluxe dinner at a restaurant. Or, one of your friends can host a party, which gives you an excuse to dress up in a far more low key environment, with people you actually like.

This year, Tristan and I discovered that the Swedish Club behind our apartment building is hosting a mid-century NYE “ball” with live ABBA music and Swedish pancake breakfast at 12:15 a.m. for a mere $25 per ticket. SIGN. US. UP.

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We have put together a group of friends to go with us, and are hosting a prefunk party at our house just in case our destination is filled with 400 old people. The prefunk party will be Smorgasbord themed in honor of our Swedish destination. Not literally (no herring and beet salad), just in the fact that I’m throwing everything together and hoping it works, both in decor and menu. I don’t have time to go unearth my gold shimmery tablecloth or striped runners from the storage unit, nor do I feel like spending a ton of money on creating some perfectly paired menu with signature cocktails. We bought chips and guac (the essentials), some mixers, and I made fudge. My friend – bless her heart – informed me that she’s bringing cheese…YAY! I bought a really cute garland and hats from Metropolitan Market yesterday. But other than that, we are using what we already have (including a very well stocked bar, thanks to some of Tristan’s work vendors!).

Here is the garland I purchased, to give you an idea of the color scheme I’m locked to, seeing as I have no color in my apartment (unless you count leopard).

NYE Garland 2

NYE Garland

It’s by Meri Meri, a super cute vintage-style party supplies company.

I don’t want the look to be a tidy tablescape; I want it to be jam packed with knick-knacks, sparkles, festive-ness and yummy treats. I love this bubbly bar from La Mia Vita:

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I love this tablescape from Tiffany Pratt in Rue Magazine:

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And tell me you don’t love this party hat from A Subtle Revelry:

Tulle Poof Hat

Here are some other “crowded” tablescape pics that tickle my fancy…

Studio DIY:

NYE Inspiration 1

Green Wedding Shoes:

NYE Inspiration

Kelly Lee for Rue Magazine:

NYE Inspiration 4

Also Rue Magazine:

NYE Inspiration 3

If I’m lucky, I’ll figure out a way to create cute stir sticks for this party in the next 8 hours! 馃檪 As mentioned on this post, I get such fulfillment from re-purposing items and materials I already have. And I’m CONVINCED I won’t be running around stressing out all day. If I can prove to myself (and Tristan, ha!) that I am capable of a low-cost, low-stress party, then it is sure to be a happy new year, filled with lots more parties. 馃檪

-t&T

T&T

header image via Studio DIY

Links of the Week

Greetings, all! I have a busy yet fun-filled weekend ahead, with Tristan’s birthday party tonight and a Friendsgiving (what shall I cook?!) tomorrow evening. It’s getting to be party central season up in herr! I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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Here are some links that have tickled my fancy in the last week(ish):

  • Space-saving furniture of the future (not your average murphy bed!)
  • Charming $45 original art — And, in case anyone is wondering if they could make it themselves, I’m guessing the supplies alone would cost $45
  • To wear to your next “big night out
  • $500 milkshake – to drink on your next “big night out”?
  • The perfect kitchen art (slideshow)
  • A great Christmas gift idea: Modern Family Tree

I’m have a grand ol’ time gathering newlywed Christmas ideas and can’t wait to share them with you. Hopefully you saw my Christmas card inspiration. I am also working on round-ups of newlywed ornament ideas and holiday pillows, so if you have any favorites, send ’em my way! We can all information-gather together as we decorate for the holidays. This will be SO. FUN.

-t&T

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Bang Bang Shrimp

The second recipe on my list was inspired by a high school obsession. Several of my friends were hostesses at the local “nice” restaurant, Bonefish Grill, which had a very nice shrimp appetizer: Bang Bang Shrimp. Upon research for this post, I see that the restaurant now has an entire day devoted to the appetizer: Bang Wednesday.

Bonefish Bang Bang Shrimp

Lately I have had quite a hankering for the slightly spicy, savory sauce over the lightly crisped shrimpies with a touch of chive. Since I don’t live very close to Bonefish now, I sought Pinterest for a DIY version – SUCCESS!

99 Cooking posted this recipe:

BANG BANG SHRIMP

Ingredients

  • 1 pound 路 large shrimp (shelled and deveined)
  • 陆 cup 路 mayo
  • 录 cup 路 thai sweet chili sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon 路 thai style peanut sauce
  • 陆 teaspoon 路 sriracha hot chili sauce (or to taste, spicy)
  • 1 box 路 panko japanese style bread crumbs
  • 1 路 egg
  • 1 路 oil for frying
  • 1 bunch 路 of green onions chopped

Preparation

  1. Mix mayo with Thai sweet chili sauce, Thai style peanut sauce and sriracha for the sauce
  2. Dip shrimp in egg, then in panko bread crumbs. Deep fry shrimp in 340掳F oil until light brown (around 2 mins)
  3. Drain on paper towel. put on platter and top shrimp with sauce and chopped green onions

 

Straightforward enough! I generally try to avoid recipes where I have to buy three specific sauces that are $5 each that I only need one teaspoon of, and will only use once. I made an exception in this case.

The instructions were easy enough to follow, but what I hadn’t accounted for was the fact that I’ve never deep fried anything. Thankfully, I was prepared for oil to splatter and burn me, but I didn’t expect it to completely coat my entire kitchen with an oily film. I put each shrimp in one by one (quickly and dramatically recoiling my hand after each to avoid getting burned) and although the instructions say that each shrimp will be cooked in 2 minutes, it took me 2 minutes to even get the first round in the pot. Some of the shrimp were really crisp when I removed them, so I reduced the heat of the oil for the second round. This lowered the splatter radius and I could get the shrimps in faster, but made the panko on the second round a bit soggy. I did one more round of shrimp at a slightly higher temperature and called it good!

As the shrimp were cooling, I combined the ingredients for the sauce. Tristan loved the sauce and suggested we replace our fondue cocktail sauce with it. I don’t care for Mayo, so it was just okay to me. The Bonefish sauce is a bit more of an Asian Aoli, and this sauce was a bit thick. Next time, I would use an actual mixer instead of combining by hand, and would heat the sauce.

This whole process was so stressful that I didn’t take any photos, and really couldn’t even speak. I even forgot to clip the ends off of the green beans I made to accompany. I did take a photo of the end result (I had my sauce on the side):

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Not the prettiest dish I’ve ever created, but it ended up being pretty tasty. It was a good learning experience in that I will probably avoid deep fried recipes in the future, and can now feel at peace making the trek to Bonefish to buy the real thing :).

Stay tuned for the next recipe, a little more up my alley: Baked Brown Sugar Chicken Wings with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce.

-t&T

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Hawaiian Honey BBQ Crockpot Chicken

This is the first post in my 3 Recipes, 3 Days series. YAY! A series. My dad’s a pastor and he would approve – pastors love serieses.

Before I was married, I thought my life would be one giant 7 Recipes, 7 Days series, because I thought I’d be cooking THAT much. Wrong. This is a聽huge week for me in that I had enough weekend time to figure out three recipes to try, made shopping lists for all the ingredients, purchased the items, and – this is key – had no conflicting appointments during dinner time for three days in a row that could interfere with actually cooking. Clearly, the stars have aligned.

Since I do often times have dinner time appointments or meetings, Tristan definitely puts on his chef hat weekly聽 and it’s wonderful… but it does feel good to put on the Stepford Wife hat and cook for him, though!

I wanted to start with something easy that would yield enough for dinner and a few lunches. Making dinner was really depressing when Tristan and I were first dating — I finally had someone to cook for, but what would have normally fed me for a week was gone within a day. All my efforts, gobbled up in a half hour, in HUGE bites! How can he possibly taste the flavors!?

Now I am more used to making enough for the male appetite, and/or have stocked up on “gourmet” frozen lunches in case there’s no leftovers (it’s fine). But crockpot recipes are generally a safe bet that you’ll have leftovers.

Here is the recipe I tried –

Hawaiian Honey BBQ Crockpot Chicken

By MOMables

Ingredients

  • 4-5 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 (18oz) bottle of your favorite honey bbq sauce.
  • 1.5 cup of chicken broth
  • 2 cups of frozen bell pepper strips
  • 1 (20 oz) can of pineapple chunks, drained
  • 陆 cup of water

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in crockpot.
  2. Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or LOW for 4-6 hours.
  3. Use 2 forks to shred chicken while it is still in the crock pot. Let shredded chicken remain in crockpot sauce for 15 more minutes.

BEFORE:

3 recipes 3 days 002 (2)

AFTER:

3 recipes 3 days 004 (2)

3 recipes 3 days 008 (2)

Tips for next time:

  • Accompany with a carb-y side to neutralize the sweetness. We ate our chicken with brown rice on the side. The recipe author shows the chicken in sloppy joe format between buns. It’s definitely still good a la carte, but when I ate the leftovers for lunch yesterday, I tended to pick the chicken pieces out and let each bite drain a bit first.
  • Add more vegetables. The red peppers were a good compliment to the pineapple, but I think broccoli and celery could be a nice addition and up the heartiness factor.

Stay tuned for the next recipe: Bang Bang Shrimp!

 

-t&T

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Chili & Brown Sugar Chicken Bacon Wraps

I wrapped Lil’ Smokies with crescent rolls in back high school (“Baby Jesus in a Blanket,” anyone!?), but have honestly felt too intimidated to try “gourmet” wrapping recipes with ingredients such as olives, figs, and raw meat … too grown up! However, this recipe from Paula Deen felt grown up (two kinds of raw meat!), yet simple at the same time (4 ingredients).

Chili & Brown Sugar Chicken Bacon Wraps

Makes 12-15 wraps

4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 (1-pound) package sliced bacon
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Cut each bacon slice into thirds. Wrap each chicken cube with bacon and secure with a wooden pick.

3. Stir together brown sugar and chili powder. Dredge wrapped chicken in mixture.

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4. Coat a rack and broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken wrap on rack in broiler pan. Bake 350 for 30 to 35 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

Et Voila!

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This recipe was just as easy and it sounds, and tasted great. Since each bite is rich in flavor, I would definitely pair with a veggie if eating as a main course. We chose roasted asparagus.

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What are you favorite “wrapped” recipes?

-t&T

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Harvest Bucket List #3 – Toast the Season with Elysian Night Owl Beer

CHECK!

I actually accomplished this bucket list item聽 weeks ago, and have likely had just as many Night Owl beers as Pumpkin Spice Lattes since then – it’s that good. Here are some shots from when we first enjoyed the ale’s聽 savory spices (back when the weather was decent!):

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Recognize these candlesticks from Watson & Kennedy?

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We paired our beer with Chili & Brown Sugar Chicken Bacon Wraps with roasted asparagus. Recipe forthcoming!

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As a general rule, I think everything pairs wonderfully with pumpkin beer, but I’m sure there are especially excellent pairings. Any suggestions?

-t&T

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Game Day Fondue

Today, we went over to Tristan’s best man’s place to watch the Seahawks game. As a thank you to Jayson and his girlfriend Brittney for being so helpful during the wedding process,聽 we offered to bring them dinner to accompany the football. Lately, Tristan and I have been sipping the fondue pot kool-aid and we thought that Jayson and Britt should be converted to fondue fans as well.

Here they are, getting excited… I like to think it’s over the fondue vs. the football score:

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The “table” is set:

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Aren’t they bad asses with their two TVs?

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And here we go!

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The first bites are ready:

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The hubby and I are getting quite efficient at our “pop-up Melting Pot” experience. It’s pretty cost effective when you consider what it would cost to treat friends to dinner at a restaurant, plus this is more unique. Here’s what you need to do your own pop-up Melting Pot:

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Fondue for Four

Supplies:

  • Fondue pot and skewers – we got this one as a wedding present & love it
  • 24 fl. oz. peanut oil
  • Extension cord (optional)

Meats:

  • 1lb. chicken breast, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 1lb. raw peeled jumbo shrimp
  • 1lb. steak cut into small bite-size pieces and marinated in Yoshida’s Original Teriyaki Sauce

Sauces:

  • 1 c. peanut sauce (we recommend purchasing from a local Thai restaurant – store-bought sauce is so hit or miss)
  • Steak sauce (we mix equal parts A1 and mayonnaise, 1/3 c. each)
  • 1 jar cocktail sauce (usually you can make one jar last several meals)

For simple accompaniments, we usually bring a baguette with butter and Parmesan and a bagged Caesar salad. Essentially, we pack it all up into a big basket and unload everything straight onto the kitchen table. Once the oil has heated in the fondue pot, your guests can stab their meat of choice, put the skewer in the pot and two minutes later, have a bite cooked to perfection and ready to dip in a sauce. We typically set out saucers for each person’s raw meat, plus plates, forks and knives because it doesn’t quite work to eat straight off of the skewer. It’s all very intuitive but let me know if I’ve omitted some crucial step.

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Eventually, we’d like to get easy formulas for cheese fondue and chocolate fondue parties. My issue is that the more gourmet, the more over-complicated I make it. When I’ve done cheese fondue, I can’t just melt a block of cheddar; it needs to be an artisan blend of cheeses. I can’t just provide bread to dip in it; I have to buy and slice five kinds of fruit. With chocolate fondue, I’m even worse: in addition to wanting “special” chocolate, I think I need five fruits AND pretzels AND marshmallows (and as I’m sure you can tell, I’m a sucker for the fancy versions). It all adds up to Mo Money Mo Problems! I am working on the art of less.

What are your favorite fondue recipes? Bonus points if they are simple with simple dunkers! 馃檪

-t&T

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