Coming down from a month of cooking & entertaining
  Re: (...)
Wow. At times, I thought January would never come. Now that it has, I want to go back and do it all over again!

Sorry I disappeared, but I didn't feel mentally able to concentrate on posting (I tried a few times, but kept getting distracted).

First, our 25th anniversary party was so wonderful. I think that I hit my own personal pinnacle-- the decor, menu, even music was perfect. Of course, I obsessed about the night for weeks so I better have done it right.

Did I ever post the menu? I can't remember. But since this is a forum of food-lovers, I will (again?), and then hit the highlights:

Sparkling Citrus Punch
Ruby Sippers
Lucy's Sidecar

Assorted Crackers with:
Dutch Gouda with Walnuts,
Cranberry Chevre,
Pesto-Dried Tomato Torta, &
Tuscan Cheddar
Spinach Dip with Crudités
Mini Crabcakes
Mushroom Turnovers

First Course
Roasted Pear & Butternut Squash Soup w/ Gorgonzola

Salad & Bread
Mixed Field Greens with Pear-Cranberry Vinaigrette

Main Course
Lobster Ravioli in Pink Sauce
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
Gorgonzola-Walnut Ravioli with Butter
Artichoke Tortellini with Tomato Cream Sauce

Salad & Bread
Mixed Field Greens with Pear-Cranberry Vinaigrette

Dark Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Mousseline

Okay, the Ruby Sippers came from CAH 12/06 and were wonderful. I made the syrup a few days ahead, had the red sugar on a saucer to rim the flutes, and they were gorgeous as well.

The appetizers were purchased. Yes, I did it. I didn't think that they were the best I've ever had, but there were none leftover. A good sign, especially with all of the veggies with spinach dip and the cheeses (which, incidentally, I bought Dutch Gouda with Walnuts at Trader Joes and it was excellent-- the creamy sweetness of the gouda was balanced well with the walnuts, I must buy more...).

I made the soup 2 weeks ahead, took it out of the freezer and into the refrigerator the day before, and it took no effort to heat it and crumble gorgonzola for on top.

The ciabatta was a King Arthur Flour recipe and is one of the best breads I have ever made. DH raved about it so much, Mom asked me to make it for Christmas Day dinner (Italian) and I made the garlic bread variation. Incredible!

The (purchased) ravioli were better than I could have hoped for. I envision old Italian women, in those apron/pinafore things my Italian grandmother used to wear when she cooked, lined up in a huge kitchen making these ravioli. I can't really name a favorite, but the lobster ravioli with pink sauce (olive oil, garlic, cream, tomatoes, parmesan) is slightly ahead of the others.

And it wasn't too difficult to cook all four pastas just before dinner. You all were right-- some things just shouldn't be made ahead. I had made the browned butter the day before and did what someone on this board suggested (I can't remember who, but thank you!) and just left the bowl of it beside the stove as everything cooked. It softened and I added it to the reduced stock and sage leaves-- so easy for the butternut squash raviloi!

And the cake. Oh my heaven, that wonderful cake! Yes, it contained 6 sticks of butter but it was worth every fat gram. That, also, was a CAH recipe (12/06).

I tried to post pictures, but the photo location I copied from Shutterfly didn't work with the IMG command, so here is the link for the entire album (I'm going to leave it here for only a week or so, so take a quick glance as soon as you can):

Of course, because of this party I was woefully unprepared for Christmas. I did most of my Christmas shopping on the 15th! But I was able to take advantage of some incredible sales.

For Christmastime dinners, I repeated the lobster ravioli and the butternut squash ravioli (and the Ruby Sippers) for dinner on the 23rd; I stuffed some incredibly huge shrimp (avg. 5 ounces each!)with crab on Christmas Eve; then made a pasta dish and that wonderful garlic bread (from the KA ciabatta recipe)on Christmas Day.

New Year's Eve, I stuffed the same kind of shrimp (they're only available over the holidays, so this year I took advantage), but not with the crabmeat stuffing I used on Christmas Eve because DH doesn't like crab. I subbed poached tilapia and it was surprisingly delicious.
New Year's Day, the traditional meal of black eyed peas, collards, and turkey kielbasa with cornbread.

Today-- baked fish, plain baked sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli for dinner. We're gonna do a little penance here!

Now, I'm caught up with explaining my absence. I have missed interacting with you all, and am glad to have the time now to be back in the fold!


my cooking adventures
  Re: Coming down from a month of cooking & entertaining by foodfiend (Wow. At times, I th...)
Wonderful party! Looks like the menu was a hit and the setting was spectacular. Well done!
  Re: Re: Coming down from a month of cooking & entertai by HomeCulinarian (Wonderful party! Lo...)
Wow that is incredible!! Please tell me you have pictures to share. What an event! Girl that is a job well done...heck more than well done...outstanding!!
  Re: Re: Coming down from a month of cooking & entertai by HomeCulinarian (Wonderful party! Lo...)
I'm humbled! What a gorgeous setting and fabulous menu!

And welcome back. I hope you'll be with us more, now. I sure could use your inspiration. Thanks for sharing!
Keep your mind wide open.
  Re: Re: Coming down from a month of cooking & entertai by Gourmet_Mom (I'm humbled! What a...)
wow! what a lovely home. I felt like I was on vacation just looking at the pictures. Congratulations on your anniversary and a fantastic job on the dinner. Are you very close to Pittsburgh? One of our daughters attended University of Pitt and we loved visiting the city.

Everything tastes better Alfresco!
  Re: Re: Coming down from a month of cooking & entertai by chef_Tab (wow! what a lovely h...)
what everyone else said - fantastic menu!!
Retired and having fun writing cookbooks, tasting wine and sharing recipes with all my friends.
  Re: Re: Coming down from a month of cooking & entertai by cjs (what everyone else s...)
Wow, you have such a beautiful and inviting home! The food looks and sounds absolutely fantastic.

I love the little candy cane votives you have on the table - I've never come across those before.
  Re: Re: Coming down from a month of cooking & entertai by Trixxee (Wow, you have such a...)
Great job, Vicci! Love your pics! Happy New Year to you too. Hope it's a good one.


"Drink your tea slowly and reverently..."
  Re: Re: Coming down from a month of cooking & entertai by Mare749 (Great job, Vicci! L...)
Thanks for the compliments, everyone! I didn't take photos of most of the food because I didn't want my guests to wait to eat; now, I wish I had. I was on edge for the entire week about the weather. Our driveway at the lake house is steep and winds down between huge boulders, so I just held my breath that no precipitation would happen for a couple of days before and through the weekend. Luck was certainly on my side-- it snowed several inches earlier in the week and stayed cold enough that it didn't melt, but the driveway was cleared and all looked festive inside and out!

Denise, click on the blue "Shutterfly" link toward the end of my long, rambling post for photos.

Theresa, we live about a half hour south of Pittsburgh, and our lake house is an hour further south. What did you do when you visited the city? It's always interesting to hear what others have done-- I've found a couple of nice restaurants that way!

Trixxee, those striped votives were on a clearance table outside of a Hallmark store on the day after Christmas last year. I try to stock up on decorative things after a holiday, then figure out a way to use them the following year. IF I remember where I stored them...

And, again, thanks for your kind words. I have some very appreciative friends, and it is so fulfilling to entertain when my effort is received so well (like you guys don't know that!!!)

my cooking adventures
  Re: Re: Coming down from a month of cooking & entertai by foodfiend (Thanks for the compl...)

Denise, click on the blue "Shutterfly" link toward the end of my long, rambling post for photos.



EDIT to add: They're not coming up for me when I click the link
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Then find someone whose life has given them vodka.

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