This past week was super-hectic wrapping up the latest Creative Mischief Kits and getting ready for our annual Halloween party. But we made it through and everything turned out great! Well, almost everything…
First, let’s have a look at lastÂ week’s menu:
Monday: Turkey, Brie, and Cranberry Grilled Cheese with Butternut Squash Soup
The sandwich inspiration came from HeatherCristo.com and the soup was already in the freezer from a batch Todd made a month or so ago. Together, it was like Thanksgiving came early and it was perfect on a chilly evening.
Tuesday: Bacon & Egg Risotto
A Brit +Â Co find, I admit that I get up on my culinary high horse when it comes to a risotto recipe that doesn’t follow the risotto method. I just don’t think the time “saved” by tossing everything together and letting it steam is worth the quality lost by doing it the “right” way. Stirring a pot of risotto as you gradually add the water isn’t hard, it’s only 20 minutes. If you want quick, buy a box of Rice-a-Roni. If you want risotto, make risotto. So I didn’t follow their directions (no one is surprised by now, I’m sure) but we still had a very tasty meal and it reheated great for lunch later in the week. In addition to doing it the “long” way, I chopped the bacon before cooking and left itÂ in for the entire time rather than playing hokey-pokey bacon. I also didn’t see the need to use a separate pan for the eggs. Once the last bit of liquid was incorporated into the rice I added the eggs to the top of the rissoto and covered it just long enough for the eggs to “poach.”
Wednesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Based on the Black Bean Tortilla Soup from MinimalistBaker, I added chicken and substituted a large can of hominy for the black beans (beans are still something I cannot tolerate very well, and hominy is my go-to substitute for soups). I also sliced up some gluten-free tortillas and added them like thin dumpling noodles.
Thursday: Pork Chops, Glazed Carrots, and Colcannon
My Colcannon ended up a little looser than intended–I must not have drained all the liquid out from the potatoes and kale. But even though it was just this side of Colcannon-soup, it was still absolutely delicious. And the next time I feel like making potato soup, bacon and kale might just be the things I add!
And here’s where the “normal” menu ends. I have an unofficial rule that I don’t cook the night before a big holiday dinner, party, or other food-intense day. One, because I’m usually prepping for the next day that evening, and two, because it cuts down on extra leftovers in an already-packed fridge. Instead, we went to down to Andy’s to pick up wings and then I got to work wrapping bacon around artichokes and making the pinwheels for the party. Saturday’s dinner was preempted by the party menu, and Sunday was given over to leftovers.
The table we set for our guests this year.
I’d been prepping one item from the menu a night all that week–it’s the only way I can get everything done without taking a day off work! Things like the brownies, the black bean dip, and even the spinach puffs can all be held for several days without a loss of quality, so I was able to check those off pretty quickly and slide into Saturday morning right on track!
The pumpkin bread is another recipe that can last, well-wrapped, for a couple of days on the counter. It also freezes beautifully (am I the only one who thinks of Steel Magnolias when they use that phrase?). We had one leftover from last year’s party so I put in the chest freezer, thinking I’d pull it out for Thanksgiving. I actually pulled it out last week and was noshing on it for breakfast all week.
from Celtic Folklore CookingÂ (affiliate link)
1 large can pumpkin
1 cup melted butter
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
Mix together pumpkin, melted butter, water, and eggs. Blend in baking soda, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts, and raisins. Place batter in a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until top is golden brown.
A few things. It doesn’t say what large equals, but I took it to mean the 29oz can that would make 2 pies. We also don’t do walnuts in this house (Todd’s not a fan), and raisins are High-FODMAP, so I substitute 2 cups of dried cranberries (yes, dried fruits in general are higher in FODMAPs than their fresh selves, this is my compromise), and I use a gluten-free flour blend that already has xanthum gum included and it works well as a 1:1 sub in this recipe (the Krusteaz brand, which we get at Sam’s Club). Finally, the recipe claims this makes one loaf and I’d really like to see the size of their loaf pan! It makes enough for two normal loaf pans.
Saturday morning started nice and early: 7:30 am. I needed to get downstairs and start the pork in the slow cooker and put the potatoes in the oven, then clean all the floors in the house before it got too late. That way I could get all the messy work out of the way and get a shower before having to run an errand (to delivery a local Creative Mischief Kit order and pick up ice for the party). All was going swimmingly–I was crossing items off the to-do list, I even had enough time to add a small tray of grapes, vegetables, and cheese and a batch of my seeded chicken salad to the menu. I was calm, relaxed, and in the groove.
Then I went to put on my costume.
Vanellope and Ralph, Halloween 2015–a little blurry, but appropriate by the time this photo was taken 😉
Notice anything missing? The tights that I was so careful to do “right” were very wrong. Despite stretching them while they were being painted to prevent shrinking and buying a size larger than I’d usually wear, when I went to put them on (after having to fight it off the cardboard inserts in the first place) they just wouldn’t fit.
And that’s when the doorbell rang.
Thank goodness Todd was already dressed and could go down to answer the door!
Despite the bumpy start, the party was a lot of fun. Our guests ate, drank, and made merry. We gave a house tour to those who hadn’t been there before and this time I got to include a few ghost stories, as well. (I’ll be sharing what I know about theÂ Dollhouse’s spectralÂ residents in Friday’s post.) After that I was mainly occupied giving readings until the last guests left around 1am. Last year I decided to offer readings (Tarot) to any guest who was curious and a few people took me up on it. This year? They were asking when I was going to start and forming a line! I ended up doing 10 readings this year.Â It’s a great way to get some quality one-on-one time with myÂ guests, but it does take away from the mixing and mingling.
Sunday was spent recharging from the late night. Thankfully, clean-up from a party like this is pretty simple–just a matter of putting away perishables (which we did before going to bed) and washing up the platters and bowls (which we did after sleeping in/napping half of Sunday away). The decorations get to stay up for another week and, hey, the house is mostly clean and uncluttered!