Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Valentine Luncheon 2012, part III.


My friends Heather and Kelly with me

Guests in the Living Room

Guests in the Den

Guests in the Breakfast Room

Behind the scenes: Jarrett and Hossain were a huge help!

Jarrett pipes whipped cream onto the chocolate cheesecakes I served for dessert

Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake

Saying goodbye to my longtime friend and former roommate, Elizabeth

Party favor: reusable grocery bag with the date and my initials. I ordered these from and was very happy with the service and quality. My friends seem to like them, too!

Hostess gifts. I have very appreciative friends

Coming up next: recipes

Monday, February 27, 2012

Valentine Luncheon 2012, part II.


Me with my friends Heather and Susanna

Guests mingle in the entry hall after arriving

Meanwhile back in the kitchen, Karey, Heather and Laura keep me company as I put the finishing touches on lunch. Hossain and Jarrett tend to the appetizers and drinks

It really doesn't take this much concentration to stir wild rice!

Leslie, Priscilla, Ellen, Barenda and Susanna

Rolls rising in the oven

Guests find their seats

Lunch is served: Elegant Shrimp and Artichoke over Wild Rice, Arugula with Lemon and Parmesan, and Heart-shaped Yeast Rolls

To be continued...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Valentine Luncheon 2012, part I.


I hosted my annual Valentine Luncheon last week. I conceived this party over ten years ago as a way to celebrate and honor the wonderful friends that I have (and because girls appreciate all the beautiful trappings of Valentine's Day slightly more than my wonderful husband!).

The invitation. My quote this year was "Flowers are lovely; love is flower-like; friendship is a sheltering tree." ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Den table

Living Room table

Close-up of Living Room flowers. Aren't these exquisite?

Breakfast Room table

Close-up of Breakfast Room flowers

Dining Room table

Close-up of Dining Room flowers

Lighting candles just before everyone arrives

Jarrett prepares to offer my guests an hors d'ouevres of Stilton Tart with Cranberry Chutney and Tomato-Basil Rounds

Guests begin to arrive!

Camille and me

Hossain greets my friends with Kir Royale and Almond Tea be continued

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What's for dinner: Minnesota Wild Rice Soup.


My husband, Robert, loves soup. He is not particular about his soup, is perfectly content to open a can of Campbell's for his lunch or dinner (though his favorite, and Will's, is my Corn Chowder).

I also enjoy a bowl of soup, especially on a cold day, but I only like homemade soup. And not all homemade soup is created equal.

This recipe for Minnesota Wild Rice Soup came from a friend of my mother's in Jackson Hole who hails from Minnesota. My mother made it for us over Christmas, and I loved it so much that I had her send me the recipe.

This is now my favorite soup, and I've made it several times since Christmas. Last night I prepared the wild rice in my pressure cooker which really saved time.



Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

2 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, baked and chopped
5 tablespoons butter
8-oz box sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
⅓ cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked wild rice
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup fat-free half-and-half

Sauté mushrooms and onion in butter until tender. Blend in flour and gradually add the four cups of chicken broth. Stir in rice and salt, then add chicken and mushrooms. Simmer about 5-10 minutes. Blend in half-and-half and heat to serving temperature (do not let soup boil after adding half-and-half).

My mom's friend Cathy added to enjoy this soup with hearty bread, seasonal fruit and some really great friends!

Cooking wild rice: Wash ½ cup raw wild rice, add rice to 2 cups water (could also use chicken broth) and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 45 minutes until tender, not mushy. Fluff with fork and simmer 5 additional minutes. Drain any excess liquid. (In a pressure cooker bring ½ cup wild rice and 1½ cups liquid to a boil. Attach lid and bring to high pressure. Reduce heat but maintain high pressure and cook for about 22 minutes.)

Note: 1 cup raw wild rice yields about 4 cups cooked wild rice


I also want to put in a plug for my latest favorite app. My friend Bevy at It's a Golden Day told me about Paprika, which bills itself as a recipe manager. I have downloaded it on my iPhone, Mac desktop and iPad and linked them so that they stay synced through Paprika's "cloud."

Paprika has a built-in browser that makes it easy to import recipes from sites like Epicurious and Food Network, and it also has a clipboard feature for copying recipes from blogs or other online sources. I love its grocery list feature that lets you check off the ingredients you need from recipes you've selected and then makes a list that is organized by produce, canned goods, meats, etc. I usually compile my list on my iPad or computer but access it in the store via my iPhone. Emailing recipes from the Paprika app is easy as well.

You must purchase each Paprika app separately so I tried it on my iPad for a while before deciding to buy the apps for my iphone and computer too. If your eyes are better (younger) than mine, you could probably get by with just the app on your phone!