Category: Entertaining

monday meal madness & a winner!

mcmasons/dinner party, I

Happy Monday!

I’m headed back to school today. That alarm clock this morning is lucky to be alive!

We’ve been squeezing the last drops out of summer vacation and having lots of dinner parties in our back yard. Join me for some dinner ideas. Do you have your menus and grocery lists ready?

sebrings/fish tacos, I sebrings/fish tacos, II

Scotty is one of my very best guy friends. We met our freshman year of college and have been tight now for nearly twenty years. Oh, the stories he could tell on me {but he won’t, let’s hope}! It’s so great to have him and his family living just about fifteen minutes away these days, but we never see them enough!

We had them over for some fish tacos and margaritas last week and shared lots of laughs. While the tacos were nothing to write home about, the sauce was amazing. I tweaked a recipe from Gather Journal. It’s easy to share with you, so here you are:

Blend or food process the zest and juice of two small limes, 1/2 tsp. mustard, 1/2 c. cilantro leaves, and 1 c. of mayonnaise. Pour it over your fish taco. You’re welcome!

fish tacos Mister Fresh Scratch one-up-ed me a few nights later with fish tacos again, but this time he cooked the fish on the stove instead of as kebabs on the grill {which is what I pretty much unsuccessfully did when Scotty and fam were over}. Tasty!

mcmasons/dinner party, I mcmasons/dinner party, II mcmasons/dinner party, IIIAnother night we had Emily and her family over for Thai chicken soup {I tried a new recipe and now understand why people warn you against doing that when guests are over}. Good thing I had that platter of appetizers, as the soup was pretty much infused chicken broth, chicken and rice. And I forgot to double it. Um, ha ha?

And good thing that Emily made cobbler and brought ice cream! Small world: it turns out the cobbler recipe came from her mom, who got it from her friend, who happened to be my friend Steve’s mom {Steve with whom I work and take students to Europe}. Annnnnd, the recipe is almost exactly like my recipe!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the winner of my Nothin’ But giveaway……Flo Mims!! Congrats, Flo – please check your email for further instructions! Flo and I attended the first two years of high school together back in South Carolina and took a very fun trip together to the Vanderbilt Mansion once….

A huge thank you to everyone who entered! There will be more giveaways soon, so stay tuned!

A really big thanks to the folks at Nothin’ But for sharing their awesome, healthy snacks with me. They are truly delicious and not full of garbage. This is a company full of integrity, and they certainly have made a customer out of me. If you can’t find their yummy snacks at a store near you, you can order them right from their website, which is what this chick will be doing. Check them out on their Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!

monday meal madness, midsummer night-style!

midsummer night's feast, XII

After a lovely, carefree July, reality is slowly starting to creep back in. I look at my calendar and see that it gets increasingly hectic as we roll toward the start of school {which really is the event-which-shall-not-be-named!}. But not before I enjoy more of the flavors of summer!

Last week we hosted pretty much everyone in Olympia that I am related to, minus my cousin Garrett who gets home from work really late and had to miss our fun. Whenever my cousin Evie’s in town, someone has a big family gathering, and I was so happy that it got to be me this time!

So get out your menus and your grocery lists – let’s get you some ideas for dinner. Ready?

grilled chicken & grilled corn Mr. Fresh Scratch made a mean dinner on the grill. We were gifted a new Weber that’s a step up from our old one that was near death, and I think he’s been having a little fun with it. He grilled up some chicken and some corn, which he wants me to tell you was grilled totally naked {the corn, folks. he was dressed. come on!}.

He made a nice sriracha mayo to go on the corn. Sprinkled with some cilantro, it was awesome!

homemade fish sticks I took that leftover corn and served it the next night alongside some yellow squash my grandpa had given us {I cooked the bejusus out of it on the stove with some butter, but I pretty much  hate yellow squash no matter what you do to it} and some homemade fish sticks and homemade tartar sauce.

The recipe for fish sticks was found in The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, and it was really easy. I think with another fish, I would’ve loved them. I used the frozen Cod bits from Trader Joe’s, and that fishy taste never left them. I think next time I’ll try them with halibut.

chicken with tzatzikiI think this was my favorite meal of the week: chicken with pita and tzatziki.

I made tzatziki twice this week, and I think I’ve got it down. I love that I have all the ingredients here at home: I strain some of my homemade yogurt to get it more Greek-like, use some of our cucumbers, mint, garlic, and dill from the garden, squeeze half of a lemon in there, throw in a little salt and pepper, and magic happens.

For this salad-like meal, I sliced up four chicken breasts thinly, tossed them with cayenne, salt, and pepper, then fried them on the stove. I arranged the lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, and tzatziki on top of a whole wheat mini pita, but kept it all separate {no touching!} for the kids.

There’s a precise recipe for the tzatziki in Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, but I’ve found you can just wing it. It tastes best if you let it all kind of marinate together in the fridge for an hour or so before you eat it.

croque monsieurOne night I took brioche buns {how I love thee!} and toasted them in a bath of butter on the stove. Then Clementine and I lined them all up on a cookie sheet, topped each one with a slice of ham and a slice of mozzarella, and broiled them. We topped each with a fried egg and called it Croque Monsieur, even thought it’s technically not.

We live on the edge.

These were also great re-heated in the toaster oven for breakfast.

midsummer night's feast, Imidsummer night's feast, IIAnd now for our midsummer night’s feast.

I went with an Italian theme in three parts: appetizers, dinner, and dessert. Everyone pitched in. It was a very, very hot evening around the PNW {90! OMG!}, and my dessert idea was, I must admit, brilliant.

That’s my niece Lexi up there. She is not a ham like her auntie at all. Nope. Not one bit…

We had cheese, salami, baquette, fig jam, grapes, antipasta kebobs, and slices of ripe cantaloupe wrapped with prosciutto before dinner. For drinks we had a fruity water, Orangina, and wine.

midsummer night's feast, III

Evie’s little cutie, Liam, is the youngest member of our family, and he was a big hit with, well, everyone…

midsummer night's feast, IV midsummer night's feast, V midsummer night's feast, VIIIFor dinner I baked two of my cousin Mel’s lasagnas {recipe here} and laid out a large, heirloom tomato-laden caprese salad. We also had a big, regular salad.

midsummer night's feast, VI midsummer night's feast, VII For dessert, I served three quarts of Talenti Gelato with cones. I tried to be fancy and had chopped chocolate, pistachios, and dried cranberries to top the gelato with, but pretty much no one bothered with that step except me. Live and learn!

midsummer night's feast, IX I miss you already, Evie!!!

midsummer night's feast, XI midsummer night's feast, XII  midsummer night's feast, XIVSomeone got some time with Auntie Mel {who will have her own little person by Valentine’s Day! Congrats!}….midsummer night's feast, XV…and Clementine tried perfecting her photo-bombing skills all night long. This one’s for you, Cowboys & Crossbones!

midsummer night's feast, XHow cute are Evie’s dudes? Seriously.

midsummer night's feast, XIIIAnd there’s my dude on the left and my brother Frank on the right, belting out “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” which they do from time to time. My brother has my talent {ahem} for singing, what can I say?

The party pretty much ended after that. Can’t imagine why.

Can you believe we’re in August? Have you had any dinner parties lately? Do tell!

And here are nice links to the cookbooks I mentioned today: