Can you tell I’m feeling nostalgic for our own house? Soon we’ll have a great new house that will be amazing - especially at Christmas - but until then, I’m posting these darling photos from our old house and how cute we were.
Our original house was a 1940’s with a few “mid century” architectural details. I leaned into the vibe and hosted a little family cocktail party with champagne cocktails and a really delicious fondue. Even without a mid century home, you can still host a fun little cocktail party with mid century vibes.
1 scoop raspberry sorbet (about one ounce)
1 tablespoon chambord
In each glass, pop a scoop of sorbet and a tablespoon of chambord. Top with champagne until full. Drop a raspberry in each glass.
THE BEST FONDUE
The trick with this fondue is that you need to keep it warm. It will set up if you let it get cold as we’re basically just dealing with warmed cheese.
8 ounces shredded gruyere cheese
8 ounces shredded swiss cheese
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon brandy
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
Toss shredded cheeses with flour until totally combined.
In a large pot, bring wine, lemon juice, and whole garlic cloves to a low boil. Slowly add the cheese, whisking the entire time. Continue whisking until smooth. Stir in brandy and transfer to a fondue pot. Serve with sliced bread, cooked red potatoes, and honey crisp apple slices.
Every year my mom hosts a little brunch/ coffee hour for her friends at Christmas. For years I rolled my eyes every time she tried to get my friends to come to the party too. I mean really? My cool friends - or worst, people I wasn’t 100% sure were friends - to come rub shoulders with some of her weird old birds?
But then last year my friends were there - my actual friends - and they liked some of her weird old birds. We had coffee and cookies and chatted and it was actually fun. So I decided you should all host one too. Brew some coffee. Invite every weird friend you know and celebrate the season together. It’s totally worth it.
Here’s how to pull it off:
Send your friends an email or write a note at least one week ahead of when you think you’re planning the party.
Aim for a weekday at 10am if most of your friends are at home during the day. A Sunday at noon is usually best if they are at work during the day.
Buy or make at least three kinds of cookies. A small variety in large quantity makes the biggest impact.
Brew a pot of coffee, a big one. And bring out the good china mugs to serve it in.
Prep everything the night before - like platters for the cookies, mugs, napkins - then just set out the cookies in the morning!
Yes, these take a bit of time but it is so worth it. Homemade marshmallows are nothing like store bought. These are so much better. And nothing is better in hot cocoa than a peppermint marshmallow. Unless of course that’s peppermint schnapps. And the marshmallow on top.
4 packets unflavored gelatin
3 cups sugar
1 ½ cups water
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
½ cup crushed candy canes or other peppermint candies
Butter the bottom of an 11x17 sheet pan and top with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and dust with powdered sugar.
In a stand mixer, combine gelatin and ¾ cup water. Let stand.
In a medium sauce pan with a heavy bottom combine sugar, remaining water, corn syrup, and salt. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to cook until mixture reaches the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer (about 240 degrees).
Turn on stand mixer and pour in sugar mixture in a slow steady stream. Leave mixer running on high speed for 15 minutes until mixture is light and fluffy.
Blend extract into marshmallow mixture and pour marshmallow onto prepared pan and smooth out to the corners. Evenly coat the top with crushed candy canes and dust with powdered sugar. Let sit uncovered for 12 hours.
Turn out onto a cutting board dusted with powdered sugar. Butter and dust a knife with powdered sugar. Cut marshmallows into 2” squares and dip each cut edge into powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
The turkey may be the main event but that's no reason why the sides can't be fun too. What's your favorite side dish?
Years ago I hosted a pumpkin patch party at my in-law’s farm house. Everyone had tiny babies and they rolled around in the pumpkin patch and ate cookies. It was so darling. When I was looking back on some old photos I decided these were too darling not to share. Especially that little face of Lars?! Are you kidding me?
This party is also timeless. These babies can be tiny and eating sugar cookies or ten years old and let them carve pumpkins on their own. You can host this anytime and all of the kids will love it. Serve some spiked punch and the adults will love it too.
5 tips for a dessert bar
Create a backdrop. It makes everything look more professional & like you planned it. I used an old Pendelton blanket (I have a collection) but you can use almost anything.
Make your favorite desserts that you have tried a million times and you know they work.
Fill in with store bought favorites. I adore Trophy Cupcakes and can’t think of a reason why I’d make my own when Trophy is done and delicious.
Napkins! Plenty of napkins.
Have something that’s “non-dessert” like a bowl of apples or cheese sticks or something that can take down the sugar high.
When I was a kid Halloween was the best time of the year. We lived in a neighborhood that had very few children, but lots of adults who were happy to buy loads of candy. We scored. Every year my dad and the dad next door would take all of us out around the neighborhood. Living in Seattle meant that there were many years where it rained. When that happened, we all piled in the back of my dad’s Ford Explorer with the hatch open (it was the 90’s after all) and he’d drive us from house to house.
Halloween smelled like rain and leaves and whiskey (as a kid I didn't recognize the smell, but as an adult I’ve figured out what was in those flasks.)
As a kid, Halloween is full of magic and fun. The years between being a kid and having a kid are a little more ambiguous. There were parties and fancy dinners but the magic just wasn’t the same. If you’re lucky enough to have little ones around this Halloween, take advantage of it. Host a party, make a big batch of chili and revel in the magic and fun of youth.
In a small bowl blend together cornmeal, sugar, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder. In a warm pan cook spice blend with two tablespoons olive oil until aromatic (just a minute or two).
Add onions and butter to pan and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add sausage and stew meat and cook, turning often, until browned.
When sausage is completely cooked and stew meat cubes are browned on all sides, pour in 1 cup beef broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the second cup if needed to retain some liquid in the pan.
Pour in tomatoes, beer, beans, and bay leaf and bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 3 hours stirring occasionally to prevent sticking until stew meat is tender and flaky.
When ready to serve, break up stew meat chunks with a fork and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and fresh chopped onions.
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 cups beef broth
1 pound sausage
2 pounds beef stew meat
2 bay leaves
12 ounces Pale Ale
1 - 8 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 - 8 oz. can kidney beans
1 - 8 oz. can pinto beans
2 - 9 oz cans tomato sauce
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cumin
¼ cup chili powder
½ tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon pepper
Here’s how to pull off the perfect Family Halloween Party
Make a giant batch of chili. More people show up? No problem, add more beans & more stock.
Make or buy loads of cookies and treats. Not totally for the kids - but for the parents to snack on so they don’t dig into their kids bags (yet).
Cocktails! Set up a simple bar with gin, vodka, tonic, and soda water. A few bottles of red wine & beer will round out the bar.
Weeknight Family Halloween parties tend to wrap up around 8pm. Let friends know ahead of time that you’re putting your kids to bed at a certain time.
Any reason at all to celebrate anything at all is a win in my book. Halloween is right at the top of that list because it can be SO QUIRKY! And quirky is the best way to celebrate anything. I put together a quirky little Halloween that is so simple you can pull it off with almost no lead time. Especially those rats! Keep scrolling for a cocktail that does have to sit overnight (jell-o) but is ridiculously good (stick to one of those!) and a step-by-step of the rats that are really easy and really fun.
Here's why this is the coolest cocktail; the jell-o shot melts as it sits in the martini delivering, not only a 1-2 punch, but also a spooky 'bleeding' effect. You can always skip the martini part and just serve jell-o shots (yum). I make loads of jell-o shots so take my advice:
1. Do not use cheap vodka. You will notice. Everyone will notice. If the bottle is on the bottom shelf, then leave it there.
2. Let sit overnight. Do not rush these. It won't set up as well and they get sloppy and weird.
3. Don't try to add more vodka. There's plenty. Remember this is still science and you need the right balance for these to set up.
You know that when you've totally creeped out a three year old that you've done your job. And when you can do it for about $5 at the dollar store - BAM! You feel like a freaking genius. The trick with these rats is to cut all the way through so the candle can touch the table. When it does that, it gives it a more stable resting place than if it is attempting to balance somewhere inside the plastic rat.
I hope you have a fabulous Halloween! Let me know how you're celebrating and follow me on Instagram for all of the goods I'm serving up this year!
My birthday party continues! There is no birthday party with out a cocktail. At least at my house. A cocktail makes the whole night sing. My signature birthday cake is a Black Forest Cake and I was dying to figure out how to get those flavors into a cocktail. So I did it.
Happy Summer! Are you celebrating something? You should be, there's lots to celebrate. Celebrate the kids who have graduated from school; celebrate the parents who made it through another school year; celebrate the baseball teams/soccer teams/volleyball teams that had a great season.
You did it!
We made it to another summer.
To celebrate, I leaned into the pineapple trend that everyone is loving and turned it into an edible trend. If pineapples are cute, then eating them has to be freaking adorable. Right? I made a simple little menu with teriyaki chicken burgers that can cook on the grill while everyone sips delicious coconut pineapple cocktails that can be spiked or un-spiked for the younger celebrators.
TERIYAKI CHICKEN BURGER
In a microwave safe bowl, combine soy, pineapple juice, ginger, garlic, and sugar. Set aside. If you’re making rice, start it now.
Pour half of the pineapple mixture over the chicken. Let rest 5 minutes, but no longer or the pineapple with begin to ‘cook’ the chicken.
Grill chicken about 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.
Whisk cornstarch in the pineapple mixture and microwave at one-minute increments whisking between each minute. Continue until slightly thick.
Whisk together mayonnaise and sriracha. Spread mixture on one side of the Hawaiian buns.
Layer chicken, pineapple, and lettuce on top of each burger. Serve with rice.
4 chicken breasts, sliced into cutlets
1 can sliced pineapple rings
¼ cup soy sauce
Pineapple juice from the can
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tbs corn starch
8 Hawaiian hamburger buns
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbs. sriracha
PINA COLADA SPARKLERS
In a tall glass scoop two to three scoops of coconut sorbet. Top with Pineapple Dry Sparkling until the glass is full. Float 2 oz. of dark rum on top for the adults in the group.
It occurred to me this weekend that I actually have no idea how many years Mr. Hedin and I have been going to the Fred Hutch Premier Chef's Dinner. This event is my favorite event of the year (no offense to other events, it's just the best). The evening celebrates local chefs, wineries, and finding a cure for cancer.
Every year a fabulous chef is brought in as the guest speaker, last year it was Alice Waters (whom I adore) and this year we heard from the D A R L I N G and idol worthy Dominique Crenn. She's the gal from the Visa commercial who makes the giant soufflé. She's also the gal who has two Michelin Stars (the first lady to ever receive two stars in the US), best female chef in 2016, and most recently, Best Chef West by the James Beard Foundation just this year. That's all to say, her culinary chops are legit. She's also the cutest thing you've ever seen and a motorcycle jacket just jumped up on my wish list.
5 FAVORITE THINGS FROM THE CHEF'S DINNER
1. The "whoop" that went out as soon as I finished presenting about Two Mountain Winery. My friends are the best.
2. Daisley Gordon's Asparagus Tart (below) which I might have eaten that whole sheet of... the pickled asparagus salad on top was to die for.
3. Dominique Crenn's motorcycle jacket. #goals
4. Braised Short Ribs as big as your hand served on the creamiest polenta I think I've ever had.
5. Raising more money than ever before for the study and research of cancer prevention.
The way the evening works is unique for a charity event - at least in Seattle. If there's an event like this near you I'd love to hear about it!
Chef's throughout the city of Seattle are invited to cook for the meal. Each chef cooks half of the courses so that you and your date are each served something different at each course. The idea being that you switch halfway though and you each get to eat two plates per course. Since there are four courses, that's a lot of food. A lot of amazing food.
With each course of food, a wine is paired to compliment it. Generally the wines are all local, this year we featured three Washington wines and one from Oregon. I had the privilege of speaking to the meat course wine provided by Two Mountain Winery - one of my favorite wineries in the state.
Two Mountain paired their 2015 Cabernet Franc with a Duck Breast from chef Elijah DiStephano from Thackeray Kitchen & Bar AND a Braised Short Rib cooked by Samuel West from San Fermo. The Cab Franc is literally my favorite wine that Two Mountain makes - it's easy to drink, rich, and bold without overpowering anything, and just delightful.
The wine was grown in the Copeland Vineyard on the Two Mountain property. It's the first vineyard Matt planted in 2000 when they started the winery. It's 95% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot - a perfect food friendly wine with good acid, tannin and structure. Hints of oak, rose petals, and vanilla lend it to pair really nicely with red meat or dense mushrooms.
Unless you're friends with me, you may not have heard of the winery. It's actually owned and managed by Matt and Pat - brothers who grew up in Seattle and Eastern Washington where they lived on the family orchards and learned the agricultural business. When they lived in Seattle they lived on the same block as Mr. Hedin and their families have been great friends ever since.
In 2000 when we all graduated from college, Matt convinced his uncle to let him plant grapes in part of the orchard. When Uncle Ron died unexpectedly, Matt and Pat took over orchard and - by then - a growing winery business. Between the two of them, the brothers do everything; the wines are estate grown, they are blended by the brothers on the property, and most of the sales calls are handled by them as well. It's truly a family operation.
I would love to have you join us next year at this amazing event. It's a foodie's paradise - when else do you get to eat the food of 10 amazing chefs in one night? Here is the landing page for the Chef's Dinner and as soon as the event staff has come up for air from this year, they will begin to update with next year's information. If you really want to be on top of it, send an email to the email address on the page and they will get you on the list so you will be one of the first to know when next year's event happens.
Did I mention it's a fundraiser too? The remarkable people in the room raised more than $1.4 million dollars for cancer prevention. Come be a part of that life changing conversation. If we can prevent cancer, we don't need to cure it.
Hope I see you there next year