Fiesta Salad

If you have ever hosted dinner and served Mexican food, you might have found yourself in the same predicament as I usually get in; what kind of veggie side dish do I serve?? There’s corn and there are beans, but I’m always a little perplexed what else to include.

I’m here to solve our problems! I give you – Fiesta Salad!!

FullSizeRender (8)

I came across this recipe and I’ve made it my own with a few additions…not only is it delicious, it’s gorgeous!! I’m dying waiting for my tomatoes to grow so I can do the homegrown version.

Here’s how to whip it up:

1 English cucumber with stripes of skin peeled off and then quartered.

1 pint of multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size (you want the cucumber and tomatoes about the same sizes).

1 quarter of a shallot, diced – red onion works too, the shallot is just a more delicate onion flavor.

Splash of olive oil.

Lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Mix it all up and voila! Instant pretty and it’s delicious too. I also like to use balsamic vinegar instead of the citrus juice. The sweet acidity makes it oh so delicious. But, it does darken it a little so don’t put it on until right before you serve it.

Buen Provecho!

Thanksgiving Prep

I think for the last two Thanksgivings, someone in our house has been sick. And this year, sadly, is no exception. Baylor started running a fever over the weekend and it is still going. Now Auggs has decided to join her. I’m currently spraying them and their room with Lysol while they nap and simultaneously popping zinc.

All the care taking and a lack of recovery from Peter being gone for SEVEN DAYS (more on his hunting trip later when I’ve recovered from my adventure in solo parenting) has left me with a little less zeal for Thanksgiving this year. It kind of feels like it’s snuck up on me. And I can’t summon the excitement I usually have for entertaining. However, the show must go on and as Peter pointed out, you can’t reinvent the wheel on Thanksgiving, which should make it easier to tackle. None the less, there’s still a very long list of things to get done before our 18 hungry guests arrive. Here’s what I’m doing to keep the urge to say screw it and open a bottle of wine for some day drinking:

1. Scale Back

We typically have dinner outside at the great table PW built for me a few years ago. But getting the patio, plants, table, table cloths, string lights, heaters, etc ready is a lot of extra work. So we decided to move inside. This might prove to be a terrible idea later, but it’s allowing me a lot less work on the front end so that’s a good thing. Prioritizing your to do list and or editing it is essential.

2. Create A Lot of Lists

I’m a list person any way, but the holidays call for many more lists and a lot more detail. I started a spreadsheet last year with tabs for each topic: guests, food, grocery list and a few recipes. That way I only have to amend each tab instead of redoing all the work. Keeping them each separate allows you to separate your thoughts and print each one individually.

3. Schedule 

I start a schedule about 2 weeks out based on how much work I need to do. I try to divide all the tasks so that I can do a few each day. This leaves a lot of room for last minute stuff and GASP! maybe even some down time. Starting ahead on cleaning votive holders, stemware, locating serving pieces, ironing napkins, etc is all essential to not loosing your mind the day before.

4. Ask For Help

Everything from some child care to bringing various dishes, ask for help. Most guests like to participate so let them bring their favorite dish. Just be sure to prioritize oven space and time for baking off vs reheating. Use crockpots for things like potatoes, sweet potatoes and green beans.

5. If You Can’t Ask, Buy Some Help

It’s often worth not only your sanity but your time to pay for some help. Yard maintenance, house keeping, professional laundering of linens, window washing and even store bought dinner are all great ways to make everything come together AND actually enjoy yourself!

 

 

Eggs-selent Hunt

Trying to get the three of them to A. Look B. Smile and C. Do them at the same time just doesn’t happen!IMG_6290 IMG_6291 IMG_6292

 

Some people take their hunts seriously….very seriously

IMG_6293 IMG_6294 IMG_6300 IMG_6306 IMG_6301Others…not so seriously

IMG_6299 IMG_6298 IMG_6297 IMG_6302 IMG_6304Good thing there’s a Grandma to help!IMG_6308

 

Such a pretty day

IMG_6286

Thankful

This perfectly sums up our Thanksgiving. Warm, beautiful, delicious. Family, friends and pumpkin pie.
IMG_5835

 

The rest of our weekend included:

Brunch with the lovely Karen and Patrick

Melissa (Missa) and Jullien’s wedding

Post reception, reception

Wedding brunch

Lunch with all my cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles

Invoicing (bleh)

Full house Christmas decorating

Addressing and stamping 80 Christmas cards

It was a fantastic weekend. And completely exhausting. Yeah holiday season!

Just Us

Last Friday, my awesome sister Ali volunteered to watch Augg so B and I could go to the Children’s Museam, just us. Ali also did the laundry while we were gone. She. Is. Awesome!

Baylor was beyond excited about the Children’s Museam and couldn’t quite grasp that we were going just the two of us. We could do whatever she wanted, when she wanted and I would have two hands free to participate. No breaks for bottles, naps or diaper changes. She asked from the back seat on the drive downtown if we could go to the grocery store section first and they way she asked is like how she asks if she can watch cartoons when she knows the answer is going to be “no”. The pure excitement when I told her “sure, we can do whatever you want” was priceless.

Both of us in the flying bathtub.

photo 1 (9)

 

The Climber is both the coolest and most unnerving exhibit. It’s built like a giant tree house. It’s all enclosed and yet feels like you could fall out at any second! Of course, the billy goat was all over it.

 

photo 2 (12)

 

The grocery and kitchen exhibit.

 

photo 3 (12)

 

We had the fort room all to ourselves so we made this masterpiece.

 

photo 4 (11)

 

Painting the giant rocket

 

photo 2 (13)

Toothpaste car – doesn’t she look like she’s 12?!

photo 1 (10)

 

We capped off our visit with a trip to the gift shop (which we never do) and found some fun things we don’t need. It was amazing how B’s attitude became one of nice words, gentle playing and general contentment for the rest of the weekend. I realized that she can’t verbalize when she needs more one on one attention – I need to get some help with the big guy more often so that she and I can have some fun – just us.

 

If you go to the Children’s Museum – go early! The school field trip buses arrive around 1030 but the museum opens at 9. Get there right as the doors unlock so that when the big kids get there, you’ll be on the upper floors already. Pack snacks and don’t bring a big bag and don’t bring your full wallet – the climber doesn’t allow purses so you have to leave it at the bottom. Plus you can get your hands on more when you’re not swinging around a big purse. Grab some hand sanitizer and a dose of patience, it can be a bit of a jungle in there!

So Very Thankful

Phew. After a full round of antibiotics for the team and a very busy yet fun Thanksgiving, I have some time to A. Breathe and B. post pics from Thanksgiving!

This was our 6th year of hosting and probably the least stressful yet. I think PW and I finally have a system that we have honed over the last years that starts weeks ahead of time but means the day of Thanksgiving is actually fun and not so crazy. Also I have slowly been accumulating the things we need for the day of so that I don’t have to raid my mom’s house for table cloths, silverware, serving spoons, plates…the list goes on.

This year PW built me a table that I have always wanted; it’s the same height and length of our outdoor furniture so when you smoosh the two tables together, it makes one large square with enough room to seat up to 20 (more on Peter’s craftsmanship soon…). It was awesome. No more people at one end of a very long table with no one across from them!

 

Fun paper table runners

The Munchkin  table

The outdoor living room

Chef Baylor’s fancy pie crust

Sarah’s cookies

PW’s new coozie collection…don’t ask because I don’t know. At least there was good Montana microbrews to put in them

Peter’s super delicious turkeys. They brine for 12 hours in a special mix he makes and then smoke for 6 hours.

Chef Wand

Thanksgiving is exhausting

Mason. Doing a very good impression of his father.

Cousins!

The Wischer Women…and Mason

Everyone at the BIG table!

 

Pinterest in Action

I found these lovely little appetizers on Pinterest and made them last weekend for a dinner party. The picture doesn’t show the final product, which was drizzled in olive oil and balsamic reduction, but it does the little beauties justice. In addition to adorable, they are delicious! Little basil leaves wrapped around mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes…bite sized caprese salad!

Oh, and I made the cake plate – more on that in a later post 😉

 

Eggy Deliciousness

This past Sunday, we hosted a brunch for several of Peter’s coworkers – 18 to be exact. And 5 of their cute munchkins. We’re no strangers to large get togethers, but normally those parties include family and I task them out to bring a lot of the food. Not that I don’t like to cook, but to ease the work load.

Because our guests this weekend were not family, it didn’t feel right asking them to contribute. I was freaked out about having a festive and clean house, beautiful decorations and delicious food. As I placed the various food items into the oven and or fridge, I said a quick prayer to the patron saint of cooking (which, oddly enough, it Saint Elizabeth) and she came through for me. We had many brunch classics; spinach and also panchetta quiche, fruit salad, bagels and lox, french toast casserole and doughnuts – but I also included a dish I called Egg Cups. Mostly because they are made in a muffin tin but also because I couldn’t think of a better name. I thought they came out pretty good, but Peter raved and (claims) coworkers raved to him at work today. So I thought I would share the recipe. I made four variations, but the two clear winners were bacon and cholula hot sauce.

Ingredients:

1 box of frozen puff pastry

1 dozen eggs

1 package of center thick cut bacon – diced into small pieces

1 bottle cholula hot sauce

shredded cheese – Gruyère or swiss is great

2-3 good size shallots (small red onions) – diced

butter

salt, pepper and your favorite herb or seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thaw the puff pastry and cut into 4ths and then each quarter in half. This part is a little weird since it makes more rectangles than squares, but the goal is to line a muffin tin with the dough so do your best.  Mold the pastry into a VERY well buttered tin being sure not to have too much pastry sticking out over the top so it doesn’t burn. Brush each pastry with butter, salt pepper and a little sprinkle of your favorite seasoning, just something to add a little flavor. Also sprinkle in a small amount of cheese.

Next, break an egg into each cup being careful not to break the yolk. Sprinkle in the diced shallots, a little more salt and pepper and then the topping – either the bacon or the cholula hot sauce. Sprinkle on a little more cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are done. If you like them softer, cook the bacon before you add it to the egg and then bake for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye to make sure that the pastry doesn’t burn.

Pop them out of the tin and serve! Garnish the cholula hot sauce version with some sour cream and avocado.

 

*Another variation would be to beat the eggs with some heavy cream and then add to the cups following the same seasoning directions. Add in veggies, different cheese or meat combinations, or have your guests pick their own combination before baking. Enjoy!