Loving Lobster

Hi everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. Over the past few weeks, I have treated myself to lobster almost anytime I’ve seen it on a menu. Lobster Cobb salad? Yes, please. Lobster potato salad? Absolutely. I just can’t say no to these decadent crustaceans.

What better time to celebrate luxurious lobster than adding it to your Valentine’s Day menu?! I took a cooking class a few years ago and quickly learned that cooking lobster is actually incredibly simple. The key, however, is to make sure you are buying the freshest, highest-quality lobster you can get your hands on. Enter LobsterAnywhere, a Maine-based company that ships! Maine lobsters are well known for their sweet, white meat. They’re supposedly among the best lobsters around.

Below, find a recipe from the company that you can easily prepare at home.

Grilled Tail Off Lobster

You will need:

– 1 Maine lobsters
– 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare:

If it is frozen, thaw the lobster. You can do this by placing it in the refrigerator overnight or running cold water over it until it is thawed.

Remove the rubber band from around the lobster’s claws.

Split the lobster in half by cutting down its spine.

Brush each half with melted butter or olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Place the lobster halves on the grill to medium-high heat (400 degrees Fahrenheit), shell-side down, and cook for about four minutes or until the meat is slightly charred.

Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges.

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Pumpkin Week:: Pumpkin Soup

The first week of October calls for a week totally dedicated to all things pumpkin. While pumpkin spice everything might have a bit of a poor reputation, pumpkin itself will always be a classic fall ingredient. Up first is my pumpkin soup with fried sage. Don’t skip the fried sage! It’s one of the best parts of this dish. Oh, and be sure to bookmark this recipe; it makes a fantastic Thanksgiving starter!

It’s an easy recipe, and perfect as a Thanksgiving starter. Plus you can make it a couple of days in advance which lightens the workload on the day. Enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 4-6

You will need:
– 4-5 cups pumpkin cut into wedges, skin on (I use a small, 2-3 lb. Cinderella pumpkin or baking pumpkin)
– 3 carrots sliced
– 1 cup celery
– 1 cup chopped onion (*Note all the vegetables can be rough chunks as you will be blending them)
– 1 smashed garlic clove
– 3 tablespoons olive oil + 2 tablespoons for the pumpkin
– 1 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon salt for the pumpkin
– 2 sage leaves
– 3 cups water, or Vegetable stock
– 1/4 cup heavy cream
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 lemon

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Cut the pumpkin into wedges, roughly 3-4 inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is soft with pierced. While the pumpkin is roasting, Place olive oil and carrots, celery, onion and garlic, sage, and salt into a Dutch oven. Over medium heat saute the vegetables until soft, add the water or stock. simmer about 20 minutes. Once the pumpkin is roasted, scrap the soft pumpkin flesh from the skin. Place the roasted pumpkin into the pot and remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, roughly blend the vegetables, add the nutmeg and the cream and juice of 1 lemon, blend until smooth. Place over heat for another 10 minutes on low heat. This can be made 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Fried Sage Leaves

You will need:

– 1 cup fresh sage leaves, washed and dried
– 1 cup of olive oil

Preparation:

In a heavy bottom pot, bring the oil to 325 degrees F, drop the dry leaves into the pot, fry for 2 minutes, place on a paper towel. These should be made as you warm the soup. Place the soup into bowls and garnish warm soup with 3-4 leaves.

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4th of July Recipe Round-up

Hi All! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I am back today to talk about one of my favorite holidays: July 4th. The fourth of July is always such a happy, carefree holiday which is one of the many reasons I enjoy it so much. To me, there’s nothing like a holiday that actually feels relaxing: no pressure and no presents; it’s just plain fun.

We have spent many many many years at the beach with family, but this year, I am delighted to say we will be home with a small group enjoying the day. We live in the heart of Buckhead, and Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race, the biggest 10k in the world, parades right through our neighborhood. We’ll start the day bright and early cheering on all of the runners, joggers, and walkers, hair of the dog cocktail in hand! Then the day will continue with a cookout, and of course, fireworks.

To put together an inspirational menu, I turned to Annette’s archives, and I have a recipe round-up of some of her best 4th of July foods and beverages. You can find each of them below. I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July!

Cocktail: American Shakerato

Main menu: Hotdogs with Quick Pickles

Dessert: Festive Pastry Squares

xo, Nicole

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Summer Salad Week:: Beets & Goat Cheese

Beets

Hi all! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager and friend. Have you been following Annette in Italy recently? If so, you know that she’s working hard on her La Fortezza cookbook, so I am running things this week. And it’s all about summer salads.

As of yesterday, it’s officially summer. The days are long and hot, and when I find myself searching for great meals, all I want is something to cool me off. Enter the summer salad.

Of course, when I need some inspo, I turn to Annette’s blog archives. I found this recipe for a beet and goat cheese salad, and I’m adding it to this week’s lunch rotation. I just found my tastebuds for beets in recent years, but when paired with acidity and cheese, I can’t get enough of them. There are so many varieties of beets available at groceries and markets these days, and I love the idea of gathering a few to make the salad extra colorful.

Let’s try this salad together, shall we?! Report back and let Annette know what you think!

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Thyme/Lime Dressing
Serves 6-8

You will need:
– 6 large red beets, roasted
– 8 tablespoons plain goat cheese
– 6 cups arugula

To prepare beets:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roast beets in skin in the oven for 45 minutes

Let the beets cool, then peel the beets and slice into ½ inch disks

* I use gloves or a knife and fork to peel my beets; it’s much less messy this way.

Dressing

You will need:
– ¼ cup lime olive oil like O&CO
– ¼ cup lime juice
– ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
– 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
– 3 tablespoons fresh Thyme leaves
– 1 teaspoon lime zest

To prepare salad: 

Place all dressing ingredients in a small lidded jar, close the lid and shake until combined

Assembly of the salad: Arrange beets on platter or a plate on top of arugula, dollop with teaspoons of goat cheese, pour dressing over the salad.

Photo Credit: Helen Norman

xo Nicole

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Fancy Grilled Cheese

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Earlier this week, I shared my white bean chili recipe, so it’s only fair that I share a recipe for the most incredible grilled cheese: my fancy grilled cheese. This is another recipe from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and it’s one I bring back year after year because it’s just that good. Enjoy!

Fancy Grilled Cheese
serves 6

You will need:
– 1 loaf challah bread
– 6 pieces bacon cooked and crumbled
– 1 12 oz. wheel brie cheese
– 6 tablespoons apricot jam, 1 tablespoon per sandwich
– 6 tablespoons butter softened 1 tablespoon per sandwich

To prepare:

Cook bacon until crisp in the oven at 400 degrees F, drain set aside.

Slice challah into 12 slices. Assemble the sandwiches. Place crumbled bacon , thin slice of brie, and apricot jam on the bread, place another slice of bread on top forming a sandwich. Butter the top and repeat until you have made 6 sandwiches.

In a heated sauté pan place sandwiches butter side down, butter the top half. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Continue until all the sandwiches are done. Let set for 1 minute and cut sandwiches into quarters.

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