Archive for March, 2011

Mammoth Mountain Skiing

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Ok, so you expected a food or party idea blog this week?  Sorry, have to describe this incredible trip I took with my cousin Helaine to Mammoth Mountain for a girls snow skiing trip.  We did enjoy some great meals but first let me describe to you what it is like skiing in 48 feet of snow.  I guess you can see by the picture above it wasn’t easy skiing Mammoth Mountain.  Yes, we got stuck on the mountain and called ski patrol (first time in over 35 years of skiing) to come rescue us. First it was my cousin Helaine who fell and lost her ski and then with ski patrol following me down I lost two!

Other fun adventures we had were sipping our martinis after snow skiing, hitting the hot tub with our new friends from Chicago and of course shopping.  Learned how NOT to take of snow chains, luckily a Cal Trans worker from Mammoth Mountain saw us stranded and helped us for an hour to untangle the chains.  Below is a picture of the chains prior to taking them off.

Now for the martinis.  We had two very good meals, one at Nevado’s and the second dinner at Petra’s Bistro.  Yes, there is more to skiing Mammoth Mountain then just the snow.  At Petra’s, we started off the evening with infused martinis.  Of course, I wasn’t going to drink but my cousin made me do it.  I had the cucumber martini and Helaine drank the raspberry lemon martini.  Both were delicious but with the high altitude of Mammoth Mountain and the possibility of snow skiing in the morning we both just drank one.

Since we are cousins and related by blood, we of course ordered the same dinner at Petra’s.  We both had the delicious scallops served on saffron risotto with shoestring sweet potatoes and roasted tomatoes.  As our side, we ordered the asparagus with fried onions as a garnish.  The service was pleasant and we stayed warm inside while we watched the snow dump onto Mammoth Mountain.  After dinner is when my cousin’s East coast expertise came into play, she scrapped off all the snow that dumped onto the car while I sat inside the car ensuring the engine was warming up!

Oh, and yes we did have that beautiful sunny day skiing Mammoth Mountain.  Our first day on Mammoth Mountain was beautiful, albeit a bit windy, but then again when is it not windy when snow skiing at Mammoth?

Still expecting a Budget Bash tip or helpful party hint from this blog? Hmmm, I guess the one helpful tip I can give you today is that even though you may be in the mountains and far from any supplies for table decor, candles are always the next best thing to use to add a finishing touch to your dinner table.  At all the restaurants we ate in, candles (actually the LED votives) were the decor du jour.  They are great since they last a while and are safe to use.  Plus they add that extra flicker to the table.

I hope you can make it up to Mammoth Mountain at some point for either winter sports like snow skiing or  even in the summer, for mountain biking, hiking and fishing.  Skiing Mammoth Mountain with 48 feet of snow isn’t easy but it is quite the workout and helps justify those delicious dinners!  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra:  make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Easy Finger Food for the Green Party

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Yes, just a few days away and the luck of the Irish will be with you.  Just in case you are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party, I thought I would give you some easy finger food ideas to serve at your event.  And of course, since it is St. Patrick’s Day, you can easily theme your party as the green party everyone has to attend.

Let’s first look at how to make the green party work for you and the environment.  Three easy words in keeping with this theme are reduce, recycle and reuse.  Here are some easy steps you can take to fulfill this theme:

  • Create a compost heap in your backyard with the food scraps from the party and flowers once they wilt
  • Use bio-degradable silverware and plates
  • Set-up a recyclable trash can for all your bar bottles and cans
  • Use Evite for your guest list
  • If possible, have your guests carpool to the party

For tabletop decor, use succulent plants or natural greens such as rosemary.  You can create a rosemary wreath with wire and rosemary and then place a pillar candle and hurricane glass in the center to give the table an added glow.

Another natural tabletop decor idea for the green party is to use fresh artichokes as votive candle holders.  Just take the artichoke, hollow out the center and then place a glass votive holder in the center with a tealight.  Easy and fast to make with minimal cleanup!  Finally, purchase some green colored and decorative fabric, which you can reuse during the December holiday time, to add a bit of dimension and more color to your buffet.

Now for the easy finger food menu.  So many of these food items you can purchase already prepared thus making your party set-up time minimal.

Green Vegetable Crudités with Spinach Dip

Green Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese Canapés

Mini Corned Beef Sandwiches

Green Goddess Chicken Salad
served in Lettuce Cups

Split Pea Soup
served in Shot Glasses

Mint Brownies

Butter Cookies Dipped in Green Sugar Crystals

Green Apple Bites Covered with Caramel

Here is a hint to make one of these easy finger food desserts, the butter cookies with green sugar crystals.  Just purchase the already made butter cookie dough and follow the cooking instructions.  While the cookies are baking, place regular sugar in a glass bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together blue and yellow food coloring to create green and then add it to the sugar.  Stir the sugar until all of it is green and be sure to stir it well so that it dries and is not clumping together.  Once the cookies are finished, take them out of the oven and while they are still warm, dip the top side of the cookie into the green sugar to coat the top and then cool the cookie on a baker’s rack.  Plate and serve with your other desserts.

I hope you picked up an idea or two with these easy finger food ideas for the green party you may be hosting for St. Patrick’s Day.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Table Centerpiece Idea

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

I was recently at a dinner party and wanted to share with you this simple table centerpiece idea.  It takes just a couple of minutes and you can pick up the components at any local market or craft store.

Just obtain floating candles (these are heartshaped to celebrate my engagement), a bud vase and flowers (the ones pictured above are roses).  A variation of this table centerpiece idea is to use a cymbidium orchid, submerge it in water and float the candle on top as pictured on page 61 of Budget Bash.

Finally, look to what you already have in your house for a table centerpiece idea.  Use a table runner and dispurse loose flowers with greenery or you can cluster fruit with votive candles and herbs such as rosemary or basil.  A third option is to fill your wooden bowls with walnuts or another type of whole textured nut.

Have a table centerpiece idea you want to share? Please feel free to contact me on Twitter @awynningevent.  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!

Easy Salmon Recipes

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

I was never much of a fish lover and to be honest, if it wasn’t for my fiancée I would never be eating salmon.  But what I learned from him are some easy salmon recipes that are delicious and take no time to make.  In addition, one of them is a gluten free dinner recipe.

The first of the two easy salmon recipes uses honey or maple syrup and cinnamon.  You can either bake this salmon in the oven (or toaster oven if you are single) or grill it on the BBQ.

First, select your salmon.  I prefer to use the North Atlantic salmon because it has no bones and the tail is a nice fillet.  For per person portion size, estimate 8 ounces for the salmon.  Then quite simply, spread some honey or maple syrup on top and then sprinkle ground cinnamon.

Bake the salmon in the oven on high heat for about 10 to 12 minutes or until finished, just check to see if the middle is cooked through. You can also soak a piece of cedar wood and bake or grill the salmon on top of the cedar plank as well to give the salmon an added flavor.  The preparation for this salmon recipe is a simple and fast gluten free dinner recipe.

The second salmon recipe is even easier!  Just take your salmon portion and spread Jade Sichuan peanut sauce.  To find a local market to purchase this sauce, just go on the internet and look up jade sauce.  Again, bake the salmon in the oven on high heat for about 10 to 12 minutes or until finished, just check to see if the middle is cooked through.  Note, because this sauce contains soy, I am not positive that it would qualify as a gluten free dinner recipe.  You should check with your doctor or nutritionist or call the manufacturer if you can’t tell by the ingredients on the bottle.

Now for the presentation and finished plate for these easy salmon recipes.  There are a couple of different routes you can go.  Want to make it an orange Halloween plate?  Then serve your salmon recipe dinner with mashed yams and honeyed carrots.  Just bake the yams in the oven for about an hour, then scoop out the centers and place them in a bowl.  Mash the yams into a purée and add some butter or margarine if desired.  The yams are already sweet and personally speaking, don’t need anything else.

Another healthy alternative is to serve these easy salmon recipes with rice and steam veggies.  To add some flair to your presentation, take your cooked rice and place it in a Mary Jane measuring cup.  About a half cup or quarter cup will work.  Place the rice tightly in the cup, then flip the cup over onto the plate to add a bit of flair to your dinner plate.

I hope you have a chance to make if not one then both of  these easy salmon recipes and enjoy them for a quick yet nutritious dinner.  The salmon recipe that is also a gluten free dinner recipe is one that will convert even the “I swear I will never eat salmon eater.”  Trust me, it converted me!  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical to all!