It’s a Seafood Trio

I have alot of food in the pantry and the freezer. I mean A LOT of food. Typically I do have plenty on hand because we buy some items in bulk at Costco and we tend to keep a 1/4 to 1/2 beef in the freezer as well. I like to bake and since I can’t eat all that I bake or I would weigh 400 lbs., they end up in the freezer as well until guests arrive or I send the leftovers to work with my husband. Due to some additional shopping thanks to COVID-19, my shelves are a bit full. To top it off, an Alaska fisherman comes to town every couple of months to sell seafood near the local Simms headquarters so I even have seafood. After a brief inventory of some of the oldest items, I realized we had an amazing box of shrimp, at the same time my daughter (quarantining from New York/Brooklyn) requested Seared Scallops with Polenta. This being just days before my husband’s birthday, I asked him what he would like me to fix and he suggested, Ravioli. Since I’ve been wanting to make scratch Lobster Ravioli for quite some time, things fell into place for a 3-day weekend centered on seafood. If we have to “shelter in place,” we might as well do it in style!

Friday night menu:
Sauteed Shrimp and Italian Four Cheese Risotto

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29 Years of Wedded Bliss

flowers and sapphire ring
Such a sweet husband I have…

28 years of anniversaries were typically celebrated with travel, getaways, dinner out and of course, being a military family, deployments requiring delayed celebrations. Regardless, the day does not go without notice. This year, given the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be remembered in its own way. Since there was no option for a luxurious dinner out, where we would be served glistening glasses of wine, scrumptious meals or divine desserts, I settled on my own way of honoring our lives together – with beef, of course! I grew up on a farm, and beef is in my DNA. There is no other, ok, better meat in my opinion. When I suggested to my husband I could make Beef Wellington, he responded with, “but, that sounds really complicated.” Well, that sounded like a challenge to me, so I was committed and off to the store I went to buy the one and only beef tenderloin on the shelf.

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Showering the Bride

There are few things in life as memorable as a wedding or bringing a child into a family. I had the privilege to host my niece’s bridal shower this past weekend and wanted to share how we decided on a theme and carried it through from the invitations to the decor and especially into the food. In other words, we took our theme seriously!

Theme: Champagne Glitter Brunch
Wedding Colors: Lavender & Silver
Wedding Date: March 28
Shower Date: February 22
Shower Guests: approximately 25
Supporting Vendors: Party Time Plus, Allegra Printing, La Chatelaine Chocolaterie, Alex Nguyen (aquariusds) on Etsy, WeDoHoney on Etsy, Staples Office Supply and Rae Rae’s Bakery

With a little inspiration from a Google search, selecting a shower theme was really pretty easy. The bride to be has always been in love with glitter, shiny crystal things, pretty in pink things. It’s a celebratory time so you have to have Champagne, and brunch offers a fun menu that doesn’t require a lot of last minute cooking. A short planning session over lunch helped us divide up the tasks, and it didn’t hurt to have the bride’s mother be an owner in a party rental business. She provided the extra tables, white chairs and table linens, along with an easel for the welcome sign, water goblets, flatware and a few other minor supplies.

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mushroom sauce & mashed potatoes

Coq au Vin

6 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup flour
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 chicken breast halves, skinless
3 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
3 chicken drumsticks
3 tablespoons caramelized garlic olive oil
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb button mushrooms, white or portobello, brushed clean & quartered
10 oz. frozen baby or pearl onions, thawed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 4-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pot.

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Miriam’s Mashed Potatoes Waiting

A fabulous complement to Coq au Vin, meatloaf or any dinner celebration.

6 large Yukon gold potatoes, 8-10 medium
2 tbls butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 tbls shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
paprika

Peel potatoes and cook until done. Drain and mash, adding the butter, milk and cream. Beat until fluffy.

Spoon into a greased casserole dish, beat the whipping cream until stiff and spread over the potatoes. Scatter the shredded cheese on top and dash paprika over the cream.

Bake at 350° until topping is golden brown.

*Recipe adapted from Best of Friends, Too!

Copyright © 2019 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.


Happy Birthday Babe!

My husband is an identical twin born in 1969. If I’m counting right, that means he is 50 years old now. While I have no problem whatsoever with his age, the passage of time does have me thinking about the fact I’m not too far behind him and that does bother me. I know that 50 is the new 40, or is it 40 is the new 50? Well, whatever the phrase is supposed to be, I am pretty sure someone is trying to convince us it is not really a whole half a century OLD. Since I don’t ‘feel’ nearly 50, I am not even sure how we got this old. Regardless of how we feel, look and behave, it sounded like a good reason to host a party and even though he would have been content with a quick trip to the brick oven pizzeria, I had to have a little fun.

Theme is always my first step to planning a party. He’s a guy, a 50 year old guy at that and what is his greatest vice? BEER. I don’t remember beer being such a significant staple in our home until we lived in Europe for 7 years. All of a sudden, he was a self proclaimed expert on craft beer, Belgian beer, US beef, pale ales, stouts, lager, pils, you name it, there was beer involved. So, the theme was pretty darn easy.

Cheers & Beers, Here’s to Brett’s 50 Years….

Theme in hand, I could also quickly decide on decorations. Since beer cans stack pretty easily, I scoured Google and Pinterest for quick ideas for creating a beer can tower. Easy, peasy, 50 cans of three different beers (one per level), I was on a roll.

I thought about how I have cooked with beer sufficiently before, so what if I build a menu around beer as the ingredient? Now, if you know me, you know I don’t drink beer. Not a drop! I never have and I seriously doubt I ever will. So, some will think this was quite a stretch for a non-drinker, but it’s really not much different than cooking with wine. I can’t taste it, and the best part is you definitely cannot smell it, and that is usually what sends me to the hills. Keep in mind, my father has grown malt barley for Budweiser for over 30 years and my husband and son drink probably more beer than water but I don’t even like the smell of it. Just like you, the internet and my collection of cookbooks served me well as I set out to select my menu. I can’t take credit for any of the creative genius, merely the pairing and delivery.

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