Category: Food

How To Host a Fondue Party

I love Fondue! Five years ago my husband and I ate fondue in Switzerland. Ever since, I thought it would be fun to host a fondue party. One of the best things about fondue is you can have everything prepped before hand. When guests arrive all you have to do is get your fondue on! I’m going to show you how easy it is to make and host your own fondue party. I literally came up with this idea and threw it together that day.

Fondue Party Ingredients for six people

Cheese Fondue

  • 2 1/4 cups of Chardonnay
  • 1 lb. Gruyere Cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb. Swiss Cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tsp. Dry ground mustard
  • Kirschwasser (cherry flavored brandy)
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 4Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Dippers 

  • 4 Filet Mignons cubed (to prepare steak later: worcestershire, salt, pepper, olive oil)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Green seedless grapes
  • Baby Carrots
  • Mushrooms (bought sliced, saves time)
  • 2 Baguettes cubed

Things to do before guests arrive:

  1. Get all your ingredients and supplies out and ready.
  2. Prepare two trays with your dippers, excluding steak. Keep cold dippers covered and sealed in the refrigerator.
  3. Shred cheese ahead of time and keep sealed in refrigerator until ready to melt it.
  4. Cube baguettes and store in Ziploc.
  5. Cube your steak and store in refrigerator until ready.

Note: I used two platters for cold dippers, two platters for cubed bread, and two bowls for the steak. That way you could have dippers on each side of fondue pot so everyone could have easy access.

We chose to have our party outside because it was a beautiful day and the children could play in the yard while we socialized.

Decorating Your Table: This was my table before:

This was mid way through.

What I Used To Decorate Table:

  1. I used heavy weight, neutral color, matte finish wrapping paper that I had on hand to cover the table. This is pretty much like brown craft paper.  I did this for two reasons: First, when people dripped and dropped it wouldn’t matter. Second, I could poke a hole in the paper for my cord to go through for my electric fondue maker. 
  2. I had to overlap the paper to cover the table. I taped sides and ends to the underneath of table with scotch tape.
  3. I chose to use ribbon to cover seams where I overlapped the paper. I attached each end of ribbon underneath with scotch tape.
  4. I dressed up the table with metallic brown chargers.
  5. The napkins I used came with a fabric napkin ring. I tucked a fondue fork into each napkin ring. Everyone liked that little touch. I could have also used ribbon or raffia to tie around the napkin to hold the fondue fork.

Guests Have Arrived, Time To Start Fondue:

  1. Roll steak in Worcestershire sauce to cover and season with salt and pepper. In a pan with olive oil, cook to desired doneness.
  2. Peel garlic and cut in half. Rub the halves of garlic on the bottom and sides of fondue pot.
  3. Add wine to pot and set heat at 4 or 4.5. Bring to a simmer only. If it starts to boil, turn heat down a little.
  4. Once wine is simmering, reduce temperature to 3.5. Add cheese 1/4 cup at a time and stir with a silicone whisk. After each addition stir until fully melted and repeat. I stir continuously the whole time so the cheese gets smooth.
  5. Once all cheese is added, stir in dry mustard, lemon juice, and Kirsch until combined and smooth.

Cheese fondue has to be monitored as you eat it. I keep the whisk close by and stir it every once in awhile. If it starts to get a little thick on you, add a little more of the Kirsch and stir to combine. As you eat the cheese down you may have to adjust both the temperature and the addition of Kirsch. 

Our friends kept saying how much they loved this fondue party! So have some fun and get your fondue on!

Woot Woot! I was Featured for this Fondue Party! Thanks so much!

Banana Espresso Chocolate Muffins

These muffins are easy, fast, and absolutely mouthwatering delicious! See how quickly it will take you to devour all twelve.

What you may not know about me is that I used to have a cupcake business. Of course, this was before babies. I tried many different cupcake recipes before developing my own. This banana espresso chocolate chip muffin recipe I found along the way from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking I never adjusted this recipe because why mess with perfection!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cup mashed bananas (about 4 very ripe bananas, I put mine in a small food processor)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 stick melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I only use Nestle)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees:

  • Start with mashing your bananas in your food processor and melt your butter to have it ready.
  • In a medium bowl mix together both sugars, egg, melted butter, milk, and banana. I usually just stir this with a rubber scraper.
  • In another bowl whisk together your dry ingredients. Flour, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder.
  • Make a well in your dry ingredients to pour your wet ingredients into. Stir until just combined.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.

  • Use an ice cream scoop to scoop batter into a pre-greased muffin tin.

  • Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes in muffin tin and remove muffins to a cooling rack.
  • Yummy!!!

TIP: I never cool my cupcakes and muffins 100% before storing. I have found that if they are still a tad warm (I mean a tad), and store them in an airtight container they stay super moist.  DO NOT store your cupcakes or muffins in the fridge, I find that it dries them out.

Shredded Beef Tacos

These shredded beef tacos are mouthwatering good! My husband drank the drippings and my 21 month old cleaned his plate. This is a great recipe to throw in the crockpot and not worry about it. Spend some time with your kids and assemble tacos when ready.

Ingredients:

  • Chuck Roast
  • 2 bottles of Angry Orchard Beer
  • Medium Yellow Onion chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, peeled and sliced in fourths
  • 1 Tbsp. Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Chili Powder
  • Kosher Salt and Ground Pepper
  • Olive Oil for searing
  • Crockpot and dutch oven

Instructions:

  1. Cut enough slits in roast for your garlic slices. Then push sliced garlic into slits.
  2. Liberally season both sides of roast with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat olive oil at medium – high heat in heavy bottom pan or dutch oven. I put enough olive oil into pan so that it covers the bottom.
  4. Sear roast on all sides and then remove to crockpot. Pour one bottle of Angry Orchard beer into the crockpot with roast.
  5. Pour the other bottle of Angry Orchard beer into pan. Scrape all the brown goodness off the bottom of your pan.
  6. Add chopped onions, cumin, brown sugar, and chili powder.
  7. Stir and let cook down for about 10 minutes or until mixture starts to thicken.
  8. Remove from heat and add to crockpot.
  9. If pushed for time set crockpot on high for 6 hours, which is what I did. If you have the time I’d go low and slow.
  10. When finished, remove roast to a bowl and shred it with a fork. Add the juice. We do this so you can assemble tacos at your table.

We also use La Tiara Authentic Mexican taco shells. They are thin taco shells so assemble one at a time (with meat on top) so they don’t get soggy. We really prefer the flavor of those taco shells but you can use any. Use a fork to pull meat out of bowl as well to keep tacos from getting soggy.

We added sour cream, shredded colby jack cheese, cilantro, and home-ade guacamole to complete our tacos. We usually add salsa but didn’t do that with these. The flavor is just to good on their own!

Liberally salt with kosher salt and ground pepper. Put slits in meat for the garlic.

Get a good sear on all sides of meat.

Add Angry Orchard beer to pot after you’ve removed the meat to crockpot. Scrape the brown off the bottom.

Cook down the beer, onions, and spices until thickened. Doesn’t it look delicious?

The roast is sufficiently drunk now. Time to shred the meat.

YUMMY!!!

Mojito Madness

It was a beautiful weekend and all I could think was summer is almost here. Nothing screams summer to me more than a Mojito. Since I’ve been pregnant the last two summers, I’ve had to drink them minus the rum. You’d be surprised that it tastes almost as good alcohol free. So for all you pregnant ladies here is your refreshing drink to replace the same old glass of water in the summertime. If you’re not pregnant, bring on the rum!

Try it.

Mojito Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 lime  (depends how much you like lime. I went with 1)
  • 2 tsp – 4 tsp. sugar  (depends on your sweetness level)
  • Club Soda  (I prefer Schweppes)
  • 8 Large mint leaves
  • 2 oz Rum  (omit the rum if you want alcohol free, trust me, it’s still good)
  • Ice
    Also need:
  • Cocktail shaker  (bottom only)
  • Muddler

Directions:

  1. Halve and quarter your lime and place in your glass.
  2. Remove your mint leaves from stem and place in glass.
  3. Add your sugar.
  4. Muddle these three ingredients together.
  5. Add your ice to fill the glass.
  6. You can add your rum at this point if you choose.
  7. Fill your glass with club soda.
  8. I pour my mojito from my glass to bottom of shaker and back a few times until blended together well. (Don’t shake in shaker)
  9. I slice a lime and add to glass just to make it look pretty.

Yummy and Enjoy!

Bourbon Mint Marinated Pork Tenderloin

What a great weekend we had for grilling out. This mint bourbon marinade is one of the best recipes my husband has put together. We frequently use this on pork tenderloin and salmon. It was hard to get a recipe down because my husband never measures out his ingredients. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

1 or 2 Pork Tenderloins

Marinade:

  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 or 1 1/2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (Jack Daniels or Woodford Reserve)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 4 chopped garlic gloves

NOTE: We grilled ours on the Big Green Egg with indirect heat at 400 degrees.

For the oven:

  1. In a blender, combine all marinade ingredients. Blend for 1 minute or until mint and garlic are blended well.
  2. Pour marinade over pork in a shallow baking dish. Move the pork tenderloin around to make sure it all gets covered.
  3. Let marinate for at least a half an hour.
  4. Heat Big Green Egg to 400 degrees or get your grill going.
  5. Grill for approximately 20 minutes. I prefer to grill pork tenderloin until internal temperature is 145 degrees. This allows for the pork tenderloin to still be slightly pink and stay moist. Adjust your grill time accordingly. Let the pork tenderloin rest for a few minutes before slicing.
  6. While the pork tenderloin is grilling, bring marinade up to a boil in a pan. Reduce heat and simmer. This can then be drizzled over finished pork.

Can’t go wrong with bourbon!

We served our pork tenderloin with carrots and parsnips that we sautéed in a pan with olive oil.

Top Ten things you must stock in your kitchen

  1. Garlic: If I run out of garlic I feel naked in the kitchen. We use garlic in almost everything. Yes, in a pinch, you can use garlic powder but fresh garlic is preferable.
  2. Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper: I know it’s actually two things but I feel they go hand in hand.
  3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is another thing we can’t live without. We cook everything with olive oil. We use it to sauté, make sauces, dressings, and well pretty much everything in our kitchen gets touched with EVOO.
  4. Onion: Ok, I am not a fresh cut onion gal. I am even shocked that I am at the point of including it on this list. If you feel as opposed to onions as I did, really give them a try. When an onion is cooked down in a dish it adds such depth of flavor. I think you can almost do an injustice to some sauces without it.
  5. Broth: Go for the low sodium Chicken or Beef broth. I have substituted one for the other in a pinch. If you were to have just one, go for the chicken broth. If you feel like you have extra time (hahaha) and want to make your own, go right ahead. If I do happen to save chicken stock it gets shoved to the back of the fridge never to be seen or heard from again.
  6. Lemon and lime: Yes, I did it again with two things. I’ll just call this the citrus category. I learned something recently about lemons and through practice have found it to be true. Don’t forget about the zest of the lemon. There is more flavor in that zest than the juice. The zest can really enhance your dish.
  7. Tomatoes: Personally, I love tomatoes. I could eat them like a piece of fruit. There is nothing like a real garden tomato. Tomatoes are great to cook down for spaghetti sauce and stew. I usually have fresh and the no sodium, whole, canned Roma tomatoes.
  8. Wine Ok, maybe this should have been at the top of the list, haha. Red and white go well in quite a few dishes. Anytime I make stews or braised meat I always include red. Sometimes I even throw it into spaghetti sauce. White wine can be used in chicken dishes and some fish dishes as well. Let’s be real, the best part is you get to drink it while you are cooking. Can’t beat that.
  9. Fresh herbs: I was going to put specific ones but I know everyone has their favorite. My three are fresh basil, thyme, and oregano. I can’t live without basil in the summer. I use Oregano in spaghetti sauce and even to sprinkle on a sandwich. Thyme is great with chicken. One thing I did discover about Rosemary recently is that I only prefer it roasted in the oven or sautéed in oil so it gets crunchy. Try this if you think plain rosemary is to overwhelming. Have your favorite on hand.
  10. Cheese: Not the shredded cheese but actual blocks of good cheese. Our new favorite is Parmesagn/Reggiano

Short Ribs

Thin Short Ribs

Snow falling, fire going, and short ribs cooking away in the oven. To me, there is nothing better on a cold day than braised meat or stew. If you’ve never tried short ribs, I highly recommend them! My husband and I love to cook. For me, it’s a much harder task to accomplish with two babies needing attention.

First, I highly suggest a dutch oven. Yes, you can spend a couple hundred dollars and more. I chose to try a cheaper version at Sams club and so far it’s paid off. The use of the dutch oven is a pretty easy way to infuse a lot of flavor into meat or poultry.

So, this is what you need. If you don’t have the exact ingredients it’s OK, I’ve put the alternatives I’ve used.

TIP: I always add red wine to red meat. You can’t go wrong.

Ingredients:

  1. Kosher Salt and ground pepper
  2. 5 diced garlic cloves (depends on size)
  3. Tomatoes (8 Roma or 2 regular, whichever you prefer)
  4. 1/2 to 1 diced yellow onion (up to you)
  5. 2 cups of beef or chicken stock
  6. 1-2 cups of Red Wine (I prefer Cabernet Sauvignon, but I have used others in a pinch)
  7. I also crisped up a little Prosciutto to put on top but it’s not needed

Directions:

    1. Place your rack on the lowest level in oven and preheat to 350.
    2. Season short ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Cover bottom of dutch oven with olive oil.
    3. On medium-high heat sear off short ribs on all sides. Remove to a plate. Put in diced onions and cook down for a couple minutes. Add garlic to the pot and cook for just a minute to infuse the flavor. Pour in a cup of wine…or more! Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown goodness on the bottom of pan. Place in short ribs, tomatoes, and your stock. Cover and place in the oven. For the thin short ribs that I used you can cook for a couple hours. If you use the thick short ribs I’d cook for 2 1/2 hours.

I served the short ribs with mashed potatoes and snap peas. The short ribs were also paired with 337 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.

Yummy!