Friday, December 01, 2006

House party

So I am sitting here this morning waiting for the chimney repairman to show up, and thinking, "I need to blog." Our chimney flue damper came out of its housing last weekend and we haven't been able to get it back where it belongs. So we had to call the chimney repair people to fix it. I hate waiting on repair people, and it seems like I am doing it often.

So this being my last full week at the old job, I threw a little house party for the management team and my department. None of them had seen our house since the makeover, so they were all interested. I decided on a chip-and-dip Mexican theme, and began prepping Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Jess helped me do the prep, as well as cleaned the whole house like a fiend. Everything looked great!

So I made Sangria, shredded beef nachos, shrimp ceviché, guacamole, and sour cream and corn dip. For dessert, I had already made candies and cookies in preparation for the holidays, so I had those on hand in the freezer and in the garage (read: giant refrigerator). Unfortunately, the garage hasn't been a great refrigerator the last week or so, because the daytime temps have been way out of normal range. But at any rate, there was crushed cherry layered fudge, regular fudge, chocolate-covered peanut-raisin clusters, and cashew brittle, as well as my famous peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal-raisin-ginger cookies.

I went a little overboard on the ceviché. I didn't realize how much it would make, and I wound up with ceviché for thirty instead of thirteen. Holy cow. It was good, though.

Everyone loved the house. It was a nice party, but let me tell you, we were exhausted at the end! Sorry I didn't have the presence of mind to take pictures or engage Jess to take them, but we were both busy entertaining.

Fabulous Sangria (Best made the night before)
2 bottles Cabernet Sauvignon
4 ½ c. orange juice (preferably not from concentrate)
2 ¼ c. Monin® Red Sangria syrup*
9 oz. Corbel® Brandy or Courvoisier® cognac
pinch cinnamon
Fresh fruits: orange slices, red seedless grapes, pineapple chunks, lime slices

Put all liquid ingredients into glass or other non-reactive container (makes about 1 gallon). Add fruits and cinnamon and stir gently. Easy and wonderful.

*May be available at coffeehouses, but I usually have to buy online.

Shrimp Ceviché

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 limes, juiced
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
4 serrano peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp fresh snipped cilantro
3 scallions (with good tops), chopped
1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. worcestershire
salt and pepper to taste
Splenda or sugar to taste - 1-2 tsps max
1 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce

Dice shrimp finely and place in a mixing bowl with the garlic and cilantro. Cover shrimp with lime juice until completely immersed, about 4-6 limes. Cover, and refrigerate at least one 1 hour-longer if shrimp is not "finished" (shrimp should be opaque, not translucent, but will not change to pink color). Stir in remaining ingredients. When ready to serve, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with scoopable white corn chips.

Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

1 stick butter
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups old-fashioned or quick cooking oats
1 cup raisins (I like Trader Joe’s brand best)
½ tsp powdered ground ginger
2 Tbsp. candied ginger, chopped
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients and beat until well-blended. Although not mandatory, I refrigerate the dough at least 4 hours or overnight – it improves the flavors. Drop by heaping teaspoonsful about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 350° oven 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove immediately from baking sheet to wire rack; cool completely. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.


At 2:49 PM, December 01, 2006, Blogger pinknest said...

isn't it so fun to be a host?minus the mess and tiredness?

now i'm dying to see photographs of all those holiday cookies!!!

At 11:43 PM, December 01, 2006, Blogger Marc said...

Oy. I knew you were going to go there! Hmmph. I'll have to set up a shoot! More to come...


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