Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Couple's Fiesta! Baby Shower

So there are a lot of babies being born around me these days. It is amazing how it seems to come in waves of friends and family expecting at the same time. Seems like I go for years without knowing someone close to me awaiting motherhood and then all of a sudden there's a veritable nursery within my reach.

With basically grown daughters (ages 18 and 21), I do miss the baby days from time to time. Thankfully I have numerous younger siblings who have blessed me with many nieces and nephews over the past years. Thus, whenever the "baby bug" hit there was one around to love on for a few hours. But if you know anything about me, it's that I LOVE to throw a party and I'm always looking for an excuse to celebrate something so that we can have people over and I can cook up a storm and feed a crowd! Thus, when some younger friends at church were expecting their firstborn this spring, it was a no-brainer that we would have a baby shower. So, we invited couples (instead of that traditional ladies only thing) and had quite the party. There was lots of grown-up food and fun before the baby arrived to totally change their lives. I hope you enjoy the labor of love out of my kitchen. (Oh, and I even made that adorable diaper cake--so easy and looks so awesome for a centerpiece!)

Margarita Shrimp with Fruit Salsa:
(adapted from recipe originally appearing in The Dallas Morning News)
4 pounds frozen, cooked, peeled, tail-on shrimp (16-20 to the pound is right size)
1 bottle (1.75 liter) margarita mix, plus tequila and Triple sec to prepare as per bottle instructions
Margarita or coarse salt
Cilantro leaves and lime wedges for garnish

Thaw shrimp in cool water or for about a day in refrigerator.
Prepare margarita per instructions on mix bottle.
Cover shrimp with prepared margaritas and return to refrigerator to marinate for about 2 hours.
Salt oversized margarita glass by dipping in water and then into salt.
Fill glass with chipped ice and place small glass bowl of fruit salsa in center.
Drain shrimp and place around the salsa, atop ice and hanging off rim of glass.
Garnish as desired with limes and cilantro leaves.
Fruit Salsa: (best salsa I've ever had, by the way!)
1 cup finely diced strawberries
1 cup finely diced kiwi
1 cup finely diced papaya
1 cup finely diced mango
1/2 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Triple Sec
Mix all together and refrigerate until serving time
Black Bean & Corn Appetizers
2/3 cup favorite chunky salsa
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 can (15 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed & drained
2 boxes Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells

Mix all ingredients (except shells) and spoon into thawed shells.
Garnish with cilantro sprigs if desired.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Catching Up! Bing Cherry Season!

Wow! So I'm not going to win any "blogger of the year" awards this time around! We all know, though, that life just happens! Not blogging, however, does NOT mean there hasn't been exciting cooking, baking and tasting going on in my life. In the past months I have enjoyed some of the best food I've ever eaten (some of it I actually cooked myself), including Fennel Mashed Potatoes, Goat Cheese Ice Cream, the best brined turkey ever, amazing Squash/Apple soup, 100% from scratch Green Bean Casserole (even fried those onions myself) and much, much more. So, since I wasn't able to get the fabulous Thanksgiving meal I created onto my blog in the Fall, all those great recipes will be forthcoming in time for my readers to plan for this year's big Feast!

Now? Now is the luscious season of berries and cherries! WOW! Did I ever pull off a SLAM DUNK for Father's Day. Now mind you, I usually try to spend the holiday with him and bake him a pie, if possible, as he wants pies over cakes and other desserts any day. This year, we weren't able to be together and I truly was struggling with what to send him. As a corporate meeting & events planner, I often used the great mail order company Red Envelope for last minute corporate gifts. I always enjoyed great customer service, reliability, and guaranteed last minute shipping that didn't break the bank. So, on Thursday before Father's Day when I was still trying to come up with a great option, I clicked on their site and to my surprise found the following (buy one, get one free):
AMAZING! I knew it was just the thing for Dad, and within a few clicks they were on their way to the outskirts of East Texas, guaranteed NEXT DAY delivery through UPS! Hoorah!

The best news is how much he loved them. And who wouldn't love sweet yet tart, juicy red cherries? He simply raved about them during our Father's Day conversation, and my heart swelled. You see, my love language is Gift Giving. (If you aren't familiar with the love languages concept, I highly recommend Gary Chapman's book:
The Five Love Languages.) One firm thing I know about myself is the high importance and value I place on finding just the right gift for those important people in my life. For my dad, it's often something I bake for him, but in my absence these cherries did the trick!

So, if you order some up (or are lucky enough to have a great farmer's market nearby), I'm not sure they will make it into a recipe. But here's one from that fits right into summertime grillin' and chillin': an amazing salsa, perfect with chicken or fish or right on your favorite, sturdy tortilla chip!


  • 1/2 lb. dark sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cherry preserves
  • 1 Tbsp. minced red onion
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro


Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and stir to blend. Cover and chill 1-2 hours to blend flavors. Serve with grilled meat, or with chips as an appetizer.