Monday, May 23, 2011

Cheese Party

Yesterday we had some friends over for a low key cheese party. We bought all the cheese at our local super market. I posted a while back about making a good cheese plate, so here I'll give a specific list of what we served yesterday. It all went over really well with experienced and inexperienced cheese nibblers alike. I brought the cheese and our friends brought the accompaniments. It was fun to do that blind, but we both bought things that would go with a good variety of flavors, so no problem. I just unwrapped the cheeses and put them on a big platter with some butter knives. I put them in approximate order from mildest to strongest. I'll list them in this order.

Brie (a French one that was on sale, but I forgot the name)
Manchego (Spanish sheep's milk cheese. We found it in a case in another part of the store on sale, so that was a lucky find)
Old Amsterdam (cow's milk gouda)
Chevre with herbs (yeah, there should be an accent in there somewhere. Simple goat cheese, but the herbs make it seem fancy)
Gorgonzola (classic blue cheese. It's not too strong usually, so it's good for novices)

Served with:
A fancy cracker multipack
Herb flatbread crackers (I forgot the brand)
Strawberries (to be honest, not my first choice for a cheese plate, but it was amazing. They go with everything, even the blue)
Honey (amazing on blue cheese, but try it on anything you want)
Half and Half iced tea lemonade (Our friends don't drink, and this was a nice accompaniment. Sparkling juices would probably be great too)

We've got a lot of cheese leftover. I'll have to make something with it all. It's pretty easy to throw a fancy cheese party without breaking the bank. Look for sales. Keep the guest list small. If it's only another couple or two and they offer to bring things, let them.

If you have any suggestions post them here or email me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chess Set!

I'm sitting at home listing to the soothing womb sounds of my dish washer. I'm drinking some coffee and feeling very tranquil. Who's up for a contemplative game of chess? No? What if I show you my homemade chess set? You curious?
Can you make it out? It's a Star Wars vs. Harry Potter Lego chess set. Some of those things should probably be italicized or quoted or something, but I don't know which. Anyway, I'll show you some more pictures. 

Here's a blurry shot of the Harry Potter team. The pawns are all animals.
Here's the Star Wars side. Don't mind Socrates in the background.

We had to buy a lot of different sets to get all the characters. It was a fun process. We also got to go up to our nearest Lego store and explore a huge mall in the process. I had to order a couple online too. It was well worth it.

What game should I make next? I was thinking Lego Clue. That would probably be fun.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Menu Planning

I used to think nobody really planned menus the way they do in cooking shows made for moms. They say to use your leftover roast chicken in simple fajitas later in the week. Reuse your sauteed veggies in a pot pie with more of that chicken. I didn't do much cooking when I was watching the most cooking shows, and I didn't really see evidence of this. However, right now I'm contemplating making fried rice tomorrow so I can use leftover rice from tonight's burritos. I'm trying to think of what I'll do with leftover beans and tortillas. More burritos probably.

I never had to cook much until I got married. I ate snacks at school, ate out with friends, or ate at home with my parents. I cooked, but I didn't have to cook every night for a week. I'm also a vegetarian, which I think made for more problems. I can't roast a chicken at the beginning of the week and then use it for fajitas and pot pie. We were in a pretty severe pasta rut for a while. We'd eat pasta sometimes twice a week not to mention leftovers for lunches. When we didn't eat pasta, it would be rice or stir fry. Instead of basing a meal on a protein, I was basing it on grain. My husband doesn't love polenta or couscous, so I felt a little limited. Then I tried basing dinner on a veggie, which I still try to do, but it's difficult if you haven't worked with some veggies before. Can a bell pepper be the star of the show? What else can you do with eggplant? I was still stuck. Then I invented the "dinner box."

The dinner box is an oracle. It predicts that week's dinners and keeps me from going to the store every night. I wrote down every dinner idea I could think of on little strips of paper. I put these strips of paper in an origami box. Every shopping day I pull out 4 or 5 ideas and make my shopping list. Now we eat a good variety of things and I don't have to strain my brain to figure it out. Then we have leftovers once in a while, or we go shopping every 5 days. Or my husband is away and I fend for myself. I suggest you try it for yourself if menu planning drives you crazy. Browse cookbooks for ideas or ask me! I've got about 30 and they're not all veggie centric.

Happy cooking,