Thursday, July 8, 2010

No Hubs = Girls' Night!

The summers are for parties and just because Hubs is gone that is no excuse for me not to host one...in fact it is the perfect setting for a 'Girls' Night'!!!
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I love having fresh flowers in the house. Early on in our cohabitant years, I would occasionally buy bouquets or be semiannually gifted them from Hubs to decorate the house. Since then fresh flowers have fallen into the 'unnecessary expense' category. Hubs is like my Superman when if comes to finances and so at some point in the last few years I decided flowers were not a 'necessary expense'.

The white peonie above was rescued from a snapped stem from our flower beds...the cost was nothing and look at just how fabulously it decorates our coffee table!

Though fresh flowers might be an unnecessary expense when you're trying to save, it becomes a mood lifter when you're trying to just get through life one day at time. With Hubs gone, I fall into the later category and figured the smile these bring is well worth the cost.

There was also one small bunch of peonies hiding in the flower cooler, so I snatched those up as well (I love peonies!).

When it came to the cooking I had my right hand gal on hand to help. Better known to you as my Redneck BFF (let's call her Blue Light), she had her sleeves rolled up, drinking hat on and dove right in...

Of course I had the menu already roughly planned (remember I am a constant planner by nature), but Blue Light decided at the grocery store that she really wanted to contribute a dish of her own. Aiding her with the inspiration, we decided on a pizza-app...

The go-to Shipyard store bought crust topped with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto, served with a side of tasty bottled marinara...BIG HIT!

What added to this pizza's specialness was the use of the pizza stone...works like a charm every time :o)

Quick summary of the pizza -

Preheat Oven the 500 degrees with pizza stone in the middle of oven.

Place refrigerated dough in large bowl, coat with flour and allow to come to room temperature (it will rise a bit during this time).

Stretch dough and place on cornmeal covered pizza peel or cookie sheet.

Brush the top of the pizza with a wee bit of olive oil (garlic olive oil is my fav).

Top with mozzarella and prosciutto.

Transfer from peel (or baking sheet) directly onto the pizza stone and drop the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Cook until cheese is melted and begins to brown.

Nice work Blue Light :o)

Inspired by The Future Mrs. Creature's Mother's creation, I was determined to create spring rolls at home as another app for this Girls' Night.

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The filling was a combination of cooked and cooled vermicelli noodles and mix of napa cabbage, carrot sticks, mung beans, cilantro, lime juice and fish sauce. The meats added included chicken breasts poached in Thai green curry chicken stock and straight up cooked shrimp.
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The filling tasted wonderful, but the technique in rolling them was a challenge. My good friends T/T came to my rescue, arriving just in time to take over rolling. Since then I've practiced one more time, but for the life of me cannot figure out how the restaurants get them so tight and perfect?!?! Tips anyone??
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Accompanying these delicious spring rolls was this outstanding sauce, courtesy of Emeril and made by Blue Light...it's so gosh darn good that I ended up making another batch a week later and used it on more spring rolls and some pasta, YUM!!!!
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Peanut Sauce (Nuoc Leo):
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken stock or water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 fresh red Thai chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced, optional
Sriracha sauce, for garnishing, optional

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Heat the oil in a small saucepan and, when hot, add the garlic, chile paste, and tomato paste, and cook until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add the broth, sugar, peanut butter and hoisin sauce and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly before serving. Serve in small bowls, garnished with the peanuts, sliced chiles and optional hot sauce. May be served warm or at room temperature.
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The rest of dinner was kept simple, so as to provide the chance for socializing and general merriment.
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Grilled Pepper Mix.


Perfectly grilled asparagus.

I say perfect here, because the tops had that slight crisp that happens when you have just the right amount of oil and just the right temp...so good!
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Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to visit Hubs and my old stomping ground in MA and made a special trip to the butcher shop.
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Tequila-Lime Marinated Chicken Breast...
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and Steak Tips.

I marinated the steak in a Korean Style Sauce. A couple of friends liked it so much the took the remaining marinade home to use the following day haha! An unfortunate thing did happen during this final step of grilling dinner...we ran out of gas! Don't you just hate that?!?! Well of course we do not have a second tank on hand as back up (though Hubs, I am beginning to think we should!).
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With T/T heading up the meat grilling portion of our evening, we brought the partially cooked beef inside and finished it on a grill pan. It was of course tasty and not bothered by the broken cooking/grill time...phew!
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The night was a great success, filled with laughter, catching up, games, toenail painting (for some unlikely recipients haha) and plenty of food and drinks!
Thank you to all the wonderful hockey girlfriends who made it!!! And a very special thank you to Blue Light for being the great Redneck BFF you are haha!
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I can't wait to have another summer party!!
Parties are fun, parties are good and parties make me smile...especially when I am hosting them =O)
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It does look as though the next party could be as soon as next weekend, as we prepare for our annual benefit ice hockey tournament...Hockey Fights MS! Woohoo!!!!!!!

8 comments:

  1. Beef tips were very good but I am a pizza type of girl so that was my fav.

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  2. That all looks amazing! I need to buy a pizza stone. Any favorite brands?

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  3. Hey, not only could I learn a thing or two from you about cooking...but the photography is great as well...Good Job

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  4. The peanut sauce was amazing, but I'm gonna say the pizza was my fav. as well!
    -Blue Light

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  5. Blue Light, Don't you think that Susie should do a pizza girl's night?

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  6. I expected something much dirtier...

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  7. Jeez maybe I should open a pizzeria and drop all the Korean food ideas haha! Pizza Party is a great idea...maybe once this heat spell is over?

    Eamon - Good friends B&A actually gifted us this one for our wedding and I LOVE IT! They actually have this whole theory on them, which I'll send you via FB. If you're going for it, be sure to get a pizza peel too...it makes life a lot easier for sure. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/baking-and-pizza-stone/?pkey=x|4|1||4|pizza%20stone||0&cm_src=SCH

    C.A. - haha! Nope try to keep it PG-13, if not G rated on the blog ;)

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  8. hockey girl number 2July 21, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    thanx Mrs Hubs, it was a fun night... food-wise, i particularly loved the pizza, spring rolls/sauce & beef tips...

    fyi - i still have a sliver of orange finger nail polish on my pinky (& Anonymous still has a blue big toe).

    from experience, i would like to emphasize the important point of preheating the oven WITH the pizza stone inside. bad things happen when a COLD pizza stone is placed in a HOT oven. likewise, bad things happen when a COLD porcelain tea-pot is placed on a HOT electric coil. (ok - i was pretty young when i did that, but my parents have never let me forget it)....

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