Monday, August 16, 2010

Hosting in the New Casa

This weekend was a busy one! On Saturday, two events were taking place concurrently-- a friend and colleague of Ray's from Germany came into town for business. We were entertaining for the weekend. As Ray was picking Sascha up from the airport after his 1.5 hours spent in the immigration line (ugh!), I was hosting a baby shower for someone we met a few months ago at church, Julie. She's due next month with a surprise baby and about 16 women came to celebrate the new little one. Thanks to House Party, I was sent a prize package of goods to throw a Sauza tequila "girl's night out" party. It was a girl's party... but not quite night when we had the function. Here are the cocktails getting mixed together... if only I could've taken part in the actual drinking: 1 can tequila (um, yeah, woah), 1 light beer, 1 can limeade, 1 can water. Stir and drink. I heard they were massively strong, so for the second batch it was a bit weaker.
Here are some new friends. Left to right (Jessie, Alli, Liz, Kim).
Julie is in the center (I'm sure the belly gave that one away)!
Here are the key lime cupcakes I made. Though I cheated a bit and used lemon cake mix, I added quite a few ingredients (including orange juice!) and made the frosting myself. It was so incredibly cream-cheesy and delicious. I bought some new Wilton pipings at Target for about $7 and was able to make the swirl I've been eyeing all over the internet lately. They turned out quite well.
Here's the brie I replicated from my days at Kincaid's. Because I knew the ingredients so well, I was able to figure it all out... with the help of my friend Tes who provided me the tip of freezing the brie before coating/baking so it keeps form. It turned out incredible. The balsamic reduction was even a success and I didn't burn it! Here's the recipe:

Plain brie cheese wedge, frozen
Panko bread crumbs
Olive oil or an egg to hold the coating
Balsamic vinegar
Crushed nuts (I used cashews, though macadamia nuts, peanuts, pistachios... all good options)

1. Prepare breading: crush nuts and mix with panko crumbs-- use mostly bread crumbs. Pour this mixture onto plate or in a sprayed metal pie tin.
2. Coat frozen brie with egg wash or olive oil
3. Cover with as much panko/nut mixture as possible on all sides. Pile more on top when all sides are coated.
4. Line sprayed pie tin with some panko crumbs, place brie in center, and pour a bit more crumbs and nut mixture on top.
5. Bake at 350 degrees until it begins to "puff" and ooze slightly at the end. Place in broiler to brown a bit for a few minutes.
6. While baking, drizzle honey onto a plate and create balsamic reduction (boil 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar on stove, stirring constantly, until it turns into a glaze) and drizzle onto plate.
7. Once brie is ready, place onto plate and add more nuts if desired. Serve with warm bread, crackers, sliced apples, or whatever sounds good!
After the successful shower, I headed out to dinner with Ray & Sascha. We tried Ted's Montana by recommendation from our friend Derrick and it was great! Then we dropped Sascha off at the Hilton and headed home...

... this came next: When balloons are left at my house, two things happen: my husband experiments with the density of helium and oxygen (a little geeky) and then becomes silly by trying on his new hat. I love him.
Fast forward to the next day-- we wanted to give Sascha the experience of a typical Sunday afternoon in the US, so we took him to Costco, the outlets, Chipotle (though Mexican food isn't popular in Germany, Sascha seemed to enjoy his burrito quite well and even commented that he plans to get the spiciest salsa next time!), and dinner with another colleague and his wife. Between lunch and dinner, the guys played THREE games of Settlers of Catan. Sometimes they used the German rules and sometimes the American rules. It was great fun to watch this competition. This game has become a new obsession between Ray and some friends here in IL. It being a German board game, Ray and Sascha were both familiar and had a great time.
Good weekend and we're extending it to tonight! We're heading to Wrigley Field tonight for hot dogs and Cubs v. Padres baseball. Since the Cubs don't have a fighting chance (let's be honest) and I'm from California, I'll be sporting a Cubs shirt but rooting for the Padres.


Nic G. said... [Reply to comment]

Sounds like a fun weekend! Have fun at the game... Go Padres!!

Everyday Mom Ideas said... [Reply to comment]

That looks so delicious! What a fun party!

Kerstin said... [Reply to comment]

Very nice picture of Sascha. I can't imagine that he lost all the tree games of Settlers of Catan. :)