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Archive for the ‘Menus’ Category

Birthday Menu & Shrimp-Mango Salad

Posted by booksncooks on April 21, 2011

A while ago, I received a copy of Williams Sonoma’s Cooking for Friends as a gift. Every month or so, I take out the book and look through it, my mouth watering at the delicious-sounding recipes and the incredible photos. However, some of the recipes are a little fancier than my crowd is used to, so alas, I never got around to making any.

For my birthday last month, I decided to raise the bar and fancied-things up, to include a recipe from this cookbook. Hubby and I had about 20 people over the house for cocktails. I went all out and made two birthday cakes (I couldn’t decide which I wanted more and the vote to my friends was split), a cocktail, and three appetizers. Here’s what the menu included:

Amaretto Sours with Prosecco
Almond Cake with Raspberry Layers & Amaretto Buttercream
Toffee Brownie Torte
Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms
Shrimp-Mango Salad
Baked Fontina & French Bread

I was excited to try the shrimp-mango salad – a little fancier than the usual appetizer and elegantly served in these mini-martini glasses. Neither me nor my guests were disappointed. It was nice and light, tangy and sweet, the perfect addition to our cocktail party.

Modifications: I used all shrimp instead of a combination of shrimp and crab, as reflected in the recipe below. I skipped the avocado because mine didn’t ripen in time (plus allergies).

Shrimp-Mango Salad

Adapted from Shrimp, Crab and Avocado Salad in

Williams Sonoma’s Cooking for Friends (p. 62)

Makes 12+ servings in mini-martini glasses


  • 1 lb. cooked fresh shrimp, diced (or combination of fresh cooked crab and shrimp)
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, minced (plus sprigs for garnish)
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/2 head butter lettuce, shredded
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • lime wedges

In a medium bowl, toss the mango, olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, and shallot until mango is coated. Season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp (and crab), tossing until coated.

In your serving glasses, line the bottom with some of the butter lettuce, followed by the mango-shrimp mixture. Top with avocado (I would have tossed it in with the mango and shrimp at the last minute) and garnish with lime slices and sprigs of cilantro.

Posted in Appetizers, Menus, Seafood | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Menu: Valentine’s Day 2011

Posted by booksncooks on February 17, 2011

A short post sans photos & recipes. Just wanted to record my menu for ideas next year.

Menu: Valentine’s Day 2011

Appetizer: Baked Fontina with Freshly Baked French Bread

Entrée: Crab Cakes with Steamed Green Beans

Dessert: Chocolate Creme Brulee

Drink: Pinot Noir

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Menu: Holiday Party 2010

Posted by booksncooks on December 13, 2010

Christmas time is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. The tree goes up as early as the hubby will let me. In fact, because of a crazy couple weeks, we put up the tree just before Thanksgiving this year. I think I drove the hubby crazy because we returned from Thanksgiving with Christmas presents from my parents – I immediately arranged them under the tree and then asked, every day, if we could open presents. The pile has been growing as I’ve finished Christmas shopping – wrapping the presents and adding them to the pile (I even had a wedding gift and birthday present under the tree!)

I also love to celebrate with our friends and family at our annual holiday party. Its our one huge party of the year where everyone is invited. I’m probably pretty annoying, asking friends whether it’s on their calendar well before the party. I start planning the menu in October and start cooking and baking in November…. but its well worth it. The party is always a ton of fun!

So, without further ado, here’s this year’s menu.

I’ll be posting links to more of the recipes this week, but for those of you still searching for ideas for your own holiday parties, I wanted to get this out sooner. If you’d like a recipe before it gets posted, please just let me know and I’d be happy to send it to you.

2010 Holiday Party


  • Create Your Own Ham Slider: roast ham, swiss cheese, mustard, and dinner rolls
  • Duo of Pesti: Artichoke-Parmesan Pesto & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto served with freshly baked french bread
  • Honey-Apple-Brie Bites (thanks to K for bringing these tasty bites and for sharing the recipe!)
  • Cheddar and Bacon Mini-Quiche


Nibbles around the House


  • Assorted white and red wine
  • Sam Adams Winter Lager
  • Assorted Soft Drinks
  • Assorted Liquors

Note: This menu served approximately 50 people.

If you’re looking for more ideas, check out the 2009 Holiday Party Menu.

Posted in Menus, Winter Holidays | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The “Boobieque”

Posted by booksncooks on September 13, 2010

What is a Boobieque? The Boobieque was S.’s fantastic idea for a fundraiser, to help raise money for the Susan G Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure we’ll be doing later this year. Almost all of the food and drink was donated for this event. Guests were asked to bring a $5 donation per person, with all proceeds going to our SGK Team.

Thanks: There are several people that I’m going to take the opportunity to thank here. First, to my fabulous teammates, S & K. This is the first year walking for all of us – I couldn’t do it without you ladies!

Secondly, thanks to all of our sponsors. We appreciate the gift certificates and goods that you donated in support of this event. A special shout out to my mom and S’s mom, both of whom donated handmade blankets and quilts to raffle off.

Third, thanks to everyone who attended this event, donated, or have supported our team in any other way.

The Menu: A combination of donated items and goods made by us, this menu served about 40 people. (Ladies, please correct me if I missed anything!)




Friday’s Mixed Drinks

Soda, Lemonade & Water


BBQ Pulled Chicken

BBQ Pulled Pork

Small Dinner Rolls

Roasted Potato Salad

Orzo Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Red Peppers (made by K)

Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Wrap (so good, S!)

Corn on the Cob

Veggies and Onion Dip


Chips, Pretzels, Chocolate

S’mores Cupcakes

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes (still can’t believe how well these came out, K!)

Quantities: And since “how much to make” is such a common question…. for our party of 40 people, we had 10 lb. of meat, ~40 dinner rolls, 1.5-2x batch of both the potato salad and orzo salad, ~6 tomatoes worth for the tomato, mozzarella & basil wrap,12-18 corn ears, halved, 1/2 batch onion dip with assorted veggies, and a batch of each of the cupcakes.

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Wine & Cheese Tasting Party

Posted by booksncooks on May 17, 2010

For the past two years, my husband and I have hosted a Wine and Cheese Tasting Party. I love it – its easy to throw together and it’s not something that requires a lot of time in the kitchen. No matter how much we have going on in life, if we have a free evening, we can host a Wine and Cheese Tasting Party.

Now, there are several ways to do this type of party. Most people will probably tell you to pick a complimentary assortment of wine and cheeses yourself. For us, the problem with that is that we end up sticking to cheeses or wines that we know better, so there’s less experimentation. The other problem is that we have an open door policy at our house, so while I can get an estimate of how many people are coming, it’s never really accurate. For instance, I had 13 affirmative RSVPs prior to this party, 3 bailed at the last-minute, but we ended up with close to 25 people actually show up. You can see how this would cause problems for preparing if we were to provide everything….

So instead of putting everything together ourselves, we provide an assortment of crackers, breads,  and other complimentary snacks and ask everyone to bring a bottle of their favorite wine and/or cheese to share with the group. I find this works out great. We get a huge assortment of both cheeses and wines – both old favorites and new experiments. I make sure I have a couple of extra bottles of wine and blocks of cheese in case we run short, but for the past two years, we’ve ended up with the perfect amount of both.

Wine & Cheese Tasting Party

Drinks & Cheese provided by our wonderful friends

To Drink (not conclusive since I took out recycling before writing them all down – doh!)

Some great reds, perfect for me, as I’m still acquiring a taste for red wines.

  • Running with Scissors Petite Sirah
  • Ramal Road Pinot Noir
  • Gnarled Vine Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red
  • Boordy Syrah

Light and fruity whites

  • Anakena Sauvignon Blanc
  • La Delizia Pinot Grigio
  • Patrizi Moscato D’Asti
  • Kris Pinot Grigio
  • Black Swan Pinot Grigio

    And a couple sweet dessert wines, that although there, were never opened:

    • Cooper Vineyards Noche Noche
    • Chocovine (we were so curious about this one and then forgot about it. Has anyone tried it?)


    Marinated Cappiello (Mozzarella)


    Swiss Gruyère


    Havarti with Dill


    Cheddar with Guinness



    Assorted Crackers: Club Crackers, Triscuits, Whole Wheat Crackers

    Store-Bought Crostini

    Toast Points

    Barefoot Contessa’s Cheese Straws

    Genoa Salame

    Red Grapes


    And for Something Sweet:

    Cheesecake Truffles

    Assorted Lindt Chocolates

    Posted in Menus | Leave a Comment »

    2010 Easter Menu

    Posted by booksncooks on April 11, 2010

    This year was a small, quiet Easter gathering – just me, the hubby, and the parents. A little something special for the main course (potato pave!) and some easy items and leftovers for appetizers and dessert.

    Happy Easter!

    2010 Easter Menu

    Appetizers Throughout the Afternoon

    Cheese & Crackers

    Deviled Eggs


    Garlic Encrusted Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce

    Potato Pave

    Roasted Asparagus


    Raspberry Chambord Sorbet

    Ice Cream

    Posted in Menus | Leave a Comment »

    Valentine’s Day Menu For Two, 2009

    Posted by booksncooks on February 19, 2010

    We normally don’t do much for Valentine’s Day, as long as we spend it together, we don’t need special plans. However, since I had the whole weekend to plan for this year and I’ve been itching to try some new things, I decided to go all out.

    All of the below recipes have been adjusted to serve two, but they can easily be doubled or tripled according to your needs.


    Caramelized Onion and Feta Tartlets


    Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Cranberry-Port Sauce

    Parmesan-Sage Rice Pilaf

    Roasted Green Beans


    Chocolate Lava Cakes with Cherries



    Posted in Menus | 2 Comments »

    Christmas Eve & Christmas Menus

    Posted by booksncooks on December 24, 2009

    Christmas this year was pretty quite, just the six of us home for the holidays. Mom & I did our share of holiday baking and brought some goodies to the neighbors, but tried to keep things simple this year. And since there’s always so much food and snacking, most of our Christmas Eve and Christmas choices were great leftovers (mid-afternoon snack/appetizers instead of a meal) or freezable.

    This year’s menu was a mix of old favorites (such as the seven-layer cookies, the stuffed shrimp, and the spinach lasagna) and new adventures (like the red velvet snowball cake that we made twice and ultimately deemed a failure). In the end, we had a very happy, well-fed family.

    Dec. 31, 2009: Updated with links since I mistakenly published this before finishing.  🙂


    Christmas Week Goodies:



    Oreo Truffles

    Seven-Layer Cookies

    Almond Kringle


    A meatless Christmas Eve:

    Lunch: Potato Pancakes with sour cream & apple sauce

    Snacks: Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms

    Dinner: Spinach Lasagna

    Eggplant Parmesan

    Crab-Stuffed Shrimp

    Dessert: Red Velvet Snowball Cake


    Christmas Day:

    Bunch: Leftovers

    Dinner: Rosemary & Fennel Crusted Beef Tenderloin served with Horseradish Cream and Creamy Mustard Sauce

    Mashed Potatoes

    Roasted Brussel Sprouts & Shallots

    Green Beans with Vinaigrette & Asiago

    Dessert: Red Velvet Snowball Cake

    Posted in Menus, Winter Holidays | Leave a Comment »

    Menu: Holiday Party 2009

    Posted by booksncooks on December 15, 2009

    2009 Holiday Party Menu

    Every year we host a large holiday party,for about 50 people who will be wandering throughout the house. Most of the food is upstairs, but I’ll also have some snacks in the pool room and extended basement.

    Thanks to all our friends who brought something to share!


    • Killian’s & Blue Moon in the keg
    • Lots and lots of Pinot Grigio  🙂
    • Hot apple cider, with Captain Morgan rum nearby
    • Assorted hard liquors, sodas & mixers

    Our crowd isn’t big red wine drinkers, so we usually let tell them to bring their own.


    And Sweet:

    Food Downstairs & in the Pool Room:

    • Spiced Nuts
    • Cheese & Cracker Platter
    • Small Cookie Platter

    Posted in Menus, Winter Holidays | Leave a Comment »

    Nov. 2009 Book Club: The Alchemist & Tapas

    Posted by booksncooks on November 13, 2009

    A while back, a couple girls and I started a book club. We’re pretty informal. We alternate who chooses the book for the month, and that person hosts the book club meeting. November was my month. In honor of The Alchemist, whose main character is a boy from Spain, I chose to do a tapas party.

    Book Review: The Alchemist

    The menu: For those that don’t know, tapas are “small dishes” served in bars and cafes all over Spain. Tapas could be anything, from a little plate of olives to calamari and meatballs. Since there’s only a few of us, I couldn’t choose all my favorites, but below are a few that I enjoy.

    Manchego Marinated in Olive Oil and Herbs

    Patatas Bravas (Crispy Potatoes with a Tomato Sauce) – … not my favorite recipe, so make roasted potatoes and use the extra meatball sauce as a dipping sauce

    Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic & Parsley

    Spanish-Style Meatballs

    Marinated Manchego 002-1

    (Marinated Manchego)

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