Event Planning

February Foodie Holidays

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Punxy Phil is so friendly!

So this is a little late, and I apologize.  As I said in my last post, I’ve been having issues with the editing software on here.  I did a little adjusting of the settings here and there and I think I’m set.

No pictures of Daisy or Cooper this time.  But since Groundhog Day is February 2, I did include some pics from Punxsutawney, PA.  We made a stop there on the way moving from Maine back to Michigan.  It was a little bit out of the way (well a lot out of the way, and it was especially difficult driving a moving truck on those twisty mountain roads), but I couldn’t resist meeting the famous groundhog!

In addition to Groundhog Day, we celebrate National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Macadamia Nut Month, and National Snack Food Month.  Plus we get National Pancake Week during the last week of the month!  Here are some of the fun holidays (along with some links, as always) we have this month:

The origins of Groundhog Day

1 – Baked Alaska Day

3 – Carrot Cake Day

4 – Stuffed Mushroom Day

7 – Fettuccine Alfredo Day

8 – Molasses Bar Day

9 – Bagels and Lox Day

10 – Cream Cheese Brownie Day

11 – Peppermint Patty Day

12 – Plum Pudding Day

13 – Tortellini Day

14 – Cream-filled Chocolates Day, Valentine’s Day

15 – Gumdrop Day

16 – Almond Day

We knocked, but Phil wasn't home. As you can see, this was no where near Groundhog Day when we stopped by.

17 – Indian Pudding Day

19 – Chocolate Mint Day

20 – Cherry Pie Day

21 – Sticky Bun Day

22 – Cook a Sweet Potato Day, Margarita Day

23 – Banana Bread Day

24 – Tortilla Chip Day

25 – Chocolate-Covered Peanuts Day, Clam Chowder Day

26 – World Pistachio Day

27 – Strawberry Day, Kahlua Day!

January Foodie Holidays

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Here's Cooper and Daisy with the monthly holiday announcements!

It’s good to be back after taking a little bit of time off for the holidays.  So I do apologize that this is a day late.  Hopefully all the hangovers and “bad-decision juice” has been worked out of everyone’s systems.  But with all the focus on physical recovery and recuperation, let’s not forget all those National Holidays that are taking place this month (there is another “National Pie Day” this month on the 23rd; the other one was last month).  I know when we think of January, New Year’s Day is always on everyone’s mind.  It is also National Hot Tea Month, National Oatmeal Month, National Slow Cooking Month, and National Soup Month.  Here are some of the National Holidays that we should be celebrating this month:

Buffet Day, Cream Puff Day

Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

Spaghetti Day

5  Whipped Cream Day

Shortbread Day

Tempura Day

8  English Toffee Day

Apricot Day

It's obvious these two don't get along! At least they're cute when they're trying to stay warm

10  Bittersweet Chocolate Day

12  Marzipan Day

13  Peach Melba Day

14  Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day

15  Strawberry Ice Cream Day

16  Fig Newton Day

18  Peking Duck Day (yum!)

20  Buttercrunch Day, Cheese Lover’s Day

21  Granola Bar Day

22  Blonde Brownie Day

24  Peanut Butter Day

25  Irish Coffee Day

26  Peanut Brittle Day

27  Chocolate Cake Day!

28  Blueberry Pancake Day

29  Cornchip Day

30  Croissant Day

31  Popcorn Day

Holiday Menu Planning

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Entertaining and menu planning may seem tricky, but the execution doesn’t have to be all that intimidating.  It just takes a lot of thought and timing.  You have to take into account what the dishes are, how many people are attending, and when dinner is supposed to be served (along with a whole host of other things to consider).  But all this planning can be spread out over a whole month.  Now I just had my “Holiday Feast” the other day and here was my schedule.  The day was busy, but I still got to spend time with my guests before dinner and take part in the festivities (i.e. – drink booze).

3 weeks prior:  send out invitations.  Hopefully you will hear back relatively quickly about who can and cannot attend.

2 weeks prior:  finalize menu.  Here’s what was decided:  Roasted pork shoulder, marinated turkey breast, bread pudding with mushrooms and roasted peppers, roasted fennel and carrots, rapini with fried apples,  egg nog, cranberry cheesecake, holiday biscotti, and sugar plums.  Now that I actually see it written out, that’s a lot of food.  Even more so because it was also a potluck.  I will do posts on all this stuff soon with a focus on the more holiday-ish items first.

1 week prior:  finalize attendees, buy supplies and groceries.  Alright so it wasn’t completely finalized and it hovered anywhere between 12 -18.  It finally ended up at 13.

4 days prior:  clean house, iron table linens.  Now cleaning the house is a daily thing, but I did a major cleaning on this day.  I ironed the napkins and prepped them so that I could fold the “birds of paradise” relatively quickly.  I like this fold because it looks nice and is relatively easy to do.

3 days prior:  buy fresh ingredients (fruit and vegetables), make cranberry compote.  The cranberry compote could even be made the week before.

2 days prior:  make cranberry cheesecake, bake biscotti.  Making this now lets the cheesecake set up in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  Just cover it with plastic wrap after it cools.  The biscotti should stay fresh for several days.

1 day prior:  blanche rapini, peel carrots, make sugar plums, assemble bread pudding.  The sugar plums need some time to dry out a little before rolling in sugar.  The bread pudding can sit and all the flavors can marry while sitting in the refrigerator.  Plus the bread can really soak up the custard.

6 hours prior:  roll the sugar plums in sugar, fold napkins, set the table.  At this point, I still didn’t know how many.  My best guess was 12, which was nice because everyone could sit at the table.

3 hours prior:  start holiday music playlist, attend to early attendees, make beer bread, drink beer.  Now we asked folks to arrive at 3:00pm with dinner to be served at 6:00.  Not everyone will show at the start which is fine.

2 hours prior:  attend to early attendees, roast fennel and carrots, drink wine, eat cheese.  Serve appetizer dishes that guests brought.

1 hour prior:  attend to attendees, bake bread pudding, make egg nog, drink egg nog.  Egg nog is usually a big draw because of all the booze 🙂  I use Martha Stewart’s recipe, which has 3 c. bourbon, 2 c. cognac, and 1 c. rum.

30 minutes prior:  light candles on the table, make rapini and fried apples, place fennel in oven to reheat, finalize drink orders, drink more egg nog.  Everything is coming together and all your hard work and planning is paying off.  Hopefully you won’t be too tipsy at this point.

I know this looks like a lot and that you’ll be in the kitchen and not enjoying anyone, but everyone always ends up in the kitchen anyway so you won’t be missing out.  You won’t really be missing out if you prep everything ahead of time.  Just pop into the kitchen to take out the bread and pop some veggies into the oven.  Then you have an hour to play with your guests before the next thing goes into the oven.

December Foodie Holidays

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Just slowly working away at what's left of the holiday pumpkin

Happy December everybody!  Been out of commission for a while due to an increasingly packed schedule.  But it’s the first of the month and it’s time to learn about our disavowed national holidays from Mr. Squirrel (or is it Mrs?  maybe Ms.?).  It really is the holiday season, but there are other days that deserve recognition, like World AIDS Day which is on the 1st.  Of course, there are the biggies that (mostly) everyone knows (and these are in chronological order according to my Just Chocolate Labs calendar) — Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve.  But here are some of the other national holidays that we should incorporate into our regular rotation.

1  Pie Day

2  Fritters Day

4  Cookie Day

Sacher Torte Day

Gazpacho Day

7  Cotton Candy Day

8  Brownie Day

Pastry Day

10  Lager Day!!!

11  Noodle Ring Day

12  Ambrosia Day

13  Cocoa Day

14  Bouillabaisse Day

15  Lemon Cupcake Day

16  Chocolate Covered Anything Day

18  Roast Suckling Pig Day

21  French Fried Shrimp Day

23  Pfeffernuesse Day

24  Egg Nog Day

25  Pumpkin Pie Day

26  Candy Cane Day

27  Fruitcake Day

30  Bicarbonate of Soda Day

There are lots of links for folks to check out this month.  Personally, my favorite is “Chocolate Covered Anything Day”, but how can you not love a holiday all about Baking Soda?

November Foodie Holidays

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A chill is in the air and those lovely leaves are turning, so that means that autumn is in full swing.  Daisy, of course, fell in love with autumn at an early age, as you can see.  Even at the ripe old age of 2 (as you can see in the second picture), she still loves playing in the leaves.  But this all means that it’s November and holiday season is fast upon us.  Now everyone thinks of the traditional holidays like Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving (in the United States, that is), but there are others that we don’t take time to celebrate.  For example, November is:  National Fun with Fondue Month, National Pepper Month, National Georgia Pecan Month, National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month, and National Raisin Bread Month.  Here are some more of those unloved holidays:

1 – 7  National Fig Week

Deviled Egg Day

4  Candy Day

Nachos Day

7  Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

8 – 13  National Split Pea Soup Week

10  Vanilla Cupcake Day

12  Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day

13  Indian Pudding Day

14  Guacamole Day

15  Spicy Hermit Cookie Day

20  Peanut Butter Fudge Day

23  Cashew Day

24  THANKSGIVING DAY

25  Parfait Day

26  Cake Day

27  Bavarian Cream Pie Day

28  French Toast Day

29  Chocolates Day

30  Mousse Day

October Foodie Holidays

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Happy October everybody!  Daisy’s here with our monthly feature on upcoming National Holidays.  Maybe Cooper will eventually make an appearance on Daisy’s monthly post, too!  Anyhoo, there’s lots of stuff going on in October (like the National Pumpkin Festival on the first Saturday of the month).  Here is just some of the stuff that’s happening this month:

Daisy doesn't mind wearing her Halloween outfit if she gets to play with her stick that's on the table

National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookbook Month, National Cookie Month (you can get a free cookie from Mrs. Field’s), National Dessert Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Seafood Month

4 Taco Day

5 Apple Betty Day

6 Noodle Day

9 Dessert Day

10 Angel Food Cake Day

11 Sausage Pizza Day

15 Mushroom Day

17 Pasta Day

18 Chocolate Cupcake Day

20 Brandied Fruit Day

22 Nut Day

24 Boston Cream Pie Day

24 Bologna Day

26 Mincemeat Day

28 Chocolate Day

29 Oatmeal Day

30 Candy Corn Day

31 Halloween!

Labor Day with the family

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Batten down the hatches!!!  My parents and my brother are driving up from Florida to visit me for Labor Day.  Plus I got some other cousins and aunts and uncles coming in from about an hour away.  Lord help!  It’s not that I don’t want them to visit — it’s the planning that can be tricky.  And figuring out a menu isn’t going to be easy.  Maybe I can talk my cousin into bringing something to help with the menu.  What would be nice is having a whole roast pig, but since that ain’t gonna happen I’m going to have to improvise.  And too bad my grill just busted.  Good thing there’s still the trusty Smokey Joe. . . and as a side note, here’s what the Department of Labor says about Labor Day.

Luckily, another aunt and uncle (also from Florida) came in for a visit a few weeks ago so the meal they had here was essentially a trial run.  But since there’s gonna be more people, I’m going to need to expand a bit.  I do want to make some stuff focused on local goods and made in Michigan things, but I also want to make some things that I know they’ll like.  I did find some Labor Day ideas at Grilling.com, Martha, and Yum Sugar.  So here’s what I might end up doing (which I hope to post on these new ones soon):

Roast pork shoulder

Sautéed green beans with mushrooms

Ratatouille

Grilled corn

Fresh Lumpia

Bibingka

Zucchini Ribbons with Garlic Confit

Empanadas

Steamed Mussels with Glass noodle

Koegel’s viennas

Something with Rhubarb (probably a Raspberry and Rhubarb tart)

San Miguel

Oberon

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Of course all this planning might just go out the window, so I’m going to wait until the last minute to do any shopping.  There’ll probably be a trip to Windsor in the making.  Or maybe a quick jaunt to Toronto (if I’m lucky)!