Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Dinners

Happy Easter everyone! After a remarkably busy week I'm surprised to find myself sitting in my living room with my husband, sipping iced tea and checking our emails. I didn't expect to be this relaxed this soon! I'm glad I am though - I've only got a short break before another marathon week.
This week has actually been the week of food. My goodness there was a lot of food. It all started with Wednesday night when I was planning a tasting party at my house for a group of ladies I used to volunteer with. I had heard back from a couple of the ladies saying that they either would come or would try but I was nervous that perhaps no one would show up so I actually invited a few of my neighbours as well. Oh, and just so you know what I mean by 'tasting party', now that I've started selling Pampered Chef I will have to prepare some recipes at the cooking shows I do and since I have to use Pampered Chef recipes for those I've been making 4 or 5 of the recipes at a time and having people over to taste the food and let me know what they like and what they don't. This was supposed to be my second tasting party. I say 'supposed to' because, well, no one came. Not a one. It was 6:30 and my only for-sure cancelled and I had enough food for 20 people already made and not one person showed up. Mildly frustrating. Luckily I had planned all of the recipes to be fairly cheap so I hadn't spent a ton of money to put on the party, but that didn't help the fact that I now had a lot of food leftover and we were headed to Calgary the next day. However, I phoned my sister and she decided that we could just eat the food at her place the next evening for an impromptu appetizer party when Matt and I got to Calgary. Turns out, that was a pretty good idea! So Thursday afternoon Matt and I went to Calgary, we stopped off at Crossiron Mills and then went to my sister's place and ate a fantastic Crab Spread, some Apple Berry Salsa, and a Chocolate Chip Cannoli dip with fresh strawberries. My sister had also made a warm brie on top of that, so we all ate our fill (and alot of Crab Spread). That night, my sister and I also made soaps. In the April edition of Martha Stewart Living, there was a great article on making your own soaps using glycerin and pureed herbs or fruit. Neither of us had ever made soaps before but we gave it a try and it worked great! Super easy to make, super easy to clean up (it's soap - you just wash it off in hot water!) The next day I ended up back at my sister's house to make Easter Dinner for a small portion of our family: my parents, my sister's family and Matt and I. The time to cook one of my ducks had finally come. However, because not everyone likes duck we also decided to make up a chicken too. So at 1:30 I prepped the duck by cleaning, trimming, scoring and seasoning it and then I set it up on a veggie 'roasting rack', poured on a little white wine and put it in the oven. Next I prepped the chicken, which was going to be cooked on the BBQ. My sister had a Ricard's chicken roaster where you basically fill a stand with beer and seasoning, stick it up the butt of the chicken and set it on the BBQ like that. For dessert we made up a Glorious Mango Pudding with sweetened condensed milk, ricotta cheese, mangoes and lime juice and for the veggies we did green beans with caramelized shallots, steamed artichokes and potatoes wrapped in foil and roasted on the BBQ. There were a couple of hiccups with the meal prep (I forgot that the artichokes needed 30 minutes to steam, instead of 15, and then I forgot to check the water level and let the steam pot boil dry - whoops!) but we were all dishing up by 5:45. The duck was fantastic! So worth the wait! The chicken was really moist and didn't catch on fire (much to my mother's surprise). The veggies were all good, but the Mango Pudding was my favorite I think... and I don't even like mango! I meant to make up a second dessert (Martha's Little Lemon Souffles) but everyone ate so much dinner we didn't have room for more food! So instead my sister and I made more soaps!
Saturday morning we were going to a baby shower for my cousin and her new baby boy and I had pledged to make up 40 scones for the event. I have the world's greatest scone recipe which has a great make-ahead component, so when the time comes to bake them, all you do is add water and bake! The shower had so much great food (mini quiches, strawberry cream tarts, my scones were made into strawberry shortcakes) and then within a couple hours of the shower we went to Easter Dinner with the extended family! Today Matt and I came home in time to meet some of his family for lunch at a restaurant and then we had his sister and her husband over for supper - hamburgers, corn-on-the-cob and fruit with dip.
I'm very full :)
Now, this week coming up is a marathon week for multiple reasons. First off, our anniversary is on Tuesday (3 years!). Next, Gabe's birthday is on Wednesday (2 years!). We have doctor's appointments, meetings, deadlines and family gatherings all week long, including all of the work I have to do for a volunteer commitee I'm on and I've got a couple Pampered Chef shows I'm helping some friends plan. It's also my one month date since signing up with Pampered Chef this week and I'm hoping to meet a sales goal to get a bonus (I'm not sure about this one since my tasting party was a flop...)
It's definitely going to be a busy week! Good thing I've been fattened up for it, hey?

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Menu

It's time for planning Easter dinner! Yay! I had a few commitments that I needed to focus on before I let myself think too much on it, but now that those are past I'm retargetting my focus on Easter!
First off, my plans for my ducks have changed. I had planned on cooking them up for family dinner with Matt's side of the family, however, due to scheduling conflicts, we won't be having Easter dinner with that side this year. So instead, we're going to be having a small dinner on Friday night with my immediate family where I will cook up one of the ducks. Since not everyone likes duck, I'm also roasting a chicken (mmmm I love the smell of roasting chicken with garlic and white wine...) I also decided that since I'm not getting to make some items for my sister-in-law's baby shower that I really wanted to try to make, I'm going to do them up for this dinner. So while my family would normally have broccoli, steamed carrots and mashed potatoes for sides and maybe a pie for dessert, I'm mixing it up! We're keeping the mashed potatoes, but then we're having Balsamic Glazed carrots, steamed artichokes, phyllo wrapped asparagus spears with red pepper aioli and for dessert I'm making individual lemon souffles and cracked chocolate eggs with mango sorbet 'yolks'. I hope the family likes it!
This is also going to be our anniversary weekend. Our actual anniversary is next Tuesday, however Gabe's birthday is the Wednesday and we're dividing that up between both sides of the family so my parents get Gabe on Tuesday and Matt's parents get him on Wednesday. That leaves Monday night for our anniversary but we have Auxano that night so we will instead be celebrating on Sunday afternoon. We're going to take Gabe to Crossiron Mills so he can see the fish and caribou at Bass Pro Shop and we're going to see what other fun things we can do there too. At very least there will be guns for Matt and a Homesense for me, so that will be something.
Pampered Chef has been going quite well. I'm having my third show this Wednesday and then this month I've earned a Father's Day present for Matt, a free zester, a free cookbook, a free glass batter bowl and I'm lined up to earn a bunch more free stuff next month. Oh, not to mention the money I earned too!
I should get moving though - I've got a long to-do list for today!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Catch Up

Wow it's been some time! I've been a little on the busy side lately... We'll use that as my excuse for not posting until now. Let's see, since I last wrote I had my first Pampered Chef party! It was a bridal shower for my sister-in-law and it went fairly well. The recipe was a big hit (Mexican Chicken Napoleons) and my sister-in-law got lots of free stuff. I did run into a bit of an issue with sending in my order however. Turns out that my computer hates the Pampered Chef program that you use to submit orders. But I hate my computer too, so it all evens out. We've actually been looking for a cheapo netbook for me lately so that I can actually get it to work - the biggest problem has been that we're running Vista (bleh.) We have to send in our laptop for repairs yet again so we might end up getting a whole new laptop, however Matt is hoping to upgrade to a Mac, which isn't compatible with the Pampered Chef program so a netbook really is the best option for me. We did get an external hard drive from Best Buy for 40% off because of one very nice manager! Since this will be the fourth time we're sending out laptop away for repairs he gave us an awesome discount so we could back up all our tax and business files.
I'm planning on throwing a Pampered Chef Tasting Party this weekend, however everyone seems to be busy so I hope I can find enough people to come! I'm going to make 7 different recipes that I'll get people to sample to tell me if it's good enough for a show or what I need to change in it. It'll actually be a really big help to me because then I'll know I'm not the only person in the world who likes it and by making them all at one time I won't have to spend multiple days in the kitchen testing out recipes - just one! So far there are only two people coming so I'm employing guerilla advertising to try and get more people to come! Wish me luck! I suppose if no one comes I can go back to making food for my family though...
Gabriel is doing well. We're prepping him for the new baby coming which mostly entails making him glad that he's a big boy and not a baby anymore. We're a few weeks away yet from moving him into his big-boy room with his big-boy bed, but he knows it's coming and he's excited for it. He's finally off his soother completely (a year later than my original plans) and potty training is going well. At least once a day he'll be the one to ask to go potty and he's letting us know if he needs to be changed and he really gets what you're supposed to do when you sit on the potty. It's all baby steps, but they're in the right direction at least.
As for the baby bump, he's doing well. He's quite squirmy. I don't remember Gabe being anywhere near this wiggly. When Gabe moved it was abrupt, straight kicks, but this little guy is more prone to punching and doing the polka than anything. I had my glucose blood test last week and I didn't almost pass out so it went better than the last time I took it :) I hate that orange sugar juice. If you've never had it, don't believe the nurse when she says it's not as bad as people say. It's worse. But, Matt happened to have the day off and my mom took Gabe so I had company while I sat an hour in the blood clinic waiting for my timer to go and then Matt took me to this little sushi place called MoMos for the best Dynamite Rolls I've ever had.
Spring is finally showing it's face around here but even though the snow has been melting for over a week we still have a 3 foot drift on our front lawn. My mom and sister have both been saying that their tulips are up but we still can't even find out flower bed to check so it'll be a little while more for us.
Well, I'm expecting a phone call from Pampered Chef tech support and if I really intend on having a house full of people on Saturday perhaps I should spend some time cleaning! Wish me luck!

Mrs. Vander Leek ;)