Margarita Bar

Cinco de Mayo is a big holiday in Los Angeles with the large Mexican population. I love celebrating it. Who wouldn’t love to drink margaritas, eat $1 tacos and sing along to this playlist in mumbled (or drunken) Spanish? My dentist office even called me yesterday to invite me to their Cinco de Mayo celebration complete with a taco man serving tacos before having your teeth cleaned.
My friend Luci from Luci’s Morsels came over and we created a DIY margarita bar for your Cinco de Mayo celebration. Simply place fun ingredients out and let your guests create their margarita to their likeness. Here are some of the ingredients we used.
Some other fun ingredients you could use for mix-ins are watermelon chunks, sliced jalapeño, mango chunks, mandarin segments, or basil. The possibilities are endless! We chose to do a lime-chili salt to add an extra kick to every sip.
photos by Luci of Lucis Morsels
The margarita mix I used is how my favorite margarita bar makes them; just limes, agave sweetener and your favorite tequila. Create the margarita mix beforehand and have your guests add their desired ingredients to a cocktail shaker, muddle together then pour into a salt-rimmed margarita glass. Luci decided to create a strawberry, blackberry and cucumber margarita, and I made a pineapple and mint margarita.
Bring out the chips and guacamole and you can all it a party! Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Ingredients:
Margarita mix:
(makes 1 liter)
1 cup tequila (I used my husband’s favorite, Tequila Corralejo)
1/4 cup lime juice
1 cup water
1/4 cup agave sweetener (more or less to taste)
ice
 
Chili salt: 
1 part chili seasoning like Tajin
1 part kosher salt
 
Mix-ins:
strawberries
blackberries
frozen or canned pineapple chunks
lime wedges
tamarind (scraped out of the pod)
mint
anything else you like 🙂
 
Step 1: Rim your glass with a lime wedge then salt. You can do this for your guests beforehand if you prefer.
 
Step 2: Have your guests place their mix-ins into a cocktail shaker with ice, muddle with a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon.
 
Step 3: Add margarita mix then shake. Pour into your glass and enjoy!
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Mini Pizza Bar

superbowl-pizzas

superbowl-pizzas
The Super Bowl is right around the corner. I’m not a big sportsfan but I am a big foodfan and anywhere there is food and a party I am there! I created these super easy pizzas for hosts with little time. You could even have your guests put on their own toppings and pop these into the toaster oven. Just prep all the items and create a pizza bar.

If you are making a big batch, heat the oven to 400º F. Bake for 10 mins or until the cheese is nice and melty. For smaller DIY portions, I like to use the toaster oven set at the same temperature and people can just set the timer when they pop theirs in.

You can get very creative with the toppings but I kept mine simple. Here’s what I used.

Ingredients:
low calorie sandwich rounds (you can also use English muffins or pita bread)
marinara sauce from a jar
sliced tomatoes
sliced red onion
pepperoni
oregano
parmesan cheese

For a pizza bar, set up all the ingredients for the guests in different containers so they can easily choose what they like. I would include a few different cheeses like mozzarella, parmesan, and even goat cheese. A cream sauce would be a fun twist paired with the traditional marinara. Several meats like pepperoni, salami, shredded chicken, bacon, and prosciutto are good toppings. I love a good veggie pizza so include some vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and herbs.

This is a fun meal even if you aren’t cheering for a team. Kids will love it and you will too! Which team are you cheering for?

Last Minute Thanksgiving

I’ve been so busy lately with finishing up work before maternity leave and preparing for the baby’s arrival that I (almost) forgot that Thanksgiving was this week! If you are like me and have absolutely no time to make a full Thanksgiving meal take the Last Minute Thanksgiving approach.  I’ll show you how!

I made the meal pictured above for my coworkers in 1 hour. This was a meal for 6 and we still had plenty of leftovers.  You can shop for your items the day before or the morning of.

Buy ready-made items. Use the store to help you with this meal. Don’t stress yourself out! I bought 50% of the items pictured above and made the rest.

What to buy ready-made:
Buy the desserts, or better yet, ask your guests to bring a dessert. People are always willing to bring desserts because it’s the easiest thing they can grab from the grocery store and check out quickly.

Buy the protein ready-made. Those rotisserie chickens from the grocery are actually really good. They come whole and are the perfect size for a family of 4-6. Place in an oven safe dish and reheat in for 20 mins.

If you insist on cooking the protein, buy a chicken already butchered or just a turkey breast portion. When they are cut up, they cook much faster than a whole chicken. Season it simply with olive oil, s+p, and some herbs, then pop it into the oven first. It should cook at 425 degrees F in about an hour.

Buy semi-made items. Some boxed items help you skip several steps and do all the measuring for you. Some good items are stuffing, cornbread mix, and biscuits.

Add something special to make it your own. With the cornbread mix, I added jalapeños and cheddar. Cut up an apple and some sausages and mix it into the stuffing. Top the biscuits with any cheese you have in your fridge.

Don’t buy canned. Especially vegetables. This is something you should make fresh as it usually is less expensive and tastier.  Some veggies that are perfect for your spread and don’t take a long time to cook are Brussels sprouts, potatoes, or green beans and carrots. Buy them already washed and cut so all you have to do is season and cook in a pan with some olive oil, or if you still have oven space, roast until fork tender.

Buy your cranberries frozen or fresh. Here’s a recipe that is so simple you can literally leave it on the back burner until it’s ready.

Gravy is simply equal parts butter and flour, cooked. Then slowly whisk in some chicken broth to your desired consistency and season with s+p.

Cook on the stove top. If you are reheating the bird, baking the stuffing, and roasting some veggies you need to make something on the stove top. Something you have made before and can do with one hand tied behind your back. Some of my favorites to make on the stove are mashed potatoes, stove top mac and cheese (skipping the oven part), and any vegetable dish.

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Here’s a sample menu and timeline so you can get an idea.
Sample menu:
serves 6
Rotisserie chicken
Mashed potatoes (1 lb. potatoes, 1 quart heavy cream, 1 stick butter, s+p)
Roasted Brussels sprouts (bagged already washed sprouts, s+p, evoo)
Jalapeño and cheddar cast iron cornbread (2 boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix, 2 jalapeños, 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup of milk)
Store bought pie

0:00 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
0:01 Half fill a large pot with water for potatoes and bring to boil. Add 1 tsp of salt
0:05 Bring out all your items and arrange by dish for organization
0:10 Reheat chicken in the oven
0:11 Cut Brussels sprouts in half and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with s+p. Put in oven
0:18 Cut potatoes in quarters and drop in boiling water
0:25 Chop jalapenos and grate cheese
0:35 Take bird out of the oven to rest
0:35 Follow directions on cornbread box, add grated cheese
0:40 In a cast iron pan or skillet, melt butter and saute chopped jalapenos. Pour cornbread mixture into the pan and insert in the oven. Take out Brussels sprouts if fork tender
0:45 Drain potatoes. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash in butter, cream, and s+p to taste
0:55 Place the chicken on the table with the Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and pie
1:00 Take cornbread out of the oven and place on table

That wasn’t so hard was it? Now that you know you can do Thanksgiving in 1 hour for 6 you’ll breeze through every other dinner.  Keep things simple, and although it’s Thanksgiving, don’t try to be too ambitious. You’d rather spend the time with your friends and family than over the stove anyway.  Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Christine

UP Themed Baby Shower

This past weekend, we had our baby shower, a Disney’s Up themed shower! I’ve been dreaming of it for a while and couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of my family and close friends who helped host. Here are some of the details.

up-8DSC_0586
DSC_0691
I have been envisioning a vintage travel themed Up party. Since Andrew and I both love to travel, it would be the perfect theme for our baby shower. Andrew is very adventurous when he travels. Me? Let’s just say I’m the Carl in the relationship.
I put my inspiration together in this Pin Board. We rented vintage furniture and created our menu around what Carl and Ellie would have ate: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, green bean salad, and macaroni and cheese. The desserts consisted of banana pudding, lemon meringue tarts, and old fashioned cookies and cakes. We had popcorn giveaways that said, “she’s about to pop!” and I bought a replica of the adventure book from the movie and used it for the guestbook. We also set up a photobooth area with fun props. Lastly, I hired a balloon artist that not only made balloon animals but created monkey hats, flame throwers, and even a full-sized goose outfit that one can step into! It was amazing!
On to our next “little” adventure!
cake: Abs of Cakes / vintage rentals: Circa Vintage Rentals and Heirloom + Love Vintage Rental Co. / balloon art: Super Inflated / dress: Everly / adventure book: Simply Embellished / food and invites: yours truly 🙂

Toy Story Baby Shower

Last weekend my friends and I threw a Toy Story themed baby shower for our good friends, Eileen and Brian, and their anticipated little boy.  The couple are big Disney fans so it was only natural the theme had to derive from a Disney movie.  The details were so cute that I had to share them with all of you!

cake
Mini cheesecakes from Sweet Embellishments, and cake by Abs of Cakes.
alien cookies
Cookies by Abs of Cakes.
Mr Potato Head bar
Mr. Potato Head baked potato bar.
army diaper cake
Lil Army men guard the diaper cake.
chest of props
Toy chest full of photo booth props.

The food was Western ’cause that’s what cowboys like Woody eat (in my best cowboy voice).  We named all the food after Toy Story characters like, “Wheezy Mac-N-Cheezy”, “Lil Green Soldier Beans”, and “Rex Rib Tips.” My friend Abigail decorated the dessert table and designed the cake and alien cookies.  The mini cheesecakes and mini cupcakes were from Sweet Embellishments Dessert Bar.  The caramel apples were from California Snack Food.  We also made a cast of Eileen’s belly and had people sign it as the guestbook but I didn’t get a picture of that =(

The mom-to-be’s sister was responsible for putting together the entire event of 70 guests!  I was glad to be a part of it and help out.  I think my friends and I are starting to get better at pulling parties together.  It’s something we enjoy and I am happy to see the celebrants so excited.  Congratulations Eileen and Brian! It’s a Boy Story!

The Side Guide

Your Ultimate Thanksgiving Side Manual

Whenever I am making Thanksgiving dinner, I find it difficult to manage several casseroles and a big, giant turkey all taking up my oven real estate!  There’s only so many racks and so much space.  The more you are opening and closing the oven door – the longer it takes for that turkey to cook.  The more things that are in the oven – the longer it takes for the turkey to cook.  Changing temperatures for each side that goes in, as if it didn’t take long enough!  Just leave the turkey to do it’s thing in the oven, and make all the sides on the stovetop.  I’ve compiled a list of simple and easy sides to do up to a week before or on top of the stove to relieve the stress on your poor oven (and turkey).

Fig, Pomegranate and Haloumi Salad.  This is great because it takes no oven or stove top space whatsoever! Substitute the haloumi with any cured meat such as prosciutto or salami.  You can even make it early in the day, and just before serving, pour the vinagrette over it.
Sautéed Garlic and Herb Green Beans.  This recipe has fresh thyme, parsley, and lemon juice.  So much better than any casserole made from canned ingredients.
 
Crispy Fried Brussel Sprouts With Honey and Sriracha.  Individually frying brussel sprout leaves is a beautiful thing.  They come out so crispy! Drizzle a little honey-sriracha mixture over it and squeeze lime… speechless.

Creamy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese.  You didn’t think I was going all veggie this holiday did you?  I need carbs! Especially ones that are doused in gooey, creamy cheese.  Save time and skip the baking for this casserole.  I find it gooey-er that way anyway.  Want a crispy topping? Pan fry panko bread crumbs in a little butter until golden brown and sprinkle on top.

Butternut Squash Soup With Cheesy Croutons. This recipe is almost exactly how I make mine (that’s how I know it’s good!)  Adding a crunchy, cheesy crouton is genius.  I usually just dollop some sour cream and chopped herbs.  And instead of sugar I use honey.  This can also be made up to a week ahead and warmed up on the stove before serving.

Classic Cranberry Sauce.  What’s Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce?  This is the most simple and the best cranberry sauce.  Add the juice of a lemon and it far outweighs any crans in a can.  Make this up to a week ahead also.
There you have it! Feed My Sole’s Side Guide! What? Wondering where the stuffing and mashed potatoes are? Well…I was trying to cut down on my carbs but if you insist, here are a couple no-bake recipes that I recommend:
There you go! The-Ultimate-Feed-My-Sole-Thanksgiving-Side-Guide!  I hope everyone has a joyous and happy Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for every single day and all of you! Thank you for reading. Happy Eating!
Love,
Christine