I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

A Gaggle of Girls

I've been to alot of parties in my life.

I've planned parties right down to the last minute detail, cooked at parties, served at parties, and cleaned up at parties. Oh, wait...I don't think that counts as actually being AT the party, does it? No. Absolutely not. It's been a long, long time since I've hosted a party myself or actually been a guest at a party. I've been in the mood to party. And what a girl wants to do, a girl does.

I wanted to get my new house completely in order before I started entertaining, but are we ever completely settled? There's always something that needs to be done so I decided to get the invitations in the mail and commit to a date. Forget the fact that my window sills need to be cleaned and my closets need organizing...a party is supposed to be about good food and good friends!

The whole time I was getting ready for the big day - planning the menu, making lists, shopping, prepping, cleaning - I kept thinking that I could NEVER do this for a living again!

There were no real surprises on the menu. Since it was MY party, I wanted all of my favorites. The recipes that my catering business was initially built around and made the business a success. I've blogged about most of them before, so I've linked back to the posts and also included the ones that I've never shared with you below. I wanted things that I was comfortable with so I could enjoy my own party and not worry about how a new recipe was going to fly. There will be plenty of time to play with new recipes and have them ready for the next big event.

It was a wonderful Sunday brunch, thanks entirely to my wonderful girlfriends! We laughed, drank, gossiped, ate, and then did it all again. Everything turned out perfectly and we had so much fun!

Sunday Brunch with the Girls

Roasted Vegetable Platter
Cheese & Fruit served with Crackers
Salad with Cranberries, Bleu Cheese, Candied Pecans (recipe below), and Raspberry Vanilla Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies
Chocolate Chess Tarts (recipe below)
Coconut Dream Bars (recipe below)
Iced Tea
Ginger Infused Lemonade
Blood Orange Mimosas by Canella
Bellinis by Canella


Candied Pecans (these little jewels made my salads famous!)

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 each egg white
2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Beat egg white and water until frothy. Stir nuts into mixture to coat, then drain slightly in a colander, 3-4 mins. Mix sugar and spices in a plastic bag. Add nuts and shake to coat. Spread wet nut mixture in a single layer on a microwave safe plate; microwave on high for 1-1/2 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly. Stir. Microwave another 1-1/2 minutes. Remove; stir to separate. Cool. Store in a sealed container.

Raspberry Vanilla Vinaigrette
Recipe By :Jackie Alejo (Cooking For You!)

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/3 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Shake all ingredients together in a jar, until well blended. You may want to increase vanilla according to taste.

Coconut Dream Bars (one of the most requested desserts from my catering business!)

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
18 1/4 ounces yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
8 ounces cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecan

Beat 1 egg and butter. Add cake mix. Pat into 8x12 inch pan. Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs, and stir in sugar. Add coconut and pecans. Spread over cake. Garnish with slivered almonds. Bake at 325 for 45 mins. Cut when cool.

Chocolate Chess Tartlets

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Dash salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 (2.1-oz.) packages frozen mini phyllo pastry shells, thawed
thawed frozen whipped topping -- for garnish

1. Stir together first 7 ingredients until blended. Add eggs, stirring well. Spoon about 1 heaping tsp. chocolate mixture into each pastry shell, and place on 2 large ungreased baking sheets.
2. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or just until set. Remove to wire racks, and let cool completely. Garnish, if desired.

Store tartlets in an airtight container up to 3 days.

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