Tag Archives: party ideas

Simple Veg: Guacamole

10 Feb

guacamole - ingredients

I first learned to make guacamole at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, where one of the activities was a cooking demonstration.   Ever since, guacamole has been a regular party staple in our household.  Who doesn’t like guacamole?  Fresh and flavorful, guacamole is excellent all year round.

There’s room to play in making guacamole.  Normally, I use a habañero pepper (about 1/2, deseeded), but you can also use serrano or jalapeño peppers, depending on your preference.  Recently, we like using serrano peppers because they have a good balance of heat and flavor (David calls it “umami”).  A few of my friends don’t like cilantro, in which case I’ll swap out cilantro for basil and make what I call “Mediterranean” guacamole.  Although traditional guacamole uses yellow onions, sometimes I like to use red onions, which are sweeter.  You can use heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes, depending of what looks best at the market.  I like my guacamole crunchy, so you can definitely play with the ingredient ratios.

Here’s the basic mix as a guideline:

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Crispy + Spicy Oven-baked Chicken Wings

9 Feb

chicken wings - plated

Last weekend for Superbowl Sunday, I made oven-baked chicken wings… and they were DELICIOUS!!  I took an excellent hint from the Preppy Paleo to boil the chicken wings first — boiling the wings before baking them results in the crispiest oven-baked wings you’ve ever tasted.  Seriously.  The wings were so crispy, you would’ve thunk they were fried!  I am a big fan of chicken wings, and these oven-baked ones were the best I’ve made so far.  Boiling the wings first renders off some fat, and then baking them on a rack over a roasting pan helps crisp up the wings even further.  These wings are easy to make and are sure to impress at any kind of chicken-wings appropriate party.

For my version of the chicken wings, I boiled the wings first and then marinated them for about 30 minutes before putting them in the oven to infuse them with a punch of flavor.

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Superbowl Sunday Menu

2 Feb

David and I are not football people.  There, I said it.  We hardly know what’s going on, exactly, when we watch a game.  Most years, we only vaguely know which teams are in the Superbowl until we watch it (except for last year, Patriots v. Jets — my home town v. adoptive home town).  But we do love to participate in the spirit and the event-ness of Superbowl Sunday, and, in our household, it’s become a kind of a food tradition.  Mainly, we enjoy eating Superbowl festive food while drinking cider and wine.  No rowdy party or anything, just the two of us eating and trying to figure out what’s happening.

This Sunday, my plan is to make the following:

(We will definitely have leftovers, which is just fine, since all of the above will keep for a couple of days.)

What will you make for your Superbowl Sunday?


Fennel + Shiitake Turkey Chili, w/Sunchoke “Croutons” + Avocado Relish

2 Feb

turkey chili - in bowl 2

Chili is the perfect “dinner-in-a-bowl” for cold winter nights.  The great thing about chili is that it’s a make-a-lot-of dish that will feed my very hungry husband for at least a couple of meals, and it tastes even better the next day.   Also, chili is great for a casual party like, say, Superbowl Sunday.  Sadly, chili disappeared for a while from our dinner repertoire when we began eating paleo, because my old recipe involved beans, corn, and maple syrup, none of which we eat anymore.  This winter, I thought I would conceive a new, paleo-friendly chili — and so I experimented with fennel, hoping fennel would add a nice texture as well as some sweetness to the chili.  I also cooked up sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes) to make some “crouton-like” garnish for texture and an avocado relish to cut the heat.  The result is our new paleo chili, which we are sure to enjoy throughout the winter!  We loved the fennel in the chili, and the sunchokes added a lovely earthiness.

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Rock the Party Spicy Pork Ribs – v. 2

13 Oct

When we lived in Stockholm last winter, I made some spicy pork ribs for a birthday party we threw for our colleague.  The ribs were a hit, and made for an excellent — and hands-on — party meal among friends.  Now back in my own kitchen in Brooklyn, I have more spices in my pantry to play with — and recently, I came up with a rub that I think works even better.  I like to put the rub on the ribs overnight before cooking.  Although these ribs aren’t of the smoke-house variety, we still think they are delicious, tender, and do come off the bone quite easily.  We tend to prefer the St. Louis style pork ribs over baby-back — there’s more meat to them (always a plus for David), and I like how the fat renders off while roasting, giving the ribs  a nice, juicy quality without being too fatty.

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Mediterranean-style Salsa

9 Feb

We’ve found gorgeous organic, heirloom mini-tomatoes here in Stockholm — perfect for making my “Mediterranean salsa” even more colorful!  This “salsa” is great alongside meats (pork chops, steaks), as a dip (with gluten-free crackers, for instance), or with eggs (fried or scrambled).  Very simple to make, and tasty.  In a large bowl, mix together: chopped up the tomatoes; a small red onion, minced; finely mince jalapeno pepper (less or more depending on your tolerance for heat); a big handful of basil, chiffonade; and 2 tablespoons or so of capers (depending on how much you like capers).  Squeeze in the juice of one lemon.  Drizzle some olive oil, and season with salt to taste.

P.S.> No need to use heirloom mini-tomatoes, of course.  Any delicious, preferably organic tomatoes would make a great Mediterranean-style salsa!

Arugula Salad w/Figs+Toasted Pine Nuts

2 Feb

This salad is very simple, and looks fabulous.  The sweetness and texture of the figs, the crunch and earthiness of the pine nuts, the crisp and slightly bitter arugula leaves… all make for a beautiful, delicious salad.

To make: toast pine nuts in a non-stick pan at low heat.  No need to add oil.  Keep moving around and toast until the nuts turn a light golden brown color.  Take about 6 figs, peel, and chop up into bite size pieces.  In a bowl, toss together arugula leaves, figs, and pine nuts with a drizzle of olive oil, good balsamic dressing, and a sprinkle of salt.  Enjoy!

Festive Coleslaw with Mango

30 Jan

I made this coleslaw to go with the spiced ribs.  I wanted to infuse some sweetness to the salad to complement the spicy ribs — and had the idea to add mango into the mix.  The mango adds a faintly sweet, slightly tart quality to the coleslaw, and brightens the salad.  It’s colorful and flavorful, and pairs very nicely with the spicy ribs.  This coleslaw was a big hit at the birthday party — what a great way to get a solid vitamin C boost from the cabbage!  The coleslaw is excellent the next day.


  • Half a head of cabbage, finely shredded (**I use a knife to thinly cut the cabbage.  Make sure to take out the core, and cut the half cabbage in yet another half — quartered — and thinly cut the sections.)
  • 1 large carrot, finely shredded (**I cut the carrot into thirds, then slice thinly length-wise/vertically; then I finely chop them into thin “match sticks.”)
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 mango, finely chopped into “matchsticks”
  • 1 stalk of scallion, finely chopped


  • 2 tbsp organic mayonnaise (made of free-range eggs)
  • 3 tbsp good quality white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup organic olive oil

Chop all the vegetables and place in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and white vinegar.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil, mix until smooth and silky.  Season with salt.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Rock the Party Spicy Ribs

29 Jan

We threw a birthday party for our musical director, Conrad, in our Stockholm apartment.  Conrad has known David since he was 16, and we’ve all worked together on Dirty Dancing since 2004 — he’s family to us, and it was wonderful to celebrate his birthday with him, his wife Penny, Eleanor, Michael, and our set designer Paul.

I wanted to make the dinner a casual affair, and also wanted to cook something that you don’t often find at Stockholm restaurants.  I decided to make spiced ribs, which were a resounding success.  These ribs are easy to make and delicious — although eating can get messy, with good, friendly company, it’s a lot of fun to eat with your hands!  (Just have plenty of paper towels on hand.)  These ribs would be great for Super Bowl parties, too.  (I will be staying up late to watch next weekend!)


**NOTE: The measurements below are for 1 full set of ribs (2 large ribs).  For the party, I made 4 sets of ribs, and so multiplied the ingredients by 4.


  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp good quality salt (I used Himalayan pink salt)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin

Mix the ingredients together.

Because our oven in Stockholm is tiny, I cut each rib in half, to make the refrigerating/baking process easier.  Coat the dry-rub onto the ribs, both sides.

Stack the ribs on top of each other, and cover tightly with cling wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 175C (or 350F).  Lay out the ribs in a baking pan or tray covered with foil.  Cover the ribs with foil, and roast in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Take off the cover, and cook for another 15 minutes.  Let the ribs rest for at least 5 minutes, then cut into pieces.

I served the ribs with some coleslaw and an arugula salad with fig and toasted pine nuts — I will post the recipes for them soon!

Happy party people

Chacuterie & Smoked Salmon Platter

6 Jan

No cooking was required on my part here — but it was a good looking spread!  For hors d’oeuvres for our Christmas Eve dinner, we put out a spread of charcuterie and smoked salmon (2 types) alongside some nice gluten-free crackers and sliced cucumbers.   The spread was colorful, festive and appropriate for a laid-back but sophisticated snacking before the dinner.