Tag Archives: entertaining

Haku Smoked Shoyu Seared Scallops And Firecracker Shrimp

Haku Smoked Shoyu Seared Sea Scallops

I wish you could have smelled the aroma of this smoky soy sauce in my kitchen as I was searing the scallops ~ it was heavenly! As promised here is one of my favorite recipes using the Haku Smoked Shoyu Soy Sauce that I bought at Fresh Market (also available on-line). This is a SUPER easy recipe!

Haku Smoked Shoyu Seared Sea Scallops

2 appetizer size servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons Haku Smoked Shoyu Soy Sauce + 1 teaspoon for finishing

6 large (10 scallops to a pound) sea scallops

2 crisp celery stalks, but into strips on a mandoline slicer

1/2 lime

Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Place vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons soy sauce in a medium size saute pan. Heat until sizzling. Place scallops in hot oil and sear on one side. When the scallops have a nice caramelized sear on one side, turn the scallops and sear on the other side. Place strips of celery on top of the scallops and drizzle some of the oil over the celery. Spritz the scallops with the juice of the lime. Placed the scallops on appetizer plates for service.

Tips for searing scallops:

  1. Make sure the oil is sizzling hot.
  2. Use dry sea scallops. They have enough surface area for a nice sear.
  3. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels before searing.
  4. The scallops will stick to the pan until they are ready to turn. Nudge the scallop with a metal spatula and if it doesn’t easily give then it is not ready to turn.

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Firecracker shrimp are super easy to make!

Firecracker Shrimp

Firecracker Shrimp

2 appetizer size servings

1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1/2 pound peeled deveined shrimp (26-30 count)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (I like Grama’s sweet chili sauce for this recipe – available at Fresh Market or on-line)

Juice and zest of 1/2 lime

Place flour and Old Bay seasoning in a plastic bag, seal and shake the bag. Place the shrimp in the bag, seal and shake to cover the shrimp.

Heat the oil in a medium size saute pan to sizzling. Add shrimp and cook until lightly browned then flip the shrimp to brown the other side. Remove the shrimp from the pan and discard the oil. Return the shrimp to the pan and cover with Asian sweet chili sauce. Stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce. Spritz the shrimp with lime juice and sprinkle with lime zest. Serve on appetizer plates.

Sparkling Holiday Champagne Dinner

man wearing black dress shirt holding a flute glass and black wine bottle

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Champagne Thought Of The Day ~ The Whisper Of Love

The sound of air slowly releasing from the Champagne bottle when de-corked is called ‘the whisper of love’. To hear this noise, place your thumb on the muselet, the wire cage that fits over a bottle of Champagne, and gently turn the bottle left. (Under pressure, the longer a cork stays in the bottle, the smaller and more narrow it becomes.)

Sparkling Holiday Champagne Dinner

I love small plate dinners especially during the holidays. Wine pairing is easy with tiny bites of flavorful foods and no one gets overstuffed with huge portions. Here’s my recent menu from a festive champagne small plate dinner with friends.

We greeted our guests with Charles de Cazanove 2000 Stradivarius Brut Champagne. I served the champagne with delicate Boursin cheese palmliers. These cheese pastries are easy to make, light and airy that compliment champagne.

Boursin Cheese Palmiers

The palmiers can be prepared a day ahead of the party.  Prepare the palmiers, do not bake,  place them on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Bake them just before service.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/2 (5.2 ounce package) package Boursin herb and garlic cheese

1/2 cup Italian blend shredded cheese (Mozzarella and Provolone, Parmesan,Fontina, Romano and Asiago)

Melted butter

Place puff pastry sheet on a cutting board that has been dusted with flour. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s 13 by 13-inches square. Spread the puff pastry sheet evenly with the Boursin cheese.  Sprinkle the Italian blend cheese over the Boursin cheese. Roll each short end to the center of the pastry, making sure to roll tightly and evenly. Freeze rolled log for 20 minutes, until very firm but not frozen. Slice crosswise into 3/8-inch slices. Place the palmiers on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray. Brush tops of palmiers with melted butter. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 6 to 10 minutes or until nicely browned. (Watch carefully so that they do not burn.)

champagne lobster

Our first course was Lobster Mashed Potatoes in a cocktail spoon paired with Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne. The lobster mash is super easy to prepare. Marinate lobster tails in Sprite or ginger ale and sprinkle the meat side of the lobster generously with Old Bay seasoning in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight. Broil or grill the lobster until the meat starts to pull away from the shell. Cool the lobster the remove the lobster meat from the shells and chop it into little pieces. Mix a little whipping cream into deli mashed potatoes, place a dollop of the mashed potatoes in appetizer spoon, top with chopped lobster meat, melted butter and chopped fresh chives. Broil until bubbly. Let the spoons cool a little before serving so they will not be too hot to handle. I bought two small lobster tails to serve 14 spoons (2 for each guest) along with 1/2 pound mashed potatoes from the Fresh Market deli.

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Our second course was Braised Pork Ragout With Pearl Onions And Mushrooms.  The recipe is in the Roanoker Magazine Blog and here’s the link:

https://theroanoker.com/blogging/behind-the-page/how-the-french-warm-up-in-winter-ragout/

We paired the ragout with Isiri Barolo.

Our third course was mini shrimp and grits and fourth course was mini cheeseburger sliders with caramelized onions paired with Silver Oak Alexander Valley.

Pre-dessert is to dessert as amuse bouche is to hors d’oeuvre.  A small dessert-like course served before the main dessert. I served a tiny almond cake with espresso topped with sweetened whipped cream. I found both the cakes and the espresso coffee beans at Fresh Market.
The presentation is a metal electrical box I bought at Lowes covered with decoupage paper.

dessert

And the grand finale…Flourless Chocolate Cake with Sweetened Whipped Cream and Amarena cherries paired with 2004 Haut Charmes Sauternes. Here’s the recipe for this lovely cake. The cherries are available at Tinnell’s Finer Foods in Roanoke or on-line. 

https://bakerbynature.com/flourless-chocolate-fudge-cake/

The next day we had a 14 inch snow. Our cats were fascinated when snow fell off the roof!

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Zesty Italian Artichoke Dip

Zesty Italian Artichoke Dip

…rich, creamy, spicy dip to serve with kettle cooked potato chips during the holidays. I made this dip last weekend and my guests loved it! Super easy to make too! (Make the day ahead and add the bacon on top right before serving.)

2 (12 ounce) jars quartered marinated artichokes, drained and chopped

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

.6 ounce Good Seasons Zesty Italian salad dressing mix

8 ounces sour cream

8 ounces shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

2 ounces diced pimento

16 ounces bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Kettle cooked potato chips

Place artichokes, cream cheese and salad dressing mix in a mixing bowl. Mix these ingredients together.  Add the sour cream, Monterrey Jack cheese and pimento to the cream cheese mixture. Mix well to make sure the cream cheese is completely blended with the other ingredients.  Place in serving bowl and top with crumbled bacon. Serve with kettle cooked potato chips.

artichoke beautiful bloom blooming

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Million Dollar Cocktail

There’s lots to love about Rosé Cider.  Read about my favorites ciders with tasting notes in the Roanoker Magazine behind the page:

https://theroanoker.com/blogging/behind-the-page/the-romance-of-rose-cidre/

Million Dollar Cocktail

I love any recipe that is named “Million Dollar”. This Million Dollar Cocktail recipe is worth its weight in gold!  Absolutely divine!

Place Nick and Nora style cocktail glass in the freezer to chill while you prepare the cocktail.

For each cocktail:

2 fl ounces Gin (Sunset Hills Gin, made in Virginia, is my favorite gin of the moment.  Light and delightful, it does not have a strong juniper taste.)

1/2 fl ounce freshly pressed pineapple juice (I blended fresh pineapple in my blender to make “juice” which was more like a thin puree.)

1/4 fl ounce Grenadine syrup

1/2 fl ounce pasteurized egg whites (find these in the refrigerated egg section of the grocery store)

A few drops of Blood Orange Bitters

Pineapple chunk garnish

Shake the gin, pineapple juice, Grenadine syrup and egg whites with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass. Place a few drops of blood orange bitters on the top of the cocktail.  Garnish with a pineapple chunk.

bright bubble color flatlay

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Time To Tailgate With Bloody Marys ~ Yellow and Red!

It’s Time To Tailgate!

…and that means it’s time for Bloody Marys! 

River and Rail bloody mary

A Virginia Favorite! 

Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix

Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar

$7.99 a bottle

For Real Bloody Mary Drinkers!

I love this Bloody Mary mix, tastes like a fresh tomato with just the right amount of spice.

https://www.texasbeachbloodymary.com/

Texas Bloody Mary Mix was created by three friends from Richmond, Virginia. While Working in the industry as bartenders, they realized there was an immediate need for a mix with all the good stuff already in the bottle. So we set out on the long journey to create the tasty, authentic and responsibly produced Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix.

The name Texas Beach comes from our favorite part of the James River located in lovely Richmond, Virginia at the end of Texas Avenue. Cheers!

bloody mary

Yellow Tomato Bloody Mary

Yellow Tomato Bloody Mary

I found this recipe for Yellow Tomato Bloody Mary in Bon Appétit Magazine. Fresh and delicious.  It’s always fun to garnish Bloody Mary cocktails ~ I chose celery stalks, golden cherry tomatoes, pimiento stuffed olives, crispy bacon and pickled green and purple beans.

Recipe from the August, 2018 issue of Bon Appétit. Recipe by Molly Baz.

Bruised tomatoes dripping with juice are tailor-made for a fresh Bloody Mary. They might not be on display at the farmers’ market—beauty queens, they’re not—but they’re often there if you ask.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb. very ripe yellow tomatoes, cored, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped, plus celery heart stalks with leaves for serving
  • 6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup Castelvetrano olive brine, plus olives for serving
  • ¼ cup finely grated peeled horseradish
  • 3 Tbsp. hot sauce (preferably Cholula)
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 6 oz. gin
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. mild red pepper flakes
  • Sun Gold tomatoes (for serving)

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Blend yellow tomatoes and chopped celery in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into a large pitcher, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible. Whisk in lemon juice, olive brine, horseradish, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and 3 tsp. salt. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

  • Combine black pepper, red pepper flakes, and remaining 1 tsp. salt in a shallow bowl.

  • To make each cocktail, rub the rim of a 12-oz. glass with a lemon wedge, then dip into spicy salt. Fill glass with ice and pour in 1½ oz. gin. Top with 5 oz. Bloody Mary mix; garnish with cherry tomatoes, celery heart stalks, and olives.

    If you are not a gin fan, try making this cocktail with Plymouth Gin. Plymouth does not have a strong juniper flavor. It is smooth with just the right amount of floral notes.

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Steger Creek Opens New Stores In Roanoke, Virginia

Steger Creek Opens New Stores!

Steger Creek Fine Gifts and Collectables always felt like home to me. For years I’ve gone to their Starkey Road location to buy the prettiest greeting cards, hostess gifts and home décor items. They recently opened two delightfully charming new locations (the Starkey location is now closed).  When I visited the new stores this week I found my favorite gifts and goodies as well as some new treats and got a little history lesson in the process.

A Norfolk Southern train was chugging along behind the store when I arrived at The Virginian Railway Station, 1402 Jefferson St. (intersection of Williamson Road and Jefferson Street). The Virginian Railway was a 440-mile line completed in 1909 to transport coal from West Virginia to Tidewater.  The Virginian Railway Depot was built that same year to serve Roanoke. Passenger service continued from this depot until 1956 when the Virginian merged with Norfolk and Western Railway.  The depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Steger Creek opened the depot store in July and their hours are: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

I’ve always wondered about the name, Steger Creek and just found out that it is derived from an actual creek running through Central Virginia where the owners, Michael and Alex Pace, own property.  As the creek flows, it feeds the Rivanna River, which ultimately flows into the James River.

Steger Creek always has fun snack ideas with recipe cards. I was tickled to find one of my favorites The Original Savory Party Cracker Seasoning. No bake! Easy To Make!  I used Keebler Mini Club Crackers to make my party crackers. I combined 1 2/3 cups of canola oil and 1 package of Savory Seasoning in a ZipTop Bag and mixed well.  I added 2 (11 ounce each) boxes of mini club crackers and sealed the bag.  Then I tumbled the bag every 5 minutes or so until all of the savory seasoning was adsorbed.  I let the crackers rest in the bag overnight then I put them in an air tight container and stored in the refrigerator. SO SNACKABLE!

Their second new location is at the Taubman Museum of Art.  Open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m. This quaint shop is full of treasures – jewelry, colorful scarves, hand-hammered metal giftware, local art, fanciful umbrellas and so much more. At the Taubman store I bought some of my favorite Rose & Ivy Pecan Pepper Glaze to make a delightful appetizer:

Rose & Ivy Pecan Cheese Bake

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 8 ounce block cream cheese, softened

½ cup mayonnaise

2 green onions, finely chopped

6 Ritz crackers, crushed

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

½ cup Rose & Ivy Southern Pecan Pepper Glaze

 

Combine mayo, cream cheese, cheddar and onions in greased quiche pan. Top with crackers and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Top with bacon, drizzle with Southern Pecan Pepper Glaze before serving. Serve on your favorite crackers. I like Carr’s Table water Crackers for this recipe.

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Put Sunshine In Your Champagne Flute This Weekend! Champagne Snockered Watermelon!

If you LOVE melon, you are going to LOVE this idea!

Champagne Snockered Watermelon!

The Wall Street Journal July 14/15, 2018 issue:

Drunk on Summer… recommends matching your favorite melon variety with a sympatico spirit.” The article, written by Aleksandra Crapanzano, makes these melon/spirit combinations:

Cantaloupe (Sugar Cube, Serenade Cavaillon or Savor melons may be substituted) with Ruby Port

Honeydew (Snow Leopard, Honey Whites, Diplomats or Honey Orange melons may be substituted with Prosecco, Champagne, Cava, White Rum or Gin

Seedless Baby Watermelon with Vodka, Sambuca, Cachaca or a mix of Silver Tequila and Cointreau

I cut my baby watermelon (Fresh Market) in half and made a little hollow in it. Then I poured champagne into the hollow and ground some pink peppercorns all over the watermelon flesh. You can use your favorite champagne, cava, prosecco or sparkling wine to make this melon.  We dug into it with a spoon and drank the liquid that was left in the hollow after we devoured the flesh. Super Tasty and Boosy!

 

It would be grand to walk outside to find an orange tree full of bright juicy oranges, but not all of us have that luxury. For the rest of us freshly squeezed orange juice is the next best thing to plucking oranges from a tree. I like to use my “Juiceman” juicer to squeeze my juice:  http://www.juiceman.com/

Champagne and orange juice is a great drink. The orange improves the champagne. The champagne definitely improves the orange.”

Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

This classic cocktail dates back to the early 1920’s when a drink called “Buck’s Fizz”  (two parts champagne to one part orange juice) was invented at the Buck’s Club in London.   Later in 1925, a bartender at the Ritz Hotel in Paris named Frank Meier invented the classic half champagne half orange juice Mimosa that we’ve grown to love.

Freixenet Brut Blanc de Blanc

This bubbly Cava is perfect in Mimosas.  Produced by the same winery that gives us Gloria Ferrer, one of my favorite sparkling wines:  https://www.gloriaferrer.com/carneros-winery

The perfect casual summer sipper…from Catalonia, Spain. 100% Chardonnay grapes.  A sparkling value…$10 range.  Lots of fun bubbles. Notes of baked apple with just a touch of lemon. Available on-line. I also found this Cava locally at Tinnell’s in Roanoke, Virginia. http://tinnells.com

Try Blood Orange juice in your Mimosa for a splash of color!

Codorniu Anna Brut Rosé Cava is another fun choice to make Mimosas.  Available at Earth Fare locally or on-line. 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay. Lots of bubbly berry flavors ~ raspberry, strawberry and cherry. $15 – $20 range. 

Here’s a link to the most  DELISH Mimosa recipes:

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/g2720/mimosa-recipes/

Here’s some more sunshine to put in your wine glass.  Blood Orange First Press. Fun French Rosé Wine with Orange & Other Natural Flavors. The orange flavors balance the sweetness of the wine.  So pretty in the glass.  Easy to sip in the sunshine.  I would call this a “girlie” wine since I would drink it with my girlfriends by the pool or on the patio.  Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar or on-line. $12 – $15 range. 

 http://mrbillswinecellar.com/

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