Monday, May 30, 2011

Showered and Ready to Go

Nope, I'm not going to enlighten you with details of my personal hygiene. I want to tell you about my baby shower, which was last weekend and absolutely lovely. Thanks to so many generous family members and friends, we are pretty well set with the things we need for baby Bert (who should be arriving in about T - five weeks).

I had requested a tea party theme, and my mom and dear, dear friend Claudia were happy to comply. I didn't even get any dramatic eye rolls when I asked for cucumber sandwiches.

It started off with an invitation that I designed that looked kind of like this:

(If you got an invitation, you probably realize this looks a little different but Mommy doesn't need people hunting her down to make delicious scones for them.)

Now we were committed to a tea party. We wanted to keep it casual and light, with food that was easy to pick up and no hats and handkerchiefs necessary. Here's what we came up with for a menu:

Iced tea (sweetened and unsweetened)
Fresh lemonade
Hot tea
Ice water

Pistachio & cranberry chicken salad in mini pitas
Tuna salad on mini croissants
Cucumber sandwiches on mini rye and pumpernickel bread

Spring mix salad with candied walnuts
Red wheat berry salad
Veggie tray
Ham and spinach pinwheels

Lemon scones
"Take a Stroll" scones
Cranberry orange cornmeal muffins
Mini fruit pizzas
Chocolate-dipped shortbread

Mommy, Claudia, and I all took the day off Friday to get things ready. Claudia arrived with serving dishes galore and Mom had a carload of groceries. I had the stuff to make the favors. While Mom got busy in the kitchen with the things that could be made ahead of time, Claudia and I got down to business with the favors, which were little succulent plants in teacups. We had gone back and forth between candles in teacups versus plants, but plants won out since it's spring and plants grow like babies grow. We had all been on the hunt for teacups with saucers, but I hit the jackpot at the local Goodwill and another flea market nearby. The goal was not to pay over $1 for a teacup and saucer set, so Goodwill was a real deal at $.97 each. Oh, the thrill of the hunt. Then we were on the search for tiny succulent plants, which I found at a local garden and nursery center. So Claudia and I put a little gravel in the bottom of each teacup, added some cactus blend potting soil, and gently potted our tiny plants. This is a real feat for two girls who notoriously have trouble with houseplants.

Then we add a little plant poke I made that had a teapot on the front and said on the back, "Plant kindness and gather love. Thank you for sharing in our joy!"

We set them around the living room where the guests would be gathered and made sure to tell people to take one with them when they left.

Saturday morning was much busier, hence less photo-taking. Mom was up and baking by 7, making these lovely lemon scones, among other treats.

A gorgeous bouquet of flowers was delivered from a friend who couldn't attend and they made the perfect centerpiece.

Look closely at the serving dish in the photo above. Do you see the post-it note? That's one of my mom-mom's tricks to label all the serving dishes for what is going in them so that you know you have enough dishes. And it makes it really easy when people arrive and ask, "What can I do?" because everything is marked for where it needs to go.

I "swaddled" my great-grandmother's silver so it was easy to pick up. Doesn't it look like a nursery full of silverware? Baby on the brain, I know.

Other preparations involved rearranging some furniture, tying balloons to the mailbox, a last minute trip to the grocery store by Keith, de-wrinkling the table clothes (no time to iron, but running them through a cold rinse cycle and tossing them in the dryer did the trick), and retrieving food from my aunt's fridge (you can imagine how packed Mom's was).

We ended up with a table looked like this:

And a happy momma-to-be that looked like this:

We received so many generous, thoughtful gifts. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!) I could (and should) do a blog post just on the handmade things we received from so many talented people!

Now I know what you have really been waiting for: the recipes. So without further ado (and before my fingers fall off), here they are. I have to get the pistachio and cranberry chicken salad recipe from Mom yet but I'll post it as soon as I can.

Red Wheat Berry Salad
1 c. hard red winter wheat berries, soaked overnight
1/2 c. raw wild rice
2/3 c. toasted chopped pecans
1 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. chopped green onions
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

• Soak the wheat berries overnight in cold water, covering them 3 inches. Drain the water in the morning.
• Boil the wheat berries in 6 cups of water for about 50-60 minutes, or until tender. Add more water as necessary to keep wheat berries covered during cooking. Drain excess water from the wheat berries when done.
• In another small pot, boil 2 cups of water. Add the wild rice and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the rice begins to split. Drain excess water.
• Combine the cooked wheat berries and wild rice in a large bowl.
• Whisk the lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper to make the dressing. Add the dressing to the wheat berries and wild rice; mix thoroughly.
• Add the cranberries, pecans, parsley, and green onions and combine well.

Ham & Spinach Pinwheels
1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated  crescent dinner rolls
1/3 c. cream cheese with oregano, basil, and garlic (any herb flavored cream cheese is fine)
4 slices deli ham
1/2 c. packed fresh spinach leaves

• Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate dough into 4 rectangles on cutting board. Press seams to seal.
• Spread each rectangle with about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the cream cheese to within 1/4 inch of the edges. Top with one slice of ham and spinach leaves.
• Starting at short side, roll up each rectangle; pinch edges to seal. Cut each roll cross-wise into 6 slices using a serrated knife. Place slices cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to cooling rack.

Fruit Pizza (We made these on individual sugar cookies, or you can make it on a pizza pan.)
Orange Glaze
3/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 c. water
2 Tbsp. corn starch
Heat above to boiling; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.

• Grease pan. Slice 1 package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough into 1/8" slices. Arrange on pizza dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool.
• Mix the following together and spread over cool cookie crust:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
• Place fruit on top of cream cheese (bananas, kiwi, strawberries, etc.)
• Drizzle half of the orange glaze over fruit. Refrigerate.
I don't know what you are supposed to do with the other half of the glaze...

Take a Stroll Scones
1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour
3/4 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 c. dried cranberries (or other dried fruit, chopped)
2 Tbsp. roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
3/4 c. whipping cream

• Mix: Measure flour, oats, 1/4 c. brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into food processor. Pulse a few times.
• Cut: Drop in butter chunks. Pulse several times, cutting butter down to pea-size or smaller bits.
• Fold: Turn out into a large mixing bowl. Fold in dried fruit and seeds. Drizzle on a little cream at a time, folding with flexible spatula, until dough clumps (you may not need all the cream).
• Pat: Turn out dough (will still be clumpy and messy) onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Pat into a 1 1/2" thick disk, about 8" across. Brush the top with a little of the remaining cream and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp. brow sugar. Slice dough into 8 wedges and separate wedges by 1 inch.
• Bake: Slide into a 375 degree oven and bake until set and golden, about 15 minutes. Enjoy warm or room temperature.

Lemon Scones
2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 c. heavy or whipping cream, plus a little for brushing
1 egg yolk, beaten slightly
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Lemon Glaze:
1 c. confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. heavy or whipping cream

• Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large, heavy baking sheet (preferably not a dark one) and set it aside.
• Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest and toss the mixture with your hands.
• Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
• Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the cream, the yolk, and the vanilla extract and use a fork to blend the liquids within the well. Then use a wooden spoon to combine all the ingredients, just until the dough holds together.
• Scrape the dough onto a flour-dusted surface and then, using floured hands, knead it gently three or four times to form a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk about 3/4" thick, then cut it as you would a pie into 8 wedges. Transfer the pieces to a baking sheet, leaving at least 1/4" between them. Brush the tops lightly with cream.
• Bake the scones in the center of the oven until golden brown, about 16 to 18 minutes. Allow them to cool on the sheet for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack.
• While the scones continue to cool, make the glaze. Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk them until the mixture is smooth. If necessary, you can thin the glaze with water, stirring in no more than 1/2 tsp. at a time. When the scones have cooled for another 10 minutes, drizzle each one generously with the glaze.

For each of the scone recipes, Mom made 2 disks, cutting each into 8 wedges for 16 of each kind of scone and then just watched the baking time to be sure they didn't burn in the smaller size.

Whew! If you want a recipe for anything else we made, let me know and I'll track it down.

Special thanks to Mommy and Claudia for putting the shower together for Bert and I, and to Farah for taking photos during the shower!

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