(Hop to the bottom for Honey Orange Roasted Almonds Recipe!)
The ladies and I have been telling our story of collaboration. If you missed part 1, 2 and 3, see above from beginning to end. Today we’re remembering the food (making ourselves hungry just thinking about it) and sharing a recipe or two.
I held the fabulous task of coming up with a potential menu, which I love. Most of the time my brainstorming starts pencil to paper,
and goes something like this:
1. What have I noticed he/she likes, loves or dislikes lately?
2. Which one of these likes and loves could serve as the lead role or inspiration for the rest of the menu?
3. What tried-and-true recipes would support this lead?
4. What NEW recipe could possibly compliment this lead?
5. Is there enough variety to accommodate dietary concerns from any quests.
6. What is missing? And then I repeat this train of thought as many times as I need to until I’m satisfied. I love it. Sigh.
A pre-pregnancy conversation on the rocks by the big lake came to mind. I think we were actually talking about babies on these rocks, were we not?
Not long after came some baby news and a lemon curd tart on the 4th of July, a possible cure for nausea we hoped.
All this lead us to a curd for our leading role in this celebration. I decided to make lime curd to coordinate with our overall look a bit more. I was thinking green, but the truth is lemon or lime curd is pretty much always yellow because of the egg yolks. I do love them both; I just liked the idea of garnishing with green this time.
I used Ina’s recipe for lime curd from her Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook. Find the recipe here, just omit the crust if you want only the curd. I doubled the recipe with no problems and used a different crust I found for mini tartlets.
If you want to make lemon curd or orange curd just substitute the juice and zest depending on the fruit used.
To make curd that doesn’t curdle, you’ll need a candy thermometer, so you don’t heat past 175° and a spoon so you can see the trail your finger leaves when ready, just a couple foolproof hints I’ve found helpful. It thickens a bit as it cools.
Lime curd lasts for weeks in the fridge, an excellent thing to know, and it’s fantastic on strawberries or scones.
Because we didn’t want to serve just one dessert, this, in turn, inspired small plates for our after dinner celebration.
I decided upon a variety of desserts and appetizers with input from K and J. I had tried-and-true recipes for the nuts, shortbread cookies, lime curd and the goat cheese naan.
I’d long been eyeing some chocolate pots de cremes and also Ina’s roasted artichokes. Checkmark for one more dessert, check for an addition to the naan. I had recently shared the Melange plate with Kristin at the Grand Cafe (a plate of warm and crisped naan, olives, artichokes, salami, cheeses and pepper jam)– so delicious and the perfect concept to bring together my tried-and-true options with some new ones.
We had a lot of gluten-free options for our GF friends: salami, almonds, a side of lime curd, berries, olives, artichokes and we added in some rice crackers.
Jen: Clearly my dear friend Heather is a food planning mastermind. If you read this blog, you know that. So when I offered to help out with some of the food prep, so she didn’t have to do it all, I crossed my fingers and hoped I wouldn’t get assigned anything that I could not pull off at my house. And without Heather.
She ended up being gracious and giving me two simple recipes which I picked up complete with ingredients, cookbooks, and a little heart-shaped cookie cutter at her house the day before. So far, so good.
My first assignment was Orange Honey Roasted Almonds (see Heather’s recipe below.) They were really easy and turned out amazing. I followed the instructions exactly, and though I was worried I overcooked them a bit, they had a great crunch and sweetness and provided a nice little protein snack for the ladies.
My second assignment was shortbread cookies. Heather had mentioned she usually used her KitchenAid to mix the dough but I assumed that a little elbow grease would get the dough whipped up in no time. This was not the case. After combining all the ingredients and attempting to knead them together on my counter, I ended up with a crumbly mess that would not stick together. I called Heather and tried to sound calm while picturing the shower guests picking up a cookie and having it disintegrate into 100 pieces.
I will spare you the details but this episode ended with Heather driving over the my house to rescue the dough and bring it safely into the arms of her capable KitchenAid which finished the job. Naturally I forgot to give her the little cookie cutter so Tim had to come back again and retrieve that about 15 minutes later (kids sleeping, husband gone!) I showed up pre-shower to dozens of the cutest little shortbread hearts I have ever seen. And through the evening, I watched as people picked up the whole cookies, popped them into their mouths, and smiled.
And then I bought a KitchenAid.
Heather: Ha! This whole scenario above explains exactly why collaborating is sooooo much better than going it alone. Somehow what could otherwise be stress and tears and starting over, turns to laughter and tears and possibly starting over – a better combination by far.
Kristin: We wanted a signature cocktail to kick off the night that could easily be customized for the momma-to-be in a non-alcoholic version. Champagne and fruit was the answer and it made for a lovely welcome to shower attendees.
We opted for a little bubbly (alcoholic or not) over a bit of raspberry cordial with a single red raspberry at the bottom.
The best part wasn’t the drinks at all, but the words shared to toast our dear friend Lynds and the new season of life in front of her. Special thanks to Lyndsay’s sweet friend Leah for the amazing champagne and leading the night off with a toast. In hindsight, involving other people that we didn’t really know but were near and dear to Lynds, was one of our better decisions. It really united the group and set the perfect tone for what we hoped the night would entail.
Menu for Lyndsay and the Little Guy
Raspberry Champagne Cocktails
Orange Honey Roasted Almonds
Goat Cheese Naan with Caramelized Onions & Pepper Jelly
Salami, Olives and Roasted Artichokes
Lime Curd Tartlets
Chocolate Pots de Crème with Whipped Cream
Mini Shortbread Hearts (with mini to-go bags)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil for pans
- 4 cups whole almonds skins on
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 3-4 tablespoons of honey
- 2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- freshly grated zest from 1 large orange
Optional: pinch or two of cayenne pepper if you like!
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- On 2 cookie sheet measure 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil on each pan, set in the preheated oven for a minute to melt and take back out.
- Spread oil around on pans with a brush to coat the bottoms.
- Toss all the remaining ingredients together in large bowl.
- Spread coated almonds onto oiled cookie sheet, making an effort to have almonds separated.
- Bake almonds until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes total, stirring halfway through time to prevent sticking.
- When finished roasting, loosen the almonds from the pan with a spatula one more time before allowing them to cool in the pan.
- Once cooled completely, store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 16-1/4 cup servings
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Stay tuned for Jen’s creative lead on the best shower activity I’ve ever participated in: baby shower part 5: making onesies!