Lifestyle / June 19, 2017

Three Lessons for the Modern Hostess

My fiancé and I love to entertain our family and friends; I guess you can consider me a Modern Hostess! When we first moved into our new home together, we invited large groups of friends over for football games, hosted family holiday parties and I pulled out ALL THE STOPS. I grew up in a house where no one left hungry so I always feel like I have big shoes to fill. In the beginning, I would cook myself silly and by the time our guests even arrived, I was completely worn out. Well, I learned three lessons fairly quickly and today, I am passing those lessons onto you.

Three Important Lessons for the Modern Hostess and tips for hosting parties

Lesson #1: Less is More

When you first start hosting gatherings in your home, you may feel like everything has to be homemade and perfect. *Newsflash* not everything needs to be made from scratch to be impressive. Say this with me “I am a Modern Hostess, hear me roar!” Okay, that’s a little extreme, but this isn’t your grandmother’s dinner party anymore; times have changed. Guests are more interested in a casual social hour than all the pomp and circumstance.

An easy “semi-homemade” recipe is your best friend when hosting a large group. Opt for recipes that take less than 30 minutes and choose a handful of dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. I love appetizers like Caprese salad skewers and Charcuterie platters because they can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until guests arrive.

Three Important Lessons for the Modern Hostess

Lesson #2: It’s okay for the hostess to ask for help.

Hosting a happy hour for eight to ten friends may sound like no tough feat, but after cleaning the entire house, shopping groceries and preparing a few appetizers, you’re going to be running on “E” [empty]. It’s okay for the hostess to ask for help! Assign a few trusted friends with simple tasks to ease the burden. A few cheap/simple task ideas include:

  • Bring a cooler filled with ice
  • Shop for water, soda or drink mixers
  • Prepare an easy dish like a vegetable or fruit tray
  • Bring festive cocktail napkins and cups
  • Make a playlist with popular music that everyone can enjoy
  • Pick up a dozen cookies from the guest’s favorite local bakery

Lesson #3: People Love Free Food

I remember the first brunch I hosted in our home; I set up a FIRE Bloody Mary bar. We had all the mixes and fixins’ you can think of (bacon, cheese sticks, olives, etc.) But, the biggest compliments I received that day were on the chicken and waffle skewers I found on Pinterest. This simple recipe called for two ingredients and ten minutes to prepare and THAT’s what people fixated on. Guests love simple dishes with obvious ingredients. See the list below for a few easy appetizer ideas:

  • Chicken and Waffle Skewers with maple syrup or pepper jelly for dipping
  • Caprese Salad Skewers with balsamic glaze for dipping
  • Guacamole Dip served with tortilla chips and carrot sticks
  • Phyllo Cups filled with brie and pecans, sprinkled with brown sugar

If you have any lessons, tips or tricks, comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

Kelsey Renee

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Dinner, Recipes, Side Dishes / June 15, 2017

Creamed Corn Risotto

Probably my favorite dish of all time is seared scallops with sweet creamed corn risotto. It’s so romantic and delicious, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. As you may know, scallops are pretty pricey so I usually only order them if we are out for a special occasion. However, there is nothing stopping me from getting down on a little sweet corn risotto.

This past weekend, I wanted to do something special for my fiancé. We have been so busy with work, the blog and wedding planning and he has been such a trooper! Austin and I are both big foodies and I just love to spoil him. I decided to whip up a romantic meal to include a few of his favorites: steak, bacon and key lime cheesecake for dessert.

Grilled Flank Steak with Creamed Corn Risotto
Pictured: Grilled Marinated Flank Steak and Pan-fried Brussels Sprouts with Bacon on top of rich Creamed Corn Risotto

A Little Love and Attention

Risotto is a popular Italian rice dish that is cooked in broth to creamy consistency. I’m not sure why but risotto used to be something that intimidated the heck out of me. I am a Food Channel junkie and on all the competition shows everyone seems to screw it up! Is it really THAT hard? Well, over time I learned that no, it’s not hard. But it does require a lot of love and attention.

It’s summertime in Florida so I added corn to this risotto dish for brightness and sweetness. The wine gives the rice an added warmth and punch of flavor, but you can easily substitute with more chicken broth if you prefer. The recipe takes about 20-25 minutes and you want to serve it immediately. I recommend serving this creamed corn risotto with grilled steak, shrimp or seared scallops. You’ll definitely want to include a green vegetable or something acidic to cut through the richness. If you can devote the attention to this dish, you will not be disappointed. It so rich and decadent, definitely not something you want to eat every day if you’re watching your waistline.

Creamed Corn Risotto is so rich and creamy!

Let me know how you like the recipe in the comments below!

Kelsey Renee

Creamed Corn Risotto

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio Rice
2 ears of corn
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 small yellow onion, minced (about 4 tablespoons)
1/3 cup dry white wine (i.e. chardonnay)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Using a handheld cheese grater over a large bowl, grate kernels off ears of corn. Make sure you capture all of the bits and liquid. Set aside.
2. Bring chicken broth to a low boil in a medium saucepan.
3. In a larger saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add minced onion and sauté until transparent. Stir in rice until well coated in butter.
4. Add wine to rice and stir until it is completely absorbed.
5. Using a ladle, transfer enough chicken broth to just barely cover the rice (about ½ cup). Cook and continuously stir until all broth is absorbed. Repeat this step, ladling broth until rice is tender, yet firm to the bite (al dente) ~ 20 minutes.
6. Remove rice from heat, stir in heavy cream, Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve immediately and enjoy!
http://www.bluecheesebungalow.com/2017/06/15/creamed-corn-risotto/

Creamed Corn Risotto is so rich and creamy!

 

 

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Lifestyle / June 14, 2017

The Gift of Southern Cooking

I am so grateful that my parents bestowed upon me a deep love and understanding of cooking and good food. As a child, I was always in the kitchen learning how to bake cakes and cobbler, how to make rice and pasta and just once, how to roll sushi [long story]. The list goes on. My dad, my step mom and my sister may not have known it at the time, but they have handed me a very special gift. This gift has transcended generations of Southern men and women and somehow, I am lucky enough to carry on a family tradition.

family
I shared a little of this in my “about me” section, but truly some of my best memories growing up are Sunday suppers at my Nanny’s house. She always had a pot roast in the oven, rice on the stove and apple cake on the table. As I get older, I have a growing appreciation for those moments and wish I could go back, if only for a minute. Although my Nanny has passed, my family still carries on these traditions today, as I will when I have children of my own.

Betty Jo Brogdon
Sorry for the quality of this photo of Nanny, but it will always be my favorite. After she passed, we found this picture in an old grade-school yearbook. Back then each photo was glued into the book separately. People tell me I look like her – perhaps that is why I love it so much.

Is all this a little dramatic? Maybe, but in the kitchen I am at my best. I am able to create new dishes and perfect old family recipes [except for cornbread dressing because apparently my sister is never going to share that one]. I am able to share meals and smiles with the people I love and to me, that’s what this life is about.

Blue Cheese Bungalow is a way for me to share a little piece of me that may inspire a little piece of you.

Blue Cheese Bungalow is a way for me to share a little piece of me that may inspire a little piece of you. That’s why I started this blog. I love to cook, to share ideas and pretty pictures, but what I love most is when a friend tells me that they’ve cooked one of my recipes for their family. I’m not perfect. I still have a lot to learn about cooking, blogging, etc. But one thing I know for certain is that cooking is a gift and I am honored to share it with all of you.

Kelsey Renee

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