As much as I really enjoyed working on this Bambi themed dinner it was really difficult to do in the dead of winter. It has been bitterly cold, snowy and rainy winter as usual here in the Northeast and I want nothing more than to ‘Sing A Gay Little Spring Song’ As I mentioned in a previous post I had worked on the dinner during the holiday season- I did want to hold on posting this as I had been working on a woodland theme baby shower. I used a lot of the same elements in the baby shower as the dinner and this is a great example of what I have been talking about with adapting the dinner to a larger party.
One of my main goals in choosing the menu for this dinner was to keep everything as earthy and simple as I could. The fresh flavors definitely transported you to the forest. I also made my first foray into pasta making! I was always intimidated by the process but even without a pasta machine it was surprisingly easy. It was a little time consuming but definitely worth it.
Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad
Apple/ Butternut Squash Soup
Brie and Pear Grilled Cheese on Focaccia Bread
Pumpkin Filled Ravioli in a Browned Butter Sage Sauce
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream
Clean Mushrooms and Remove Stems
Mix equal parts Italian Breadcrumbs and Shredded Parmesan Cheese in a bowl. Add a pinch of fresh parsley.
Fill Mushrooms with Mixture. Place in an oiled pan. Drizzle Oil over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.
Wash and Pat Dry Fresh Spinach
Add Chopped Pecans, Chopped Strawberry and Crumbled Goat Cheese to Taste.
Toss with your choice of balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette dressing.
Butternut Squash Apple Soup
(recipe from Just A Taste)
1 cup diced pancetta
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 medium (about 3/4 pound) Yukon Gold potatoes
2 medium Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
2 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
2 to 2 1/2 cups water
Sour cream, for serving
Cook the pancetta in a 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until crisp, then transfer the pancetta with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot. (Add vegetable oil to equal 2 tablespoons if your pancetta is very lean.)
Add the celery, carrots and onions to the pot, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until softened but not brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, uncovered, stirring for 1 minute.
While the vegetables are cooking, peel and coarsely chop the potatoes. Peel, core and coarsely chop one apple.
Add the chopped potatoes, apple, butternut squash, stock, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the pot. Simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Purée the soup in four batches in a blender until smooth. Return the puréed soup to the cleaned pot and thin it with an additional 1/2 cup of water, if necessary. Heat the soup over low heat until warmed throughout then season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
Cut the remaining apple into matchsticks then spoon the soup into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, a few apple matchsticks and the reserved pancetta.
Pumpkin Goat Cheese Ravioli in Brown Butter Sage Sauce
This was my first time ever making homemade pasta. It was definitely a lot easier than I had anticipated. I didn’t have a pasta roller so it ended up a little thicker and chewier than it would had I not rolled it by hand. As I am new to this I am not going to share the pasta recipe I used- use your favorite or do a search for your favorite chef’s recipe.
1 shallot diced 1 can of pumpkin puree 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese 1 pinch of salt 1/2 t nutmeg
Sautee shallot in a pan over medium heat until they are golden brown. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
Place half of the rolled dough on a floured surface. Drop a teaspoon of filling about 2 inches apart. Carefully place the other sheet of dough over the filling. Use a knife or pasta cutter to shape ravioli. Use tines of fork to tightly close the dough.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add ravioli and cook until they begin to float (this should only take a few minutes). I used a strainer to cook a few at a time and carefully lift them out. When they are all cooked add 4 Tablespoons of butter to a large skillet on medium-low heat. Slowly brown the butter. Add Ravioli and Sage until ravioli is golden brown on both sides.
Pumpkin Maple Cupcakes
Here is another case of my cake mix doctoring. For the cupcakes I used a yellow box of cake mix, followed the instructions on the box, added a can of pumpkin puree and a teaspoon of cinnamon and a half teaspoon of nutmeg- bake as directed.
For the frosting I used my favorite buttercream recipe. Cream 2 sticks of butter in a mixer. Add 6 cups confectioners sugar. Add Maple syrup until frosting reaches desired consistency.
For the little acorn toppers use chocolate or frosting to connect hershey’s kisses, Nilla Wafers (the mini wafers are best) and Butterscotch chips.
As with the menu I wanted to keep the decorations organic and fresh as well. One of my favorite design elements is burlap and lace. It is really so simple but has such an earthly elegance to it. I have used this design for western parties, baby showers and even fall dinners. Burlap is fairly inexpensive and you don’t need very much lace- definitely a suggested element to keep in your supply closet.
A staple of any rustic wedding are the wood slices or country rounds. I don’t believe I have ever had more compliments or asked where I got something more than I have had on these. You can get wood slices (also called country rounds in some places) at most craft stores. Amazon also has them for somewhat decent prices- you can find them here.
My stuffed Flower and Thumper as well as some flower branches to complete the picture.
I am very excited to finally be able to bring some of the abstract party ideas to life. This was a work baby shower so the decorations weren’t as elaborate as I would have done for a private event- but there are some great examples on how I adopted the menu and added a few elements.
The Mommy-to-Be is gluten free so our entire menu was made with her in mind. I adapted some of my favorite recipes to use gluten-free ingredients or no gluten at all.
Pear and Gorgonzola Salad
Hedgehog Cheese Ball
Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Chocolate Covered Marshmallows
We also had little owl party favor bags. I filled them with gluten free pretzels to evoke the idea of an owl sitting on a twig.
And my favorite added element- the make your own trail mix bar. I have talked about how much I love food bars in my last post so I wont bore you by saying the same things over and over but they are so fun!!!
This bar was made up of an assortment of nuts, dried fruit and candy chips. My favorite part of this bar was the adorable Bambi brown bags. They were inspired by Jettabees Deer Treat Sacks – you can find her Etsy store here.