On Halloween evening, it is fun to be extra creative with food. I like to come up with designs that are different and can be made the afternoon prior to the gathering so that more time can be allotted to other preparations. Try my chilled Sardine Jade Rolls, for the seasonal impact on your Halloween appetizer table or as a starter for dinner. First prepare the Pesto Sauce: grind and thoroughly mix fresh basil, 1 glove of garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil until the desired consistency is reached. Remove the sardines from the can and pat dry. Remove the tails. Coat the sardines with the homemade Pesto Sauce. Cut into small stick shapes: cucumbers and carrots. Wash and pat dry leafy lettuce. Now, prepare the Rice Paper wrappers by dipping those in hot water for about 15 seconds, until pliable. Fill one wrapper at a time with: one piece of leafy lettuce, 1 or 2 Pesto sardines, and a pile of cucumber and carrot sticks. Now, carefully roll the rice paper sheets to form the Jade Rolls. For a dipping sauce, soy sauce with floating gummy/gumball “eyes” will work wonders for the final impact. Bring it on – it’s been a scary year and you can pair it with some inventiveness. © Kelly McBride Loft
Kelly teaches adult, children and family dining classes. Please view this featured link from the Houston Chronicle newspaper regarding Kelly's expertise.
Welcome to "Celebration Logic"
These weekly highlights focus on creative entertaining, culinary creations and recipes that reinforce life's celebratory moments with entertaining confidence. These blogs of creative entertaining tips and recipes are available in printed book form and in e-book form.
Crabmeat is available year-round and its flavor is always a culinary treat. From juicy crab claws to succulent sections, crabmeat can be enjoyed as an entrée, an appetizer, a bisque, as a topping, or as an ingredient, such as a quiche. Crabmeat meals can be derived from soft shell crabs, stone crabs, blue crabs, spider crabs, velvet crabs, brown crabs, etc. My favorite is Alaskan King crab. There are a lucky few who live in Alaska, where crab restaurants offer the freshest catch, for self-cracking pleasure. Actually, making a mess is half the fun. A classic favorite is Crabmeat Imperial and it composed of very basic ingredients, served in oversized authentic scallop shells. The most important thing to note is if you are utilizing authentic scallop shells, it is necessary to boil the shells in advance to kill any lingering bacteria before using the shells as serving dishes. The crabmeat is combined with sauteed diced bell peppers, shallots, garlic, and parsley, which, when cooled is mixed with mayonnaise and shredded Italian cheeses. The mixture is piled onto the prepared seashells and baked. The Crabmeat Imperial puffs up and this rich delight is a retro favorite. Tonight, I am preparing the crabmeat by cooking it and cracking it, with a fresh lemon drizzle. Then, I will steam fresh asparagus. The heated crabmeat will top the fresh asparagus with lemon butter sauce. It’s that simple for a lovely “over the top” meal with crabmeat styling. © Kelly McBride Loft
We all need to find the “kid” in us to enjoy life. Try my “Garden Cornbread” for a fun and to create an entertaining presentation of cornbread. Since your focus is on the “garden” décor for the cornbread, cornbread kits work well. Just flavor-up the cornbread packs with a little less milk and add ¾ cup of canned creamed corn and ¾ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese. Of course, you will need a heavy coating of non-stick spray before pouring the batter into your favorite cornbread dish. Personally, I prefer my quiche dish because I like the fluted edge. It takes two cornbread kits to fill the quiche dish. Ready all of your “garden” décor by creating julienned slices of red, green, and orange bell peppers. Open a can of chopped black olives, trim French chives, and wash basil leaves, rosemary and thyme. Let the fun begin! The uncooked cornbread batter begins your artist’s canvas to create garden starburst flowers with petals of julienned bell peppers. The flower centers are made with the pinches of chopped black olives. The French chives make up the flower stems and the flower leaves are designed from the basil leaves, rosemary and thyme. If you have children or grandchildren, share the fun. Once the flower design is set on top of the batter, bake the cornbread according to directions. The finished presentation is delightful and most special. Cornbread pairs well with a good pot of beans or homemade soup. So, share the nurturing – we all need to feel the love right now. © Kelly McBride Loft
Autumn has always served as the outdoor stellar entertainer, with the pleasant weather and rustic hues. This year is especially true, as we seek outdoor spacing to offer family members dining variety. Reinvent the classic Swiss fondue by offering individual dipping sauces. The classic Swiss fondue utilizes Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese, melted into simmering wine with a hint of garlic, lemon, and kirsch. Personally, I prefer brandy instead of kirsch. This fun self-dipping, utilizing small forks with long handles, allows the chef-du-cuisine to offer cubes of focaccia bread, broccoli and cauliflower florets, mushroom caps, asparagus tips, Brussels sprouts, cubed filet mignon, shrimp, and lobster. I like to pre-sear the beef in butter in brandy and lightly sauté shrimp and lobster medallions in butter and garlic to prevent raw protein from being dipped directly into the lovely cheese fondue. There are many choices of fondue coatings, including blue cheese, savory, chocolate, or oil for cooking. So, welcome the north breezes with this hands-on styling from the European Alps. It will provide creative moments for dynamic dining. © Kelly McBride Loft
Baskets are “in” and nothing fulfills a bountiful image more than a cornucopia woven basket filled with seasonal impact. Autumn is just beginning and it is time to dress up your dining experience with apples, whole nuts, chrysanthemums, dried autumn leaves, and wheat sheaves. If you have a print of “The Gleaners” by Jean-Francois Millet, this is the perfect time to have it as a focal point. Consider this seasonal change in your home and “art” project, as you switch your décor from solar summer to earthy autumn. Once the tablescape décor is revised, you’ll be in the mood for some autumn baking. Apple tarts to pumpkin pies spark the inspiration. Barley soup and braised osso buco fill your home with memory stimulating wholesome aromas. Life is good when you take the time to make it so. © Kelly McBride Loft
It’s the official last week of the summer of 2020, with Autumn beginning on the 23rd and if we ever needed a significant celebration for making it through this summer, it is now. Personally, it’s been like being forced to sit through a really bad play that just wouldn’t end. The bow and closure have been long over-due. Let’s throw an ice cream party! Brandy Alexanders, for adults, are dramatic and exciting. Serve those in over-sized brandy glasses by mixing vanilla ice cream with brandy and top with nutmeg. For the youngsters, Cola Floats are a treat, with a cherry on top. Add in a Baked Alaska with Peppermint Crunch ice cream for a flambé spectacular. Baked Alaska is created with a vanilla genoise cake base and ice cream piled on top. Then, meringue is added for a snowy mountain look. The mountain is completely frozen. Just prior to serving, the Baked Alaska is flambéed for a delightful finish. The perfect additions to the Baked Alaska service are ice cream forks. These are utensils that are half fork and half spoon. For plain ice cream, edible spoons made from cookie dough are a fun treat, too. © Kelly McBride Loft
It’s been difficult for our grandparents this year; so, a beautiful grandparents’ basket will be most appreciated. Pick a lovely basket and line it with some attractive cloth napkins. Fill the basket with some banana bread, chilled cheese, interesting bread, and wine. Add some photos, handmade cards, and magazines to delight your Gram and Granddad. You may not be able to deliver a big hug right now; however, you can deliver a beautiful surprise made with love. © Kelly McBride Loft
Are you trying to get your family to eat more fresh garden choices? Cauliflower and broccoli are our go-to fresh vegetables; however, when plated European-style the appeal is transforming. The presentation is created by artfully filling a small bowl with the individual florets of the cauliflower and broccoli – by keeping the stems up. The goal is to invert the filled bowl onto a plate and remove the bowl leaving a beautiful dome bouquet of green and white vegetables. You will need a small stainless-steel bowl. Prepare the individual florets of the cauliflower and broccoli by your choice of lightly steaming or lightly stir-frying. Fit the cauliflower and broccoli tightly into the bowl, as you create a geometric pattern by alternating the color selection. Remember to keep the stems pointed to the center of the bowl. Just before plating, heat the bowl in the oven to heat the vegetables. Invert the bowl onto the serving plate and carefully remove the bowl for an unveiling moment. Look who’s enjoying their vegetables, now! You just need to make it fun and festive. © Kelly McBride Loft
Are you seeking calm patterns in your life? Are you tired of all of the jolt shocks from too many reality checks? The rhythms of life manifest in many forms, from rippling streams to our own heartbeats and so wedged between nature and our personal souls we find the rhythms that we create from inspiration. Our music, our prose, our poetry, when dusted off from the past, can stimulate abounding calm consistency. It’s time for a Puccini, Prose and Poetry dinner party. It will shake off any unpleasantry of the status quo and shine a light to our inner glow – learning. Ask family members to select their favorite prose or poetry to read excerpts that evening. Designate the readers as before dinner, during dinner, and after dinner. An impact of authenticity can be added by reading any of the classics by candlelight. Focus the discussions on the themes, the protagonists, the antagonists, or cathartic insight. Play the background music of Giacomo Puccini’s masterpieces from La boheme, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, or the composition Nessun dorma. As the meal is served, dedicate each course to the featured writers and artisans such as Hugo’s Seafood Starter, Robert Burns’ Scottish Grouse or Wordsworth’s Gingerbread Cake. The moment will be made most memorable by reinforcing the theme into the dynamics of the evening. If your dinner party gathering is comprised of all adults, add Pinot to the alliteration titling, making the event a Puccini, Prose, Poetry & Pinot Party. It’s all about reading, reciting, and listening to trigger unintended great insights – By reaching into the past, we enable ourselves to go far beyond the status quo. © Kelly McBride Loft
Are you trying to bring some closure to the strangest summer in your life? Start with the basics and make a “tablecloth” comprised of postcards from the summer of 2020. Just print your favorite pics of the last 3 months and place them for viewing during dining. These could be your best memories, your pet’s best moment, bonding interpretations during lockdown or your prized accomplishments during lockdown. Get the whole family involved. So, while your artistic side takes over, prepare an easy meal. No cuisine is more wholesome; yet, more time liberating than a classic braised pot roast. The most important criteria is to select a tender beef chuck roast, before it goes into the pot. Here’s the tip: If it is tough in the store, it is going to be tough on the plate. In the store, insert your hand inside a plastic bag and gently poke the roast with two fingers. If the meat springs back and it appears to be tender, it will be a good roast. If it doesn’t budge to the poke, don’t buy it. Let the roast come closer to room temp, before putting it into the pot. A suggestion is to caramelize 2 onions in a separate pan. If you don’t wish to caramelize the onions, at least put a peeled onion in the roasting pot with the meat. Sear the pot roast in olive oil and a dash of brandy. Slowly cover the meat with spring water. Add the onion(s). Cover the pot and keep it on a low heat for at least 2 hours, checking the water level. When the roast has cooked for 2 hours or more, add peeled carrots for an additional hour. When the carrots are tender, remove the roast and carrots to reserve the broth. (I have vessel that can take heavy stirring, ready, on the side with a hand whip.) Strain the broth into the sturdy vessel. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of cornstarch or flour and stir vigorously. Strain the infused broth back into the roast pot. Turn the heat up and continue stirring. Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding salt and pepper. When the sauce becomes thick, turn the heat off. With gloves on, separate the fat and tissue from the braised beef. Place the beef into the sauce. Place the cooked carrots into the sauce. Serve your family-style pot roast with creamed potatoes and you will have created an extraordinary evening of summer of 2020 dining! © Kelly McBride Loft
In this modern era, it’s a paradox that we’ve never had so much time at home; yet, because there is so much domestic work to do, we are in need of kitchen shortcuts. Here are four quick tasty sauces which make any poultry dish awaken with homecooked flavor. Sherry Sauce: Heat 1 stick of butter, ¼ cup of orange juice and ¼ cup of Sherry to enhance a rotisserie bird. Oriental Sauce: Heat ½ cup of orange marmalade, 1/8 cup of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger shavings to enhance your favorite poultry dish. Balsamic Fig Brandy Sauce: Heat 1 cup of fig jam, ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup of honey and 1/8 cup Brandy to make a delicious coating for your fowl selection. Cranberry Cherry Sauce: Pulse 1 – 15 oz. can of dark sweet cherries (reserving the juice). Add this and the juice to a pot to heat with 1 -14 oz. of jellied cranberry sauce and ¼ cup of Chambord liqueur. Once heated, stir in 1 cup of minced pecans, that have been run through the food processor. Pack the Cranberry Cherry Sauce onto chicken breasts and bake until thoroughly cooked. So much to crow about, because all you really need is great flavoring to make your lifestyle enjoyment so much easier. © Kelly McBride Loft
Boeuf Bourguignon is a hearty and impacting dish which originated in the region of Burgundy, in France. There are many variations. For my version, I don’t utilize the traditional inclusion of bacon and I marinate the beef in Cabernet Sauvignon instead of Pinot Noir. Also, I like the taste of leeks which adds another depth of flavor to the sauce. The ingredients for the overnight refrigerated marinate are: a Filet of Beef, per person; one bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon; 1 peeled carrot; 1 well-washed leek cut in half; 1 celery stalk, herbs – thyme, a bay leaf and juice of one tomato. The next day: Slice 6 peeled carrots; slice 2 washed leeks; cut 8 baby tomatoes in half; and slice 5 celery stalks. In a sauté pan, sauté at least 8 or more mushrooms caps in brandy and butter until the flavors are incorporated. You are not trying to cook the mushrooms, just infuse them. Reserve.
In a roast pot on the stove, lightly sear the beef (only) in a dash of olive oil and 2 Tabs of butter. Remove the beef. Sauté the sliced vegetables: carrots, leeks, baby tomatoes, and celery. Add more oil and butter, as needed. Add the seasoning of a tiny dash of salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Add 2 Tablespoons of Brandy. Add 3 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste and stir vigorously while heating. Slowly add 3 Tablespoons of flour and stir vigorously. Slowly and alternating add a 2nd bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and beef stock (broth). Don’t add more liquid until each portion becomes a smooth liquid. After adding the wine and beef stock, add the seared beef filets back into the pot. Add the brandied mushrooms into the pot. Add thyme to the pot. Simmer to reduce the liquid for 2 hours, stirring about every 15 minutes, uncovered. 30 minutes prior to serving, check the thickness of the sauce. It should be able to coat the backside of a spoon, but not too thin. If you need to thicken the sauce, remove 2 cups of the sauce and pour that into a 4-cup heat proof measuring cup. Add 2 – 3 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch and stir the mixture in the large measuring cup vigorously. Strain that thicken liquid back into the sauce and stir. Just prior to serving, add 1 can of well-drained Peas. Serve over Pasta.
*Note: While the sauce is simmering, prepare the noodles. Don’t over or under cook the pasta. Drain it, rinse it, and then coat the pasta with melted butter. Toss. You can sprinkle on dried chopped basil. Don’t add salt. Reserve.
If you are missing the travel experience to France, this is the perfect dish to let the home-cooked aromas surround your senses and bring back special memories as you create new moments with your family. Include the youngsters in the culinary journey by having them share facts about France during dining. Let those who have traveled there, share their favorite memories. Decorate the table with postcards with Parisienne images. Play some French music or of French composers. Indulge in the cultural heritage; it is as easy as energizing your enthusiasm for a Francophile destination experience! © Kelly McBride Loft
Bake 2 lbs. of fresh salmon (with the skin removed). First, put a tab of olive oil in the bottom of a Pyrex dish. Place the prepared fish in the dish. Squeeze fresh lemon on the top and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Lightly sprinkle a dash of salt on top of the salmon. Bake covered for 35 to 40 minutes at 350⁰F. The fish can be cooked the night before and refrigerated.
Meanwhile, toast day-old hamburger buns. Run the buns through the food processor to make fresh bread crumbs. Then, run 1 onion through the food processor, to mince and reserve.
In a large bowl, place the cooked salmon. Flake it and mince it with a fork. Then, squeeze ½ a lemon on it. Lightly salt it and add a touch of pepper. Mix by hand, with gloves on. Form a “well” and drop in 3 eggs. Mix well. Add about ¼ cup of the minced onion. Add, little by little, the bread crumbs and alternating portions of Parmesan cheese (powder style). You will probably utilize about 8 bread slices (turned into crumbs) and about ¾ of a container of grated Parmesan cheese (8 oz.). Mix well. The goal is to not have the salmon patties dry and hard. You want the patties to stay together but tender. Pan fry the patties in half vegetable oil and half olive oil. These Salmon Croquettes are really nice when served with a Creamy Caesar Dressing as a dipping sauce. It is a great summer recipe that can be utilized as an appetizer or a hearty family meal! © Kelly McBride Loft
Have some fun with a classic family favorite by making it with a spectrum of color. Bell peppers have interesting hues and the peppers can even have a happy face cut into each, too. Stuffing peppers is so easy. Begin with fresh ground meat, a dash of fresh brewed coffee, salt, pepper, egg(s), chopped rosemary and chopped basil. In a sauté pan, sauté fresh spinach and add finely chopped shallots. Drain the spinach by pressing it between 2 plates. Add the spinach and shallots to the raw meat. Mix well. Then, add homemade toasted breadcrumbs and fresh parmesan cheese, keeping the meat less than dry. Lastly, add a small amount of finely chopped pistachios and diced dates. Stuff the peppers, by cutting off the top and reserving it. Clean out the inside of the peppers, fill the peppers with the meat mixture, and put the top back on the pepper. Bake the peppers at 350⁰F for about 30 minutes. Another variation is to cut the peppers in half and fill each half. This way, you don’t purchase as many peppers; however, I think the juicer taste is achieved when utilizing the whole pepper. Make a colorful summer party by utilizing multicolored bell peppers with a spectrum of green, red, orange, and yellow peppers. Pair the stuffed peppers with quesadillas made with sautéed bell peppers and cheese for a Fiesta Summer Celebration! This delightful mid-summer dish spices up any family moment. © Kelly McBride Loft
Take care of two needs at the same time…cool down and aid your sweet tooth. I call it Kelly’s Cuatro Leches Cake. Bake your favorite vanilla favored genoise or sponge cake in a ceramic rectangle pan. When the cake is removed from the oven, poke holes in it with a wooden skewer. Combine the following ingredients to pour onto the cake: 1, 12 oz. can of evaporated milk; 1, 14 oz. of condensed milk, a quarter cup of whole milk and a quarter cup of coconut milk. Then, add 1 teaspoon of coconut extract flavoring. Mix well and slowly infuse the baked cake. (You might have some extra liquid left over. Infuse the cake until it absorbs the liquid but the cake is still springy.) Refrigerate the cake overnight in the pan. The next day, top with the cake with crushed pineapple that has been pressed between 2 plates to remove the excess juice. Then, top that with whipped cream, topped with shredded coconut. Serve this astounding chilled cake with Pina Coladas! Whatever might have been worrying you prior to this moment…you are your best keeper of your memorable personal moments. Indulge. You deserve every happiness. © Kelly McBride Loft