Put the Wow Into Your Party Food (May 22 – May 28, 2022)

Are you in need of a spectacular presentation splash to feed a small gathering? Try my European-style fish platter. It is so easy to prepare; yet, the appearance and taste is grand. You will need a fish shaped mold. To prepare what is pressed into the mold, you will need 1 to 2 cans of drained and deboned red salmon (not pink salmon), flaked into a large bowl. Then, squeeze only one half of a lemon onto the salmon, to mix well. Add 6 dashes of liquid smoke, to mix again. Next, add a half of a minced and drained onion. Then, add one to two, 8 oz. tubs of cream cheese to thoroughly incorporate and mix until completely smooth. Chill the salmon mixture. To decorate, with a mandoline slicer, shave thin slices of cucumber and reserve. Spray the fish shaped mold with a non-stick spray, and press the chilled salmon mixture into the fish shaped mold. Immediately, invert the fish design onto a tray. Layer the fish design with the thin slices of cucumber to emulate fish scales, by beginning at the tail, layer and slightly overlap each until the pattern reaches the head of the fish. Utilize a sliced olive for the fish eye. Serve this outstanding seafood creation with sliced artisan bread or pumpernickel bread for a crowd pleaser or as a family signature dish. It works well as an event starter, main course, or a need-to-bring-a-dish party. It’s May and so many to-go dishes are needed; so, make this as your new go-to remarkable wow. © Kelly McBride Loft

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Pearls of Wisdom Bring the Most Hugs (May 15 – May 21, 2022)

There is so much to celebrate at the end of May. Brighten up your fruit and cheese concept by adding pink Champagne to prepared grapefruit segments. Serve the fruitful delight in parfait cups and all will feel special. Toast with the remaining Champagne, if of age, and you have a celebration! Another celebration concept is to create a gift basket for the celebrant with goodies and treats for their next step. For example, for a high school graduate, fill a gift basket with small gifts that will be useful for college. For those graduating from college, fill a gift basket with small gifts that will be useful for graduate school or work life. All of the gift baskets should include your personal touch of your favorite recipes and pearls of wisdom, written out. For special friends and special friends’ children, I like to include an inscribed, gilded oyster shell with an inspirational saying. Some of the biggest hugs received have been because of these pearl of wisdom gifts. It’s part of passing on a legacy of wisdom. © Kelly McBride Loft

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So Deserving – It’s Accolades for Mom (May 8 – May 14, 2022)

We applaud our moms! There are many ways to celebrate; but, Mom not having to cook is the best treat for her. Flowers, birds, and great cuisine are always trusted success stories when creating the best day for Mom. This year I am recommending cranes, mixed floral, and Egg Foo Young. Paper cranes are something that children can learn to make, with a special message. Egg Foo Young is a dish that is easy to cook, and with supervision if there are youngsters. Also, Egg Foo Young is colorful and fun to prepare. This classic favorite can be served for a delightful brunch. Prepare a large non-stick skillet with non-stick spray and set aside. Into a large bowl crack 3- 4 eggs per person. Add 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 tablespoon of shaved ginger root, and finely sliced green chives. Beat with a hand whip. Prepare and reserve: washed fresh bean sprouts, diced and squeezed tomato (to remove the juice), and sliced mushrooms. Pour the egg mixture into the prepared skillet. You can make small Egg Foo Young cakes or one large one. Once the egg mixture is poured into the skillet, add the bean sprouts, diced tomato, and mushrooms. Cook the Egg Foo Young by flipping it or stirring it; don’t fold it, as it is not an omelet. Serve it with organic soy sauce and colorful fruit on the side. Chop sticks continue the theme and fortune cookies add humor. For an added dimension, insert special made fortunes into the cookies for Mom, to ensure that her special day is most memorable. © Kelly McBride Loft

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It’s Derby Party Time – (May 1 – May 7, 2022)

Springtime brings us exciting horse racing and one of the most celebrated races is the Kentucky Derby. If you are not planning to actually attend Churchill Downs, throw your own Derby party. First and foremost, check the racing times to be aired in your time zone so that all attendees can watch the race (and prerace) on a big screen. Encourage your guests to dress in festive attire which includes stylist hats and colorful sports jackets. Gather a list of the horses to run in order to allow the party goers an opportunity to be informed. Of course, Mint Julips are a must but don’t neglect the chance to set up a Bourbon tasting bar. I recommend grilled steak strips and grilled salmon strips both glazed with Bourbon Sauce. This is made with a mixture of molasses, Bourbon and fresh cracked pepper. Hasselback Potatoes are the perfect side for this combination. For dessert, serve my family’s favorite: Chocolate Thoroughbred Pie! In a heat-proof rectangle dish, mix 1 stick of lightly melted butter, 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of minced pecans. By hand, mash the mixture to form a crust in the heat proof dish and bake at 425⁰ for 10 minutes and no longer. Remove and let cool completely. In a large bowl, mix 10 oz. of cream cheese, 1 cup of powdered sugar, and 1 cup of whipped cream – pre-beaten stiff. Reserve. In a 2nd large bowl, with a mixer, mix 2 packages of chocolate instant pudding, 1 package of vanilla instant pudding with 3 and ½ cups of milk (not the milk directions on the boxes). Mix well with an electric mixer. Then, onto the cooled baked pie crust layer on the cream cheese mixture smoothing it to an even layer across the crust. Then, top that with the chocolate pudding layer. Then, top the pudding mixture with heavily whipped cream. Keep the pie refrigerated until serving. The top of this wonderful Chocolate Thoroughbred Pie can be decorated with chocolate shavings or if you are artistically inclined…shape the crust of the whole pie into a large horse head shape, layer, and then allow the whipped cream to emphasize the horse’s mane. It will be the winning dessert design during this equestrian celebration! © Kelly McBride Loft

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Dynamic Duos Rise Above the Fray – (April 24 – April 30, 2022)

There are times when contemplation and reflection are needed, as we pass forward into the future. As we exit the worst of the pandemic and reach to more energetic days around more people, we need to stay grounded – grounded to what we learned from the last couple of years. I have to say that this past section of my life has created some of the best moments together with my husband, with more home dining and creative home projects. During this time, Michael created his dynamic duo – Martinis and Oysters. We share it because it has created some wonderful memories for us. Michael’s Martini & Oysters: Begin with a good quality vodka and white vermouth (not flavored). Chill 2 Martini glasses with ice. Fill a Shaker ¾ full with ice. Pour 2 jiggers of vodka into shaker. Add a splash of white vermouth. Shake vigorously. Remove the ice from the Martini glasses. Strain the liquid into the chilled Martini glasses. Add Olives and cocktail onions. Add a lemon peel and wipe the lemon rind around the edge of the glass. Serve the Martinis with chilled raw oysters paired with Mignonette sauce or as Angels on Horseback. Dynamic duos are symbiotic and so is great marriage. © Kelly McBride Loft

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Oh, So Lovely for Springtime… (April 17 – April 23, 2022)

It’s picnic season and if you wondering what you can serve which tastes great and looks spectacular, try making “Zebras.” These culinary delights are frequently served in Europe and the colorful design, will perk up any picnic. First, with an electric mixer combine 1 stick of butter with 8 oz. of cream cheese (a small tub) until fluffy. Mix in a dash of salt and pepper. Then, separately cut up small cubes of smoked salmon and chop fresh dill. Sprinkle the tiny bits of salmon and dill into the cream cheese/butter mixture and lightly mix until the salmon and dill look like confetti mixed into the cream cheese/butter mixture. Next, onto 3 thin slices of either pumpernickel or rye bread, spread the mixture. Stack the layers of topped bread, on top of one other to create a tall stack. Top off the stack with a final piece of bread. Wrap the stack tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Repeat this process until all of the cream cheese mixture is utilized. Then, slice the layered bread into evenly stacked squares with a sharp knife and no crust, to complete the “Zebras.” (The yield should be 4 mini stacks, per regular slice size of bread.) Serve chilled. It’s a little taste of Europe, designed to enhance your picnic basket. © Kelly McBride Loft

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Paint Your Easter Culinary Palette Cheerful (April 10 – April 16, 2022)

Easter is near and it’s time to get hopping to feed your family. Whether buffet style, family style, or plated style, they seek your orchestration to keep with family traditions, plus inspiration. Ready your beverage choices early. Pink and yellow lemonade is fun, as is mint iced tea with fresh sprigs of lemon. Many families opt for a traditional ham or large bird. The side dishes should be colorful, as are the eggs. Try my family’s tradition of Sweet Potato Pudding, which can be made the night before – a great time saver. For a bright spot on the plate design, on the day of the meal, scoop the heated Sweet Potato Pudding into hulled out orange halves, top with mini marshmallows, and heat until the marshmallows melt. Kelly’s Sweet Potato Pudding: 2 to 3 – 29 oz. cans of yams, drained; 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple, drained; 1/2 cup of brown sugar; 2 eggs; 6 tablespoons of Maple syrup; and 2 tablespoons of butter. Mash the sweet potatoes and mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Then combine all of the other ingredients. Top with a half cup of pecan pieces and bake in greased casserole dish 325⁰ for 1 hour. Marshmallows are optional. Cheery is the Easter dining experience with various culinary color variations. It’s your artist palette and a significant moment with your family. © Kelly McBride Loft

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Let the Grilling Begin (April 3 – April 9, 2022)

Springtime welcomes grilling time, with lots of variations on the theme. The classic BBQ grillers, utilizing charcoal, come in a vast array of sizes. Smokers require more cooking time, but produce marvelous tender proteins. Propane cooking may be your preference. The ceramic “Eggs” offer many solutions from grilling, roasting, baking to smoking capability. Oh, and let’s not leave out the original grilling technique – the open campfire. No matter the choice of your grilling style and equipment, the anticipation of a juicy, tender steak remains a significant goal. Select a good cut of beef and try my marinate for a wonderful and exciting steak. Kelly’s Marinate: ¾ portion of Malbec wine, a generous dash of Worcestershire sauce, dashes of balsamic vinegar, and fresh cracked pepper. Top each steak with fresh minced garlic and marinate for an hour or more. To step up the dining experience, add grilled artichokes to the menu by trimming the thorns, cutting each in half, and removing the choke. Boil the cleaned halves in water with olive oil and lemon peel for 20 minutes. Remove and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Heat and briefly smoke on the grill, as you finish your steaks. Plate-up with a classic baked potato, the grilled artichoke, and that magnificent steak to have your seasonal grilling expectations fulfilled! © Kelly McBride Loft

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The Fish of April Go Swimmingly Well With Fun (March 27 – April 2, 2022)

April Fool’s originated in France and dates back to the mid-1500’s. The literal meaning is April Fish; however, in the 1500’s the saying and the custom of pranking may have had religious implications as the local leaders wished to do a minor adjustment with the community’s concepts and those who resisted were pranked with fish, such as fish put onto others’ backs. To this day the light-hearted custom is called Poisson d’avril, meaning April Fool’s and putting paper fish onto others’ backs is still widely accepted as a joke. It’s fun to follow the fun tradition with safe pranks. Poisson means fish is French; so, I like to fill the guest bath tub with plastic fish to unsuspecting dinner guests. For this occasion, only fresh fish will do to serve as an entrée. Try my Stuffed Founder recipe for a treat that will become a family tradition. Begin with fresh flounder (for every 2 people) and cut a pocket/pouch in the cleaned fish. Sauté a chopped half of an onion and 1 chopped bell pepper in butter. Stir in 1 cup of fresh soft bread crumbs. Add fresh crabmeat, salt, and pepper. Stuff the fish. Sprinkle the top of the fish with paprika and broil. It’s a beautiful presentation and foolishly fun! Happy Poisson d’avril. © Kelly McBride Loft

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It’s the Best of Both Worlds (March 20 – March 26, 2022)

March breezes in our picnic cravings. Whether with family, friends, or your best new book, a scenic outdoor respite will have you breathing easier. Don’t make a fuss of it. Any basket will do – even an Easter basket with a new tea towel in the bottom. Next, fill the picnic basket with yummy treats. It can be as simple as cheese and wine. Add some fruit, such as grapes and strawberries. If you wish for a heartier luncheon treat, try my delicious Curry Chicken Salad. Begin with a fresh store-bought whole roasted chicken and debone it. Crumble the chicken pieces into a bowl. Add a couple of dashes of organic curry powder, a dash of celery seed powder, and a dash of onion powder. Mix well. Then, add a dollop of mayonnaise to mix and finish. Chill the Curry Chicken Salad completely. It can be served as a portion on a plate with bread; spooned into a sandwich; or dolloped onto an avocado half. Pick your spot to picnic and let the fun begin. If you are lucky, you’ll also be able to see one of the good luck symbols from native tribes’ lore. Look for the moon showing during the sunshine! It’s the best of both worlds coming together from the day and night skies, just as eating quality food and being outside is the best of both worlds, in modern times. © Kelly McBride Loft

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Start Early To Enjoy the Moment (March 13- March 19, 2022)

St. Patrick’s comes mid-week this year and those little Leprechauns can really put you in a pinch if you don’t prepare early. There is an easy way to prepare in advance and stretch your home-cooking budget to last into the work week by making ample mashed potatoes during the weekend and a pot roast. For example, on Sunday make a pot roast with mashed potatoes; but, make an extra amount of the mashed potatoes. With the chilled leftover potatoes, during the week, make a side dish of Peppered Parmesan Potatoes. This is so easy. Simply line a heat-proof dish with parchment paper. Spoon out and shape mashed potato patties onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese. Heat thoroughly in the oven to enjoy. (For St. Patrick’s Day just add some droplets of green food coloring while making the mashed potatoes.) Leftover mashed potatoes can also be put into a well-greased muffin pan. Then push prime pieces of roast beef into the center of the potatoes in the muffin pan for a savory St. Patrick’s treat. Another option to utilize your kitchen time is to fill individual au gratin dishes with mashed potatoes. After heating thoroughly, top with sour cream, chives, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheese for a twice-baked potato – custom style. My best trick to avoid those pinching Leprechauns is to set your St. Patrick’s table the weekend prior. It is pleasant to look at and the pressure is off to enjoy the moment and the luck of the Irish. © Kelly McBride Loft

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Look to the Garden For Springtime Magic (March 6 – March 12, 2022)

It’s finally sunny, breezy March and it is time to be fanciful with food. Try making a whimsical caterpillar with your salad plating design or entrée plate design. For a fun salad design, shape your Caprese Salad (Roma tomatoes and mozzarella cheese medallions) in the figure of a caterpillar. On the top of the end piece use celery curls (soaked in ice water to make curly) for the antlers and black olives for the eyes and mouth. The same caterpillar concept can be created with other ingredients of alternating beet medallions and goat cheese medallions, with the caterpillar face added. A great innovative entrée caterpillar design is comprised of fried yellow squash medallions, with the caterpillar face added. To pan fry yellow squash, simply wash it well and slice. While the medallions are wet from the washing, dip each into flour, with salt and pepper to pan fry. Drain onto paper towels. If you wish to add some “flower power” to your plating, utilize organic “edible” flowers to brighten your springtime fanciful food design. The smiles abound, as you amuse your family and we all need to find more ways to be grateful and happy. © Kelly McBride Loft

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Make the Most of Winter’s Last Blow (February 27 – March 5, 2022)

During the last week of February, kiss the cold weather goodbye with an outstanding Fondue Party, whether for two or more. It is so easy but you will need a fondue pot. It begins with grated Gruyere cheese and Comte cheese, a cup each. Dust and toss the grated cheese in at least 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Then, in a sauce pan on the stove, heat ¾ of a bottle of enjoyable white wine. (Remember you need to like the wine because your dish will have the flavor of that wine.) When the wine is hot, add and stir the cheese until melted with a wooden spoon. When melted, add a dash of brandy or kirsch and a dash of fresh lemon juice. Prep the fondue pot by rubbing a cracked garlic clove throughout the bowl of the fondue pot. Then, pour in the cheese mixture, keeping it hot with the fondue flame. The wonderous food to be dipped into the cheese fondue is your culinary choice. Most people prefer cut cubes of fresh bread. I like to also provide a variety such as asparagus, mushrooms, fruit, and filet mignon. It’s your party; so, turn to your festive creativity! Let it snow, ice, or rain – the warm glow from your fondue pot will warm the hearts of those nearest to you. Enjoy, because spring is near! © Kelly McBride Loft

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Crawfish Season is for Sharing (February 20 – February 26, 2022)

It’s crawfish season and Crawfish Etouffee makes plenty of “good eating.” It’s great for a family gathering to watch sporting events. This is my mother’s recipe, which is delicious. First, purchase 2 packages of frozen crawfish tails (12 oz each). Do your mise en place the evening before by chopping and dicing 1 cup of celery, 1 cup of diced onion, and 1 cup for bell pepper. It’s the famous “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking. You will need about 3 hours to make this dish the day of serving. Thaw the 2 frozen packages of crawfish tails in a bowl of water (while in the package). When thawed, remove the plastic to soak and rinse the crawfish in salt water 10 times. This is to clean the crawfish. By the 10th rinsing, the water will run clear. Meanwhile, in a large pot on the stove, sauté the prepared celery, onions, and bell pepper in a half stick of butter until tender. This takes about 12 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of red Cayenne pepper, depending on how “hot” you like your food. Remember, you can always add more pepper but you can’t undo the pepper once you put it in. Then, add 2 tablespoons of parsley. As an option, you can add 1 teaspoon of paprika. Add 1 tablespoon for sugar. Stir and heat. Add the rinsed and drained crawfish to the “holy trinity” and cook for 10 minutes. Add a tab of butter, as needed, to coat the crawfish in the seasoning. Little by little, add 2 -15 oz. cans of tomato sauce and 1 – 10 oz. can of spicy diced tomatoes with green chilies. (The spicy tomatoes come in mild, original, and hot. I prefer the mild because I like to taste the crawfish and not all heat and spice. It’s your preference.) Stir well. Then, add 1 cup of boiling water, little by little. Stir and simmer for 1 and half hours uncovered. Stir occasionally. When completed, serve over rice for a flavor packed delight! Tres bien et pour l’amour de la famille! © Kelly McBride Loft

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For the Love of It (February 13 – February 19, 2022)

Valentine’s Day helps us to focus on love. Love between couples, parents, grandparents, children, neighbors, and pets are all inclusive in this wonderful holiday. Strawberry Shortcakes send a loving and seasonally sweet message. There are many Strawberry Shortcake recipes; you just need to choose one that is more like a scone or has a sweet biscuit texture. The shape of your shortcake depends on your preferred decorating style. Are you making individual Strawberry Shortcakes or just for two to share? Will it be a family-style dessert? Next make a decision about your strawberry selection and presentation. I always utilize organic strawberries because those are naturally sweet and fortified. The strawberry sauce can be made by running the strawberries through the blender and then through a strainer or left with small chunks of the natural fruit. Add a touch of sugar or sweetener and heat to infuse the flavors. No shortcake is complete without whipped cream or Chantilly cream. Have enough whole strawberries in reserve to decorate your final design and/or plate with at least one chocolate covered strawberry. Personally, I like to create a whole dessert design concept which includes a beverage on the dessert plate, too. So, in a grand composition, plate the dessert presentation with an outstanding Strawberry Shortcake, topped with fresh strawberry sauce and whipped cream. Then, decorate the top of the Strawberry Shortcake with sliced strawberries in floral design. (If you wish to make a quick and sweet strawberry sauce, simply melt down the contents of one jar of strawberry jelly in a sauce pan. Then, strain it. This sauce can be dropped in small spots on the plate and then run the back side of a knife strait through the spot(s) to create a heart. Continue the design concept, on the same plate, by presenting a small Strawberry Daiquiri! The reviews from your Valentine(s) will rave with awesomeness. And your response is simply…it was made with love. © Kelly McBride Loft

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