Thursday, August 27, 2009

Party Perfect

Last weekend was my girl's first birthday party, and what a party it was! It was waaaay more party than any one year old should have. It was perfect. I chose a garden party theme. We had fresh sunflowers and daisies in pitchers and vases all over the house. Accents of playful, vibrant pinks and cheery, sunshine yellow warmed the mood and elevated the already jubilant outlook of the party. Balloons were everywhere, needless to say. Now to important part.... the food. Now, our family is one of which loves their food. Its the center of every celebration, every get together, well, everything. One of the best parts of preparing for this party was the planning and preparing the food. Its a miracle I don't weigh 1,000 pounds, really.
We had it all. Fresh tomato basil bruschetta with pesto. Greek (ish) pasta salad with arugula, fresh buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato, feta and Greek dressing. Bison brisket sliders. Cheeseburger sliders. A mountain of fresh guacamole with gourmet tortilla chips. Cheesy spinach dip. Fruit skewers with juicy watermelon, fresh pineapple and California grapes. Oh, and let's not forget my sister's divine home made pizzas. The first was a classic margarita pie with aromatic basil, vibrant Roma tomatoes and handmade mozzarella from Central Market. Ange (my sister) is the pizza master. Her crust is light and airy and crusty and doughy all at once. Our recipe is simple, but she just has a magic way with dough. Our second pie was an unusually addicting pear and Havarti pizza. No sauce, just the red, juicy pears and the creamy Havarti. Its such an interesting and unexpected combination that everyone seems to immediately gravitate toward. Hungry yet? I know I am just remembering that spread. The great thing about it is that everything was at the peak of freshness, organic, and figure friendly. How, you ask, could such a delicious buffet be good for you? Fresh ingredients, no preservatives and we cut down on fat when we can. The key is knowing what you're eating. If you can't pronounce it or wouldn't want your young child eating it, then its not healthy. The burgers were made with 96% lean meat. The bison brisket is naturally low(er) in fat than its beef cousin, and I trimmed and trimmed until there was nothing left to trim. I also have to add, that this brisket is the easiest thing in the world to make. When we can sneak in a reduced fat ingredient, we do.
The party was a smashing success. Amelia was the bell of the ball and a total ham to the attention. She truly understood that the day was all about her, and she ate it up. I was initially worried that she'd be frightened of the crowd, or want to nurse the whole time, or just have a meltdown. None of those things happened. She toddled around, talking and playing with everyone. Basically, putting on the "Millie Show," as we like to call it. During the birthday song, I nearly lost it. I think at that moment it really hit me that my little baby wasn't a little baby anymore. I was seeing flashes of the early days with her tiny hands, balled into fists resting under her chin as she slept. I remembered the first time she smiled at me, the first time she sat up, first "mama," first "dada." I remembered crying as she first took off crawling, just as I was crying now. Tears of pure joy and pride for all she's accomplished. It seemed like yesterday she was ten months old and surprising Clint and I with her first steps. I have so many things to be thankful for and so many exciting things to look forward to. It was a great day, one that I will keep locked in my heart for the rest of my life.
Below are some of the stars of the show.

1 6 lb brisket
2 bottles of your favorite ready made bbq sauce
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
12-15 Hawaiian dinner rolls

Put the brisket in your slow cooker and set it to low. Pour one bottle of the sauce and the cup of chicken stock over the brisket. Cover and walk away! Go shopping, buy new shoes, take a bath, whatever. 6 hours later, turn off the slow cooker, remove the brisket and let cool down until it doesn't hurt your hands to touch. Dump out the contents of the cooker. Once the meat is shredded, return it to the cooker and pour second bottle of sauce over it. Mix it well with the shredded meat, cover and once again, walk away. Finish the rest of the meal by splitting the buns, whipping up a salad or baking some potatoes. Enjoy!

Variation: You can also make bbq brisket tacos by swapping the buns for tortillas. Top with cilantro, cheddar cheese and whatever else you deem fit! YUM.

2-3 avocados
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbls finely chopped onion
zest of 1 lime
lime juice

Smash all together, chill and scoop with a giant chip and stuff into your mouth!
For the party, I multiplied this by 5.