Punch Bowls 2.0

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“When life throws you a curveball,  give a punch.”

Dr. Peter Hunt

After a quarter century of marriage some wedding gifts fade from popularity and lose their shine.  One of our most surprising but delightful wedding gifts was an antique English sterling punch bowl given to us by one of my professors with the witty quote above.  I look at that punch bowl every day as it corrals our outgoing mail right by the front door.  Once upon a time, a punch bowl was a wedding registry staple.  Today, not so much. That is unfortunate as there are so many novel ways to use a punch bowl.   Perhaps you’ve got a punch bowl gathering dust in the back of a cupboard or maybe you’ll come across a beauty available for a few dollars in a yard sale.  It is time to reimagine the punch bowl for today’s lifestyle.  This post will give you some ideas of how I use some of our punch bowls and inspire you to show yours some love.

In summer, I heap sea shells in a punch bowl on a hall table for a no-fuss, no-maintenance seasonal vignette.  The punch bowl is three quarters  filled with crumpled newspaper first which is then topped with the sea shells.

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Portobello Personal Pizzas

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“Warm, enticing scents were floating down, basil and oregano and tomato.  It made Wes long for something, something he couldn’t place. A happy childhood, a home.”

Sarah Addison Allen, Lost Lake

If you’re eating low carb and missing pizza, these portobello “pizzas” will satisfy your craving totally.  Easily customizable with whatever toppings you love, these mini pizzas are easy to make to order.  Bursting with oozey gooey melted cheese, they are mouth-watering with the enticing aroma of baking pizza filling the kitchen. Continue reading

The Best Canadian Butter Tarts

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Butter tarts are the quintessential Canadian sweet treat.  They are a truly a Canadian invention and the oldest recipes date back as far as 1900.  There is a good reason that there is a national obsession with these sweet, buttery, oozy caramel-like tarts in thick flaky pastry:  they are the perfect marriage of flavor and texture and just the perfect size. Continue reading

How to Throw a Summer Crab Boil Party

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“The best way to eat crabs, as everyone knows, is off newspaper at a large table with a large number of people.” Laurie Colwin

A crab boil is one of the easiest summer entertaining parties to host.    Low on stress and high on fun, I make mine even easier by ordering the crabs already cooked, encrusted in Old-Bay style seasoning and picked up piping hot, right before guests arrive. Where we live these red-shelled beauties are Maryland blue crabs from the Chesapeake.  Their Latin name, Callinectes sapidus, means beautiful swimmer. Their flesh is sweet and succulent and they are in season now.  Aren’t they gorgeous? Continue reading

Chilled Soba Noodle Salad

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If you are looking for a really different pasta salad for your summer entertaining, this is the one!  Made with soba noodles, it boosts interesting texture, complex flavors, loads of vegetables, protein from tofu and peanuts and beautiful color.  It can totally be made ahead of time and will hold up well on the buffet table.  Don’t like tofu?  You could substitute shredded chicken breast or cooked shrimp. Adding edemame would boost protein and be a great addition too.  The recipe was recreated by my friend Christine who is a guest blogger today. She enjoyed the salad at famous chef Lynn Crawford’s Ruby WatchCo Restaurant on a trip to Toronto.  Christine brought it to a recent potluck where it was a hit.  The recipe feeds a big group.  It looks complicated but it really is not:  cooked soba noodles are tossed in a great honey-ginger dressing.  To that are added shredded veggies, sautéed tofu and marinated cabbage.  To finish, the salad is topped by crunchy peanuts and pea shoots.  It is worth making and leftovers, if you’re lucky enough to have any, will keep for a few days.  Dig in!

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