Posts tagged ‘Family’

February 9, 2013

Graduation Party Family Style

I am thrilled that we have a fantastic guest post courtesy of my Aunts. Mary’s sisters, Diane and Sue, were kind enough to share their take on Ali’s graduation party which they help make happen! Thank you both for all your help and for sharing with Zest!! Keep an eye out for the recipes in a post to come.


We always enjoy cooking together as a family. So, as the out-of-town aunties, (Mary’s sisters), we were so happy come to town and join Mary and Kelly in the planning, shopping, cooking and entertaining for Ali’s graduation celebration in December. And since we got the chance to pitch in, we have the honor of being the guests on ZESTblog to recap this fun party.

Friday was planning and prep day, and Saturday we got to cook all day together! We had so much fun laughing, sharing ideas and trying out new recipes, but mostly being together in the kitchen.

As hostess and chief chef for the party, Mary’s vision for the dinner was a “no fork buffet” to make it fun, interactive and to cut down on utensils. So with this in mind, the menu we came up with for the Saturday night party was all “no fork” dishes:

By the time we got started with the prep on Friday, Mary already had lots of grocery lists and to do lists written up!

We had fun posting a small, hand-written sign in front of each food item, since we had a couple of meat choices and to designate the different and delicious sauces.  Mary’s favorite sign was the “Elvis – Style Slaw for Sliders” because the guests actually followed the instructions and put the coleslaw on their sandwich. (no forks!)

So the menu was set, the each course created and the food stations decided. Every pretty platter in the house was set out with the dishes accented by sauces and signage. Mary seemed pleased at how everything came out.


We were so impressed that there were so many homemade dishes. Most of the sauces and breads were homemade, using either one of Mary’s or Kelly’s tried and true recipes, like the Green Goddess dressing, and some were created that day with last minute ingenuity, like the sauces for the smoked meats. (Also note, the signature drink, in Ali’s school colors.) But all were amazing and delicious:

Challah Bread/ Homemade Rolls

BBQ Sauce

Lemon Aioli

Cranberry Chipotle Sauce

Green Goddess Dressing

Parmesan Croutons

Cupcake Frosting

(Recipes To Come!)


Steve’s Smokin’ Smoked Meats

The entrée was home smoked pork shoulder and beef roast, which we turned into sliders. The meat was prepared by Steve, a very generous family friend and great cook on his home smoker, and Mary asked him to do the honor of opening the buffet. (This is a tradition that our Mom, Del, used to do – pick someone special to “open the buffet”). The meats were served with a variety of homemade rolls and Mary’s beautiful Challah bread, with the various homemade sauces. We added BBQ sauce to half of the pork to make BBQ pulled pork, and we sliced the other half of the pork along with the smoked beef roast for sliders. So tender and tasty, a variety of sliders!

Goat Cheese and Pear Appetizer:

Kelly found this recipe for Goat Cheese and Pear appetizer on Pinterest. Just slice the pears (we dipped in some lemon water to reduce browning), then spread goat cheese, and sprinkle with chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. J

Relishes in Jars

Mary found this idea for the relishes on Pinterest, again! Just find some different jars or vases and fill with vegetables. It creates a great color blocked look.

Caesar Salad Spears with Green Goddess Dressing.

The idea for this salad dish was that guests could pick up the individual spears which were already dressed with Green Goddess and Croutons. (no forks!)


Elvis Style Cole Slaw

Remember this one? All we did was leave out the basil in the aioli and voila it becomes Elvis Style!

Cupcake Mania

We made homemade Sprinkles Chocolate Frosting and had fun decorating regular size and mini cupcakes with Christmas theme sprinkles on top. Specialty theme was Hostess Cupcake swirls on a plain chocolate cupcake, which Ali had requested.

Diane and





July 19, 2011

60 on 60

How do you celebrate your birthday? Maybe with a day off, some relaxation, or dinner out with someone you love? Well that is not my dad’s style… This year, he and his buddy Ken reached a milestone by turning 60. They decided to celebrate by combining their favorite things: friends and golf…lots of golf. Yesterday, they played 60 holes of golf to mark their milestone. For those of you who aren’t golfers, that is A LOT of golf. As a matter of fact, it is 42 holes more than most people ever play in a day. But, they managed to get 5 other guys to take on the endeavor with them (plus a few who came to pace them along the way). Here are some stats for the day:

  • 7 players
  • 60 holes
  • 16.1 miles walked by each player
  • 11 hours and 20 minutes of golf
  • 97 degree high temperature
  • 20 PB&J sandwiches
  • 15 popsicles
  • 12 box lunches
  • Many, many snacks
  • 6 half gallons of iced tea
  • 3 cases of beer
  • 24 Gatorades
  • 1 bottle of tequila in celebration of birdies
  • 120 pounds of ice
  • 6 support golf carts use
  • Too much water to count…

The crew on the first tee

Ken getting things started, Hole #1

The “Dalai Golfma” Rex, age 71!

The young guys representing

Ali the Cart Girl keeping everyone happy and hydrated

A final toast on the 60th hole

Jack wrapping things up with one last tee shot

I am thrilled to report that we had a successful day with fun for all and no major casualties! This event was a huge testament to how golf can bring people together and create life-long friendships. It also shows how staying fit and active can keep you ready for anything life may throw at you. What a great celebration of two wonderful men!! Happy Birthday to Jack and Ken!

Ali, Kelly & Mary

“Stretch, stay limber, and keep golfing!” ~The Dalai Golfma

June 1, 2011

Great-Grandma’s German Potato Salad

This recipe is a long time family favorite from my great-grandma. She emigrated from Hungary in the early 1900’s with her mother and 8 siblings. With another family with 9 kids, they made the tough journey through Ellis Island to St. Louis to join the fathers who had already come to America to work. It really is quite the story with the 18 children all miraculously being well enough to make it through Ellis Island at the same time. Then on the train trip, the mothers got off the train to get some food for the children and the train left without them. None of them spoke English, but as always told in the family, “panicked mother is a universal language” and they were somehow reunited, and here we are four generations later. Anywho…back to the recipe!

According to my aunt, Great-Grandma always said if you are making this for children; add a little extra sugar to cut the tartness of the vinegar. I never liked traditional potato salad since I am not a huge fan of mayonnaise, but this was something I always looked forward to. I love the crunch the celery and onion added to the soft potatoes. Not to mention, bacon makes everything better! The sweet and sour dressing is a childhood memory that always brings back memories. I remember making it with my grandma and lots of us helping. Always such fun! It is a little time consuming, but worth the effort as it makes a large amount and keeps well. Let us know what you think!


“Grandma always used to make this for picnics with fried chicken. I remember when I was too little to like the potato salad, Grandma would leave a few boiled potatoes out for me, and sprinkle them with salt.”


German Potato Salad

10 Small Potatoes

1 Onion

2 Celery Sticks

2 t. Salt

5 Slices Bacon

½ c. Water

½ c. White Vinegar

4 T. Sugar

2 T. Flour

2 T. Parsley (finely chopped)

Boil potatoes for 45 min. Drain and allow to stand covered for 30 minutes. Chop the bacon, fry until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Pour off half the grease. Add to it water, vinegar and sugar. Thicken sauce with a slurry of the flour and a couple tablespoons of water. Finely chop the celery and onion. Slice the cooled potatoes and combine with vegetables and bacon in a LARGE bowl (trust me on this one). Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and mix gently, trying not to break up the potatoes too much. Add the chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings. Can be served immediately while warm or made ahead and refrigerated.

January 2, 2011

Grandma Del’s New Year’s Day Vegetable Soup

Growing up we spent most holidays at my grandparents house in Southern California. It always meant lots of people gathered around and on New Year’s, it always meant football. My Grandma Del always made soup as an easy way to feed the crowd after having festivities for several weeks.

This year, my dad decided he wanted to attempt the soup. Even though he is not the cook in our family, he followed the recipe to the letter. I think it came out just like hers. I never would have gotten it that way because I would have fiddled with it along the way. This is an old fashioned home-style Midwestern soup. It is delicious in its own right, but it we thought it needed some more oomph for today’s tastes. The ever-present bottle of Tabasco and Parmesan didn’t hurt and neither did the homemade french bread (courtesy of Peter Reinhart).

Grandma Del’s New Years Day Vegetable Soup

Shop on the 30th of December.  On New Years Eve Day morning put ½ gallon of water in big soup pot.  Cut in small pieces 2 ½ lbs of any good beef.  Round, chuck or Rump.   Add to water.  Include any bones.  Cut off green leaves of 2 stalks celery.  2 onions cut in ½ and pepper, garlic, basil,  rosemary.  Simmer all day, adding water.  Drain stock into big bowl.  Discard all except meat.

New years day while watching parade.  Return stock and beef to clean soup pot.  Cut small the two stalks celery, 2 more onions, 4 potatoes, 1 bunch carrots, salt and pepper to taste.

when first football game comes on add 1 lg can tomato sauce, salt pepper and basil.

2nd game add water – Stir.

3rd game add ¼ c rice.

At half time Rose Bowl Game add large package frozen mixed vegies.  Do not boil.  Serve w/ French bread butter cheese and leftover fruitcake and cookies.

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