Monday, July 8, 2013

30th Birthday Barbecue

I've been 30 for five days now. I survived! I did so by drinking heavily (just kidding... kind of). But seriously, we had a great pool party and barbecue on Saturday. It was the perfect day. Friends, old and new, and family came, kiddos swam like fishes in the pool and Parker got to show off all his toys and play with some new friends. It was a great day, the weather co-operated, and we had great food to boot.

If you are thinking of hosting a party for 20 to 30 people, here's the game plan I followed:

1. Go out for dinner on the night of your birthday and eat a bunch of tacos and have a couple of drinks. Go grocery shopping at a store that you've never been to where you can't find anything and spend too much money cause you've had a couple of drinks. Get home and make some raspberry ice cream for the party two days from now.

2.  The next day go to your parents place for dinner after work and accidentally drink a bottle of wine. Get home at 11:30pm, rub your meat (the pork shoulder people, the pork shoulder) and make bbq sauce. Decide you're not tired yet and start on cupcakes. Go to bed close to 2am once three batches of cupcakes are finally baked.

3. Get up the day of the party, pop some Tylenol, and start on salads and appetizers. Which you will making for the next 6 hours. Realize a close to the party start time that you haven't showered, gotten ice, that you forgot to get about five things from the grocery store, and haven't been to the LCBO to get your beverage of choice for the party.

4. Panic. Drive faster than you should. Somehow get lost in a small town with basically two main streets. Swear. Miraculously get home within an hour, finish cooking by the time guests arrive, and proceed have a great time since you did everything ahead of time. Yay you!

On second thought, don't follow that schedule. You may want to plan things better. But ever'ting work out in the end mon. No worries.

Tyler made pulled pork. We are still working on the perfect barbecued pulled pork but it wasn't the perfect pulled pork. It was very good, but it didn't pull easily. I've only gotten pork to shred really easily cooked in the slow cooker, but that kind of negates the purpose of having a barbecue, right?

I made two salads to go with the pork sandwiches. They were my favorite part of the whole meal. I was going to make wild rice salad but I couldn't get wild rice at store I was at. They had about twelve other rices I'd never made before, but of course not the rice I needed. I improvised and made an orzo pasta salad instead that turned out so great. I could eat, and have been eating, it as a meal. Along with the other salad, a beautiful grilled corn coleslaw, these were the perfect sides for a summer barbecue.

What about the cake, you say? I had big plans for my 30th birthday cake. I had visions of layer cakes decorated beautifully that everyone would swoon over. Then a week before the big day I came to my senses and remembered that a) I suck at decorating cakes. b) last time I made a layer cake was for Tyler's 30th and I had a cake induced melt down that resulted in a 30th birthday marital spat. c) I'm just not that kind of girl. I'd rather have a rustic rhubarb crumble pie (I seriously considered this as my birthday dessert actually). So I met myself half way. The cupcakes I made turned out beautifully but were not too fussy. And there's cream cheese icing involved. Sold.

Here's the full menu:

*Fruit with Orange Creamsicle Dip
*Caprese Skewers (boccocini cheese, a small basil leaf, half a grape tomato on a toothpick. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar)

*Pulled Pork
*Greek Orzo Salad (recipe below)
*Grilled Corn Slaw (recipe below)

*Hummingbird Cupcakes
*Raspberry Ice Cream

 Serves 10 as a side dish

I was trying to get everything done and not thinking about blogging the recipe, so I wasn't diligent in measuring, so measurements here are approximate. This is a simple recipe anyway- taste it, if it needs more of something just stir it in. It will work out. 
  • 450g orzo pasta
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • zest and juice of two lemons
  • two garlic cloves, very finely chopped, or grated on a Microplane
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried dill
Cook orzo in salted water according to package directions- do not over cook- cook to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Whisk ingredients for vinaigrette in the bottom of your serving bowl. Add drained pasta and remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Adapted from My Invisible Crown
Serves 10 as a side dish
  • 5 ears corn, shucked and cleaned of silks
  • 1 small red cabbage, shredded - a food processor makes quick work of this
  • 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 340g bag carrot slaw (like this one from PC brand)
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
  • zest and juice of 3 limes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper
Grill corn on high direct heat, turning often, until charred- about 12 minutes total. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, cut kernels off cobs and add to a large bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients except sunflower seeds. Mix salad dressing ingredients in a blender or with an immersion blender. Toss salad with seeds and dressing just before serving.

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