Well, we survived and it turned out great! The "we" being Blondie and me. The "survived" part referring to the prep for and the actual bridal shower itself. On to the recap!
I was lucky and had Friday as a normal day off, so I woke up early, got ready, finished packing up my car and headed to the nail salon for a pedicure around 10am. Such a relaxing way to start off the morning. And since it was the last bit of down time I expected until late Sunday night, I took full advantage of it by enjoying my cafe mocha and reading US Weekly.
After the nail salon, I swung by the tailors to pick up my dress for the party and then I was on the road to SD. Traffic was majorly crappy getting out of the Westside, but once I hit the southbay, things opened up and it was smooth sailing the whole way down. Yay!
By 3pm, I had arrived at Blondie's parents house, Blondie and I said our hellos, we wrote out a quick list of what needed to get accomplished over the next few hours and we were off again.
All of the food prep was happening at Sporty's new house in OC on Saturday. While the kitchen is a dream, it is basically empty, so we had to bring most of our equipment with us. I brought with me a lot of serving stuff, my stand mixer, etc, but we still needed to run by Blondie's in-laws to raid their kitchen for some other stuff. We also stopped by Target, Cost Plus and Party City for some last minute supplies as well.
By midnight that night, we had a final food list for Saturday, the m&m favors filled and most of our cars packed and ready to go for the next day. And we even managed to make it to bed by midnight!
We woke up early and tried to start the morning off on a healthy foot by stopping at the gym for a quick run. I was quite proud of us for still making time to do that in the midst of a very busy weekend. Afterwards, we grabbed coffee, ran a few final errands and then headed back to her place to shower and get on the road up to Sporty's house. Oh, and we grabbed lunch and Golden Spoon in there somewhere, too.
We finally got to Sporty's house around 3pm and joined the rest of the crew. Sporty, her fiance InfoMan, her parents and brother were all there finalizing the landscaping on the front and side yards. Blondie and I unloaded our cars and then headed off again to Costco and Ralph's to buy all the food for the shower.
I think now is a good time to discuss the food with a bit of backstory. When Blondie got married last year, we threw a great bridal shower for her that was catered by Vino's sister, Dressing Queen, who was about to graduate from culinary school. She put together a beautiful spread of food -- salads, seafood tray, fruit --that was perfect for an afternoon shower. [Must blog the event sometime soon, as it was another hectic, but sucessful weekend] But, the kicker in all of this? Sporty, Vino and both of their moms have a gluten-allergy. Meaning, the entire lunch needed to be gluten-free, from the starters all the way to dessert. And where is gluten found? A LOT of places! Bread products are out as are regular cakes and pies. Throws a whole new spin on what is and isn't acceptable for party food.
Now, cut to the planning for Sporty's shower. Dressing Queen is currently a pastry chef in HI and couldn't get back for the shower. A few months ago Blondie was wondering out loud what she was going to do about food and I casually said "You know, I think we can handle it." And for some reason, she actually had enough faith in me that I wouldn't completely screw things up, that she annointed me the "caterer" for the event. Gulp. Talk about pressure!
The menu I created was very similar to what Dressing Queen did for Blondie's shower -- light, simple food that was relatively easy to keep gluten-free. Dressing Queen made everything from scratch for the shower, which helped to keep things gluten-free, but I'm also convinced this was just habit for her that stemmed from her culinary school training. I picked up on this and tried to emulate her high standards, meaning everything, except for the gluten-free cake mix, which I "doctored up", was homemade.
* Crab cake bites (made with GF bread crumbs) with red-pepper aioli
* Stuffed mushrooms
* Greek salad with chicken and greek dressing
* Strawberry-spinach salad with toasted pecans, goat cheese and balsamic dressing
* Crudite with lemon-herb dip
* Assorted fruit
* Banana spice mini-cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
* Strawberry mini-cupcakes with pink buttercream frosting
* Mocha mini-cupcakes with chocolate frosting
Okay, back to the food shopping. Thank god for the detailed list because it made getting in and out of both Costco and Ralph's very easy. Kristin pushed the cart, while I zoomed up and down aisles grabbing what we needed. By 6pm, we were back to the house, the food was in the kitchen and it was time to get crackin'!
I've mentioned how gorgeous Sporty's kitchen is, right? Seriously, if I lived closer, I'd volunteer to go over and cook for them at least once a week just to be able to take advantage of the space (well, after they get it stocked with equipment, that is.) No joke! The ample amount of space came in quite handy with the amount of tasks that had to be accomplished over the next 18 hours. And the 2 ovens were a lifesaver! Although, with any sort of prep work before a big event, things always take longer than they should. There was at least one point on Saturday night that I thought I'd never get all the food done in time. Granted, I didn't share this with Blondie until after the shower, but she agreed with me that it got a little tense at several points that night.
After each batch of cupcakes, Blondie, Sporty, InfoMan and I all tried one to make sure they were good. With one of the cupcakes Sporty and InfoMan thought it'd be a good idea to feed each other to practice for the big day. Hilarious!
And it's not a party without at least one snafu, no? After making the buttercream frosting, I wanted to color it light pink. Well, silly me bought the food coloring bottle without a drip top. You can see where this is going.... I thought I added a drop or two, obviously it was way more than that because the frosting resembled pepto-bismol. :/ It was after 1am, I was exhausted and I adamantly refused to serve cupcakes that color. Thankfully, Blondie volunteered to run to the store in the AM for more supplies and we were able to remake it the next day. <3 her.
For the most part though, I just tried to keep my head down and tackle one thing at a time. Blondie and I finally called it a "night" around 3am Sunday morning. By that time, we'd made 12 dozen mini-cupcakes and frosted 8 dozen of them, marinated and broiled the chicken, made the lemon-herb dip and the red-pepper aioli, and had a list of everything that needed to get done the next morning, which was really really LONG. Eek!
After 3.5 hours of sleep, I sprung out of bed, got ready for the day (including full hair and makeup because I knew I wouldn't have time later) and was back in the kitchen by 8am. And then the real work started. I had a list of stuff that needed to be washed and chopped, 2 dressings that needed to be made, a replacement batch of frosting that needed to be whipped up and put on the cupcakes, etc etc. Ugh. So.much.to.do. I was feeling good until we hit 10am and it looked like the list hadn't been touched and I had been hauling ass to get things done. Using a term from the cooking world, I was in the weeds. :/ And then, like magic, several folks showed up to help and suddenly I had extra hands that were just itching to be put to work! Hallelujah!! Sporty's sister-in-law and her cousin were a huge help to me. They'd no more finish one task than they were asking for something, anything else to do. <3 <3 <3
By noon, Blondie and I looked at each other, smiled and knew that it was all going to be okay. Better than okay really. It was going to be fantastic! The kitchen was humming along with people tying up loose ends, the extra crap had been stashed in the laundry room and the 2 bridesmaids in charge of decor were doing a beautiful job of adding lovely pink and brown touches all over the house. Yay!
By the time the first guests started arriving just before 1pm, we were ready to rock and roll. From there, the rest of the shower flowed so well. And now, I think it's time for some pictures!
Crab-cake bites Stuffed mushrooms Drinks: champagne, water and iced tea
Favor table Close-up of the floral arrangement Main dining table Cutlery basket
Lunch spread Crudite with lemon-herb dip Greek salad with chicken on the side Strawberry-spinach salad
Blondie had arranged for a couple of games to be played at the shower. My favorite is one that we also played at my shower as well as Blondie's. You ask the groom a list of questions, get his answers and ask the bride-to-be the same questions. She then has to correctly answer them based on what she thinks the groom said. For each incorrect answer, the bride has to put a piece of bubblegum in her mouth. It can get very messy, very quickly. The twist for this time around though, was Blondie actually videotaped InfoMan answering the questions, so instead of reading his answers to the group, we got to hear directly from the man himself. Too freaking funny!
And really, a party isn't a party without dessert! I used Pamela's gluten-free cake mix to make the mini-cupcakes and then added some stuff to it to make them a bit more fun. I've been told that most gluten-free baked goods turn out very dense and heavy due to the combination of flours used, but everyone said these were so delicious because they were so light and so reminiscent of a "real" cupcake. I was really pleased they turned out so well and the big grins on the faces of Sporty, her mom and Crafty were all the feedback I needed. In fact, we had a lot of leftovers, so Sporty's mom and Crafty happily took home the extras. :)
All in all it was a great shower! Sporty looked so happy the entire time and that is really all that matters. Everyone was exhausted by the end, but it was well-worth the effort. I don't think catering is ever something I'd want to do for a living (too much pressure!), but I'd be happy to do it again for friends or family. Sure, it was stressful and a bit hairy in parts, but ultimately I had a great time doing it!
Blondie, thanks for having faith in me that I wouldn't totally screw things up. It was another fun weekend hanging out with you, but next time we get together, let's schedule a bit more down time, 'kay? ;) And Sporty, I'm so happy for you and wish you and InfoMan all the best. It's going to be a beautiful wedding and I can't wait to witness it!