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Fire & Water - Memorial Day Decor

From Martha Stewart comes a simple yet chic way to add color to your Memorial Day festivities.  It would look so nice with a grouping of red and blue.  You could create this for just about any occasion.  Here's how to do it.

Also from Martha Stewart comes this more traditional decoration suggestion: Patriotic Votives

Speaking of decoration, did you know that Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day?  It was officially changed in 1967.  There - now you are one step closer to winning a game of Trivial Pursuit!  :)


Patriotic Soup

If there's one thing I love to do, it's match the food to the occasion. While you could certainly make a berry flag cake for Memorial Day, that's a bit literal for my taste. A more subtle way to inject some holiday color into your menu would be pureeing the berries and serving them as a cold soup.

Blueberry Soup is a unique crowd pleaser...here's an easy recipe. It's great as a sweet appetizer, a palette cleanser, or dessert. If you want to play with color a bit more, garnish with sliced strawberries.


Blackhawks Viewing Party


Today's post features a real Second City Soiree...a Blackhawks viewing party!  Cheer the Hawks through the Western Conference Finals and onto the Stanley Cup!



Serve classic Chicago bar food. Deep dish, Vienna dogs, wings, and such are all a perfect match. If you want to get into the spirit of things, try the nachos shown above. I used red and blue chips, as the blue is dark enough to pass for black. In the middle is a cream cheese spread topped with bell pepper slices arranged in the shape of the Hawks' tomahawk logo. You could also use jalapenos or tomatoes.



Drink local! Offer Chicago microbrews like Metropolitain or Two Brothers.

As far as I'm concerned, it's not a party without a signature cocktail. I searched for one that uses dark and red liqueurs and...huh. Couldn't find one. Maybe I didn't look hard enough, but rather than doing more research, I made one up. My husband says it should be called "The UC" as in Ultimate Cocktail (or United Center, home of the Hawks).

1 pt Kahlua, 1 pt Godiva Liqueur, 1/2 pt Creme de Cacao. Shake and pour. Add a splash of maraschino cherry juice and garnish with a cherry.  Mmm...sweet like a Blackhawks victory!



My friend Kevin suggested a five minute penalty for anyone who spills their drink, but I think a few teeth might get knocked out trying to enforce it (which would then make the party more authentic, so maybe it IS a good idea). He then went on to suggest a contest to see who could eat wings while wearing hockey gloves.  Oh, Kevin!

Luckily our friend Heather had a less violent/messy suggestion: "Pin the Beard on the Blackhawk", which gives a nod to the Hawks' Beard-a-Thon.  Print out these files to recreate the bearded Chief you see above:

Chief Blackhawk.  I recommended printing it out on heavy paper.

The beard. Put a little bit of poster putty on the back to stick to the Chief.

Other things to do:

Quiz each other with some Blackhawks Trivia

Start a quote board for the announcers ("He shoots...he SCORES!")

Decorate your space with Hawks Memorabilia!


Let's hear some more ideas.  What are you planning for your viewing parties?



Ice cream cone cake

From Epicurious.com comes this cute cake.  Wouldn't it make a great birthday cake?  I think it would look great with colored frosting, coordinated to match the party's theme.

If you decide to make it, be sure to read the reviews on Epicurious...there seem to be some differing opinions on the recipe's buttercream frosting.



Italian Strawberry Vodka Shake

You know how some people have a green thumb? Well, I have a black thumb. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's killing plants, which is why this year's experiment with a veggie container garden is a big risk. Will they thrive, or will their little leaves shrivel in the heat and wind of my rooftop?

So far, things are going well. Yesterday while I was watering (I remembered to water - that's half the battle!) I noticed that I finally had ONE strawberry. It was small but brilliantly red...not like those pale, bloated strawberries at the store. It looked perfect, with not a single blemish or mushy spot. I popped it in my mouth. WOW. I am strawberry - hear me roar. How can so much taste be in such a small package? If this keeps up, it's going to be a strawberry summer.

Speaking of strawberries and summer, check out what I found on Foodgawker. It's from a blog called Rossi di Serra which I'm sure is an interesting read, but since it's in Italian, the best I can do is run it through Google's translator.

Wouldn't this make a delicious passed dessert appetizer?

Strawberry Vodka Shake (original here)
Makes 6-8 servings

1oz vodka (maybe even chocolate vodka?)
2/3 c strawberry ice cream
6-8 small strawberries to decorate

Blend the vodka and ice cream with a handheld blender.  Pour into small glasses, decorate with strawberries, and serve immediately.

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