Category Archives: Festive Fun

Julia Child Inspired Dinner Party

Julia Child Inspired Dinner Party

Julia Child is a chef that gave new life to French food and brought those beloved European recipes into homes across the States. Her story and recipes are now being revisited by a whole new generation with the release of the film Julie & Julia in 2009. My friends and I are included in the group of those being reintroduced to this brilliant chef and her recipes. I remember seeing her on TV cooking shows on Saturday mornings when I was a kid and am now intrigued by and enjoying her tasty recipes!

This dinner party, hosted by my friend Mary, centered around this famous Julia Child inspired recipe: Beef Bourguignon.
Here’s a link to the recipe:
Its a little more complex than some of the recipes I’ve posted in the past and I have to admit that the version we made is not exact. You could say we simplified, but it was still delicious.

(Gluten Free: we used corn starch to thicken and make sure you used GF beef stock)

We started our dinner party sitting around the coffee table on floor pillows eating appetizers, enjoying a warm fire, listening to great music, and talking and laughing a lot.

Mary’s sweet little pup Jay Jay even enjoyed the warm fire with us on the cold winter night.

Our simple appetizers included crackers and tortilla chips, sliced radishes, and black olives stuffed with hummus (you could also use goat cheese or blue cheese). Remember the point of appetizers is just to give your guests something to munch on when they arrive. You don’t want them to fill up on them if you’re preparing a generous meal.

Our Beef Bourguignon progressed nicely and filled the house with a great aroma that definitely made us all crave the warm meal’s hearty goodness!

Serving the tasty dish right out of the pan not only keeps it warm and ensures you enjoy every bit of the pan juices, but also saves on dishes you have to wash (major bonus in my opinion)!

The Beef Bourguignon pairs really well with oven roasted white and sweet potatoes and red wine.

Hope this inspires you to start cooking! Remember even if you simplify complex recipes, you’re still cooking…props to all of you out there who dare to step outside of your food/ cooking box and try new things! Keeping cooking!

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

One of things I miss a lot, since going on my “special diet” (see the “Who is Madindy?” page for details) are appetizers and finger foods at parties!

Most of the time appetizers and finger foods include bread, cheese, and eggs somewhere in the mix. So more often than not I’m the one who’s loaded her plate with the raw veggies and fruits from trays and I eat them with no dip (most of the time because the dips are a dairy base). And people say, “are you on a diet?” “oh, you’re eating healthy!” And I’m thinking “oh, believe me if I could, my plate would be loaded with the cheese dips, crackers, cookies, breaded appetizers, etc.”

But, I’m very thankful that my dietary needs have taken me down this food exploration journey and I hope you’ll join me!

So, my allergen-free friends, or those just looking for tasty appetizers that are a bit healthier than those filled with cheese and bread, these Stuffed Mushrooms are for you! This recipe contains no animal products, so its considered Vegan as well.

They are so good that even my friends (who eat “normal diets”) loved them too, always a good sign!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion or shallot, minced
1/2 cup crimini mushroom stems, diced
3/4 to 1 whole carton of crimini mushrooms (stems removed and used for the above), cleaned
1 bunch collard greens or spinach, thinly sliced yielding 1/2 cup
1/4 cup tomatoes, diced (small)
1 teaspoon basil (dried or fresh minced)
1 teaspoon Italian parsley (dried or fresh minced)
3/4 teaspoon (gluten free) soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Pinch red crushed pepper
sea salt to taste

Lemon Herb Marinade Ingredients:
1 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon (gluten free) soy sauce
1 tablespoon Italian parsley (dried or fresh minced)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place mushroom caps in marinade blend for at least 20 minutes.
2. While mushrooms are marinating, place oil in sautee pan. Add onion/shallots and minced mushroom stems and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add collard greens/spinach and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Then add remaining ingredients, mix well and remove from heat.
3. Remove mushroom caps from marinade. Fill each cap with mixture. Place on baking sheet in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until mushrooms are soft, careful not to overcook. Enjoy!

Serves: 4

* Recipe source:

Spring Baby Shower Decor

Spring Baby Shower Decor

As promised earlier this week, here are the pics from Baby Shower last weekend that I did the decor for (with lots of help from friends may I add). I searched around the craft store for about an hour trying to find the perfect thing. Again, it had to be not “babyie” it needed to look fresh and welcoming and be gender neutral. We didn’t want to spend a bundle on decor, but wanted it to be really special. So, here is how it all came together.

Five of the table had the center piece shown above. A small bunch of silk daisies, in a clear cylinder vase filled with natural stones and green moss. A friend had a bunch of the antique baby blocks that added a beautiful touch to each table.

For 2 of the centerpieces I bought 2 bunches of fresh flowers (one for each vase) and had these twigs I painted white for a winter centerpiece. I placed them together in taller clear cylinder vases and stuffed a little green spanish moss to pour out of the top (holding the stems all in place).

Earthy and simple!

The diaper cake was elegantly placed on a cake stand with a clear plater on top (nice touch June) on the gift table!

On the drink table sat an antique baby wagon with more of the antique baby blocks, a colorful runner (really placemats we pulled together), and a 3 tiered stand with chocolates and coffee accessories.

Eating, chatting, laughing, and loving on the mom-to-be!

A great time celebrating a wonderful blessing in life! Great job ladies for pulling off a wonderful shower! Only a month until we’ll all get to meet the new little one!

Diaper Cake for Spring

Diaper Cake for Spring

I just made a diaper cake for a dear friend’s baby shower this past weekend.

She’s due to welcome her little into the world at the end of the March, so we’re all getting really excited! She doesn’t know if her little one is a boy or girl, so she is doing most of her bedding, blankets, etc. in green, so she can add in blues or pinks when she meets her/him.

With my excitement for Spring and knowing the baby will be born this Spring, I went with a Spring look for the diaper cake and shower decor (I’ll post later this week). I was trying to get some inspiration for it all and kept thinking about Spring green moss. Its the right color, not overly “girlie” or “babyie” (neither the mom-to-be or myself are into the “baby look”; you know clowns, noah’s ark, winnie the pooh, etc.). So, this fresh look really seemed to work well.

I used green moss and 2 small bunches of silk daisies I bought at the craft store, as well as pale yellow satin ribbon I got from Buy Buy Baby (they have available in their complimentary gift wrap station) to decorate the cake.

On the tiers of the diaper cake are baby items mostly from the mom-to-be’s gift registry, including the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (one of my childhood favorites and this one is a cardboard book, so its great for young children). There are 2 baby bottles in the center of the cake and one on the lower tier. The cake includes 100 size 2 diapers that will definitely be used in the future.

There is a pack of “rockstar” pacifiers and a baby teething toy, as well as a sippy cup and travel sized baby care items.

Diaper cakes are great baby shower gifts, as they’re not only a gift but a decor item on the gift table and can decorate the baby’s nursery for a while.

Have a baby shower you need a gift for? Not sure what to get? Let me know as I now offer diaper cakes for sale, special made for the mom-to-be’s nursery theme and registry items. Interested? Contact me through the Ask Madindy page.

Vivacious Vacations: St. Louis

Vivacious Vacations: St. Louis

I love to travel, seeing new things, new places, new people and trying new food! I thought I’d share some of the great places that I’ve had the privilege of visiting; some that may be close to home and some a little further away.

So, I’m launching the new segment today I’m calling Vivacious Vacations, where I’ll feature a place (city, town, country, beach, campground, etc.) that I enjoyed so much and think you might as well! Some were just weekend trips and others were weeks long. I’ll show you the great things to see, to do, and to eat!

For our first Vivacious Vacation I’m featuring St. Louis!

Why I’m featuring St. Louis?
Both my roomie from college and my husband’s roomie from college live in St. Louis. A group of us decided we didn’t want to lose touch so we decided that every Spring us northerners would take a long weekend trip down South and every Fall the southerners would trek up North.

I’ve driven through St. Louis at least 20 times and never really stopped to explore the city. So this trip last Spring was full of the locals showing us the ropes…my favorite way to explore a new place! So, here’s St. Louis!

Having loved and studied so much architecture, St. Louis is a city that excites me with its rich architectural history. The city is filled with beautiful brick buildings that scream craftsmanship long gone.

My college roomie, Shelly, and her hubby, Andy, live in a piece of history in downtown St. Louis. This beauty above is where they call home. It dates back 150 years, built by a man who was a doctor in the civil war. Stay tuned for a future post where I’ll feature Shelly and Andy’s gorgeous historic home, so you can see what they’ve done with the place!

The first stop in St. Louis seems to naturally be the Gateway Arch. Towering 630 ft above the banks of the Mississippi River, it was built as a symbol of Westward Expansion. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen, the monument was completed in 1965 and is open to the public.

Yes, that’s right, you can not only hang out at the base of the arch, but you can ride in a little cart to the very top!

Overlooking: One of my favorite things to do in any city I visit is to trek to one of the highest points in the city to overlook from a bird’s eye view. It gives a visitor a totally new, bigger picture, perspective of the city. The view from the top of the arch does just that!

I know you competitive northern baseball fans will cringe, but I highly recommend visiting a Cardinals’ game at Busch Stadium when in St. Louis.

Its not only a great sporting event, but the view of the city from the stadium is beautiful!

And the fireworks show is stunning…added entertainment to the evening!

One of my favorite things we did in St. Louis was visiting the historic Soulard Farmer’s Market. This year round farmer’s market is one of the oldest farmer’s markets west of the mississippi with its first structure dating back to 1843.

The market is not only filled with beautiful sights, but the sounds of the local street performers makes for a lively atmosphere and great music!

With aisles and aisles of local fruits, veggies, flowers, meats, cheeses, breads, pastries, snacks and lots of samples it made for a fun afternoon of food a local flavor. And by the end of the visit we had enough food to cook up a tasty dinner made from all fresh local produce.

I love finding free things to do in cities and St. Louis has plenty of things to do for free. The Budweiser factory is located close by Shelly and Andy’s house, so they knew that on certain days you can go get your picture with one of the Budweiser Clydesdale’s.

Another free activity in St. Louis is the zoo. That’s right the zoo is free and a great way to enjoy the beautiful warm Spring weather in the city!

Another site to be seen just outside the city in a suburb called St. Charles is New Town.

Take a step back to the ways city once were designed. You may think you’re in Mayberry, visiting this pocket of the New Urbanism architectural movement in the middle of a corn field.

New Town was developed by the world renown architectural firm DPZ. It brings back the traditional city planning methods of walkable cities with town centers.

This town scientifically blends various forms of residential, commercial, and municipal buildings.

Most of the properties in the town go for hefty price tags, but the architecture and town itself is pristine. I have to admit that I love this architectural movement, but the town felt a little like I walked in the movie Pleasantville.

What to eat in St. Louis? While in St. Louis we visited local restaurants that represented the melting pot that is the U.S.A., trying both an Indian Restaurant (I’ve always loved Indian food) and Nicaraguan Food (a new thing for me that I loved). Even with my restricted diet I had plenty of options at both places. They were both delicious and both restaurants are run by natives of the country their food originates from. You know it’ll be good when the recipes are things the owner’s grandmother used to make!

I hope this tour of St. Louis gives you a little insight into the sights, smells and sounds of this historic city’s blending of the old and the new. I’ll be traveling to St. Louis again this Spring and am excited to bring back and share even more great sights of the city. Have a great weekend…and start planning your trip soon!

Quick Valentine’s Dessert

Quick Valentine’s Dessert

Just in case you forgot, today is Valentine’s Day. So, you have no idea what sort of dessert you can have on a restricted diet or with limited time to make it…How about chocolate fondu!

Even with my restricted diet, chocolate fondu is a great no bake dessert that I can eat.

The best part about chocolate fondu for Valentine’s Day is its a fun activity that you can share with your loved one!

Here’s how I make my chocolate fondu:
I take a package of allergen-free semi sweet chocolate chips and melt them down in a double broiler. I swirl in a little water and a touch of vanilla extract; stir thoroughly and pour into your fondu pot with a candle or sterno lighter below.

I found this cute little fondu pot at a thrift store several years ago…the red color makes it feel even more festive!

My favorite fondu dippers that follow my restricted diet:
GF Animal Crackers
GF Graham Crackers
GF Pretzels
Bananas (I can’t eat em’ any more but used to be my favorite dipper)

Even with not much time to prepare and even on a restricted diet, you can enjoy this delicious dessert/activity with your loved one. Happy Valentine’s Day!