Being a contessa means that the pressure is on to go beyond the food and work on the art of entertaining, so in my pitiful attempt, I decided to spend a little money and buy some flowers. What I really wanted to do was make an outdoor deck in the little area outside my kitchen, but my husband said we couldn't do it in 4 hours (something about putting down cement pillars and building a deck on top of the pillars - what is that hard?) In my mind, I already found the perfect teak table and chairs with a cute little runner courtesy of Better Homes and Garden. For now, $7.99 flowers from Safeway will have to do. If my husband really was supporting me, he would have started on that deck, but he made our bed once for our futon and he put one set of legs facing in one direction, and the other set of legs facing in the opposite direction, so unless he can make it out of 2x4's with very minimal cutting and putting togetherness, the supplies will end up with those recycled bathroom stalls under our palm tree that have been with us for 5 years.
Back to the food. My husband and I have been going paddle boarding in the afternoons and when we're tired, we go out in the deep and just sit on the boards and talk story. That's where our menu planning happens, so since Saturday was a nice hot day in Hilo, we felt that Sunday dinner should be a lazy affair. On the menu: store roasted chicken shredded to make chicken wraps, Hungry Girl Te Quiero Tequila Shrimp and Betty Crocker Chocolate-Orange Punch Bowl Cake. Chicken wraps are a great way to use store-bought roast chicken. Shred the chicken, warm up the burritos (I love the La Tortilla Factory low carb/high fiber whole wheat burritos - small size is the only 0 point tortilla), cut up matchsticks of Japanese cucumbers, and cilantro. Everyone makes their own burritos with chicken, veggies, and a combination or choice of plum sauce, hoisin sauce and/or sweet chili sauce. We used the tequila shrimp in the burrito wraps too - the juiciness of the tomatoes with the tequila and chili really make this burrito succulent. Dessert was actually the most time consuming dish, but while the chocolate cake was baking, I had my own shrimp cleaning challenge (based on this week's Hell's Kitchen). The contestants had to clean as much shrimp as possible in 10 minutes. It takes me 20 minutes to clean 2 pounds of shrimp, but my husband did say that I left a tail on one of my shrimp. I hope that was the only one.
The dessert was a new recipe for me, so I made it as it was written, but if you want to keep the calories down, replace the oil, water and eggs in the chocolate cake batter with a can of pureed pumpkin, or diet coke, use fat free vanilla pudding with skim milk, and use Cool Whip Free rather than regular Cool Whip. What makes it so lusciously lovely is the fresh orange zest that is mixed in with the vanilla pudding. The recipe says you can substitute vanilla pudding with white chocolate pudding, but where the hell do they sell white chocolate pudding? It must be at Whole Foods with my $7 bottle of diet peanut butter. I did have one major failure. If you go to the Betty Crocker website and actually look at the mandarin orange sections in the picture, they dipped them in chocolate. Well, I have dipping chocolate, so I thought NO PROBLEM. I put it in the microwave (Ken and I got the microwave as a wedding gift, so it's over 20 years old), followed the directions, and stirred every 30 seconds. What did I get? Nothing! I got gunky, dry, lumpy chocolate that had the texture of stiff peanut butter. I kept going in 30 second intervals - 2 minutes, 3 minutes - I finally had to call Ken since this is the chocolate he always uses to make dipped strawberries - he put butter in it (while I said, "you know, it says not to put butter") and stirred again, told me I should be using a spoon instead of chopsticks, and then said it was "fixed." On my first attempt to dip the orange sections, I got granules of chocolate on my oranges that looked and felt like coffee grounds. Ugh! So I'm frustrated, I'm muttering to myself in the kitchen, pushing plates around and "fricken/fracking." What does my husband say?
Me: I'm frustrated! I can get everything else, but I can't get the fricken chocolate to be dipping consistency!!!!!!
Him: See? You shouldn't do the Sunday dinner thing.
Me: WHAT???? (Whatever)
What I learned: sometimes things don't always come out like the pictures, but suck it up, keep my fricken/fracking to myself and get dinner on the table by 6, because if it's Sunday at 6, then dinner is served.
Happy grinding! We are nowhere near a kitchen next Sunday, so I'm taking a week off. I'll just add it to the end. Have a great week.