Thursday, July 30, 2009

peel an avocado...from the inside out

Here is my first tutorial, and it happens to be on avocado peeling. Which, in reality, occurs more from the inside-out rather than the outside-in, as you would be lead to believe by the term 'peeling'. Regardless, our finished product is the flesh of the fruit without a pit or peel. This is a great project for a taco night, when you need to add fresh guacamole to your repertoire (and thus, need to peel lots of avocados). You will need a large knife, a spoon, and the obligatory avocado for this project. To begin, hold the fruit in the palm of your hand with the narrow end at 12 o'clock and the wider end at 6 o'clock. Carefully, press the knife vertically into the fruit until the blade stops at the pit. Rotate and separate the fruit to create two equal halves. (You may need to gently turn the halves in opposite directions to loosen the fruit from the pit.)
Now comes the fun (read dangerous and thrilling) part. If you do it the right way, all of your friends will say, 'ooh,' and 'aah,' if you do it the wrong way, they may ask, 'where do you keep the band-aids?' or 'which way to the nearest ER?' I must caution you to err on the side of too little effort, rather than risking injury with too much effort. Gently, but swiftly, embed the mid-section of the knife blade into the pit of the fruit. (You won't be able to push the knife in, it is really more of a 'hack'...a gentle, safe 'hack', that is.) After a few attempts, you will discover the amount of effort required to lodge the blade firmly into the pit of the avocado. The trick is to get the blade to stop approximately half way through the pit. Too far, and the pit cuts in half and the little trick doesn't work. Too shallow into the pit, and the outer layers of the pit will break off during the next step...and that is essentially like stripping a screw. Once you have perfected the science of gently, but firmly hacking your knife's way into the pit of your avocado, the rest is the proverbial piece of cake. Rotate your knife (as though it were the hands on a clock), until the pit becomes dislodged from the flesh of the fruit. Gently push the pit off of the knife (remember it is pretty well stuck on there, you may have to push firmly). Always push away from the blade. A little pinch behind the pit will usually work. Without cutting through the skin of the avocado, score it in slices or cubes (depending on how you are serving the avocado).Then, take a large spoon (my soup spoons are the perfect size) and slide it between the peel and the flesh of the fruit. Scoop out any remaining morsels of fruit that are usable for your purpose, then discard the skin. You now have a peeled avocado, with very little waste, and nary a mess to be found. (That is of course unless you were a little gung-ho on the hacking part, and you left the avocado and knife on the counter while you made your trip to the ER!) All that's left is to enjoy the 'fruit' of your labor in your favorite salad, guacamole, or all by itself. mmm....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

hors d'oeuvres wedding reception for 50

One colloquialism I find really entertaining is, "the wedding went off without a hitch." If there's no hitch, are they really married at the end?!? Last weekend I provided hors d'oeuvres for 50 of a special couple's closest friends and family. Here are some photos of the buffet.

Crudite Shooters. Parmesan Flatbread.

Twice Baked Baby New Potatoes. Antipasto Skewers.

Tomato, Basil and Feta Pizzettes. Chicken and Bacon Brochettes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

what is it about the fries?!?

Our family loves to spend time at the pool. They have a great kids' play area with hoses, buckets, rope ladders and slides. They also have a concession stand. My husband is crazy about their french fries. He will make sure to have his $1.25 in order before we get in the car to head to the pool. Last night, he ate two batches. Of course, each one was consumed alongside copious amounts of ketchup. I'm fairly certain that these are your garden variety frozen crinkle cut spuds, which begs the question...what is it about the fries? I'd like to think that I have a slightly more sophisticated palate. My favorite fries are at AT&T Park (formerly Pac Bell Park) in San Francisco. They are the famous garlic fries...served with chunks of freshly crushed garlic. They are so garlicky, you're likely to smell them in the air when you arrive at the stadium, and on your breath a week after cheering your team on to victory. Now, those are some yummy fries! Perhaps the thing that makes food taste so good is the circumstance surrounding its consumption...summer vacation, a victorious ball game, a family gathering, etc. I hope you have a chance to share some good food with great company over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

st. louis all-stars

So, I'm sitting back, watching St. Louis show off its new Busch Stadium (and NL MVP Albert Pujols!) in the 2009 All Star Game, thinking about some All Star foods from St. Louis. Perhaps the oldest and most recognized consumables native to St. Louis are the bubbly adult beverages from Anheuser Busch. The AB brewery was started waaaay back in 1860, and is still a St. Louis icon! A few foods made popular in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (a.k.a. the St. Louis Worlds Fair) in 1904 are: Dr. Pepper, iced tea, hot dogs, hamburgers, peanut butter, cotton candy, and waffle cones (for ice cream). More recently, St. Louis favorites have come to include toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, and crunchy-thin-crust pizza (of course, topped with provel cheese). What's the only way you can make these specialties any better? Make them chocolate, of course!

Here is my favorite Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake recipe (thank you, Marla) for you to try at home.
  • 8 TBSP (1stick) butter, melted, plus
  • 8 more TBSP (1 stick) butter, melted , plus additional butter for greasing pan
  • 1 (18.25-ounce) package chocolate cake mix
  • 1 egg, plus 2 eggs
  • 1(8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 to 4 TBSP cocoa powder (the more the merrier!)
  • 1(16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  • In large bowl, combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and 1 stick melted butter, and stir until well blended. Pat mixture into prepared pan and set aside.
  • Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the remaining 2 eggs and the cocoa powder. Lower the speed of the mixer, and add the powdered sugar. Continue beating until ingredients are well mixed.
  • Slowly add the remaining 1 stick melted butter, and the vanilla, continuing to beat the mixture until smooth.
  • Spread filling over cake mixture in pan.
  • Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the cake; the center should still be a little gooey when finished baking.
  • Let the cake partially cool on a wire rack before cutting into pieces.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

shopping lists

I am a list person. I keep lists of everything. 'To do', 'To make', 'Bills', etc. I am just shy of the lists of lists (except for the brief example above!) kind of person. I have a computer program which will generate a shopping list from my menus for the week, or any given event, and I love, love, love it!

Well, this week is a big week as far as grocery shopping shower on Saturday, wedding reception on Sunday, and a family to feed in the meanwhile. So, I entered all of the things I'll be making this week from turkey sandwiches at lunchtime to cheesecake for one of the events desserts. The computer generated list is 3 pages and 100 items long! The beauty of it is this: the computer has arranged the list according to departments in the grocery store. I had better get started!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

wednesday family night out dinners - fall 2009

West County Assembly of God Church Wednesday Family Night Out Dinners are open to anyone, provided you have made reservation. Please email Ellen in the church office to do so. All adult meals include an entree, side, vegetable and/or salad, and dessert. Children's entrees are often available and junior-sized adult meals are available each week. The costs are $5 per adult (over age 12) and $2 per child (ages 3-11, children aged 2 years and under are free). First time visitors will receive complimentary meals as guests of the church (please make a reservation). Meals are served each Wednesday from 5:45-6:15PM.

Fall quarter menus:

  • August 26: Oven Fried Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cucumber and Tomato Salad, Dessert
  • September 2: Made to Order Pizzas, Salad Bar, Dessert
  • September 9: Barbequed Beef Brisket, Baked Macaroni, Broccoli Salad, Dessert
  • September 16: Shredded Chicken Nachos, Corn and Black Bean Salad, Dessert
  • September 23: Pasta Prima Vera, Garlic Bread, Caesar Salad, Dessert
  • September 30: Baked Potato Bar, Salad Bar, Dessert
  • October 7: Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Market Vegetables, Salad, Dessert
  • October 14: Spinach Lasagna Rolls, Market Vegetables, Garlic Bread, Pasta House Salad, Dessert
  • October 21: Balsamic Herbed Chicken, Aunt Bev's Rice, Market Vegetables, Salad, Dessert
  • October 28: Chili with beans and meat or White Chicken Chili, Salad Bar, Dessert
  • November 4: Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables, Salad, Dessert
  • November 11: Taco and Burrito Bar, Salad, Dessert
  • November 18: Potato Chowder and Spicy Black Bean Soup, Salad Bar, Dessert
  • November 24: (TUESDAY) Creamy Mostaccioli, Garlic Bread, Caesar Salad, Dessert

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

a few of my favorite things...

Although my fellow shoppers at Homegoods were well aware that the excursion was not among my toddler-daughter's list of favorite-things-to-do-today, they may not have known that it is one of my all time favorite places to pick up odds and ends for the kitchen. I shopped for all of ten minutes, and fully eight of them were spent trying to console and shush my sobbing kiddo. But, all of you with toddlers know, shopping must be quick and to the point (no meandering allowed) the two minutes were productive, and I found the perfect plates! I'll post pictures when I dress them up with some delectables after the wedding reception next weekend. Another favorite is an online party supply site, Smarty Had a Party. I love all of the unique disposable (but washable and reusable) party ware. I ordered some square plastic shot glasses this morning. And the part that I think is the best, is they are based in St. Louis, so to forgo the shipping, I am going to go to the warehouse to pick up my order (and perhaps get a few more ideas while I'm there!). Here's hoping all of your shopping is a little less eventful than mine!

Monday, July 6, 2009

a new venture

Just in case you think I may have tried a fabulous new recipe for dinner, and want you all to do the same, my new venture today was in the realm of computer-speak...not food! My kiddo and I re-heated leftovers for dinner (gasp!), and I was determined to enhance your experience while viewing my blog. If you would kindly take a moment and locate the lovely links (Gallery, Experience, Menu, Reservations) at the top of my blog (immediately under the 'header' if you want to be technical about it), you will know what consumed the free portion of my day. I must say a huge thanks to the author of for translating the thought into HTML. And for those of you who cannot believe that I did it're right. I had just about everything set, except for one little snag, and my hubby comes home and says, 'you have to remove the /*'. Done and done. Thanks, honey.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Greek Cucumber Rolls
Chicken Salad on Cucumber

Raspberry Brie and Mint Tartlets
Antipasto skewers
Red velvet cake
Festive buffet

Veggie platter

Spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette

Assorted cheeses and flatbreads

Fresh vegetable and mozzerella salad

Fruit Kabobs

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Julie's Yellow Cupcakes with Pink Buttercream and Marshmallow Polka Dots

Assorted Sandwiches

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Stacks, Loaded Carrot Cake Bite with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, New York Style Cheesecake with Raspberry Monogram


Fruit Kabobs

Chicken and Bacon Brochettes

Tomato, Basil and Feta Pizzettes

Twice Baked Baby New Potatoes

Fruit Kabobs

Parmesan Flatbread

Crudite Shooters


In order to reserve a date for your event, a signed Catering Agreement and a non-refundable date reservation fee of one thousand dollars ($1000) or 50% of your estimated total (whichever is less) are due. Once your food, beverage and other event details are finalized, I will provide you with a final amount due.

For more information or to arrange a tasting, please email me (Carrie Roberts) at: PinkPeppercornCatering(at)gmail(dot)com.


Each of my clients have different tastes, styles, and menu needs, and in order to truly capture the essence of your event, we will build a menu for your special occasion. The lists below contain suggestions, or menu-starters...the possibilities are nearly limitless!

  • Kiwi Toasts…kiwi fruit in a sweet cream cheese nest atop crisp toast.
  • Greek Cucumber Rolls...fresh dill, feta, red pepper and kalamata in a cucumber wrap.
  • Savory Bacon Bundles…bread and savory herbs wrapped in bacon, and bundled together.
  • Tomato, Fresh Basil and Feta Pizzettes…gourmet miniature pizzas.
  • Orange Glazed Pecans…large pecan halves glazed in a sweet orange sauce.
  • Corn and Black Bean Tortilla Cups with Lime Crema Fresca…an elegant fiesta of fresh vegetables.
  • Chicken Bacon Brochettes…sweet with a hint of heat.
  • Twice Baked Baby New Potatoes…pint sized and garnished with fresh chives.
  • Fruit Kabobs…seasonal fresh fruit and a creamy dipping sauce.
  • Chicken Salad on Cucumber Slices…prepared with low-fat dressing and just enough seasoning.
  • Crudités with Garlic Herb Dip…fresh seasonal vegetables served with a flavorful dipping sauce.
  • Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips…a melange of seasonal fruits served with baked cinnamon pita chips.
  • Antipasto Skewers…Italian salami, mozzarella, grape tomatoes, fresh basil and olives with a flavorful glaze.
  • Raspberry Brie Tartlets…sweet raspberries and rich brie baked upon a puff of pastry.
  • Assorted cheeses and flatbreads…simple and beautiful.
  • Fresh vegetable platter…featuring homemade vegetable dip.
  • Homemade Garlic Hummus...creamy and flavorful, served with pita wedges.
  • Romeo and Juliets...guava pate and manchego cheese skewers.
  • Cornmeal Blinis with Mascarpone and Strawberries...miniature sweet corn pancakes with creamy cheese and fruit.


  • Chicken Salad Sandwich…shredded chicken with just the right amount of seasoning.
  • Pesto Turkey Sandwich…savory sliced turkey, pesto sauce, roasted red peppers and provolone cheese.
  • Honey Glazed Turkey Sandwich…thinly sliced turkey with colby cheese on sweet bread.
  • Italian Pizza Sandwich…pepperoni and salami with tomato sauce and provolone cheese.
  • Veggie Sandwich…lettuce, cucumber, tomato, carrot and onion slices with an herbed cream cheese on a bagel.


  • Mostaccioli...Mostaccioli noodles baked in a creamy marinara sauce and toasted under mozzarella cheese.
  • Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables...Loads of fresh veggies roasted, tossed and baked with penne, marinara sauce and fontina cheese.
  • Fettucine Alfredo...Fettucine noodles tossed in a shallot, parmesan cheese, cream and butter sauce.
  • Nonna's Meat Lasagna...Flat noodles layered with seasoned beef, marinara sauce and a three-cheese mixture.
  • Rigatoni Marsala...Prepared with marsala wine, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, garlic, cream sauce and shredded chicken.


  • Oven Fried Chicken...moist, flavorful and crunchy.
  • Barbequed Beef Brisket...marinated and slow roasted, then sliced thin.
  • Balsamic Glazed Chicken...sweet and tangy.
  • Pulled Chicken...with a light barbeque glaze.

Side Items:

  • Fruit Salad…seasonal fruit.
  • Pasta Salad…fusilli noodles with Italian veggies and dressing.
  • Fresh Veggies…carrots sticks, cucumber slices, celery and broccoli with dipping sauce.
  • Baked Macaroni and Cheese...creamy and cheesy with a panko crumb topping.
  • Cup of homemade soup…your choice of Black Bean or Corn Chowder.
  • Cup of homemade chili…with beef and beans.
  • Sautéed Green Beans...Green Beans tossed in olive oil and sautéed to tender perfection.


  • Warm Bacon Salad…baby spinach with warm bacon, sliced eggs, onions and bacon vinaigrette.
  • Italian Salad…chopped romaine lettuce with artichoke hearts, pimentos, onions and sweet Italian dressing.
  • Caesar Salad…chopped romaine lettuce with parmesan cheese, garlic croutons and classic Caesar dressing.
  • Fresh Vegetable and Mozzarella Salad...fresh green beans, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, grape tomatoes and others tossed in a sweet balsamic dressing with fresh slices of mozzarella.


  • Chocolate Cake...three layers of rich, moist cake and dark or milk chocolate frosting.
  • Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake...gooey and oh, so chocolatey.
  • English Toffee...buttery and chocolatey (and can be nutty, too!).
  • Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Stacks…sweet peanut butter and dark chocolate cake towers.
  • Strawberry Cake…with a strawberry cream cheese frosting.
  • Red Velvet Cake…traditional with crushed walnuts and coconut in a cream cheese frosting.
  • Lemon Drop Cake...three tiers of lemony sponge cake with lemon curd filling and lemon buttercream and candied peel.
  • Loaded Carrot Cake…carrots, walnuts and pineapple under a luscious orange cream cheese frosting.
  • Cheesecake...creamy and delicious.
  • Chocolate Strawberry Pie...strawberry slices on a cloud of fluffy chocolate in a chocolate crumb crust.
  • Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies…a baker’s dozen large cookies.
  • Chewy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies…a baker’s dozen large cookies for the chocoholic.
  • Southern Banana Pudding…complete with ‘Nilla Wafers.

Other items available...just ask!


Currently, I am the caterer at West County Assembly of God Church for their Wednesday Family Night Out dinners. Between 50 and 90 guests (adults and children) are served each week.

Other catered events include:
Elegant Hors D'Oeuvres Reception for 300
Wedding Buffet Dinner Reception for 325
Dessert Fundraiser
Intimate Hors D'Oeuvres Wedding Reception for 50
Baby Showers and other Parties, too many to mention!