Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Celebrating Marriage family style

While I've spent a fair share of time watering tomatoes, splashing at the pool, hiking the Cascades, and catching afternoon naps, summer is all about weddings.

My brother-in-law, Josh, finally got married to his high school sweetheart Ashley. I say "finally" partly because I've seen it coming for years, ever since Ashley was in 9th grade, and partly to exasperate Josh.

I had the honor of catering their beautiful backyard wedding. The Menu - grilled Balsamic Chicken Kabobs with Tomatoes and Zucchini, Lemon Butter Rice Pilaf, Caesar Salad, French Bread with Parsley Butter, and Minted Lemonade. It was simple, fun, and absolutely delicious.

The honeymooners left while family from Minnesota stayed to visit extending the wedding festivities an additional week. How could I not have a dinner party?!

In honor of the happy couple, and because my in-laws already think I'm nuts, I decided on the most serious and heartfelt of obvious/corny themes - Marriage. The entire time I had the urge to break out a Princess Bride's Priest impression . . . "Meh-wage is what bwings us togewer today." I held back.

Each course was a marriage of two ingredients that represented a couple at the party.


"The Zesty Schmidt"
A combination of Lime-aide concentrate and Schmidt beer (sub Rolling Rock since Schmidt is a cheep Mid-West brand that doesn't distribute on the West coast). Save your money on expensive beer since the cheap, mild brands work just as well, if not better in this blend.


"Bison Style Salmon Cakes"
Ryan and I met at North Dakota State University, home of the Thundering Herd. In honor of our beloved Bison as well as Ryan's love, nay, OBSESSION with all things drenching in buffalo sauce as well as my Alaskan origins and historic love affair with salmon fishing - the Bison Style Salmon Cake was born. (recipe below)

"Min-E Cutecumbers"
Following our marriage of buffalo sauce and salmon, our three children were honored with the Min-E ("E" for Evenson) Cutecumbers to cool off the spice of the cakes.


"Mark and Brenda's Mixed Grill"
The blend of halved chicken breasts, onion slices, corn, tomato halves and zucchini halves all drizzled in a balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled generously with Kosher salt and pepper honored my Father and Mother-in-law. Mark is a grill master, charcoling everything from sausages to Thanksgiving turkeys. Brenda is a mix master. If a container isn't full with one food type, she'll mix in another to keep containers packed. It's a long standing joke in the family since combinations can get quite unique at times.

"Alyssa's Angel Hair Pasta"
Their daughter Alyssa has always had the most beautiful, ethereal head of blond curls. Topped with garlic, lemon, olive oil, and salt and pepper. This pasta was a head turner, like Alyssa's mane.


"Mike and Tania Cup O' Love"
We poured strong Stumptown Coffee espresso over vanilla ice cream, remembering the first time Ryan and I visited Portland. Mike and Tania took us on a little downtown walking tour, starting at the museum were Tania, an historian, worked and finished up at a specialty foods store where the couple extolled the virtues and outlined the history of Stumptown Coffee.

Issy's Ginger Snaps
A sweet and spicy little girl who is has just the right amount of kick!

(Yes! There was an activity. I tipped them off during dinner so they could sit and stress about what I might make them do!)

"Throw the Log of Love on the Flames of Passion"
Yep, I just said that! I whipped out my camera and made each of them lip lock for a picture with their log. They'd had plenty of "The Zesty Schmidt" so the crowd was willing at this point.

"Nutella Smores"
You can't have a fire without a marshmallow! Chocolate graham crackers, spread with Nutella, topped with a toasted marshmallow under the stars was the perfect way to end the evening.

Here's to Love and Lasting Marriages!

Buffalo Style Salmon Cake

I love salmon cakes cause they are versatile and come together quickly once the salmon is cooked, cooled, and skinned and boned. Use canned salmon and make really quick work of it! When I make salmon cakes, I don't measure. Feeling for the right ratios is a better way to go. You want the mixture to stick together in a tight patty - not to wet, not to dry.
2 cups Salmon - canned or cooked, skinned and boned, and cooled
1 cup bread crumbs*
2 eggs
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
several tbsps buffalo sauce (Adjust the amount of sauce based on how hot you want your cakes. You can always add more heat later by drizzling or serving with more buffalo sauce)
1-2 tsp Kosher salt
sprinkle of pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand. Don't over mix or the cakes will be tough.
2. Heat large skillet with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Scoop salmon mixture with a small scoop or rounded teaspoon. Flatten lightly with palms and slip into pan. Let sizzle on one side about 5 minutes or until browned. Flip and cook for another couple minutes.
4. Remove with a slotted spatula and place onto a paper towel to drain off extra oil. Repeat, adding more oil as needed.
5. Arrange on a pretty plate, drizzle with more buffalo sauce if desired. Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles if you must but it's just as good without the dairy. If you're not serving right away, tent with foil and garnish just before serving.

Make 20 - 30 mini cakes

*If you want to make larger cakes, you'll need to reduce the heat and increase cooking time. I prefer to use cubed bread when making larger salmon cakes so they retain less moisture and cook evenly.


  1. Such a creative menu and an adorable story! I love marriage celebrations! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Awww what a cute last photo!~ wonderful post, menu sounds incredible!!!

  3. Sounds like a fun, delicious celebration!

  4. What a very creative evening, and a very well written and fun blog!!!