Showered with Love

Last weekend started my unofficial countdown to the Big Day.  I traveled to Los Angeles, my hometown, where some of my oldest and dearest friends threw my first Bridal Shower.  To say the sentiments felt at the shower were overwhelming would be a gross understatement. I'm not really an emotional person and my personality doesn't lend itself to being the center of attention; so this whole showering you and honoring you thing can really get to a person if you are not prepared.  And nothing could have prepared me for the thoughtfulness and creativity of my childhood friends.

The shower was held at Hipcooks, where we had a private cooking class.  Now tell me how perfect is that for a self-proclaimed foodie that loves to cook and landed her fiance' through her surprising cooking skills.

Needless to say, when I received the invitation a few weeks back I was very excited about it.  When I walked into the kitchen studio, I was even more blown away by the set-up.
the beautifully decorated dining table (the middle of the table is glass, simply gorgeous!) to feast on our freshly prepared meal
and the instruction area where we did food prep
But tears came to my eyes and I completely succumb to my emotions when my dear friends insisted I open this one gift before we got started.
please excuse the "ugly" cry
a little blurry but you get the idea
Mrs. Foodie!!!! How could I not cry at this.  Not only am I about to become the Mrs. Foodie to my Mr. Foodie but I was just so touched at my friends attention to detail and getting me...knowing me.  I'm getting all emotional just coming up with the words to write about this so I'll stop and get on to the class and the food.

The class was so much fun.  There were only a handful of us and our mothers.  We have all known each other for a very, very long time so it was definitely like family getting together.  Our instructor and her sous chef were very patient because we were a pretty difficult group to maintain some sort of control over.  The mothers and myself were probably the only ones who were into the class and trying to learn something. 

Everyone else, not so much.  God bless them, they were all so busy taking pictures, drinking wine and washing their hands. A requirement of the class was that you need to wash your hands every time you touched something that was not food related so needless to say, they spent a lot of time at the kitchen sink.

On the menu: New Potato, Green Bean, Basil and Pine Nut Salad (not pictured), Moroccan Chicken with Pearl Barley and Warm Chocolate Tartlets with Raspberry Cream for dessert.

After the cooking, it was time to eat and the fun continued at the dining table.  We were such a talkative bunch, going through multiple bottles of wine.  And when everyone began sharing memories of when we met, those pesky emotions started up again. They have all warned me that I need to get all the crying out now, before the wedding, so I can actually make it through the day.

But on this day, I just felt so much love and such gratitude for the people in my life.

All in all, it was a wonderful shower.  Good times were had, memories were made, great food was consumed and we all got a few recipes out of it.  Although I am a little curious to see how many of my friends will actually use them...heehee.

Oh! Of course I didn't forget my readers.  I've shared one of them with you guys too ;)

Moroccan Chicken with Pearl Barley
Printable Recipe
For the Chicken:
12 chicken thighs (bones in and skin on, excess fat trimmed)
Flour, for dusting
Olive oil
2 onions, slivered
2 carrots, sliced (on the diagonal if you like)
3 garlic cloves, sliced
12 cinnamon sticks (to taste - use less or more!)
1 tsp. ground cumin (toasted and ground yourself) if desired
White wine (“2-buck Chuck” works a charm)
Chicken stock (you’ll need enough to almost cover the pan, so it depends on the size of pan, but anywhere between 2 – 4 cups, usually)
1 cup pitted prunes, roughly chopped
1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
Sea salt, of course!
For the Barley:
1 bag pearl barley (32 oz)
Water or chicken stock
Sea salt

This is so lovely, so yummy, and best yet – so easy!
Remember, you can make this wonderful stew well in advance. Like you, it gets better with age. If you have a crock pot, go on – try it in that! Otherwise use a low oven (325 degrees works well.) Cook for at least an hour…but if I can, I leave it in for 1 ½ to 2 hours. If you are pre-making, store the stew in your fridge and re-heat either in the oven or on the stovetop. Also, this stew freezes very nicely – bring on camping trips to your fellow diner’s delight!

Brown chicken thighs by first dusting them in flour and salt.  Brown in a nice hot sauté pan with a bit of oil. Why brown? So that the skin gets nice and crispy, of course! Place on paper towels and set aside.
Wipe out the pan and sauté the onion, garlic and carrot in olive oil. Stir around. Once these begin to get soft, add the spices (cinnamon sticks and the cumin) and let them impart their flavor. Stir this for about a minute or two. This is about the time that everyone in the household will wander into the kitchen to see what on earth smells so lovely.
Now that you have a rapt audience, you can show off! With reckless abandon, pour in as much wine as you like. A whole wineglassful is great.  Start a fire if you want to! (the alcohol will just burn off.) Cook as long as it takes for the wine to reduce by at least half. Add the chopped pitted prunes. OK, ready to bake! Transfer this mixture to a baking dish and nestle in the chicken pieces on top. You’ll want the chicken to be almost covered with liquid, so perhaps you’ll need to top with chicken stock at this point. Pop in the oven and fuggetaboudit!

Bake at 325 for about an hour – the liquid will reduce and become thick, the chicken will brown on top and your kitchen will smell fantastic. You win!

Now, the classic Moroccan would serve this dish with perhaps a saffron-scented cous cous, but remember that there is nothing classic about a Hipcook! (Classy, yes – classic, no!) Mix it up - serve this wonderful chicken with pearl barley prepared super-simply. It retains a lovely nutty crunch – and the healthiness of it balances this stew, which is rather rich. Cook the pearl barely according to the package instructions – it is super-easy. Please check proper ratio of water to barley here. All you do is simmer it until it is cooked. You might want to sprinkle with salt and chopped parsley.

To display this dish elegantly for your dinner party, get the prettiest, largest dish you have. Dump in the barley and make a well in the center. Plop in the stew, nestling the chicken pieces and cinnamon sticks and all the yumminess in a pretty way. Flick parsley and flake sea salt over the top - distribute wantonly - and serve with a smile. Your guests will be impressed

recipe from Hipcooks


  1. Awww... That so brought tears to my eyes!!! So happy for you! This is a magical time, so enjoy and its ok to shed a few tears here and there! We wont hold it against ya! Love ya!

  2. Ok...wipe my little tears away! :) So lovely...we had so much fun! Great memories! Love you lots and can't wait for the wedding day. I know I will need my tissue majorly that day.

  3. OMG so wonderful! What an amazing way to recreate such an amazing evening. We love you Dyan!!!!!!! We cannot wait for the big day!!! xoxxo

  4. I LOVE the Apron Dyan! You guys looked like you had a fab time. You don't like being the center of attention but this is the perfect time to celebrate YOU! Enjoy it sweetie... xoxo


    BTW, I'm making the chicken...thanks for the recipe!

  5. So cute Da-Da! Can't wait for your big day and what a lovely way to pair your 2 greatest loves (-: