A Surprise Birthday Luncheon!

For me, there is nothing better than a surprise party of any kind!  My first surprise party was my sweet sixteenth birthday, which I remember like it was yesterday. I even remember what I wore!  Surprises are emotional jilts that just stay with you over time, especially the sweet ones.

My friend of thirty years is humble and shy and does not like being the center of attention.  I wanted to do something special for her birthday, so I concentrated on what I knew she would enjoy; an intimate lunch with her closest friends, good food, as she is a foodie, and plenty of ice cream!  She LOVES ice cream!  I knew my party design would begin with her favorite colors, orange and green, so I set out to create a simple, but spirited afternoon she would remember.  I like a party to be cohesive.  Keeping the same color scheme throughout is easy to do and packs a big punch. So, I used as much green and orange as I could in the party design, the food presentation, and in the flavors, focusing on citrus, and using lots of orange and lime.

I began by pulling out everything I had in orange and green, which included the lamp, the Ikat pillow and the orange lacquered tray I used for the dessert and champagne serving.  The mini-ice bucket is an antique decoupage I’ve had since 1985, brought to me by a dealer who knew I would love the vivid orange tones. Of course I grabbed that!  I selected the Veuve Clicquot champagne, because it’s my favorite AND because it just happened to have an orange label.  I tied a green striped ribbon around the birthday girl’s wine glass just to add a special little something! And of course, the balloons!  No birthday party is complete without balloons. EVER. Balloons are the easiest and least expensive way to decorate a room. You can get them in almost any color to coordinate with your party and they scream CELEBRATION!  I adorned each place setting with Banana tree leaves from my yard by placing one leaf under the flatware at each place setting. I pulled out my 5-inch palm leaf ribbon I had from another project, cut a few strips and laid them around on the lacquered dessert tray and the bar cart for an infusion of more variegated green.  For the place cards, I simply set an orange at everyone’s place setting and made small banner flags, which I glued onto toothpicks and poked into the oranges.  It added a whopping dose of color and served the purpose!  My white and green Limoges Café Paris china, from the restaurant in Paris by the same name, worked beautifully into the color scheme. And last, but not least, was the "little orange box" we all know is from Hermes. It was a "little something" from me she had to have!  Once the party design was in place and the bar cart was styled, I set about to whip up a sweet, delicious menu…


  • Lobster Deviled Eggs with Paprika
  • Tortelloni Antipasto Skewers
  • Grilled Fresh Corn on the Cob with Lime Butter
  • Spicy Red with Lime BBQ Chicken
  • Mediterranean Mint Gelato with Orange Chocolate and Mint
  • Chocolate Raspberry Cake
  • Veuve Clicquot Champagne
  • Rose’ Wine
  • Sparkling water

Tortelloni Antipasto Skewers with Pesto Dipping Sauce

  • 1 package of Chicken and Prosciutto Tortelloni by Buitoni
  • ¼ pound of Boars Head Hard Salami
  • 12 Marinated Mozzarella Balls                         
  • Colorful Lettuce
  • 12 Grape Tomatoes
  • Buitoni Pesto Sauce
  1. Cook the Tortelloni according to the directions on the package, being sure to not overcook or they will fall off the skewers. I add a dash of salt and a drip of olive oil to the water.
  2. To assemble, alternate decoratively on a 12-inch bamboo skewer and arrange on a bed of lettuce
  3. Serve the pesto sauce in a small bowl in the center. Garnish with basil leaf

Spicy Red & Lime Barbecued Chicken Breasts

  • 1 c Uncle Matty’s Food Co.’s Spicy Red sauce (Love!)
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 3 Whole Breasts Halved                      
  • 2 Tbs Olive oil
  • 2 Tbs Chopped Parsley
  • Fresh Lime sliced thin for garnish
  1. Marinate breasts overnight or for 2 hours with Spicy Red sauce and lime juice
  2. Place 2 tbs olive oil in baking dish and pop into 325 oven for 5 minutes
  3. Remove from oven and place breasts in baking dish covered with foil
  4. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes
  5. Remove from oven and place on gas grill on medium with lid down for 10 minutes
  6. Open lid, baste with sauce mixture, close lid and cook for 5 minutes
  7. Turn breasts over and repeat. Doneness is dependent upon the thickness of your breasts.
  8. Allow to sit tented with foil for at least 10 minutes before serving. 
  9. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve on bed of spinach. Garnish with thin sliced limes.

Corn on the Cob with Lime Butter

  • 6 Ears of locally grown Fresh Corn
  • 1 stick Butter melted
  • Zest of 2 limes                                
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Lime wedges for garnish
  • Salt to taste
  1. Pull husks down and remove silky threads
  2. Melt butter and mix with lime juice
  3. Rub half of butter mixture over the cobs before closing husks
  4. Wrap in foil and grill on medium heat for 15 minute
  5. Turn over and continue grilling for another 15 minutes (or until tender)
  6. Remove foil when done, return husk covered corn to grill for a minute on each side to get char marks.
  7. Pull husks back and tie with kitchen string
  8. Plate, pour remaining butter and lime mixture over cobs
  9. Sprinkle with salt (if desired)
  10. Sprinkle with lime zest
  11. Garnish each cob with a slice of lime on a decorative toothpick

Lobster Deviled Eggs

  • 6 Eggs (hard-boiled)
  • 1 Tb Light Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs Sour Cream                 
  • 1 Tsp Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • ½ lb Fresh Lobster Pieces 
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Paprika
  1. Hard boil 6 eggs, slice in half and remove yolks to bowl
  2. Mix yolks with mayonnaise, sour cream and sriracha
  3. Add half of the lobster pieces reserving the rest for “topping”
  4. Arrange egg white halves in deviled egg dish
  5. Fill with yolk mixture (I like them over-filled and not so neat)
  6. Fill each deviled egg with the rest of the lobster pieces tucking them in, using it all!
  7. Sprinkle whole plate with paprika
  8. Add a small sprig of parsley to each on



Mediterranean Mint Gelato

  • Talenti Mediterranean Mint Gelato (love this brand!)
  • Theo Organic 70% Dark Chocolate Bar cut into chunks and shavings
  1. Place two small scoops in bowl 
  2. Top with a few chunks of chocolate                    
  3. Sprinkle the whole bowl with shaved chocolate
  4. Top with mint sprig




Chocolate Raspberry Cake

**I usually make my cake from scratch, but happily resort to Duncan Hines, a delicious box cake when needed

  • 2 boxes Duncan Hines Classic Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 3 9” inch round pans
  • Just Jan's Seedless Raspberry Spread
  1. Make layers per box directions                                          
  2. Let cool completely
  3. Slice each layer horizontally to create 6 thinner layers
  4. Spread a thin layer of raspberry spread on each layer until cake is 6 layers high
  5. Shave sides of cake with sharp knife and clean up with hair dryer on low
  6. Frost the top of the cake with frosting
  7. Top with flower to coordinate with your party! 

Chocolate Frosting   

**From THE BEST of FINE COOKING 5-Star Recipes 2015 (the best ever!) I’ve been making this frosting since I first saw it in their October 2009 issue!

  • 2-½ cups heavy cream
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 Vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • ¼ tsp kosher sal
  1. Combine cream, butter, vanilla seeds and bean in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until butter is melted. 
  2. Remove bean and whisk in chopped chocolate until melted. 
  3. Whisk in sugar, cocoa, syrup and salt until smooth. 
  4. Pour into 9X13 baking dish and freeze until firm, 2 hours. Can be done overnight.
  5. Remove from freezer and pour into mixing bowl with paddle attachment and beat on medium for 2 minutes to soften. Change to whisk attachment and beat on high speed until light and fluffy for 3 minutes.


  • Café Paris china: Limoges from Lou Lou’s Lost & Found Newberry St. Boston
  • Green check napkins: Williams Sonoma (post-season sale)
  • Napkin rings: William Sonoma
  • Bar cart: Target
  • Candles: Home Goods
  • Platters: Home Goods
  • Wooden board: Home Goods
  • Milk glass cake stand: Home Goods
  • Balloons: Publix Market
  • Fresh flowers: My husband gifted me with the day before!
  • Green water goblets: Private Collection
  • Champagne flutes: Pier1 
  • Ice Cream bowl: IKEA
  • Glass ice bucket on bar cart: Tiffany
  • Mini decoupage ice bucket: Antique from the 1900’s  (private collection)
  • Orange lamp: Dovecote Westport, CT
  • Orange lacquered lamp: Dovecote Westport, CT
  • Ikat pillow: Dovecote Westport, CT
  • Chocolate frosting recipe: **The Best of FINE COOKING 5-Star Recipes 201