October 3, 2010

Fall Celebration - Dinner With Friends

I've made it to the 3rd round of the FoodBuzz blogger competition! Thank you so much for all of the votes and comments. For the third challenge I have been asked to create a luxury dinner. When thinking about the dinner and what to serve I struggled with with what luxury means. Is a luxury dinner one with caviar, champagne and bone china - does it have to be expensive? Sure, but that's not the only way to look at it. For this challenge I took on my own meaning of what a luxury dinner is and this is what I came up with.
My dinner welcomes fall. It's a dinner I hosted to allow myself and my guests the luxury to relax and enjoy life (I know this sounds hokey but it's true). I like most people work - a lot.  So taking my limited time and sharing it with my friends over cocktails, wine and a home cooked meal on a Saturday evening is a great luxury. So with my glass raised "Cheers! To the luxury of time and the good fortune of friendship!"
The menu I came up with was mostly prepared the night before.  I had to be in the office the day of the party so having everything mostly done was a HUGE help!  I love having cocktails ready for my friends when they arrive, it really helps to set the mood.  These Apple Crisp Cocktails are a wonderful way to welcome in fall. I took a shot of vodka and mixed it with 1.5 shots of fresh apple cider and .5 shot pomegranate juice and a squirt of lemon.   I lined the rim with lemon and then dusted it with sugar and cloves.  The accent is an apple slice and star anise! 
For an appetizer I served Smoked Salmon Puffs.  The individual puff pastry tarts are meant to make my friends feel special!  I made the tart shells from a good stand-by Peperidge Farm's frozen sheets.  I top these right before serving.  I took a cup of creme fraiche (sour cream also works), a heaping tablespoon of horseradish, a handful of chopped dill, a spoonful of capers, salt and pepper and mixed it together.  Each tart got a dollop of creme and was followed by smoked salmon, crispy fried shallots, more dill and capers  They were sooo good!  Even my friend Simon who does not eat fish enjoyed them!

The second course was a Golden Beet Carpaccio Salad.  Golden beets have become one of my favorite vegetables. Their texture is silky and the taste is sweet. The colors of this salad are sumptuous making them a feast for the eyes.  I roasted golden beets the night before.  The day of, I thinly sliced and placed them like carpaccio on salad plates.  They were topped with chopped radicchio, endive and gorgonzola.  The dressing is SO simple.  In a jar I combined buttermilk, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and shook until well mixed.  The tart dressing stands up well to the sweetness of the beets.
click to enlarge
For the Main Course I served: pomegranate braised short ribs, with orange infused mashed butternut squash and potatoes, wild mushroom bread pudding & bacon roasted Brussels sprouts!  It was awesome (if I do say so)!   I chose braised short ribs because, well, I like them, and since they take so much time to make I usually don't do so at home.  They were also something that I could make the night before that would taste better the next day. 
The Savory Bread Pudding got raves!  I tore up a loaf of challah and then toasted it.  In a large bowl I mixed 4 eggs, 2 cups half and half and 1/2 cup grated parmesean.  In a large skillet I sauted 3 shallots and garlic and then added a package of wild mushrooms as well as a small package of chopped white mushrooms and let cook untill the moisture was gone.  I then threw in a large handful of chopped parsley.  I added the mushroom mixture and the bread to the cream mix and let soak for 10 minutes.  Once ready I added mixture to ramekins swathed in butter and topped with more parmesean.  I let them cook for 30 minutes until toasty.  The gravy from the ribs was an amazing compliment to the pudding!
I roasted the Brussels Sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper at 400 for 30 minutes or until tender.  When I made the ribs the first thing I did was cook 6 pieces of bacon for the drippings.  I chopped the bacon and saved it for the brussels spouts and tossed them together when they came out of the oven.
The Short Ribs are very easy to make, it's just that they take a lot of time - hours and hours.  One of my friends said they were like butter because of how tender they were!  I left two tablespoons of the bacon drippings in a very large, heavy deep skillet.  Over medium to high heat I seared 12 bone-in short ribs.  I then removed the ribs and added a whole bulb of chopped garlic, 1 onion and a little olive oil.  I cooked them untill golden brown.  I then deglazed the skillet with pomegranate juice and added back the ribs.  I tied up rosemary and thyme into a bundle and added that.  I poured a box of beef stock, 8 oz of pomegranate juice, 1 cup of cabernet and some water untill the ribs were just covered in liquid.  I brought the liquid to a boil, covered the skillet and put into a 350 degree oven for 3 1/2 hours turning the ribs every 30 minutes.  I let them sit over night in the fridge.  The next day I removed the fat.  I then strained the liquid of and reduced in a separate pan by half.  I added a bit of cornstarch to thicken.  I separately steamed 4 chopped carrots and added them to the gravy.  Cooking the carrots separate is a way to prevent the gravy from becoming overly sweet.  The night before I also mashed potatoes and butternut squash with the zest of half and orange.  Be sure to serve the remaining delicious gravy on the side!
Cooking with bacon is a luxury I don't often allow myself! It adds such a wonderful salty / smokey flavor to the brussel sprouts as well as to the beef!  Bacon makes everything taste better...

Finally dessert - Sparkling Strawberry Floats. I don't like it when I have eaten so much I'm overly full before dessert comes (since it's my favorite part of a meal) or when dessert is too heavy. Just a few weeks ago at a CT wine fest I grabbed some bottles of strawberry sparkling wine from a local vineyard.  When I had this at the tasting I KNEW exactly what I was going to do with it - make floats! With some fantastic vanilla bean ice cream these were a big hit!  The citrus cookies are a light crunchy compliment.  I just took a basic sugar cookie recipe and added lemon and orange zest.
Any party pro will tell you lots of candles, some flowers and great music set a great stage for a party. I fully agree.  My place is small so a few candles go a long way. I also love touches of flowers everywhere (even in the powder room along with a candle).  Early in the morning before work, I went to the local flower market and grabbed a mix of colors that complimented my linens.
video
Remember, it's a party and it should be fun!  Entertain with what you have, it's OK if everything does not come from a set or match!  I'm just starting out and in the process of putting together my home, I'm sure when I get married, I'll have lots more to work with.  In the mean time I like mixing and matching my dinnerware and linens.  It's your warmth and the little touches that makes your friends feel welcome.  If the food is a flop, remember what Julia said, "Never Appologize!" your friends will still walk away and remember what a wonderful evening they had.
A very special thank you to my friend and dinner guest Craig who put together the video!!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my fall dinner! I've asked my friends to leave comments so you can hear their side of the evening (I hope they had fun!). If you have been enjoying my FoodBuzz Blogger Challenge posts please vote to keep me in the competition & also feel free to comment! I love reading what you think or may do different. Enjoy!!




50 comments:

  1. Anonymous3.10.10

    As one of the guests at this dinner, I have to say it was one of the better dinners I've had in quite some time. Lauren put so much effort into this dinner and it showed -- it looked great and tasted even better!!

    Lauren, keep up the good work. Can't wait for the next one. xoxo -- Chris

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  2. Lovely post and a wonderful menu! That Golden Beet Carpaccio Salad looks so delicious! I want an invite, please!!

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  3. I love love love your table! Just voted for you!!

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  4. beautiful! I love the cocktail especially. I just voted for you. Good luck in the challenge!

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  5. Your decor looks so wonderful and welcoming! Good luck with #PFB2010...I hope we can both advance to the next round!

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  6. Such warmth and grace. This is a very strong entry. GREG

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  7. Your fall theme is absolutely beautiful with the flowers, decorations, and mostly your amazing foods. Love the short ribs, and the savory bread pudding. Everything is so perfect, and every one looks happy. This is one dinner party that I would love to join! Congratulations!

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  8. This is indeed an elegant menu - so many tastes, so many flavors. That bread pudding is outstanding- original and filled with the warmth of autumn.

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  9. What a lovely post with beautiful photos!!

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  10. I just love this party - and the video was an added & unexpected bonus. I always host a fall shindig, and will definitely be adding that Apple Crisp cocktail to the mix. Wonderful job!

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  11. Fantastic entry, everything looks and sounds perfect...voted :)

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  12. Your food and decor look fantastic! Good luck with round 3!

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  13. Mmm...still tasting the beautiful food and 'drinking in' the evening! I was so happy to be one of your guests! The mood was wonderful, ribs were amazing - as were all the courses - fresh and crunchy or melt in your mouth and savory/buttery... The candles, gorgeous color mix and relaxed ambience complemented the menu...it really did feel like 'luxury'...

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  14. um if you could stop being so creative and making it hard on the rest of us that would be great. Thanks! haahah great job sister! and VOTED!

    http://whitneysamusebouche.blogspot.com/

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  15. WOW beautiful. Those cocktails!!! Best of luck---so nice to meet you!

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  16. You have the most vibrant warm dinner parties ive seen in this category! I love the tablescape! the flowers! the linens and the glasswares! Your spread of menu complemented your tablesetting as well. I love your spicy cocktails and your colorful appetizers! You have my vote of course! Im linking you in my list of one of my blog entry faves. Congratulations in advance!

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  17. What a great party! So warm and inviting!! You've got my vote for sure!!

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  18. VOTEDDDDDDD! Good luck! Wish you all the best!

    jen @ www.passion4food.ca

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  19. Love your menu!!! If I was at a restaurant, I would definitely order that golden beet salad and also your shortribs. ;) Voted!

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  20. Thanks guys for all the great comments! I had so much fun planning (in a very short time frame) for this dinner!! Good luck to all who are still in this FB competition!

    Cheers!

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  21. Beautiful Celebration…I voted for you!!!!

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  22. Really, really beautiful. From the cocktails to the dessert. Nice job.

    I voted for you again!

    Good luck to you! Fingers crossed that we both make it through to the next round!

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  23. that mushroom bread pudding is something that i'm going to need to make for thanksgiving. I can see it being a huge hit this Fall.

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  24. This looks positively lovely. A party I'd definitely love to be a part of...I like your definition of luxury! Meanwhile, I need therapy any time I even THINK of having a dinner party LOL Bravo girl! You got my vote :D http://bit.ly/cNNCrR

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  25. The beet salad looks gorgeous. Such great colors. And your flowers are great. The little touches can really make a party! Votes for you!

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  26. Simon4.10.10

    I had the honor of attending this wonderful dinner. Not only was the presentation exquisite, the company excellent, and the hostess gorgious, Lauren employed a wonderful strategy of building our appetites up over the course of a couple hours of pre-dinner drinks and conversations, while enjoying the aroma of the food in the air, signaling things to come! And the dishes certainly delivered on the built up promise.

    Fall is not my favorite season, but this time around, I will have a good start to it. Thanks Lauren!

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  27. Loved the video, it made me feel like one of your guests! Looks like a wonderful night! I want some of those short ribs and brussel sprouts.

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  28. What a great evening! Looks like you know how to throw a party. You've got a vote from me.

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  29. Oh yes! I was sooo looking forward to your post for this one knowing you would do something beautiful and special. I was right and you were brilliant. Looks like you had fun! Hope to see you in Round 4!
    http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/3/view/1176

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  30. Everything looks fantastic. Voted for you!

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  31. The food looks delicious, great job and I enjoyed your entry. You got my vote and good luck!

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  32. My oh my! A sumptuous meal. Desirable food and friends. Inviting and Beautiful and I thank you for your narration

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  33. Thank you again for all of the votes & comments!!! Yes, I think the beet salad was one of my favorite parts!!!

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  34. Very elegant.

    Voted for you.

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  35. So impressive. Short ribs and Brussels sprouts are two of my favorite things. I am sending you a vote!!

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  36. Wow! How beautiful! Everything looks amazing! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

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  37. Beautiful from first course to last!

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  38. All of your photos catch my attention, something I normally have a deficit of. Your cocktail photo is beautiful, I love the way the star in the apple slice matches the star anise. I hope you bring your artistic talents to next week's challenge, you've got a vote of mine. Good luck this week!

    Lick My Spoon

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  39. So gorgeous - nice job on the menu too :) THat dinner looks amazing and the photos are incredible. And loved your toast to "the luxury of time and the good fortune of friendship!" Bravo - I am voting for you for sure.

    - Butter
    (from Running On Butter)

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  40. What a delightful dinner! You can definitely count on my vote! :-D

    The Young Foodie

    http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/3/view/1108

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  41. Love the fall theme! Everything looks beautiful and delicious, from your cocktails, to the cute leaf menu! Great job with this challenge :)

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  42. I love the leaf menus - they look so elegant. Your menu sounds absolutely fabulous! Good luck!

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  43. Thank you!! I had a lot of fun designing all of the elements especially the little leaf menus!

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  44. Congrats Congrats going onto challenge #4!!! Must be exciting for you! Good luck and all the best. Happy Thanksgiving to you! You'll be getting the next vote from me :) Your awesome!

    Have a happy thanksgiving!
    jen @ www.passion4food.ca

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  45. النمل الابيض : هي حشره ارضيه تسمى (بالارضه ) فهي تعيش تحت الارض في حفر و خنادق و فراغات تصنعها بنفسها . تتغذى بشكل اساسي على مادة السليلوز الموجوده في صور الحياه المتعدده و تتمثل تلك الماده في الاخشاب و الاوراق و السجاد و المفروشات و الدواليب و الابواب الخشبيه الاسلاك الكهربيه و الصابون و حتى الاثاثات الخرسانيه …. الخ تلك الحشره تتميز بلونها الابيض المائل الي الاصفر بها ستة ارجل لديها قرون استشعار تمكنها من التحرك بسرعه و مهاره قد تنتشر تلك الحشره حين غزوها بجيوش كبيره جدااا تتعدي الملايين من النمل مقسمه لفئات لكل فئه دور معين يعمل النمل الابيض في نظام و تعاون دائم فبرغم ما تسببه تلك الحشره من خسائر كارثيه و برغم صغر حجمها الضئيل الا انه من الصعب جدا التحكم في وجود تلك الحشره و السيطره عليها و لكن لكي نتمكن من القضاء عليها فيجب ان نلجأ الى البرامج العلميه تحت ايدي المتخصصين كما شركة تويكسات
    و لدينا بشركة تويكسات لكل نوع من تلك الحشرات الطريقه المثاليه و الآمنه للقضاء على كل نوع و ابادته الاباده الكامله و في اقصر فتره ممكنه اما عن النمل الابيض : هذا النوع من الحشرات بمتاز بسرعة التكاثر كما يسبب الكثير من الاضرار و الخسائر الفادحه التي قد تودي بحياة الاشخاص و ذلك لتعدد الاسباب لانه كما نعلم ان النمل الابيض يتغذى على مادة السليلوز و المنتشره بصور مختلفه في الشبابيك الخشبيه و الاثاث المنزلي الخشبي و السجاد و الموكيت و المفروشات و حتى اثاث المنزل الاسمنتي و الخرسانه حيث يتواجد النمل الابيض فيضعف الاثاث و قد يؤدي لا قدر الله الى انهيار المبني بالكامل لذلك فالحرص هو اهم وسيله لتجنب خطر النمل الابيض و مع شركتنا يوجد الحل السريع المطلق للقضاء التام على النمل و تباطئ تكاثره بأجود المبيدات و افضلها ذات التأثير الفعال شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالرياض شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالدمام شركة مكافحة حشرات بالخبر شركة مكافحة حشرات بالجبيل شركة مكافحة حشرات بابها شركة مكافحة حشرات بالطائف شركة مكافحة حشرات بجازان .,شركة مكافحة حشرات بالقصيم



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  46. يمكن لتلك الحشره ان تسبب الكثير من الخسائر فقد تجد في بعض الاماكن الموجود بها النمل الابيض تآكل في المفروشات و السجاد و الموكيت مما يؤدي الى عدم استخدامه مره اخرى .كما انها عندما تسكن الاثاث الخرساني تقوم بعمل خنادق و فراغات في الاثاث نفسه بدافع التغذي على السليلوز في طوب البناء قد تؤدي تلك الفراغات الى انهيار المبنى و تخريبه من الداخل مع العلم انه يصعب معالجة تلك الامور ببساطه . لذلك فيجب ضرورة الحرص عند الشروع في بناء المنشئات فيجب فحص الارض جيدا التي سيقام عليها عملية البناء و فحص الاراضي المجاوره و بخاصة اذا كانت زراعيه و ذلك متوافر لدينا في شركة تويكسات و كل ما يلزم لفحص الاراضي و الوقايه من النمل الابيض . فأذا تم العثور على تلك الحشره موجوده في الارض يتم الرش فورا على ايد فريقنا و يتم تقدير كمية المبيد قبل استخدامه و ذلك لمراعاة عدم الافراط في استخدامه .بعد التأكد من تنقية الارض من الحشرات و الآفات تبدأ عملية البناء و بعد ذلك يتم رش الاثاثات و المفروشات و الادوات المستخدمه في المبنى لضمان الوقايه ضد تلك الحشره المزعجه لا نستطيع التحدث عن خطر الحشرات فى حياتنا وبالاخص فى الرياض ونعلم جميعاً مدي المعاناة التى تواجه منازلنا وتحديداً فى اوقات الصيف ولكن من بعد اليوم لن تجد معاناه فى القضاء على هذه الحشرات ولن تبذل جهد او مال لكى تحقق ماتريد بطرق امنه وكل هذا سوف يتحقق مع شركة تويكسات حيث ستصبح مطمئناً معانا وفى امان دائماً حيث جاءنا اليكم باافضل العمالة والمعدات والادويه الامنه على الصحه والبيئه . ونعلم جميعاً ان الحديث عن الحشرات وانواعها واطرق القضاء عليها سوف يتسغرق اياماً وليس كلمات معدودة تكتب فى مقال ولكن سنحاول الايجاز فى هذا الموضوع عن انواع الحشرات وطرق مكافحتها . توجد انواع كثيرة من الحشرات ومن اكثر هذه الحشرات تواجداً فى الرياض ( النمل الابيض , البق , الصراصير , الفئران ) وتوجد ايضاً انواع اخرى ولكنها نادرة . شركة مكافحة حشرات بجدة شركة مكافحه النمل الابيض بالقصيم شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بجدة شركة مكافحة حشرات بحائل شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بحائل شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالمدينه المنوره شركة مكافحة حشرات بتبوك شركة مكافحة حشرات بالخرج شركة مكافحة حشرات بالاحساء شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالمدينه المنوره


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  47. و لكن في حالة مكافحة الفئران : فكما نعلم ان ذلك يحتاج الى طرق اخرى تختلف عن طرق مكافحة الحشرات لذا فتمتلك شركة تويكسات فريق مدرب على اصعب الظروف و لدينا ايضا افضل المبيدات و الصواعق و باستخدام المعدات العالميه المناسبه و المصرح بها من قبل وزارة الصحه و ذلك للحرص على سلامة العائله و الافراد الموجودين بالمنزل ونحن هنا فى شركة تويكسات نمتلك العمالة المدربه و الكفاءات العاليه القادرة على مكافحة الحشرات والقضاء عليها نهائياً دون ترك اي اثار مضره بالصحه للاشخاص و يتم تعقيم المكان بالكامل قبل مغادرة المنزل بارقى انواع العطور وكل هذا يتم بطرق علميه سليمه و امنه جداً ونراعى فها سلامة العميل والعائلة حيث توجد فى شركتنا معايير للاختيار المبيد الحشرى باعلى دقه يمكن ان يجدها العميل فهذه من احد عوامل السلامه ونجرى عليها اختبارات مكثفه و مثاليه حتى نتاكد من سلامته . الفضل لله ثم لكم شركتنا تعد من افضل شركات مكافحة الحشرات بالرياض و من الرواد الحقيقيين في مجال مكافحة الحشرات في جميع نواحي الرياض و المناطق المجاوره وذلك بسبب تقيدنا بالامانه والحزم وطرق اختيار العمالة والمبيدات الحشريه وكل هذا يتم على اساس علمى بحت تحت اشراف اكبر الباحثين و المطورين في عالم الكيمياء المعالجه . شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض شركة تنظيف مجالس بالرياض شركة تنظيف موكيت بالرياض شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالرياض شركة رش مبيدات بالرياض شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض شركة تسليك مجارى بالرياض شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض




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