Posts tagged ‘Home Entertaining’

March 24, 2012

Last Minute Dinner Party

After getting back from a week away, a friend we hadn’t seen in a long time came into town. That developed into a small dinner party for six. I had to work all day, so here’s how it evolved. Dad went to the store and got some chicken and lettuce. When I got home from work, I took a look at it and sighed. Then got in gear. Took a look in the cupboard. Orzo. That doesn’t take too long.

We had some leftover Jerk sauce and some herbs, so half the chicken went jerk and half went in garlic, olive oil, herb puree to marinade. Set some of the herb mixture aside for the orzo.

Put our guest to work chopping salad (with a glass of wine of course). Kelly made some dressing.

Dessert? Chopped some strawberries, and while we were eating, Kelly put in some of our famous frozen cookie dough. There you have it.

Except for the cookies this all took about 40 minutes to prepare. It went well and I think our guests felt taken care of…anyway we tried.

Mary

March 12, 2012

Wing Madness!

What does March Madness mean to you? If you are me, (thanks to my dad and my tenure at an ACC school) it means all basketball all the time! It also means an opportunity to make sports food to keep all of our snacking needs in check. This is something I actually first made for the Super Bowl this year and they were a huge hit! When I was buying wings, I picked up one bag and thought maybe two was a better plan, boy was that the right choice! They were gone in a hurry and I was pretty impressed with this especially for a first try. Like anyone, I love wings, but I don’t love the fried calories that comes with them. These are lightly smoked and then grilled and have so much flavor that I guarantee you won’t miss all the extra fat. For the smoking portion, I used Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips. Since I was a little short on time, this was a great option because they provided layers of flavor in one shot and were super easy even on our gas grill. I only smoked them for 25 min and then threw them back over the direct heat. I may try to smoke them a little longer next time, but they were great as is. We used Frank’s Red Hot BBQ Sauce this time because we had it on hand. Though I love the regular wing sauce, I think the BBQ is a little boring, so I threw a few extras in it (think a splash of Jack Daniels to go along with the wood chips and some Tabasco.) You really can use whatever sauce you like but this ended up not too spicy but lots of flavor. Grab some wings, wood chips and your bracket and get ready for the madness!

Kelly

Smokey Grilled Chicken Wings

3 Dozen Frozen Chicken Wings

1 Bag Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips

Aluminum Foil

Frank’s Red Hot Wing/BBQ Sauce

2 T Butter

Salt & Pepper

Wrap dry chips in foil, forming a cylinder shape leaving ends partially open. Place foil wrapped chips on heated lava rocks and turn on the burners leaving the other burners off. Allow the wood chips to heat in the closed grill until you can see smoke.

Place the frozen wings on the cool part of the grill away from the direct burners. Allow to cook for about 25 minutes and cooked through.

Prepare the sauce in a large bowl adding the butter. Remove the wings from the grill and season with salt and pepper then toss with the sauce in the bowl adjusting the amount of sauce as you like.

Turn on the rest of the burners on the grill to medium high. Place the wings back on the grill and cook for 3-5 min on each side until golden and charred.

Serve with blue cheese dressing and celery and carrot sticks. Enjoy!!

March 3, 2012

Mediterranean Party Recipes

As promised, here are some of the recipes from the Mediterranean Party from last weekend. Here is a quick overview:

I am not a huge fan of sangria in general, because I like wine and prefer other sweet drinks. This one however is so fun! How can you go wrong with champagne? I will absolutely use this again, especially on a hot summer day…or for a bridal shower perhaps? I have to say, the favorite had to be the dates. They are rich and sweet and salty and a little spicy and just perfect. The gazpacho tastes like a garden in a glass. Such a great way to add a healthy element and would also be a wonderful first course, especially in the summer. Paella is something you can find a basic recipe for and add your own flare. Use the seafood and veggies you like and it will be lovely. The one thing I do recommend is to use something as your focal point if you are looking to impress. We used a fan of asparagus and scallops in ours, but muscles or lobster on top create a lovely effect as well. The ice cream is like nothing else you have had. It has a wonderful texture and the nuts give it a toasty richness. With the ginger cookies (my staple), a few berries, and a sprinkling of toasted nuts, it was a lovely finish. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Kelly

 

Citrus Champagne Sangria

Combine grapefruit juice, ginger ale, simple syrup (if you like sweetness) with thinly sliced blood oranges, tangerines, and apples overnight. Add half a glass of champagne or white wine to fancy glassware and top with the citrus mixture for fabulous presentation. Make sure some of the fruit makes it to the glass. J

Gazpacho Shooters – Adapted from
Marge Cirinelli’s Twisted Gazpacho

2 cans (11.5 ounces each) tomato juice

Juice from 1 lemon

1 cup fennel, fine dice

1 cup cucumber (1 medium), seeded and peeled, fine dice

2 large carrots, fine dice

1/2 cup red onion (1 small), fine dice

1/2 cup celery (2 stalks), fine dice

1/2 orange bell pepper, fine dice

1 pint sweet 100 or other small cherry tomatoes, stemmed and quartered

2 tablespoons italian parsley, fine chop

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2-3 tablespoons jalapeño pepper, seeded, fine mince

1/2 cup dry white wine

salt and pepper to taste

splash of tequila

In a bowl, combine tomato juice, lemon juice, fennel, cucumber, red onion, celery, tomatoes, parsley, basil and sherry vinegar. Add olive oil to a small sauté pan along with minced garlic over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned. Add minced jalapeño and cook, stirring for 15 seconds. Add wine and cook until reduced by half. Stir mixture into the gazpacho and chill for 1-2 hours or overnight. Add a splash of tequila. Spoon mixture into shot glasses or small martini glasses.

Note: If you are serving them as shooters, you can use a hand held blender to smooth out the texture a bit, but if you use a fine enough dice, it will work anyway.

 

Chorizo-Filled Dates

Yield: Makes 12 dates

4 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo, coarsely crumbled

Salt and Pepper

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

12 large Medjool dates

6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise in half

Cook chorizo in heavy small skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through, stirring frequently and breaking up lumps with spoon, about 5 minutes. Drain off fat; transfer sausage to small bowl. Add parsley; stir to combine. Cool.

Working with one date at a time, cut slit along top of date. Gently pry open date and remove pit, leaving pocket. Stuff pocket with 1 scant tablespoon chorizo mixture. Wrap 1 bacon piece around each date, overlapping ends slightly; fasten ends with toothpick. Place wrapped dates on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 375° oven. Bake the dates for about 20 minutes or until bacon is brown. Remove toothpicks. Serve warm.

Note: I have also made these stuffed with a chunk of parmesan cheese in place of the chorizo and they were also amazing. A combination of the two might be gracing my next party.
J

 

Dulce de Leche Ice CreamGourmet, May 2007

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 pound dulce de leche (about 1 2/3 cups; preferably La Salamandra brand)

1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (2 1/2 to 3 oz), toasted

 

Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, 15 to 20 minutes. Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm, then fold in pecans. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

Note: We found that it works best if all the ingredients are cold when you add them, so freeze the nuts for a while before adding them.

 

Ginger Cookies


Courtesy of ‘The SONO Baking Company Cookbook’ by John Barricelli

**Makes about 60 cookies

 

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 t. baking soda

¼ t. coarse salt

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 t. ground cloves

1 t. ground ginger

1 cup sugar, plus ¾ cup for rolling

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg, at room temperature

¼ cup unsulfured molasses

 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger; set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through. Beat in the egg and molasses until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture beating until combined. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, about an hour (and up to 24 hours).

Arrange the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick silicone baking mats; set aside. Place the extra sugar for rolling on a plate; set aside. Use a 1 ½-inch ice cream scoop to scoop out the dough, and roll balls in the sugar to coat, and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time, rotating the sheet two-thirds of the way through the baking time, until the cookies are deep golden brown and the centers are firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the rack and let cool completely. Continue to roll and bake the remaining cookies in the same way.

Note: I like to keep these in the freezer. To do so, scoop into balls and roll in sugar then place on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap and freeze for several hours. Once the dough is frozen, place the dough in a freezer bag. Bake as usual using the frozen dough, no need to defrost. These will keep for several months in the freezer and are a great thing to have on hand for unexpected guests or late night cravings! Also, if you want to get really fancy make them into ice cream sandwiches…yum!

February 29, 2012

Mediterranean Party

Party planning seems to be in my blood. I enjoy the creativity and challenge of creating a beautiful event whether it is for 4 people or 400. This weekend I was privileged to assist with a Mediterranean themed dinner party. Since it was a great success, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite parts of the party and some ideas that may help you with your next party. For those of you who entertain at home, this is my process. If you don’t, I will post some recipes this week, these are some good ones! (Please excuse my blurry low light cell phone photos as I, of course, forgot my camera. At least I didn’t forget anything important!)

Kelly


When planning a party menu, I generally start with an idea, dish, theme, color, etc as a jumping off point. In this case, we had decided on paella and Greek salad so we went with a Mediterranean theme. I then think about the size of the party and the type of people attending. In this case, it was 10 people, and a fairly sophisticated crowd. This meant I could do some more labor intensive appetizers and be creative with my ingredients. I think it is important to have a variety of colors, tastes and textures within a menu. Even if people love meatballs, pigs in a blanket and chicken fingers, it makes for a very monochromatic spread with everything looking and tasting the same. For an event like this, I wanted some healthy options since I knew we had some diet conscious people in attendance. I like to use recipes I have tried (in some form or fashion) before so I don’t have to worry about learning new techniques. In fact, we tried a few new recipes ahead of time and axed some and kept others.

Mediterranean Party Menu

Appetizers

  • Melon Balls with Prosciutto
  • Gazpacho Shooters
  • Chorizo Stuffed Dates

First Course    

  • Greek Salad

Second Course    

  • Paella
  • Bread

Dessert    

Beverages    

  • Spanish Wine
  • Citrus Champagne Sangria

Once the menu is decided, I compile all the recipes and evaluate what I already have. Then make my shopping list by both store and department. I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes to have a list like this (then you don’t end up in dairy and realize the only thing you forgot is in produce!) I also go through each recipe and estimate how much time it will take and what I can prep ahead of time. I create a timeline for the 3-5 days ahead of the party and plan when to shop and when to prep. Things will always end up slightly different than your plan, but if you have one, it is much easier to stay relaxed! It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just get an idea in your head. Now all you have to do is relax, have fun, and follow your plan!

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