Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coco Penny Launch Party

As long as I'm posting about parties, here is a menu I did last spring for my friends Mary and Marianne. They started a business called Coco Penny and needed some food for their launch party.

These Caprese Skewers were a hit. Mostly because I've recently discovered high end balsamic vinegar. It will transform your dish and (I don't want to be dramatic but...) your life. I get mine at a culinary boutique in Old Town, Alexandria, but I'm sure there are a million places you can find the good stuff. Just make sure the only ingredient listed is grape must.
Ignore my hand here. What am I doing? The top two platters are Herb Gruyere Thumbprints and the bottom platter has Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Gruyere Tartlets.
And for the sweet tooth, we had Bittersweet Chocolate Truffles rolled in pistachios.

And mini lemon cheesecakes. I substituted lemon for the orange in this recipe, put some lemon curd on top, and then used an animal cracker crust recipe I found on

And there you go. All these parties, maybe that's why I haven't gotten around to blogging over the past year. I think I'll use that as my excuse anyway :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lite Fall Bites

This past weekend I was in charge of the food for a church event. We were supposed to provide "Lite Bites" for 350 women. I had the greatest committee on earth and here's what we came up with...

We set up tables with different breads and spreads. Pumpkin Bread and butter, Challah bread and Cinnamon Honey Butter, Whole Grain Bread and Herb Butter, and French Bread with Goat Cheese rolled in Craisins and Toasted Hazelnuts.

Then we had servers (single men we bribed with leftovers and a chance to meet women) walking around with trays of Cucumber Salami Bites, Apple Slices with Toffee Dip, and Soup Shooters.

The soups may have been the biggest hit. We served Curried Apple Butternut Squash Soup, Fall Harvest Tomato Soup, Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema, and Potato Soup with Bacon Crumbles.

To drink, there was apple cider and for dessert we had bags of caramel popcorn. I'm getting hungry all over again writing about it. I had so much fun doing this with my amigas. I'm so lucky to have friends who love food as much as I do!

Trays ready to be taken out

Black Bean Soup Shooters

Bread and Baskets on the prep table

Goat Cheese rolled in Craisins and Toasted Hazelnuts

Compound Butter (with herbs straight from Kirsten's garden)

Caramel Popcorn

Jessica's amazing pompoms. We hung this on the wall right behind the caramel popcorn table. I wish I had pictures of the awesome centerpieces too. They were mums in carved out pumpkins and then the same thing in miniature with apples and mums. We labeled the spreads by writing their names on little pumpkins. Like I said, best comittee ever.

Fall Harvest Tomato Soup

I can't stop craving this soup. I got it from my friend Jessica, who got it from our friend Hollie, who got it from some girl, who got it from the mom of some guy named Brandon. It looks like everyone has tweaked it, so I doubt Brandon's mom would even recognize it. But I'm not scared to give her a shout out anyway. Good work lady.

Yum. Make this today and put Parmesan cheese curls on top. You won't regret it.

1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 lb. carrots, pealed and chopped
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 cup chicken broth
1 16 oz. can pumpkin
1 1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 T fresh basil or 1 T dried basil
1/4 cup half and half

In a large pot, saute onion in butter 4-5 minutes. Add carrots and saute until carrots are soft and onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and pumpkin. Puree in blender. Return mixture to the pot and add salt, pepper, and basil. Add more broth if you want the soup thinner. Heat soup to desired temperature and add half and half. Garnish with Parmesan cheese curls and enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Compound Herb Butter

Kirsten, my gardening goddess, made this compound herb butter. Spread over a fresh slice of whole grain bread... delicious.

1 lb. butter, softened
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of green onions, chopped (mostly green portion)
2-3 T fresh thyme
1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, stems removed, chopped
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Let butter set at room temperature for 2 hours. Mix in herbs. Form into a roll on wax paper. Refrigerate until firm.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lemon Orzo

We're supposed to have weather in the 60s by the end of the week! Spring, I love you. So since I'm in a spring kind of mood I will share a recipe I was shocked to realize I had never recommended. It's Melanie's Creamy Orzo with Chicken, Mushrooms and Peppers. You'll noticed I switched the name up. It's shorter this way. Also, I substitute Asparagus for the Chicken in an effort to get one more meatless dish on the dinner rotation.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Warm Winter Salad

This recipe from The Curvy Carrot is delicious. I can't stop making it. We've had it for dinner a few times, I've had it as a snack, and I've even served it with breakfast (think substitute for hash browns).

Quick! Make it before Spring is here!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cheddar and Jalapeno Spirals

I'm not having a Superbowl party, but if I were, these Cheddar and Jalapeno Spirals, from Kayotic Kitchen, would definitely be on the menu.

What's that? You want to know what else would be on the menu? Well, since you asked, I would serve Superbowl Chili in little miniature bowls, garnished with sour cream and avocado. I'd have chips out and eat it more as a dip, than a full bowl of chili.

I'd also make Frank's Buffalo Chicken Dip (use blue cheese dressing instead of ranch, and use your own shredded chicken instead of the canned chicken the recipe calls for) and serve it with celery sticks.

And then to lighten up the menu a little bit (a little, I said), I'd make Toffee Dip served with granny smith apple slices.

Mmm, maybe it's not too late...

Oh, I almost forgot! In case my guests felt like they had not consumed enough calories after all that dip, I would serve Chocolate Coconut Toffee Delights for dessert.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Empanadas Mendocinas

Last week I went to a little shop in Old Town called La Cuisine. I was browsing and I found a cook book called Seven Fires by Francis Mallmann. I don't want to sound cheesy, but it made me feel like I was back in Argentina. It's a beautiful book.

The best part is that I finally found a recipe for empanada dough that I love. Which means... I am ready to do an empanada post!!! I've been waiting a long time for this people. Ready, set, go!

*You can find lard in the meat department of your grocery store. I know it sounds gross, but trust me.

Prepare a day in advance and refrigerate
3 T lard
1 lb lean ground beef
1 1/2 lb onions, chopped small
2 T paprika
1 T cumin
1 T salt
1 1/2 t sugar
1 1/2 T oregano
1 t white pepper
1 hard boiled egg
green pitted olives

In a large sauce pan melt lard, add meat and brown lightly. Add chopped onions and spices and mix well. Cook until onions are translucent. Place them in a flat pan. Let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

2 cups water
1 1/2 T salt
3 1/2 T lard, cut into pieces
6 - 7 cups flour

Bring water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the lard and stir until it melts, then transfer to a large wide bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Using your hand, gradually add 5 1/2 to 6 cups of the flour, about 1 cup at a time, until you can gather the dough into a ball. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour on a work surface to prevent sticking and knead the dough, adding more flour until it will not absorb any more; you want a stiff, dry dough. Divide the dough in half, shape into disks, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.

Assemble Empanadas
Split the disks of dough in half. roll out to 1/16 of an inch think (you can use a pasta maker to roll it out if you have one). Cut circles 3-5 inches in diameter.

Set out a cup of water. Place about 2 T of filling in middle of a circle of dough. Top with a slice of hard boiled egg and a green olive. Brush just a little water on the edge of the dough and fold in half pressing with fingers to seal edges. With a fork press gently around edge to have a nice design. Place on a greased (I use vegetable oil) cookie sheet. Before putting in oven give them a egg wash. Bake at 400 until golden brown (the ones in my picture are too light). Serve in a bread basket with cloth napkins to keep them warm at the table.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baked Ziti

Another weeknight meal! And if you have a small family, you can divide the recipe into two pans and freeze one for another night.

I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while, and then I saw a similar one on The Girl Who Ate Everything. Score! that means I don't have to take a picture or type the recipe, just send you on over to Christy's blog for her Baked Ziti recipe. I'll just say that I only add one cup of sour cream as opposed to the cup and a half her recipe calls for. Enjoy!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

I'm not a fan of light recipes. If I'm trying to lose weight, I usually just try to eat less of what I'm already eating. I have to say though, Ellie Krieger is slowly making me think twice about that. I have really loved her recipes.

I'm particularly fond of her pumpkin muffin recipe. It is perfect because my kids will eat them and with yogurt and fruit, it gives me a hassle-free morning. You can find the recipe here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tangelo Juice

Have you ever had tangelos? They are a cross between an orange and a grapefruit. I happened upon them at the grocery store this winter. I like to pick up bags of oranges for juicing (I'm a bit of an OJ fiend) and there was a sign that said tangelos are ideal for juice. Are they ever! So juicy and so delicious. I dare say I like their juice more than I like orange juice.

Aviva has been especially pleased with this new find since she loves to use the juicer. When I got married I registered for one of those cute chrome manual juicers. It was pretty, and a pain in the neck. I have since upgraded to an electric juicer, which suits Aviva and I just fine.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Birthday Dinner

I made my first grown up party favors. Making pretty things isn't really my forte, so I'm quite proud of myself. They were for my sister Shauri's birthday dinner (She loves my mom's carmel popcorn).

She also goes crazy over smoky beef tacos, so even though I knew my mom was making them for her surprise party on Saturday, I went for it. Including leftovers, she's been eating them for 5 straight days now, and she seemed happy as could be to have them again.

The best thing about this menu though, is the guacamole de frutas recipe I posted today. Please try it. And do yourself a favor, go ahead and double the recipe right off the bat, you'll be glad you did.

Smokey Beef Tacos with Spicy Pineapple Salad (we use this as a topping for the tacos)
Green Salad

Aw, isn't she lovely?

Guacamole de Frutas

All right Brandi. You want guac, I got your guac right here.

A couple of weeks ago Abram sent me an article from the NY Times about the best restaurant dishes of the year. The article included this recipe from the restaurant Toloache, and let me just say, it will blow your mind.

Guacamole de Frutas

1 tablespoon finely diced sweet onion, like Vidalia

1 teaspoon finely diced seeded jalapeño pepper

1 teaspoon lime juice

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons finely diced peeled Granny Smith apple

2 tablespoons finely diced peeled Asian pear

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 teaspoon thinly sliced basil, preferably Thai

2 ripe Haas avocados

1 tablespoon fresh pomegranate seeds.

In a nonreactive mixing bowl, combine onion, jalapeño, lime juice and a pinch salt. Mix well, and add the apple, pear, cranberries and basil. Mix again.

Cut the avocados in half, scoop out the pulp and mash it with the ingredients in the bowl. Adjust salt to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with pomegranate seeds. If desired, serve with warm corn tortillas or chips.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Brunch 2011

We have church this year at 3:00 in the afternoon. Insane, right? So look forward to lots of brunch menus in 2011! We had our first brunch last Sunday. Actually, the salad did not happen because I didn't realize we were out of cranberries, so we had something much more boring. But doesn't it look good?

The bread comes from a bakery I'm in love with in Michigan. We were there for Christmas and the day before we drove home I went and bought 5 loaves of different breads to bring back with me.

Did you know that if you freeze bread, once it thaws you can sprinkle it with water, put it in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes and it comes out just like new? Well, nothing is just like fresh bread, but it's as close as you can get, and I'll take it.

Breakfast Sausage
Zingerman's Sesame Semolina Bread

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mary's Tacos

It may not be fancy, but there is nothing better than a blog post with an easy, tasty, weeknight meal. Am I right? This recipe is from my friend Mary, who keeps mentioning that I really should keep posting... so here you go. And FYI, I'm totally guessing on measurements here. It's really a issue of personal taste, so if you want to add less or more of something, go for it. It will in no way ruin the meal.

1 can black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
4-6 oz. fresh spinach
1-2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
8 flour tortillas
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine first four ingredients in a bowl. Put as much cheese as you like on each tortilla. Divide the filling between tortillas. Roll them up and lay them seam side down on a baking sheet. Spray tortillas with cooking spray and top with parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Baked Brie en Croûte with Apple Compote

For Christmas Eve we had appetizers and a sandwich bar. I've made this recipe from Williams-Sonoma a few times before, but it was the big hit of the night.