Archive for Entertaining

Butternut Squash Stuffed Mushrooms

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

This healthy vegetarian dish is easy to make and makes a great side dish for your fall or holiday dinner.  Substitute with smaller mushrooms for the perfect appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoon sage (chopped)
  • 2 cups butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey or brown sugar
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms, stemmed
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • Optional garnish: Goat cheese, parmesan cheese or sage

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat butter in a saucepan Add in sage and stir for a couple of minutes over low – medium heat until butter has turned light brown and has a nutty aroma.  Set aside

In a large bowl, add the butternut squash, garlic, salt, pepper, pumpkin pie spice, honey and butter/sage mixture (reserving some to coat mushrooms) and toss well to combine.

Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes, until slightly soft.

Brush the inside of the mushrooms with the remaining butter/sage mixture. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fill with butternut squash and top with goat cheese. Bake until mushrooms are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Garnish with goat cheese and sage. Serve immediately.

Cauliflower Pumpkin Risotto

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

By swapping cauliflower for rice and adding goat cheese, this recipe recreates the creamy texture for a healthier risotto option.

Bonus: You will be out of the kitchen in under 30 minutes as the cauliflower cooks quicker than rice.

Ingredients 

  • 1 head cauliflower (4-5 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sage (chopped)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup chicken broth (or more as needed)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree ( can or fresh)
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup goat cheese or parmesan cheese
  • Optional garnish: sage, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, et

Directions

Using a cheese grater, grate cauliflower until it resembles rice grains (or use a food processor)

Heat butter in a skillet or saucepan Add sage and stir for a couple of minutes over low – medium heat until butter has turned light brown and has a nutty aroma.

Add in onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes or until onions are translucent Add in cauliflower, half of the broth and stir for about 5 minutes until liquid is absorbed.  Add in remaining broth and continue to cook until cauliflower is softened.

Stir in pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice (if using), salt, pepper and goat cheese and stir until goat cheese is melted and cauliflower has a creamy texture.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish as desired.

St Patrick’s Day Dinner Party

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Hosting a dinner party for St. Patrick’s Day? You’ll have the luck of the Irish on your side when you rely on your crock pot to make the perfect corned beef and cabbage while you’re at work.  And to accompany your meal is an easy Irish Soda Bread recipe.

Corned Beef Brisket is a cut of meat that has been cured (pickled) in seasoned brine. The brisket is a tough cut of meat and requires slow and low cooking, which is why I chose to use a crock pot method.

If you prefer a wine driven celebration instead of beer, Pinot Noir is great choice  as a fuller-bodied red, like a Cabernet Sauvignon,  may have strong tannins which can leave a bitter taste in your mouth when paired with salty foods.

TIPS:

  •  Slicing the meat against the grain will prevent  the meat from being tough and chewy
  •  Because the meat comes in a package pre brined, don’t add salt during the cooking process
  •  To reduce sodium, you may rinse the meat in water before cooking
  •  Cabbage cooks very quickly and will get soggy, so add cabbage the last 30-45 minutes
  •  Use leftovers for sandwiches or dice them to make corned beef hash
  •  If you prefer not to make the gravy, serve with  mustard and horseradish on the side

 

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Ingredients

  • 6-8 red or yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly minced
  • 3-4 lb corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
  • 3 Tablespoons mustard
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Seasoning packet that comes with brisket
  • 1 head cabbage, cut through the core into 8 wedges
  • 1 bottle of dark beer,such as Guinness  ( or 2 cups of red wine)
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1/2 cup honey or brown sugar

 Directions: 

Place potatoes, onion, carrots, and garlic in the crock pot. Place  brisket, fat side down, over the vegetables. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, brown sugar and seasoning packet. Spread the mixture on top of the corned beef.  Pour in beer (or wine).

Cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is fork tender. Add cabbage around the meat and push down to immerse in liquid. Cover lid and continue to cook for about 30 minutes or until cabbage is tender.

Remove meat from the crock pot and place a tent foil on top to let it rest for about 20 minutes.

While meat is resting, make the gravy.  Remove vegetables from crock pot. In a saucepan, bring sauce from the crockpot to boil and add in mustard, Worcestershire, horseradish and honey and mix. Simmer until gravy is reduced by half.

To serve:  slice  the corned beef against the grain and place on a serving platter along with the vegetables and gravy.

 

Irish Soda Bread 

 

 Ingredients 

  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (plus 2 Tablespoons to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 ½  cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup raisins, currents or other dried fruit ( optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3 Tablespoons sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or 2 knives until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Measure buttermilk and add the egg to the measuring cup, whisking lightly with a fork to incorporate. Pour into the flour mixture, along with dried fruit and stir together just until mixed.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and lightly knead to shape into a round loaf. ( Do not over knead)  Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a lightly greased cast iron skillet.

With a knife, score the  top of dough in a “X” shape to help heat get into the center of the dough while it bakes. Sprinkle remaining sugar on top. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with butter.

Enjoy your fabulous dinner  on St. Patrick’s Day or any other day!

 

 

Football Pizza Tart

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Easy football shaped tart with your favorite pizza toppings. Puff pastry was used for this recipe but you can also use pizza dough.  If you prefer various toppings, make individual tarts or pizzas.

Ingredients 

  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed (or pizza dough)
  • Marinara Sauce / Pizza Sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella or any other cheese desired
  • Topping: pepperoni, salami, cooked sausage, vegetables, herbs, etc
  • 1 egg beaten with a Tablespoon of water

Directions 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Unfold pastry sheet and roll out into a rectangle shape. Cut into a football shape using a pizza cutter or knife.

Score a 1/2 inch border using a pizza cutter or knife, making sure not to cut through the bottom (omit this step if using pizza dough).  Top with marinara sauce, cheese and toppings desired inside the 1/2 inch border.  Use excess dough to make individual strips and place in the center for the football lacings.

Brush the edges with the egg wash (omit step if using pizza dough).

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or use cooking spray.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown (or bake according to pizza dough instructions)

 

 

 

 

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Superbowl Cocktails

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

Drinking beer while watching football is the typical tradition.  For Superbowl however, going all out to entertain your guests is the norm. So instead of serving just beer, here are two options to entertain your guests.

Beergarita – still keeps the beer tradition but also adds tequila and lime flavors to make a pitcher cocktail that will please your guests.  You could also run a lime wedge around the rim of the glass, then dip in coarse salt before adding your ingredients.

Sangria – great option for guests who may not drink beer.   While red wine is my personal choice, it may not be the ideal choice to serve for a party in the afternoon. With so many diverse and rich foods being served during the game, a bright and refreshing cocktail will hit the spot.

If you’re hosting a casual party,  you can use mason jars instead of using multiple glasses for wine, beer or cocktails.

 

Adjust the ingredients as needed based on the number of guests or if you prefer more liquor in your cocktails!

Beergarita

  • 4 (12oz) beer, such as corona
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1 can of frozen limeade ( or use fresh lime juice)

In a large pitcher or bowl, add the beer, tequila and lime juice and stir to combine.

  Citrus Sangria

  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Brandy
  • 1/3 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • Sliced lime, lemon and orange
  • 1-2 cups club soda

In a pitcher, combine all ingredients except for club soda.   Chill in the refrigerator.  Before serving, add club soda.

 

 

 

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Loaded Mash Cauliflower

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

This recipe was created when I had ingredients leftover from the Mini Pull Apart Bread recipe. I already had the ingredients chopped, meats cooked and I had cauliflower in my refrigerator.  It dawned on me that this recipe would actually be great for your party for those who are gluten free and couldn’t enjoy the pull apart breads.

Ingredients 

  • 2 heads cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1  cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 stick of butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ( or other  cheese) 
  • Any toppings desired

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place cauliflower in a large pot and  add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 12-15 minutes or until very tender. Drain water and transfer back to the pot.  Using a potato masher, mash cauliflower with milk, parmesan cheese, butter and seasonings.  Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed.  Transfer to a greased baking dish. Top with cooked meats, cheese, vegetables or herbs. 

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.

 

Mini Pull Apart Party Breads

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Using smaller rolls with different toppings not only adds variety but makes it easier for guests with food restrictions.

Use your favorite rolls or sourdough bread. The toppings used for this recipe included:  Basil, parsley, red onions, mushrooms, jalapeno, pepperoncini, olives, salami,  pancetta,  chorizo, roasted peppers and capers. Have fun and create your favorite toppings!

Tip: Placing all your ingredients on a cutting board or baking tray makes it easier for assembly / pre prep and you can also place in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Another idea to have your guests build their own rolls.  Have the bread sliced, meat cooked, vegetables chopped. Not only will your guests  have  fun making their own creations but the bread will be served right out of the oven.

Makes 12 

Ingredients 

  • 12 rolls or your favorite bread 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cheese: mozzarella, cheddar, gorgonzola, pepper jack, etc
  • Toppings: bacon, sausage, chorizo, pancetta, herbs, olives, mushrooms, roasted peppers, capers, etc

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F.

Using a serrated knife, slice rolls in one direction, then turn it 90 degrees and slice the other direction,  making sure not to cut through the bottom crust. (If the bread is too soft to cut through, place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before cutting). Place rolls on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. 

In a bowl or cup, mix together the melted butter, minced garlic and salt.  Using a spoon or turkey baster,  drizzle melted butter over rolls making sure to drizzle between the cut areas.

Add cheese and toppings into the cut areas of the bread. If using raw meat, cook before adding to the bread. 

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Wrap foil loosely over the rolls and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for 5 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted  Serve immediately.

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To make ahead: assemble rolls with toppings and place in the refrigerator. Bake when your guests arrive. 

Watermelon and Feta Appetizer

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Watermelon, feta, mint and balsamic vinegar is all that is needed for this healthy and refreshing summer appetizer!

Ingredients: 

  • Watermelon (cut into cubes or slices)
  • Feta cheese (cube or crumbled)
  • Mint leaves
  • Balsamic vinegar

For Slices: 

Cut the watermelon into wedges Place on a serving platter.  Top with crumbled feta cheese and mint leaves. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

For Bites: 

Cut the watermelon and feta cheese into cubes. Skewer the watermelon, mint and feta cheese onto a toothpick. Assemble on a serving platter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

For Salad:

Cut watermelon into cubes. Place on a serving platter. Top with feta cheese and mint leaves.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

 

Wine Pairing: 

A chilled glass (or bottle) of Rosé is the perfect wine for summer  and is every bit refreshing as the watermelon.

 

 

Strawberry Mascarpone Cheese Bites

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

This strawberry dessert recipe is easy, yummy, and has less calories than most desserts!  Adding blueberries on top creates the red, white and blue theme for your 4th of July get together.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. strawberries, rinsed and pat dry
  • 6 oz mascarpone cheese, softened  ( or cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • Optional garnish: Blueberries 

Directions

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together mascarpone cheese, powered sugar, vanilla and salt until fluffy. 

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Place mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip or into a zip log bag. Refrigerate.

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Cut the tops off the strawberries. Using a pairing knife, core strawberries removing the white interior.  Cut off a small portion of the pointy tip so it stands flat.

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To Assemble:  Pipe mascarpone cheese mixture into each strawberry and top with blueberry. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Tip: the filling can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator  but it’s best when eaten within a couple hours of assembling as it will become soggy.

Cucumber Jalapeno Martini

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

When it comes to Cinco de Mayo cocktails, Tequila usually gets all the glory, so I’m making a vodka inspired cocktail. If you’re not a vodka fan, just substitute the vodka with tequila, moisten the rim of the glass with a lime wedge and coat the rim with salt for a margarita!

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-4 jalapeño slices (more or less as desired)
  • 4-5 mint leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 lime, cut into slices
  • 1 cucumber sliced, seeds removed
  • juice of 1/2  lime
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • ice

DIRECTIONS

To make simple syrup: In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Simmer until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool.

In a cocktail shaker, muddle jalapeno slices, mint and lime slices together.

In a blender, combine simple syrup, cucumber, and lime juice  and blend until smooth. Strain into the cocktail shaker. Add vodka and ice and shake until cold.

Pour into martini glasses and garnish with cucumber and jalapeño slices.

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