Monday, December 14, 2009

December 2009--Cowboy Christmas (Amber & Heather)

Here's a little sneak peak of the Cowboy Christmas!
(And yes, it was as amazing and delicious as it looks!)
Recipes and more photos to come!

Here are a few pictures of the Save-The-Date. It was a cute brown paper bag, topped with bandana tissue paper. Inside was full of all sorts of Cowboy goodies for us to "Bring & Wear"--a gun, s'mores kit, bandana, and a sheriff's badge.

And as if the Save-The-Dates weren't good enough, we also got the cutest invites in the mail, complete with a wanted poster with all our faces(with mustaches!). After my husband saw these invitations, he said, "How do you compete with that?" To which I replied, "We don't!"
It's impossible... :)
Love this!


When we first came in, there were these cute brown felt pillows in a circle around the "campfire" (fireplace), so we could circle up and eat our appetizers. I'm hoping someone took a picture so I can post...


The place setting


All the extras!






This might have been my favorite thing. At each place setting, they had a pack of playing cards, which is where the menu was found. Such a cute idea. And I'm in love with this candy-cane shoestring. At each place setting, we also found little wanted posters, with made up cowboy names for all of us. Sunny was wanted for shootin' her cousin. We were all jealous, since she was worth the most--$10,000!



Sausage Skewers

Lemon Chicken

with Neely's BBQ Sauce & Balsamic BBQ Sauce

Homemade Mac-N-Cheese

Crusty Bread with Jalapeno Jelly


Homemade Cream Soda

Mint Lemonade

Hot Cranberry Drink


Mama's Homemade Chili & Star Puffs

Main Course

Rolled Flank Steak

Fluffy New Potatoes

Green Beans with Frizzled Prosciutto

Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread (in a can!) with Honey Butter


Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

And the recipes...

Sausage Skewers

12 ounces fully cooked Italian-style poultry sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil

1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, rinsed and cut into 1 inch pieces

2/3 cup fresh tomatoes (can use sundried), cut into 1 inch pieces

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

(For Gourmet Club, we swapped out the red peppers with mozzarella cheese, cut into 1 inch pieces)

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat; mist with cooking spray. Add the sausage; cook, turning 2 or 3

times, until warmed through and browned, about 8 minutes. (We grilled the sausage)

Thread 1 small or 1/2 large basil leaf onto a small wooden skewer (or toothpick). Add a piece of pepper, tomato, artichoke and sausage. Repeat. Makes about two dozen skewers.

Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger for Food Network Magazine.

Homemade Mac’n’Cheese

1 box (1 pound) penne rigate (we used Barilla mini penne)

3/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese (we used regular cheddar and monterey jack)

1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded

1/2 cup shredded Parmesean Cheese (can use asiago)

3 tbsp unsalted butter

3 tbsp all purpose flour

2 cups milk

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (can eliminate if making for kids)

Heat oven to 350. Coat a 2 quart broiler safe oval baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add penne, cook, for 6 minutes, then drain. In large bowl, toss together cheeses. Set aside. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and slightly bubbly.

In a thin stream, whisk in milk. Stir in onion powder, salt and cayenne. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in 2 1/2 cups of cheese mixture.

In pasta pot, stir together the cooked penne and the cheese sauce. Pour half into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with a cup of the cheese. Spoon remaining penne into dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil and cook 3 minutes, until top is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 12 side-dish servings. Recipe courtesy of Family Circle Magazine

Neely’s BBQ Sauce

2 cups ketchup

1 cup water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

5 tbsp light brown sugar

5 tbsp sugar

1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tbsp onion powder

1/2 tbsp ground mustard

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook

uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Recipe courtesy The Neely’s

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

1 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup ketchup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all inredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 - 20 minutes. Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Green Beans with Frizzled Prosciutto

3 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp minced shallots

Salt and pepper as needed

7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed (use fresh, try romano for an even richer taste)

1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced

1/4 lb Gruyere cheese cut into sticks

(prosciutto and gruyere found at Albertsons)

Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gradually whisk

in 6 tablespoons olive oil. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until bright green adn just barely tender to the bite, about 3 minutes. Drain the green beans and rinse with cold water until they feel cool. Drain well.

Toss the green beans and the dressing together and let them marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes. Heat the remaining olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add the prosciutto to the hot oil and cook until it “frizzles,” about 2 minutes. Add the prosciutto and the Gruyere. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America Vegetables cookbook.

Jalapeno Jelly

3 Jalapenos

4 Bell Peppers

1 cup white vinegar

3 drops Green Food Coloring

5 Cups Sugar

1 box Liquid Pectin (2 pouches)


Remove the seeds from the Jalapenos and Bell Peppers. Mix Jalapenos, Peppers, vinegar, Food Coloring, and sugar in a blender. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Add Pectin, boil all together hard for 1 minute. Put in bottles and process for 5 minutes. 1 batch makes 3 pints. Do not double the recipe.

Lemon Chicken Marinade

2/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chile powder

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Whisk together and add chicken to marinate.Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home - Picnics, Potlucks & Barbecues 2009 magazine

Homemade Cream Soda

1 cup Syrup Flavor (Vanilla, Cherry, Orange, Raspberry, Almond, Hazelnut or Caramel) (we used vanilla)

1/2 cup Half & Half

2 1/2 cups Club Soda

Ice (as needed)

Whipped cream (if desired)

Mix ingredients and serve over ice. Add a whipped cream garnish to make it more special! The syrups are about $5 at Orson Gygi.

Recipe courtesy of

Mint Lemonade

2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups water

1 cup fresh orange juice (we used concentrate)

1 3/4 cups fresh lemon juice (we used juice from 8 lemons (for 1 cup) and lemon juice concentrate for the rest)

1 cup fresh mint leaves, firmly packed

Mix sugar and water in a saucepan and cook for 5 minutes; cool. Stir in orange and lemon juice and pour over mint leaves. Let stand for 1 hour, then strain into jar and refrigerate. Use 1/2 cup syrup for each glass. Fill with ice and water (or try mixing with sparkling water for some fizz).

(the first time I made it, I just combined the ingredients without heating them and it was still delicious!)

Recipe courtesy of Favorites cookbook

Hot Cranberry Drink

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 cinnamon sticks

1 quart cranberry juice

1 quart water

2 cups orange juice

2 tbsp lemon juice

Simmer water, sugar and cinnamon sticks for 10 minutes. Stir in rest of ingredients. Simmer, without boiling, for 30 minutes. Serves 12. Recipe courtesy of Favorites cookbook

Roasted Corn Salad

4 ears corn on cob with husks still attached

Salt, as needed

6 cups mesclun lettuce mix, rinsed and dried (we used romaine too)

3 red beefsteak tomatoes, sliced

2 avocados, cut into slices

1 medium red onion, sliced thin

1 cup small-diced aged Cheddar Cheese (we used Swiss)

3 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cook corn on grill or in the oven. If in oven, preheat to 400. Roast the unhusked ears of corn until tender, about 45 minutes. Check their doneness after about 30 - 45 minutes; pull the husk partially away from the biggest ear. If you can pierce a kernel easily with a fork, it is done. Remove from the oven and cool.

Shuck the corn and cut the kernels from the cobs. Place corn kernels in a mixing bowl and toss with 1 tsp of the salt. Keep the corn at room temperature if you are making the salad right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Prepare lettuce. Add tomatoes, avocados and onion. Sprinkle with cheese and corn. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America, Vegetables cookbook

Star Puffs

Cut a sheet of puff pastry with a star shaped cookie cutter. Arrange the stars on a parchment lined baking sheet; brush with olive oil and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until puffed and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Mama’s Homemade Chili

Serves 6

½ pound ground beef

1 c. chopped yellow onion

1 c. chopped green pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 cans tomato soup

1 can rinsed red beans

1 ½ tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 can stewed tomatoes (chop tomatoes, keep liquid)

Sour cream and sliced green onions for garnish

In a Teflon coated pot, saute meat, onion, green pepper and garlic until meat is browned and veggies are tender, stirring occasionally to break up meat. Pour off fat.

Stir in tomato soup, beans, and it’s liquid.

Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups whole milk

3/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup shortening

1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients in medium bowl. Add the shortening and mix. Add the milk and egg and mix only until all the ingredients are well combined. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into a greased 8x8-inch pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Let cool slightly before slicing. Recipe courtesy of

Honey Butter

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup marshmallow cream

1/4 cup honey

Mix all together. Recipe courtesy of Heather’s mother-in-law

Fluffy New Potatoes

9 or 10 medium to large new potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup sour cream

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 garlic clove, pressed

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and dry the potatoes, then place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes and massage to coat. And don’t get too attached—you know how this will end. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Set aside for 15 minutes. Place the sour cream, cream cheese, Monterey Jack, chives, garlic, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.

Cut each potato in half lengthwise. With a spoon or melon baller, scoop out inside of the potatoes, leaving a very thin rim of potato inside the skin. Add the potato pulp to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Using a potato masher or fork, gently mash the ingredients together until fluffy and smooth.

(Regular twice-baked potatoes are more chunky and lumpy) Taste and adjust the seasoning—be sure to salt it adequately. Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells. Now, what I do at this point (unless it’s dinnertime already) is flash freeze the potatoes: I stick the pan in the freezer, uncovered, and allow them to harden on the outside for about twenty minutes or so. Then I simply throw them into a couple of large Ziploc bags, seal them tightly, and freeze them until I need them.

When you’re ready, bake the potatoes in a 375 degree oven until thoroughly warmed through. The potatoes will soften, “melt”, and fill the potato shells as they bake. Top with desired toppings.

Recipe courtesy of www.thepioneerw

Rolled Flank Steak

1 1/2 pounds flank steak

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, (1/2 cup)

4 scallions, sliced (1/3 cup) (we used 1/3 cup red onion)

2 ounces (1/4 cup) roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

(We added 1/2 cup artichoke hearts)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in center. Between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound steak to 1/2-inch thickness with a meat mallet or heavy skillet. Using a sharp knife, score the steak on one side in a cross-hatched pattern. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and garlic. Marinate at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.

Remove steak from marinade. Lay steak on cutting board, scored side down, with a short end facing edge of work surface. Cover steak with cheese, scallions, and peppers, leaving 1/2-inch border on the long sides and 2-inch border at the far short end. Season with salt and pepper. Starting from closest side, roll up tightly. Using kitchen twine, tie steak crosswise. Season with salt and pepper.

Place, seam side down in a baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until juices run clear, 35 to 40 minutes for medium rare. Let rest 10 minutes, and remove string before slicing. Serves 4.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 extra-large eggs at room temperature

1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the syrup:

1/4 cup sugar

1 /4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For the ganache:

4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream


If you cook it in a bundt cake to cook it at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. For mini molds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 6 individual serving baking molds, such as the flexible non-stick 100 percent silicone molds. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the orange zest.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pans, put them on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.

Recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 2009 - A Gathering of Ghouls! - Sunny & Stacie

Sunny & Stacie hosted our "Ghouls Night Out!". They went all-out on the decorating (as usual!) and it looked adorable. I don't think I've ever seen so much glitter for Halloween, and I loved it! The place-settings were fabulous, with these little pumpkins covered in glitter and our names in vinyl lettering. I wish photographs could do it justice, but unfortunately they just don't!
Here's just some of the decor...

(Super tasty & colorful appetizers)

Tangy Pepper-Pecan Brie:

- ½ cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped

- ¼ cup apricot preserves

- 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped

- 1 4” round (8 oz.) Brie cheese with rind, room temperature

- 1 loaf (16 oz.) French baguette

- Vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coarsely chop ¼ cup of the pecans using Food Chopper. In small bowl combine chopped pecans, apricot preserves and jalapeno; mix well.

2. Cut Brie in half horizontally. Place one half of Brie, cut side up, onto center of a large stone. Spread half of the sugar mixture evenly over bottom half of Brie. Top with remaining half of Brie, cut side up. Spread remaining sugar mixture over Brie.

3. Using a bread knife, cut baguette on a bias into 24 1/4” slices. Arrange baguette slices around Brie; spray with oil. Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until baguette slices are golden brown and Brie begins to soften. Remove from oven; let stand 5 min. before serving.


Makes 30-35

- 1 baguette (6 ounces), cut diagonally into ¼-inch thick slices

- 2T. olive oil (I needed a bit more)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly brush each bread slice on both sides with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet; toast until light golden, 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Avocado and Green Sauce Crostini

1 small garlic clove

¾ C packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish

¾ C packed fresh basil leaves

¼ C plus 2T extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons red-wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Avocados, peeled and pitted

1T fresh lemon juice


Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse. Add the parsley, basil, 5T olive oil, and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper; puree. (Can add 1T. of capers if you like.) Set the sauce aside.

Cut the avocados into ½ inch chunks. Toss with the lemon juice, and the remaining olive oil.

Spread the green sauce on each crostini. Arrange the avocado chunks on the bread, sprinkle with a pinch of ground pepper, drizzle with a little more sauce and garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

- 1 head of cauliflower

- 2 cups water

- 1 medium onion

- ½ tsp. salt

- Dash of ground nutmeg

- 1 T. lemon juice

- 2 T. flour

- 1 ¾ cups of broth (6-7 bouillon cubes)

- 1/8 tsp pepper

- ½ cup heavy whipping cream

- ½ cup Butter

1. Cut cauliflower into bite-size pieces.

2. Heat water to boiling in 3 qt. saucepan. Add flowerets, celery, lemon juice and onion. Cover and heat to boiling and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until veggies are tender and drain. Set aside.

3. Melt butter in 4 qt. saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook constantly until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in broth. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

4. Stir in cauliflower mixture, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Heat to boiling. Stir in whipping cream just until hot and serve.

They made two different kinds of biscuits--pumpkin & buttermilk, served with cinneberry and orange-pecan butters. I'm totally going to have to steal this idea for a dinner party. The biscuits melted in your mouth. And the butters had just the perfect amount of flavor. Sunny also mentioned that the biscuits are great alternatives to rolls for Thanksgiving dinner (and you don't have to wait for them to rise!).

Pumpkin Angel Biscuits

***Use a light hand when working with this dough to ensure that the baked biscuits will be tender.

Makes about 24 biscuits. Prep time: 30- min. + chilling. Baking time: 12 – 13 minutes.

- 2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast, room temperature. (1 pkg.)

- ½ cup warm water (105 degrees – 115 degrees)

- 5 cups all purpose flour

- ¼ cup sugar

- 1 T. pumpkin-pie spice

- 1 tsp. baking powder

- 1 tsp. baking soda

- 1 tsp. table salt

- 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cubed

- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree

- 1 cup buttermilk

- Melted, unsalted butter

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl; set aside.

Whisk together flour, sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the 1 stick cubed butter into the dry ingredients until butter pieces are the size of peas.

Stir together pumpkin puree and buttermilk; add to the flour mixture along with the yeast mixture. Stir just until ingredients are moistened. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough lightly 4-5 times to incorporate the flour.

Roll dough to a thickness of ½ inch. Cut dough with a 2-inch floured cutter to form 12 biscuits. Place biscuits in one of the prepared pans. Gather remaining dough scraps, then gently roll out dough again. Cut 12 more biscuits and place in second pan.

Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter. Bake biscuits until lightly golden, 12 – 13 minutes.

Turn biscuits out of pans and serve warm.

Make-Ahead Directions:

This dough will keep for 2 – 3 days stored in the refrigerator. You even can cut the dough into rounds and place the rounds into the prepared pans. Cover biscuits and chill them up to 1 day before baking as directed.

Buttermilk Biscuit Option:

You can replace the cup of canned pumpkin puree with an extra 1 cup of buttermilk. Omit the pumpkin-pie spice. No matter what version you choose to make, these biscuits taste fabulous as a base for mini leftover turkey sandwiches!

Cinnaberry Butter:

Combine 1 stick unsalted butter (softened), 2 Tbsp. chopped dried cranberries, 2 tsp. sugar, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, and ½ tsp. kosher salt in a bowl. Scoop mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap; roll wrap around butter to form a log. Twist ends of plastic wrap tightly to seal. Chill log in the refrigerator until butter is firm. Store butter, sealed, up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or freezer.

Orange-Pecan Butter:

Combine 1 stick unsalted butter (softened), 2 Tbsp. chopped toasted pecans, 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. minced orange zest, ½ tsp. kosher salt in a bowl. Scoop mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap; roll wrap around butter to form a log. Twist ends of plastic wrap tightly to seal. Chill log in the refrigerator until butter is firm. Store butter, sealed, up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or freezer.

This is a recipe from Stacie's grandmother (who is German). I'm seriously in love with this salad. It had the most amazing flavor! I agree with Sunny who said that it just looks like an ordinary salad, but tastes anything but ordinary!

German Family Salad

- 2 bunches of Romaine lettuce, chopped

- 1 large Gala apple cubed

- 1 ½ avocado cut up

- Caesar or Garlic croutons

- Pine nuts

Dressing for German Salad:

o ½ cup olive oil

o 1/3 cup rice vinegar

o 2 T sugar

o 2 cloves garlic

o About ½ - 1 Tablespoon of “Season All” salt. (I use 1 + even a little more. It’s what makes it.)

o Pepper to taste


- 1 well-trimmed 5-6 lb. whole boneless brisket

- 1 cup dry sherry

- ¾ cup soy sauce

- 1 6 oz. pineapple juice (Dole makes this size)

- 1/3 cup brown sugar

- 1/3 cup chopped onion

- 1 tsp. ground ginger

- 1 tsp. Knorr Swiss Aromat seasoning

- ½ tsp. garlic powder

- ½ tsp. lemon pepper

Soak overnight with the fat side up. Bake uncovered @ 300°F for 4-5 hours.

Sweet Potato Pie

(tastes like candy! :)

- 4 cooked yams

- ¼ cup milk

- ½ cup Butter

- 2 eggs

- 1 cup sugar

Bake yams and mash. Mix ingredients and pour into pan.

Sweet Potato Pie Topping:

o 1 ½ cup Butter

o ¾ cup flour

o 1 ½ cup sugar

o 3 eggs

o 24 oz. of canned crushed pineapple, well drained

Cream butter, sugar and flour. Beat in egg and then stir in pineapple. Spoon over yams. Bake at 350°F and cook until slightly browned; about 30 minutes.

Green Beans with Honey Cashew Sauce

1 lb fresh green beans
1 ½ to 2 T. butter

½ cup coarsely chopped cashews
2 T. honey

Steam green beans until just tender. Drain and set aside in saucepan. In a small skillet, sauté cashews in butter over low heat for 5 minutes. Add honey and cook 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. (I sautéed on medium heat until the cashews were golden and the sauce was frothy.) Pour sauce over beans and toss until coated.

Divine Chocolate Cake (...and it was DIVINE!)

- 1 Devil’s food cake mix

- 1 cup sour cream

- ½ cup vegetable oil

- ½ cup water

- 4 large eggs

- 1 ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips. Lightly spray Bundt pan with Pam and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cook at 350°F for 50 – 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and turn over.

Frosting for Divine Chocolate Cake:

o 1 cup white sugar

o 5 T. butter

o 1/3 cup whole milk

o 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Boil sugar, butter and milk. Take off heat and pour chips in to melt.

Orange Almond Wassail

*This wassail had such an amazing flavor. It's such a perfect drink for the holiday season. Sunny said the key is the almond extract. I've never had almond extract in wassail before. She said she added even more than the recipe called for, and will add even more next time, so use a heavy hand with the almond extract for a little more tastiness!

Makes 12, 6-oz. servings

- 2 cups water

- 1 cup sugar

- 1 large cinnamon stick

- ½ tsp. whole cloves

Boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Then add:

- 6 cups water

- 1 6 oz. frozen orange juice

- Juice of 1 lemon

- ½ tsp. almond extract

Pour into crockpot and keep warm

Orange Blossom Punch

- 3 cups orange juice

- 1, 10 oz. can of peach or strawberry daiquiri mix.

- 2 cups cold water

Mix all three together with Ginger Ale.

The take-home gifts were an adorable feather-covered black cauldren and these yummy cake-pops. They were more than just pretty to look at, they were delicious. I was wishing my husband had never laid eyes on it, because it disappeared way too quickly when I had to share it with him! My mouth is watering just thinking about them. And they looked so cute presented on a cupcake stand. I'm loving the idea for a baby shower or birthday party.
Cake Pops

Bake a regular cake-mix cake in a 9x13 pan. After it is cooled, crumble it in a bowl and mix it with about ½ tub of cream cheese frosting. Form cake and frosting into golf ball size balls and arrange on a cookie sheet. Freeze for about 3+hours. Pull out of freezer and let defrost about 10 minutes. Use cookie cutter to form into desired shape (options are endless here). Dip in chocolate and insert sucker stick. Let dry on stick on a floral-Styrofoam block. Decorate as desired before the chocolate melts.

Hope you can enjoy some of these fun ideas for the upcoming holidays!
Thanks, Sunny & Stacie for all the amazing ideas!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

September 2009--Meet Me At The Farmer's Market! (Shelly & Lindsay)

Our hostesses, Shelly & Lindsay
All the ladies!

After a long hiatus over the summer, Gourmet Club is back on! (Finally! It feels like it's been forever...) Shelly and Lindsay hosted an incredible evening, so perfect for this time of year. Their theme was "Meet Me at the Farmer's Market". The fruits and vegetables were so fresh and tasty. Their invitations were adorable--I'll get a picture and post it later. Thanks, Shell & Lindsay for all your hard work! The night seemed to have gone off without a hitch. Everything was perfect! I'm still dreaming about those panini's...

The chalkboard menu was such a cute touch.

The place setting had a jar of homemade raspberry jam, which served as our namesetting, as well as a take-home gift.

Lavender Cream
From The Gardener’s Community Cookbook

1 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
Blossoms from 10 sprigs of lavender (I used ¾ tablespoon dried culinary lavender)
1/4 cup honey
4 extra large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

1. Combine the cream, milk, honey, sugar, salt, and lavender in the top of a double boiler. Set over simmering water and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to thicken, about 10 minutes. *When using dried lavender, let the mixture sit (steep) with a lid on top for 30 minutes. Pour cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard lavender. Return mixture to cleaned top of a double boiler.
2. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a bowl. Whisk in half the warm cream mixture. Whisk this mixture back into the double boiler. Continue cooking over the simmering water, stirring from time to time, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the spoon, about 10 minutes more.
3. Strain the cream mixture into a clean bowl. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, and chill. Serve as a sauce for berries, chocolate cake, plain pound cake, or sponge cake. Or spoon into side bowls and accompany with cookies.

*If you don’t have lavender in your garden it can be purchased at www.penzeys .com.

This lemonade was delicious...and super refreshing! And how cute are these bottles!? Love 'em!

Strawberry Lemonade
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
• 1 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
• 2 cups cold sparkling water or club soda
• Ice
• Mint sprigs, garnish
• Whole strawberries, garnish
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon peel and lemon juice, stir, and remove from the heat. Let cool completely, then strain into a clean pitcher.
In a blender, puree the pint of strawberries and add to the pitcher with the lemon juice. Stir well to combine and refrigerate until well chilled.
Add the sparkling water and stir well. Pour over glasses filled with ice and serve, garnished with mint and strawberries.

Butternut Bisque
• 2 Tb Butter
• 1 c Onion; Chopped
• 2 lb Butternut Squash; Peeled and cut
• 4 c Chicken Stock
• 1/2 tsp White Pepper
• Salt; To Taste
• 1 c Milk
• 1 c Cream
• Parsley; Chopped
Dice butternut squash into 1" pieces, Melt butter in a large soup pot. Add onion and saute until onion softens. Add squash and chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer 20-25 minutes, until squash is tender. Cool, uncovered, 20 minutes. Puree in blender or food processor until very smooth. (Soup may be refrigerated at this point and finished the next day.) Return soup to pot. Add pepper, salt, milk, and cream. Heat gently, but do not boil. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Panzanella Salad

1 pound loaf ciabatta, cut into 3/4 –inch cubes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used about half)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into large chunks
½ small red onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and chopped
3 large tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks (I always use grape tomatoes, halved)
½ cup finely sliced fresh basil leaves
1 pound fresh mozzarella bocconcini, cut in half (I just buy the fresh mozzarella packed in water and cut into small cubes or the mozzarella pearls)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I use 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T fresh lemon juice
½ tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the croutons, place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly and arrange in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until lightly crisped and browned around the edges, yet still somewhat soft in the interior, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before using.

To assemble the salad, in a large bowl, combine the cucumber, onion, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, basil , mozzarella, salt pepper, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic powder. Toss to combine evenly. Add the bread cubes and toss again. Transfer the salad to a decorative bowl and serve immediately.

Farmers’ Market Panini

Tart apples such as Granny Smith, chopped
Red onion marmalade
Brie Cheese, rind cut off and sliced
Roasted Turkey Breast, sliced
Hearty Wheat Bread, sliced
Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. Lay the slices oiled side down and spread the top of each slice with the red onion marmalade. Sprinkle the apples on top and place sliced turkey over the apples. Arrange a couple slices of brie on top. Top each sandwich with a bread slice, oiled side up.

Place the sandwich on a panini press, close the lid, and cook until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve immediately.

Moist and Tender Turkey Breast
1 (5-10 lb) fresh or frozen turkey breast (thawed)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can chicken broth
1-2 tablespoon mayonnaise

1. Place turkey breast in a roasting pan.
2. Combine melted butter and chicken broth.
3. Pour over turkey.
4. Rub mayonnaise all over turkey's exterior. Salt lightly if desired.
5. Roast at 300°-325°F until internal temperature reaches 170°F on an instant read thermometer.
6. Remove from oven and let sit for about 30 minutes before slicing.
Note: because the butter and broth are for making gravy, if you need to make a lot of gravy, double the amount of both.

Red Onion Marmalade
4 ½ pounds red onions
4 garlic cloves
1/3 pound butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
375 ml bottle red wine
375 ml bottle red wine vinegar

1. Halve and thinly slice the onions, then thinly slice the garlic. Melt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Tip in the onions and garlic and give them a good stir so they are glossed with butter. Sprinkle over the sugar, thyme leaves, and some salt and pepper. Give everything another really good stir and reduce the heat slightly. Cook uncovered for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions are ready when all their juices have evaporated, they're really soft and sticky and smell of sugar caramelizing. They should be so soft that they break when pressed against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Slow cooking is the secret of really soft and sticky onions, so don't rush this part.
2. Pour in the wine and vinegar and simmer everything, still uncovered, over a high heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring every so often until the onions are a deep mahogany color and the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds. It's done when drawing a spoon across the bottom of the pan clears a path that fills rapidly with syrupy juice. Leave the onions to cool in the pan then scoop into a container. Can be eaten straight away, but keeps in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Sweet Potato Fries with Garlic and Sea Salt
*These were AMAZING!!! The best sweet potato fries I've ever had!

• 2 lbs sweet potatoes
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• Course sea salt

Preheat oven to 450. Rinse and dry sweet potatoes. Cut sweet potatoes into batons about ¼ inch wide and 3 inches long. Mix the oil, mustard, and lime juice in a large bowl or ziplock bag and toss with the sweet potato batons to coat. Spread sweet potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring with a spatula midway through baking time, until tender and browned on the edges, 20-25 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix parmesan, parsley, and garlic. Add warm oven fries and mix gently to coat. Season to taste with additional salt and serve at once.

Peach Cobbler

1/2 c butter cut up
1 c flour
1 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c milk
3 1/2 c fresh fruit or canned (any kind)
3/4 c firmly packed brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Melt the butter in a square pan in the oven. Remove pan from the oven.
3. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk. Gently pour the mixture into the melted butter in the baking pan. Do not stir.
4. Place fruit of your choice evenly over the batter, top with brown sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake until the cobbler is well browned and the fruit is cooked. The baking time will vary depending on the fruit. Start checking after about 40 min. Serve right out of the oven, plain or with ice cream or whipped cream...or with milk over the top. Enjoy!

French Vanilla Ice Cream
From Martha Stewart Living
Makes 1 1/2 quarts.
• 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
• 2 cups whole milk
• 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
• 8 large egg yolks
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
1- Put cream and milk into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Scrape vanilla seeds from beans with the tip of a small knife into pan; add beans. Heat the mixture until hot (do not let simmer), about 2 minutes. Remove mixture from heat; cover, and let stand 30 minutes.

2- Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Put yolks, sugar, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until yolk mixture has tripled in volume and can hold a ribbon on surface for 2 seconds, about 3 minutes.

3- Reduce speed to medium. Ladle 1 cup cream mixture in a slow stream into yolk mixture to temper it. Add another cup cream mixture; beat to combine. Transfer mixture to saucepan; cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and an instant-read thermometer registers 180 degrees; 5 to 7 minutes.

4- Pour custard through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl set in ice-water bath. Let cool completely, stirring often. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately, or freeze in an airtight plastic container until ready to serve. If frozen for more than 4 hours, let ice cream stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

*This is the best idea for a summer dessert. LOVE IT! It presents so well, and is such a light, yummy dessert. I'd prefer this to cake anyday!

Strawberries and Cheesecake Dip

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 pint strawberries
¼ cup graham cracker crumbs

1) In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the sour cream, sugar, milk and extract; mix until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl.
2) Place the strawberries and crumbs in separate serving bowls. Dip strawberries into cheesecake mixture, then into crumbs.

Candy Cookies

1 cube butter (not margarine)
½ c. brown sugar
1 C. milk chocolate chips
Club crackers
finely chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 F

Line a 9X13 pan with foil and grease with oil. Line the bottom of the pan with club crackers.

In saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar. Boil 2 minutes. Pour over crackers.
Bake 5 minutes. Remove and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Spread like frosting as it melts. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and press into chocolate. Cut into squares while still warm. Refrigerate till firm.