Wednesday, November 7, 2012

50's Gourmet Diner - Shelly and Lindsay - November 2012

It was so fun to receive this darling record invitation to our latest Gourmet club in the mail.  And even more exciting a 50's Gourmet Diner!
The evening was to be hosted at Lindsay's husband's business (Shelf Reliance), in their demo kitchen. Even better!  
We arrived and our darling waitresses seated us.  How cute are Shelly and Lindsay?!  I was in love with their glasses! 
The place was decorated darling in fun pink, blue, white and black and records hanging from the ceiling.
They were smartie pants and covered some of the usual decor canvases with foil wrapping paper and then put darling diner pictures mounted on top.  
 We sat in tables of three and the high tables and bar stools where perfect for the diner feel.

Our place settings were records as well and our names were tied to an old fashioned bottle of Coca Cola with a pink ribbon.  True to the theme.
 They had even made the real deal diner style menus!
And as we read we could tell we were in for some diner treats!
We started with Sock Hop Punch and Cinnamon Roll French Toast.  Um, hello!  Hands down my favorite of the evening.  Cinnamon Roll AND french toast in a happy marriage how could you not love this?!
 Next came the Pulled Pork Sliders, a Zesty Turkey Pesto Sandwich with Oven Baked Fries and Marinated Cucumbers.
 I really liked the cucumbers and the french fries.  All of it was good.
Next thing we knew out popped our waitresses with there blenders and they went to work to make us delicious diner shakes!
 A Pumpkin Pie Milkshake with literally a piece of Pumpkin Pie in it!

 Lindsay whipped up a Cupcake Shake.  Strawberry Cupcake to be exact form the"Sweet Tooth Fairy".
It was really yummy!  I liked it a lot.  And the fun thing is you can make these with any pie or cupcake!  They let us watch and learn and that was even better.
The "to go orders" table was filled with all our take home goodies.
 Recipes of course, a cute Coco Cola glass filled with pink taffy and
 a slice of Chocolate Cream Oreo Pie!  It was another favorite of the night for me.  Very good and a cute idea!
 The evening was fun and bright and fun to be in a new location.  We got to tour the showroom and the rest of the office and see all the fun things it has to offer. 
These ladies never disappoint and we always enjoy a delicious evening!

Overnight Cinnamon Roll French Toast Bake
6-8 cinnamon rolls of your choice (homemade, Pillsbury, Rhodes etc.)
2 eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons butter
Icing from cinnamon recipe or kit
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Warm water
  1. Bake cinnamon rolls as directed. Don’t frost
  2. Meanwhile, spray 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In medium bowl, beat eggs, half-and-half, corn syrup and vanilla.
  3. With serrated knife, cut each baked cinnamon roll from top to bottom into 3 pieces. Arrange roll pieces in baking dish at a slight angle to fill dish and centers of rolls are exposed slightly.
  4. Pour egg mixture over rolls. Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  5. Heat oven to 400°F. Uncover baking dish; bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. If toast puffs up too high during baking, pierce with sharp knife so toast falls. Cool 2 to 4 minutes before serving. Top each serving with small pat of butter.
  6. In small bowl, whisk cinnamon roll icing, 2 tablespoons maple syrup and enough warm water to create a pourable syrup consistency. Serve over French toast.
Makes 8 servings

Sock Hop Punch
1 part Orange Juice
1 part Cranberry Juice
Mix well & chill before serving

Zesty Turkey Pesto Sandwich

1/2 cup pesto
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons roasted red pepper, drained, chopped
8 soft bakery buns, split
8 leaf lettuce leaves
1 pound thinly sliced deli turkey breast
8 (3/4-ounce) slices American cheese
8 slices tomato
-Stir together pesto, mayonnaise and red pepper in small bowl; mix well.
-Spread cut-sides of buns with pesto mixture.
-To assemble sandwiches, layer bottom half of each bun with 1 lettuce leaf, 1/8 turkey, 1 slice cheese, 1 slice tomato and top half of bun.
Oven Fries
From Cook’s Illustrated
3 russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled, each potato cut lengthwise into 10 to 12 evenly sized wedges
5 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
1.     Adjust oven rack to lowest position; heat oven to 475 degrees. Place potatoes in large bowl and cover with hot tap water; soak 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coat 18 by 12-inch heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 tablespoons oil (I only use 3 T and I think you could get away with 2 T) and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
2.     Drain potatoes. Spread potatoes out on triple layer of paper towels and thoroughly pat dry with additional paper towels. Rinse and wipe out now-empty bowl; return potatoes to bowl and toss with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet; cover tightly with foil and bake 5 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until bottoms of potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using metal spatula and tongs, scrape to loosen potatoes from pan, then flip each wedge, keeping potatoes in single layer. Continue baking until fries are golden and crisp, 5 to 15 minutes longer, rotating pan as needed if fries are browning unevenly.
3.     Transfer fries to second baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Pulled Pork Sliders
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. mustard powder
4 lb. bone-in pork shoulder
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
1/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 cups chicken broth

3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar


In a small bowl, combine the salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika and mustard powder. Rub the mixture evenly over the pork and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

In a 6-quart French braiser or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil until almost smoking. Add the pork and brown on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer to a large plate. Add the onion, garlic and tomato paste to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of the vinegar and the broth and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Transfer into a crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours.

Transfer the pork to a large platter or baking sheet and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Skim the fat off the cooking liquid. Put the remaining liquid from the crockpot into a braiser over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to 1 3/4 cups, 8 to 10 minutes (It always takes me a lot longer to reduce the sauce). Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup vinegar, the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and brown sugar and simmer until the sugar dissolves.

Using 2 forks, shred the meat, discarding any fat, and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the sauce (I tend to not use all of the sauce that it makes because I don’t like my meat too saucy, but it is just a personal preference). Place 2 Tbs. pork and 1 Tbs. coleslaw on the bottom of each roll then cover with the tops of the rolls. Serve immediately.

**I always double this recipe because it freezes so well. I use my big crockpot to accommodate for 2 pork shoulders. It is great for big gatherings.

Buttermilk Coleslaw
From Paula Deen
½ cup mayonnaise
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
½ teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about ½ head)
4 cups finely shredded purple cabbage (about ½ head)
2 large carrots, grated
Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, buttermilk, celery salt, kosher salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cabbages and carrots and toss to combine. Cover and chill until serving time

Marinated Cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 cups sliced cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup sliced onions and separated into rings (I use red onion for color)
  • In a bowl, combine the first four ingredients; mix well. Stir in the cucumbers and onions. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Yield: 4 servings.

Pumpkin Pie Shake
2 cups vanilla ice cream
½ cup milk (more or less depending on your preference)
1 generous piece of pumpkin pie

Blend & top with whipped cream & a dash of cinnamon. Enjoy!
Cupcake Shake

1 ½ Cups Vanilla Ice Cream
1 frosted cupcake
Milk, if needed for a thinner shake

Put ice cream and cupcake in a blender and slightly mash with a wooden spoon.  Blend and enjoy. Add milk for a thinner consistency. 

Chocolate Cream Oreo Pie
Makes 2 pies
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust – These instructions make 1 crust.  Double to make 2 crusts
16 Oreo cookies (with filling), broken into rough pieces, about 2 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Chocolate Cream Filling
2 1/2cups half-and-half
5 tablespoons sugar
pinch table salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 large egg yolks at room temperature, chalazae (protein strands attached to yolk) removed (see related Quick Tip)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces
7 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups Cool Whip
3 cups chopped Oreo cookies, divided

Whipped Cream Topping
1 1/2cups heavy cream (cold)
1 1/2tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2teaspoon vanilla extract
1.    For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process cookies with 15 one-second pulses, then let machine run until crumbs are uniformly fine, about 15 seconds. (Alternatively, place cookies in large zipper-lock plastic bag and crush with rolling pin.) Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle with butter, and use fingers to combine until butter is evenly distributed.

2.   Pour crumbs into 9-inch Pyrex pie plate. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Refrigerate lined pie plate 20 minutes to firm crumbs, then bake until crumbs are fragrant and set, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack while preparing filling.

3.   For the Filling: Bring half-and-half, salt, and about 5 tablespoons sugar to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon to dissolve sugar. Stir together 1/4 cup sugar and cornstarch in small bowl, then sprinkle over yolks and whisk, scraping down sides of bowl, if necessary, until mixture is glossy and sugar has begun to dissolve, about 1 minute. Whisk yolks thoroughly in medium bowl until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. When half-and-half reaches full simmer, drizzle about 1/2 cup hot half-and-half over yolks, whisking constantly to temper; then whisk egg yolk mixture into simmering half-and-half (mixture should thicken in about 30 seconds). Return to simmer, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on the surface and mixture is thickened and glossy, about 15 seconds longer.

4.   Off heat, whisk in butter until incorporated; add chocolates and whisk until melted, scraping pan bottom with rubber spatula to fully incorporate. Stir in vanilla, then immediately pour 1 ½ cups of filling into each baked and cooled crust. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of filling and refrigerate pie for 1 hour.  Pour the remaining filling (it should be about 1 cup) into a bowl, press plastic wrap directly on surface, and chill for one hour.  After one hour pull out the remaining filling in the bowl and mix with 2 cups of Cool Whip.  Set aside.  Pull out the pies from the fridge and top each with 1 ½ cups of chopped Oreo cookies.  Divide the filling/Cool Whip mixture in half and spread each half onto each of the pies.  Cover the pies with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or until well set (I usually chill the pies overnight).

5.      For the Topping: Just before serving, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla in bowl of standing mixer on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume and forms soft peaks, about 20 seconds. Spread whipped cream over chilled pie filling.  Cover with additional chopped Oreo cookies, if desired.  Cut pie into wedges and serve.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Tropical Evening in Paradise - Annika and Michelle - September 2012

Annika and Michelle started our 5th year of Gourmet Club off this month with A Tropical Evening in Paradise!
It was a clean, bright table scape and was outside in the perfect early fall weather.
The place settings were simple and had a burst of color from the floral napkins.  The napkins were fastened with a yellow flower clip they each gal got to take home and use in their hair, on a necklace or shirt.
The centerpieces were square vases lined with sliced lemons and then filled with HUGE football mums.  They were awesome flowers!

There were table and chairs set up in the back of the yard for appetizers and chatting when the ladies arrived.
The name tags were small paper gift sacks filled with turquoise glitter tulle and tied with navy embroidery floss.
Inside the bag was one of their take homes, a fun turquoise flower ring.  Thanks for modeling Shelly!
Enough of the decor, time to move onto the food!
The appetizer/take home table was bright and colorful.  ALL the appetizers were fabulous if I do say so myself.  And I do!
Fresh Fruit Bruschetta with Orange-Honey Cream
Pineapple Shrimp Skewers
Tropical Pina Coladas
For the salad course they chose to serve a Mango Pico de Gallo with Fresh Tortilla Chips.  This may be one of my favorites!  It is so darn good and I could eat it by the spoonful!  I loved the fun containers to.
Main Course:
Spicy Honey Chicken Salad with Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette
Coconut Rice 
Tropical Black Beans
Creamy Lime Bars
Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream
Everything was light, delicious and refreshing.  

 We welcomed Melissa to the group and I think she will fit right in. ;-)

And as if we hadn't had enough yumminess, each gal was sent home with all the recipes and, flown in fresh from Hawaii (2 weeks prior), Maui Loa Chocolate Toffee covered Macadamia Nuts and Milk Chocolate covered Macadamia nuts.  They were excited and rightly so.
It was THE perfect weather for the an evening in paradise and we can't wait for our next feast!


Fresh Fruit Bruschetta with
Orange-Honey Cream
from Our Best Bites

1 baguette or similar-sized French bread loaf

4 Tbsp. butter, melted

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 C diced strawberries (about 10 medium strawberries)

1 C finely diced mango (about 1 medium mango)

1 C finely diced kiwi (about 3 kiwi)
1/2 C Sour Cream (I recommend full fat)

3 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice bread into 1/2 inch slices.  Place in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Use a pastry brush to brush each piece with melted butter.  Combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle evenly over bread slices.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are toasted.  Set aside to cool.
While bread is toasting, combine Breakstone’s Sour Cream, honey, and orange zest.  Stir to combine and place in the fridge.
Combine strawberries, mango, and kiwi and stir gently to combine. When bread is cooled, place about 1 Tbsp. of fruit mixture on top of each toasted bread slice and drizzle with sweet sour cream mixture.  If needed, thin sour cream sauce with 1/2-1 tsp orange juice.  Garnish with mint leaves if desired.  Serve immediately.

Pineapple Skewered Shrimp
from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 pound (to 2 Pounds) Peeled, De-veined Jumbo Shrimp
1 can (about 20 Oz.) Pineapple Chunks (or 1 Whole Fresh Pineapple)

½ cups (to 1 Cup) Teriyaki Sauce
2 whole (to 3 Whole) Green Onions, Sliced
3 Tablespoons Garlic, Chopped, to taste
1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Sugar (optional)
Pineapple Juice (reserved From Can If Using Canned Pineapple)
1 dash Lemon Juice
1 dash Kosher Salt

Optional Ingredients:
Lime Zest
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Minced Fresh Ginger
Jalapenos Seeded And Chopped

In a bowl combine teriyaki sauce, green onions, garlic, sugar, pineapple juice, lemon juice and salt (and any other of the optional ingredients of your choosing, to taste). Mix these together well and set aside.
Wash, then peel and de-vein the shrimp (unless they’ve already come that way). Stir peeled/de-veined jumbo shrimp into the marinade and marinate at least a couple of hours.
Skewer pineapple chunks with the shrimp and grill until done, about 1 to 2 minutes per side on a very hot grill. Flip again and cook until brown to just slightly blackened. Serve to a hungry crowd.

Tropical Pina Colada
from Coco Lopez
4 oz. Coco Lopez Real Cream of Coconut
4 oz. pineapple juice
2 cups of ice

Combine all ingredients in blender and mix well.  Garnish with pineapple.  Serves 2. 

Mango Pico de Gallo
4 cups mango, diced
2 avocados, diced
1/8 cup red onion, diced
1 - 2 bunches cilantro, chopped
3/4 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 Tbs. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. lime juice

Gently fold all ingredients together and let chill before serving with fresh tortilla chips.  Also great on fish tacos!

Spicy Honey Chicken
from Our Best Bites
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2lbs)
2 t vegetable oil
2 t granulated garlic
2 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t coriander
1 t kosher salt
1 t cumin
1/2 t chipotle chili powder
1/2 C Honey
1T Cider Vinegar

Combine the rub spices in bowl and mix well.
Use kitchen shears to trim off any excess fat from the chicken pieces. Pat dry. Drizzle oil over chicken and rub in with your hands to lightly coat all the pieces. Then toss chicken with the spice rub to coat all sides well. Use your hands and get in there! Grill chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

While chicken is cooking, warm honey in the microwave so it’s not so thick. Add the vinegar and combine well. Reserve 2T honey glaze for later. Take the rest and brush on chicken (both sides) in the final moments of grilling.
I’m gonna warn you that this can make a hot mess, literally. It’s sugar, and it’s gonna drip. But the smelly smoke is worth it for a minute or two. Just leave your grill on for a few minutes after the chicken is done to burn off any excess glaze. It’s totally worth it once you taste this stuff.
If you don’t have a bbq, try it on an indoor grill pan or use your broiler. Just be sure to open a window in case you burn your glaze!
Remember how I had you reserve that extra couple tablespoons of glaze? Yah, drizzle that on top now. Your taste buds will thank you.
This serves 4 large salads or 6 smaller sized ones.
1-2 heads Romaine or Red Leaf Lettuce
2 ripe but firm mangoes, chilled
2-3 ripe but firm avocados
thinly sliced red onion
While chicken is grilling, wash lettuce and divide among serving plates. Slice avocados, onions, and mangoes and place them on top of the lettuce. When chicken is finished, let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing to preserve the juices. Then slice it up and divide among the salads. Drench it all in the Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette and pretend you’re at a fancy restaurant!
Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette
1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 T grated onion
1/3 C fresh orange juice

3T fresh lime juice

2T honey

3/4 t cumin
1/2 t salt

1/4 t ground black pepper

1/2 C vegetable oil 

Place all ingredients in a tightly sealed jar and shake your bootie (and the jar) vigorously. Store in the fridge, and shake before dressing salad.

Mexican Black Beans

2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. cumin
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup tomato juice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped        
*In a large skillet heat garlic, cumin, and oil.  Add beans, tomato juice, and salt.  Stir until heated through.  Stir in cilantro just before serving.

Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice
from Our Best Bites

2 c. white or Jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk
2 c. water
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Splash of white vinegar (optional, but it helps with the texture)
2-3 tsp. white sugar
Handful of chopped green onions, plus chopped green onion tops for garnish (we’re using the whole animal here…)
Black pepper to taste

Combine rice, coconut milk, water, salt, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil Turn heat to low and cover for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Add green onions, black pepper (if desired), and additional salt if necessary. You can also put everything in a rice cooker except the green onions and pepper then when it's finished add those.

Creamy Lime Bars - from Our Best Bites

20 Nilla Wafers, finely crushed

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold real butter

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese (you can use 1/3-less fat cream cheese)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, at room temp (just place eggs in a bowl of warm water for about 10 mins)

2 Tbsp. flour

3 Tbsp. grated lime zest divided

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (don’t even think about opening a bottle!)

1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Spray lightly with non-stick spray and set aside.  In a bowl, combine Nilla Wafer crumbs, 1/2 cup flour and the brown sugar. Chop butter into small pieces and then cut into crumb mixture with a pastry blender. If you don’t have a pastry blender, just use 2 knives, or even your fingers to break up the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 min.  While crust is cooking, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 2 Tbsp. flour, and baking powder; mix well. Blend in 1 Tbsp. lime zest, and lime juice and then pour mixture over crust.
Bake 25 to 30 min. or until center is set. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. These bars improve with time. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and remaining 2 Tbsp. grated lime zest just before cutting into squares to serve. Store leftover squares in refrigerator. (As if you’ll have leftovers!)

Coconut Pineapple Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 oz can crushed pineapple
1/2  Tbs. coconut extract
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flaked coconut
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together well and freeze according to ice cream mixer.    Makes: 2 quarts