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