Saturday, March 29, 2014

Baby it's Cold Outside! - Holly and Melissa - January 2014

Holly and Melissa kicked the New Year off with Gourmet club in January.  The theme was "Baby it's Cold Outside". 
They hosted at Holly's in-laws. The front room off the entry way as you walked in was all set up with this darling hot chocolate bar.  It was so cute and super yummy fun!
They had Milk or Vanilla powder and then you could add toffee chips, mint chips, sea salt, caramel and all topped with fresh whipped cream and a peppermint mash mellow stirring stick!  Such a fun idea for a Winter gathering.
The table was set up so fun and felt like we were in the woods. 
Tree branches, pine cones and lanterns.
The place settings were one of my personal favorites!  Holly's Dad had cut down a huge tree stump and sliced it into thick chunks for charges.  They were awesome!
Then they had taken white mugs and glittered the bottom half and written our names on the other half.  So cute.

Appetizers were in the front room with the hot chocolate bar.
Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter Shooter,
Tomato Basil Soup Shooter
and a Pesto, Apple & Havarti open face Grilled Cheese.  All delicious and I loved the idea of the soup shooters!
The rest of the menu consisted of:
Kale & Spinach Salad with Pear, Mozzarella & Candied Pistachios
Served with a Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Soup Trio:
Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup,
Grandma's Best Beef Stew
and Sausage & Kale Tortellini Soup.
Served with Garlic Parmesan Twists.
Soups were presented so fun in the little dishes and tasted great.  Perfect for a cold Winter day!  The bread sticks got rave reviews and everyone loved them.
Chocolate Mousse & Salted Caramel Cream Puff.
Salty/sweet perfection.
Take homes were our recipes and our mugs filled with a bag of our own Hot Coco mix to go.
Such a delicious night and perfect for a chilly evening full of yummy warm comfort food!  Nice job ladies! Michelle we missed you!


Tomato Basil Soup Shooter
2 Tbsp butter
1 ½ diced onion
½-1 cup diced celery
2-28 oz cans of diced tomatoes
9 oz chicken broth
2 Tbsp of sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of baking soda
Basil to taste
Italian seasoning to taste
2 cups heavy cream

Sauté butter with chopped onion and celery. In a large pot mix 2-28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar, garlic clove, pinch of baking soda, celery and onion mixture.  Add basil and Italian seasoning to taste. Simmer for 1 hour. Puree and add 2 cups of warmed cream.  Make sure not to boil after adding cream.  (Can also make ahead and freeze. Just freeze prior to adding the cream. Once reheated, then add the heavy cream). 

Pesto, Apple & Havarti Grilled Cheese Open-Faced Grilled Cheese

Favorite bread slices or baguette
Havarti cheese slices (at room temperature)
Honey crisp apple-thinly slices

Instructions: Spread bread with thin layer of pesto, then layer with thinly slices apple slices and top with havarti cheese. Broil in oven for 2-3 minutes, watching closely.  Serve with your favorite tomato soup.

Blackberry, Basil and Fontina cheese
BBQ beef, pickled red onions and cheddar
Avocado, sriracha (mixed in a little mayo) and gouda cheese
Kale, pesto & avocado
Caramelized onions & shredded gruyere
Brie & pear
Artichoke hearts, garlic, white cheddar & jack cheese
Brie & nutella
Thousand Island dressing, swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms and onions
Ciabatta roll, tomato slices, fresh mozzarella & basil..
Find lots more ideas at:

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter
Yield: Serves 4-6
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils or green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Indian curry powder
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk, light or regular
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Toasted bread or croutons for dipping, optional
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the 2 tablespoons butter, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, anywhere from 20-50 minutes, so check occasionally.
  2. While the lentils simmer, melt the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown (watch it carefully since butter can go from brown to burned quickly!). When it starts to smell nutty and fragrant, stir in the curry powder and cook for about 30 seconds.
  3. When the lentils are finished cooking, remove the pot from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt and puree with an immersion blender (or carefully transfer the hot soup to a blender in batches and puree before returning to the pot). Blend the soup until completely smooth or leave with a bit of texture; your choice.
  4. Stir in half of the spiced butter to the soup and add additional salt to taste, if needed.
  5. Serve the soup drizzled with the remaining spice butter and toasted bread if using.
  6. Optional: For a smoother texture, pour the soup through a fine mesh strainer.

Kale & Spinach Salad with Pear, Mozzarella & Candied Pistachio Salad
(Served with a bottled Maple Grove Farms Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette)
1-2 bags of mixed greens (spinach & kale)
2 pears, seeded and diced
fresh buffalo mozzarella-cubed                                                                                                                                                                                   1/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. pistachios
Directions: Spray a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a small non-stick skillet (if possible), stir the nuts and sugar constantly over medium heat until the sugar melts and the nuts are evenly coated in the sugar syrup. Spread the nuts over the prepared sheet of foil or parchment and let them cool completely.
While the nuts are cooling, toss together the chopped lettuce and diced pears and mozzarella.  Top with candied nuts, then drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. If serving as a meal, you can add grilled chicken. Makes 4-6 main dish servings or 8-10 side dish servings.
Serve with your favorite creamy balsamic dressing or homemade dressing below.

2 cups flour
2 packages of yeast
2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ cubes butter
Fresh minced garlic
Garlic Salt
Parmesan Cheese

Directions: Mix the top 4 ingredients with 1 ½ cups of warm water (mixture will be pasty). Then add 1 ½ cup more flour. Knead and let rise for 10-15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 and melt a cube of butter on a large cookie sheet in oven. Roll dough into rectangle or oval and use pizza cutter to cut dough into long strips. Roll each strip (between your palms) into a snake, drape over your index finger and twist the dough, pinching the ends tight.  Roll breadsticks in butter and sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese.  Cover & let rise for 15-30 minutes. Bake at 375 for 9-10 minutes, then remove from oven and brush with melted butter/minced garlic. Turn oven up to 400 and bake for another 2-3 minutes until lightly browned (watching carefully).   

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
2 Tbsp Better than Bullion
1 medium onion
1 rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1 lemon
2 Tbsp lemon olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
6 cups of chicken broth
1 cup uncooked orzo
Salt & Pepper to taste
Directions: Sauté onion and garlic over medium heat in lemon olive oil. Add chicken broth, bouillon and bring to boil. Add orzo, chicken, & parsley and bring to boil for 5 minutes. Turn on low and simmer until done.

Sausage & Kale Creamy Tortellini Soup
1 (16+) bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 lb sausage (*I prefer hot)
1 bag of fresh spinach or kale-chopped
2 cans Italian style diced tomatoes
2 cans low-fat chicken broth
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
8 oz cream cheese-cut into cubes
Garnish with fresh basil, fresh parmesan & fresh ground pepper

Brown the sausage in a skillet on the stove top until cooked and crumbled. Drain. 2. Add the sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, chicken broth and cream cheese to a 6-quart slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook, on LOW for 4-5 hours (or high for 2-3 hours), stirring twice during cooking. 20 minutes before serving, turn heat to high if it isn’t already and stir in frozen tortellini and kale/spinach.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until tender and hot. Serve topped with parmesan and fresh ground pepper.    

Grandma’s  Best Beef Stew
6 cups beef stock
1 TBSP beef bouillon
1 lb boneless beef ribs cut into bite size pieces
1 c diced carrots
2 c diced potatoes
1 large yellow onion diced
1 tsp dried oregano
4 TBSP veg oil
1 cup seasoned flour( 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper)

Heat 4 TBLS oil in pot over med high heat. Dredge meat in seasoned flour and sear in oil until brown on all sides.(Do this in stages, otherwise your meat doesn't sear, it steams)
After all the meat has been seared add another Tbsp of oil, add onion and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add meat back in to combine and add stock, bouillon and oregano. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 4 hours. The last hour, add potatoes and carrots, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Optional: Can thicken with a basic roux if desired.

Chocolate Mousse
1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon water
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar
Whipped cream & toffee bits, optional

Directions: In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips with water; stir until smooth. Stir a small amount of hot chocolate mixture into egg yolk; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool, stirring several times.

In a small bowl, beat whipping cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Fold in cooled chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with whipped cream if desired. Yield: 5-6 servings.

Salted Caramel Cream Puff

Basic Profiterole recipe
1 c water
1 stick butter
1 c flour
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 400. Heat butter and water until butter is melted and it comes to a boil, add flour and stir constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Place in piping bag and pipe onto a cookie sheet into 1-2 in balls. Bake for 30 minutes or until light brown.
Pastry cream
1 1/4 c whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
In a bowl mix yolks and sugar, add in sifted flour and cornstarch. Bring milk and vanilla to just barely boiling. Remove from heat and slowly add egg mixture-whisking constantly. Cook over med heat whisking constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat and cover. Place plastic wrap on top of(touching) the cream. Bring down to room temp and refrigerate.
Caramel sauce 
1/2 c butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
3/4 c corn syrup
1 can condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
Add all ingredients except vanilla in pot. Bring to a boil stirring to dissolve sugar. Take off heat and add vanilla. Cool and use.
Optional: Sprinkle with sea salt.

Glitter/Sharpie Mug Tutorial
Sharpie mug: Clean mug with rubbing alcohol, let dry and write message with sharpie. (If you mess up, you can use a magic eraser to rub off the marker, then start over).  Once finished, simply bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Glitter Mug:

Supplies Needed:

-Martha Stewart decoupage, gloss finish
-a mug
-painters’ tape
-a brush

1.) Add a line of painter’s tape where you’d like your glitter to stop. Make sure to leave at least an inch at the top.
2.) Brush a coat of decoupage onto the mug in the spots where you’d like the glitter.
3.) Pour glitter over mug until well coated.
4.) Remove painters tape immediately, DON’T TOUCH THE GLITTER, and set cup non-glitter side down to dry overnight.
5.) Brush loose pieces of glitter off of the cup.
6.) Add a coat of decoupage only over the glittered side, let dry overnight.
7.) Add a second coat of decoupage, let dry overnight (May need to use additional layers of the decoupage)
8.) Let the mug cure a week before using it, 28 days before putting it in the dishwasher. (SUPER IMPORTANT!)