Friday, May 30, 2014

Mother's Day Garden Tea - Lindsay & Kim - May 2014

Talk about going out with a bang!  Lindsay and Kim hosted our last gourmet night before Summer break and knocked our socks off!  Kim hand made each of us a darling invite to their Mother's Day Garden Tea.  
So much attention and detail given to all the crafty things for sure.
 As we entered Kim's beautiful back yard there was a table set up with our recipes, take homes and a rack of quotes with each our names on one.  Each had a quote about us form our husbands.  These two ladies had been busy little bees working to get 10 reasons why each gal was the worlds best Mom.  It was a darling idea and so thoughtful and fun to read bits and pieces about each gal through her husbands eyes.
 I wish I could have taken a close up of each one because they were all so detailed and such wonderful compliments and strengths of each gal.

The set up was awesome and it was so pretty out!
 The tables were fancy with gold accents and cheerful with bright flowers.
 The centerpieces were so darling.  They were made out of tea cups and saucers.  Such a cute idea.

Place settings won rave reviews as the china was Kim's grandmothers.  It was perfect!
The pearls around the napkins and the doily wrapped menu were the perfect touch
along with the name tags, the adorable tea cup cut out on top and the pearl to dot the "i"!
The menus were hand made as well and even had a little tea bag and tea cup with our initial.
 The appetizer table and set up was awesome.
Again such detail and attention.  The gold flag banner and the doilies with more quotes hanging was the perfect backdrop.  And notice the tea cups hanging to each side with little birds in each!

For appetizers we enjoyed a Lime Refresher
in china tea cups.
All the Cucumber Tea sandwiches were displayed on another darling plate stand with a a tea cup filled with flowers. 
 Feta, Watermelon and Mint Skewers
 and Berry Medley with Orange Glaze and Mint. 
Everything was refreshing and delicious!
 We moved to the tables to warm up with the most amazingly delicious Lemon Asparagus Soup with Homemade Croutons.  To die for!
Next, a Creamy Brie, Bacon and Mushroom Croissant.  People, WHY have we never thought of this before?!?  Seriously.  Everybody's plate…licked clean.
We finished up with the Chicken Florentine salad with roasted garlic lemon vinaigrette.  I loved ending with a salad for a change.  And a great one at that!
We moved inside for dessert since the evening air turned a little chilly. 
Chocolate Toffee Trifle,
 Creamy Fruit Tart
 and Mini Lemon Cheesecake were the perfect encore to an amazing meal!
So pretty and equally delicious. 
 These girls hit it out of the ballpark!
The sent us home with recipes for all the goods, our top ten list from our husbands, a bag filled with a darling framed picture of each gal with her Mom or kids and a few yummy chocolates.

We were spoiled for sure and it was a fantastic Mother's Day celebration!  It has been a wonderful season of gourmet club.  We are so sad to say goodbye to Sunny, Mackenzie and Lindsay.  Life is always changing and we understand, but will miss them dearly.

Florentine Salad
(This makes enough for 12 medium-sized dinner salads)

12 oz. julienne-cut fresh spinach
6 chicken breasts, marinated in “Mom’s Marinade” and grilled and sliced thinly
6 oz. ripe Roma tomatoes, diced
5 oz. pine nuts, lightly toasted
4 oz. capers
5 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut
5 oz. sliced black olives
20 oz. orzo pasta, cooked and chilled (this measurement is the weight after it is cooked)
Fresh Parmesan cheese shavings
Fresh black pepper for garnish

Place all ingredients, except Parmesan cheese and chicken, in a large mixing.  Pour desired amount of vinaigrette and toss. Serve on individual plates.  Top each salad with chicken slices, Parmesan shavings, and an additional drizzle of salad dressing over the chicken slices, if desired.

Mom’s Marinade
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
Pour mixed ingredients over chicken breasts, turning to coat all pieces. Marinate in refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours. Grill on barbeque or broil in oven. You can use turkey breasts, also.

Roasted Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette
-½ cup red wine vinegar
-6 T honey
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 ounce roasted garlic which equals about an entire head (also called bulb) of           garlic (roasted per instructions below)
-1 ½ cups virgin olive oil
-1 lemon, juiced

Place vinegar, honey, salt and roasted garlic in a food processor.  Puree until garlic is chopped and very fine.  With the food processor still running, add olive oil and lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

How to Roast Garlic

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.

3. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.

4. Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Use a small small knife cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a cocktail fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.

Creamy Bacon, Brie, and Mushroom Croissants
  • 3 T butter
  • About 6 slices of bacon
  • 2 finely sliced garlic cloves
  • 16 oz. of mushrooms of choice, thickly sliced
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 1/3 cup of heavy cream
  • The leaves of a few fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 croissants.
  • Brie Cheese cut in slices
1. Melt butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden. Add garlic cloves and mushrooms, increase the heat and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just softened. Add beef broth and bubble for a few minutes until evaporated. Reduce the heat, stir in cream and the leaves of a few fresh thyme sprigs. Simmer for a few minutes until thickened. Season to taste.
2. Meanwhile, turn the broiler of your oven on. Slice croissants in half. Put on a baking tray, cut side up, and cook for 1 minute, until toasted. Set the tops aside. Spoon the creamy mushrooms onto each base, top each with a slice of ripe Brie, and broil for a further 2 minutes, until the Brie is melting. Assemble the croissants again and serve hot, scattered with extra fresh thyme sprigs.

Radish Tea Sandwiches with Wasabi Lemon Mayonnaise
Good quality white bread
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 T plain Greek yogurt
1 t lemon juice
2 t wasabi sauce

1-          Thinly slice the radishes.
2-        Cut the white bread into small round circles using a biscuit or cookie cutter.
3-        Mix together the mayonnaise ingredients.
4-        Spread the mayonnaise onto each bread round and top with a layer of radishes, slightly overlapping them.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the radishes and top with an edible flower.

Classic English Cucumber Tea Sandwich
English cucumbers
Good quality white bread
Butter, softened
Watercress, optional

1-            Thinly slice the cucumber.
2-         Place cucumber slices between layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture.
3-         Spread butter onto one side of each slice of bread. Lay cucumber slices onto the buttered side of half of the slices of bread. Sprinkle the cucumbers with salt. Top the cucumbers with a layer of watercress. Top with the remaining slices of bread, buttered side down.
Carefully cut the crusts from each sandwich with a long, sharp knife after the sandwiches are filled. Cut the sandwiches in half diagonally and then cut in half again.

Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Skewers

Block of Feta cheese
Fresh mint leaves
Balsamic glaze, homemade or store bought

Cut feta cheese and watermelon in bite size pieces.  I use a small flower shaped cookie cutter.  Assemble each skewer as follows: watermelon, drizzle of balsamic glaze, a mint leaf placed so half of it shows on the side, and top with a feta piece.  Place a toothpick through the stack and serve. 

Mini Lemon Cheesecakes
**I use 2 mini cheesecake pans to make these cheesecakes.  The pans have removable discs at the bottom of each cup that allow for easy removal of the cheesecakes. The cups in the pan are a little deeper than those in a mini muffin tin, but I think you could still use a mini muffin tin…you would just end up making more cheesecakes. I adapted the recipe from one that makes a full cheesecake, so I always end up with leftover crust mixture and cream cheese mixture.  I only have two pans so that is all I make. I think you could probably get another ½ or whole pan out of the ingredients if you are using the mini cheesecake pan, even more if you are using a mini muffin tin.
For the crust:
·       8 oz. vanilla wafers, finely crushed (2 cups of crumbs)
·       3 Tbs. granulated sugar
·       7 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
·       2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
·       2/3 cup ricotta
·       1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
·       Table salt
·       3/4 cup granulated sugar
·       1 ½  Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
·       2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
·       2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the garnish:
·       lemon curd (found in the jam section at the grocery store)
·       Whipped cream
·       Lemon rind curls

Make the crust:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the vanilla wafer crumbs and 3 Tbs. granulated sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly. Fill each mini cup with a heaping tablespoon (about 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon – less if you are using a mini muffin tin). Press the crumb mixture on bottom of each cup.  Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F.

Fill and bake the cheesecake:

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, ricotta, flour, and a pinch of table salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps. Add the 3/4 cup granulated sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.

Add the lemon zest and vanilla, and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don’t overbeat once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.) Pour about 3 T of the mixture into each mini cheesecake cup (less if you are using a mini muffin tin).

Bake at 300°F until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, about 14 minutes.  Remove pans from oven and place on rack to cool approximately 20 minutes.  The tops will fall as they cool.

Lightly loosen the cheese tarts around the edges.  Carefully remove the cheesecakes by pushing the handle of a wooden spoon through the bottom of each cup.  When cool, take disc off of the bottom of the cheesecakes (these instructions are if using a mini cheesecake pan, otherwise, gently remove the cheesecakes from the mini muffin tin). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garnish and serve:
Spread a layer of lemon curd evenly over each cheesecake. Pipe whipped cream over each cheesecake and garnish with a lemon rind curl.

Fresh Asparagus Soup

-       1 pound fresh asparagus
-       ¾ cup chopped onion
-       ½ cup vegetable broth
-       1 T butter
-       2 T all-purpose flour
-       1 teaspoon salt
-       1 pinch ground pepper
-       1 ¼ cups vegetable broth
-       1 cup milk
-       ½ cup yogurt
-       1 teaspoon lemon juice
-       ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

1.           Place asparagus and onion in a saucepan with 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender.
2.        Reserve a few asparagus tips for garnish. Place remaining vegetable mixture in an electric blender and puree until smooth.
3.        Melt butter in the pan that was used for simmering the asparagus and onions. Stir while sprinkling flour, salt, and pepper into the butter. Do not let the flour brown. Allow the mixture to cook only 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth and increase the heat. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.
4.        Stir the vegetable puree and milk into the saucepan. Whisk yogurt into the mixture, followed by lemon juice. Stir until heated through, then ladle into bowls. Garnish with reserved asparagus tips. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Homemade Croutons for Soup or Salad

1 loaf bread, cut into small cubes
1/2 c. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter, melted
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp. dry or fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. celery seed
pinch of salt

Combine ingredients (except bread). Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of slices with oil mix. Cut into small squares. Another way to make croutons is to cut the bread into squares first, then pour the seasoning mixture onto baking pan and stir the croutons to coat. To make sure all are coated, they can be sprayed very quickly with olive oil spray (do not use any other kind of spray).
Arrange in single layers on cookie sheets.
Bake at 300°F for 10-15 minutes or until golden and fragrant.
Allow to cool and store in an airtight container. Keeps 4 weeks, or may be frozen for up to 6 months.

Fruit Tart Cookie Crust Recipe
1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered or icing sugar)
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

Shortbread Crust: Lightly butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, an 8 or 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. 
In your food processor, place the flour, sugar, and salt and process to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the pastry starts to come together and form clumps. Transfer the pastry to the prepared pan and, using your fingertips, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. (Can use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface of the pastry.) Gently pierce the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. (This will prevent the pastry crust from puffing up while it bakes.) Cover and place the pastry crust in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill. (This will help prevent the crust from shrinking while it bakes.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. 
Place the tart pan on a larger baking sheet and bake the crust until golden brown, about 13 - 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. It is now ready to be filled.
Creamy Deliciousness ;)
1 pint or 2 cups heavy whipping cream, very cold
5.1 oz package of vanilla pudding
1 cup of cold milk
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
Beat cold whipping cream on the highest speed until fluffy and stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate until ready to use. 
Whisk 1 cup milk together with instant pudding until well blended, then whisk in 1 can of refrigerated sweetened condensed milk until smooth.  Gently fold in the whipped cream.  Fill pre-cooked tart cups with the creamy deliciousness and top with your favorite fruits.
Possibilities not limited to:
Strawberries Blueberries
Raspberries Bananas
Mandarin oranges Blackberries

Berry Medley with Citrus and Mint
1 lb strawberries quartered or sliced
1 package blackberries
1 package blueberries
1 bushel of grapes rinsed and halved
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
Boil on the stove and remove when sugar is dissolved
Grate 2 Tbsp orange rind and add to the glaze
squeeze in one whole orange
pour over berries and stir in 1 Tbsp of chopped mint leaves
Scoop berries into a serving dish and garnish with one full mint leaf on top

Lime Slush
1 can limeade Green Food Color
2 c. sugar Blue Food Color
8 c. hot water Sprite
Combine limeade, sugar and water in Ziploc Gallon freezer bags.  Add 2 to 3 drops of green and blue food coloring.  Place on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer overnight.  Take it out 1-2 hours before serving.  Mash the slush with a potato masher and add 1 liter of Sprite. 
I double bag the Ziplocs to avoid spilling, but that is just a personal preference. 
Tips:  You can put red food coloring in the slush and mix in raspberries prior to serving and it just puts a twist on the whole thing. 

Chocolate Toffee Trifle
Items Needed:
·      One box chocolate fuge cake mix
·      One large box chocolate pudding
·      One 8 oz tub of cool whip
·      4 SKOR (toffee bars)

Bake one chocolate fudge (Or whatever type of chocolate you prefer) cake in a 9x13 pan.

Prepare one large box of chocolate pudding and place in the refrigerator to set.
Chop up 4 SKOR bars into small pieces.  (or heath bars if you can’t find skor, basically the same thing) You can buy Heath bar pre-chopped on the baking aisle, but it is just the toffee and I think it looks/tastes better with the chocolate coating. 
Let the cake cool and then divide the cake in two.   Remove half of the cake and place it on a plate, or holding container of some sort. 
Crumble the remaining half into the pan and press the cake to make a bottom “layer”.   You need to press it down well enough that the pudding isn’t just going to move it all over.
Place half of the pudding (in dollops) over the layer of cake and spread over the cake making a second layer.
Add half of the cool whip container to make the third layer, top with half of the chopped candy bar and repeat. 
Crumble 2nd half of cake
Cool Whip
Candy Bar

If you chill it for 1-2 hours before serving it is easier to serve and it gives the toffee some time to mesh with the other ingredients. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Swiss Dinner Night - Judith & Kristy - April 2014

Cute postcards straight from Switzerland arrived in the mail to invite us to a Swiss Dinner Night!
Kristy and Judith were the lucky travelers and scored some great ideas while in Switzerland that they brought back to share with us at Gourmet night.
Their cute nieces were dressed the part in darling get ups and served us for the evening.
The had pictures from their trip strung above the appetizer table and it was fun to see all the sites and beauty they enjoyed through their photos.
The appetizer table had fun greetings an facts in German. The table cloth was darling!
Appetizers resembled a common practice when dining at a restaurant there.  They order a salad plate and it usually will come with a taste of 4-5 different salads all unique and different.

We got to try Rotkohl (red cabbage), Kartoffel Salat (potato salad), Spatzle (noodle salad) and Cucumber salad.  
There were two round tables set up and another large photo banner hanging.  
The tables were decorated cute. 
They had daisies in drink bottles they had saved from all around from their trip and brought home in their luggage!
Each table had a Raclette grill in the center for our Main dish.  It was going to be a hands on evening.
Each place setting had a darling Swiss paper place mat.  Perfect for their theme.
They had all the special utensils and goods we needed for the real deal.
Menus were printed and pasted on a neat fabric type paper.  Really unique texture.
Name tags were hand written and hung with a German phrase the read, "Guten Appetit" (good appetite).
We moved to the tables for the main course and they brought out a plate chuck full of colorful veggies and one with thin cuts of flap steak and chicken breast.  Then we each got a dinner plate with steamed red potatoes, a pickle and Raclette cheese.
Raclette for dinner it was and we got started on grilling away! Kinda fun to cook while we chatted for a change.
There was a neat little tray underneath the grill where you placed your block of cheese to get nice and melty so you could spread it all over your yummy meat and veggies!
Dessert time came and they brought out a fondu pot of Swiss Chocolate  They were speaking right to our souls!
Our dessert plates had a homemade Bratseli cookie and delicious fresh fruit for us to dip to our hearts content.  Oh and we did.  Dip, dunk, whatever you fancy!
These gals gave us a great Swiss evening! 
We missed Michelle in our picture as she had snuck out early, but had a great evening with everyone there!
Take homes were all our recipes and a Swiss chocolate bar for later!
Thanks ladies for a fun evening in the Alps!

Rotkohl (Red Cabbage)

4 cups shredded red cabbage
2 small onions sliced thinly
1 medium apple chopped
2 Tbls vinegar
1/4 cup sugar 
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Tbls oil

Combine cabbage, onion, and apple in small amount of boiling salted water.  Simmer until tender.  Drain.  Combine with remaining ingredients.

Kartoffel Salat (Potato Salad)

“Bacon adds flavor to this potato salad with a vinegar-based dressing.  
There are usually no leftovers, but if there are, they don’t last long!”
-from (4 servings)


3 cups diced peeled potatoes (yukon gold; boil with skins on, then peel after)

4 slices bacon

1 small onion, *Optional: You can do 1/2 cup green onions(not cooked?) instead of the small onion

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

*Optional:1 tablespoon prepared mustard, or 1 tablespoon mustard seed

1. Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.  Drain, and set aside to cool.
2. Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. Add onion to the bacon grease, and cook over medium heat until browned.  Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan.  Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley. Crumble in half of the bacon.  Heat through, then transfer to a serving dish.  Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, and serve warm.

Note: 1 pound potatoes = about 2 cups diced potatoes.


2 eggs beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tsbp butter
1 bullion cube

Combine eggs, water, flour and salt.  Add bullion cube to 6 cups boiling water. Use Spaetzli grater and grate mixture over boiling water. When noodles rise to the top get them out of the water (approx. 10 seconds)

Lightly toss with butter, salt and cheese to taste.

Cucumber Salad

How to Make Cucumber Salad
This dish, which is known as gurkensalat in Switzerland, is easy to prepare and it has a cool, refreshing flavor. If you like sour cream and you want to serve a creamy side dish with your delicious marinated steak, this one might be perfect.

1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 cucumbers
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar

How to make it:
Slice the cucumbers very thinly, then sprinkle the vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar over them. Let the slices marinate for twenty minutes, then drain them and toss with the sour cream. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve.

Bratseli cookies

½ lb sweet cream butter (unsalted)
2 ¼  cups sugar
4 eggs slightly beaten
4 ¼ cups flour
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon (plus a few drops)
Pinch of salt added to eggs

Cream sugar and butter in rather large bowl. Add slightly beaten eggs with salt added. Add grated rind & lemon juice. Mix well. Add flour, one cup at a time, and mix well until forms a large ball. Cover & place in refrigerator overnight or at least for 3 to 4 hours.
Flour hands well before rolling dough into small balls, a tad larger than the size of a marble.  Flour hands often as necessary to avoid sticking to hands.

Preheat iron about 10 – 15 minutes & begin baking 4 balls at a time, placing one in each design section. Close iron and press handles together very slightly. Count to 21 (no more than 25 depending on iron) and about the rate your heart beats. Remove light, golden-brown cookies from iron with table knife or wooden spatula provided with iron. Repeat until all are baked.

Cool well then store in air-tight container. These Swiss cookies improve with age and will keep up to three weeks without tasting stale. Recipe makes 14 – 15 dozen cookies.

Trick: When I bake the cookies, I lay out two cookie sheets next to iron. When they come out hot, I place on one cookie sheet. As the cool, I move them to second cookie sheet to make room for the next batch on the first cookie sheet. When they completely cool, I stack them on the end of the second cookie sheet, still leaving room to the rotation of semi-cool cookies. I suggest you have a helper the first or second time you bake these. Mom and I used to make them together and I remember the fun we had. Now, I do them by myself and it takes about an hour to bake them all. Another trick is to make the balls small enough that they come out pretty. Mom always made them too big and we’d have to trim the edges to make them pretty.

Chocolate Fondu

1/2 cream to 5 bars Swiss chocolate (1 semi sweet and 4 milk chocolate)