Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring Fling - Annika & Stephanie - March 2016

Stephanie and Annika hosted our March evening with a "Spring Fling".

The mantle was strung with a variety of burlap, paper and a foil banner that read "Spring Fling"
along with some fun accents on the mantle as well.
A small marble table held a fun Spring themed getting to know you activity for each gal to fill out with a few fun facts about them as they each arrived.

The dinner table was unique and very pretty covered in Spring colors of soft blue and pink complimented by gold accents, a touch of fur which was so fun and some greenery as well.
The centerpiece was a large mercury glass vase with sprigs of soft pink and yellow buds all placed in a gold tin with moss and other greens. The runner was a white fur and had light strands of gold balls, boxwood balls and white pots of greenery that complimented each other.
The scene was a beautiful one that was elegant for sure.
The large backdrop had more paper banners as well as a large centerpiece of handing foil party fans.

Each place setting had a gold charger against the raw wood table with a soft blue plate and pale pink napkin with gold trim. The menus were placed a top each plate and garnished with a single white feather tipped in gold glitter.

The glasses were a fun find for this table as they had gold leaf trim all around the base! The gold serving ware was so pretty as well and fun that it had the silver accent for each knife also.
Name tags were a simple mounted gold foil circle with a pink initial for each of the girls. They were attached to a pretty mercury glass votive holder with a gold glitter clip to tie in with the feathers.
The accents of the fur runner, fur throw on the bench and the linen chairs were all great additions to the variety of textures.
A beauitful tablescape for sure.
The appetizer table was set up on a fun galvanized metal coffee table and had a beautiful large mirror tray, gold platters and a small blue vase full of pretty pink Spring blossoms.
Loved the gold and mercury glass contrasts all throughout!
They also had a small hutch trimmed in fur with a chalkboard sign listing the appetizers for the evening and holding their drinks in fun pink wooden crates.

They started off with Raspberry Cream Mimosas,
a Melon, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Sampler,
Frozen Grape Skewers and
Strawberry Brie Waffle Bites topped with Buttermilk Caramel Syrup. We loved these!
Then it was onto the rest of the menu.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls for the soup course and warm creamy goodness was found in both.
Main was Tangy Caramelized Meatloaf, yes meatloaf for gourmet club and it didn't disappoint! Served with Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Asparagus & Peas. Flavors combined deliciously on a beautiful plate.
Dessert was a fun plate of flavors. A Lemon Spring Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting served aside homemade Blueberry Cheesecake and Salted Caramel Toffee Pretzel Ice Cream. Sealed the deal for sure!
Take home table was a fun mirrored table with banners strung to coordinate the decor theme.

  The table held their recipes as well as cute pink metal pails. The fun mercury votive holder from the dinner table with some blue spring scented tea lights were placed in small sacks filled with lemon bath salts all tied and placed inside the pails and labeled "Spring Scents for the gals to enjoy at home.
 As the meal ended (although some refused to give up their dessert plates until they licked them clean), we sat and read the fun facts and enjoyed guessing who each was about while getting to know more about each other. It was a really enjoyable evening together with these lovely ladies enjoying their laughter and smiles!

Strawberry-Brie Waffle Bites

strawberries (cut into rings; tops and bottoms will not be used)
waffles (cut along lines into squares)
1 brie cheese wedges (cute into squares)
syrup for drizzling or dipping

Use toothpicks to assemble waffle bites. Drizzle with syrup and serve.

Waffles – favorites cookbook

1 3/4 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Add all ingredients in to a blender and mix well. Pour in waffle iron and bake as directed.

Buttermilk Caramel Syrup – Our Best Bites

3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbs corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients except vanilla and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low – just make sure it’s still bubbling.  Cook, stirring very frequently, for 7-9 minutes or until syrup reaches a rich golden brown. Remove fro heat and stir in vanilla

Melon, Proscuitto and Mozzarella Skewers –

1 medium cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 lb. sliced prosciutto
20 small mozzarella balls
chopped fresh parsley
balsamic reduction

Onto small cocktail skewers, thread prosciutto, mozzarella and melon cubes. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately after drizzling with balsamic reduction.

Raspberry Cream Mimosa –

12 ounces frozen raspberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
2-4 tsp sugar (depending on sweetness of berries)
1 tsp honey
1 cup half and half
1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 liter ginger ale

In a medium saucepan set on low/medium heat, pour raspberries and diced or frozen strawberries in pot. Allow berries to get soft and soupy, about 10 minutes. Pour in sugar to sweeten berries. Be sure to taste berries as you add because some berries are sweeter than others, then adjust sweetness to desired taste. Using a spatula, stir well then add honey. Stir mixture and continue to heat for another 5 minutes. Take off heat and allow to sit for a few minutes. Puree or blend mixture in a blender well. Place fine mesh strainer/colander over measuring cup and pour liquid through. Tap strainer on cup to push liquid through, working in batches. Move seeds to small bowl and continue to use strainer to separate the remaining liquid from the seeds.
Once complete, run a little of the half & half cream through the strainer with the seeds to remove any additional liquid; I got an additional ¼ cup raspberry liquid doing this. Pour remainder of cream into raspberry liquid and stir to combine. Add a splash of vanilla extract and stir. Pour into an ice cube try and freeze or pour into plastic bowl and freeze for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, add 4 cubes to a glass and pour 1 cup ginger ale over along with a splash of half and half or cream.

Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls – Our Best Bites

French Bread Dough:                                             Garlic Bread Seasoning:
1 Tbsp. yeast                                                      1/2 cup powdered Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c. warm water                                             2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar                                             2 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp. salt                                                               2 tsp oregano
4-5 1/2 c. flour                                                      2 tsp marjoram
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil                                             2 tsp parsley
1 egg yolk                                                                                    * combine ingredients in a jar and shake

Garlic Butter:
1/2 c. (1 stick) of real butter, no substitutions
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine yeast, water, and sugar in large mixing bowl and allow to stand 10 minutes or until bubbly. Add salt, vegetable oil, and egg yolk (set white aside for later) and combine. Add 3 c. flour and mix well until combined. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough that barely sticks to your finger. Knead, either by hand or in mixer (my personal and very lazy choice) for another 2-3 minutes. Cover and allow to rise 1 hour. While dough is rising, combine butter and garlic bread seasoning. Set aside.
Now…here’s a little trick I’ve been using a lot lately. If you spray a little non-stick cooking spray on your work surface and your rolling pin, your dough won’t stick and clean-up is super easy! Anyway, roll your rough into a rectangle that’s about 18-20 inches by 6 inches. Smear garlic butter over the entire surface of the dough and then sprinkle with cheese. Roll up jelly-roll style and then use dental floss to cut into 12 equal slices. Of course, I kind of forgot to take pictures of this whole process, but if what I’m saying makes no sense, check out the orange roll recipe to see what I’m talking about. Place each slice in a muffin tin. Cover with a clean cloth. Preheat oven to 350 and allow rolls to rise while the oven is heating. When the oven is ready, bake for 18-22 minutes.
You’re going to need to keep a CLOSE eye on these puppies during the last 10 minutes or so–once you notice the cheese getting brown, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the rolls (you don’t need to press it down or anything, just lay it on top). This will keep the cheese from burning, although it will get pretty brown on top. It’s okay, though, because the insides are still all ooey-gooey.

Tangy Caramelized Meatloaf – Favorites cookbook

1 (12 ounce) jar red currant jelly
1 (12 ounce) jar chili sauce

1 pound ground beef, turkey or a mixture
1 cup bread crumbs or ground oats
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup ketchup

To prepare sauce, combine jelly and chili sauce in a small saucepan. Heat until jelly is melted and well-blended.

For meatloaf, combine all other ingredients and mix well.  Mold into a 5x9 loaf pan and pour half of the sauce over meatloaf.  Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees. Heat remaining sauce and serve with meatloaf.

Crock Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes –

5 lbs red potatoes
1 cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs oregano

Wash and cut your potatoes into quarters. Place in the slow cooker with broth, garlic, and butter and cook on low 6-8 hours. Potatoes should be easily pierced with a fork when done. Add sour cream, parmesan, salt and oregano. Use a potato masher to mash and blend until well combined and the potatoes are the desired consistency. Serve or keep warm in crock pot until time to serve.

Sautéed Asparagus and Peas – Once Upon a Chef

2 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces on diagonal
1 cup thawed frozen peas
fresh ground pepper
1 tsp honey

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, 4-5 minutes. 

Add the asparagus, 1/4 tsp salt and fresh pepper to taste. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring frequently so the shallots don’t burn, for about 5 minutes or until tender crisp.  Add the peas and honey and cook about one minute more until the peas are warmed through.  Add more salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

3 red peppers
1 bay leaf
2 large onions
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour
1 pt. heavy cream
1 quart chicken broth

Roast red peppers under the broiler until black and blistered. Peel, cut into chunks and set aside. Brown onions in butter, then add flour.  Add peppers, broth, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper and flour mixture.  Cook approximately 25 min. Remove bay leaf and strain mixture, reserving liquid.  Put solids in a blender and blend until smooth, then return to pan with liquids.  Add 1 pint cream. Heat until hot, not boiling, and season to taste.
Lemon Spring Cake - epicurious

1 cup cake flour
14 Tbs bakers sugar or superfine sugar, divided
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse kosher salt
3 large eggs, separated
6 Tbs. water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line pan bottoms with parchment paper; butter parchment. Sift flour, 7 tablespoons baker's sugar, baking powder, and salt into large bowl. Whisk yolks and next 4 ingredients in small bowl until smooth. Add yolk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk until smooth. Beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 7 tablespoons baker's sugar; beat until whites resemble thick marshmallow fluff. Fold whites into batter in 3 additions. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks, peel off parchment, and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap and store at room temperature.)

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

6 oz. softened cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs. evaporated canned milk or half-and-half
grated lemon peel

Mix cream cheese until well blended. Add powdered sugar slowly and continue mixing until all incorporated. Add lemon juice and milk until consistency desired.  Stir in lemon zest to finish.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Makes about 2 1/2 quarts

2 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
8 oz. cream cheese
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. In a saucepan set on medium heat, bring the milk and the cream to boiling point, slowly pour a small amount on the egg yolks to temper. Pour the remaining over the yolks and sugar.  Stir well then pour back in the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the cream thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until completely melted and incorporated. Cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate until cold. Process in an ice cream maker until it has reached soft-serve stage and almost doubled in size. Mash blueberries lightly, then mix in with ice cream and place in the freezer to harden, which will take about 2 hours. Serve in bowls or ice cream cones and enjoy! 

Salted Caramel Toffee Pretzel Ice Cream -
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce, plus two tablespoons, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups cold heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped pretzels, additional for garnish
1/2 cup chopped Heath candy bars, additional for garnish, if desired

In a medium bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, 1/4 cup of the salted caramel sauce, and vanilla extract. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat cream on high until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk mixture. Stir in pretzels pieces and chopped Heath candy bars. Pour ice cream mixture into a loaf pan or container. With a knife, swirl the remaining salted caramel sauce into the ice cream. Smooth with a spatula and sprinkle additional pretzel pieces and candy bar pieces over the top, if using. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 6 hours.

Salted Caramel Sauce –
Makes 2 cups

2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes

1. First, make sure you have all of the ingredients ready. Once you start the caramel sauce you have to pay close attention so you don't burn it. To begin, heat the sugar over medium high-heat in the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, start whisking the sugar. The sugar will clump up, but keep whisking. It will continue to melt. When the sugar is melted, stop whisking. You can swirl the pan to move the sugar around.
2. Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Make sure you watch the pan very closely. This is where it is easy to burn the caramel.
3. As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, carefully add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted. If the sugar gets stuck to the whisk, you can switch to a wooden spoon.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in the fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes.

5. Let the caramel sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Pour the caramel into a large jar and cool to room temperature. Put the salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator. Store the salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator for about a month.