Friday, November 30, 2012

Awesome Apps!

Last year I posted some of my most elegant appetizzers here...
In case you aren't up for tuna tar tar on wonton squares, these are equally impressive and delicious but a little homey!

Memphis Onion Soufflé
3 Blocks of Cream Cheese (reduced fat is okay, but not fat free)
2 Cups of Grated or Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 Finely Chopped Yellow or White Onion—Vidalia if you can!
½ Cup Mayo (light is fine)

Mix together and put in a soufflé, bake at 350-75 for about 40 minutes. Serve with crackers or cut veggies—I think it is best on triskets or red pepper slices

Parmesan Cups with Chopped Salad
Shredded (not grated) Parmesan Cheese
Green Onion
Balsamic Vinaigrette of your choice

Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high heat, drop parmesan cheese onto the skillet by rounded tablespoonfuls. Let the cheese melt and then slightly brown on the first side (better a little brown so let it cook –don’t be scared). Flip—when the second side is finished, drape over a small inverted muffin tin or shot glasses. Cups will keep two days in airtight container. Make a chopped salad with remaining ingredients and toss in small amount of dressing and fill just before guests arrive.

My asparagus rolls
White Bread (just give in —I mean plain old wonder bread)
1 jar Kraft Olde English Cheese
1 egg
1 package cream cheese
1 bunch thin-ish aparagus, trimmed and blanched
a stick of butter melted in shallow bowl

Remove the crusts of the white bread—don’t try and cheat and buy the pre-crustless, it is too dry. Flatten the bread completely with rolling pin or glass—really mush it.
Meanwhile mix together at room temperature the egg, cream cheese, and Olde English. Set up an assembly line—bread, spread, asparagus, butter. Spread about one tablespoon of spread on bread—put the aspaargus at the end and roll up—roll it in the butter and place seam-side down on a cookie sheet. Repeat until all remaining slices are on sheet. At this point either cover with a damp paper towel and cover with saran and refridgerate until ready to cook or cook at 375 until golden and puffed. Never tell your guests how you made this uber-gourmet looking dish 

Here are some throw together ideas that don't really require cooking:
Tortellini Skewers: Arrange Cooked, Frozen Tortellini on adorable party skewers--drizzle with EVOO.
Caprese Salad on a Pick: arrange tomato, fresh mozzerella, and basil on a cute pick with a balsamic dressing for dipping.

Smoked Salmon Quesadillas:
Basic Quesadillas, but made with white cheese like provolone and with bits of smoked salmon—serve with relish of red onion, capers, tomatoes

Finally, my guests always really love salads and vegetables, so I try to make them exciting:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Mensch who Saved Channukah!

I LOVE reading about my friends' Elf on the Shelf adventures. I felt my kids were missing out on some of the fun as did my (totally Christian) friend Stephanie. Together, we came up with "The Mensch on The Mantle." Mensch translates as "good person," and at the end of the day that is what I really want my girls to be. Yesterday a few friends and I tested out our doll-making skills. Pictures of our little mensches are coming soon, but in the meantime, here is our tale..

The Mensch on the Mantle comes every Chanukah Night
To remind you to do what is right

A real mensch is kind, responsible, and good
A mensch behaves like everyone should.

When someone is a mensch at heart—
He shares, is sweet, and does his part!

Even with so many gifts, toys, and games
This mensch reminds you to be grateful and sane.

While you are away during the day,
You may find the mensch in a crazy way.

Don’t worry--he’s just having fun —
The real magic of the mensch is that you can be one!

Good people (like you) are real all year
So be a mensch and spread Chanukah cheer!

Friday, November 16, 2012

World's Best Roast Chicken

This is more of a technique than a recipe--but you'll be glad you know it! Pre-heat the oven to 450. Rinse and completely dry a small chicken. I always use a kosher chicken--it just works much better because it has more or less been brined. Coat the chicken liberally in dry spices on both sides. It doesn't matter what you use. I always pepper and salt and parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Sing Scarborough Fair--it helps! My spices also usually include a bit of garlic and cayenne pepper. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Take off your rings and rub it in, slipping your fingers under the skin to get the spices wherever you can. Go on and stuff with an onion for good measure! Then Roast, breast up, uncovered for 15 minutes a pound. If it starts to get too brown, tent with aluminum. With the little birds, you are finished in under an hour. It makes your house smell so good, looks great on a platter, and is way better than if it were in the oven all day! Remember, cook on a really high temp:
Coat liberally in whatever spices you have got:
And finally, don't be afraid to get your hands dirty:
I forgot to take an “after” shot because dinner is a bit hectic in these parts, but trust me, it is Norman Rockwell-esque !

Keep Calm at Thanksgiving

I know the whole keep calm thing is over-done. But I created an activity book to keep my kids calm at the table, so you can see why I literally had to do it, right??! I cannot take even one bit of credit for the content of the booklet, which came from various free internet sights (credit given on my scribd page). But I wanted to share in case you needed a little something for your table too. I cannot get the link to work, but here it is on scribd: I also made a little craft paper pocket for crayons for each child using my cutting machine and our existing crayons (I am FINALLY over needing them to be perfectly sharpened). The pockets would be really simple to cut by hand if you were so inclined. You can probably guess by the twine and craft that I am keeping it homey and rustic for Thanksgiving. We will be getting glam for my annual Peacocktail Party next month. By the way, I am noticing peacocks all over town, has my theme flown the coup???

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tin for the Tenth--Part II

Tin is the traditional tenth wedding anniversary gift. We embraced the theme for our supper club (which fell on our tenth anniversary). All of our friends brought dishes that they loved as newlyweds, our wedding songs provided background music, we played a hilarious not-newlywed game, and tin cans graced the tables! My youngest and I decorated the tin cans using washi tape. Since the look was sort of rustic, we incorporated burlap and craft paper into the design. A bar with drinks for “Mr. and Mrs.” completed the look! Here are some photos of the evening:

No Minimalist Here

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tin for the Tenth! Part I

We hosted our supper club on the night of our tenth wedding anniversary. It turned out to be a lovely evening and I am excited to share the pictures over a few posts. First, here is the email I sent announcing our theme: My first thought was to make our theme "wedding feast," and I also pondered tin-can chicken (tin being the traditional 10th anniversary gift). D suggested Italy in honor of our recent trip, but then I got to thinking. We don't need a gimmick because cooking and eating is already of huge significance to our marriage. Cooking was one of the ways we learned how to run our home. Together, we figured out who would do the cooking, shopping, and dishes. We each brought our own ideas to the table (literally) and forged OUR family's culinary palate. His grandma's matzah balls won the first battle! Our first year of marriage did not include the proverbial burnt dinners, though there was an unfortunate fire while toasting coconut. When we married we were already confirmed foodies, though I am not sure the word had been coined. So, our first meals mostly involved me trying to show off for D. I was flooded with many sweet memories thinking about it that I wanted to share them with you: In 2002, I still cared about presentation, and thus, everything was vertical. Trader Joe's was not yet in my vernacular. We still ate potatoes, often wasabi mashed. Salads were bejeweled with berries and nuts, speckled with goat cheese, and dressed in balsamic vinegar (as was everything else in that period). The People at Bob's Seafood knew me by name and gave me the best cuts of sushi grade tuna to be seared and drizzled with soy reductions. Rachel Ray was new to the airwaves, and I did not know what quinoa was. My cakes were the yummiest molten lava. Sunday morning was our breakfast day. The meal was big and eaten in our robes while watching Trading Spaces with no cares at all --there were no birthday parties or t-ball games to fill our day. I skipped red meat and kept kosher. David was sure to order crème brule whenever it was on a menu. We had time to read not one, but three, cooking magazines each month. Times and tastes have obviously changed! The roast chicken I perfected that year on Amherst for my new husband has not. Our life together has been delicious and we are thrilled to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary with you on November 2nd. We hope you will all take a trip down memory lane and bring the dishes that were significant to you as newlyweds. I will make roast chicken, serve wedding cake, and (of course) have champagne for toasting. We want you to have freedom to make what you wish but are hoping for at least two starters, a salad, a starch, a vegetable.. Please let me know what you plan to bring as well as the title and artist of your first dance song!