Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fully Loaded Bars

Near the end of “Girl’s Night In,” our hostess brought out three desserts. All three desserts were delicious, but for the life of me, I can’t remember two of them. Not because they weren’t good—They were all delicious, but because the Fully Loaded bars took center stage on my taste buds and in my brain. I liked the sweet and salty combination so much; I had to make them myself. I love making these bars (and eating them). The bars are easy to make; in fact, the most difficult part is unwrapping the caramels!

Fully Loaded Bars via Betty Crocker

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Speaking of Hor d’oeuvres…

I have a friend who has a “girl’s night in” every summer in her backyard. She asks everyone to bring either a bottle of wine or a hor d’oeuvre. Her backyard is beautiful. The weather is beautiful. The company is great. I look forward to this party every year. I usually opt to bring an hor d’oeuvre. One year I brought this brie dip, and another year I brought some Giadia’s red pepper aioli. This year I couldn’t decide what to bring, so I brought two different hor d’oeuvres. Both chorizo puffs and sun-dried tomato pesto palmiers looked good to me.

A friend recommended Hors D’oeuvres by Eric Treuille and Victoria Blashford-Snell. I love this book! It is set up in a way so you can mix and match—If you don’t like the filling of a certain recipe, you can exchange it with another recipe. I think it is the potential of this book that I love so much. That being said, I didn't change the recipe much.
Chorizo Puffs
I love working with patachou dough. It is easy and delicious. I usually make traditional “cheese puffs” with Gruyere cheese, but chorizo makes most anything taste good, so I couldn’t resist this recipe. I did add some cheddar cheese to change the recipe up a bit.
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup water
½ teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter
3 eggs
¼ lb Spanish (cooked) chorizo, casing removed and finely chopped.
½ cup cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place water, salt and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture just to a boil and remove from heat. Add the flour to the pan, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until combined. Return the pan to the heat and beat until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 1 minute. Remover the pan from the heat and beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure that each egg is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next one. Beat until the mixture is smooth, glossy and slightly sticky. Stir the chorizo and cheese into the pastry. You can then drop the dough in teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet, or you can do it like I do and put the dough into a zipper bag, cut a small hole on the corner of the bag, and pipe the dough onto the greased baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Makes about 35.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Palmiers
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained (reserve oil), and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tablespoon reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water
Preheat oven to 400°F. For the pesto mix tomatoes, garlic, reserved oil and 2 tablespoons Parmesan until well combined. Roll the pastry to 6X14-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges with a sharp knife. Spread the pesto evenly over the pastry. Roll up ends tightly to meet in the middle of pastry. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Brush with beaten egg on all sides. Cut crosswise into ½ -inch-thick slices. Place slices on a greased baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden, 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan when hot from oven. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 20.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I love dinner parties where everyone brings something. I love tasting all of the different dishes guests bring, and gaining inspiration from all of the dishes for future dinner parties. Lucky for me, Tammy and Tom invited us to a dinner party on Saturday night. They were brave hosting 12 adults and 11 kids. We had great weather, so we sat around the outdoor fire with our plates in our laps scarfing up the delicious food (okay, maybe it was just me scarfing while everyone else ate politely). We stayed outside all evening enjoying the beautiful fall weather.

I said I would bring appetizers to Tammy’s shindig. Appetizers can be tricky. I don’t want to bring too many appetizers or bring appetizers that are too filling. I would hate to spoil everyone’s dinner, but since parties usually start with an alcoholic beverage, I like to give guests something to eat too. I usually have one or two appetizers, but since there were so many adults and kids coming, I decide to bring three appetizers. I have to thank Lisa from A Dinner Party for her appetizer ideas. I am pretty sure I saw the recipe for the spicy green bean rolls from her, but I can’t find it now. I know I found the stuffed pepper and the sausage roll recipe from her, since she just had an appetizer party.

I love the green bean rolls and the stuffed peppers, because both of them only need a little assembly and they are ready. The sausage rolls needed a little more attention, but they were also easy to make. My daughter helped me make the green bean rolls and I did the stuffed peppers and the sausage rolls, and we finished assembling the appetizers in an hour. I baked the sausage rolls right before we left, so they would still be warm when we arrived.

I think I was successful in my choices, because there were only a few stuffed peppers left, and it didn’t seem like I ruined anyone’s appetite.

Stuffed Peppers
From Lisa at A Dinner Party

You can find these peppers in the olive bar at the grocery store. The store near my house even had them stuffed already, but I like to stuff my own.

Peppadew peppers
Blue Cheese
Break the blue cheese into chunks, and spoon the chunks into the peppadew peppers.

Spicy Green Bean Rolls
From Lisa at A Dinner Party (at least I think so)

I jar spicy pickled green beans
1 package thinly sliced salami
Are you ready? This is difficult. Roll one piece of salami around one spicy green bean and secure with a toothpick.

Sausage Rolls
From Lisa at A Dinner Party

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
4 links of uncooked sweet Italian sausage
zest from one lemon
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme (you can use 1 teaspoon dried)
1 egg beaten
Preheat the oven to 450°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the sausage from the casing, and place in a small bowl. Mix in the lemon zest and the thyme being careful not to over mix. Slice each sheet of puff pastry in half horizontally. Roll ¼ of the sausage mixture into a log and place in the center of one piece of the puff pastry. Have the sausage overhang the pastry by about ¼ inch. Fold the top and bottom of the pastry over the sausage and crimp the pastry together with the tines of a fork. Brush the rolls with the beaten egg. Then, using a sharp knife or kitchen shears cut the pastry into ½ inch slices. Repeat with the remaining of the sausage and puff pastry. Place the sausage rolls on the baking sheets, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fist Full of Cocktails Part II

Sandy and Brian’s backyard looked magical on the night of our fundraising party. We were lucky with the weather. It was a hot day and a warm evening, and we don’t get many of those in our area. Les was wondering why we couldn’t have had this kind of weather for the tiki party last year when we were shivering in our Hawaiian shirts and shorts. This year he was dressed in jeans and a long sleeved shirt (Oh, the irony). We set out the tabletop heaters in case the evening got a bit chilly, but we never needed them. Our guests really got into the theme this year digging western wear out of their closets, and coming ready to have a good time. You can plan the best party ever, but you need great guests for a great party, and we had them!
We consider our party a cocktail party, and my friend Melissa who came to help us out, said that it is only cocktail party because we don’t offer any utensils. Everything on the menu is considered finger food, so we can squeak by with no utensils, but this year we really pushed it. I told you about the menu items we passed and set on the tables in my last post. We also offered some other more substantial food on Sandy and Brian’s large patio table. We put out brisket sandwiches, ribs (Paula used a different recipe, but this one is close), tequila lime chicken wings, jalapeno corn bread, watermelon triangles, veggies and dip, and (this is where we pushed it) bean shooters. What are bean shooters you ask? Well, we served beans in small paper cups, so you can shoot them into your mouth and without using a fork. My daughter came up with the idea when we were trying to decide the menu for our party. We knew we weren’t going to offer utensils, but we wanted to offer baked beans, so she came up with bean shooters. I’m not sure they worked since everyone kept asking for silverware, but we thought it was a cute idea, and we didn’t have any leftovers.
For dessert, we passed squares of Texas sheet cake (I think Sandy used another recipe, but the recipe I linked to is close to the recipe she used). We also passed squares of apple pie bars. I found the recipe for the apple pie bars in Food and Wine and I thought it was perfect as written, so I didn’t change a thing.
We had a great time planning and throwing “A Fist Full of Cocktails,” and we have already started thinking about next year’s menu!


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