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Category Archives: Entertaining Ideas

Crispy Potato Bake

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen a while back and couldn’t wait to make it.  It would be the perfect side for pretty much any meal.  The dish was really fast and easy to put together and looks very impressive and pretty.

To make the slices even and to make prep work quick and easy you will want to use either a mandolin or food processor.

About 4 pounds of potatoes

1 small scallion

Fresh thyme

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat the oven to 375.

Peel and slice the potatoes into thin strips.  Coat a cast iron skillet with olive oil and generous salt the bottom of the pan.  From the outside in, arrange the slices around the pan.  It will look like a flower blooming.  Thinly slice the shallot and tuck the slices in between potato slices.  Drizzle the top with olive oil and generously salt. Sprinkle the top with red chili pepper flakes.

Put the skillet into the oven for 1 1/4 hours.  If they potatoes start getting too brown (which mine did), cover it with aluminum foil.  After the 1 1/4 hours, remove the foil (if used) and put the fresh thyme on top of the dish.  I drizzled a little more olive oil over the top because they were looking a little dry.  Continue to bake for about 30-35 more minutes.

I thought that the potatoes needed a little more flavor.  Next time I make it I will combine butter and olive oil in the bottom of the pan and use more salt.  I also plan on trying a herbed compound butter that I’ll sprinkle over the dish a few minutes before taking it out of the oven.  Maybe a chive and chili powder butter?  I’ll keep you posted on my next attempt and if that enhances the flavor.

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French Onion Soup

I love French Onion soup.  There was a fantastic little restaurant close to my house in my hometown that friends of ours owned.  We were frequent patrons.  Such frequent visitors that we could sit down and the regular bartender/ server would immediately put in an order for 3 French Onion soups (for myself, my mum, and my sister) so they would be at our table minutes after walking through the door.  This French Onion soup was/ is unlike any soup you’ve ever had.  I dream of this soup.  The ownership of the restaurant changed, and I don’t visit my hometown very often anymore, so it has been quite sometime since I’ve been able to enjoy it.  Joe’s French Onion is rich and tangy and has a bit of spice and is just phenomenal.  Luckily, our family friends still own 2 restaurants that I can hopefully get a nice big cheesy bowl of Joe’s French Onion soup soon!

I made this soup in the crock pot and did turn out to be quite delicious, but it still wasn’t the same.  But, we did think it was better than some restaurants.

2 medium red onions

1 large sweet yellow onion

1 large white onion

1/2 stick butter

1 – 48 ounce can beef broth (College Inn)

1 – 17 container bold tender beef broth (College Inn)

1/8 cup red wine

1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 TBSP ketchup

1/2 TBSP flour

1/2 TBSP sugar

Splash of apple cider vinegar

Sachet with fresh thyme sprigs, 3 bay leaves, 1 clove fresh crushed garlic clove (a sachet is herbs/ aromatics wrapped in cheesecloth and dropped in while it’s cooking)

1 loaf French or Italian bread cut into 1 inch slices (and depending which type you’re using, cut in half)

Cheese (I used a shredded 6 cheese blend, but slices of mozzarella, provolone, or Fontina or Gruyere would be delicious)

Slice all of the onions.  Melt about 2 TBSP of butter in a large skillet and add the onions.  Let the onions cook down and caramelize.  Add more butter as needed (I probably used another 2 TBSP) to keep the skillet from getting too dry.  While the onions are cooking, make the sachet with 3 bay leaves, fresh thyme and garlic).  Once the onions have cooked down and have a nice golden color, add them to the crock pot.  Stir in a little broth into the skillet to deglaze the pan to get all of the delicious itty bits that are stuck to the pan.  I also added a little red wine to the pan.  The red wine we had on hand was pretty sweet, so I didn’t use much.  If I had a dry red, I would’ve used more with the broth to deepen the flavor.  Add in the rest of the broth.  Add the pan scrapings and broth from the skillet.    Add the vinegars, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and sugar.  Drop in the sachet.  Cook on high for about 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours.  Once the soup has simmered and slow cooked, toast slices of bread in the oven at 350.  Add some of the soup into your oven proof bowls and then put 1 “crouton” and then add more soup so it’s almost to the top.  Add another piece of bread and top with the cheese.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and golden.

Enjoy!!

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“Chocolate Pie Shots” with fresh berries

While I was searching for mini desserts, I came across this recipe on Food Gawker.  It looked right up my alley.  I love chocolate and raspberries together.  The original site said that the recipe was based on the movie “Waitress”, and the story on the blog did make me want to watch it.

The only adjustment I made was to use crushed chocolate cookies instead of chocolate biscotti like the recipe called for.  In the future, I will also adjust the amount of raspberry vodka that I put in in.  I’m all about adding liquor into cooking, but this was pretty strong since it doesn’t have the chance to cook off at all.  I will probably cut that in half next time.

I also doubled the recipe, which made 18 shot glasses.  The amounts listed below however are the original which says it makes 6-8 shots.

 

About 1/2 cup crushed chocolate cookies1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

3 TBSP light brown sugar

2 TBSP raspberry vodka (I used raspberry Belvedeer)

1 pinch salt

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1/2 cup fresh blackberries

 

Crush the cookies or biscotti (I used my food processor) and put a layer in each shot glass.

To make the ganache, bring heavy cream, sugar and sal
t to just to a boil in a saucepan.  Remove from the heat and add in the chocolate and vodka.  Whisk until it’s melted and combined.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Then mash the berries together.  I used my pestal and mashed them by hand.  I wanted to still have chunks of berries.  (I did this step the about an hour before serving).

The original recipe also included fresh whipped cream flavored with flavored with raspberry vodka.  I ran out of time, so I didn’t do the whipped cream, but I’m sure it was an amazing addition!

Once the ganache has cooled a bit, carefully spoon it over the “crust”.  Once you have them all filled, put them in the fridge for several hours or over night.  Once they have had a chance to set a bit, spoon the berries on the top.  If you are doing whipped cream, layer that right on top and enjoy!

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Source: http://www.smithbites.com/2011/06/movie-bites-earl-murders-me-because-im-having-an-affair-pie/

 

 

Tres leches soaked almond pound cake

When I was scouring my cookbooks and the internet looking for desserts that could easily be miniaturized, I came across a tres leches cake.  Tres leches just means “three milks”.  I found for a normal tres leches cake, you bake a white or yellow cake (or I guess really any flavor your little heart desires) and then pour a mixture of the milk over top and let it soak over night.  The reviews that I read kept saying how delicious it is, but how rich and sweet it is.  So, it seemed perfect to make as a bite size version!  I used a Tastefully Simple almond pound cake mix for the cake.  It was really very easy to put together and a crowd favorite!

1 box Tastefully Simple almond pound cake mix

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

1 can half & half (I didn’t have half & half, but I did have heavy cream and 2% milk so I did half a can of each)

Follow the directions to bake the pound cake (or whatever type of cake you decide to use). Let the cake cool and cut into small bite size squares.

In a bowl, combine the three types of milk.  If you want the mixture to be a little thicker, use a little less of the half & half.  (I will probably do that when I make it next time).

Place the cake cubes in your mini bowls or glasses and pour the tres leches mixture into each bowl or glass.  Let it soak for several hours or up to overnight(covered) in the fridge.

You could definitely do this just as the cake and slice it to serve.  If you do this, poke holes in the cake after it has cooled and then pour the mixture over the cake.  Let it soak overnight (covered) in the fridge.

Enjoy!  My friends really loved this one and drank up every last bit of the milk after eating the cake.

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Hot Chocolate Bar

When I decided to have a party, I knew that I wanted to do something fun and special.  I also knew that it had to make my friends warm and cozy.  What could be better than a hot chocolate bar!?!  If you ask me (and if you’re reading this, I’m assuming that you are), not much!  I used my crock pot to keep the hot chocolate nice and warm and then had different mixers and toppings.  The mixers included vanilla syrup, caramel syrup, hazelnut syrup, Kahlua, Bailey’s and DiSarrona.  I found the cutest little white pitchers at Home Goods to put the flavors in.  I attached a little label to indicate what was in each pitcher.  The toppings included fresh whipped cream, chopped Andes Candies pieces and marshmallows.  HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS!  Yep, that’s right, homemade!  I had stumbled across a recipe months ago for marshmallows, but thought it would be kind of tough to do with a hand mixer.  You better believe that it was the first thing that popped into my mind to make when I opened my Kitchenaid on Christmas morning!  I also had Pirouline hazelnut wafer sticks on the bar.

Hot Chocolate Recipe

6-7 cups water

2 small cans of sweetened condensed milk

3-4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa

3/4 – 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Mix everything together in a crock pot and stir until everything is combined.  Start the crock pot over medium for 20 minutes or so.  Once it’s nice and warm, I turned the heat down to low to keep it warm.

Enjoy!

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Brie with Caramelized Onions

This is the most amazing and simplest thing to put together for any occasion.  I saw it originally on pinterest (another site I’ve recently become addicting to!) and had to make it.  It’s very simple.  And I saw this at exactly the right time, because I just happened to have a whole wheel of brie in my fridge (another silly Costco purchase haha!).

Preheat the oven to 350.  Slice a red onion in thin strips.  Melt butter in a skillet over low to medium heat and add the onion.  Cook the oven, stirring periodically until the onions are nice and dark.  Place the brie in an oven safe dish (I know that it’s supposed to be fine to cook/ eat the rind, but that creeps me out, so I cut the whole rind off before putting it in the dish) and top with the caramelized onions.  Cook for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melty and bubbly.

Enjoy with crackers or baguette slices.

 

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Orda Up

A while back I was at the dollar store and I saw food baskets (the kind you see at a lot of burger joints) and I thought what a fun way to do a burger night.  But, I wasn’t completely convinced about needing the baskets.  As I kept browsing, I came across mini ketchup and Grey Poupon glass bottles (think fancy room service!) and I knew that I had to get them.  So, back to the baskets I went!  Luckily, I was at the dollar store, so I still didn’t spend too much!  The ketchup was 3 for $1 and the Grey Poupon were 8 for $1 🙂  They were basically paying me to take them!  So, burgers and fries were on the menu along with a summer peach cake.  Delish!  It made me feel like I was flipping burgers short order and was compelled to say “orda up” repeatedly!

 

For the burgers, plan on about 1/4 – 1/3 pound of ground beef per person.  Gently beat an egg in a large mixing bowl and add the ground beef.  Mix in about 1/2 or 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce, about 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp of Trader Joe’s 21 and seasoning salute.     Blend well, but don’t over mix (it can make the burgers tough).  Form into patties that are pretty flat, but don’t smash too much.  Right before the burgers go on the grill, sprinkle with some salt (I used Tastefully Simple’s seasoning salt).  If you salt the burgers too early or mix it in, it will draw a lot of moisture out of the meat leaving you with dry burgers.

Place the burgers on the grill until your desired done-ness is reached.  Serve with your favorite cheese and condiments!

 

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