Hot Artichoke Dip

August 12, 2008

I refuse to post a picture of this dip for fear that it might make you NOT want to try it. It is, quite possibly, the least photogenic thing I ever make, but so worth the ugliness! This recipe is one that my mom pretty much always makes when she entertains and it has since become one of my go-to entertaining recipes. I have no idea where my mom originally got the recipe so I just call it “her” recipe.

The best thing about it is that it is oh so easy…three ingredients!! Unfortunately, two of those three ingredients are mayonnaise and cheese which makes it not exactly healthy. However, this most recent time I made it I used the new mayo made with olive oil which makes me feel better about eating it. 🙂

So if you need a quick, easy, crowd-pleasing dip for your next get-together give this dip a try! I think you’ll like it. I’d love to hear if any of you out there have a similar easy, go-to entertaining recipe. Leave a comment and let me know if you do!

Hot Artichoke Dip

Source: My Mom!

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can of artichokes in water, chopped into bite-size pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl until well combined. Spread mix into a medium-sized, shallow baking dish (I use a glass pie pan). Bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on the top. Serve hot with crackers (like Wheat Thins, Ritz, or Triscuits).

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Pesto Palmiers

August 11, 2008

These little gems are my new favorite entertaining finger food! They’re super easy, have very few ingredients, and are perfect for entertaining since they don’t have to be served warm. My guests weren’t quite sure what they were just by looking at them but once they tasted them they had great things to say about them. I have a couple left over and I can’t stop eating them! They are really addicting! I can’t wait to make these again and maybe even experiment with some different filling ideas.

I just realized that I totally forgot the egg-brushing step! Woops! I don’t think it made that much of a difference though.

Pesto Palmiers

Source: As seen on Annie’s Eats, originally from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Ingredients:

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

½-3/4 cup pesto

1 egg

1 tbsp. water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Lay puff pastry out onto parchment paper. Roll out into a 12×12” square. Lift up one side of the puff pastry, sprinkle grated Parmesan onto the parchment paper, and replace the puff pastry; repeat with the other side. Using a spatula, spread the pesto within ½ – inch of each side of the pastry. Using your spatula, make three indentations on the top edge of the dough at 3 inches, 6 inches and 9 inches to divide the sheet into quarters.

Fold the left and right edges of the puff pastry halfway to the center of the dough (to the closest quarter-mark indentation). Fold the sides to the middle again until they are almost touching. Fold the two halves together like a book.

Cut into half-inch slices and place onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Whisk the egg and water together and brush over the palmiers. Bake for 8 minutes, flip and bake for 6-8 more minutes. Palmiers are best the day of baking.

Strawberry Tart

August 11, 2008

First of all, I’m sorry for the terrible photos of this tart. It’s such a shame because it was really pretty to look at but by the time I got it put together it was night time so I couldn’t get any natural light. Despite the lackluster photos, this was really a great dessert. What’s not to like about a buttery crust, sweet cream filling, and fresh strawberries?! My only gripe with the tart was the crust was a little too crumbly and it didn’t hold together well. When I make this again (which I will), I will be sure to swap out the crust recipe for this one from my Blueberry Tart.

Strawberry Tart

Source: Everyday Food

Serves 8

FOR THE CRUST
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for handling dough
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
FOR THE FILLING
* 1 bar (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 to 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
* 1/4 cup seedless red currant jelly (I used strawberry jam)

Directions

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt until moist crumbs form (this may take up to 1 minute). Transfer dough to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom.
2. With floured fingers, press dough evenly into pan and up sides. Dip a dry-measuring cup in flour, and use it to press dough firmly into bottom and against sides of pan. Freeze crust until firm, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Using a fork, prick crust all over. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes, pressing down gently once or twice with a spoon during baking if crust puffs up. Cool completely in pan.
4. Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth; spread mixture evenly in bottom of baked crust (still in tart pan).
5. Starting from outside edge, arrange strawberry halves, stemmed side down, in tight concentric circles on cream cheese.
6. In a small saucepan, heat jelly on medium-low until liquefied. Gently brush strawberries with jelly; let set at least 20 minutes. Chill in pan at least 1 hour (and up to 6 hours); remove from pan just before serving.

Guacamole Chicken Sandwich

August 7, 2008

Yet another success from the May 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. The real name for these sandwiches is “Go Green Chicken Sammies” but I just couldn’t bring myself to use that as my post title. It’s just too Rachael-ified. But as much as I can’t stand all her goofy recipe titles, I’ve got to admit the girl knows how to write a good dinner recipe. These were delicious, healthy, and perfect for summer. I loved the herb, oil, and lime juice marinade. My only suggestion to change it up a bit is to use your own Guacamole recipe and trust your gut. In the recipe it calls for 1 small red onion for the guacamole made with two avocados. In my opinion that would make it way way way too oniony (and I’m actually a big fan of onion). I would just use 1/4 of a small onion.

Go Green Chicken Sammies

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray May 2008

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Grated peel of 1 lime plus juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Four skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 deli slices pepper jack cheese
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small plum tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 hamburger buns or crusty rolls, split and toasted
  • 1 head bibb lettuce or green leaf lettuce
  • Tortilla chips, for serving

In a shallow dish, combine the EVOO, cilantro, scallions, thyme, lime peel, half of the lime juice, and the hot sauce; season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Pre-heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Grill the chicken until cooked through, 12 minutes. Just before the cooking time is up, top each breast with a slice of pepper jack cheese.

In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, red onion, tomato, jalapeños, garlic, lemon juice and remaining lime juice; season with salt.

Top each bun bottom with lettuce, a chicken breast, a mound of guacamole and a bun top. Serve with the tortilla chips.

Lemon-Glazed Sugar Cookies

August 6, 2008

I’ve really got a thing for lemon. My absolute favorite salad dressing is just a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. It’s delicious on meat, in drinks, and most especially in desserts. Nothing beats the tartness of lemon paired with a sugary sweet dessert. That’s why when I saw these Almond Glazed Sugar Cookies on Your Homebased Mom (great blog by the way), I knew they were going to be transformed into Lemon Glazed Sugar Cookies. Unfortnately I flattened my cookies a bit more than I should have but other than that little glitch they were awesome!! This is definitely my go-to sugar cookie base from now on. In fact, I’m craving them right now as I’m writing this. I wish I had an excuse to make some more.

Lemon-Glazed Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Your Home Based Mom

Makes about 24 cookies

-1 cup butter, softened

-3/4 cup sugar

-1 tsp. lemon juice

-2 cups flour

-1/2 tsp. baking powder

-1/4 tsp salt

Mix butter, sugar, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Beat until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Beat 1 to 2 more minutes. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and flatten balls to 1/4 inch thickness with the bottom of a buttered glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute. Move to a wire rack to let cool.

Glaze:

-2 cups powdered sugar

-5 tsp. lemon juice

-2 tsp. water or milk (or more as needed to thin it out)

Stir together all ingredients with a wire whisk until smooth and glossy. If needed, add more liquid to thin it out. Spread glaze over cooled cookies.

Buttery Red Snapper with Smashed Potatoes

August 5, 2008

We spent this past weekend at the beach in Galveston, Texas hanging out with my family. It was a great weekend and perfect weather. Our beach house neighbors asked us if any of us would like to take their freshly caught Gulf Red Snapper filets because they wouldn’t be able to take it on the plane home with them. Alex and I jumped on that right away! Free fresh fish…fine by me!!

I had dog eared this recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray May 2008 magazine a while back and thought our new fresh red snapper would be the perfect way to make it. Last night I was feeling a little under the weather though so Alex took over the reins on this one and it turned out wonderfully! We both loved this preparation of the fish and the potatoes. The tomato-scallion butter is delicious too and would be great on chicken.

Buttery Halibut with Smashed Potatoes

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray May 2008

Serves: 4  Prep: 15 min  Cook 20 min.

  • 6 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp softened
  • 1 sun-dried tomato packed in olive oil, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped scallion
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb small new potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp whole milk
  • Four 6- to 8-ounce halibut (or Red Snapper) fillets
  • 2 Tbsp flour

1. In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, sun-dried tomato, scallion and garlic; season with salt and pepper.

2. In a large saucepan, add the potatoes and enough salted water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, then smash the potatoes with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon whole milk; season with salt pepper.

3. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then coat lightly with the flour. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the fish and cook, turning once, until golden and firm to the touch, 7 to 8 minutes total.

4. Transfer the fish to 4 serving plates and top with the tomato-scallion butter. Serve with the smashed potatoes.

Almond Gateau with Praline Buttercream

July 30, 2008

It’s that time again! Daring Bakers time! And ok I will just admit it. This, my second Daring Bakers challenge, scared the living beejeezus out of me. That’s what happens when I print out a recipe to “study” it and it is FOUR PAGES LONG!! What the….?!? I had a few moments of thinking perhaps I made a mistake joining this group before I decided to suck it up and get to work.

In case you are looking at the word “Gateau” like it is a dog with 10 heads (like I was) I will give you a definition. (Can I just say that it is a definite sign that I am being “Daring” if I have to google multiple words in the recipe itself to figure out what they are!) According to WiseGeek.com, “a gateau (pronounced ga-toe) is a French cake, often specifically a sponge cake that may be made from almond flour instead of wheat flour.”

The original recipe was for a “Filbert Gateau”…..*staring blankly at the word Filbert*. So after yet another Google use I realized that a Filbert was just another fancy-schmancy name for a hazelnut. Well, I wasn’t able to find any hazelnuts at my grocery store so I decided to switch the recipe to an Almond Gateau (which was an allowed substitution).

The original recipe also called for a Swiss Buttercream, which I had never heard of. Upon further reading I started to break out in hives just thinking about attempting a buttercream that involved cooking egg whites in a double broiler. I thought about it and decided this recipe was going to be PLENTY difficult for me even without the Swiss Buttercream so I just went with a “normal” buttercream recipe where all you have to do is beat butter, confectioner’s sugar, and a little water and vanilla extract together.

Overall the “Gateau Experience” was extremely frightening and somewhat frustrating. I ended up with crumbly cakes that fell apart (but I managed to salvage them), one burnt batch of Praline Paste, one semi-burnt batch of Praline Paste (which I used anyway), one burnt batch of Chocolate Ganache, and one just OK end result. I mean it was a very tasty end result, but just entirely not worth all the work in my modest opinion. There are plenty of cake recipes that are a quarter of the work but just as tasty. It was very pretty though with the shiny ganache coating and the buttercream piping.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the inside of the cake because I served it at a dinner party and forgot to take a picture when I cut into it. Grrrr…after all that work I didn’t even get a decent picture to do it justice!!! Oh well!

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise (Mine was Almond)
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks (I omitted)
1 recipe Apricot Glaze (Mine was Raspberry Glaze)
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped (I omitted)

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned (I used almond meal)
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees) (I just used regular melted butter)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan (I used two 9-inch cake pans).

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds.  Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture.  You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process.  Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar.  It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step.  When finished, the mixture should be ribbony.  Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind.  Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so.  Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.*  Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds.   Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter.  Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon.  **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter!  It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan.  Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan.  Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake.  *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream (I used a standard buttercream recipe)
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream.  Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.  Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream (I subbed a standard buttercream recipe)
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved.  The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute.  Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My  buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed  butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless (Or blanched almonds)
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet.  Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals.  If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides.  Cook until the mixture starts to bubble.  **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor.  Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place.  Do not refrigerate.

Apricot (or Raspberry) Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot (or raspberry) preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm.  If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms.  While warm – great fudge sauce.  While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ – 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil.  Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate.  Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ – 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake.  Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream.  Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake.  Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake.  Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely.  Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings.  Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center.  Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance.  The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”.  Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream.  Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake.  As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting.  Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center.  The leaves should overlap.  Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Here it is! Smoked Salmon Spread

July 24, 2008

Well, my day trip got pushed back to tomorrow so I was able to make it to the grocery store after all! Yay!

I picked the Smoked Salmon Spread for the Barefoot Bloggers for a specific reason. You see, I used to think smoked salmon was the most disgusting thing in the world even though I had never tried it. I just assumed since in general I don’t like fish, I wouldn’t like smoked salmon. Well, one day someone ordered a Bagel and Lox and forced me to try a bite. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on all these years! I loved it and ever since then I always order Bagels and Lox whenever possible.

So, my goal in choosing this recipe was to get somebody out there who thinks they don’t like smoked salmon to give it a shot and maybe discover that they actually like it…like I did! I knew that this recipe wouldn’t please everyone but I was ok with that. Being a part of a blogging group like this is partially about being coerced into trying things that you would maybe never try otherwise. I hope that this recipe provided that push for someone out there, whether they ended up liking it or not!

And ok, ok….I guess I should admit that choosing this recipe was also partially out of pure selfishness because I just looooovvveeee smoked salmon (as mentioned above) but I had never used it in my home. Normally I just order it at restaurants and cafes so I wanted to try using it in a recipe.

I must say, this spread was soooooooooo good! I am definitely going to have to make this many times in the future. This was my favorite way to eat it:

See that? It’s like a mini bagels and lox! A couple of capers and a tiny piece of onion. Yum! Wouldn’t that be so cute to serve at a brunch too??

To learn more about the Barefoot Bloggers go here.

For the recipe go here.

Where’s my spread?

July 24, 2008

I am the host for this week’s Barefoot Bloggers event but sadly I will be posting it a day or two late. I chose Smoked Salmon Spread and I can’t wait to make it. This has been a busier week than expected and I haven’t had time to make it to the grocery store yet (you know how that goes). I am leaving town for the day in an hour or so and I’ll be back tonight. Hopefully I’ll make it to the grocery store tomorrow and have my recipe up by tomorrow night! Thanks for understanding and happy blogging!

Summer Dinner Party Menu

July 23, 2008

I’ve recently come across a new-found love of entertaining. I really enjoy it and so far my guests have seemed to enjoy it as well. One thing that has helped me through learning how to entertain is when people share their ideas for entertaining menus. It’s easy to think of one or two things to make for guests but making an entire menu that goes together well or doesn’t involve too much time in the kitchen while my guests are in my home is tougher for me. So I’ve decided to start featuring the menus I use when I entertain to hopefully help some of you who need help rounding out a nice meal for a party.

The first entertaining menu was just a small dinner party that we had in our home to welcome our friends who had just moved to the area. It was just four of us but this menu could easily be adjusted to serve more.

Summer Dinner Party Menu

Drink: Summer Sangria ( I didn’t get a picture but this is the recipe I used. If making ahead, just put everything but the club soda in the pitcher and chill until your guests arrive. Then add the club soda, stir, and serve.)

Appetizer: Roasted Garlic Bruschetta with Crostini

Entree: Grilled Chicken (nothing special so I’m not sharing a recipe)

Side Dish: Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad (Again, I didn’t get a picture but here’s the recipe I used. This is a great side dish for a party because you can serve it warm, at room temperature, or cold.)

Dessert: Blueberry and Buttermilk Tart