Month: February 2015

A Grown Up Pajama Party!!!

On February 17th, the Today Show did a piece on hosting a sleepover as a way to keep kids occupied during the Siberian Express. It made me think, even though 2015 is already filled with some great occasions; weddings, graduations and births; why not do our own pajama party for grown ups?!

I’m already excited! Lets start by inviting everyone in their coolest pjs. I love www.punchbowl.com They have such great and unique selections for invitations and once you customize your invite, they email them for you. If you like an old-fashioned touch, and want to send printed invites, I like www.paperculture.com

My favorite part, of course, is putting together the menu. Let’s do breakfast foods and trick them out for an evening party! No breakfast party menu would be complete without a Mimosa or Bloody Mary so break out your finest recipe and make a couple of pitchers. A Bloody Mary Bar is always a fun way to get your guest’s creative juices flowing. You could even have a contest for the best, worst and most creative Bloody Mary. Make your own Bloody Mary Mix, I’ve added one for you to try, if you don’t already have a favorite, and leave all the ingredients out for your guests to personalize their drink and for the contest. Be sure to have a couple of flavored salts to rim the glass. If you need more inspiration go to www.foodiecrush.com Heidi has some awesome ideas!

There’s a restaurant near me that makes an amazing Brunch Carbonara. Instead of long pasta, they use orzo (a rice shaped pasta) and they put a poached egg on top instead of mixing it into the sauce. This is a really sophisticated way to incorporate breakfast into a dinner menu.

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A sleep over staple is pizza. So for fun let’s do a Pizza Frittata. It is so yummy!

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I feel like we have to have something sweet to finish it off and of course what’s more breakfasty than Rice Krispy treats. I’m sure you have a favorite recipe you love. An old friend of mine told me the real secret is a freshly opened box of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies.

Great! We have invitations, food, and drinks. Let’s have some fun! If you have a friend that is handy with a movie-editing program, have them cut together scenes from classic movies with sleepover scenes. There are movies such as Pillow Talk and Pajama Game but even Grease has a great sleepover scene. You can project the movie loop on the walls.

For our party I had everyone send over their top five party songs and hired a DJ to play them in the mix with other fun dance music. If you have a group that will get up and dance on their own, you’re set. If you feel like your friends might need a little motivation first, ask your DJ if he has party dancers. You can even call a local dance school and see if any of their students would like to help to get your guests moving. You only need them for an hour or so. Once the party gets going your guest will be on their own.

I think it is fun to give your guests a little gift at the end of the night. Krispy Kreme will do a two pack of donuts and you can add a package of instant cocoa mix or a small carton of milk. Another cute idea is to do hangover prevention kit. Be sure to include a packet of Tylenol, small bottle of water and a cookie.

Be sure to send me pics of your party using the hash tag  #pajamaparty.

Good Night!

 Brunch Carbonara

6 ounces pancetta, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound orzo

5 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-salt broth)

1/2 cup cream

3/4 cup frozen peas

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 Tablespoon thyme

salt & pepper

6-8 eggs, poached* or fried


In a large pan cook pancetta over a medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Leave one tablespoon of the fat, in the pan.

Add the butter to the pan and cook gently until it just starts to brown. Pour in the orzo, and stir until toasted and coated well. Pour in 4 1/2 cups of the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is tender but al dente and the stock has been absorbed, about 8 minutes. 
Stir in the cream and add the frozen peas, bring back to a simmer. Toss the pancetta into pan, and add half of the Parmesan cheese and all of the thyme. Stir well, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the remaining stock so you have a nice creamy texture. Turn off the heat. Toss with half the remaining cheese. Top with eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with remaining cheese.

 *If you haven’t yet mastered the poached egg, you can use fried eggs. I l am really enjoying the trend of crispy eggs, fried in olive oil.

 

Pizza Frittata

4 Italian sausages

½ red bell pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 scallions, sliced, include some green

½ cup sliced mushrooms

6 eggs

2 Tablespoons water or milk

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dried basil

Salt & pepper to taste

1 Roma tomato, sliced thin

Pepperoni slices

¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat broiler

Cook together sausage and bell pepper, for about 5 minutes. Break up sausage with a wooden spoon.

Add garlic scallions and mushrooms. Cook until sausage is cooked through and veggies are tender. You can add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, if needed.

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, water and seasonings. Pour over sausage mixture in skillet and cook until eggs are set and top is almost dry. This should take 10-12 minutes.

Arrange tomato and pepperoni slices on top, like a pizza. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Broil until frittata is puffy and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

You can slice wedges, like a pizza or serve whole on a warmed plate.

Bloody Mary Mix

1 good size lemon

1 good size lime

16 ounces Tomato Juice

8 dashes Tabasco Sauce

2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish

16 dashes Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

Squeeze the lemon and lime wedges in a shaker and then drop in. Add the remaining ingredients and fill rest of the way with ice. If you are adding the vodka ahead of time, add 1 cup quality vodka.

Shake to mix thoroughly .

A Last Minute Valentine Toast to Love!

Okay calm down! It is the afternoon of Valentine’s Day and you haven’t planned anything yet. It’s never too late to put something together. Get a pen and paper and make your list.

Your first stop in your local grocery store. You’ll need:

a box of powdered sugar

whole milk

whatever red cake decorations or candy they have left

the best milk chocolate they have (bar or chips)

a bag of mini marshmallows

graham crackers

Your next stop is to your nearest donut shop, to get plain cake donuts. You may want to see if you can pick up flowers somewhere too. However, if you are going for the puppy dog, “I forgot” appeal, pick flowers from your yard or somebody else’s.

Now that you are home, get out whatever oven safe pan you have and grease it. If you bought a chocolate bar, chop it up and put it in the bottom of the pan. For the chips just pour them in and melt them in a 325 degree oven. Give them a little stir every so often. Melting should take about 10 minutes.

When the chocolate is melted, pour the mini marshmallows over top and put them back in the oven, except under the broiler. Watch them closely and let them get to a nice toasted brown. Remove from the oven and serve with graham crackers, broken into sections, as a dip. If you have strawberries put these out with the dip to add color and romance.
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You’ve got the first great surprise for your Valentine. For another cute gift, lets decorate donuts! Mix together ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted, and 1 Tablespoon whole milk. You can add more milk, a teaspoon at a time, if you feel it is too thick. Just be careful, you don’t want it to thin out too much. You can also double the recipe if you need more. I like to leave the glaze white. You can add a couple drops of red food coloring, if you prefer.

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Dip the donuts, in a swirl motion, in the glaze and place on a rack to catch drips. While the donuts are still damp, sprinkle with your red decorations and let dry completely. I think it’s cute to package them in some sort of craft box. You can get them at Michael’s. You can even wrap an open shoebox in valentine paper. Just make it your personal creation.

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You are all set! Have a fabulous day or evening! And don’t forget to toast to love! XO.

Valentine’s Day – Decadence light

Valentines Day is coming and I would like to welcome you to stay home for dinner. There are a lot of different ways you can go when thinking about your menu. Some would say do all your most rich and decadent recipes. Others would tell you to make sure and have as many aphrodisiacs as you can. Still others would say cook what you know and do it well. Why not try and incorporate all of the above.

Let’s explore the concept of rich and decadent. Decadence is great and rich is even better but I don’t think I would build a whole meal around that. Let’s face it Valentines Day is suppose to incite love and intimacy. Think back, how intimate did you feel at the end of a heavy rich meal? Yep, you got it. So maybe we want to feature just one recipe that is rich & decadent. Dessert is always a good choice. Because it is at the end of the meal you won’t necessarily be tempted to over indulge.

For the rest of meal it is my humble opinion that you err on the side of lighter and cook what you know. So let’s delve into what I consider basics. These are the recipes that every cook should have in their repertoire. Food & Wine recently posted their list and it included roast chicken, risotto, and apple pie. You will eventually have you own list but I propose the following recipes be included. Have a great soup, a great cookie, and a great wow factor recipe. The wow factor is that one recipe you know people go crazy for, every time. It doesn’t have to be a hard, time intensive recipe just one you always get the reaction for. We’ll talk more about that in a future post.

Let’s start to build our Valentines Day menu. I love the idea of being cozy by the fire and sipping a soup and eating a sandwich. What is your favorite soup and sandwich combination? I love vegetable puree soups. You can make them with out cream and they can still have a rich quality. Even though soups are very popular, they still give the impression of being labor intensive and therefore, wow factor. Here is an amazing recipe for broccoli soup that is really easy to prepare but your guest will think it took hours.

 Broccoli Soup

4 cups of good quality (or homemade) chicken stock

2 cups water

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2 pounds (about 12 cups) of broccoli crowns, trimmed and chopped

¼ pepper salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed

In a large saucepan bring stock and water to a boil.

Add the broccoli; make sure the broccoli is completely covered. You can add more water if necessary.

Cook until tender. It usually takes about 8 minutes but keep an eye on it.

While your broccoli is cooking, puree the rinsed cannellini beans. You can use a blender or food processor. Set aside.

When broccoli is cooked, start pureeing in batches, with a little of the liquid at a time. Special note here: hot liquid expands and can be volatile. Pay attention to what your appliance recommends for maximum hot fill line.

Once you have pureed all the broccoli return it to the pan and whisk together with remaining liquid. Bring back to a boil.

Reduce heat and whisk in pureed cannellini beans.

Season with Salt & Pepper, adjust as desired

Serve immediately

This will serve about 6 people a good size portion

Of course you have to have a great sandwich to go with it. You can do a grilled cheese or pick your favorite. It’s up to you. You find that recipe and I will take care of dessert.

I love chocolate! It is the most sensuous of foods and of course it is an aphrodisiac. This recipe combines the richness of a chocolate brownie and the memory inducing taste of s’mores. I love serving this “deconstructed” but you can put it all together to make it yours, too.

S’mores Brownies

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ounces unsweetened bakers chocolate

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup flourIMG_2388_2

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ chopped pecans (optional)

Melt together the butter and chocolate, let cool slightly

Mix the eggs and sugar together, until well blended

Temper egg mixture with chocolate and then blend mixtures together, well

Gradually add in flour, while mixing

Add in Vanilla then fold in nuts

Pour into a greased and floured pan. I used muffin tins but you could use a bread pan. (You can use muffin liners if so desired)

Bake in a low oven, 275 for 35-40 minutes. It will still be slightly “wet” when it comes out but will settle.

Cut marshmallows in half and place across the top of either each muffin or the loaf. You can brown the marshmallow under a broiler or with a kitchen torch. Serve over graham cracker crumbs and a garnish with a Hershey miniature.

I love this dessert. It is whimsical and decadent but not to rich. Don’t forget the wine or champagne and let’s raise a glass to love. Happy Valentines Day!

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