Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spicy Baked Macaroni

This is the last party post and I wanted to get it in before everyone goes off to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners. This Giada dish is an old favorite of mine - it has great Italian flavors and it preps easily in advance. I often make it the night before I need it, bring it to room temperature before baking, and bake just in time to serve warm on the dinner table.

I have also made this as a main dish - just use 3/4 pound of pasta instead of one pound, and add 1 pound crumbled, cooked Italian sausage to the mix. Otherwise, I don't make any changes to Giada's great recipe so the link is below:

Spicy Baked Macaroni

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing

This was a simple and delicious main dish - from Giada of course. I am glad I chose to make this after seeing it on The Piggly-Wiggly. I made the basil dressing the night before the party, marinated the chicken the morning of, and Chuck grilled it right before serving. The dressing recipe makes a lot, so even though I doubled the chicken and marinade, I probably could have made the original amount of dressing and been fine. Use fresh basil - you'll notice the difference! Link below:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Bites

With all the craziness of the party, I didn't get a chance to take an individual picture of these little guys. But if you look closely they are on the plate at the front of the table, the one with the green bowl of dip on it.

I really liked the idea of this recipe because they aren't fried, but baked. Not that I have anything against deep-frying itself, but I really don't want to do it in my kitchen. So I prepped these bites the morning of the party, stuck them in the fridge, and baked them right before the guests showed up. They were delicious - nice and cheesy, not too spicy, and crispy enough on the outside. Serve with blue cheese dressing or the dip of your choice!

Buffalo Chicken Cheese Bites
adapted from Macaroni and Cheesecake, originally from Made by Melissa via Food Network
Makes about 3 dozen bites

2 small cans Swanson chicken breast, shredded
1/4 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil or lightly spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, hot sauce, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese. Mix thoroughly. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out mixture, roll into a ball between your hands, and place on a plate to begin dipping process.

Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs into three separate bowls for dipping. Take each buffalo chicken ball and roll it in the flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet or in baking dish.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with dipping sauce.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Antipasto Platter

No real recipes for this dish, just ideas for a large platter with a variety of food. I wanted to keep it low on prep time, since I was making so many other things for Abbie's party. You just need to spend a little bit of time in the gourmet section of your grocery store, and many of these things can be substitued out for others. For example, use Serrano ham instead of the prosciutto with the cantaloupe, or serve slices of goat cheese with the sundried tomatoes.

Antipasto Platter

  • Marinated bocconcini (tiny mozzarella balls) skewered on a toothpick with marinated julienned sundried tomatoes
  • Cantaloupe scooped out with a melon baller or cookie scoop wrapped in slices of prosciutto and skewered on a toothpick
  • Slices of roasted eggplant - make it like this recipe directs
  • Roasted red peppers marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper
  • Chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • Chunks of Asiago and Parmesan cheese
  • Marinated assorted olives

Serve with assorted crackers and breadsticks.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip and Pumpkin Pie Dip

Let's start with dessert first, shall we? Besides wonderful cupcakes that were a gift from Liz at from Pink Cake Box at Abbie's birthday party, I chose to serve these two dips. They both go very nicely with assorted small cookies like 'Nilla Wafers and Teddy Grahams as well as fresh fruit.
As you can see in the pictures, the pumpkin dip is a little creamier while the cookie dough dip is more of a spread. Both are delicious!
I make both of these exactly as the recipes state so just follow the links:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ladies' Lunch Menu

The party for the birthday girl this past weekend went off without a hitch; but before I share some of the recipes I have another menu to share with you! The birthday celebration continues this coming weekend when a few of my good friends are bringing their toddlers over for a little celebration for Miss A. The original plan was brunch, but I like lunch food much better so I planned a kind of combination. The food is not particularly kid-friendly (except for the most sophisticated palate, of course); but my friends have no problem bringing food, and I included a dessert for them at the end!

Ladies' Lunch
  • Wild mushroom, cheese, and bacon quiche
  • Romaine salad with chicken, cheddar, apples, and cranberry vinaigrette
  • Parmesan-rosemary breadsticks
  • Assorted fruit with cream cheese dip
  • Pumpkin pie crunch for the moms and cupcakes for the kiddos :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Over-the-Border Shrimp Enchiladas

There are a few commercials out that advertise a lot of ideas for using cream cheese. Being a dairy addict myself, a lot of these look delicious! This first one I tried was really good - and nice and easy for a weeknight. The cumin and green chilies add a nice southwestern flair to these and of course the two kinds of cheeses make it nice and creamy.

I made the entire recipe and froze half of the enchiladas for another meal. If you do this, freeze the enchiladas before adding the salsa and shredded cheese, then just defrost, place in a baking dish and cover with the cheese and salsa before baking.

I served this with sauteed corn and salsa and roasted zucchini. And for some reason, I can't find the actual recipe on the website so I typed it again here for you:

Over-the-Border Shrimp Enchiladas
Makes 8 enchiladas

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used large shrimp and cut each one into 3 pieces)
1 can (4-ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 package (8-ounces) cream cheese, cubed
8 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
1 1/2 cups chunky salsa
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheeese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, green chilies, chili powder, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in cream cheese until melted.

Place 1/3 cup shrimp mixture in the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam-side down in a greases 13x9 baking dish. Pour salsa over top of tortillas and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

My staple sandwich to make in the slow cooker is pulled pork. But as I was browsing the internet one day this recipe stood out to me because A. it calls for chicken and B. it uses the North Carolina style of barbecue sauce which is vinegar-based instead of tomato-based.

This was simple to put together and ended up tasting really good. The cayenne pepper gives it a hearty kick so don't use as much if you don't like spice. The original recipe just called for a cut-up rotisserie chicken but I used raw chicken breasts and turned it into a slow cooker meal. And simple double or triple the recipe if you have a lot of guests or want to stick some in the freezer!

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

adapted from Food & Wine

Makes about 4 servings

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound

1 cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup beer

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1/2 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 hamburger buns, split

1 cup prepared coleslaw

Coat a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray and lay the chicken breasts on the bottom.

In a medium saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients except hamburger buns and coleslaw over high heat and bring to a boil. Continue cooking about 15 minutes, or until reduced by half. Pour over chicken in slow cooker.

Cook for 7 hours on low heat. Shred chicken, cook for 1 more hour. Serve on buns topped with coleslaw.