Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Broccoli Souffle and Sue's Lemony Salmon

I had a fun girls night this past weekend and enjoyed cooking with my fiance's grandmother. We made Broccoli Souffle - a recipe passed along to me from a Clemson friend and a delicious Lemony Salmon.

The Broccoli Souffle would be a great addition to your Easter menu. Hope you enjoy both recipes as much as we did!

Alison J.

Broccoli Souffle

2 pkgs. frozen, chopped broccoli (2 lbs.)
1 can cream of celery soup
1 c. real mayo
3 tablespoons grated or finely chopped onion
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 stack Ritz crackers
1 stick melted butter or margarine, 1/2 c.

Cook broccoli until tender; drain and cool. Mix soup, mayo, onion, egg and cheese; stir in the cooled broccoli. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 3 1/2 to 5 qt slow cooker. Mix 1 stack of crushed Ritz crackers with margarine or butter. Put on top. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours. If you would like to bake it instead of using the crock pot, cook for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly.

Sue's Lemony Salmon

2 servings of salmon
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 c. melted margarine (1/2 stick)
Old Bay seasoning
McCormick Lemon Pepper Grill Mates

Place salmon on greased baking pan. Coat top with Old Bay and lemon pepper grill seasoning. Meanwhile, combine melted margarine with lemon juice in a small cup.

Broil filets for about 8 minutes, but cooking time really depends on the thickness of the salmon filets. Keep an eye on them while they're broiling and take them out of the oven when they reach the desired color. If you like salmon on the rare to medium-rare side, remove earlier.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf with Feta

Since I was not motivated to start packing for my trip to Turkey just yet I decided to look in the fridge and see what ingredients I have to work with for dinner. I decided I wanted something light and easy to cook up. I went to one of my favorite websites, the trusty Food Network, to see what I was in the mood for. This meal took me about 10 minutes to prepare and get into the oven. If you have kids this is a great recipe to get them to help you out and start their love for cooking.

Turkey Meatloaf with Feta
Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Vegetable cooking spray
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced, optional
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons Jane’s Crazy Salt (found on the baking aisle)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, if using, eggs, milk, feta, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat.
Carefully pack the meat mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Put on a serving platter and serve.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Twice Baked Potatoes

Are you making steak, chicken, fish, or virtually any other meat for dinner tonight? Well, guess what?! This is a quick and easy recipe that your kids, significant other, and friends will love. I decided to cook up some steaks for dinner tonight and the ingredients in the recipe below are almost always in my cooking cabinet. You will be amazed at how often your family will ask you to make this recipe over and over again.


Twice Baked Potatoes
3 Gals and a Kitchen

2 baking potatoes
1 cup sour cream
2 chopped green onions
1 cup cheddar cheese
3 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
2 TBSP butter
(sprinkle feta on top - my personal fav, but optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Bake 4 potatoes in foil in preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes. Meanwhile, begin to cook bacon evenly until brown in a skillet. Drain on paper towels and chop. Once the potatoes have finished cooking, allow them to cool for 15 minutes or cool to a touch. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, use a spoon to scoop out the insides, forming a potato bowl. Place the potato insides into a large bowl, add sour cream, green onions, cheddar cheese, bacon, butter, and salt/pepper. Save some of the toppings to sprinkle on top of the finished product. After all presentation is everything. Mix well using a potato masher or a fork if you do not have one. Spoon the mixture into the potato bowls you created earlier. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle extra toppings on the potatoes. Serve immediately.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicken Stuffed with Feta

Do you ever have chicken breast in your fridge or freezer and aren't sure what to do with it? Have you over played the standard BBQ chicken, Italian chicken, and chicken with pasta recipes? If you answered yes, then this recipe is for you. This is a bikini friendly recipe, and your significant other would be none the wiser.
Dinner is served!

Chicken Stuffed with Feta
3 Gals and a Kitchen

4 skinless chicken breasts
4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 TB lemon juice

1 TB dried basil
1 small chopped tomato
2 TBSP softened cream cheese
½ c crumbled feta cheese
2 slices bacon
1 c spinach
¼ c chopped sweet onion
4 slices prosciutto
Chopped black olives

Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl mix together, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, chopped tomato, salt, and pepper. In a small bowl mix together, feta and cream cheese. Meanwhile, cook bacon until cooked through, pat grease off with a paper towel. Use the same pan to sauté the sweet onion and spinach.
Lay chicken breast on a cutting board and make a 2 inch incision on the fatty portion of the chicken (you are trying to create a pocket for the stuffing). In the pocket of the chicken breast: Place a piece of bacon, add some of the onion/spinach mixture, and evenly distribute the cheese mixture between the two chicken breasts.
Wrap the chicken breasts with prosciutto and then pour the olive oil mixture on top of the chicken. Secure the chicken with toothpicks. Cook for 30-35 minutes. Before serving sprinkle chopped black olives on top.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Warm Brie wrapped in Puff Pastry

This is a great recipe to add to your arsenal! It's one that you can easily whip up to impress your party guests!


1 sheet frozen Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 80z. wheel of brie (I like to trim off the white coating, as it has a slightly bitter taste. This is optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 beaten egg
flour for dusting counter tops when rolling out pastry
Crackers & or apples for serving

Preheat oven to 375.

Lay one folded sheet of frozen puff pastry on the counter and let thaw for about 15 minutes. Once it has defrosted, unfold it and use a rolling pin or drinking glass to roll out the puff pastry to a larger square. Be sure to pinch the two seams to make sure there are no holes in the pastry when you finish rolling it out. Place the brie in the center of the pastry square.

Over medium heat, melt your butter in a saucepan. Add pecans and cinnamon and saute until brown. Take off the heat and pour melted butter, cinnamon and pecans over the brie. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and drizzle with honey. Pull up the edges of pastry and pinch and twist to seal and create a "beggar's purse." Then pull down the four edges to create a flower-like shape on top of the pastry. A pastry brush works best, but you can use a spoon to coat your pastry all over with the beaten egg. This gives a nice, shiny finish to the pastry.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Make sure that all of your seams are closed up, or your cheese and filling will ooze out!

Alison J.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mexican Lasagna - Time to Get Ready for Cinco de Mayo

The time has come to start perfecting your recipes for Cinco de Mayo. I create a low-fat Mexican Lasagna recipe to help you keep up with your New Year's Resolution as well as help the kids eat their vegetables.
I must advise you to be extra careful when chopping all of the vegetables. I made the mistake of being in a rush and losing my technique when chopping which resulted in a nice slice of the finger. When you are cooking and don't have a bandage you can do like i did and grab a paper towel, wrap it around your wound, and tape that bad boy on.

Mexican Lasagna – Time to Get Ready for Cinco de Mayo

3 Gals and a Kitchen

8-10 tortilla shells (I used whole wheat, low carb)
4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ lb ground beef (I used very lean ground beef)
½ large red onion, chopped
¼ c chopped green chilies
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Red pepper seasoning
2 tomatoes
2 c sharp cheddar cheese
2 c Mexican cheese mix
1 c lettuce (shredded)
1 16oz can refried beans
1 avocado, peeled/sliced
4 scallions, diced
Sour cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 TBSP olive oil, spread. Add ground beef, red, yellow, and green peppers, red onion, green chilies, cumin, red pepper seasoning, and chili pepper. Let the ground beef brown and then add tomatoes.
Meanwhile, take a 9*13 shallow baking dish add remaining olive oil, spread. Place enough tortilla shells to cover the bottom without overlapping (you may cut the tortilla shells to make it fit snug and easy to layer). Now start building your lasagna: spread refried beans on the tortilla shells, sprinkle a layer of cheese, add shredded lettuce, meat mixture, sprinkle another layer of cheese. Repeat: tortilla, beans, lettuce, meat, cheese…do this until you have used all your meat mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake for 12-15 minutes until the cheese has melted and browned.

Top with avocado, sour cream, and scallions and serve.

**I did not use avocados because the grocery store did not have any ripe ones**

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sassy Tortilla Stew

There are variations to this recipe, but this was passed along from Louann. Allison has a recipe that includes a few more spices and it's delish! Feel free to switch up ingredients. If you prefer a particular type of bean or corn - replace what's listed below with your favorite. Any way you make it, you'll love it - guaranteed!


2 - 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (salt & pepper, cumin or Mexican seasoning)
1 can black beans
1 can white chipotle corn (or Mexicorn is a good choice too)
2 regular size cans of diced tomatoes
1 can Original Rotel
1 package taco seasoning

Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, diced avacado, & tortilla chips make great "dippers"

To cook the chicken, you can either pan fry it on medium to medium high heat in a little olive oil & seasoning for about 5-6 minutes per side. Cook 'til golden brown on either side. Cut into it and if they're close to being done, put them on a plate to cool and tent with aluminum foil. This extends the cooking time a little by allowing it to cook in it's own steam. It finishes off the chicken without drying it out. can boil your chicken breasts with a liberal amount of salt. This takes about 10 minutes, depending on the size. You may have to cut into it to make sure it's done. Let cool and shred with your fingers or a fork.

Now for the easy part....

Drain beans and corn into the sink with a colander and rinse both with water. Dump the beans, corn, tomatoes and taco seasoning into a crock pot or large pot on the stove. Stir in shredded chicken and cook slow and low in the crockpot for up to 6 hours. Taste it for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper as desired. You can also cook on the stove top at medium low for a few hours. It doesn't take too long to heat through, but the longer you wait to serve it, the better the flavors will be.

If you want a heartier stew, serve over white or brown rice. Would also be great served as a salad - over a bed of lettuce with a spicy ranch. Or, make your own chicken wrap and fill a tortilla shell with chicken stew and rice.


Alison J.

Irish Cottage Pie

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day, and I was on a mission for a good Irish recipe. The internet led me to many variations of Shepherd's pie. Using several different recipes, I came up with a pretty delicious end product - so good that my hubby ate nearly the entire casserole dish. So much for leftovers! Later on, I heard from my very Irish friend, Mike, that my pie is actually "cottage pie" since it's made with ground beef rather than lamb. Regardless, this seems to be a no fail recipe and definitely a pleasing dish for your meat and potatoes kind of family! To save time, I used prepackaged mashed potatoes, a much tastier alternative to instant mashed potatoes. They're almost always found near the meats at the grocery store. Enjoy! - Allison Y.

1 24 oz. package Bob Evans Sour Cream & Chives Mashed Potatoes

1 pound lean ground beef
1 Tablespoon oil
1 medium onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic (diced)
8 ounces mushrooms (diced)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen succotash (mixed corn and lima beans)
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large saute pan, brown the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. When no pink remains, set the meat aside on a plate. Drain any remaining fat from the pain. Next, add oil, onion, and garlic. Saute on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute another 4 minutes. Add flour and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Mix well. Add frozen veggies, beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary. Add the meat back in and mix well. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

While the meat mixture simmers, cook the mashed potatoes in the microwave according to package directions.

Spread the meat mixture on the bottom of a 11 x 7 baking dish. Cover with the mashed potatoes, smoothing them over
the top. Bake for 15 minutes before sprinkling the sharp cheddar on top. Return the dish to the oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Lamb Kabobs with a side of Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Since this is the 4th day and I still have lamb leftovers I had to get creative and find a recipe that would turn out well and give adifferent flavor than we had earlier in the week. This is a rather tasty recipe that I found on the Food Network website.

Lamb Kabobs
Recipe Courtesy of Barefoot Contesa

• 4 pounds top round lamb (or use the leftover lamb from Roasted Lamb and Potatoes)
• 2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 to 5 cloves)
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
• 4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
• 1/2 cup mild olive oil
• 1/2 cup dry red wine
• 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I didn't have red wine vinegar so I used apple cider vinegar instead)
• Kosher salt
• 4 small red onions
• Wooden skewers

For the sauce:
• 1 cup good chicken stock
• 1/2 cup good olive oil
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cut the lamb in 1 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 40 cubes. Combine the garlic, rosemary, thyme, olive oil, red wine, vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Add the lamb cubes, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. Toss occasionally.

Heat a charcoal grill with coals. Spread the coals in 1 tight layer on the grill.

Cut the red onions in quarters and separate each quarter into 3 or 4 sections. Loosely thread 3 or 4 pieces of lamb alternately with sections of onion on skewers. Sprinkle both sides of the lamb with salt and pepper. First, place the lamb skewers on the hot grill and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times, until the lamb is medium rare. Approximately 5 minutes before the lamb is done.

For the sauce, bring the chicken stock, olive oil, and lemon juice to a boil in a medium pot. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until reduced in half. Add the rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Serve the sauce on the side.

**I didn't prepare the sauce, I used the leftover tzatziki sauce for the recipe I posted earlier.**

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe Adapted from Alton Brown

• 1/2 pound penne macaroni (1 box)
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
• 3 cups milk (I used skim)
• 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• 1 large egg
• 8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
• 4 ounces pecorino romano, shredded
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• Fresh black pepper

• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1 cup wheat bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gyro with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce

This was a recipe that I made when I was tired of just reheating leftover lamb. I know the normal tzatziki sauce is supposed to have plain yogurt, but when you don’t have all the ingredients necessary, you need to make do. I decided to try it out with sour cream instead and it was a good thing I did because I liked it much better than when I make it with yogurt.

Just remember, it’s dinnertime somewhere!

Gyro with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
3 Gals and a Kitchen

Using your leftover meat from the Roasted Lamb and Potatoes Recipe cut the lamb into slices enough for the number of people you are serving.
½ of large sweet onion
1 c sour cream
1 medium peeled/chopped cucumber
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (the good kind)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dill
¼ c feta cheese (this is my secret ingredient)
dash of salt/pepper
pita bread
tomatoes and lettuce (optional)

Heat a 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a medium-skillet. Using your left over lamb cut the meat into slices and place in a medium-skillet. Give the sweet onion a quick rough chop and toss it into the skillet.
Meanwhile, break out your food processor and add the cucumbers, sour cream, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, dill, feta cheese, salt, and pepper into the food processor. Set it on pulse to help blend all of the ingredients and chop up the cucumber. You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to refrigerate the tzatziki sauce for a few hours prior to serving. This allows the various flavors to blend.

**Sprinkle some more feta on top of the finished product if you love cheese as much as I do. Also you can add lettuce and tomatoes if you like.**

Monday, March 15, 2010

Roasted Lamb and Potatoes

I recommend this recipe if you are trying to entertain friends or impress your family. I wanted to try something different with lamb and have enough leftovers to last a couple days. Enjoy this tasty meal!

Roasted Lamb and Potatoes
3 Gals and a Kitchen

When roasting/baking a leg of lamb, pre-heat oven to 400. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan. Place seasoned leg in a roasting dish and begin adding Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Seasoning, pepper, rosemary, and garlic to both sides of the lamb. Place the potato pieces and chopped onion around the lamb, drizzle the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and repeat the spice mixture to the vegetables. Lay the uncooked bacon on top of the lamb and zest 1/8 tsp of lemon on top. Cook lamb until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 (approximately 20 minutes per pound for medium). Remove the lamb from the oven, cover it with foil, and let the lamb rest for 10-12 minutes before carving.

5lb lamb leg boneless roast
1 teaspoons of Jane’s Krazy Mixed-up Seasoning
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 tablespoon rosemary
3 cloves of garlic
3 pieces of bacon
1/8 tsp
lemon zest
1 baking potato chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 small onion chopped

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Katie's Cookies 'n Cream Truffles

Check out these little jewels! My soon-to-be cousin, Katie was kind enough to share her recipe for these delicious truffles. They are t0 die for and are as sweet as she is :) Thanks, Katie!

8 Oreo cookies
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon powdered sugar (optional)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cookies in a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs (or put the cookies in a Ziploc bag and crush - which is what Katie does). Add the cream cheese and pulse until mixed. Use a teaspoon to scoop the cookie mixture into small balls. Place the cookie balls on the baking sheet, cover with plastic and freeze until firm - for about 1 hour.

Microwave the chocolate chips and stir. Then nuke for 30 more seconds and stir again. Dip the cookie balls into the chocolate using a toothpick or fork and place back onto the baking sheet. Put the powdered sugar into a sieve and lightly dust the truffles. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm - about 1 hour. Serve cold.


Alison J.

Hot Reuben Dip

Sauerkraut at it's finest...

Need a quick appy for your St. Patty's Day party? Here's your answer! This recipe has been a hit with all the guys in our family for years now. Thanks to Louann for sharing it with me!

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup 1000 Island dressing
16 0z. can sauerkraut (preferably chopped vs. shredded)
2 (3 0z.) packages of dried beef (with the pre-packaged deli meats in Kroger)
2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine mayo and dressing in a small bowl. Open can of sauerkraut and drain. Spread sauerkraut into a 9x13 dish (or into a 9 inch pie plate for a thicker dip). Chop your dried beef or corned beef into small pieces. Sprinkle across the layer of sauerkraut until covered. Add more if desired. Dollop the beef layer with mayo/dressing mixture and then spread out evenly with the back of a spoon. Finally, cover the mayo/dressing layer with shredded Swiss cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until hot, bubbly and golden around the edges. I like to serve with Waverly crackers, but it's yummy on bread too.

- Substitute dried beef for leftover corned beef roast and it'll taste even better!
- This dip is wonderful on mini pumpernickel or rye party bread slices. Just toast them a bit in the oven until they're warm. Serve open-faced or as mini reubens with two slices of bread.


Alison J.

How to Decorate for a Bridal Shower

If the bride has a theme for her wedding try to have a bridal shower that compliments that theme. Once you have decided the theme of your bridal shower, it is fairly easy to decide what colors you want to use for your party. When in doubt, stick with more traditional wedding shower colors such as pink, white, and ivory. Since our theme was "Pretty in Pink," it was obvious that the main color for this bridal shower would be pink. Amy (my co-host) and I also decided to add brown and white to our color palette.

Think pink table cloths, pink and white flowers, pink lace, and pink and white balloons.

We used cylinder bud vases filled with water and then added white orchids submerged in water to add a touch of bridal elegance to the shower.

If you have a galvanized (stainless steel) drink bin you can easily dress it up by tying pink lace in a bow around each of the handles.

When deciding upon a cost effective favor try cute bridal napkins and mints.

We had a simple cylinder vase and used some of the leftover pink lace to wrap around the vase and made it that much more graceful.

Remember to arrange a table for the bridal shower gifts. We just covered the table with a pink shimmer table cloth, and added pink lace, pink bells, and a balloon bouquet.

Since this is the time for the bride to shine we decided to decorate a chair specifically for her. We positioned it so she would be near the present table making it easier for her when the time comes to open her gifts.

What Allison mentioned in her "7 Lucky Tips" post is so true. Be sure to layout the table prior to the party to ensure all of the food is placed exactly where you envisioned it to be. This will save you time and the stress when trying to plate the food as the guests are about to arrive.

You can be like us and leave the cake decorating and baking to the professionals. We used a local bakery to create a design that would fit with our bridal theme and colors. Isn't this perfect!?

When deciding on something memorable for the bride to take with her after the shower, we recommend 'Advice for the Bride...' cards. Let the guests know they may each write advice for the couple on these cards. At the end of the party you can tie them up nicely and present them to the guest of honor. Everyone will have a blast coming up with funny, thought filled, and amusing comments for the bride-to-be.

If you decide to play the toilet paper bride game and are not sure what to do with all of the toilet paper this is just an idea. We created a wedding cake out of toilet paper. It served as a center piece and was conveniently located for the start of the game. Do you need other ideas for games? For those of you less experienced with bridal shower traditions click here for a link to several how-to videos.

If you have one room assigned for all of the food you may want to include some appetizers in the kitchen as well. It will help spread out the crowd and add some color to other areas of the shower. For some reason, people always end up gathering in the kitchen!

Here is a picture of the final spread for the featured bridal shower.
I hope this helps as a guide when you are planning or hosting your next bridal shower.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pretty in Pink Bridal Shower

Oh what a day. No one said cooking was easy, but at least it is fun. When hosting a party the most important thing is planning. This starts with creating a theme and menu for the event. You want to be sure to select foods that complement each other and are appropriate for the time of day. The time of day you hold the shower will help decide the menu and how to serve it. This bridal shower was at 2pm which meant that finger foods were more appropriate. Whatever you are serving for a bridal shower a cake is important when following the rules of etiquette. In this post I will showcase the spread we had at this shower and I will create another post with some tips on decorating for a bridal shower.

I broke a key rule when planning for a party and that is creating a menu that I have never tried out before. The reason I do not recommend doing this is that you might encounter challenges you had not planned on and drive yourself crazy because of it. I learned my lesson this morning. All of my recipes went just as planned except for the Polenta and Chicken Tartlets. I made the polenta a little thicker than anticipated and in turn my cookie cutter was not deep enough to cut all the way down. After 15 minutes of brainstorming I realized a champagne flute would do the job perfectly. We all know that every gal working in the kitchen has a champagne glass within arms reach. Everything else went as planned, but in the future I recommend sticking to what you know to be true and save the new recipes for those rainy days.

Good thing Amy and I did this bridal shower together. She is yet another amazing cook and I love getting new recipes from her. Plus she gave me my very first recipe box complete with some of her favorites.


Polenta and Chicken Tartlets

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

For the tartlets:
1 pound instant polenta (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:
2 cups shredded store-bought roasted chicken (see below for a quick how-to shred guide)
1/2 cup store-bought pesto
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Special equipment: 2-inch diameter scalloped cookie cutter (I used a champagne flute since I did not have this).

For the tartlets:
Make the polenta according to package instructions. Just before the polenta is finished thickening, add the cream, salt, and pepper. Pour the polenta onto a greased, rimmed baking sheet. Set aside to cool and firm up, about 30 minutes.
For the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, pesto, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
To assemble: Using a 2-inch diameter scalloped cookie cutter, cut the polenta into tartlet shapes, about 24, and place them on a serving platter. Top each polenta tartlet with a spoonful of chicken. Top the chicken with a few dried cranberries. Serve.

**When trying to shred rotisserie chicken quickly I always start off by cutting large pieces of meat off of the chicken. Once my pieces have been cut off of the bone I take two forks and use the back of them to shred the meat. Continue this motion until all of the chicken has been shredded.**

Tuscan Mushrooms
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 cup diced jarred roasted red bell peppers
1/2 cup diced pitted green olives
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano
2 scallions, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium bowl mix together the roasted red bell peppers, olives, cheese, scallions, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet place the mushrooms, cavity side up. Spoon the filling into the cavity of the mushrooms. Bake until the mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the mushrooms to a serving platter, sprinkle with chopped basil, and serve.

Pizza Pockets
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces Italian turkey sausage
1 cup tightly-packed arugula (about 1 ounce)
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (13.5-ounce) package of store-bought pizza crust (recommended: Pillsbury)
All-purpose flour, for rolling out pizza dough
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized, heavy skillet. Add the sausage and cook until crumbled and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the arugula and cook until wilted. Turn off the heat and let cool about 10 minutes. Add the cream cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface to a thin 20 by 12-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise. The cut each half into 8 equal rectangles.
Spoon topping onto 1 side of each of the rectangles. Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the rectangle with egg wash. Close the rectangle of pizza dough over the topping. Use a fork to seal and crimp the edges. Place the pizza pockets onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush the top of each pizza pocket with egg wash. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes.

Magic Cookie Bar

½ c butter or margarine
1 ½ c graham cracker crumbs
1 c diamond walnuts coarsely chopped
1 c (6oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels or butter scotch morsels
1 1/3 c (3 ½ oz) can angel flake coconut
1 1/3 c (15 oz) can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk

While oven is heating put the stick of butter or margarine in a 13 x 9 x (1 1/2) baking pan & let the butter melt. When butter is melted take pan out of the oven. Over the melted butter or margarine sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly, and then sprinkles the nuts evenly over the graham cracker crumbs. Scatter the chocolate chips or butterscotch morsels over the nuts and finally, sprinkle coconuts evenly over morsels.
Bake on 350 for about 25 minutes until lightly browned on top. Cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Proscuitto Melon Bites with Lime Drizzle
Compliments of Cooking Light Magazine

16 (1-inch) cubes cantaloupe
16 (1-inch) cubes honeydew melon
16 (1/4-ounce) very thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint

1. Wrap each cantaloupe cube and each honeydew cube with 1/2 prosciutto slice. Thread 1 wrapped cantaloupe cube and 1 wrapped honeydew cube onto each of 16 (4-inch) skewers. Arrange skewers on a serving platter.
2. Combine juice, oil, and pepper, stirring with a whisk; drizzle evenly over skewers. Sprinkle evenly with mint.

Hit of the Party Sausage Dip
3 Gals and a Kitchen

1 tube of ground Jimmy Dean’s Hot Sausage
1 15oz can of Hunt's Diced Tomatoes w/ Green Chiles or w/ Jalapenos
1 cup tightly-packed arugula
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup grated Parmesan
Dash of salt and pepper
2 T chives

Cook Jimmy Dean’s Hot Sausage in a medium-sized, heavy skillet. The sausage will become crumbled and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the arugula and cook until wilted. Drain the can of diced tomatoes and add to the sausage/arugula mixture. Once the sausage and arugula has cooked add cream cheese, whipping cream, and parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and it well blended. Mix in salt and pepper. Once you have dished the dip up sprinkle chives on top. Serve immediately with pita chips or Tostitos.

Amy's Pasta Salad...recipe will be posted shortly
Louann's Chicken Cheese Ball - recipe is listed under Alison's Engagement Party post

Sausage Balls- recipe is listed under Alison's Engagement Party post

Sunday, March 7, 2010

7 Lucky Tips for Planning a Party

HCA - This one's for you!

Wes invited his coworkers out to our house for dinner this weekend, which gave me an incredible excuse to get some recipes and pictures for 3 Gals. Here's a tip I found useful when planning this party - pick some type of theme when hosting a party. It will help you get started when you're deciding what to buy for decorations - even if it's just a color theme. I went with St. Patty's Day since we're in the throes of March. And, I'm not ashamed to admit most of my green goodies came from stores like the Dollar Tree and Marshall's - being thrifty is important! I'd much rather spend my money on a new outfit for the party. I'm posting some more party planning tips below. Enjoy! -Allison Y.

This first picture is Alison's Eezee Peezee Baked Zeetee. See our February postings for the recipe.

*Party Planning Tip #1 - Look at the Dollar Tree for some festive garland. This is a quick, cheap, and easy way to jazz up your table a little bit.

Gorgonzola Yummies
Adapted from Southern Living - April 2008.

Ingredients: 8 ounces cream cheese, softened, 1 (5-oz.) container crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, 2 teaspoons finely chopped onion, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon, apple slices

Directions: 1. Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Cover tightly, and chill at least 1 hour or until firm (can chill up to 3 days). I chilled it overnight. 2. Roll cheese mixture into 3/4-inch-round balls. Roll each ball in bacon. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. If chilled, let stand 30 minutes before serving. Serve with apple slices

*Party Planning Tip #2 - To keep your fruit from turning brown, toss it with lemon juice. I did that with my apples, and I could tell the spots that weren't covered because they changed color pretty quickly.

*Party Planning Tip #3 - Keep presentation in mind. This is an important tip to consider. These gorgonzola yummies were not that impressive on the plate until I added the sliced apples around the edges. The prettier it looks - the more people are drawn to it!

Fruit Skewers
These fruits skewers always end up a hit at parties, and they are much friendlier to the waist line than cupcakes and cookies! It's fun to eat anything as a kabob, and the presentation is much prettier than just throwing out a party tray from the grocery store. I only used pineapple, strawberries, and grapes, but you could incorporate apples, cantaloupe, melon, etc. I served the skewers with a fruit dip. Yum, yum, yummy!

Ingredients: 1 large package of strawberries, 1 large bag of green grapes, 1 container of large pineapple chunks (found in the produce section - you can slice your own pineapple if you prefer), package of small to medium sized skewers, lemon juice

Directions: Cut strawberries and pineapple chunks into bite-sized pieces. Slide the strawberries, grapes, and pineapple chunks onto the skewers in alternating patterns. Use the grapes as a filler, only putting a few strawberries and pineapples on each skewer. Squeeze lemon juice over kabobs to keep the fruit looking pretty.

French Cream Fruit Dip
Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen.
Ingredients: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 lemon, zested and juiced, pineapple juice

Directions: Soften cream cheese and then whip with powdered sugar. Whip cream and sugar together until it forms soft peaks. Combine beaten cream cheese, whipped cream, lemon juice and zest; continue to beat, adding just enough pineapple juice to achieve desired consistency. Serve with fresh fruit tray or fruit salad.

*Party Planning Tip #4 - Use labels. I wish I had last night. The fruit dip was not eaten, but I promise you it was delicious! People just did not know what it was. To prevent this from happening, fold a little piece of card stock in half and use your prettiest handwriting to write out a label. See Alison J.'s engagement party pictures for examples.

*Party Planning Tip #5 - Plan the layout of where each dish will go the night before your party. Alison J. taught me to do this years ago at my housewarming party. This tip has saved me a lot of time and stress since then when having people over. Use sticky notes to label each dish.

Buffalo Chicken Puffers

Recipe adapated from Beth Durnell's Buffalo Chicken Crescent Puffs - Pillsbury Bake-Off Contestant

Of all the recipes I made last night, I was most excited about this one. I did a cooking faux pas by trying a recipe for the first time for guests, but these looked so amazing I just had to do it. There is a video at Pillsbury's website if you're a visual learner, but I added some pictures of the preparation process because it could be a little confusing for a beginning cook. Make sure you spread the rounds far apart on the baking sheet. They are small at first, but they double in size. You don't want them to smoosh together!

Ingredients: 2 8 oz. packages cream cheese (softened), 3 Tablespoons hot sauce - I used Moore's Buffalo Wing Sauce, 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, 1 cup finely chopped chicken cooked chicken breast, 2 8 oz. cans crescent dinner rolls, 1/3 cup salted or unsalted butter (melted), 2 cups panko-style bread crumbs

1. Line cookie sheet with sides with waxed paper or cooking parchment paper. In medium bowl, mix cream cheese and pepper sauce. Stir in blue cheese. Stir in chicken until well blended. Shape mixture by tablespoonfuls into 32 (1 1/2-inch) balls; place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. If using crescent rounds, remove from package, but do not separate rounds. If using crescent rolls, remove from package, but do not unroll. Using serrated knife, cut each roll evenly into 16 rounds; carefully separate rounds. Press each round to 3 inches in diameter. Place chilled chicken mixture ball on center of each dough round; shape dough around ball to cover completely.

3. In shallow dish, place melted butter. In another shallow dish, place bread crumbs. Dip dough balls into butter, then roll in bread crumbs. Place 2 inches apart on large ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.

*Party Planning Tip #6 - Plan when you're going to put things in the oven. This is important because foods cook at different temperatures and at different lengths of time. Lucky for me, I was able to put the sausage balls and chicken puffers in the oven at the same temperature and for the same amount of time.

French Baguettes with Miss Bonnie's Gourmet Cheddar Cheese Spread

This is the easiest thing to make and absolutely delicious. I served these with the baked ziti, but they make a great appetizer too. Miss Bonnie is sold locally at Ukrop's and Kroger for about 5 to 7 dollars a jar - definitely worth the splurge! Wes's boss, Alyson (yes... another one!), helped get this together while I was busy fixing other things. This is a no fail recipe - so you can get your boyfriend, husband, whomever to help you. Delegate responsibility in the kitchen when possible. Control of the kitchen can be hard to let go, but you'll be thankful in the long run!

Ingredients: 1 large french bread baguette (sliced), 1 jar of Miss Bonnie's Gourmet Cheese Spread

Directions: Spread a generous portion of the cheese spread on top of each baguette. Pop those babies in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes until warm and gooey. Done!

Party Planning Tip #7 - Don't slice french baguettes yourself! I was on the phone with Alison J. while at the grocery store, and she shared this amazing tidbit of information - the bakery will slice your baguettes using a fabulous little machine in under a minute. Seriously, I love this tip.

Sausage Balls
You'll find this recipe in our February posting for Alison's engagement party.