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

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