Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stuffed Strawberries

What could be easier? Take a gorgeous strawberry and stuff it with cream cheese, sugar and liquor.

Stuffed Strawberries

These strawberries made as the recipe is written were phenomenal, but the recipe poster wrote "Sometimes I add some finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate." REALLY?! I don't believe you, cause it was a bitch and a half to squeeze my finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate through the star tip of my pastry bag. It was the first time i had ever used a pastry bag and i have to say, i enjoyed it, cept for the damn chocolate clogs. Thanks alot imvintage. :P

They are also SUPER fattening.

The second time i made these, i tried to make it with fat free cream cheese, WHOA! Huge mistake. The cream came out gritty and just all around gross. But i knew i was doomed from the second i opened the package of fat free cream cheese. Have you ever seen a block of fat free cream cheese in all it's glory? It's um, let's see what's the word, what's the word...hmmm...NASTY?! It was glossy and jiggly and totally reminded me of silly putty. After the fat free version made it's way to my trash, i decided to make the third batch with reduced fat cream cheese and it turned out just right.

I assembled these a couple hours before my party. I put them in a glad plastic baking pan and covered them. They held up nicely. The only thing i fixed for the next party, was to place the stuffed strawberries on a paper towel first, as the strawberries lose a lot of moisture while waiting for the party to start. When the guests arrive, i place them on a serving platter and out they go!

I got rave reviews from my friends and family for this decadent, yet simple twist on strawberries. :)

This Dip ROCKS!

I've been cooking up a storm in July! Like every other person i know is a summer baby, so parties are meant to be had, and i've been throwing them AND cooking for them too! Wee! I LOVE throwing parties, it's hella fun, BUT hella stressful leading up to the moment the first guests arrive. But once they walk in, we eat, drink and get our merry on! :)

I always try new recipes for parties, this is both good and bad, cause well you know how i cook, everything that comes out of my kitchen isn't exactly a guaranteed 'hit'. I usually head to allrecipes with an ingredient in mind and start my search there. The next couple posts will highlight some of the new party recipes i tried this season.

But first, an old favorite. From the first time i made this dip, about 2 years ago, it has been a hit hit hit at EVERY party.

Baked Potato Dip

I serve it with kettle cooked potato chips and crudites, but who are we kidding, i always end up eating the veggies the day after the party. This dip screams for some delicious potato chips.

I always half the recipe, and add 1/2 a packet of ranch dressing. It can easily be made with fat free sour cream and cheese and turkey bacon without sacrificing any flavor, just don't tell anyone you went the 'light' route. ;)

So if you are feeling naughty or nice, this is the perfect dip depending how you choose to prepare it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Minimum Effort, Maximum Wow!

Super simple, almost effortless, throw it together and serve!

Cranberry Walnut Salad
Serves 15

2 bags of salad, i used leafy romaine and romaine hearts
1 package of crumbled goat cheese
1/2 package of craisins
1/2 package of walnuts
Newmans Own Light Raspeberry Walnut Vinagrette

I don't have a photo of the salad all mixed up, cause i took it to a barbeque and by the time i got out of the pool and went to fill my plate, it was almost all gone. It's delicious though and clearly a crowd pleaser! ;)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tuna, it's what's for lunch

And immediately, i think, ugh, crap, i hate goopy tuna sandwiches. I'm not a fan of mayo, like at all. In fact, mayo sits up at the top of my very short 'foods i don't like' list. But i'm trying to put more fish into my diet, so i'm going to have it more often for lunch.

First things first, taking the mayo out of the tuna.

Taking tuna from drab to fab wasn't too hard, it just took a little creativity. I just used plain yogurt for creaminess, and tried to make it like my fave curry chicken salad.

1 can tuna in water, drained
1/2 container of fat free plain yogurt
1/2 apple diced
juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp curry powder

I ate it open faced on light oatmeal bread toasted. If i had grapes or raisins, i would have also added them, and maybe some chopped nuts too. It turned out pretty good, definitely does not taste like chicken though. lol. But it was fresh and light and crunchy, and its a great starter recipe for making a tuna sandwich something to look forward to. ;)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cornmeal Makes A Crunchy Pizza

And that's a GOOD thing! Thank you to the ladies that responded to my archaeologist post and pointed me in the right direction! ;) CORNMEAL is what gets the pizza dough sliding right off the pan and onto the hot pizza stone.


Ever since i wrote that post, i've come across like a million and one pizza peels. And guess what people, they are HUGE. I'm a gadgety cook, i love me some cooking gadgets, but condo living doesn't really lend itself to too much storage space, and when i saw the size of the pizza peel, i thought where the hell am i going to store that?!

We continue to use the sturdy cardboard method of transporting the pizza. We tried the suggested cookie sheet method, but to my husband's dismay, the pizza isn't the same size or shape as the cookie sheet. lol. But with the cornmeal sprinkled on the cardboard, the pizza dough slides right off with no problems, AND it leaves the crust nice and crunchy.

Mario the Baker makes a damn good pizza any day, but on this particular day, we wanted to make one. So i popped on in, and for the bargain basement price of a $1 for a medium pizza dough and $2 for a large, i picked up a couple balls of dough, called my brother and had him over for some (semi)homemade pizza! And it was GOOD too, YAY CORNMEAL! ;)

Mario the Baker
2590 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 438-0228

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The New Black

Do YOU Dinner Club? If you don't, then you need to get with it people, it's the new black! It's a chi chi way of saying, 'Pot luck- here's the theme, bring something'...and it's SUPER FUN! :)

I made Albondigas for our first dinner club gathering. The theme was tapas! And i admit it, a lot of the tapas mentioned as suggestions seemed a little intimidating, so i went to look for something in the theme, but a little easier.

Albondigas (Meatballs in Garlic-Tomato Sauce)

Ok, so this recipe was a little more involved then i imagined, but it's exciting cooking for a crowd, so it made making 80 little meatballs fun!

I made this recipe exactly as stated. I used my old skool Cuisinart to finely chop the onions and green pepper and the texture came out perfect, not too big, not too small. I baked (instead of frying- naturally ;) the Albondigas at 375 for about 30 minutes, turning them every 10 minutes, and they came out perfectly crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.

It just so happened that my mom and my mother in law came over (i really WAS cooking for a crowd) as i was making the 2nd batch, and everyone agreed, they were delicious!

BUT and this is a very big, BUT, the sauce was lousy. I followed that part of the recipe to the letter, and was so disappointed with how it tasted. In fact, my camera went on strike and refused to take a nice photo of it, so all i have is a really crappy photo of how it turned out. here you go...

Yeah, so under all that tomato sauce are really nice meatballs. The ingredients took them to another place...Spain maybe?! lol.

UPDATE: After i wrote this last nite, i settled in for this week's episode of Top Chef. How obnoxious was the Supper Club featured...nice sashes, lol. And i loved some of the commentary, such as "You can get this at Denny's!" Must take a REALLY refined palette and a fancy sash to come up with a comment like that.

See people, i'm telling you, i've got my finger firmly on the pulse of what's hot, and that's Dinner Clubs! So pick a date, pick a theme and email some friends to get your dinner club started today! ;)

Monday, July 9, 2007

There's ALWAYS Room for J-E-L-L-O!

So i'm convinced the only reason they sell plastic Cuban coffee cups in packs of 250 is not for coffee at all, it's the perfect vessel for some Jello shots! That's right people, a throw back to college, Jello shots STILL rock my socks. Ain't nothing like getting housed while sucking down sweet Jello shots!

I always make my shots the same. For this event, i used Black Cherry Jello with Watermelon Vodka, Sugar Free Strawberry Kiwi Jello with Watermelon Vodka and Orange Jello with Lemon Rum. Whoa baby, those Orange shots were LETHAL!

Jello Shots
1 small package of Jello
1C hot water
3/4C alcohol of your choice
1/4C cold water

Put Jello in bowl, add hot water,stir until Jello dissolves, add liquor and water,
pour into tiny cups, refrigerate for about 1 hour or until they set. Enjoy!

And as evidenced by my friend Cristina, they are DEFINITELY fun at parties! ;)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Salad on the Brain

I heart salads, i mean really good salads. And this summer i've made some GOOD ones! :) With the summer heat kickin', the last thing i want to do is cook. So i've been trying a lot of new salads. It actually started by putting "salad" into the allrecipes search box. WOO there are a TON of great salads on that site. Once my bookmarks were overflowing with salad recipes, it was time to dive right in.

Apple-Cheddar Tossed Salad

I used every possible shortcut available with this recipe and turned out a mighty fine salad in about 5 minutes flat! I used bagged salad, bagged shredded cheese and Newman's Honey Mustard Dressing. I think the longest part of putting this salad together was cutting the apple. And i have an apple slicer so really that was like 15 seconds of work. ;)

So if you are looking for a QUICK and tasty salad, i highly recommend this one! :)

Summer Summer Summertime

Summer's in full swing and there's nothing better then fresh summer fruit. This summer we've been partial to strawberries. I came across this funky salad and had to give it a try.

Sweet & Tart Strawberry Salad

It was ridiculously easy to prepare and you probably have all the ingredients on hand already. The ingredient list may sound a little intimidating, i'd say have your guests taste it before you let them know what's in it. I made the recipe exactly as written and served immediately. The longer the salad sat, the less tart it became.

The combo of sweet brown sugar and tart balsamic vinegar with a touch of spice from the pepper takes strawberries to another level. One taste and you'll see why this salad is a showstopper!