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My Favorite Recipe

20 Mar

I decided to take a break from painting and share with you my all time favorite recipe. I found it via Pinterest, (shocking I know!). The recipe is a twist on chicken parmesan an old classic. Instead of frying the chicken making it really fatty Chef John the creator turns the dish into a casserole. Now I am not about to rehash how to make this phenomenal dish, you can find an awesome video tutorial which he created on his foodwishes website. It’s worth watching if only for his humor alone! What I am going to add are the homemade croutons I made for this recipe, it makes a huge difference. I know what you are thinking…chicken parm, croutons what is she talking about…watch the video trust me it makes sense. Either way if you use them for this recipe or even just in a salad it’s worth taking the extra 15 minutes to make your own. I will never buy store made croutons every again.

We had left over foccia bread from a local farm/bakery I hate having bread go to waste but after two days it was starting to get hard. Day old bread is best for crouton making.

Here is what you will need:

  • Bread cubed into small pieces (I used four pieces of bread)
  • Olive oil 2 tbs
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Minced garlic 1 tbs
  • Any additional spices you want to add.

crutons

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except for the bread in a big mixing bowl. Then add the bread and toss until all the pieces are lightly coated. Lay out onto a baking sheet in a single layer.

crutons 3

Bake for about 10 – 12 min or until they get golden brown. I used these for my chicken parm casserole which the top layer is croutons so I let these only cook for 10 min since they were headed right back to the oven. Here is the final chicken parm casserole with homemade croutons, so good!

crutons 2

Let me know if any of you try this!

LaurenSig

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Hot Potato

6 Sep

Working with a bunch of crazy, Type A meeting planners definitely has it’s perks. It means I can go into endless logistical details about my house warming and get tons of opinions and feed back. Today’s “hot” topic was my harvest housewarming menu. Lets be honest, food is the most important thing with any party! I came away, today, with a menu idea.  Drumroll please….A Baked Potato Bar! I know, pure genius, right?! It’s completely a comfort food and perfect for the cool days of fall. As I mentioned in my post yesterday we have some food allergies to consider but with a baked potato bar we can accomodate everyone. Plus, it’s interactive and build it yourself so party guests get exactly what they want. This will not be your normal baked potato bar.  We will be adding a baked sweet potato bar where guests can add cinnamon and sugar. Here are a few ideas I pulled from Pinterest, what do you think is it a good idea?

Apples to Apples

20 Aug

It’s almost apple picking season! I know, I know it seems crazy because it’s still hot and humid. I don’t make up the rules, I just get the local e-mails telling me it’s almost time to pick apples.  There is nothing better than a freshly picked apple. I have started my apple recipe collection in full anticipation for the best time of the year!

Crockpot Apple Sauce: Click Here  for the recipe, a bonus to making this is it will make your house smell awesome. A smart idea would be to make this before a party.

Carmalized Apple Crepes: My mouth is watering just typing about these. Click Here for the recipe from Martha Stewart.

Apple, Walnut and Endive Salad: I had to through something healthy in. You can find the recipe here from Whole Living.

Glazed Apple-Spice Cake: Oh bread, how I heart you. I will be making this for sure come fall. Click Here for the recipe from Whole Living.

Casual Dinner Party

25 Jul

On Saturday we invited all of our awesome friends who helped us move into our new house for a thank-you dinner. There were ten of us and I wanted to serve a summer menu while stepping it up from the normal hotdog/hamburger affair. Here was the menu:

Three bean salad with a lime olive oil glaze; Coleslaw; Cornbread; Grilled vegetables, marinated in a garlic balsamic; Grilled corn on the cob; Grilled Shrimp with a basil lemon marinade; Grilled BBQ-Chicken legs.

I wanted to try to get as much done ahead of time so that when the guests arrived I could actually socialize. What I found helpful was prepping the food prior to the event. I precut everything the night before and stored it in ziploc bags.  I marinated the meat overnight. It saved so much time and stress that evening.

You all know how I feel about setting the perfect table from my post The Perfect Table. I wanted to do some sort of centerpiece but nothing too fancy so I did a few small arrangments just to dress the table up a little.

Festive 4th of July Favorite

25 Jun

Beaches, barbeques, and boat rides.  That basically sums up our fourth of July plans. Whether you are going to a party or planning one, I am big on the menu, especially the desserts.  Just like fourth of July fireworks desserts are like the grand finale of the evening.  Here are a few that will have your party going out in a bang.

Sparkler Cupcakes- Better Homes and Garden.

Ingredients

  • 1/2cup red candy coating disks
  • 1/2 cup blue candy coating disks
  • 1/2 cup white candy coating disks
  • 2 1/2 cups Creamy White Frosting or canned creamy white frosting
  • 12Confetti Cupcakes or other 2-1/2-inch cupcakes in paper bake cups
  • Red, white, and blue sprinkles and/or jimmies (optional)
     
    Directions1.Place colored candy coating disks in three separate small microwave-safe bowls. Microwave one bowl on 100 percent power (high) for 30 seconds. Stir; microwave for 20 to 30 seconds more or until melted. Repeat, one at a time, with the remaining bowls of candy coating. Transfer the melted candy coatings to three small heavy resealable plastic bags. Snip off a small piece from one corner of each bag. On sheets of waxed paper, make 8- to 9-inch-long sticks (about 1/4-inch thickness) of each color candy coating by piping back and forth over waxed paper in a zigzag pattern. Let stand about 1 hour or until firm. (If necessary, place the sticks of candy coating in the freezer until firm.)2.Meanwhile, place Creamy White Frosting in a disposable pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. Pipe frosting over Confetti Cupcakes.3.Break the zigzag sticks of candy coating into 3- to 4-inch lengths. Insert the candy sticks into frosting, radiating out from the center like a sparkler. If desired, sprinkle with colored sprinkles. Makes 12 (2-1/2-inch) cupcakes.

     
    Red, White and Blueberry Ice Cream Dessert – Better Homes and Garden. 
     
     
    Ingredients

    • pints raspberry sorbet, softened
    • pints vanilla ice cream, softened
    • recipe Hibiscus Syrup
    • Additional blueberries (optional)
       
      Directions1.Line two 8x4x2-inch loaf pans with foil, extend foil over pan edges; set aside. Spoon 1 pint of raspberry sorbet in each prepared pan; spread evenly. Cover and freeze 1 to 2 hours or until firm. One-half hour before spreading second layer, allow vanilla ice cream to soften 30 minutes in refrigerator. Spoon 1 pint softened vanilla ice cream on raspberry sorbet in each pan. Cover; freeze 4 hours or overnight until ice cream is firm. Place serving platter in freezer.2.To serve, remove ice cream loaves from pans, using foil to lift. Peel back foil and slice each loaf in 8 slices. Place slices on frozen serving platter. Serve with Hibiscus Syrup. Or scatter the additional blueberries over slices. Makes 16 servings.

      Fruit Tart Flag- Food Network
       
       

      Directions

      Fill premade miniature tart shells or phyllo cups with sweet mascarpone cream (recipe below), then arrange on a tray and top with blueberries and halved strawberry slices to create stars and stripes.

      Mascarpone Cream:

      Beat an 8-ounce container of mascarpone cheese and 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar with a mixer until smooth. Gently fold in 1/2 cup freshly whipped cream.

       

Dad’s Day a BBQ Menu

10 Jun

I find it interesting that mom’s get a brunch and dad’s get a BBQ. I don’t make up the rules, I only follow them! My dad loves BBQ so I am not about to challenge tradition. I have, however, researched and found some twists on the classic grilled BBQ favorites.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Garlic Butter, Fresh Lime and Cotija Cheese-From: Food Network

Ingredients

  • 8 ears corn
  • 4 fresh limes, quartered
  • Garlic butter, recipe follows
  • 1/2 cup grated cotija cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish

Directions

Preheat grill to medium. Peel back the husks of the corn without removing them. Remove the silks and recover the corn with the husk. Soak in large bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes.

Unwrap corn and brush with the garlic butter. Sprinkle with the cotija cheese and squeeze with lime. Sprinkle with chopped chives, to garnish.

Perfect Grilled Vegetable Kebabs-From: Martha Stewart

Directions:

Just pick your veggie — or make mix-and-match kebabs — and master a few basic techniques. Always heat the grill to precisely the recommended temperature and use skewers to keep small or narrow veggies from falling into the fire (wooden ones should be soaked in water for 30 minutes beforehand so they don’t burn). Finally, if you’d like to add restaurant-worthy crosshatch marks, wait until the grate leaves a set of lines, then rotate the vegetables 90 degrees. It’s surefire advice for mouthwatering success.

For kebabs, thread mixed pieces onto skewers. Or use one vegetable, with garlic or herbs. Brush with olive oil, and grill over medium heat; turning, until marked and tender, 12 to 15 minutes (8 to 10 minutes for cherry tomatoes and boiled potatoes).

Grilled Chili Dogs-From Recipe.com 

Ingredients
  •  1  can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, drained, rinsed and coarsely mashed
  •  1  can (8 ounces) no-salt-added tomato sauce
  •  2  teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (such as McCormick) or regular chili powder
  •  1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
  •  1/2  teaspoon dried oregano
  •  8 fat-free hot dogs (such as Ball Park)
  •  8 hot dogs rolls
  •  1/2  cup reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican-blend shredded cheese
  •  1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
    directions
    1.In medium-size saucepan, combine beans, tomato sauce, sugar, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring.
    2.Spray a stovetop grill pan or skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Grill hot dogs for about 5 minutes, turning halfway.
    3.To serve, place hot dogs in rolls. Spoon chili over the top of each. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of the cheese and some of the chopped onion.

    Grilled Banana Split Sundae-from Recipe.com 


    Ingredients
    • 2 firm, ripe bananas, unpeeled
    • 1  tablespoon honey
    • 1  pint vanilla ice cream
    • 1/2  cup fudge ice cream topping, heated
    • 1/4  cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
    • Whipped cream (optional)
    Directions
    1. Slice bananas in half lengthwise and then crosswise so each banana yields four pieces (do not peel). Brush honey on cut sides of bananas. Let stand for 5 minutes.
    2. For a charcoal grill, grill bananas, cut-side down, on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over low coals for 2 minutes or until grill marks appear. Using a pair of long-handled tongs, turn over and grill 4 to 5 minutes more or until skin pulls away from the banana. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to low. Place bananas on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.)
    3. Peel banana pieces. Arrange 2 pieces of banana in each individual serving bowl. Top each serving with 2 small scoops of ice cream. Ladle 2 tablespoons of hot fudge over each sundae. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts. If you like, add whipped cream and place a cherry on top. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

1st Birthday Cupcake Bash

8 Jun

Lately I have been loving kids birthday party ideas. I don’t have any kids of my own yet so when my friend who is throwing her little girls first birthday party came to me for some ideas I couldn’t be more excited to help. The theme is cupcakes, what is cuter then that for a little girl?

An easy way to decorate for a kid’s birthday party are with banners and table decor. I love the cupcake themed paper decorations from Get The Party Started. The Etsy shop will also work with you to customize your order, so if the colors aren’t exactly right you can change them!

Another cute way to dress up the party is to have the party guests dress up. Now I know that party hats seem out dated but I can’t imagine anything cuter then a bunch of little girls dressed in the adorable party hats from Booptey Lu’s.

Of course anyone that knows me is aware of my lantern and pompom infatuation. I couldn’t resist when I spotted this cupcake themed party from Ander Ruff. They did a cute make your own cupcake party theme complete with personalized bottles of milk for the end.

Last but not least my favorite party decoration. Balloons, of course! They are an inexpensive way to make a big statement, and is a must have at a first birthday party. Check out this adorable picture from Kara’s Party Ideas.

Let them eat cake!!!

3 Jun

It could be because my husband’s birthday was a few days ago, but I can’t stop thinking about CAKE! I mean what is not to love?  It’s light and fluffy, with a creamy, sugary concoction on top. You can decorate it to match the decor and theme of your event. Cake is like the grand finale of any party so you want it to be pretty spectacular. I also had such a hard time picking out what I wanted my wedding cake to look like, so there can never be enough pictures and inspiration. Here are a few that I think really take the cake…ha too much?? 🙂

Embellished Events (Blog)

Style Me Pretty

Etsy

Sweep Me Up

Pinned Recipes

One Charming Party

Sweetapolita

Bakingdom

Sangria- A Summer Classic

31 May

It’s starting to get hot out there! A tasty way to cool down and feel refreshed is by whipping up some easy sangria recipes. Here are some reasons why I love this beverage so much.

1. It’s so versatile, there are many different recipes you will never get bored with this drink.

2. It’s not too strong which makes it perfect for summer parties since your guest will be drinking more because of the heat.

3. It’s just so colorful and creative you can add really add whatever fruit you want to this drink and it will still taste awesome!!!

SUMMER FRUIT SANGRIA- From Boulder Locavore

·         1 cup pitted mixed cherries
·         1 cup sliced halved red seedless grapes
·         ½ cup black raspberries
·         6 sliced/wedged red plums
·         2 peaches peeled and thinly wedged
·         2-750 ml bottles or 1-150ml bottle of dry red wine (like Rioja)
·         1 cup Citronage
·         2/3 cups brandy
·         Juice of 3 oranges (freshly squeezed)
·         Ginger ale
Combine the wine, Citronage, brandy and orange juice in a large jar or pitcher.  Add all the fruits and allow to chill overnight.  Serve in a glass with ice and a splash of ginger ale for a bit of fizz.  Garnish with an orange slice.
 
Pink Sangria From Full Fork Ahead
 

Slightly adapted from Red and White Sangria by Aaron McCargo Jr. on Food Network

Prep Time: 15 minutes    Chill time: 2 hours    Level: Easy    Serves: 4-6

  • 1 bottle good quality fruity white wine, like pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 1 medium peaches, washed, pitted and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup green grapes, halved
  • 1 cup bing cherries, pitted and halved
  • Ice
  • fresh mint sprigs for garnish (optional)
  • simple syrup (see below; you’ll need water and sugar)

In a large pitcher, mix the white wine and orange liqueur. Add the peaches, strawberries, orange slices,  grapes and cherries. Stir all to combine. Refrigerate 2 hours.

To make a simple syrup, boil about one and a half cups water and stir in enough sugar to sweeten to taste. Stir often and reduce down to about half, or until you have  about a cup of syrup, 5-8 minutes. Cool completely.

Stir in the simple syrup prior to serving and sweeten to taste. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh mint if desired.

White Peach Sangria from Celebrations at Home


2 bottles pinot grigio
1 1/2 cups peach schnapps
2 cans peach nectar
1 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup frozen sliced peaches
1 cup frozen raspberries
In a large pitcher, combine wine, peach schnapps, peach nectar, lemonade concentrate, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add peaches and raspberries and chill for 2 hours. Serve chilled or over ice.

Pomegranate Sangria from Eat, Live, Run

Ingredients:

1 bottle rosé or dry white wine

1 cup light rum

1 1/2 cups orange juice

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 cans ginger ale

orange slices, kiwi and pomegranate seeds for serving (optional but pretty)

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for about four hours so the flavors can settle. Serve over ice with sliced fruit.

Still looking for some more recipes check these out!

Bigger isn’t always better

24 May

Have a party coming up and stressing about what to make to eat? Don’t feel like you need to feed your guests full courses and large portions. Opt for a mini menu instead!

The pros to having a few smaller appetizers are it will make your party less formal and allows your guests to relax and mingle more freely. Also a lot of apps you can make in advance so you as the hostess can actually enjoy your party. I always feel like I am getting so much more when there is a variety of foods even if the portions are small. Still not sure what to serve, take a look at these mini dishes that serve up a big style.

Mini Veggie crudities 

Mini Cakes! 

Mini Sliders

Meatball Sliders with a basil pesto sauce! These look awesome and are a fancy twist on a regular slider. Click Here for the recipe.

Mini Pizza Puffs

These look a little to easy to keep popping in my mouth! Click Here for the recipe.

Mini Fruit Cups

Mini French Fry Shooters

Um, Yum! Who wouldn’t want these and they are the perfect size to the taste without a ton of calories. Click Here for the recipe.

Mini Milk Shakes

What a perfect way to end a party, with a mini milk shake! Click Here for the recipe.

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