December 2010 archive

Simple Appetizers For Your NYE Entertaining

Here are two simple and impressive appetizers you can do in a snap! Having guests? Try these!!!

Grilled Beef Tenderloin on Focaccia Toasts & Spitfire Shrimp

Grilled Be ef Tenderloin on Focaccia Toasts

Cook Time 1 hr 10 min
Enough for a crowd! 30 plus servings
Ingredients

2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heads garlic
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 lemon, juiced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups good quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons hot chili paste
1 whole beef tenderloin*, about 6 to 8 pounds
2 loaves focaccia bread , sliced and toasted
Baby arugula, for garnish

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the tomatoes into a roasting pan, drizzle with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes have collapsed, about 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool.
Drizzle the garlic with olive oil, wrap it in foil, and bake it until soft, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the soft garlic onto a cutting board. Strip the needles from the rosemary, add them to the garlic, and chop them together. Pour 1 cup olive oil into a small bowl; add the garlic and rosemary mixture and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside until ready to grill.
Char the outside of the pepper under the broiler or over a gas flame. Put it into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. When cool enough to handle, peel, seed, and chop and put it into a blender. Add the mayonnaise and chili paste; process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be made the day before.)
Heat the grill. Remove the meat from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before you are going to grill it. Brush it with some of the flavored olive oil and season it generously with salt and pepper. Grill the tenderloin, turning frequently, until the meat is rare or medium rare, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a platter and let it rest for 5 minutes, brushing it with the flavored olive oil. Cut the beef into thin slices.
To serve, put some of the flavored mayonnaise onto a piece of focaccia toast. Top it with a thin slice of the beef and spoon on some of the roasted tomatoes. Garnish with some arugula leaves and serve.

*Cook’s note: Have your butcher clean the fat and silver skin from the tenderloin and tie it.

Spitfire Shrimp

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 5 min
Serves: 6 to 8 servings for snacking
Ingredients

Seasoning:
1 lime, juiced
2 ounces (1/4 cup) hot cayenne pepper sauce
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon crab boil seasoning
Shrimp:
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2 pounds jumbo shrimp peeled and de-veined*
12 to 15 blades fresh chives, chopped, for garnish

*Ask for easy-peel raw deveined shrimp at seafood counter of market

Directions

Preheat large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
Combine lime juice, hot sauce, cumin, red pepper flakes and seafood seasoning blend.
Quickly saute garlic and shallots in oil and butter for 1 minute, add shrimp and cook 3 minutes, tossing and turning frequently. Dump pink, firm, cooked shrimp from hot pan into hot seasoning blend and toss in seasoning mixture to coat shrimp evenly. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve warm or chilled.

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence photos from Food Network

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Cowgirl Party, Saddle Up!

Whether you are throwing a horse party or cowgirl party, I hope you find inspiration in the party pictures below. This party was extra special to plan (it was for my little girl!) and the theme and color was entirely chosen by her! “Purple Cowgirl” were the instructions I received and here’s what I came up with. Hope you like it!

cowgirl party invitation

The invitations I made using Adobe Photoshop and printed on a home computer onto linen cardstock. Below the invite is an image of little girls’ boots. I had them slip them off to grab this photo.

horse party

On the porch by the front door, I placed a hay bale with the cowgirl sign, an old horseshoe, and a pair of boots she had outgrown. Even though our color was purple – I pulled these items from her bedroom to use as decor (sometimes you have to bend the rules!).

horse party favors

What would a Cowgirl Party be without the horses? I got the idea to give stick ponies as favors from the fabulous party Erin Volante threw for her adorable daughter (thanks Erin!). The ponies were in their “Pony Corral” and each child was able to take one home after the party so they could continue the fun at their own ranch. I got them from the nearby dollar store.

I just loved the purple unicorn!

And here is a close up of our little Cowgirl.

horse party decorations

I also got this idea to make a Wanted poster from Erin — and I LOVE how it turned out.

For dessert, our cowgirl requested cupcakes and sherbet ice cream. The purple gingham cupcake liners are from The Cupcake Social. And the sunflower toppers are made out of scrapbook stickers and wooden party picks.

Hostess Tip: The night before the party, pre-scoop ice cream and place in paper cups. Fill a couple of trays and place in the freezer. Then when it comes cake and ice cream, you can easily pass them out and ditch manning the ice cream scoop.

Other elements used:

-Paper pennant flags hung outside on the garden gate (we also placed horseshoes along the dirt path).

-Wooden cutlery were placed in mason jars.

-Striped treat bags were filled with carmel corn and placed in an old wooden planter for guests to grab.

cowgirl party decorations

The childrens’ table was lined with bales of straw that doubled as benches.

Each guest got their own cowgirl/boy hat and sheriff’s badge.

Activities included pin-the-tail on the pony, coloring paper horses and putting on horse tattoos.

And then there was D.J. the horse. He was the biggest hit of the party, especially with the birthday girl!

Our little cowgirl is 4!

For food – we served up lunch… ranch-style! The menu included Mustang Mac-n-Cheese, Wild West Chicken Strips, Tumbleweed Salad, Bootstrap Biscuits, Smoky Bacon Potato Salad and Applesauce. Of course all was washed down with some ice cold lemonade! Thank you to Amy from Blowout Party for the menu inspiration – it was a hit!

cowgirl cookie favors

As the afternoon came to an end, the little ones left with their stick ponies, hats and badges and the parents were sent off with these infamous Cowgirl Cookie Jars (recipe and DIY instructions from Bakerella!).

It was a perfect cowgirl party … thoughtful and simple. Hope you like it!

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Holiday Appetizers

I have been a fan of celebrity chef LuLu Powers ever since I read her book Food to Flowers. So when she sent me these easy appetizer recipes for the holiday season, I knew they’d be great — and they are! Below she shares her recipes for Apple Cheddar Rye Puffs and Parmesan Pea Dip, both recipes would make perfect holiday appetizers.

Before we get to the recipes, I wanted to share this simple tip from LuLu:

  • Cocktail Ornaments: Store cranberries in the freezer and use them to adorn cocktails. These frozen delights will give any gathering the holiday spirit.

And now for the recipes!

Apple Cheddar Rye Puffs

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Yield: 30 appetizers

Ingredients

1/2 Granny Smith apple (cored, peeled and finely chopped)

1 cup Sargento Artisan Blends Double Cheddar shredded cheese

3 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 loaf of mini rye bread

Fresh ground pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Cut rounds out of rye bread using a 1- 1/2 inch cookie cutter. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly toasted.

3. Combine remaining ingredients. Spread on toast and bake for 10 minutes more. Serve warm.

Helpful Hints

Bake only one side of bread and then apply mixture on other side.

Parmesan Pea Dip

Prep time: 10 Minutes

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups frozen petite peas, thawed, divided

1 cup frozen shelled edamame beans, thawed

1 cup mint

1/2 cup parsley

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup Sargento Artisan Blends Parmesan Shredded Cheese, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 teaspoon maple syrup or a dash of hot sauce

Directions

1. Put 2- 1/2 cup peas and all other ingredients except oil and ½ cup cheese in food processor and process until consistency is mostly smooth.

2. Add oil and then remaining 1/2 cup peas. Process until mixture is slightly chunky. (If you prefer the dip smoother, process longer.)

3. Spread on rice crackers and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Helpful Hints

This pea dip can be served over pasta or on top of cooked fish or chicken. Sprinkle with additional cheese.

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NYE Party: Glitter & Snow

Looking for New Year’s Eve party ideas? This chic and elegant party idea from Bird Crafts is one of my favorite themes this year!

The black and white color scheme adds a sense of elegance while the damask print and sparkle accents bring on the chic.

The “Glitter & Snow” party invitation sets the tone for the event. I also love how the mirrored plates used here lend the element of sparkle to the table.

Love the party theme? Be sure to check our Bird Crafts’ post for all of the styling tips (including the DIY table cloth and shower curtain backdrop). You can also find out all the information for ordering these chic party printables for your New Year’s Eve party!

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DIY Plaid Ornaments

Thinking about creating some homemade holiday ornaments? DIY ornaments really can be simple and these DIY plaid ornaments are proof. I love the green factor, turn something old into something new.

Old…

New!

I love the cozy and warm look of these. Check out the simple DIY steps via Eddie Ross.

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