Monday, December 31, 2012
When my brother was 14 or so, I told him that I'd do a full 7 course meal for him for a date if he ever wanted me to. Well, he finally called that in this past weekend. He and my cousin asked out two girls from my church and brought them out to the house for dinner, then took them bowling. I had so much fun deciding on a theme, putting the menu together, and getting decorations up. I LOVE doing these dinner parties.
Brig and I decided on a Snowman theme and tried to incorporate that into as many of the courses as we could. I had plans to make snowmen for the table centerpiece as well, but I ran out of time. I do like what did pull together though. I hit up the after Christmas 50% off sale and got me a pack of 20 mini trees, some glittered and scented pinecones, 4 silver snowman ornaments, and 4 gold plate chargers. I also picked up 2 small packs of gold and silver ornaments for our New Years Tree (since we didn't get the tree decorated in time for Christmas, we ended up with a New Years Tree instead), and Cameron Brig and I worked on making ornaments as well.
(click on any photo to see it larger)
Thanks to Google Translate, we did the whole menu in French. I knew that no one coming to dinner knew French, but I figured it would help provide some good conversation (which it did) as they tried to figure out what each course was.
And then we had the New Years Tree nearby for added awesomeness.
Course 1: Cheese Balls with Crackers
Course 2: Curried Carrot Soup with Rye Bread Bowl
Course 3: Salad
This was just a generic salad, with garlic cheese croutons and their choice of dressing (we have tons). Then I had the great idea to buy mozzarella cheese pearls and put three on a toothpick, topped with an olive to make a snowman. Only I found out when we opened the package of cheese that cheese pearls aren't necessarily round...so the cheese snowmen looked more like modern art then snowmen. Oh well.
Course 4: Mango Sorbet.
I forgot to get a picture of this course. We bought mango sorbet at the store (I made my own once and that was more than I wanted to deal with this go around). We served the sorbet in small decorative canning jars with a gold ribbon tied around the top.
Course 6: Chicken Cordon Bleu with Sauteed Peppers
I didn't end up getting a picture of this course either. But it was yummy! Cameron cooked up the chicken and it was perfection. We were going to serve it face up with a piece of rye toast cut into the shape of a hat so it would be a snowman head, but I forgot to do that...I forgot to even pull out the toast. But it was still delicious.
Course 7: Snowman Cheesecake
Everyone had a water glass, but then we also gave them the option of Homemade Egg Nog or a Homemade Vanilla Cream Soda. We served the Egg Nog and Cream Soda in our fun "fancy" glasses, and drew on snowman faces with dry erase markers.
For homemade vanilla cream sodas, fill a glass 3/4 of the way with shaved ice (like you get at sonic). Pour in your flavored Torrani syrup (found in the coffee aisle in your grocery store). In these glasses Cameron filled the cup about 1/4 of the way with the syrup. Pour Club Soda in the glass, filling about 3/4 of the remaining space. Finally pour in some heavy whipping cream or half and half (we used heavy whipping cream this go around). Stir and enjoy!
It was so much fun to serve the dishes and to carry out the dinner. I loved it. Cameron would periodically go out and provide some entertainment. He juggled osage oranges, he did a "magic show", he read the menu in his best and worst French accents, and was just a hit. All in all, I think it was a success.
Cheese ball #1: Garlic Cheese Ball (the white one in the photo)
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter
1 TBS prepared Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1 (1oz) package ranch dressing mix
In a medium bowl, beat all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate 6-8 hours, or over night.
Cheese ball #2: New Mexico Cheese Ball (the pecan covered one in the photo)
I adapted a recipe I found on allrecipes for this cheese ball.
4 large anaheim chile peppers (or canned green chile) or (I just used green chile powder)
1 1/2 pounds shredded pepper jack cheese
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1. If using raw green chile, preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate. Cook chiles on the preheated grill until the skin of the peppers has blackened and blistered, about 5 minutes. be careful not to overcook the peppers, or the skin will not come off easily. Turn the peppers often to cook evenly. Place the blackened peppers into a bowl and tightly seal with plastic wrap. Allow the peppers to steam as they cool, about 20 minutes. Once cool, remove the skins and seeds. Chop the peppers.
2. Combine the chopped peppers (or the chile powder) with the other ingredients (minus the pecans). Form the mixture into a ball and place in the freezer until very cold (about 15 minutes).
3. Spread the chopped pecans on a large cutting board or baking sheet (I just put them in a bowl). Roll the cheese ball in the pecans. Use your hand to pack any areas not covered by pecans.
Cheese ball #3: Yummy Cheese Ball (the cheese covered one in the photo)
I didn't name this one...that was its given name.
1 pound bacon (I used real bacon bits)
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese
3 TBS mayonnaise
1 green onion, chopped
1 c. chopped pecans (I omitted these since I already had a pecan covered cheese ball)
1. In a large skillet, fry the bacon. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Chop or break into small pieces.
2. In a medium sized bowl mix all ingredients (minus the pecans) together. When mixed well, form 2 balls out of the mixture. Cover and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours, or overnight.
3. Before serving, roll in pecans.
I found this recipe by Rachael Ray on the food network. To spiff it up, I also made little mini bread bowls from rye bread. I'll give you the soup recipe first, then the directions for the bread bowls.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds packaged baby carrots, from produce section
6 cups chicken stock, available on soup aisle
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
Plastic condiment bottle or medium plastic food storage bag
6 blades fresh chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
Preheat medium pot over medium high heat. Add olive oil, butter, onions and carrots and saute 5 minutes. Add 4 cups chicken stock, curry and cayenne, and about 1 teaspoon salt to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes. Place pot on a trivet next to food processor. Process soup in 2 or 3 small batches until soup is smooth and carrots are fully pureed. Transfer processed soup into a large bowl as you work to make room for more soup in the food processor. Return completed soup to the soup pot and place back over low heat. If the soup is too thick, add remaining stock, up to 2 cups, to achieve desired consistency. Adjust seasonings. Place sour cream in a plastic condiment squeeze bottle or into a medium food storage bag. Cut a very small hole in the corner of the bag with scissors. Ladle soup into bowls and squirt a swirl of sour cream around the bowl from the center out to the rim. Drag a toothpick from the center of the bowls out to the edges, forming a spider web design on soup. Pile a few pieces of cut chives at the center of each bowl to resemble green spiders in their webs! Cool!
Then, for the bread bowls:
Using a rolling pin, roll out each slice of bread as flat and thin as you can get it. Round the edges slightly. Tuck into muffin pan, pressing the bread against the edges of the tin. Spray with olive oil spray or give a light coat with a brush. Sprinkle on oregano and parsley. Bake at 350 until the bread is dry (about 10 min.).
I'd give you the recipe for the mashed potatoes...but I used instant...so nothing exciting there. The asparagus though, I can give you that recipe.
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 pound fresh asparagus
3 TBS lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat the olive oil in your skillet or frying pan.
- Saute the asparagus until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the lemon juice over the asparagus and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook another 2-3 minutes.
- Remove asparagus from pan and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Okay, I know...it looks like the snowman was murdered...it didn't look like that in my head. Oh well. It still tasted fantastic. One of the girls told me that she didn't like cheesecake normally but she loved this one, so I'd say that's a win.
I found this recipe in a set of recipe cards stuck in one of my cookbooks. I have no idea where I got the cards, but I like them. This was for Holiday Cheesecake Presents. They cut their cheesecakes into squares and decorated them with gel icing to look like presents, but since the dinner was snowman themed, I cut mine into circles with my cookie cutters and then tried to make the raspberry sauce look like a scarf, and when that just made it look like the the snowman had had his neck split open, I just drizzled the sauce over it.
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
3 TBS sugar
3 pkgs (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
- Mix crumbs, butter, and 3 TBS sugar; press onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking pan .
- Mix cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix until blended. Pour over crust.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Cut into bars. Decorate bars with decorating gels and sprinkles to resemble presents. Store leftover bars in refrigerator.
Makes ~2 dozen bars
Saturday, December 29, 2012
|Add a snowman face to your glasses with dry erase markers.|
1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant french vanilla pudding mix
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
In a large bowl, whisk 3/4 c. milk and pudding mix until smooth.
Whisk in the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Stir in the remaining milk.
Refrigerate until serving.