Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let me tell you about my Tea Party.

I have been wanting to host a tea party forever!  While I'm not a big fan of tea, I love all the foods served at tea. I had planned on inviting some of my family friends over to see the new house so I thought I would give this tea party thing a shot.  Here was my menu:

Quiches - from Costco, they are delicious
Cucumber Sandwiches (Cucumber, Dill, Cream Cheese)
Italian style chicken salad in phyllo cups (my own concoction of chicken, roasted red pepper, artichokes and seasonings)
Tomato Sandwiches
Turkey & Muenster Roll-Up Sandwiches (turkey, muenster, with seasoned spread)
Nutella Sandwiches (for the kids)
Strawberry Cream Sandwiches (for the kids) (cream cheese, fresh strawberries & powdered sugar)
Deviled Eggs (my own secret recipe)
Orzo Feta Salad (most delicious salad EVER - I will post this separately)
Prosciutto Wrapped Melon
Brie served w/ crackers and apples
Crudite (veggies and dip/hummus)
Apricot Scones
Pioneer Woman Vanilla Bean Scones
Pioneer Woman Sweet Cinnamon Scones
Pioneer Woman Bacon Cheddar Biscuits
Mock Clotted Cream
Mini Cupcakes (Pillsbury Spring Funfetti)
Coffee Cake (Costco)
Strawberries and Watermelon
Tea (of course)

Ambitious right? Well, I was doing really good..I had all the ingredients.  I made the scones the day before.  I didn't do the Cinnamon  Scones since I couldn't find the cinnamon chips. I made a few other things the day before.  The day of the tea party I was in good shape.  I left the tea sandwiches till last because I wanted them fresh. I had almost everything done.  My guests were to arrive at 2pm.  At around 1pm I go to slice the cucumbers.  I wanted everything 'just so' so I whip out the mandolin.  If you don't know what a mandolin is let me educate you - it's a user-friendly guillotine.

(warning...somewhat gory details ahead!)

Using the handy safety guard I start to slice my cucumbers.  A little too thick so I adjust the setting making them thinner (I didn't know then that this tiny little twist of the dial may have saved my entire finger). I  resume my slicing.  I guess I got a little ambitious and sliced with a little too much force and well...yes you guessed it, I sliced my finger.  Bad.  Real Bad!  I couldn't get the bleeding to stop.  My darling husband took one look at it and said you are going to the ER.

ER??  I have 20 some odd people coming to my house in an hour!  He insisted and told me he'd take care of everything. So, off we go. We load the kids in the car and off we go.  He drops me off at the ER (which is less than 10 minutes from us) and heads back home. I get my finger tended to. No stitches since it was sliced.  Some glue and steri-strips later and I was on my way.

I come back home to a house full of people and no food.  We all chip in and thankfully the tea party was a success. Did I get to make everything 'just so', No.  But that is ok.  This was very good practice and I know that I had it in me to pull something like this off.  There were a few casualties and some dishes that weren't made.

Casualties - Bacon Cheddar Biscuits - they were cooking when 'the incident' happened. We turned off the oven and left..therefore they cooked longer than they needed, Turkey & Muenster Roll-ups - let's say we had turkey for lunch this week, Mock Clotted Cream - no time to make it, Crudités - didn't seem necessary since it already seemed like a lot of food, plus my kids live on carrots and dip, brie - I could have probably set this out..but I love me some brie! and the tomato sandwiches turned into sliced tomatoes drizzled with Olive Oil and Oregano.

The Winners - PW Vanilla Bean Scones, Feta Orzo Salad & Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwiches

All in all a success owed largely in part to my darling husband who rolled up his sleeves, took control and didn't allow me to cancel this and of course to my guests who didn't mind the delay and helped get it all together!

Update on the finger - it's doing ok, still bandaged. It does hurt to type using it (right ring finger) so I have learned to type without using it...takes some time, but I manage!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Easy Peasy Egg Drop Soup

My daughter had her tonsils and adenoids removed about 2 weeks ago. One of the foods on the 'list' was Chinese Egg Drop Soup.  Now I remember my mother making me something similar when we were younger.  But we called it Stracciatella Soup.  Loosely translated Stracciatella means torn or shredded. The threads of cooked egg in the soup are reminiscent of 'torn or shredded' rags.  My mom made it using Campbells Chicken Soup.. remember the ones with the tiny cut up noodles? She would just scramble an egg in it as it boiled - now that is SUPER easy!

This recipe also served double duty since I took part in another cooking challenge.  Christina from the blog "Tales from the Mad Men Kitchen" was looking for people to take part in her Chinese take out challenge.

Anyway, I made this for my daughter in hopes she would eat something to help her feel better. I didn't make it using any thickeners like corn starch.  I made it just like my mom did but using homemade broth.
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (I usually make my own broth then freeze it into smaller portions.  You can also use store bought chicken broth or make some using water and a bouillon cube)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 cup pastina or cut up spaghetti (optional)
  1. Bring the broth to a low boil
  2. Pour in 1 scrambled egg SLOWLY!  You can also use a fork to drop in threads of egg. DO NOT STIR
  3. Once you've poured the egg in wait about a minute then remove from heat - you can give it one good stir
  4. You don't want to over-stir easy is that?  Tasty!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta with Bacon and it's like getting breakfast for dinner. This dish was a staple at my family table.  My mom made this about once a month and my brothers & I would always fight for the bacon. There are a few variations out adding peas to it, using cream or serving it using only egg yolk. It is SO easy - you only need a few ingredients. It's also a quick meal, perfect for a weeknight.
  • 1 lb. Spaghetti
  • 1 package of bacon
  • 3 Eggs
  • Milk or Heavy Cream
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Take bacon out of package and slice it into tiny pieces - I don't separate the pieces..just slice it while it's whole
  2. While water for spaghetti is boiling, fry the bacon pieces - I like them super crispy, but you can cook them to your liking in a heavy saute pan (big enough to add a pound of spaghetti later)
  3. Once the bacon is done, remove from heat and set aside - do not drain the oil
  4. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, add salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and a little bit of milk or heavy cream (I eyeball the cheese and milk or cream..but about 2-3 tablespoons of each) and set aside
  5. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the pan with the bacon in it and return to medium heat - reserve the pasta water
  6. Stir the bacon and pasta and slowly add in your beaten egg mixture
  7. Continue to stir the egg so that it cooks - now how you serve it is up to you.  Some people like it more on the runny side, I do not.  I like my eggs cooked through
  8. Serve with some fresh ground pepper

*If it seems too dry to you, add some of the reserved cooking water, a little at a time.  This also doesn't keep well so serve & enjoy right away!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole

My friend Sara from Yeah, Like I Have Time For This was hinting around asking someone to make this for her.  Since I've had the itch to make arancini or rice balls, I thought I'd give it a shot. Things over here have been a little crazy these past 2 weeks and I thought this was a dish that could go a few days.

The recipe came from Gina's Skinny Recipes - if you have time go check out her site there are some amazing recipes on there!

Here is the recipe directly from her site - Sicilian Rice Casserole, Gina's Skinny Taste

Now I did make one tiny change.  I used 1 lb of  Italian Sausage with the casings removed and nixed the Turkey.  It was good and it did taste like an authentic arancini...almost.  I am used to my mothers arancini and have even had them in Sicily so when I tried this with the sausage meat it didn't hit home.  I will make this recipe again (I am already planning to make it for a few friends later this month) but plan on using a meatloaf mix instead.  I am almost positive using this instead of the sausage and/or turkey will get me the taste that I am familiar with.  Like I said, it was good and we all enjoyed it - my mother included.

And here is a picture ...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Still here!

A lot going on these past few days!  Unfortunately, not much cooking - well at least nothing to write about. I had participated in a food challenge and made a chicken salad which was phenomenal.  I promise to post about it.  It had cucumbers in it..I would have never put cucumber in chicken salad but it was really good!  My little one is set to have surgery on Monday.  My house is stocked full of ice cream, ice pops, jell-o, yogurt and soup.  Can you tell someone is having their tonsils removed?  One of the food items on the "approved" food list are Chinese egg drop soup.  So I am going to give that a go this week.  I am also part of another food challenge and will be making a Mexican Rice side dish.

As for my family table.  I have a pasta dish that I want to make with dried peas.  We are also approaching St. Joseph's Day.  My family always makes Pasta con le Sarde (Pasta with Sardines) for this holiday.  It's a traditional dish served on the holiday.  It is delicious...I kid you not.  The ride to "Down Neck" is made to get the  Sardines and the sauce that is made from it is out of this world!  Just wait and see ...