Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mom's Chocolate Decadence Party


My Daughter's School does a silent auction each year where the big deal is what we call Great Gatherings. So I hosted a Mom's Chocolate Decadence Party, Thanks Bridget for the name. It was a 4 course chocolate meal. It was a lot of fun to search for recipes, try them out and come up with the finial menu. Of course I was luckily enough to have Katie and Regina to consult. Katie also created the Beef Tenderloin En Croute with chocolate- port sauce, she used her beef en croute recipe and the chocolate - port sauce from allrecipe.com, the cheese and chocolate plate ideas came from canada but I used local cheeses. I had originally planned dipped bacon, but found snap guide with the chocolate bacon roses, they looked great but were hard to get the middle of the bacon cooked all the way.  The only recipe I really created was the Balsamic Chocolate Brussels Sprouts.A week before the party Molly asked for Aunt Katie's Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, while make them I thought of the party and decided to melt white chocolate with the butter and coat them.


Appeitzers





Salad/pasta course


Main dish

Beef Tenderloin En Croute with chocolate- port sauce (see above) 
Balsamic Chocolate Brussel Sprouts (see above) 


Drinks

Wine


Deserts


Chocolate Fudge
Chocolate for dipping served w/fruit

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Martini

This winter, my husband, my friend Katie and I tried out a little fun with our favorite combination - chocolate and peanut butter (really, we all really really love it! Yeah, who doesn't...).  The result was a silky, smooth, delicious chocolate peanut butter martini. To. Die. For. 

I posted a picture of the martini on Facebook and got so many likes, comments and requests for the recipe, I had to share it! 

Place in shaker with ice: 
1 part Godiva Chocolate Liquer
2 parts Reese's infused vodka
1 part (or less if you don't like too sweet) pb simple syrup
Shake, strain into martini glass. 
mini peanut butter cup garnish (I actually used the dark chocolate ones from Trader Joe's. So good!)

**For Reese's infused vodka -- melt 1/3 cup Reese's mini pb cups in a double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of vodka. Pour into glass jar, store in freezer. Shake before using. You want it chilled before you use it.

**Pb simple syrup -- dissolve 1 c sugar in 1 c water, add 3/4 c pb and melt together over low heat. Heat until syrup consistency. Can store in a squeeze bottle or mason jar. You can strain this if you have any pb chunks in it.

As Katie noted is often the case with martinis, 1 is not enough; 3 is too many. Luckily, she could walk home.;) Seriously, this is a decadent, delightful treat. Cheers.

Monday, May 4, 2015

SPRING HAS SPRUNG! ENJOYING SEASONAL COOKING

Yeah grilling weather!
After a long, cold winter, we are really embracing the beautiful, warm weather. Like so many, we are anxious to get outside and soak up the sun. Any excuse to be outside will do - whether is is sitting at the sports fields, or at home bike riding, gardening, reading or cooking -- we are doing as much of it as possible outside. Oh yeah, for us, this warm weather effects our eating and cooking, and tends to mean grilling, sandwiches and salads!

I thought I'd share a few of our recent grilling successes with you.

On Saturday, we enjoyed grilled steaks, 
Caprese SaladGreek Salad and smashed baby potatoes. For the potatoes, I steamed some new baby potatoes, once they were soft, I tossed with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Then, I laid them out on a foil-lined baking dish, took my potato masher and lightly smashed each one. I placed in a 400 degree oven until the tops got slightly browned and crispy. So delish!

On Sunday, we enjoyed pork ribsI finally feel like I got our ribs right! I sprinkled the racks with little Montreal seasoning, wrapped tightly in foil and popped them in the oven (275 degrees) for 2 hours. They were tender and fragrant. Almost  good enough to eat right then... but we waited. We grilled the ribs to get a nice char on them, basting with bbq sauce at the end of the cooking time. The ribs were awesome!
We paired the ribs with corn on the cob (really sweet and delicious for the first of the season!) and a Greek salad again (we seem to be on a bit of a kick!).

Grilled sausages, peppers, onions and portobellos
Monday was once again another beautiful day. I cannot resist fresh fruits and veggies in the warm weather. And growing up, warm days often meant "wedges" (or heros, subs, hoagies, sandwiches, whatever you call them). One of my Dad's favorites was sausage and peppers, so with a nod to Dad, that is just what we did. I started off some Mild Italian pork sausage and chicken sausage with tomato and basil in the oven, then finished them off on the grill. 


I tossed a variety of veggies -- mini peppers, portobello mushrooms and onions with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and added them to the grill. Once I took the veggies of the grill, I drizzled them with a little balsamic glaze. We paired the grilled sausages and veggies with kale salad and cole slaw.


Happy Cinco de Mayo!
In honor of Mexican Independence AND Taco Tuesday, today we enjoyed a household-favorite  -- Honey Lime Shrimp Tacos
For the marinade, I combined about equal parts honey, lime juice (I squeezed 3 limes) and olive oil. To that, I add the zest of one lime, minced garlic and a splash of tequila. Then I add in handfuls of chopped cilantro. I always add in handfuls of chopped cilantro. I went a little heavier on the lime juice and a little lighter on the oil. If don't want to use tequila, you could use white wine or broth. I choose tequila. Place shrimp in marinade and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. 


Marinating Honey Lime Shrimp
Take the shrimp out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Heat a grill pan over med-high heat. No oil is needed because of the oil in the marinade. Cook the shrimp on one side until they start to curl and get opaque in the center and pink on the edges, then flip over and cook on the other side. They get a beautiful caramelized color from the honey, but you do need to watch them or they will burn. These are great with any taco fixings or over rice or salad. Today, we served them with soft and hard taco shells, guacamole, black bean and corn salsa and a salad

I find with cooking I go in spurts, so my recent successes have inspired me, but I do not know what is up next for the week. I have some zucchini and green beans in the house, so it will likely be something with them. 

What are you making this week? Hope you are enjoying a little warm weather eating!

My hubby's artsy grilling photo



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