Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Party 2008

This past weekend we had a holiday party for our family and friends. I decided this year to take off the day before, so I could get all of my cooking and baking out of the way and wasn't exhausted come Saturday night. We had a huge turnout and it was great to see people catching up and also getting acquainted with one another. I made some new recipes this year that I absolutely loved how they turned out and they seemed to have been a hit with everyone as well. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the food (maybe someone will send me some!), but at least I can share the recipes!

2 - 3 oz. boxes of pineapple jello
1/4 cup coconut milk
coconut rum (see amounts below)
cold water (see amounts below)
- Chill rum in freezer for 2 hours before making.
- Dissolve the jello according to box directions in 2 cups boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Depending on how strong you want your shots follow these guidelines:
> For mild shots add 1 cup cold rum, 3/4 cup cold water 1/4 cup coconut milk
> For stronger shots add 1 & 1/2 cups cold rum 1/4 cup cold water, and 1/4 cup coconut milk
- Mix with a spoon, then ladle into 1.25 oz. shot glasses of your choice. (You can either pour the mixture into the shot glasses or use a turkey baster to transfer the liquid into the cups.)
- Put into refrigerator. If you want a fast set put them into the freezer for an hour. Or make ahead and freeze for a while and then bring out about an hour before the party.

Review: Absolutely love these jello shots! Some people like them stronger. I, personally, like when you don't taste the alcohol, but know it is there, so I don't make them too strong. I have seen recipes where people omit the "extra" water and use all rum. Another tip is to spray the Solo cups (available at Party City) with Pam, which makes it easier for them to slide out.

1 can (19-ounce) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a food processor, combine cannellini beans, olive oil, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon); season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Puree until smooth.
Place puree in a serving bowl, and lightly sprinkle chili powder over the top, if desired. Serve dip with toasted pita chips.

Review: Super simple to make and I was surprised at how much I actually liked this! I am not big into hummus, but this may swing my vote. (haha) I actually doubled this recipe (which in my Cuisinart food processor was a bit of a chore) and doubled everything except the lemon juice. I just used 1 lemon and thought it was perfect.
1 lb. package Ziti pasta or Rigatoni
24 ounces ricotta cheese
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.
- In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Review: This will be my baked ziti recipe going forward. Of course, I didn't have one before, knew in my head what the ingredients should be, so this was perfect for tying it all together. I have read some reviews that said they would cut down the amount of ricotta, you absolutely can do that. I really enjoyed this. I made a double batch for the party and it filled up 2 half-trays, which worked out perfectly for 40 people (along with the rest of the food). I make my own sauce, so not exactly sure how many ounces of sauce I put into it, but it was the equivalent of 4 large (24 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes and whole tomatoes with one small can of tomato paste, which are cooked down to remove excess water). I made these ahead and put them in the fridge and then baked for 30 minutes ahead of eating. I kept them covered with foil.

1 pinch salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 lemon wedges

- Mix together salt and flour in a small dish or plastic bag, then coat chicken and shake off excess. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Shake excess flour from chicken, then brown in hot oil until both sides are golden-brown, and the inside has turned white and firm, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- Remove the chicken, and set aside in a warm place. Pour white wine into the skillet, and allow to boil as you dissolve the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon juice, and allow to come to a boil, cook for a few minutes until reduced by half.
- Sprinkle the cubed butter into the boiling sauce. Swirl and shake the pan vigorously to dissolve the butter, thus thickening the sauce. The butter must never come to rest, or the sauce will separate and become oily. Once the butter has completely incorporated, remove from heat and stir in capers.
- To serve, pour lemon-caper sauce over the chicken, and serve with a wedge of lemon.
Review: Another of my faves and one that had several people asking for the recipe (including Heidi and Michelle (of the Baking Buddies blog)'s mom! =). I had never made this before, but decided this would be relatively easy to make and if nothing else, should be good for a party dish! The recipe above is for 2 servings. Luckily, Allrecipes.com has a servings conversion, which I took full advantage of and besides the reviews was one of the reasons I picked this recipe, as I had bought 10 lbs. of Perdue Chicken Tenders at Costco and needed to convert the recipe based on the pounds of chicken I had! This turned out to be 27 servings! The best part is when you convert to 27 lbs., the conversion takes you literally, so it told me 13 1/2 pinches of salt - lol! Can you imagine counting that out?!

Needless to say, I just took a large Ziplock bag, poured in some flour and shook in some Lawry's Seasoned Salt. I used that to coat the chicken and cook them in 2 separate pans (one dutch oven and one nonstick pan) to cook them faster. The nonstick pan took longer and didn't brown as well. I either sprayed the pans or put in olive oil after each set of chicken tenders to make sure they didn't stick to the pan and then once cooked put them straight into the half trays (the double batch made for 2 half trays). After all of the chicken was cooked, I used the dutch oven to make the sauce.

I put in 3 cups of a white wine and 3 cups of chicken broth, then added 1 stick of unsalted margarine at a time. I was hoping to use less margarine, but the taste wasn't quite right, so I ended up using 3 sticks. I also used 5 lemons (rather than the 3 cups per the conversion). I debated whether or not to add the sauce as I wasn't serving it until the next day, but thought it would be a good marinade, so poured it over top of the chicken.

The next day, I put it in the oven with the 2 trays of ziti and set the oven for 375 degrees for 30 minutes and then put the oven on warm. It seemed to work out well and I would definitely recommend this. I even got compliments that it looked like I had gotten the party catered!

Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Snowmen!!

So I had made the Marshmallow Snowmen to give to people at work. Mike really liked how they turned out so he asked me to make him a few. I decided to step them up a notch and give them a hat. I think this will be my new annual holiday treat!

Here they are all packaged up and ready for delivery!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanksgiving at the Lundgrens - 2008


Here are the Turkey cookies I made for Thanksgiving. I had so much fun making these..and they were a hugh hit with my family. I brought a few over to Kevins friends the day before Thanksgiving and they loved them. The girls want to get together next year so I can show them how to make them for their families. Im glad everyone thought they were as cute as I did =)


From appetizers, to the main course...to desserts...we had a great day pigging out on delicious foods.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Candy Begins....

Candy #1

Every year my candy making for the holidays usually starts the weekend after thanksgiving, but this year it started before Thanksgiving. That's because Kathleen had said she was making these candy turkeys for thanksgiving and when I saw a picture of them I had to make them as well.

I only on made five of them, because I didn't think many adults would eat them. Since my almost 3 year old nephew was really the only child that was going to be there. But to my surprise they all went. Mike was upset that he actually didn't get a chance to have one. Who knew!!

Candy #2

So last year I had a made my peanut clusters for a bunch of people at work as my holiday gift. But this year I have a lot more people I want to give something to, so the search for something as cute as the turkeys began. I even had Michelle helping with the search. What we came across were Marshmallow Snowmen. Chocolate covered that is.....

What you need to make these cute men....

Marshmallows (b0dy)
White chocolate
Mini m&ms (nose & buttons)
Mini chocolate chips (eyes)
Chocolate Sprinkles (mouth)
Pull and peel twizzlers (scarf)

They are fun to make and once you get a system down, only takes a few hours to make around 27 snowmen.......I would have made more, but I ran out of marshmallows.


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