Sunday, February 28, 2010

Prosciutto Wraps - A Guest Post

Here is another wonderful recipe from Kate. Prosciutto Wraps are super easy to make and look delicious! I'm keeping this one on the radar for when I need an appetizer!

In my last introduction for Kate, I forgot to mention one very important and interesting fact: Last year, she graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York City! She's presently working in food product development for a company in Pennsylvania. She commutes from her beach town home in New Jersey and is constantly coming up with great ideas for getting her real passion-opening her own restaurant-off the ground!

While she's pursuing her passion, I'm pursuing mine...trying to come up with any and every reason possible to get her back to Texas! :)

Prosciutto Wraps

Here's what you'll need:

Roasted Red Peppers (canned, unless you are feeling adventurous and want to roast your own)
Wet Mozzarella
Fresh Basil
Prosciutto (from the deli, ask for thin slice)

Follow the directions in the pictures!!!

Cut the prosciutto into quarters, cut the roasted red peppers into strips the same width as the prosciutto, and cut the mozzarella balls so they are roughly the same width as the prosciutto and peppers. (I just cut the small balls in half.) Tear the basil so it is about the same size as the mozzarella ball. Layer all of the ingredients and wrap it up!

Secure the rolls with toothpicks and serve! Easy and delicious!

One of the best things about this appetizer is that you can make as many or as few as you need! Give them a try at your next party, they're sure to be a hit!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pasta and Shrimp Dinner

Sometimes, the Fridays of Lent can be tough on the "almost all beef all of the time" family. So, after a quick search on The Pioneer Woman, I decided to try Shrimp Pasta in a Foil Package.

Now, some of you may know that I'm highly allergic to seafood. Why, then, would I decide to make shrimp? One, Travis loves shrimp and just because I can't eat it doesn't mean that I shouldn't make it for him from time to time. Two, this recipe is just as delicious and easy to make without the seafood. Three, my brother, Matt, came into town today on his way further South and I wanted to make something impressive.

All of that being said, let's get started! I did make a few changes to the recipe. I used chicken broth instead of white wine, I used two quarts of home canned tomatoes instead of three 14.5 oz cans, and I didn't have any Linguine on hand, so I used what I did have, which was 8 oz of Fettuccine and 8 oz of Spaghetti.

You'll need olive oil, chicken broth, canned tomatoes, pasta, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, parsley, and shrimp.

Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add four large cloves of minced garlic and saute for a minute.

Add the tomatoes and the juice.

Add the chicken broth.

I used my potato masher to break up some of the whole tomatoes. In the end, I was glad I did this because I would not want a bunch of whole tomatoes swimming around in my pasta. The smaller pieces were much better.

Add salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes to taste. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil your pasta for half of the recommended time. This meal will go into the oven to finish cooking, so you want your pasta nice and firm.

I varied a little here from the original recipe, too, because I made half of the meal without shrimp! Add the pasta and toss to combine. Here, I took part of the pasta and sauce out and put it into my foil packet before adding the shrimp for the other packet.

Add the peeled shrimp and toss to combine. The object here is to just get the shrimp coated in all of the goodness. They'll actually cook in the oven.

Add parsley.

Pour into a foil "boat" and seal it up tightly. Shrimp is on the left, sans shrimp is on the right. Place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, open up the packets and serve!

I apologize for my plates being so messy! I should have wiped the splatters up before I shot the picture, but there were hungry boys in the house! I sprinkled a little extra parsley on top and added a splash of lemon juice to my plate.

And here's with shrimp, again with a little extra fresh parsley on top.

It was really a delicious pasta meal. I didn't even miss the meat...that much! Travis really liked it and Matt thought it was "pretty good", too! Good enough for me! I'll plan on making this at least one more time before Easter.

Here's the recipe I used. If you want the original recipe, click on the link at the beginning of the post.

Pasta with or without Shrimp
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 quarts of canned whole tomatoes (roughly equivalent to 3 14.5 oz cans)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1.5 pounds shrimp, peeled (de-vein if you have time)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 pound pasta, I used half Fettuccine and half Spaghetti
Cook pasta for half the recommended cooking time. Pasta should still be very firm.

In a large skillet or pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir mixture and then season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Allow to cook for 10 minutes.

While that's cooking, make one or two "boats" of tin foil to put the mixture in to put into the oven. I actually had to wrap the one with shrimp a couple of times to stop the oozing of juice!

Throw the drained pasta on top of the tomato/garlic mixture and toss. Take out some of the pasta mixture and put into one of the "boats" if you want some without shrimp.

Throw the shrimp on top of the rest of the pasta mixture and toss to combine. Pour into the remaining "boat".

Seal the "boats" and place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Serve with extra parsley and a splash of lemon juice, if desired.

Dig in! You'll love it so much you'll blog about it! :)

Wedding Shower

Yes, I know this post is long overdue, especially since the shower was on Valentine's Day! Well, here it is, in all of it's Bridal Shower glory!

The food and drink bar, covered in royal blue, white or clear serving dishes, accented with pink tulle.

The gift table.

The sign-in table. Yes, I did the floral arrangement myself! You couldn't get this for $30 at a floral shop! The flowers were from Sam's and were just beautiful.

We also had a table set up along each wall for people to set their plates or drinks. Each of these tables was covered in white with a royal blue mat, two candles, and a personal size trifle dish full of candy hearts. "Where did you get those adorable mats?" you might ask. Well, they were designed and crafted by yours truly! I drew the flowers on the mat and then cut them out with an exacto knife.

Elizabeth was the entertainment before guests arrive. She's putting on quite a show for her Great Aunt Barbara and Great Grandma Liz.

Climbing in the wagon for nap time!


Margaret (Travis's Aunt and mother of the groom) wanted Rachel to play a game where she had to identify articles of clothing and then pin them on the line. At the end of the line was Mark, her fiance. Truth be told, I was a little skeptical about this game, but it turned out to be so cute and she seemed to really have a good time playing!

It didn't hurt the comedy factor that all of the clothes were Margaret's!

Aww...the couple of honor!

This picture of Elizabeth was taken toward the very end of the shower. She's all tuckered out and was just happy to be hiding behind the bar munching on a cracker. She was such a good girl all day, even with no nap! Of course, she was the center of attention and didn't mind that one bit!

It was so fun to plan this shower with my MIL and her sisters. The day turned out to be just perfect and all of our guests had a good time! Maybe the next shower we plan will be her baby shower! Just kidding!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs: one of the ultimate shower foods. So dainty and delicate, they look like they'd really be a pain to make. They're not! Time consuming? Eh, not really. The longest part of the process is baking them. I made over 100 of these little beauties in just a couple of hours. Yum, yum.

You'll need salt, butter, and beer. Yes, beer...go for something Shiner, please!

Put the butter, salt and beer into a pot and bring to a boil. (Note: I made a double batch for the shower, so the regular recipe does not make this many puffs!)

While that's all melting and getting hot, get out your eggs and flour.

Almost there...

Good, boiling!

Yes, this is a horrible picture, but it was pretty steamy. Once the mixture has come to a boil, dump all of the flour in at one time and stir your little heart out until the mixture comes together and forms a ball.

Well, this was close enough for me...a single batch forms a better ball of batter.

Then, add the eggs, one at a time blending well after each egg.

This step gets kinda shady because after each egg, the mixture gets really, really slimy. Just work the batter, it'll all come together.

After the last egg, you should have a nice, smooth batter that looks like this.

I neglected to take pictures of the batter in my piping bag or what kind of tips I used. Sorry!

You can either put your batter into a piping bag and pipe the puffs onto the pan, or you can just spoon it onto the pan. I really liked the piping!

Here are a couple of the puffs. Note the spiky point on top.

Wet your finger and pat it down.

So it looks like this. If you leave your cream puffs with a point, the point will burn and that's no good! Puffs aren't pretty with a burnt top!

Here are all of my little puffs ready for the oven. 450 degrees for 10 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 350 for another 10 minutes.

Perfectly baked little puffs!

A closer look.

After I made about 80 puffs, I had a brilliant idea. One of those ideas that you wish you would have been doing all along. Then you contemplate scrapping everything you've done so that you'll have perfectly cute little puffs. Then you scrap the scrapping idea, because you just don't have time for that!

I put a star tip onto another piping bag and produced these beauties.

Adorable. Why wasn't I doing this all along?

They are so much better than just a regular cream puff. These were perfect!

So, I made one more batch of batter and made a whole bunch!

I was so pleased that they kept their shape in the oven.

So pretty!

After they cooled, I wanted to slice them in half to make putting in the chicken salad easier on the day of the shower.

I left a little flap so I wouldn't have a bunch of tops and bottoms separate in the bag.

On the left, a cream puff, top and bottom. Easy to find in the bag. On the right, an oops. The top and bottom were accidentally separated. They too were thrown in the bag. But they probably weren't used, because who has time to find the lost bottom/top? Especially when you're filling these as guests are arriving!

And here are my gorgeous puffs at work! I laid a spinach leaf on the bottom and piled the chicken salad on the leaf and placed the top back on. They were so good! I even received a few complements from the guests!

Yum, yum! Hurry up and go make some puffs!

You don't have to fill your puffs with chicken salad. If you don't slice them in half, you can fill them with whipped cream or a custard or chocolate sauce. Just make a small hole in the bottom of the puff and use a piping bag to squirt your desired filling into the puff. People will think you spent all day on them. But, we'll know better!!

Cream Puff Recipe:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup beer
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Place the butter, beer, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, dump in all of the flour at one time and beat vigorously until the mixture forms a ball. Then, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg.

Spoon or pipe the mixture onto greased cookie sheets. (I lined my pans with parchment paper. I also used a new sheet of parchment paper after each batch because the paper gets brown and very brittle.)

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes. (You leave the puffs in there the entire 20 minutes. Don't pull the sheet out while your oven is adjusting.)

Cool on racks and fill with your choice of goodness! Enjoy!