Category Archives: Party Foods

Labor Day Eats: Feature Fridays

Labor Day became a federal holiday 117 years ago, marked by parades and parties recognizing trade and labor organizations.  Today, families enjoy one last vacation before school starts, NFL and college football seasons begin, and backyard parties abound.  If entertaining or creating a dish for a potluck is on the agenda for this three-day weekend, here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.  Instead of featuring just one site this week, there is a whole list—Enjoy!

Menus:

Barbeque Menu – Savoring Today
10 Labor Day Menus – Ezra Pound Cake
Labor Day Gourmet Grilling Party Menu – Recipe Girl


Main Dishes/Meat:

Grilled Thai Ginger-Garlic Pork Chops – Fine Cooking
Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Roasted Red Pepper Dip – Family Fresh Cooking
Sausage Kebabs – Bell’ Alimento
Jamaican Jerk Chicken – Kayotic Kitchen
Pancetta-Gruyere Burger with Grilled Vidalia Onions – Savoring Today
Vegetarian Recipes for Barbecue Season – New York Times

Appetizers & Sides:

Melon & Mint Salad – Shutterbean
Roasted Garlic and Dill White Bean Dip – How Sweet It Is
Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese – Jungle Frog Cooking
Sauteed Corn with Chile Peppers, Ginger and Garlic – Cinnamon Spice
Grilled Summer Sweet Corn – Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
Romaine Salad with Hatch Chile Dressing – A Communal Table
Goat Cheese Balls with Herbs, Pecans, & Bacon – The Kitchn
Parmesan Rice Crisps with Roasted Tomato Salsa – Gluten-Free Goddess

Desserts:

Brownies for Grown Ups – The 21st Century Housewife’s Kitchen
S’mores Pie – Foodess
Chocolate Caramel Peanut Bites– Sweet Pea’s Kitchen
Limoncello Cheesecake Bites – Bitter Sweet
Rustic Peach & Plum Tart – Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach
Honey Cinnamon Peach Pie – My Kitchen Addiction

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes 2-Ways: Gluten-Free & Lactose-Free

While planning the menu for the bridal shower I was hosting, I used a couple of different recipes to accommodate those gluten-free and lactose intolerant guests. (I am reluctant to describe guests by their food sensitivities, but using their names on-line is even less appealing.)  Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting anchored the dessert table at the request of the Bride-to-Be.  I was thrilled to see Meyer lemons already available in stores and picked up the first of the season.

Although, I had a companion gluten-free cupcake in this same flavor for my daughter (recipe below), it seemed too confusing to try to do both for the event, so the cupcakes shared the dessert table with Cheesecake Strawberries with Chocolate Accents (also a crowd-pleaser).  The Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes were lactose-free, the Cheesecake Strawberries were gluten-free, and so there were safe dessert choices for everyone.

You will love these tender, citrus infused cakes with flecks of poppy seeds, topped with velvety cream cheese frosting. They are perfect for showers, parties, or as a treat with afternoon tea.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting [Lactose-Free Options]

Source: Recipe adapted from original recipe by Guilty Kitchen
Yields 12 cupcakes
1/2       cup  butter, coconut oil, -or- Meyenberg goat milk butter
— room temperature
1 1/2    cups  cake flour
1/2       tsp  baking powder
1/4       tsp  baking soda
1/4       tsp  sea salt
1          cup  sugar
2          large  eggs
1           large  Meyer lemon, or 2 small — juiced and zested
1           tsp  vanilla extract
1/2      cup  buttermilk -or- lactose-free milk + 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1           tablespoon  poppy seeds

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2      cup  butter, coconut oil, -or- Meyenberg goat milk butter
— room temperature
8          ounces  cream cheese – or – Tofutti® Better Than Cream Cheese
— room temperature
1           tbsp  vanilla extract
1 1/2    cups  powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl.   In bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about five minutes. Incorporate eggs one at a time until well blended. Mix in the zest, lemon juice and vanilla.

Add flour and buttermilk to batter in two separate additions, until well mixed. Fold in poppy seeds.  Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating half way through baking time. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For Frosting:
Beat butter and cream cheese together until fluffy.  Add-in the vanilla and stir to combine.  Mix-in powdered sugar on low speed until incorporated. Pipe onto cupcakes and serve immediately.

Note: Since lactose intolerance was the concern and not a milk allergy, goat milk or butter is often a fine substitution.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (GF)

Yields 12 muffins
Source: Recipe adapted from Gluten Free Gobsmacked
8         tablespoons  butter
1          cup  sugar
2         eggs
3         tablespoons  lemon zest — 1-2 lemons
4         tablespoons  lemon juice — 1-2 lemons (of those used for zest)
1 1/4   cups  King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour Mix
1/2      cup  almond flour
1          teaspoon  xanthan gum
1          teaspoon  baking powder
1/2     teaspoon  salt
2         teaspoons  poppy seeds
1/2     cup  buttermilk

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2      cup  butter — room temperature
8          ounces  cream cheese — room temperature
1          tbsp  vanilla extract
1 1/2   cups  powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Add the egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and buttermilk, and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and almond flour until combined.  Add the dry ingredients to creamed mixture and stir just until moistened–do not over mix. Gently fold-in poppy seeds.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 16-20 minutes until lightly golden. A toothpick inserted in the muffin should come out clean. Once removed from the oven, allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:
Beat butter and cream cheese together until fluffy.  Add-in the vanilla and stir to combine.  Mix-in powdered sugar on low speed until incorporated. Pipe onto cupcakes and serve immediately.

NOTE: If using another flour mix, check to see if it already has the xanthan gum. If so, omit adding it separately.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Mom Trends Friday Food
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches: Test Kitchen Tuesday

This weekend I am hosting a bridal shower for a friend’s daughter, who is really more like family. Do you know what it’s like having neighbors or friends that have been through thick and thin with you and you consider their kids, your kids? Well, that is what makes this bridal shower so special.  I love cooking, but cooking for a gathering of friends rates at the top of my favorite things list.

These Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches at FineCooking.com will be a tasty addition to the list of light lunch ideas—and a great excuse to buy a new pan.  To accommodate all of our guests, I will adjust this recipe for a gluten-free and lactose-free menu, I like that I can make them in advance.  Who doesn’t need more recipes for make-ahead hors d’oeuvresI hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, etc.
3.  Subscribe to comments if you want an update to see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially please with your creation, send a photo to savoringtoday@comcast.net, or include a link to your site.

Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches

Source: by Kate Hays, Fine Cooking
Yield: 4 dozen
3/4     lb.  bacon — cut into medium dice
3       cups  medium-diced leeks — washed and drained
(about 3 leeks, white and light green parts only)
1 1/4   cups  half-and-half
1        cup  grated extra-sharp Cheddar (4 oz.)
2        large  eggs
2        large  egg yolks
2        tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1        teaspoons  kosher salt
1/2      teaspoons  freshly ground black pepper
1/4      teaspoons  ground nutmeg
Cooking spray
2        1.1 lb.  packages frozen puff pastry sheets — thawed according to package directions (preferably Pepperidge Farm brand)
Flour as needed for rolling out the dough

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until browned and crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 to 2 Tbs. of fat in the skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

While the leeks cool, combine the half-and-half, Cheddar, eggs, egg yolks, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Add the cooled leeks and the bacon and stir to combine.

Assemble the mini quiches: Lightly spray four mini muffin tins (or two if your tins have two dozen cups) with cooking spray.

Working with one sheet of puff pastry dough at a time, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 10- by 18-inch rectangle. Stamp out 3-inch circles of dough with a cookie cutter and gently press the rounds into the mini muffin tins, making sure that each round is centered and that the dough extends up to the top of the tin. Fill each with about 1 Tbs. of filling-you can fill right to the top of the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling until all the filling is used. You may not need all the dough; save leftovers for another use. You can bake the quiches immediately or freeze and bake them later (see Make-Ahead Tip, below).

To bake: Heat the oven to 400°F and position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Bake the quiches, switching the position of the tins halfway through baking, until the filling is puffed and the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Make Ahead Tips: Unbaked quiches can be frozen for up to a month. Freeze the quiches in the muffin tins for about 2 hours, or until set. Remove them from the tins and transfer them to an airtight container, setting parchment or plastic wrap between layers, or seal them in a plastic bag. To bake, transfer the quiches back to the tins and bake immediately, without thawing. Baking time for frozen quiches will be about 30 to 35 minutes.

NOTES: You’ll need four mini muffin tins for this recipe (or two if your tins have 24 cups). If you don’t have enough muffin tins, you can assemble the quiches in batches, storing the remaining egg mixture and dough in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Cheesecake Strawberries with Chocolate Accents

My first introduction to the concept of filling a strawberry with the flavors of cheesecake was featuring a post by Nutmeg Nanny many Fridays ago. When I finally got serious about making these little gems for a bridal shower, there were tweaks to the recipe I could not resist—lemon zest is a must in cheesecake—and they were absolutely fabulous.  Juicy, ripe strawberries dressed in flavors of cheesecake, graham cracker, and chocolate create a beautiful presentation and a memorable dessert for a shower or any gathering.  What a great way to make the most of what is left of summer berries!

Cheesecake Filled Strawberries with Chocolate Accents

Yields approximately 30 Stuffed Berries
2   pounds  strawberries — stem and core removed, bottom trimmed flat
2   teaspoons  lemon zest — minced fine
8   ounces  cream cheese — softened
3   tablespoons  powdered sugar
1    teaspoon  vanilla extract
2   squares  graham crackers or Milano cookies — crushed fine
1   cup  white or dark chocolate — chopped or in chips, melted

Rinse strawberries and dry well. Trim the cap and hull strawberry with a paring knife, creating a small pocket. In order to stand the berries upright, trim the bottom of the strawberry creating a flat base.

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla with a mixer until creamed and fluffy. Add cream cheese mix to piping bag or large Ziploc bag with a small piece of the bottom corner cut off.  Set aside.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Place a dime-size amount of chocolate on a baking sheet or tray lined with wax paper. Place a strawberry on top of chocolate and cooling until chocolate hardens. This chocolate base adds stability to the strawberries, especially in transport.

Using the piping bag or Ziploc bag, fill strawberries with the cream cheese filling. Sprinkle with crushed graham crackers.  Accent with chocolate to finish the strawberries.  Allow chocolate to harden or set.


NOTES: Large strawberries are best, requiring fewer berries, yet any size will work. Strawberries kept in the refrigerator will sweat in a warm room. Remove from refrigeration well in advance to allow time for the berries to come to room temp and dry well before dipping in chocolate or filling.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Simply Delish
Mom Trends
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches: Authentic Smoky Flavor From the Grill

What foodie doesn’t dream about more cooking stuff?  I know I’ve been eyeballing a Traeger Smoker for a while now with visions of smoked brisket dancing in my head. So, what am I supposed to do until the smoker fairy drops one in my lap?  Well, for now I’ll grill on cedar planks, which turns out a succulent smoky chicken, perfect for BBQ sandwiches.

Yes, Traegers can occasionally be found at Costco doing a road show, but Costco has cedar planks too, which are far easier to budget. If you have a gas grill, the planks are all you’ll need to make this smoked chicken (see photos below). I made these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches recently for a large gathering and heard from a couple of folks it was the best barbecue they had ever tasted.  Give it a try to see for yourself.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Serves 6-8
8       whole  chicken thigh — bone-in, skin removed
onion powder
granulated garlic
smoked paprika
sea salt and ground black pepper
1        7″x16″  cedar plank — untreated, designed for grilling
Sauce:
1         large  onion — peeled and quartered
1/4       cup  water
1 1/2    cups  ketchup
1 1/2    cups  apple cider
2        tablespoons  palm coconut sugar or brown sugar
3        tablespoons  Worcestershire sauce
4        tablespoons  Dijon mustard
1/3      cup  molasses
1/2      teaspoon  ground black pepper
4        tablespoons  apple cider vinegar
1        tablespoon  liquid smoke flavoring
1        tablespoon  olive oil
4       medium cloves  garlic — minced
1        tablespoon  chili powder
1/4      teaspoon  cayenne pepper or a splash or two of Chipotle Tobasco

Soak cedar plank in water for an hour or so. Remove skin from chicken thighs. Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with onion powder, granulated garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.

On a gas grill, place soaked cedar plank directly over medium heat and allow wood to get hot, 3-5 minutes. Place chicken directly on the cedar plank and cook over medium-low heat (this will depend on the grill, so you may have to adjust the temp to be sure the plank stays hot enough).

As the chicken cooks, rotate one or two pieces at a time and cook directly on the grill for a few minutes, then back to the plank. This will help the chicken cook through. During the cooking process, the wood plank will char and smoke which is ideal. If the wood should begin to catch fire, simply spray those parts with a little water.

Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and allow to cool until easy to handle. This is the time to make the sauce.

FOR THE SAUCE: Process onion and water in food processor until pureed. Pass mixture through fine-mesh strainer into liquid measuring cup, pressing on solids; this should produce approximately 3/4 cup strained onion juice. Discard solids.

Whisk onion puree, ketchup, apple cider, sugar, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, pepper, cider vinegar, and liquid smoke together in medium bowl. Heat oil in nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until shimmering; add garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in ketchup mixture; increase heat to medium-high, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until flavors meld and sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. This will yield approximately 4 cups of sauce.

Remove chicken from the bone with fingers. Remove any gristle, fat, or connective tissue so that only the meat remains. Pull chicken meat apart so that it is in small strips and pieces.

To serve, toss chicken with desired amount of sauce in a separate large skillet or oven dish–add as little or as much sauce as you prefer. Extra sauce can be stored in the refrigerator. Heat chicken with sauce in the skillet over medium-low heat or in the oven at 350° until incorporated and heated through. Serve on whole wheat buns with coleslaw on top if desired.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich without Coleslaw

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Hearth & Soul Hop
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries [via Nutmeg Nanny]: Feature Fridays

It is Fourth of July and folks will make some amazing patriotic themed foods this weekend.  When this post from Nutmeg Nanny caught my eye last week, I quickly scooped up the recipe for a bridal shower, but then realized a single blueberry on top of this fruity, cheesecake goodness would make a fabulous red, white, and blue treat (without the artificial food colorings).  Take a look, browse a little, and do what the photo suggests. Enjoy!


Update:
Check out this version of Cheesecake Strawberries with Chocolate too!

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries with Chocolate Accents

July 4th BBQ Menu: A Declaration of Flavor

Before loading the blanket in the car and heading for the annual fireworks and funnel cakes extravaganza, something has to hit the grill for the evening barbecue.  Everyone has a favorite that speaks “July 4th backyard barbecue” to them—pasta salad, watermelon, hamburgers, macaroni salad, baked beans, BBQ pork sandwiches, potato salad, steaks, apple pie, and sweet iced tea—all of it worthy of celebrating independence, American-style.

In case you are looking to add something new to your list of favorites or planning a barbecue of your own for the first time, here are a few recipes to consider.  The beauty of this menu is the timing of it all.  Guests can munch on hummus or salsa while ribs finish in the oven, beans stay warm in the crockpot, and dressed slaw marinates in the fridge. Meanwhile, everyone is enjoying ice-cold Strawberry Lemonade or  Rosé Sangrias as the vegetables and corn finish grilling.

JULY 4th BBQ MENU

Something to Nibble:
Chips & Salsa
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

The Main Attraction:
Missouri-Style Baby Back Ribs
Baked Beans
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Classic Coleslaw -or- Celery, Apple,  & Fennel Slaw
Grilled Vegetables

Smooth Sipping:
Rosé Sangria with Pineapple & Guava
Strawberry Lemonade

Sweet Endings:
Sliced Watermelon
Chocolate Dipped Fruit
Triple Chocolate Cookies

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Yield: 2 cups
6      tablespoons  tahini
1/4     cup  extra-virgin olive oil
14       ounces  chickpeas — drained and rinsed
1/2     whole  red pepper — roasted
1        large  garlic clove — minced
1/2     teaspoon  sea salt
3       tablespoons  lemon juice
2       teaspoons  chopped fresh parsley
pinch of cayenne

Roast red pepper, skin side up, under a broiler until skin blisters and is blackened in spots.  Remove from oven and place pepper in a plastic bag to cool–the steam in the bag will make it easier to remove the skin. Once the pepper has cooled, remove the skin and coarsely chop the pepper. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in small bowl or measuring cup.

Process chickpeas, roasted red peppers, garlic, salt, and cayenne in food processor until chickpeas are almost smooth.  Add lemon juice and tahini, scrape down bowl and continue to process until well incorporated, about 1 minute. With machine running, add oil in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds.

Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle with parsley, cover with plastic wrap; let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes.  Serve with pita chips or rosemary crackers.

Missouri-Style Baby Back Ribs

“Show-Me” barbecue sauce is the perfect sweet-smoky way to bring out the great flavor of tender slow-roasted ribs.
Serves: 4-6
1-2     racks baby back pork ribs (4-5 lbs)
3/4    cup  Lawry’s Mesquite Marinade (optional)
3/4    tablespoon  Italian seasoning
3/4    tablespoon  onion powder
3/4    tablespoon  garlic powder
1      tablespoon  Paul Prudhomme Meat Magic
1      tablespoon  cumin — ground
1/8    cup  Worcestershire sauce
1      teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
2      bottles  beer — preferable Guinness
1      bottle  Show-Me BBQ Sauce — or your favorite

Grill & Oven Method:
Season ribs with the Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, Meat Magic, cumin, and black pepper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The step of seasoning overnight can be skipped if there is a time constraint.) In a charcoal grill, arrange hot coals on one side in the bottom of the grill to create a hot side and a cool side. Grill ribs over coals to sear, rotating to cool side of grill to avoid charring.

Grill for 30-40 minutes to allow meat to pick up smoky flavor. Remove from grill and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Baste with marinade and Worcestershire sauce. Pour beer in the bottom of the pan and cover with a tent of aluminum foil. Bake at 325° for 3 hours or until meat is tender and  loosening from the bone. Uncover, baste with barbecue sauce and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until sauce caramelizes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut ribs between the bones and serve.

Oven Method:
Season ribs with the Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, Meat Magic, cumin, and black pepper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The step of seasoning overnight can be skipped if there is a time constraint.) Heat oven to 325°F.

Place ribs in roasting pan and evenly baste seasoned ribs with marinade and Worcestershire sauce. Pour beer in the bottom of the pan and cover with a tent of aluminum foil. Bake at 325° for 3-4 hours or until meat is tender and loosening from the bone. Uncover, baste with barbecue sauce, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until sauce caramelizes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut ribs between the bones and serve.

NOTES: Ribs can be prepared in advance and frozen. When prepared ahead of time, omit barbecue sauce until ribs are reheated.

Grilled Vegetables

Serves: 4-6
1       medium  zucchini — sliced 1/4″ thick, lengthwise
1       medium  yellow summer squash — sliced 1/4″ thick, lengthwise
2       large  sweet onions — sliced 1/4″ thick, in rings
1        whole  red bell pepper — cut into 2″ pieces
1        whole  yellow bell pepper
1       pound  cherry tomatoes — stems removed
10       cloves  garlic — unpeeled
skewers
salt and pepper
favorite spice such as Italian seasoning, curry, granulated garlic, etc.

Prep vegetables as directed. Skewer peppers together, cherry tomatoes together, and garlic cloves together.

Arrange prepared vegetables and skewers on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any favorite spice— Italian seasoning, curry, granulated garlic, etc. (simple salt & pepper works great by itself too).

Let vegetables sit for 10-15 minutes and then grill over med-high heat until just tender and striped with grill marks. Remove each type of vegetable when done and place back on rimmed baking sheet.

Remove skewers from tomatoes, peppers, and garlic.  Remove peel from garlic  and slice squash (roasted garlic should pop right out).  Mix vegetables together in a large serving tray and serve warm.

NOTES: Smaller squash can be halved lengthwise rather than cut into slices. By placing like items on skewers–tomatoes with tomatoes, pepper with peppers, etc.–each one can be removed from the heat when done without leaving other items uncooked. Finished vegetables can be placed in a warm oven until ready to serve.

So, what food says, “July 4th backyard bBQ” to you?

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Mom Trends Friday Foods
Girlichef Friday Potluck
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania