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Dinner Partay

November 14, 2010

Sign of a good night:

Even better sign of a good night:

No Grill Boy and I did not down 4 bottles of wine on our own, we had my cousins over for dinner last night and finally got to bust out all our many wine glasses (and other glasses, we have two and a half kitchen cabinets dedicated entirely to drinking receptacles, versus the 3 shelves for food). With my parents in the Netherlands its great to have family close by and always fun to hang out with an adorable 5 year old!

This will be quite a long post, lots of recipes, but we had lots of fun breaking in our apartment for entertaining and hopefully you enjoy the recipes!

Best to start with dessert first right? I found a great recipe for a super fudgey chocolate cake and decided it was time to break in my giant cupcake pan that Grill Boy bought me for my birthday a few months ago.

Fabulous Fudge Chocolate Cake

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened

chocolate, melted

1 cup sour cream

1 cup boiling water

1. Mix the butter and brown sugar together

2.Add the eggs and mix again.

3. Add the melted chocolate and the vanilla extract (I just melted the chocolate in the microwave, and since I love chocolate I snuck in an extra baking square, shh don’t tell)

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt (into a separate bowl, works way better than attempting to sift into the kitchen aid mixer as I have tried in the past). It makes an awesome little mountain. When I was little this was my favorite part of baking, making the mountain and then pouring the “lava” (wet ingredients) onto the “volcano.”

5. Although in this recipe it is unfortunately the reverse and you pour the “Mountain” (flour) onto the “Lava” (butter, sugar, egg, chocolate mixture). Mix in half the sour cream and half the flour mixture.

6. Mix in rest of the sour cream and “mountains” (Starting to look tasty!)

7. Add the boiling water and mix

8. Pour into greased pans (whatever shape, size you want, this is enough for two 8×8 pans or a 9×13, or really anything probably, its about the same amount of batter you get from a box mix). Pop into the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. I will admit I slightly overcooked this, as delicious as undercooker batter is since it was my first time with the cupcake pan I didn’t want to risk a raw collapsing cupcake cake.

Simple Buttercream Frosting

1 Stick of Butter, slightly melted

2 cups Confectioners Sugar

2 Tablespoons Milk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

So I kind of forgot to take any pictures of the frosting, but as the name says it is simple just mix it all together, I usually use a whisk blender (or the attachment on the kitchenaid) and mix for around a minute or two to make it extra fluffy. Slap it on the cake in whatever design you want and boom, tasty cake. I went for kind of a Dr.Seuss-esque theme on this cake it seems, but it was pretty tasty, again a little overcooked, but always good to have room for improvement!

Butternut Squash Ravioli Sage Brown Butter Sauce

1lb Butternut Squash Ravioli (We got ours fresh from Russos)

1/4 Cup Raisins

1/4 Cup Craisins

1/2 Stick of Butter

1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

A few Fresh Sage Leaves

Fresh Grated Parmesan

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the raviolis, craisins and raisins. Boil for around 5 minutes (until the raviolis float to the top, the time will depend on their freshness), drain and put back in pot.

2. In a sauce pan, melt the butter and sage leaves, cook, stirring the whole time, until the butter browns (You will start to see brown bubbles appear on the bottom of the pan).

3. Immediately remove from heat and add the balsamic vinegar, this will stop the butter from cooking, and also boil on contact with the butter, expect loud noises and tasty smells.

4. Add sauce to raviolis and toss together.

5. Serve and top with fresh Parmesan.

Artichoke Dip

1 can Artichoke Hearts

8oz Cream Cheese(softened, leave out ahead of time)

1 Cup Parmesan Cheese

1/8 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard

1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

1. Drain the Artichokes

2. Blend the artichoke hearts (I did this in 2 batches in my Magic Bullet, if you have a food processor just dump everything in and mix).

3. Add the Parmesan, Cream Cheese, Mustard, Pepper, Lemon Juice and Garlic

4. Put in a bake safe dish and bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees, until lightly browned on top. Serve with bread, pita chips, veggies, crackers, or just a spoon 🙂

Or for a fun twist get an old sourdough boule (we got this one off the discount rack at Shaws), carve it out and bake the dip in the bread bowl. Also you can turn the extra bread into bread crumbs, just dry them out and blend up.

Grilled Asparagus

1 pound Asparagus Spears

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Really easy, just wash and trim the bottoms off the asparagus spears, pop onto some tin foil, brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Close up into a nice little tin foil package and grill for about 8-10 minutes. You could also just bake in the oven for about 15 minutes if you don’t have a grill available.

Simple Tahini Hummus

1 can Chickpeas

1/2 cup Tahini Sauce (Sesame Seed Paste, usually in the organic foods section of grocery stores, or near the nut butters if you are in a store with lots of nut butter)

1 clove Garlic

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 cup water

Blend it all together into a smooth paste, add more water if it isn’t blending. I used the Magic Bullet, but a bigger heavy duty food processor works best.

Also on the menu but without pictures:

Fall Harvest Salad

1 Bag Baby Spinach (We used a fresh bunch of spinach from Russos)

1 Granny Smith Apple (Diced)

5 oz Goat Cheese (Chevre)

1/2 Cup Candied Walnuts (See below for how to make your own, or Trader Joes sells really tasty pre-made ones, as well as candied pecans)

Spicy Spinach Dressing

2/3 Cup Vegetable Oil

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tablespoons White Wine

2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce

1 Teaspoon Sugar

1 Teaspoon Curry Powder

1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

Mix all together and enjoy!

Candied Walnuts

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup walnuts

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan.

2. Add the sugar, cook while stirring constantly until the mixture turns brown (about 5-8 minutes)

3. Add walnuts to the mixture.

4. Spread over a baking sheet, bake for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees until the center of the walnuts turn light brown in the center.

Lemon Pepper Chicken

1/2 lb chicken, cut to whatever size you desire

2 Lemons

1/2 Cup Newman’s Own Lemon Pepper Marinade

1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

1. Zest both lemons, and then cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.

2. Mix marinade, chicken, lemon zest, lemon slices, and pepper together, a day or so ahead of time. The long marinading time will tenderize the chicken and really bring out the lemon flavor.

Bourbon Steak Tips

1 lb Steak tips

1/2 cup of Bourbon (We used Makers Mark)

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Soy Sauce

3 cloves Garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil

Mix all together, and like the chicken, allow it to marinade for a day or two

Grill Boy Grilling Away

And in an effort to emulate Sandra Lee (from the Food Network). I don’t like her show, but it was on at the gym and we did bust out a nice little table scape:

But that looks boring, the best part was the centerpiece, a great idea from Grill Boy to go along with our fall menu

A great night all in all! Successful first dinner event in our new home!

~AND NOW A WORD FROM GRILL BOY~

Right so now Grill Boy will offer his anecdotes on the party.  First and foremost it was a huge success and a lot of fun!! Second Baker Girl’s recipe for lemon pepper chicken is full of hooey.  I made the chicken and as such I have no idea what sort of measurements I put in.  However, if one had to guess I would guess that is what it was.  All I know is that it is delicious and Baker Girl often requests I make it and thus I do.  I will adapt the recipe here and there depending on the seasons and the availability of ingredients and by ingredients I mostly mean Sam Adams Summer Ale.  Now one of the fun things about cooking with lemons is that they are a citrus fruit and as such they have citric acid.  Citric acid will actually perform a chemical process called denaturation on the chicken or fish, even beef to some extent. The proteins of the meat will change in a manner similar to what the heat of cooking does, so simply, if a little bit incorrect, you can think lemons cooking raw chicken.  It was one of the reasons I really enjoy marinating chicken with lemons.  I always put some lemon zest into the marinade for an added flare and then cut up the rest of the lemons and toss them into the marinade, this will be key when you are grilling them.  I always put the lemons on top of the meat when I am grilling so that the meat stays juicy even though some of it has been cooked by the citric acid during the marinating process.  Then it is also a nice little garnish piece for serving which is also a plus.

The steak marinade recipe as provided by Baker Girl is actually accurate-ish because I picked up a rough recipe from a chef I know, I really wanted a marinade that would fit in with the fall theme and the butternut ravioli and walla – bourbon steak tips.  Both the chicken and the steak were marinaded for about 48 hours.  I strongly suggest always marinading for several days, I do not speak from any cooking degrees or any of the such experience but what I do know is that it works and is awesome despite Baker Girl thinking I am crazy for taking such care, time and energy with marinades.

I actually was not that pleased with how the steak came out, I had grand visions of a nice juicy pink center paired with the butternut ravioli but I left them on the grill a bit too long while trying to time the other dishes and also because the grill is on our back steps and we currently do not have light out their currently.  Instead of being a nice medium rare the tips came out a little bit over medium well.  Either way they were still juicy, but not my proudest work.

Now enough about the food, because most of you reading this do not get to enjoy how DELICIOUS it all was.  You all want to hear about the comical disasters made by of yours truly.  While pouring the first round of wine I not only spilled a glass of wine it was FLUNG from my finger tips in a wonderful purple red hue all over the white table cloth and our wall, and yet I managed to save the glass.  However, the damage was done, our very nice looking table was soiled!! All in all a big old batch of salt on the spill helped a little but really only enough to make the table cloth able to be washed after dinner.

SLOOSH SPLASH and yet no crash!! that truly is the success of the dinner.

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