Sunday, June 13, 2010

June Wedding - June 2010

 Diva:  Colleen

Drinks:  Mariah
Red Faerie

3 oz. Pinot Noir 

½ T sugar

½ oz. apple juice 

Dash of lemon juice 

Dash of grapefruit juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker full of ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with skewered, frozen red grapes offset by slices of green apple.

Wedding Cake Martini

1 ½ oz. Amaretto (Disaronno)
½ oz. Vodka, vanilla
1 oz. Pineapple Juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker full of ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a martini glass. 


Appetizer:  Tamara
 Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus

4 sheets of phyllo dough thawed
1 c dairy free cream cheese mixed with fresh chives (chopped)
1 bunch of fresh asparagus
½ c vegan butter
panko breadcrumbs
fresh parsley (for garnish)

Pre-heat the oven to 375.  
Spread the cream cheese mixture on the phyllo sheets, doubled up
slice the phyllo sheets into 4ths then again into 3in x 3in squares
take the asparagus and wrapped into the dough from one corner to the next, creating a triangular shape

brush each wrap with the vegan butter and sprinkle with the panko breadcrumbs
bake for 20-25 minutes (or until the breadcrumbs have browned)

chop the parsley and sprinkle on top for garnish and serve


Salad:  Ashley
Arugula and Mixed Greens with Strawberry Vinaigrette and Cheddar Crisps

8oz cheddar cheese

1 egg

¼ c all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

¾ tsp ground red pepper (optional)

24 strawberries, hulled

6 T extra-virgin olive oil

6 T balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 tsp chopped fresh lemon thyme

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

8 c arugula

8 c mixed baby greens

2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced

1 green onion, finely chopped

To make the crisps: Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly oil a baking sheet or use a Silpat.  Cut the cheese into ½ inch cubes.  In a small bowl, beat the egg with 2 tbs cold water.  In another bowl, combine the flour, red pepper, if using, and salt.  Working in batches, toss the cheese in the flour, then in the egg and again in the flour.  Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. 

To make the salad:  Put 20 strawberries in a food processor and process until pureed.  You should have a little more than a cup.  Slice the remaining strawberries and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the strawberry puree, oil, vinegar, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Add honey or sugar to sweeten if necessary.  
Divide greens evenly among plates, drizzle with the vinaigrette and top with the green onion, sliced avocado, sliced strawberries and cheddar crisps. (Serves 12)

(Adapted from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool)

Soup:  Aven
Avgolemono Soup (Greek Egg-Lemon Soup)

2 c milk
2 T cornstarch
6 egg yolks, beaten
2 quarts vegetable stock
½ c aborio rice
¼ c butter
chopped parsley
½ c fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
1 lemon, rind of, grated
salt and pepper

Stir the milk and cornstarch together and beat in the egg yolks.  Set aside.
Bring the stock to boil in a 4-quart soup pot and add the rice.  Cook, covered, until the rice is puffy and tender, about 25 min.  Remove the soup from heat, add milk and egg mixture, stirring carefully.  Continue to cook for a moment until all thickens.  Remove from the heat again and add the butter, chopped parsley, lemon juice, and finely grated lemon peel.

(Adapted from

Side Dish:  Sara
Spinach and Artichoke Twice Baked Potatoes

1 very large Idaho baking potato
2 c chopped baby spinach (heaping)
2-3 artichokes from a can, stem removed and chopped fine
1 shallot chopped
1 clove of garlic grated
salt and pepper to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes
¼ c + 1 T of Greek Yogurt
⅓ c Grated Swiss Cheese + extra for sprinkling
Olive oil for sautéing

Bake the Idaho potato till it is done and soft in the middle. You can do this however you bake potatoes (please say not via microwave).  Cut the potato in half and allow to cool.
In a skillet, heat olive oil (about ½ T) over medium heat.  Add in shallot and start to sauté.  When the shallot starts getting a bit soft then add in the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and grated garlic.  Combine and sauté for about another minute watching the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn.  Add in the spinach and artichokes, sauté until the spinach is wilted.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Scoop out the inside of each half of the potato and add to a medium sized mixing bowl.  Make sure to not scoop out the entire inside but leave about a quarter inch or so border so that the potato will hold together.  Mash the insides of the potato in the mixing bowl till it’s smooth.  Add in the yogurt and the spinach and artichoke mixture.  Stir till combined then add in the ⅓ c of grated Swiss cheese.

Scoop mixture back into the potato halves, distribute equally between each half.  The potatoes will be stuffed and over-flowing, this is what you want.
At this point you can heat them up and serve or cover and refrigerate until you’re ready for them.

Right before pulling them out of the oven upon reheating, sprinkle with remaining swiss cheese allowing it to melt.  Serve immediately and enjoy!
  (Serves 2)


Entree:  Stacey
Triple-Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

6 medium chicken breasts--trim and cut slit in thicker end

1 c ricotta cheese

1 c shredded gouda cheese

⅔ c shredded parmesan cheese

3 T fresh basil, chopped

2 T fresh oregano, chopped

1 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning

2 T olive oil
salt and pepper

½ c white wine

Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts.  Combine cheeses, basil, oregano, lemon-pepper seasoning and a little salt and pepper in a bowl.  Stuff about 1/3 of a cup of stuffing in chicken breasts.
Place the chicken in a baking dish.  Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45-55 mins. until chicken is no longer pink.  Pour wine over the chicken and bake for the last five minutes.  (Serves 6) 

(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
Dessert:  Lovina
Southern Red Velvet Cake

Vegetable oil for the pans
2 ½ c all-purpose flour
1 ½ c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 ½ c vegetable oil
1 c buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 T red food coloring (1 ounce)
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Crushed pecans, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.

Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.

Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.

Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with the pecans.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 c sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Yield: enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake

(From the, Sara Moulton)


Lottery:  Erin

Friday, June 4, 2010

Italian Al Fresco Family Divas - May 2010

Diva:  Stacey

Drinks:  Lovina

Red and white wines and flavored sparkling waters

Appetizer:  Mariah and Colleen
World's Best Artichoke Dip (Mariah)

8 oz artichoke hearts
8 oz fresh grated parmesan cheese
8 oz whipped cream cheese
8 oz mayonnaise or sour cream
Add a few shakes of red pepper flakes for a little flare

Mix in large bowl.  I don't recommend blending this in a food processor, as artichoke heart leaves are best in larger pieces.  Spread in baking pan, up to 3" deep.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbling with brown edges.  Cool and serve whatever strikes your fancy I am a serious fan of raw asparagus!

(Modified from

Caprese 3 ways (Colleen, for 27):

3 lb fresh mozzarella
a little over 2 lbs of tomatoes

fresh basil


olive oil


Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes in approximately 1/4 inch slices.  Rinse and dry basil.  For 1st variation, stack mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaf and arrange on a tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.  For variation 2, stack mozzarella and tomato and arrange on a tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.  For the 3rd variation, I used pesto (recipe follows) that I had added extra olive oil to to make it fairly thin.  Stack mozzarella and tomato and arrange on a tray.  Spoon thinned pesto over "stacks".  Sprinkle with salt to taste.


2+ cloves of garlic

~2 inch chunk of parmesan
~1/4 c pine nuts

lots of basil

olive oil



Place first 3 pesto ingredients into a food processor.  Fill the rest of the food processor with basil.  Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Food process until smooth.  Add more olive oil until desired consistency is reached.

Salad:  Aven
Tortellini Salad Al Fresco

⅓ c olive oil
1⅓ c white basalmic vinegar
⅓ c raspberry jam
1 T mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste

1 c sundried tomatoes
½ red onion, sliced thin
¼ c capers
1 c  olives, quartered
1 ½ to 2 lbs asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
24 oz. tortellini (3 boxes)

Mix dressing ingredients.
Marinate onions and tomatoes in dressing while preparing other ingredients.
Cook tortellini according to package directions, during last 3 minutes of cooking add asparagus, add broccoli rabe during final minute. 
Drain and rinse under cold water.
Toss pasta and veggies with remaining ingredients. 

For vegan/gluten free version use brown rice in place of tortellini.

Side Dish:  Bonnie
Asparagus with Gremolata

1 bunch parsley
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon,
 5 cloves garlic
½ c olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.

Put in a food processor and whirl until it is a thick sauce.  Thin with additional olive oil if desired.  Spoon over roasted or steamed asparagus.

Entree:  Ashley
Braised Beef Braciole Stuffed with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

1 2-lb flank steak
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ c shredded Parmesan cheese
1 c shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese
⅓ c bread crumbs
12 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
¼ c olive oil
1 yellow onion, cut into thin strips
½ c red wine
1 28 oz. can (3 c) whole tomatoes and their juices, pureed
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Set the flank steak on a large cutting board.  Using a chef’s knife, slice the steak lengthwise along one side and open it up like a book.  Using a meat pounder, flatten the meat so it’s about ¼ inch thick.  Sprinkle both sides of the meat with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.  For the stuffing, put the mozzarella, parmigiano, breadcrumbs and basil in a mini chop or food processor and pulse to combine.  Sprinkle the stuffing evenly over one side of the beef and roll it up lengthwise jelly roll-style with the mixture inside.  Secure with kitchen twine in 5 or 6 places.

Heat half the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering hot.  Add the beef and cook until it browns and releases easily from the pan, about 2 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side until browned, about 5 more minutes.  Transfer to a large plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the onion to the pan, and lower the heat to medium.  Sprinkle with ½ tsp salt and cook, stirring until the onion wilts completely and turns a light brown, about 8 minutes.  Add the red wine and cook, stirring until it almost completely reduces, about 2 minutes.  Add the tomato and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a gentle simmer and tuck the meat and mushrooms into the broth.  Cover and cook, repositioning the meat occasionally, until the meat becomes tender and cuts easily with a paring knife, about 1-½ hours.  Set the meat on a cutting board and let rest for 10-15 minutes.  Thinly slice and serve topped with the sauce and vegetables.

Dessert:  Erin
Chocolate Tiramisu Mousse

1 c double strength coffee OR 1.5 T instant espresso powder dissloved in 1 c water

¼ c granulated sugar
¼ c rum (light or dark)

⅓c unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ¼ c whipping cream, divided

2 c mascarpone cheese
¼ c powdered sugar, more for optional garnish

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 oz semisweet choclate, grated, divided

24 ladyfingers, hard or soft

In a shallow dish, combine the coffee, granulated sugar, and rum.  Set aside, stirring occasionally to ensure sugar dissolves.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder with 1/4 c (I used 1/2 c) of the cream and stir to mix, then stir in the mascarpone cheese until smooth and evenly blended.

Whip the remaining 1 c. of cream with an electric mixer at a medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, then fold in half of the grated chocolate.

Dip 1 side of half the lady fingers in the coffee mixture. Line the bottom of a 9x13 pan** (or a 10" springform pan or trifle dish) with ladyfingers espresso side up. Cover them with half of the mascarpone filling. Dip 1 side of the remaining ladyfingers into coffee mixture. Lay them, espresso side down, over the filling. Spread the remaining filling. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours*** or overnight. Just before serving sprinkle the remaining grated chocolate over the tiramisu. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and cut into squares to serve.

Makes 12 16 servings and can be made up to a day in advance.  I doubled the recipe for our Divas and Dudes picnic.

Wild Card:  Tamara
Italian Herb Bread

1 ½ c water
2 T butter
4 c bread flour
2 T sugar
2 tsp salt
3-4 T of an Italian herb mix or or any combination of your favorite Italian herbs.
1 ½ tsp fast rise or 2 tsp active dry yeast

If using fresh herbs, double amounts.

Use the dough cycle of a bread machine and bake in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes.  Cool before cutting.

Lottery:  Sara