In The Kitchen With Waspy

Recently, I hosted a fun little get together at my apartment with some of my lovely coworkers.  My friend Lannette had the idea to do an informal cooking class so that I could pass on some of my favorite recipes.

We decided to do an appetizer theme, and it was such a blast.  I planned a menu of several crowd pleasing nibbles that I knew would be easy to make with their help.  Basically all I did to get ready for the party was grocery shop, stage some cooking areas and then throw together a cheese tray so my guests wouldn’t starve while we made the rest of our spread.

The first thing we made was my classic hummus recipe.  You just can’t go wrong with this dish when entertaining.  Even people who don’t like hummus will like this hummus.  I’m getting requests from people in the office to make a “big old tub” to keep at work.  I can do that, anything for my coworkers!

Here’s the lovely Lisa & Liz digging in

Next I showed Sarah (Liz’s precious daughter), Barbie & Shauna how to make prosciutto wrapped asparagus.

Don’t they look so excited to be helping!

This party was the most genius plan ever.  I didn’t have to cook.  Usually when I entertain I’m cooking for hours leading up the party and I’m exhausted before anyone gets there.  This was different.  It reminded me of when Tom Sawyer tricks his friends into whitewashing the fence for him because he told them it was so much fun that they begged him to help.  Genius.

Oh, and in case you were wanting a recipe for the prosciutto wrapped asparagus… here’s a spoiler.  You blanch some asparagus, then you wrap it in prosciutto.  Done.

We made a bunch of other yummy things including grilled goat cheese sliders, rosemary lemon palmiers, spinach pinwheels & chocolate ganache pastry cups.  Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures, so I can’t link to any recipes for those.  Luckily I’ve blogged about the wonders of frozen puff pastry before, so if you want to get an idea how to make either the lemon rosemary palmiers or the spinach pinwheels you can read this post from my archives.  While this was a super simple party because it required virtually no prep – it did keep me really active in the kitchen either instructing or getting the next course ready.

I think everyone had a good time, and hopefully they picked up some tricks they can use to “bake it forward.”  I’ll look forward to hosting another one of these “Evenings with Waspy Red” again soon – perhaps we can do an all dessert theme, or a several course dinner.  There are so many options.

Thanks Bev for letting me steal your pictures from Facebook so I could share these shenanigans with the web!

6 Comments + Posted in: Uncategorized

Simple Homemade Lemon Bars

Hi There Internet!

Wow, it’s been a really long time since I shared a recipe with y’all.  I’ve missed you!  Sometimes you just need a little blogging break – and now that I’ve taken one, I’ve got a bunch of culinary energy built up and I can’t wait to share more recipes and silly stories about my WASPY life.

Ok – so lemon bars.  Yeah, you’re going to want to go ahead make these as soon as is reasonably possible.  They are sooo simple and delicious.  I made them for my roommate’s birthday earlier this week because she has been craving lemon desserts.  Who doesn’t love the freshness and tart/sweet combo of a lemon dessert?

Ingredients:

Crust-
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks of butter, diced
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling-
4 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice (depending on size, 8-10 lemons)

Directions:

Preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; grease the foil with oil or non stick cooking spray. Pulse the butter, flour, both sugars and the salt in a food processor until the dough comes together, about 1 minute. Press evenly into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the prepared pan, making sure there are no cracks. Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Whisk the whole eggs and yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl until smooth. Whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F. Pour the filling over the warm crust and return to the oven. Bake until the filling is just set, 30 to 35 minutes.

Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack, then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Lift out of the pan using the foil and slice. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

6 Comments + Posted in: Dessert, Recipes

Taking It Slow…

I have wanted a slow cooker for ages.  I’m pretty well equipped when it comes to kitchen gadgets and appliances, but a slow cooker (and an ice cream maker, swoon!) had remained on my wish list for years but for some reason never graduated to my “to buy immediately” list.

I think part of why I hadn’t caved and bought myself a slow cooker earlier, is that I kinda always felt like they were for super moms.  I’m pretty much the opposite of a super mom – I’m usually just cooking for myself, so the idea of making 8 servings of anything made me anxious.  Turns out they make smaller slow cookers these days, so that solved that problem.

I was so excited this past Christmas when my folks got me this 3.5 quart slow cooker by Cuisinart.  I couldn’t wait to start experimenting.

{Image from Cuisinart}

So far I’ve made a beef stew that was unremarkable in every way.  I would characterize it as being edible, palatable, just fine or “meh”.  Last night I made steel cut oatmeal with dried fruit… that was a really nice breakfast this morning.  My record on the slow cooker so far is 1-1.

I would love to hear some of your favorite recipes!  I know there is a huge slow cooking community out there in blog land, and I’m a bit overwhelmed by everything that’s out there.  If you know of a good cookbook, or have a recipe that I just can’t do without – pretty please leave me a comment and let me know.

Thanks in advance.

16 Comments + Posted in: Uncategorized

Green Eggs & Salad

Please excuse this lame photo taken under fluorescent lights.

Not green eggs and ham, but green eggs and salad!  This is a pretty good example of what I like to call “single gal suppers”.  This is how I eat during the week more often than not.  I love to make something that I can eat out of a bowl in front of the TV (yep – I eat on the couch in front of the TV, and I just admitted that to the Internet).  Cous cous with black beans & tuna, chick pea masala over brown rice, green eggs & salad – things like these are what I make for dinner when it’s just me, and its usually just me these days.

While green eggs & salad isn’t the healthiest thing in the world (pesto is a bit fatty), it’s certainly not bad for you.  I think it’s a reasonable weekday meal, especially if I’ve been good all day.  Green eggs & salad is probably my favorite of the “single gal suppers” because it takes less than 10 mins to throw together, is meatless but still high in protein, and best of all only messes up one pan!

Ingredients:

2 large eggs, 1 egg white
1 tsp pesto (my recipe here, or store bought is fine)
3 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1 scant tbsp smoked tomato salad dressing (optional)
nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and egg white. Stir in the pesto and combine well. In a nonstick skillet or a stainless skillet with nonstick cooking spray cook the eggs over medium low heat, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula. Just before the eggs are firm, take them off the heat and continue to stir and fold them with the spatula. This will ensure that you don’t overcook your eggs.

Spoon the scrambled eggs over a bed of baby spinach (or field greens, or whatever lettuce you have on hand). As the finishing touch, and to add some color (that’s a lot of green on one plate) I like to drizzle a tad of Drew’s Smoked Tomato Salad Dressing on top.  I guess I also just outed myself for using store-bought salad dressing from time to time.  I promise I usually make my own simple Dijon vinaigrette or buttermilk ranch, honestly, like 99% of the time I make my own dressing.  This dish just calls for the smokey flavor of this prepared salad dressing and it is, after all, a single gal supper – so I think I get a pass.

2 Comments + Posted in: Recipes, Soups & salads

Spinach-Pesto Muffins

This is the first recipe I’ve tried out of a cookbook I received as a gift from a coworker this past Christmas.  The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book is a great resource on baking, and I’m sure I’ll be referencing it often.  Thanks Tim!

I made a few minor modifications to the recipe.  Some intentional, some not.  I’m really pleased with how these savory muffins turned out, and I think my coworkers enjoyed them.  Everyone kept asking if they were healthy because they had spinach in them.  My response was, “well, its still a muffin” but I suppose there are many things I’ve made that are much worse for you.

This recipe will yield 24 regular muffins or 60ish mini muffins.  I decided to make mini muffins because then  you could choose to just try one and not totally destroy whatever kind of dietary resolution kick you might be on.  Not that I’m on one, but many of my coworkers are.  Aren’t I thoughtful?

Recipe Source: Williams Sonoma Baking book

Ingredients

For the Pesto

3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (I used walnuts because I loathe pine nuts)
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
salt to taste

For the Batter

6 cups all purpose flour (you could try using 3 of AP 3 of wheat)
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
6 large eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cup olive oil (I only used 1 cup, they were plenty moist and I think it didn’t need that extra fat)
2 cups milk
2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups mozzarella cheese (um, this is the unintended modification. I “lost” the mozzarella in my fridge and substituted 1 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan)

To make the pesto: in a food processor or blender combine all the ingredients and pulse till it forms a coarse paste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the muffin cups with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil and milk. Stir in the spinach until blended. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir until everything just barely comes together. The batter will be lumpy – do not over mix. Using a large spatula, fold in the pesto and the grated cheese. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling it level with the rim (they will not rise a ton while baking). There is no need to use muffin liners, just be sure you greased the cups well.

Bake until golden, dry and springy to the touch. 25 mins for regular muffins, 15 mins for mini muffins. Serve warm or room temperature. (They’re way better warm).

1 Comment + Posted in: Recipes, Sides, Uncategorized

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