Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sugar Snap Pea & Mushroom Salad

Let me just say I LOVE THIS SALAD!!!!
This recipe makes a lot (it serves 12!), which is a good thing, because you're going to need it! Light and refreshing, especially on a hot day, this salad is always a hit at any get-together. Crisp sugar snap peas, tasty mushrooms, and fresh herbs marinated in olive oil and vinegar?

Yes, please!

It goes together in a snap, and then just marinates until you're ready to go. How easy is that?

And let's face it, folks...everyone can always use another veggie dish! How many cookouts, potlucks, and family get-togethers have you been to where the food table is overwhelmed by sweets? I know I've seen more than my share. Give this a try, I know you'll like it!

Sugar Snap Pea & Mushroom Salad

3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
6 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
9 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
8 c. sugar snap peas (1 lb.)
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

Begin by marinating the mushrooms: whisk the olive oil, vinegar, and salt & pepper together in a medium sized bowl. Add the mushrooms, toss to coat, and marinate for at least 45 minutes or up to overnight, stirring occasionally.

Cook the snap peas: fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a large saucepan of water and 1 tbsp salt to a boil. Add snap peas and cook for 2 minutes. Drain peas and immediately submerge in the ice water. Let sit until chilled, approximately 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Drain the mushrooms and discard all but 1 tbsp. of the marinade. Toss the mushrooms, snap peas, reserved marinade and thyme and serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caramelized Onion Dip

For all you onion lovers out there, make sure your shoelaces are tied up tight because I'm about to knock your socks off!

This dip isn't exactly Monet in a bowl, but onions weren't born to be pretty - they're planted and grown, chopped and sauteed, for the sole purpose of making the whole world smile!

Do onions make YOU smile?

Caramelized onions are so wonderfully piquant that they alone contribute to the rich flavor of this dip. The Greek yogurt, sour cream, that pinch of cayenne and splash of lemon do play wonderful supporting roles with this spread, but they couldn't pull this off without the onions!

Dip Dip...Hooray!!

Side note:
I would be more than happy to testify that this dip smeared on a hamburger fresh off the grill is a truly stellar idea!

Caramelized Onion Dip

One Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Large Onions
(any kind you want; yellow, white, or red)

Coarse Salt
3 Tablespoons Water
1-1/2 Cups Greek Yogurt
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onions with 2 teaspoons salt, stirring often, until caramelized, 35 to 40 minutes.

Add water; cook, scraping any brown bits from bottom to deglaze skillet. Transfer onions with brown bits to a medium bowl; let cool for 30 minutes.

Stir in yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, and cayenne into onions. Sprinkle with cayenne. Refrigerate.

Serve with pita chips, pretzels, rice chips, vegetables............hambuuuuuurgers(?)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Apple Tasting

Here's a re-post of last year's Apple Tasting for those of you joining the party a little late! There's not much time left for apple picking this year, so check out what apples WE loved best and then taste-test your own!


If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what would twelve apples do?

We were about to find out at our seventh Food Tasting Party because we found ourselves 12 different kinds of apples and we bought them all to taste test! BUT, before we started tasting individual apples, we decided we should most definitely have dessert first. Can you think of a better way to start a party than sitting down to a beautiful, luscious, mouth-watering dessert? No? Well then, we're sorry you missed this party!

Check out the fabulously warm cinnamon bread topped with apple ice cream, buttery caramel sauce, and Honeycrisp Apple bites that was served as an introduction AND tribute to the all-time favorite fruit - the Apple.

In case you're was DEE. VINE!

And the recipe will come in time - after we do a little creative tweaking.....

So! As the ladies licked their plates clean and poured themselves a fresh glass of white wine, we started cutting into Apple number one - the Golden Delicious. As the Big D. was passed around, many were surprised by the great flavor of this yellow delight, because many of us had childhood memories of it being a little on the mushy side with a much milder flavor. We were pleasantly surprised by the first apple of the day, so we were off to a great start!

But then there was the Ginger Gold apple and he didn't really impress anyone, so we won't even waste time talking about him - too many apples, too little time, so we're moving on....

What's the phrase, "Beauty that's only skin deep."? Sadly, that would apply to our most widely grown apple in the world, the Red Delicious - no genetic relation to the Golden Delicious by the way. Miss Red Delicious was hands down, the prettiest of all the apples at the party, with her shiny, crimson exterior, but it only took one bite of this beauty queen to realize that she's just another pretty apple - not sweet, not juicy, not tart, not refreshing - just blah. Sadly, just as we all remembered her to be.

But then, there was the McIntosh Apple. I can personally say that the moment this apple touched my lips, memories of growing up amidst a small apple orchard and our family making gallons and gallons and gallons of apple cider came rushing back. It tasted just like cider. It had a refreshingly tart tint to it, which we all enjoyed as it brought a nostalgic smile to our faces, but in the end, it's tartness was too much punch to make the coveted top three.

The Red Cortland, a relative of the McIntosh, was a pleasant apple also, but once again, it's flavor was not enticing enough to sneak into the top three.

A relative of the Red Delicious, but oh so more pleasing to the palate was the Fuji, which was discovered in Japan in the 1930's. Fuji is always a good idea for your one-apple-a-day and we all enjoyed the flavor from Japan, but only Carrie actually gave it top three honors.

And then there's the most seemingly popular apple, the Gala, which when quizzed, nearly everyone admitted that Gala was the one apple they purchased most on a week to week basis. This hybrid of the Golden D. developed in New Zealand in the 1930's is simply a great apple. Unfortunately, the one we were serving at this party was a little soft and mealy, which is completely uncharacteristic of the Gala, so even though this single apple failed to shine at this particular moment, we all agreed that in our hearts, we knew that as a 'breed' of apple, the Gala was still one of the best.

But then, for the surprise sleeper of the party, an American apple developed in the 1940's - a cross between the Golden D. and Jonathan apple - came the Jonagold. This apple surprised everyone and the consensus was, "Now, that tastes like an apple." and Patty said she could actually taste the Waldorf Salad with each bite she took. This might be the apple you've been overlooking for all these years that's just begging for a taste test. Being that it made the top three of the majority of our apple eaters, we think it's worth a taste.

The baby of the group, the Honeycrisp apple took top three honors for nearly all of us. It was only just introduced in the 90's, but has become wildly popular in that short time simply because it is a fabulous apple. It's crisp, firm, sweet, clean, little tart, and it's most widely known for it's pear-drop flavor. This is a real winner of an apple!

The Braeburn out of New Zealand had a nice solid flavor, but I do believe it struggled to follow in Mr. Honeycrisp's footsteps. Karen, however, found the mild nature of the Braeburn to be more appealing than the ever-popular Honeycrisp. In fact, she awarded the Braeburn top three honors and snubbed the Honeycrisp altogether. Karen also found a new favorite apple of the day for herself in the Golden Delicious. It really impressed her - so much so that she placed it in her top three beside the Braeburn and Pink Lady, which we'll introduce shortly.

And who can forget the apple discovered by chance in the middle of Australia in the mid 19th century by a Grandma named Marie Smith? That's right, we're talking about the tart and sassy Granny Smith Apple. Only Jen and I chose this apple to be part of our top three, but in our hearts, it's a winner all the way. I think when it comes to the Granny, you either love her or you don't.

Speaking of Granny Smith, there is no apple better suited to be draped in caramel for the beloved sweet delight of a Caramel Apple than the Granny. We proved this theory by taste testing it. We melted some caramel with a sprinkle of cinnamon and covered two different apples with it. We then dipped the caramel apple in melted Callebaut white chocolate and sprinkled it with toasted chopped pecans. One apple used was the Granny, seen below, and the other was the hugely popular Honeycrisp apple.

Hands down, without a doubt, and no question about it, the Granny Smith apple stole the show. The tartness of Miss Smith paired with the melt-in-your-mouth caramel and the creamy rich high quality white chocolate was a home-run. The mildness of the Honeycrisp got lost in the caramel, but more tragic than that, the rich caramel flavor was muted by the lack of contrast.

Lesson learned? Granny Smith apples are the only apple that should be wearing caramel. It is what they were born to do!

And let's not forget the Pink Lady apple that's tangy and sweet, very refreshing, and a little crunchy too. She is the proud daughter of the Golden D. and Lady Williams and she took top honors amongst half of the apple eaters.

Since we are a cheese loving group, we also served three new cheeses to munch on between our apple bites. We found these three new cheesy finds at Whole Foods and they were as follows: Manchego, a very popular sheep's cheese in Spain, that mimicked a perfect Parmesan, but left a most desirable aftertaste of creamed butter....yum! Amadeus, an Austrian cheese, whose texture is similar to Havarti and it's taste is similar to Gouda. And "Yes" this cheese was named after the one and only Wolgang Amadeus Mozart. And last but not least, we chose a New Zealand Cheddar for it's piquant flavors and hint of cream. Yes, they were loved by all of us, and No, there wasn't a single crumb left on the plate....

Wine has been making an appearance at our last few parties, and this one was no different. The wonderful cheese lady at Whole Foods helped choose the perfect white wines to compliment our apples and cheese. They were Yard Dog, a wonderful wine out of Australia and

Gazela, a simple, delicate, but crisp white sipping porch wine. Check them out.

What's next?


That's right! Teri is very excited to introduce us to the wonderful and diverse world of squash, and as Carrie so eloquently put it, "We're going to go with Open Mouths and Open Minds!"

So, until then...taste-test some apples of your own and discover some new favorites, because after all, variety IS the spice of life!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Orange Chicken on the Fly

You have in your kitchen:

2 chicken breasts
a cup of orzo
a handful of toasted pecans
a beautiful zucchini from the garden
fresh cilantro
a tangy lemon
freshly shredded asiago
orange juice
chili powder


You create a fabulous chicken recipe on the fly, that's what you do!

Orange Chicken on the Fly

In a wok or skillet, heat coconut oil, roughly 2 tablespoons of orange juice concentrate, and a healthy tablespoon of chili powder, and then add cut-up chicken breasts.

Meanwhile, on the other burner boil enough water for a cup of orzo, then drop the orzo in to cook.

When the chicken has had a chance to start cooking, add the zucchini. You don't want the zucchini to get mushy - you want it to hold it's shape. Salt and pepper to taste.

When the orzo is al dente, transfer it to a medium-sized bowl, add a little more coconut oil, a splash or four of lemon juice, and a generous amount of chopped cilantro.

Pile the orzo onto a serving plate, followed by the chicken/zucchini combo. Decorate with toasted pecans and shredded asiago.

I think this is the prettiest way to display this fabulousness on the fly, but you could toss it all together if you like.

Serve immediately!
( Seriously! Immediately. :)

IF you do not eat this in one sitting, the next day you can add a touch of greek yogurt or sour cream and eat it cold or heated through.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spicy Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

What's better than showing up to a party with a dish that no one's had before and everyone's raving about? I don't know.....I can't think of anything. I DO know we all love to experience something fresh and new from the kitchen every once and awhile - a flavor combination we've never tasted before - and if you show up to your next party with this hot little number YOU and your savory little dip could be what everyone's buzzing about at the buffet table.

Of course, as it is with funky dips of this nature, not everyone will like this dip, and that's okay. They can eat the cheese whiz............

Spicy Yogurt And Cucumber Dip

(An Indian-inspired curry dip)

1/2 English Cucumber, peeled and grated
One Tablespoon Safflower Oil
2 Teaspoons Curry Powder
2 Cups Greek Yogurt
1/4 Cup Mango Chutney
One Teaspoon Finely Grated Ginger
1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Coarse Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Grate cucumber ( I like to use the the microplane ) and then squeeze between paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook curry powder until just beginning to bubble, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl; let cool slightly.

Stir in cucumber, yogurt, chutney, ginger, cilantro, one teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. refrigerate for at least one hour.

Serve with Pappadams or Rice Chips.

Dip can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Buckeye Candy - The Good Stuff!

It's Buckeye Time again so we're reposting this little number........

Go Bucks!!!


For those of you living under a rock, or outside the state of Ohio or Michigan, tomorrow is the BIG game between the OSU Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines. Of course, OSU will crush Michigan and as they do that, we'll all be cheering them on while wearing our Buckeye shirts, hats, and of course, our buckeye necklaces.

We wear the buckeyes around our neck because we can't eat them, due to the fact that they're mildly toxic. Instead, we take peanut butter and chocolate and create a candy that we can eat that looks just like a buckeye - smart, eh?

This is the thing, though....these Buckeye candies are super sweet and super horrible for you! It's never stopped us from making them or eating them, but we thought to ourselves, "There has to be a better way...."

And there is!

We posted a recipe not long ago of a family favorite called Peanut Butter Balls - remember them? They're a huge hit among kids and adults alike. As I ate one the other day, I thought to myself, "Wow, these are so good!" And then it happened....the light bulb moment...dipped in chocolate, these could pass as Buckeyes, easy!

Check out the difference in ingredients - but beware - the difference will shock you. This may be our greatest discovery yet!

ORIGINAL Buckeyes: 10 tablespoons butter, 3-1/4 cups powdered sugar, one cup peanut butter, and one tablespoon vanilla.

OUR Buckeyes: 4 tablespoons butter, one cup honey, one cup peanut butter, two cups dry milk powder, and one tablespoon vanilla.

The difference in butter and sugar alone is astounding!

Okay, here it is, the New recipe.....

Buckeye Candy - The Good Stuff!

4 Tablespoons Butter
One Cup Honey (no substitutes, please)
One Cup Peanut Butter
Two Cups Dry Milk Powder
One Tablespoon Vanilla
1-1/2 Cups Cherrios, mildly crushed
(in this recipe we crush the cereal a little because we don't want the O's sticking out and destroying the illusion of the Buckeye, but we don't want to leave them out either, because they add texture and fiber - and we could all use a little more fiber, wouldn't you agree?)

Melt butter and honey over low heat until hot and thinned. Remove from heat. Add powdered milk, peanut butter, and vanilla - mix well. This works the best with a big ol' Kitchen Aid Mixer. Add cereal and mix well.

Roll into any size ball you want - think of a Buckeye, here......

Place in fridge to let them harden a bit. Melt chocolate in double boiler. Take 5-6 peanut butter balls from the fridge at a time so they don't get soft, and puncture them with a toothpick one at a time, dipping them into the chocolate, leaving a bare spot on top - like a Buckeye - and place on a piece of parchment paper to allow the chocolate to set.

Once set, EAT!

Note: The recipe given above is a doubled recipe of the original Peanut Butter Ball recipe. This recipe will make approximately 60 small-medium Buckeyes.

Go Buckeyes!

Beat Michigan!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Blueberry Banana Bread

Now I know we have posted lots of bread and muffin recipes here on Party in the Pantry. Especially muffins. And we wanted to let you know we apologize.

No, not really. Sorry.

Because here's the thing...muffins and bread are GOOD, people! And you can never have enough good recipes for them in your cooking arsenal. What's not to like? They are a breeze to whip up, they freeze well, and people like them! I like to make a few different kinds to keep in the freezer in case we get impromptu guests, or if I need to shake up the weekday breakfasts for the kiddos. And muffins or breads always do the trick...especially if this is one of them!

This recipe is fantastic, just sooooo good!!! The citrus glaze is not necessary, as the bread itself is quite tasty all on it's own, but if you add it you will definitely NOT be disappointed in the least! So go stock up on blueberries and get to baking!

Blueberry Banana Bread

2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas
1/4 c. buttermilk (I used plain yogurt)
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 tsp lemon zest
1 c. blueberries, fresh OR frozen

Heat your oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. In another bowl, combine all other ingredients except the blueberries. Now, stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture slowly. Gently stir in the blueberries and mix just until combined. Pour the batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray and bake for 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert loaf out of the pan. Cool 10 minutes more.

Now, this bread is great if you stop right here, I promise you. But...if you want to kick it up another notch, you can whip up this little glaze to go on top:

1/2 c. confectioners sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest

Mix these 3 ingredients up and spread over the top of the warm loaf. Let cool completely before slicing. Oh my, my, my....I don't think you'll want to share this one!

Guess what?!? I made this over the weekend and the batter is enough for one smaller sized loaf AND a pan of 12 regular sized muffins! I just love having options, don't you?