I recently had a Mommy friend ask me, "How do you possibly still have time to have dinner parties?" Here is the answer.... ready? Wait for it..... I cheat. That's right! I'm shameless. I used to spend hours pouring over recipes to match up the courses and make extravagant dishes, with expensive ingredients. These days I steal a pre-set menu (this time from Martha Stewart Living, June 2007 actually I combined two different menus, but who's counting). I try to do as many pre-prep or pre-cook items as possible, and I usually buy dessert, I know pathetic right? However, I still get to cook, entertain, and enjoy myself so that must drop the level of pathetic. I'm sure foodies around the world are looking down their noses at me as we speak, I would have as some of you may know from listening to me complain about Sandra's semi-homemade on Food Network, which I still think should be called, Sandra takes store bought stuff out of a container, arranges it on a plate, and calls it homemade. My... awfully judgemental for the girl who bought brownies for dessert. Okay where were we? Oh yes....
We had a garden party last Saturday, it was full of quick and easy menu items that can be prepped around Blues Clues, Peek-a-boo and nap times. I also believe that this menu would be just as appropriate for a quick family dinner as for entertaining, and plan to use it again in the future. Here is the menu, I will give you two recipes this week, and two next week as I will be travelling for my lovely cousin's wedding. Also, I am trying to do a Mom friendly blog here, and if it would honestly take more time to write it all out than it did to cook it.
Shrimp with Herb Sauce
Pancetta Burgers with Grilled Zucchini and Balsamic Mushrooms
The first thing served and the hit of the party was what Martha Steward (Living July 2002) calls Herb Fruit Carafe, but since I spent the night saying... It's like an Italian Sangria I think for my recipe collection I will rename it Italian Sangria and save everyone the trouble. This is a perfect drink for people who like drinks to be refreshing but not super sweet, however it is dangerously deceptive and you should remember that it does contain alcohol.
Ingredients5 sprigs of basil
4 cups of fruit
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 bottle of sparkling Italian wine prosecco
3/4 cup vodka
Place basil, fruit, and sugar into a pitcher, mull together, pour vodka over the fruit let sit for at least an hour. Right before serving add a lot of ice, and pour the Prosecco over, stir to combine. Serve over ice, and garnish with small basil leaves.
We served two hors d' oeuvres .... pita chips with guacamole, and home made grilled jalapeno poppers (thanks mom) which are simple and a huge hit. Cut jalapeno in half, fill with cream cheese, wrap in bacon, grill until pepper skin blisters and bacon is crispy..... next!
Shrimp with Salsa Verde (also being renamed to Shrimp with Herb Pesto as Salsa implies tomato to me)
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
¾ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 lemons, 1 juiced 92 ½ tablespoons), 1 cut into 6 wedges for garnish
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
3 lbs large shrimp
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Soak skewers for at least 30 minutes. Place garlic, capers, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, mint, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, and red-wine vinegar into a mini food processor. Give a quick spin so it's not too liquidy. Add the oil a little at a time and spin again.
Preheat the broiler or prepare a grill. String shrimp onto wooden skewers for easy turning. n both sides to lay flat. Season with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Broil or grill for 2 minutes per side. Place 4 shrimp on each plate and spoon some of the sauce on the plate next to them so picky eaters can tread lightly. Serve with lemon.
Stay tuned next week for the rest of the menu.... enjoy your week.