Tag Archives: party foods

Nine Super Bowl Tapas and Snacks (Easy and More Elegant than the Average Tailgate)

30 Jan
Chorizo on toast

Chorizo on toast

If you are getting ready for a Super Bowl party, I’ve got some styling, kickin’ tapas ideas for you! Just click on the picture for the recipe…they are all pretty easy (with the exception of the tortillas, which require a bit of derring-do, but are well worth it). They are also portable! Have a great Game Day…I’ll be back with more ideas soon!

¡Ole! ¡Fantástico!

¡Ole! ¡Fantástico!

Mussels vinaigrette (make em the night before)

Mussels vinaigrette (make em the night before)

Tortilla Torcal

Tortilla Torcal

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Lasagna Latina: Tortillas, Beans, and Shredded Chicken

4 Oct

The start of the semester for me and kindergarten for Leandro has me in a tizzy.

One month in, the days seem never-ending and yet never long enough. I am up at 5:30 a.m. every day. Eighteen hours later, I still find myself vertical, eyes open, preparing food, washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom (!), folding clothes, laying out everything for the morning in a semi-headachy fog, wrinkling my nose and wondering, in the words of David Byrne, “How Did I Get Here?”

Scenes from the Farm

So when — oh s**t! — the Restoration Farm End-of-Summer-Potluck came roaring up, I was sort of astonished, and not a little dismayed. Continue reading

Kid’s Party Snack Alternative: Bagel Buffet, Starring Cream Cheese Two Ways!

26 Jun

My pizza party days are over. I used to like the occasional slice, but once you have a kid and start attending kids’ parties with alarming frequency, the whole pizza thing becomes tedious (and hard on the waistline), except for the part about not having to figure out lunch for your kid for a day. I like that part a whole lot.

Mind you, I have served pizza at a number of Leandro’s parties. Three regular pies, sliced in 16ths, for the kids. Another one or two pies for the parents. Guilty as charged.

Cream cheese with chives

By the time they get served, the waxy cheese is getting hard, the crust is soft, and chewy and the sauce, whatever it was, is gone. Besides, regular slices bore the hell out of me. Call me a snob, but if you lived in Italy for a couple of years and ate wood stove-crispy thin pies (slice? Cosa e? Ma scherzi.…) topped with seasonal veggies and homemade sausage with a carafe of the charming local plonk most Friday nights out with your charming boyfriend who didn’t mind your bit of flirting with the charming Italians who owned the place….well, a leaden slice of regular from a box choked down to the soundtrack of overexcited preschoolers and bounce-house kiddie-pop might also feel somewhat wrong to you.

Maple-Walnut Cream Cheese

Anyhoo, I wanted to change it up just a little this time around. It’s not just the pizza thing; it’s that I like to cook and entertain and this seemed to me to be an chance to manifest my own self in a more public forum than usual. It is all well and good to set yourself up as a food blogger because your child has been indoctrinated to believe that what you are making him is good stuff. It’s quite another thing to lay it out there for public tasting and scrutiny.

And of course, the other reason is that in my universe, you honor your guests by serving them nice food.

We celebrated Leandro’s birthday at the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center at Jones Beach. The time was from 10 am-noon on a Sunday. If you have ever been in downstate New York on a Sunday morning, you will understand that bagels are the only appropriate response. It’s like the venerable five o’clock cocktail, only heavier on the carbs. So I went with pre-sliced mini-bagels from Seaford Bagel – convenient, but with ample opportunities to prepare a few spreads of your own.

Buffet table note: cheese and ham slices and mustard and mayo rounded out the buffet. Not one of my 50 Shades of Martha moments on the decor, but it worked well enough. A Box of Joe, juice boxes, and bottles of water completed the spread.

In my own defense, I am not completely bonkers and did not bake the main event: The “birthday cake” was cupcakes, ordered from Stop & Shop. Yes. A chain grocery store. Did you really think I was going to bake an effen cake!?! They were, by all accounts, delicious, topped with butter cream and decorated with Spiderman, Hello Kitty and other rings. Eternal thanks to the wisdom of Marianne/Madrina, for her bagel shop and cupcake source recommendations.

Among the spreads were tuna salad and egg salad (click to get those recipes from earlier posts), and the following two easy cream cheese variations. The maple-walnut spread was especially popular (and so easy it’s almost embarrassing). The kids mostly ate straight-up butter or cream cheese. But the parents and big kids who came to show solidarity were All Over the buffet table and even made a few to-go bagels. (Hector and Sean, I am naming names!!!). We also had plenty of bagels left over to pack in the cooler for our glorious, post-party beach afternoon.

I hope you’ll try them next time you want to bring up your bagel buffet game without killing yourself. Don’t pay for store-made. These are too simple and the praise too gratifying.

Thanks to all of you who came and made this day one of Leandro’s best and most memorable ever. I will eat your party pizza every time and enjoy your company, so don’t fret or hesitate to invite us to the next one. Leandro needs the break from his mom’s obsessiveness!

Cucumber slices are an easy dress-up for cream cheese and chives or tuna salad

Cream Cheese with Chives

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 Tbs chives, chopped

1 tsp green onion, chopped fine (including white part!)

In a bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly. Chill at least a half hour for flavors to incorporate.

Maple Walnut Cream Cheese

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 Tbs real maple syrup

½ tsp vanilla extract (if you actually have maple extract, you can use it here)

½ cup chopped walnuts, plus walnuts for garnish

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, syrup and extract. Stir in the walnuts and chill for at least 30 minutes. Turn the cream cheese into your serving dish and garnish with whole walnuts.

Asian-Inflected Steak and Asparagus Bites

6 Feb

I was looking for organic steak at Fairway Market in Plainview – one of my favorite places to shop for higher-end yet still reasonably-priced staples like Spanish chorizo, olive oils, tomato in cans, organic eggs — but instead found an irresistible deal:  U.S.D.A. prime hanger steak for $6.99 a pound. The prime designation means a higher quality of steak with loads of marbling (yes, fat) and virtuous me didn’t stand a chance against cheapskate bloodthirsty carnivorous me, so I bought 1.5 lbs and started to plan.

My friend Ashley was coming over, so I knew I’d have some support staff for child care AND prep, so I chose to do something I’ve been hankering after for weeks: Asian-flavored steak with asparagus. It is just slightly labor-intensive, but a show-stopper and I really should have given it to you earlier as a Super Bowl option, but better late than never.

We did half the meat that night, after the little guy was down (with a belly full of pizza and a promise of steak the next day). Must confess, once the pretty pictures were taken, we heaped all of the bites haphazardly on a plate, each grabbed a fork, and fell in like starving raptors from the Cretaceous Period.

The rest – two small steaks — I cooked whole the following evening on the broiler at our friend, Pam’s, without the asparagus (Yes, Leandro got his!). They were just as tasty, but almost 24 hours in the marinade did leave them almost too tender. The following recipe can be jiggled; use the greater amount of asparagus if you want to do all of the steak in wraps.

Anyhooo, I will be doing these the next time I entertain. I hope you will too!

Asian steak and asparagus bites

(factor in minimum marinating time of 30 minutes)

3 cloves garlic, minced fine

2 inch of ginger, peeled indifferently, and grated (about 1.5 packed Tbs; add more to taste)

2 tsp sesame oil

2 Tbs rice vinegar

4 Tbs soy sauce

1 – 1.5 lbs hanger steak (or other fairly thin, tender boneless cut)

1 – 2 lbs asparagus spears, washed, woody stems snapped off, and chopped into 2-inch pieces

Mix all ingredients except meat in a plastic freezer bag or a bowl. Add steak, coat thoroughly and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Reserving marinade, slice marinated steak ACROSS THE GRAIN* into thin slices and then cut the slices into strips suitable for wrapping artfully or not so artfully around asparagus spears. Lay steak and asparagus bites onto an oven rack with a catch dish underneath. Pour remaining marinade over and salt to taste. Cook for 5 minutes on each side (7-8 for well done) and serve.

*Cutting steaks across the grain cuts through the fibers that hold the muscles together and shortens them so the meat can barely hold together, thus, tenderness. This is especially necessary with my favorite muscle-y cuts: skirt steak (churrasco), flank steak and hanger steak. When raw, you will see natural lines across the meat. Slice against them (at a 90° angle, if I have understood Kenji at Food Lab (Serious Eats) correctly).

Tuna, Apple and Macaroni Shell Salad – luncheon, potluck, picnic, or BBQ fare

22 Mar

Just like mom used to make!

I needed a quick dish for the first potluck of the season at our new CSA (Restoration Farm at Old Bethpage Restoration Village http://www.restorationfarm.com/). Normally I would do something more elaborate and planned, but the boy and I had been home sick for a couple of days and then busier than we should have been, given that we needed some recovery time, and then plain old sick of one another…just star-crossed and cross and no way was I going to a store to get any ingredients.

Then I remembered a  favorite warm weather dish that my mom would make for backyard barbecues and the like. This tuna and macaroni salad involves minimal prep and I usually have all the ingredients in. It’s creamy, but the apples provide crunch and tang, and each bite is texturally entertaining. My brother and I would just gobble it up (with extra mayonnaise, of course), delighted when two or three shells were cradled together for a really pasta-y morsel.

So I put it together in a jiffy and we took it on down to the gathering (where there were loads of other good things to eat that I need the recipes for!) and were so pleased to see many old friends of the good eating, farming persuasion…well, I was pleased, but it was not Leandro’s finest hour and we left in rather a messy, huffy hurry…anyway…the salad worked out fine and I had leftovers for lunch on Monday.

If you are observing Lent, consider it for a fast Friday fix that is balanced enough to be a one-dish meal. Thanks Mom!

Myrna’s Tuna and Macaroni Shell Pasta Salad

1 lb. medium macaroni shells

½ Cup of each the following chopped into fingernail size bits: carrots; celery; white or red onion

1 Cup Red Delicious/Macintosh/Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, chopped into fingernail size chunks

1 5oz can your preferred tuna, drained

6 Tbs mayonnaise

2 Tbs plain nonfat yogurt (low or full fat okay)

1-2 Tbs prepared mustard

Cook shells according to package directions. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Serve at room temperature. You can also eat it as leftovers, but you will probably want to add a bit of mayo, as the pasta tends to absorb the mayo over time.

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