Tag Archives: party food

Oscar Party: Quesadillas, Pinwheels and Bruschetta!

10 Jul Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas
Host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie that broke Twitter

Host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie that broke Twitter

The final items that were made for my 2014 Oscar Birthday party were some of my favorites! Mushroom Brie Quesadillas, Spinach Pesto Pinwheels and Smoked Salmon Bruschetta. Now, the smoked salmon was actually smoked by my dad before he came down to Los Angeles. And the marmalade was also homemade by my dad. (Do you see where I get my love of cooking from now?) So the only “real” recipes in this post are for the quesadillas and the pinwheels. Both were fun to make and perfect party food. The quesadillas were a real hit as they were quite unique. Hope you enjoy too!

Ellen was a gracious host and ordered pizza for her guests.

Ellen was a gracious host and ordered pizza for her guests.

Host Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza for her friends, but I prefer making snacks for parties. What are your party favorites?

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas Ingredients L-R: Honey, Brie, Mushrooms, Rosemary, Tortillas, Parsley

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas Ingredients L-R: Honey, Brie, Mushrooms, Rosemary, Tortillas, Parsley

MUSHROOM AND BRIE QUESADILLAS (makes 16 “slices”)

  • About 8 oz Cremini Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Tsp Fresh Rosemary
  • 4 Large Tortillas
  • 8 oz Brie
  • Olive Oil
  • Warm Honey
  • Salt & Pepper

This was a recipe I found on a blogger’s website when googling appetizers. I saw brie. I saw mushrooms. I was satisfied and knew this was something I wanted on my party table. This was super easy and you can easily make more or less, depending on your crowd. These were a huge hit with my friends. When slicing your brie it’s okay to keep the rind on. It won’t affect the taste and it’s a pain and hassle to cut it off.

sliced brie cheese

Slicing up the brie.

Sliced Mushrooms

Slicing up the mushrooms

Sauteed Mushrooms

Sauteing the mushrooms

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas

After warming the tortillas lay out the insides.

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas

Mushroom and Brie Quesadillas just need honey drizzled on top!

After they’re finished cooking in the oven, slice drizzle with warm honey. The drizzled honey on top really made this dish extra special. Make sure you have extra napkins though, as they are a tad messy!

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheel Ingredients L-R: Parmesan Cheese, Fresh Spinach, Puff Pastry Sheets, Pesto Sauce

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheel Ingredients L-R: Parmesan Cheese, Fresh Spinach, Puff Pastry Sheets, Pesto Sauce

SPINACH PESTO PINWHEELS (makes about 2 dozen)

  • 2 Puff Pastry Sheets
  • About 1 Cup Pesto
  • About 1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • About 2 Cups Fresh Spinach
  • Salt & Pepper

There was no specific recipe for this, but there was another pinwheel recipe and because we had already decided to make the mushroom quesadillas we thought about other pinwheel options and came up with this idea. Pinwheel appetizers can be customized to anything that you want it to be, just pick your favorite flavors and have at it!

Rolling out the puff pastry and layering with all the ingredients.

Rolling out the puff pastry and layering with all the ingredients.

Roll out your pastry sheets on a flat surface. Spread your pesto on each sheet, leaving about an inch from the edges. Lay out your fresh spinach leaves covering the pesto. Sprinkle with your mozzarella cheese and then season with salt and pepper.

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels

Rolling the pastry sheets very carefully

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels

The rolled pinwheel ready for the fridge

Very carefully roll the sheets on the long edge. Be sure to tuck in the edge and wrap tightly. Pat down the edge to seal the roll. Lay your rolls on a jelly roll pan and stick in the fridge for about 20 minutes to harden. Remove from the fridge and preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Using a sharp knife slice the roll into about 1/2″ to 1″ pieces. Lay out the pinwheels on their sides on baking sheets. Bake about 12 minutes and serve warm.

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels

Spinach and Pesto Pinwheels ready for the oven!

MARMALADE AND SMOKED SALMON BRUSCHETTA (about 3 dozen)

  • 1 or 2 Baguettes
  • Smoked Salmon
  • 1/2 Cup Whipped Cream Cheese (approx)
  • 1/2 Cup Goat Cheese (approx)
  • About 1 Cup Marmalade
  • About 1/4 Cup Honey

Heat your broiler to low. Slice your baguette into about 1/2″ slices and lay out on a jelly roll sheet. Stick in your broiler for about 3 minutes, just enough to lightly toast them. If you don’t have a broiler  heat your oven to about 200 degrees and toast in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Smoked Salmon

My dad’s smoked salmon that was used for the bruschetta and laid out on the table.

In a small pot over low heat, heat your marmalade and honey and mix together. Don’t let it burn, just heat it enough to mix together and then remove from heat. Mix your cream cheese and goat cheese together. Spread some of your cheese mixture on each toasted piece of bread, top with some of your marmalade mix and then place a piece of smoked salmon on top of that. (We made some with salmon and some without for my vegetarian friends.) Serve and enjoy!

Marmalade Bruschetta

Marmalade bruschetta. You can’t eat just one!

Oscar Party: Shrimp Plus Quinoa and Rice Salad

12 Jun Black forbidden rice and quinoa

In addition to the buffalo wings we also made a shrimp dish and a quinoa and black rice salad for the vegetarians. I love shrimp so in my searchings I found a yummy sounding shrimp recipe and then I stumbled upon a recipe with quinoa and black forbidden rice, which I happened to have just enough of in my cupboards from previous recipes. (Remember the Giada dish that used black rice?)

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Ingredients L-R: Shrimp, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, Brandy, Parsley, Olive Oil

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Ingredients L-R: Shrimp, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes, Brandy, Parsley, Olive Oil

SPICY GARLIC SHRIMP (serves about 8)

  • 2 lbs Large Shrimp (Shelled and Deveined)
  • 10 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Dried Red Chilis (or 2 Tsps red chili flakes)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tsp Brandy
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley

This recipe I found on Epicurious.com and turned out absolutely delicious! Rather than buy dried red chilis though we used red chili flakes that I already had in my cupboard. Most shrimp recipes are super easy and this one is too! If you’re not into spicy, feel free to add less (or no) chili flakes, or if you love spice, add more!

Slice your garlic into thin slivers then sautee in olive oil with the red pepper flakes.

Slice your garlic into thin slivers then saute in olive oil with the red pepper flakes.

Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Sauté garlic until browned, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and chiles and sauté until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes. They should turn a nice pink color.

Add in your shrimp and stir occasionally until they turn pink.

Add in your shrimp and stir occasionally until they turn pink.

Add your brandy and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat and either serve in a platter or in a bowl. Sprinkle with the fresh parsley and enjoy! Great to make for a dinner one night too!

Spicy Garlic Shrimp

Spicy Garlic Shrimp ready to serve!

Now on to the vegetarian dish (or even a yummy healthy side dish!).

Quinoa and Black Rice Salad Ingredients L-R: Cumin Seed, Cilantro, Black Rice, Garlic, Avocado, Lemon, Yellow Onion, Quinoa, Parsley, Bay Leaves

Quinoa and Black Rice Salad Ingredients L-R: Cumin Seed, Cilantro, Black Rice, Garlic, Avocado, Lemon, Yellow Onion, Quinoa, Parsley, Bay Leaves

CUMIN SCENTED QUINOA AND BLACK RICE SALAD (serves about 8)

  • 1/2 Cup Black Rice
  • 1 Cup Red Quinoa (we used regular)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Flat-leaf Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

This was another recipe I found on Epicurious.com, however that recipe called for avocado and lemon wedges for garnishing on top. And while we did buy the avocado and had a lemon, in the hustle and bustle of the party they were sadly forgotten. C’est la vie. It was still delicious!

Black forbidden rice and quinoa

Black forbidden rice and quinoa

You want to start your rice and quinoa cooking and then you can move on to some mise en place. Finely chop your onion, mince your garlic and chop your cilantro and parsley.

Chopped Parsley & Cilantro

Chopped Parsley & Cilantro

Diced onions and minced garlic sauteed with cumin seed.

Diced onions and minced garlic sautéed with cumin seed.

Click here for the full recipe. Epicurious has great recipes and everything is very clear in this one. Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Finished black rice and quinoa gets mixed together.

Finished black rice and quinoa gets mixed together.

Black Rice and Quinoa Salad ready for serving

Black Rice and Quinoa Salad ready for serving

Oscar Party 2014: Buffalo Wings

3 Jun Alton Brown's Buffalo Wings with Bleu Cheese Dipping Sauce

For my birthday this year I decided to have another Oscar party. Two years ago my birthday landed on the Oscars so I threw a party and my dad came down and cooked and helped me make a great spread for my friends. It was a great day and one of my favorite birthdays to date. Last year I threw a mini-party as I ended up having rehearsal in the morning so only a few people made it over to the apartment and it was a much smaller spread (but remember the beignets? and Jennifer Lawrence tripping?). This year I made the decision early in the year to throw a big party again. I made a Pinterest board with recipes that intrigued me. My dad even came down to LA again to help cook. So much was made that I’m splitting this into multiple parts, so keep your eyes peeled for more posts soon!

Shopping for the Oscar Party!

Shopping for the Oscar Party!

This post will be about buffalo wings, and it’s my dad’s favorite way of making them. At the first party I threw in 2012 my dad made these buffalo wings and everyone really liked them so that was an easy add to the list this year. The buffalo wings are by the infamous Alton Brown. In addition, we made our own blue cheese dipping sauce for it.

ALTON BROWN’S BUFFALO WINGS (serves about 10)

  • 3 Pounds Whole Chicken Wings
  • 6 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove
  • 1/4 Cup Hot Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Alton has you use whole chicken wings and breaks them apart by hand. At my first party in 2012 I had my dad explain it to me. Watch the video here. The tips can be used to make chicken stock, which is the biggest advantage to using whole chicken wings. To remove the tips, use kitchen shears or a knife to separate the wings at the joint.

A close-up of the separation of the tip from the wing.

A close-up of the separation of the tip from the wing.

Once you’ve separated all of your tips from your wings fill a large saucepan with about an inch of water and place a steamer basket on the bottom. (You can buy one for less than $10 at your local grocery store or home goods or cooking supply store.) Turn the heat to high and lay your chicken wings (aka drumettes) in the steamer. Pack them as tightly as possible. Steam for about 10 minutes.

Drumettes in the steamer basket

Pack as many drumettes into the steamer basket as possible.

While waiting for the first batch to steam (you’ll probably steam 2 or 3 batches), pull out a rimmed cookie sheet and cover with paper towels and place a cooling rack on top. Find the rest of the recipe here. It’s a pretty straight forward recipe and pretty easy once you get the hang of separating the tips from the wings.

Counterclockwise: Drumettes fresh from the fridge; chicken wings after 20 minutes of cooking and turning; cooking in the oven; drumettes fresh from the oven

Counterclockwise: Drumettes fresh from the fridge; chicken wings after 20 minutes of cooking and turning; cooking in the oven; drumettes fresh from the oven

Tossing the wings with hot sauce and melted butter

Tossing the wings with hot sauce and melted butter

Alton Brown's Buffalo Wings with Bleu Cheese Dipping Sauce

Alton Brown’s Buffalo Wings with Bleu Cheese Dipping Sauce

While your wings are cooking you can make your dipping sauce. We made bleu cheese dressing. Very simple. 16 oz of sour cream (1 cup), 8 oz of bleu cheese, 1/4 cup chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and dip away!

Bleu Cheese Dressing Ingredients L-R: Bleu Cheese, Parsley, Sour Cream

Bleu Cheese Dressing Ingredients L-R: Bleu Cheese, Parsley, Sour Cream

Chop your parsley and mix well with your sour cream and bleu cheese.

Chop your parsley and mix well with your sour cream and bleu cheese.

Party Snacks: Hummus and Meatballs and More!

20 Feb hummus

I had a couple of friends over to watch the Golden Globes last month. Nothing fancy, but I did have a few snacks. I made Giada‘s baked meatballs, fresh guacamole, hummus and bought chips, pita bread and vegetables for dipping. All finger food and all easily made. So for your next viewing party check out these yummy recipes to impress your friends.

Last fall my mom shared her hummus-babaganoush recipe with us, but for the party I made regular hummus. It’s much simpler and quicker than making the babaganoush recipe. The great thing about hummus is it can be used as a vegetable, bread or cracker dip or a sandwich spread. The hummus went great with the meatballs too!

Hummus Ingredients L-R: Tahini, Ground Cumin, Lemon, Garbanzo Beans, Garlic, Pepper and Salt, Olive Oil

Hummus Ingredients L-R: Tahini, Ground Cumin, Lemon, Garbanzo Beans, Garlic, Pepper and Salt, Olive Oil

HUMMUS (small batch)

  • 1 Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 2 to 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Paprika for Taste (optional)

Peel your garlic cloves and add into your food processor or blender along with juice of your lemon, the salt, pepper, ground cumin, tahini and half of your olive oil. Blend well.

Squeezing fresh lemon juice with a hand juicer.

Squeezing fresh lemon juice with a hand juicer.

hummus, Tahini, garlic, oil and spices

Tahini, garlic, oil and spices ready for mixing.

Open your garbanzo beans and rinse, then add into your mixture and pulse until well mixed and at your desired consistency. If it seems a little dry add in more olive a tablespoon at a time. Taste after mixing and add in more of any of your spices or tahini as your taste buds desire.

Rinsed garbanzo beans

Rinsed garbanzo beans

hummus

I like chunky hummus, just the way my mom makes it.

Once it’s at your desired taste and consistency transfer to either a bowl to serve immediately, or to Tupperware to store in the fridge. Be sure to pour more good quality olive oil on the top. Enjoy with bread, chips, vegetables, whatever your heart desires.

Hummus

Hummus ready for eating or storing!

The meatballs were easy and I’ve actually made them before with spaghetti. Giada has you use 3 different meats, but to save some money I just used ground beef. I also used bread crumbs instead of corn flakes. Once they were done baking I tossed them with a little bit of Worcestershire sauce. We ate them alone and stuffed them in the pita bread with some hummus.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Fresh from the oven and still sizzling!

Fresh from the oven and still sizzling!

Ready to eat! Yum!

Ready to eat! Yum!

Pasta alla Formiana

23 Jan Pasta alla Formiana

The first Saturday of December I decided to stay in for the night to start my annual Christmas baking. But before I could start baking I had to make dinner (duh!), and for that I once again went to the kitchen goddess Giada de Laurentiis and her “Weeknights With Giada” cookbook. Before leaving that afternoon for an audition I grabbed the cookbook to make a decision while out. After flipping through the pages I landed on her Pasta alla Formiana. It was a simple recipe (which in my eyes is always a good thing) and it made enough that I’d be able to enjoy leftovers (which I added cheese on top to!) and share with my roommate (and she loved it!). Because of how easy and good it was I ended up making it for my holiday party later in the month.

Pasta alla Formiana Ingredients L-R: Mezze Penne, Salt & Pepper, Oregano, Garlic, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Olive Oil

Pasta alla Formiana Ingredients L-R: Mezze Penne, Salt & Pepper, Oregano, Garlic, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Olive Oil

PASTA ALL FORMIANA (serves 4 to 6)

  • 28 oz Can Crushed Tomatoes (1 Can)
  • 1/2 Cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Cups (8 oz) mezze penne (or other small pasta)
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 3 Very Ripe, Extra Large Beefsteak Tomatoes (Giada calls for 5, but I found 3 worked just fine with my 8×8 dish. If using a bigger dish add another tomato.)
  • Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray
  • Shredded mozzarella or other favorite cheese for topping (optional)

Place your oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees. Coarsely chop your garlic then pull out your trusty food processor (or blender if you don’t have a food processor) and blend together the can of crushed tomatoes, chicken broth and garlic. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (less than 10 minutes).

Chopped Garlic

Chopped Garlic

Boiling the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth

Boiling the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth

While you wait for the tomato mixture to boil, slice your tomatoes into about 1/4 inch thick slices. Spray your 8×8 baking dish with your cooking spray and then line the entire dish (the bottom and the sides) with your tomato slices. I ended up cutting a couple of slices in half for the odd spots. You should have about 9 slices left.

Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes

Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes

My 8x8 baking dish lined with tomato slices

My 8×8 baking dish lined with tomato slices

My 8x8 baking dish lined with tomato slices

A closer look at the lined baking dish.

Once the tomato mixture is boiling stir in the (uncooked) pasta, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and pour into the tomato lined dish and be sure it fills the dish evenly. With the remaining slices cover the top of the pasta mixture, overlapping the tomato slices so that it’s completely covered. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes.

Pasta alla Formiana

You can see the steam rising from the crushed tomato with uncooked pasta mixture after pouring into the baking dish.

Pasta alla Formiana

I’ve covered the dish with more tomatoes and now it’s ready for the oven!

The tomatoes should be slightly crispy, and yes, the pasta will be cooked. Let cool for about 5 minutes, serve and enjoy! Top with cheese of your choice if you wish.

Pasta alla Formiana

Fresh from the oven, my Pasta alla Formiana smells delicious!

Pasta alla Formiana

Dinner is served! Pasta alla Formiana

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