Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spring Fest 2010

With summer fast approaching, we are doing a lot more entertaining. Living on the lake in the most beautiful place on earth kind of makes that a no brainer. So, I am boning up on my appetizer recipes and trying a few new things. We had our annual Spring Fest party last weekend where we invite all the nieghbors and I made these delicious Crab and Salmon Toasts. I made some on toast and put a few in phyllo cups. You can find the phyllo cups in your freezer section and people just raved about them. They were all gone within an hour after our guests arrived and we had several other appetizers, but these were the winners.

We also slow cooked our Chipotle Pork Chops all day long. It was an all day process, but it was worth it. At one point my mom and I ran to the post office on our bikes and we had to walk by the grill on the way to our bikes and we nearly cried they smelled so good. We were so afraid that people driving by would just stop in, but we made an enourmous pile of them so we knew that we would have enough no matter how many people ended up swinging by. We also made my grandmother's famous Fiesta Potatoes. These are so easy to make and everyone loves them. It is a favorite that we make for almost every large gathering becuase it is very easy to make into a very large batch. Now keep in mind. These recipes are huge becuase we fed an army, but you can half everything and still get the jist. You can also just do two pork chops the way we did them and cook them exactly the same and have a dinner for two that will knock anyone's socks off!

But if you are getting into some summertime entertaining, my advice to you is to do easy recipes like the ones I have below so that almost all of the cooking is done before your guests arrive and you can relax and enjoy your guests instead of slaving over the stove or hiding in the kitchen.

Everything was a rave success and these recipes are easy and you can halve them if you aren't feeding your entire neighborhood like we did!

Crab and Salmon Toast

2 cans crabmeat (8 oz)
1/2 cup cooked shrimp; diced
1/2 cup cooked salmon; broken into peices
1/2 cup black olives; diced
1 can artichoke hearts (14 oz)
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Mix these ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl combine the following ingredients until smooth and creamy. I microwaved the mayo, olive oil, and cream cheese to soften them.

1 cup mayo
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 packet cheese sauce mix
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chives; minced
1 tbsp. dried minced onion

Combine the two mixtures together until all incorporated.

Next take your favorite sandwich bread and cut each peice into four squares. Pray each peice of bread with olive oil. Then place a small layer of crab and salmon spread on the top and place on a cookie sheet. This will make an enourmous batch so make as many as you like! Top with a sprinkle of cheese and bake in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Leftover Tips: With any leftover stuffing you can make seafood quesadillas by simply spreading the mixture between two whole wheat tortillas for an easy dinner later in the week! I also added a little milk and a few more whole shrimp to the left over cream cheese mixture in a sauce pan and it made a great seafood alfredo that I served over whole wheat pasta. It was a great meal that stretched our leftovers and made new creations!

Chipotle Pork Chops

Spice Rub:

1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup dried basil
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tbsp. kosher salt

Mix all spices above. This will make a generous portion of rub. You can save any leftover and use on chicken, fish, pork, or beef later on.

30 large thick cut, bone-in pork chops

The night or morning before generously sprinkle the spice rub on both sides of each pork chop and press in with you finger tips to seal in the rub to the flesh of the meat. Place each coated pork chop in a large bowl and seal with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or the pork chops can sit overnight.

Now it is time to get grilling! Turn your gas grill up to high heat. Place each pork chop on the grill for 3 minutes a side, just to seal in the moisture and create grill marks. We aren't wanting to cook the meat through we just want to sear the outsides.

To make the barbeque sauce:

3 (18 ounce) jars of Stubb's Barbeque sauce
2 tablespoons Worchester sauce
Juice of one large lemon
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon minced dried onion
1 (12 ounce) jar of chipotle salsa (We have also used chopped up chipotle peppers out of the can - approximately 4 peppers, but we couldn't find it in the store and we loved the substitution of the salsa!)

Mix all ingredients above in a large bowl using a whisk.

Take two large deep foil pans and  put an inch of water on the bottom of each pan. This will ensure the pork chops stay moist during the long and slow cooking. Then take each pork chop and place in the foil pans pouring sauce over each one as you add it to the pan. Next pour the rest of the sauce over the top of each pan and cover tightly with foil. Each pork chop should be covered completely.

Turn the gas grill to low (about 200 degrees) and place the sauced pork chops in foil pan in the barbeque and slow cook for 5-6 hours. The pork chops will come out tender, moist and fall apart in your mouth. It will be worth the wait!

Fiesta Potatoes

3 pounds O'brien southwestern style cubed frozen potatoes
1 pint low fat sour cream
1 pound low fat shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 (8 ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients listed above in a large bowl, then transfer to a large foil baking platter and bake in a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes. The sides will be bubbling and the smell will be magical. You can also top this with the fried onions for added flair.

Leftover Tips: With the leftovers we added them to eggs for a great scramble and we still had some left so I added them into our next pot of chili that we made and it made the chili creamy and delicious!

Mental Health Benefit: Although entertaining can be a little bit taxing between the cleaning, cooking, hosting, and cleaning up afterwards, there is nothing more soothing that surrounding yourself with your closest friends, neighbors, and family. Catching up, talking about life over a shared simple meal is what keeping it simple is all about. This was a great meal shared with great friends and that is what makes the food taste even better. Treat yourself and your friends to some quality time together around the table.

Here's to spring and sunshine from our kitchen to yours!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

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