Thursday, May 13, 2010


Eventually, I am going to get the hang of regular blogging, I promise.
I've decided that this is the summer of making for Miss Amanda. Making what, I have no idea. But I've gotten way into subscribing to blogs (instead of writing in mine) and I have tons of starting points. I'm also just going to read a lot. And (hopefully) blog about it. :) We'll see.
Last Saturday I was privileged to host a dinner party for a close friend of mine, and I was so excited to try out a couple of new recipes that I found here and there.

The (Original) Menu
Florentine Mac and Cheese with Chicken Sausage Meatballs
Fresh Zucchini and Squash Salad
Tossed Caesar Salad
Crusty Italian Bread
Lemon Bundt Cake with glaze

Oh, if only things were so easy!! So, after planning the menu, three trips to various grocery stores in three different days (because I kept forgetting stuff, etc.), and working 16 hours the day before and the day of the party, the menu turned out like this:

Florentine Penne
1lb. box of pasta (original calls for cavatappi corkscrew, and alas, I couldn't find it. Penne it is!)
2 boxes chopped frozen spinach (10oz each)
3 tbls butter
2 tbls all purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk (the original called for whole, I used 2%, and it was still yummy)
1 cup grated Parmesan
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1/8 tsp nutmeg (eyeball it)
Boil a large pot of water. Cook pasta. Strain, and reserve one cup cooking liquid. Defrost spinach according to the package directions. Make sure your boxes are in a shallow bowl, there will be some run off. In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter, whisk in flour, cook 1 minute. Then, whisk in stock and milk, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Let sauce thicken for 5-6 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Wring spinach completely dry in a kitchen towel, and separate as you add to the sauce. Also add the 1 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid. When pasta is done, toss in the sauce, making sure things are evenly coated.

Yummy Italian Meatballs
1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken (which, they conveniently do not sell at Wal-Mart; I ended up with 1 lb. beef and 1lb. Italian seasoned ground turkey)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Palmful of rosemary (original calls for fresh sprigs; the dried worked very well)
Palmful powdered garlic (original calls for fresh cloves, which I didn't have time for; this improv still works just as good)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 egg
3/4 cup breadcrumbs (Sargento Italian style were fabulous)
*The original also calls for fennel seeds and crushed red pepper, but I'm not a fan of either. Just keep in mind that you can hike up the spice if your particular tastes call for it.
Preheat oven to 450.
In a large mixing bowl combine ground meat, salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, ricotta cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Add the egg and breadcrumbs. (If it's too wet, add more breadcrumbs.) Form whichever size balls work for your particular meal (ours were 1 1/2 inches in diameter, but the original says 3-4). Drizzle meatballs with a couple of teaspoons of EVOO and roast 17-18 minutes until the juices run clear.
*This made 30 meatballs, plus about a half pound of mixed meat leftover that I put in the freezer. (Which I plan to make Italian burgers with. Yum!)

Zucchini and Squash Salad
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 whole, ripe tomato, diced (original calls for red and yellow cherry tomatoes, which I don't like :/)
2 tbls Dijon mustard
3 tbls balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup EVOO
Salt & Pepper to taste
*this also calls for a red onion for the dressing, but alas! Allergies defy me. So no red onion.
In a medium bowl, toss together zucchini, squash, and tomatoes.
In a separate bowl, combine the Dijon and balsamic. Whisk in EVOO until the whole is completely combined. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss veggies in dressing!
*This was good, but not jaw dropping. And there was a lot left over. I'm going to oven roast the rest (since they have *ahem* marinated) and we'll see how that goes.)

Lemon Bundt Cake
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
Cream butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon juice until well-blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the first, a little at a time and alternate with milk. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until cake springs back in the touch test. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then flip onto rack to cool the rest of the way.
*** This did not go as planned!! First, I didn't have sugar. Argh. Then, I followed the directions completely, and when I "flipped", my cake ended up in about six different pieces. So, we had trifles with strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream. Heh. They were very good, though. But, I can't vouch for the way the glaze tastes because I didn't make it ('cause of the breakage, you see). The cake wasn't very lemony, so I might up the juice next time.

So, for credit: The pasta, meatballs, and salad were Rachel Ray, but I feel like I altered them enough to take a little credit. The cake came from

All in all, the night was a success. :) The boys were awestruck with my skills, and that made me feel nice. The meal was colorful, too, so it felt healthy.

Now, back to the real world. I have successfully avoided my presentation for class for an hour to type this, and alas, I must make an A.

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