"Cooking is another way of showing love," from one proud mama when I asked for her pesto recipe.
Tony and I have found common ground in the kitchen, despite us having crazy different opinions on certain foods we like and dislike. I think it's a west coast vs east coast (PA) thing. How do people eat so many potatoes in this state?!? Nonetheless, the two of us have discovered we both love to cook and entertain. I'm beginning to believe the saying, 'opposites attract.' You see, Tony is a pretty reserved gentleman, especially, compared to me. I can be obnoxious, loud and often, an over-share. Part of this must have something to do with growing up in a large family, you have to shout just to get a word in edgewise. I've also been told, the Italian/Portuguese/Mexican mix is a whole lot of flavor for one person's gene pool. Having a deaf younger brother also means, I have a high tolerance for screaming. Deaf children can't hear themselves and are very loud when they are young. You get used to it!
Tony, on the other hand, is calm in times of disaster, and organized. He's always turning burners off behind me, while making sure the kitchen timer is set. I need that person because I try to cook from instinct... Which isn't the best policy when entertaining a large group. Someone has to be a planner. I'm proud of us. At this point, we've entertained enough now that we have our dance well practiced. It's all about finding the perfect groove.
Our last dinner was the largest one yet and the first I was trying to blog about. There were eight guests.
Charcuterie and Cheese Plate
Caprese Salad with Tomatoes and Beets, Topped with Olive Tapenade
Strawberry, Blueberry, Spinach Salad with Balsamic
Grilled Garden Veggies
Our guests brought the desserts, homemade beer and a lovely bouquet of flowers. I of course, forgot to shoot anything after they arrived. Sorry guys. It's my first one, may I have a pass?
First up, Crostinis
Tender Greens makes some of the best olive oil, garlic, crushed peppered crostinis. I'm not sure what their recipe is but here is my improv..
Fresh Garlic Cloves
Crushed Red Peppers
Salt and Pepper
Muddle to release the flavors before drizzling over the thinly cut bread and toasting in the oven at 350 degrees.
The sweet ones were ricotta and honey. I usually use blue cheese but Tony doesn't like smelly cheeses (the perfect example of our food differences) so we improvised.
Second, Olive Tapenade
Spanish Green Olives
Salt and Pepper
It all goes into the food processor, (which we found at goodwill for $5, what a steal!) Sprinkle the tapenade along the top of the sliced mozzarella and beets with a little olive oil and chopped basil for the tomato side.
The Pesto Chicken was made with this pesto recipe x 4. The chicken was seasoned with salt and pepper then placed on a bed of pesto with a second layer on top. Adding a blanket of parmesan and covering it in tin foil before putting it in the oven. It cooked for about an hour.
Lastly, the Lasagna Cupcakes
These are one of my favorite things to make. They are super easy and fun.
Spicy Sausage (we used ground beef because one of our guests doesn't eat pork, I added crushed red peppers to the meat and still got that spicy sausage taste.)
My only tip is, put a layer of sauce along the bottom. Most recipes I've found start with Ricotta but I think they come out too dry.
Inside the muffin cup, place two wonton wrappers, catty-corner from one another, to get that rustic look. See above. I layer it with marinara, ricotta, meat, more marinara, and shredded cheese. They cook in about 30 mins.
And that's a wrap.... feel free to ask any questions. Cheers!