I’ve been planning this housewarming party for what seems like years. From the moment I first picked up a cookbook or scrolled through the pages of a cooking blog, I’ve been collecting recipes to try and share. But when I finally set an official date, I suddenly had writer’s block. The thought of filling my table with food for a bunch of guests seemed like an impossible task. And the collections of recipes I’d acquired over the years seemed impossibly endless. How on earth was I supposed to decide on a handful of recipes when I wanted to make them all?!
After some deep breaths, and a serious reality check, I settled on the obvious: keep it simple. And I hope my guests would agree that simple can still be pretty darn good.
To start, a recipe that’s been on my must-try list forever, edamame hummus.
Adapted from familystylefood.com
8 ounces frozen, shelled edamame
8 ounces frozen peas
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp wasabi powder, dissolved in water
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 generous tsp mayonnaise (our secret – for that extra zing)
1/4 cup cooking water, reserved (added as needed)
In a medium saucepan, bring salted water to a boil and add the edamame and peas. Cook about 10 minutes, until tender. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking water before draining. Puree the edamame and peas together in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients (except the mayo), adding water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, until it reaches a smooth, creamy consistency. (My food processor couldn’t handle this, so I put drained edamame and peas mixture back in the pot and used an immersion blender instead). Mix in the mayo at the end and adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve with rice crackers or pita chips. Sprinkle some extra cayenne on top before serving, if desired.
Plus, Parmesan walnut dip, a classic that I’ve made for lots of family parties.
Parmesan and Toasted Walnut Dip
Adapted from dinnersforayear.blogspot.com
(I usually double the recipe)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 pound piece of Parmesan, sliced into 1/8 inch cubes
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped fine
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a small bowl, mix the dressing by whisking together the garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice and olive oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together celery, Parmesan and toasted walnuts. Pour dressing over walnut mixture and gently toss in the fresh parsley. Salad can be made 1 day in advance and chilled, covered. Serve with crackers, pita chips or on endive leaves.
Then some stuffed mushrooms, courtesy of Giada.
Tuscan stuffed mushrooms
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis (recipe available on foodnetwork.com)
1 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
3 scallions, diced
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, diced
1/2 cup pitted green olives, diced (I used pimiento stuffed green olives marinated in red pepper flakes for some heat)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the diced scallions, roasted red bell peppers, olives, olive oil, cheese, salt, and pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease with some cooking spray. Place the mushrooms on baking sheet, cavity side up. Spoon the filling into the cavity of each mushroom. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the mushrooms to a serving platter, sprinkle with chopped basil (or extra freshly grated Parmesan cheese), and serve.
Note: The leftovers were amazing on salad the next day.
Followed by an Ina inspired ham and gruyere puff pastry.
Ham and cheese puff pastry
Adapted from Ina Garten (recipe available on foodnetwork.com)
(I doubled this recipe to make two)
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 pound good quality cooked or black forest ham, sliced thin
1/2 pound freshly grated Swiss Gruyere (Ina slices it, but grated worked fine too)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan and set aside. On a floured surface, lay 1 sheet of puff pastry and carefully roll it out to 10 by 12 inches. Place rolled pastry on the sheet pan and brush the center with the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Add a layer of ham and then cheese, also leaving a 1-inch border. Brush the border with egg wash.
Roll the second sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface so it is also 10 by 12 inches. Place the second sheet on top of the filled pastry, lining up the edges. Cut the edges straight with a small, sharp knife, and press together lightly (you can very gently try to stretch the dough to make it fit, but keep in mind that stretched dough usually shrinks when cooked, so only do this if it is very close in size). Crimp the edges together with a fork. Brush the top with egg wash and cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve warm (although the leftovers still tasted good cold the next day).
Then lots of little yummy sandwiches.
A simple pesto chicken wrap, cucumber cream and lobster cream. No recipes needed. The chicken wrap was just some pulled rotisserie chicken with pesto on a whole-wheat flat bread wrap (which I think works better than a tortilla wrap). That’s it. The cucumber cream was my mom’s creation. Basically a mixture of grated cucumber, feta cheese or cream cheese (or a combination of the two), salt, a touch of mayonnaise and lots of dill. The lobster cream was, ahem, store bought.
And finally, two no-bake desserts. The brown butter rice krispie treats I’ve raved about before, and Cookies and Cream Truffles (which may have actually been the biggest hit of the party).
Cookies and Cream Truffles
Adapted from bakerella.com
makes about 36 truffles
1 package Oreo cookies (cream filling and all)
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
White chocolate bark (milk chocolate bark could work too, but I think white gives it the real cookies and cream flavor)
Set aside 7 cookies for topping. Finely crush remaining cookies in a food processor or by placing them in a ziplock bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. Stir in softened cream cheese and mash the two together (I found it easier to just use my hands*).
Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Place in refrigerator to cool (uncovered is fine).
Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler (or heat-proof bowl placed over a pot of simmering water). Dip Oreo balls into the melted chocolate, tap off excess, and place on wax paper to dry.
Once dry, cut the remaining Oreo cookies into triangle pieces with a sharp knife. Use a dab of melted chocolate to adhere the Oreo wedge to the top of the truffle for decoration.
Refrigerate and enjoy!
Note: Bakerella suggests freezing the uncoated balls for a few minutes to keep the mixture from falling apart in the melted chocolate. Mine still fell apart a little bit, but it created a speckled cookies and cream effect, so I didn’t mind. If they aren’t turning out the way you want, let them dry and then dip again (I had to do this for some of them). Bakerella also made this recipe with mint Oreo cookies, which also sounds amazing.
*My grandma always said clean hands are your greatest chef’s tool!
One last thing. There’s no way I could rave about this food without paying homage to the guests who contributed some delicious culinary creations of their own. Like jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon oh my, and delectable bite-sized meat and cheese quiches, and taco dip and bean dip and cookies and finally, the amazing homemade red velvet cupcakes no party of mine would be complete without.
But the foodfest doesn’t end there. We even got a homemade ground turkey and zucchini lasagna as a housewarming gift (a recipe I’ll have to get a hold of). So thank you to everyone for all the amazing food. Guess I better start planning the next party!