Cheese and Charcuterie Board ~ simple, stress-free entertaining. A display of meats, cheeses, bread, fruit and nuts. Goes perfectly with wine.
I’ve always loved hosting friends and family in our home long before I started blogging. The first time I invited the family over, I was a naïve, clueless newlywed. This was long before Google and Pinterest so not knowing what to make, I cooked pretty much. . .everything.
It looked like an all-you-can-eat buffet at the Golden Corral and I made everything myself from scratch having refused offers of help. That didn’t make me a kitchen ninja. It just made me a crazy woman.
I’ve done a lot of entertaining since then and I’m much more relaxed now (don’t listen to a word my kids say). One reason is that I’ve simplified things and learned to serve food like this Cheese and Charcuterie Board that makes an appearance at almost every gathering at our house.
Whenever my daughter saw French Onion Soup on the menu, she ordered it. She was completely unaware, but it usually made my husband cringe. As young children, we encouraged them to order for themselves in restaurants. Served us right, I guess because although she professed to love French Onion Soup, she really only liked the soup-soaked bread topped with all that cheese. Who could blame her?
Au Gratin Potatoes ~ creamy, cheesy sauce, tender slices of layered potatoes, golden brown slightly crispy top. A classic comfort side.
Once cooler weather hits, is there any better side dish than an entire pan of Au Gratin Potatoes ~ tender thinly sliced potatoes in a creamy, silky cheese sauce with crispy golden brown edges. It’s the ultimate in comfort food; the food you make for those you love. . . and even those you just sort of like. Who’s with me?
Saturday we celebrated my husband’s birthday in the way we love best ~ having the family over and chowing on lots of great food. We used to celebrate birthdays at a restaurant but discovered it’s a lot more fun at home. Everyone (except the birthday boy or girl) brings something and we end up with a drool-worthy spread. The best part though is the time spent together and the laughs we share. The resident comedian these days is our 2 year old grandson who entertains us without even trying. The menu is designed around the birthday boy or girl’s preferences. My husband wanted barbecue ribs which he insisted on making himself. It was his birthday, so we shook our heads and indulged him. In typical fashion, we made way too much food starting with the appetizers, followed by the entrée and all the sides and of course birthday cake for dessert. The result was plenty of leftover food. My husband’s favorite lines ~ “are you trying to kill me?”(I think he’s referring to the quantity of food) and “who else is coming for dinner?” were repeated several times. I like to think I have a knack for reinventing meals out of seemingly nothing, but barbecued ribs are, well. . .barbecued ribs. The next day they’re still. . .barbecued ribs, reheated. My habit of making too much food is part of the inspiration behind Same Ingredients/Different Results ~ two different meals without wasted ingredients. The other was my daughter, Lauren who loves to cook, but because she’s single, doesn’t want to make a big batch of something and eat the same leftovers all week. Tuesday I made Hasselback Chicken – juicy, cheesy spinach chicken breast with enough to use in the recipe for this Cheesy Chicken Tomato Spinach Pasta. Don’t let the long name scare you off. It’s easy ~ perfect for weeknights but fancy enough to entertain with.
Skillet Garlic Herb Biscuits ~ freshly baked bread, smothered in garlic-y butter and topped with cheese. Serve as an appetizer or with pasta, soup or steak.
“No one eats salad on Sundays” ~ so says my oldest daughter who was hosting a family get-together Sunday when I offered to bring salad. I took this as code for I’d really like something yummier and party-worthy and since she’s due to deliver our second grandchild very soon, I’m happy to oblige.
Now that we’re home from vacation, there are two top orders of business ~ my roots (which will be taken care of tomorrow at the salon) and rehabbing my diet because while those Rum Runners were ah-maazing ~ pineapple and orange juices, blackberry and banana liqueurs, two kinds of rum and a splash of grenadine ~ and piles of boneless Buffalo wings dipped in Blue Cheese dressing, something’s gotta give here which is why I suggested the salad.
In the meantime, I needed an appetizer to bring to my daughter’s house on Sunday ~ something men and women would both enjoy which nixes a charcuterie board, veggie tray or any kind of hummus. I decided on Skillet Garlic Herb Biscuits ~ warm bite-size buttery garlic-y biscuits sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and dipped in marinara. Winner.
The salad will wait for Monday.
Monday on the blog I promised two super easy side dishes and this is the second, Easy Cheesy Jalapeno Corn, a slightly spicy, slightly cheesy fresh corn off the cob side dish that goes perfectly with steak, chicken, pork or fish. Cooking time just 5 minutes. How can you beat a delicious, fresh side dish in just 5 minutes?
I’m not ready to wave the white flag just yet, but this has definitely been a week-from-
hell technology, tr ying to learning some new techy stuff and realizing that while an old dog can be taught new tricks — we learn more slowly . . . and stuff needs to be repeated. . . ’cause we forget. . .often. . .wait, where was I?
Oh yes — the reason I haven’t blogged all week.
— last Saturday before the week-from-
hell tech, I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the Mt. Clemens Farmers Market because even though I have so.much.produce. from my own garden, I couldn’t resist a trip.
So as I wandered around the farmers market, juggling my oversized to-go mug filled with coffee in one hand and a caramel-pecan Danish purchased at the Mt. Clemens Bakery stand in the other, I found myself with produce envy. Beyond the produce though, one stand I simply can’t pass up is fresh pasta (something I’ve never mastered) and Pasta-e-pasta is one of the best I’ve tasted. They sell a wide variety of pasta (spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli, among others) and enough sauce choices to keep you vacillating as long as I did choosing (finally) the Portabella Mushroom Ravioli.
As a food blogger and self-professed food nerd, I typically like making every part of the meal from scratch. There are some things, however (other than an oil change or re-wiring your house) better left to the professionals — ravioli is one of them.
I did, however pair this ravioli with a homemade, really simple Alfredo Florentine sauce, breaking the traditional Parmesan used in Alfredo in favor of Smoked Gouda (what else?) and Mozzarella. This ravioli cooks in under 5 minutes and even the sauce doesn’t take much longer. It’s also ridiculously delicious and the entire meal will have you sitting at the table asking red or white faster than you can imagine.
- 1 package of pre-made ravioli (from farm mkt or Buitoni brand available in grocery stores)
- Olive oil (drizzle)
- 1 T butter
- 2 gloves of garlic, grated
- 3/4 C smoked gouda cheese, shredded
- 1/2 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 2 C fresh spinach, stems removed and rough chopped
- 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 C white wine (most any kind you like to drink, except sweet Moscato)
- 1 1/4 C whole milk
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- When the water reaches a boil, slowly drop in the ravioli. When they float to the surface, remove them from the pan.
- While the water is coming to a boil, begin the sauce with a drizzle of olive oil and melting the butter into a pan.
- Grate in the garlic and add the spinach to the pan, continuing to cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn't burn and allowing the spinach to wilt.
- Pour the wine into the pan. Increase the heat to medium and cook another 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the milk, then incorporate the shredded cheeses, stirring to blend.
- When the mixture is completely blended, mix in the fresh parsley.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Gently add the ravioli to the sauce, turning to coat.
- If you're a super-fan of mushrooms, feel free to chop up a few fresh mushrooms and sauté along with the garlic. I am -- and I did.
For most people the start of the new year is marked by the ball dropping in Times Square but for some of us, it begins in early September ~ the start of the school year. First day of school pictures taken in the driveway, wearing new outfits and shoes yet to be broken in, anxiously waiting for the bus to come. It’s an exciting time but hectic at the same time. Not to worry. The crew at #SundaySupper has you covered for back-to-school lunches, after school snacks and quick and easy meals like this One Pot Bacon-Cheeseburger Pasta for those busy nights when getting dinner on the table seems like a pipe dream.
Even as a food blogger there are still times when I have absolutely no desire or ambition to make dinner. The fact is though, I have even less desire to eat take-out. For some reason those days seem to fall when I haven’t been to the grocery store and our refrigerator. What’s a girl gotta do to get a bowl of comfort food? Well, thankfully I froze a batch of Basil Spinach Pesto last week and even though the veggies in the frig were looking a little long in the tooth (where do these sayings come from?!) they were perfect cozied up to the Basil Spinach Pesto – so delicious and it practically screams with flavor. Pesto Pasta is born. 20 Minute Pesto Pasta. Comfort food in 20 minutes on a weeknight – when the frig was practically empty? Things are looking up.