June 29, 2011

Refreshing Blueberry-Lime Iced Tea


This Blueberry-Lime Iced Tea rocks!  I was inspired to make this by Taylor Takes a Taste's Blue Green Iced Tea, but I of course had to change it up to create my own version.

But before we get into how to make this delicious tea, I have an exciting announcement!  (Exciting to me anyway.)  I got a NEW CAMERA!  Yes, I have joined the world of digital SLR photography.  This is my first post featuring photos taken with the new camera.  And, boy, do I have a lot to learn!  I fumbled through my first photo shoot, fumbled being the key word, and realized that, wow, I've got a lot of work to do to truly learn what I'm doing.  I appreciate your patience while I learn and improve!

So, since I was playing with different camera settings to see what they would do, I did both an indoor and an outdoor shoot with the iced tea.  Here are some things I very quickly learned during my outdoor shoot:


1.  Ice melts very fast in the balmy 95 degree southern summer heat.

2.  This 95-degree-ice-melting rapidly creates unsightly sweat beads on one's subject, when one's subject happens to be a nice, refreshing, cold iced tea glass and pitcher (exhibit A above ... see around the bottom of the glass??).

3.  I should really put my hair in a ponytail.  Hair really ruins a good shot when the breeze picks up juuussst as you snap your picture!

4.  Outdoor critters are quickly attracted to cut citrus fruit.

5.  And, probably most importantly, I really should be sure to wear some form of footwear for my outdoor shoots.  Deck boards that have been basking in the blazing sun all day are really much hotter than you would think.

But that's enough about my new camera for now.  Let's move on to the rockin' Blueberry-Lime Iced Tea!
First, steep some tea bags - just like you would to make regular sweet (or unsweet, for that matter) tea.
Tea ... it is a-brewin'

Then, make a blueberry simple syrup - that's just blueberries, sugar, and water simmered together.  Simple, huh?  (I just made a pun!  Are you laughing?  At least smiling just a tiny bit??)  Put your berries, sugar, and water together in a saucepan ...
Makings for your simple syrup - it's simple!

... bring them to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer them for just a minute or two.

Simmering

Next, you'll strain the blueberry syrup, squish all the juice out of the berries, and then squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lime.

Combine the brewed tea, blueberry simple syrup, some water, and some ice.  Now you've got refreshing and tasty Blueberry-Lime Iced Tea!  I'm thinking this method would work with lots of fruits.  Hmmmmm, think I'm going to have to try blackberry.  What about peach??  I bet peach would be good!  Got other ideas? Shout 'em out in a comment ... I'd love to hear them!
Ahhhhh ... blueberry refreshment

Blueberry-Lime Iced Tea
Source:  Inspired by Taylor Takes a Taste's Blue Green Iced Tea

Ingredients
Tea:
4 tea bags (regular or decaf black tea)
2 c. boiling water

Blueberry simple syrup:
1 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen, preferably fresh)
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. water
Juice of 1/2 a lime


Directions
To brew the tea:  
1.  Pour two cups of boiling water over the 4 tea bags; let steep until cooled.  Squeeze out tea bags.

To make the blueberry simple syrup:  
2.  Place blueberries, sugar, and the one cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about a minute.  Remove from heat and let cool.  

3.  Once cooled a bit, strain the syrup to remove the blueberries.  Mash the blueberries against the side of the strainer to release all of their juice, letting this juice strain into your simple syrup.  Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lime; stir to combine.

4.  Combine the brewed tea and blueberry simple syrup in a 2-quart pitcher.  Fill the remainder of the pitcher with cold water to make 2 quarts.  

5.  Serve over ice with a lime wedge.

UPDATE NOTE:  Please be sure you're using a 2-quart pitcher.  My mom made this over 4th of July weekend, and thought it was terribly weak, like just sugar-water.  Come to find out ... her pitcher was a gallon pitcher!  If you'd like to make a gallon, double the tea and blueberry simple syrup.

Enjoy!

This post is linked with Star Recipes hosted by The Saturday Evening Pot, Friday Sweet Tooth hosted by Alli-n-son, Yummy Fridays hosted by Yummy Mummy, These Chicks Cooked hosted by This Chick Cooks, Foodie Friday: Summer Foods hosted by Designs by Gollum, and This Week's Cravings hosted by Delightful Country Cookin', A Themed Bakers' Sunday hosted by Cupcake Apothecary, This Week's Cravings hosted by Mom's Crazy Cooking.

June 28, 2011

Toasted Pesto Rounds {Party Series 8}

Mom preppin' Toasted Pesto Rounds

This is it! ... the last post of the party series from my Mom's wine tasting party.  This last little tidbit of yummy party fare is Toasted Pesto Rounds.  It's basically a basil crostini.  And it's so simple.  Mix up a fresh basil-garlic-Parmesan spread (can you already tell this is going to be good??), slather it on toasted baguette slices, and then broil it until it's melty in the middle and a nice golden brown on the edges.  Pretty easy, isn't it?  And I'll assure you, pretty tasty, too.  Our family doesn't reserve these for just party fare ... we sometimes serve these little toasty bites up as a side.  Use a larger-sized bread instead of baguette, and you have a nice alternative to regular garlic bread.
Tapenade Crostini & Toasted Pesto Rounds

The other treat you see on the party platter is Tapenade Crostini.  I talked about these in this post about making tapenade.  To make these:  spread tapenade on baguette slices, sprinkle on some mozzarella or goat cheese, and top it with a piece of sundried tomato and chopped fresh basil; broil until the cheese is melty.  Another simple one, huh?

Tapenade Crostini ... ready for the broiler

I hope you've enjoyed the party series!  And I hope you've found something to add to your entertaining line-up, or that's sparked an idea for you to try.  I'm looking forward to the next time my Mom and I can spend a couple of days in the kitchen together.  The kitchen is her playground, too!



Toasted Pesto Rounds
Ingredients
1/2 c. thinly-sliced fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 c. mayonnaise
24 (1/4"-thick) baguette slices


Directions
1.  Combine sliced basil leaves, Parmesan, minced garlic, and mayonnaise; set aside. (Basil mixture can be refrigerated overnight.)

2.  Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Broil for about 1 minute until lightly toasted. Remove from oven. 

3.  Turn bread slices over and spread untoasted side evenly with basil mixture. Broil for about 2 minutes or until lightly browned.

NOTE: You can substitute dried basil, if desired. Use a little less than 1/2 cup.

Enjoy!


The {Party Series} Posts:
My Mom Throws a Great Party! {Party Series 1}
Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip {Party Series 2}
Antipasto Platter with Grape Tomato & Caper Salad {Party Series 3}
Marinated Cheese {Party Series 4}
Mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes {Party Series 5}
Raspberry Chocolate Truffles & Drunken Cherries {Party Series 6}
Raspberry-Almond, Caramel-Walnut, & Lemon-Coconut Bars {Party Series 7}
Toasted Pesto Rounds {Party Series 8}

June 26, 2011

Raspberry-Almond, Caramel-Walnut, & Lemon-Coconut Bars {Party Series 7}

It's a three-for-one!!  Three recipes for one post, that is!

You get Raspberry-Almond Bars ...


... you get Caramel-Walnut Bars ...


... and, as a special bonus, you get Lemon-Coconut Bars! 
I didn't get a good picture of the Lemon-Coconut Bars, but that's them on the right side of the middle plate in the tier stand below.

All three of these are family favorites, and Mom included all of them in her wine tasting party dessert menu.  The favorite at the party?? ... Caramel-Walnut Bars!  Raspberry-Almond are my favorite.  But hey, if you're offering to make me some, rest assured I'd be happy with any of them!



Raspberry-Almond Bars

1 c. flour
3/4 c. oats
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. raspberry preserves
1/3 c. sliced almonds

Line an 8" or 9" square baking pan with foil; lightly grease foil.  Combine flour, oats, and sugar in a large bowl.  Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in almond extract.  Reserve about 1 cup of the oat mixture.  Press the rest of the oat mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Spread raspberry preserves over the top of the of the pressed oat mixture, leaving about a 1/2-inch border along the edges.  Mix almonds with reserved oat mixture; sprinkle evenly over preserves and press down gently.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden.  Cool in pan.  Lift by edges of the foil onto a cutting board and cut into small bars.



Caramel-Walnut Bars

1 1/4 c. oats
1 c. + 3 T. flour, divided
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
2/3 c. butter, at room temperature
1 c. caramel ice cream topping
3/4 c. chopped walnuts

Line an 8" or 9" square baking pan with foil; lightly grease foil.  Combine the 1 c. flour, oats, and brown sugar in a large bowl.  Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Press about 1/2 of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until the top looks dry and tiny cracks appear.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with walnuts.

Stir together caramel topping and the remaining 3 T. flour until blended.  Pour over walnuts, leaving about 1/2" to 1" border along the edges.  Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture and press down gently.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until edges bubble slightly.

Cool for a bit on a wire rack.  Using the edges of the foil, lift the bars from the baking pan.  Pull foil back from the sides of the bars while they are still warm - otherwise, the caramel may harden onto to the foil.  Refrigerate bars for 1 hour to make cutting easier.  Cut into small squares.



Lemon-Coconut Bars

Crust:
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter

Topping:
2 eggs
2/3 c. sugar
2 T. flour
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut

For the crust:  Line an 8" or 9" square baking pan with foil; lightly grease foil.  Mix flour and sugar.  Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

For the topping:  Beat eggs, sugar, flour, and lemon juice with an electric mixer until well blended.  Add lemon peel and coconut; beat just until blended.  Spread over crust.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden.  Cool in pan.  Lift by edges of the foil onto a cutting board.  Cut into small bars.


The {Party Series} Posts:
My Mom Throws a Great Party! {Party Series 1}
Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip {Party Series 2}
Antipasto Platter with Grape Tomato & Caper Salad {Party Series 3}
Marinated Cheese {Party Series 4}
Mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes {Party Series 5}
Raspberry Chocolate Truffles & Drunken Cherries {Party Series 6}
Raspberry-Almond, Caramel-Walnut, & Lemon-Coconut Bars {Party Series 7}
Toasted Pesto Rounds {Party Series 8}


This post is linked with Hearth and Soul Tuesday Blog Hop hosted by A Moderate Life and Sharing Sundays hosted by Everyday Sisters, A Themed Baker's Sunday hosted by Cupcake Apothecary.

June 25, 2011

Raspberry Chocolate Truffles & Drunken Cherries {Party Series 6}

Wow.  I think I could leave it at that for this post.  Just wow.  But I won't ... I'll tell you a little bit more about these absolutely amazing, delicious, and gorgeous confections my Mom made.



She made the most amazing Raspberry Chocolate Truffles.  And the most sinfully delicious, pack-a-punch Drunken Cherries.  Oh, my!


These two jewels were part of Mom's "little bites" dessert menu for her wine tasting party.  And they were a total hit!  Rave reviews all around.  Aren't they just beautiful?

The Raspberry Chocolate Truffles have a soft, creamy chocolate center flavored with raspberry jam and raspberry liqueur.  Yum!



What could be better??  Well, maybe maraschino cherries soaked in Southern Comfort for days-on-end and then dipped in dark chocolate???  Hard to say which one gets my vote ... they're both scrumptious.  Make these.  Make them soon.  You'll be so glad you did!

"Little bites" dessert display

Raspberry Chocolate Truffles
Source: My Mom


For the filling:
2 c. (12 oz. package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 c. seedless raspberry jam
2 T. raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord or Razzmatazz)
1 1/2 c. vanilla wafer crumbs


For dipping:
1 (1 lb.) package dark chocolate candy melts
2 T. shortening, divided
3 (1 oz.) white chocolate squares


Microwave chocolate chips in a glass bowl on high power, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. In a separate bowl, beat softened cream cheese until smooth. Add melted chocolate chips, jam, and raspberry liqueur, beating until blended. Stir in crumbs. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
Shape chocolate-raspberry filling into 1" balls; cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm.
Melt dark chocolate candy melts and 1 T. shortening together, according to the candy melt package directions (typically in the microwave at 30 second intervals until melted). Dip balls in the chocolate coating; place on wax paper.
Once all balls have been coated, place white chocolate and 1 T. shortening in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Submerge in hot water until the chocolate melts, kneading until smooth (or, microwave in 20 second intervals until melted, kneading after each interval). Snip a tiny hole in one corner of the bag and drizzle the white chocolate over the truffles. Let stand until coating is firm. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Makes about 6 dozen.



Drunken Cherries
Source:  Adapted from Southern Living / February 2011

1 (10 oz.) jar maraschino cherries with stems
1/2 c. Southern Comfort (or brandy)
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or some dark chocolate candy melts)
1 T. shortening

Drain the juice from the jar of maraschino cherries.  Pour Southern Comfort over cherries in the jar, filling the jar.  Refrigerate for 2 days, or for up to 1 month.

Drain cherries and pat them dry with some paper towels (you may want to reserve the cherry-infused Southern Comfort to drizzle over vanilla ice cream or to use in mixed drinks!).  Melt the chocolate chips (or candy melts) together with the shortening in a bowl by microwaving for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.  Dip cherries quickly into melted chocolate, coating the entire cherry; let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.  Place cherries, stem sides up, on wax paper.  Let stand until chocolate is firm.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

* A small public service announcement:  The soaked cherries do carry a bit of a bite from the Southern Comfort they absorb.  Just don't want you to be shocked when you bite into one!



The {Party Series} Posts:
My Mom Throws a Great Party! {Party Series 1}
Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip {Party Series 2}
Antipasto Platter with Grape Tomato & Caper Salad {Party Series 3}
Marinated Cheese {Party Series 4}
Mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes {Party Series 5}
Raspberry Chocolate Truffles & Drunken Cherries {Party Series 6}
Raspberry-Almond, Caramel-Walnut, & Lemon-Coconut Bars {Party Series 7}
Toasted Pesto Rounds {Party Series 8}


This post is linked with It's a Keeper Thursday hosted by It's a Keeper!, Friday Sweet Tooth hosted by Alli-n-son, Sweets for Saturday hosted by Sweet as Sugar Cookies, Sweet Indulgences Sunday hosted by A Well-Seasoned Life, and Sharing Sundays hosted by Everyday Sisters, 12 Days of Christmas Goodies hosted by Mom's Crazy Cooking, Whimsy WednesdaysCast Party WednesdayLovely Ladies LinkyBloom DesignsTickled Pink Times TwoFoodie FridayCreativity UnleashedWeekend PotluckStrut Your Stuff SaturdayShow Stopper SaturdaySaturday Show & TellSaturday Night FeverNifty Thrifty Sunday.

June 24, 2011

Mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes {Party Series 5}

Coffee.  Toffee.  Crunch.  Yum.


My Mom's and my favorite way to do dessert for a party is a collection of "little bites."  You know, tasty bars cut into small squares, hand-dipped truffles, mini tarts ... things like that.  These mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes certainly fit the bill!  Serve the collection on a tiered stand or two, and you have a fabulous-looking and delicious display.  Another plus ... finger-food dessert!  No need for guests to worry about cutting pieces or juggling forks while trying to hold their beverage glass and plate at the same time.

Now, before we get into looking at how to make these tasty treats, here's a funny little story about this recipe.  Last summer I published a family cookbook and gave it to all the women in our family as a Christmas gift.  When preparing my own recipes for the book, I couldn't find this recipe anywhere.  I was going crazy searching for it.  Thankfully, I had shared it with my Mom so finally just got it from her.  Here's what I now think happened to this recipe ... One day I had several of my recipe folders (I'm a bit obsessed with collecting recipes!) in the backseat of Mark's car.  While driving down the interstate, he opened his sunroof.  Well ... he says recipes started flying everywhere, with several flying right out the sunroof!  I'm guessing this is one that took the flying leap.

Now on to the cheesecakes...
Combine some Kahlua (ohhhh, I love a recipe that starts out that way!), instant coffee granules, and a tiny bit of water.

I love Kahlua

Mix that up with your usual cheesecake suspects ... cream cheese, sugar, and an egg and such.

Mocha cheesecake batter
Spoon the cheesecake batter into mini phyllo shells, sprinkle toffee bits on top, and pop them in the oven for a few minutes.  That's it!  You now have a tasty "little bite" for easy entertaining.
Filling the shells.  They're so cute.

Oh, and here's a handy-dandy storage tip.  Save the boxes and little trays from your miniature phyllo shell packages.  After the cheesecakes cool, place them back in the trays and slide the trays back into the boxes.  You can then stack the boxes in the refrigerator for safe and space-saving storage until party time.  Enjoy!

Easy storage



Mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes
Source:  Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
Ingredients
3 packages miniature phyllo shells
1 tsp. Kahlua
1 tsp. hot water
1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 T. flour
3 T. crushed toffee bits


Directions
1.  Place phyllo shells into mini muffin pan cups.

2.  Combine coffee granules, water, and Kahlua in a small bowl; stir to dissolve coffee granules.  Place coffee mixture and all remaining ingredients (EXCEPT toffee bits) in the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor.  Process until smooth.

3.  Fill each phyllo shell with cream cheese mixture; sprinkle tops with toffee bits.

4.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until set.  Remove from pan and cool.

Enjoy!

The {Party Series} Posts:
My Mom Throws a Great Party! {Party Series 1}
Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip {Party Series 2}
Antipasto Platter with Grape Tomato & Caper Salad {Party Series 3}
Marinated Cheese {Party Series 4}
Mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes {Party Series 5}
Raspberry Chocolate Truffles & Drunken Cherries {Party Series 6}
Raspberry-Almond, Caramel-Walnut, & Lemon-Coconut Bars {Party Series 7}
Toasted Pesto Rounds {Party Series 8}

This post is linked with Sweet Tooth Friday hosted by Alli-n-Son, Sweets for a Saturday hosted by Sweet as Sugar Cookies, Weekend Show Off Party hosted by Ladybird Ln and Sweet Indulgences Sunday hosted by A Well-Seasoned Life.

June 23, 2011

Marinated Cheese {Party Series 4}

Colorful ... beautiful ... absolutely delicious ... and always the hit of the party.  This Marinated Cheese may just be the most perfect party food around.

You know those dishes that are always the first ones gobbled up at a party?  And that you always seem to be giving out the recipe?  This Marinated Cheese is one of those.  Yup, this is always the hit of the party!  And it was no exception at Mom's wine tasting party. 

And just who would think of marinating cheese??  Well, apparently the really wonderful Southern Living team.  I love them.  So here's how to make their marinated cheese.

Mix up their really colorful marinade ...



... cut up cream cheese and cheddar cheese and line it up in an alternating pattern like this:


Pour the marinade over the cheese slices, ...



... and then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  When it comes time to impress your guests, transfer the marinated cheese to a platter and spoon the marinade over the top.  And I have a feeling your guests will be impressed! ... this is colorful, beautiful, and absolutely delicious.

I invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with PinterestFacebookGoogle Friend ConnectLinky Followersbloglovin', or Feedburner. Buttons are in the right sidebar. I'd love to have you back soon!




Marinated Cheese


Ingredients
1 (8 oz.) block sharp cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese

Marinade:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
3 T. chopped fresh parsley
3 T. minced green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (2 oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Directions
1.  Combine all marinade ingredients in a jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously.  Set aside.

2.  Make sure cheeses are well-chilled (I put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes).  Cut block of cheddar in half lengthwise; then cut crosswise into 1/4"-thick slices.  Set aside.  Cut the cream cheese, following the same procedure.  Arrange cheese slices alternately in a shallow baking dish, standing slices on edges.  

3.  Pour marinade over cheese slices.  Cover and refrigerate at least eight hours.


4.  To serve, transfer cheese slices to a serving platter in the same alternating pattern.  Spoon marinade over the cheese.  Serve with assorted crackers.

Enjoy!

The {Party Series} Posts:
My Mom Throws a Great Party! {Party Series 1}
Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip {Party Series 2}
Antipasto Platter with Grape Tomato & Caper Salad {Party Series 3}
Marinated Cheese {Party Series 4}
Mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes {Party Series 5}
Raspberry Chocolate Truffles & Drunken Cherries {Party Series 6}
Raspberry-Almond, Caramel-Walnut, & Lemon-Coconut Bars {Party Series 7}
Toasted Pesto Rounds {Party Series 8}



This post is linked with It's a Keeper Thursday hosted by It's a Keeper! , Friday Potluck hosted by Ekat's Kitchen, Savory Sunday hosted by The Sweet Details, Recipe Sharing Monday hosted by Jam Hands, The Cure for the Common Monday hosted by Lines Across My Face, Tasty Tuesday hosted by For the Love of Blogs, Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollum, and Cast Party Wednesday hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain, Sweet Indulgences Sunday hosted by A Well-Seasoned Life, This Week's Cravings hosted by Mom's Crazy Cooking, Sundae Scoop hosted by I {heart} Naptime, Think Pink Sundays hosted by Flamingo Toes, Pin It ThursdayChic & Crafty PartyFull Plate ThursdayFoodie FridayI'm Lovin' ItWeekend PotluckStrut Your Stuff SaturdayWeekend Wrap Up PartySaturday Show & TellPetite Hermine Sunday Linky PartyNifty Thrifty SundayThink Pink SundaySundae Scoop, Ladies Night Cocktail Link Party.

June 21, 2011

Antipasto Platter with Grape Tomato & Caper Salad {Party Series 3}

An antipasto platter is one of my go-to entertaining items.  Especially when guys are involved in the party.  For some reason, guys seem to really love an antipasto platter.  Can't say that I blame them ... I really love an antipasto platter, too.  And I especially love an antipasto platter when it has a beautiful, flavorful Grape Tomato & Caper Salad in the middle of it.


The truly beautiful thing about an antipasto platter (aside from all the wonderful colors on the plate!) is its versatility.  Include some cured meats, Italian cheeses, olives, artichoke hearts ... whatever combination you want!  Garnish the platter with fresh herbs, place it in the center of your serving table, and you have colorful and tasty, easily-assembled party fare.

Here are my usual suspects:  Hard salami, Genoa salami, turkey pepperoni, or cappicola for meats.  I typically include two meats.  For cheeses - fresh mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, and provolone are great choices.  Then a selection of olives, marinated artichokes, marinated mushrooms, peppadew sweet-hot peppers, roasted red peppers, or roasted cipollini onions.

This is portable, too.  Going to the park for a picnic?  Out to watch an outdoor concert?  No problem!  Put your antipasto items in zip-top bags, toss them in a cooler, and assemble them on a plate (it can even be a paper one!) to serve it up!

For my arrangement, I like to put a small bowl in the center of my platter and fill it with Grape Tomato & Caper Salad.  I love having the bright red of the tomatoes right in the middle.  I then place my other antipasto items around the tomato salad, working in sections and doing my best to make a nice arrangement of colors. Serve it with baguette slices ... yummy.  You know though, if you simply make sure to include tasty good-quality items, you really can't go wrong with your arrangement!


So would you like to know how to make the Grape Tomato & Capers Salad?  I thought you might.  This is soooooo good!  We often enjoy this as a side dish salad ... no antipasto platter involved.

Start by slicing some ripe, juicy grape tomatoes in half.


Put in lots of chopped fresh basil.


Then mix up a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and capers.


Pour the dressing over the tomatoes, and top it all off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Dish it up just as it is, or show it off in the center of a gorgeous antipasto platter and entertain away!  Either way, I think you'll enjoy it.

We invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with Google+, PinterestFacebookTwitterGoogle Friend Connectbloglovin', or Feedburner.  We'd love to have you back soon!  



Grape Tomato & Caper Salad
Source:  My Mom, as adapted from Cooking Light magazine


Ingredients
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, torn
3 T. drained small capers
2 T. olive oil
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 T. grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions
1.  Place halved tomatoes and basil in a bowl.  

2.  Combine capers, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Pour over tomatoes, tossing to coat.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.  

3.  Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy!


The {Party Series} Posts:
My Mom Throws a Great Party! {Party Series 1}
Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip {Party Series 2}
Antipasto Platter with Grape Tomato & Caper Salad {Party Series 3}
Marinated Cheese {Party Series 4}
Mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes {Party Series 5}
Raspberry Chocolate Truffles & Drunken Cherries {Party Series 6}
Raspberry-Almond, Caramel-Walnut, & Lemon-Coconut Bars {Party Series 7}
Toasted Pesto Rounds {Party Series 8}



This post is linked with This Week's Cravings hosted by Mom's Crazy Cooking, These Chicks Cooked hosted by This Chick Cooks, It's a Keeper Thursday hosted by It's a Keeper!, This Week's Cravings hosted by Delightful Country Cookin' and Sharing Sundays hosted by Everyday Sisters, Strut Your Stuff SaturdayCreativity Linky PartySaturday Show & TellMake the Scene MondayMonday FundayMarvelous Mondays.

June 19, 2011

Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip {Party Series 2}

Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip


This is one of my all-time absolute favorite recipes for entertaining.  No joke.

Try this.

And I'm not usually even a fruit dip fan.  But this is not your ordinary fruit dip.  It's light, fluffy, and oh-so-flavorful.

I've had this recipe for so long that, at this point, I have no idea where I got it.  I just know it's fabulous.  Mom decided to "borrow" it for her wine tasting party, and this was one of the menu items I was responsible for during our preparation.  On most of the dishes, I played the role of sous-chef - but on this one I got to take the lead!

This wonderfully flavorful fluffiness starts with sour cream (isn't that the base of almost all dips??), Cool Whip, and a pretty good helping of brown sugar.  Sounding good already, isn't it?  Ohhhh, trust me ... it gets much better.


Then we add the friends - Grand Marnier, dark spiced rum, and Triple Sec.  All I have to say is ... yum.


Mix that all together and then let it chill for a few hours.  The brown sugar will really soften up and kind of melt into the dip.  Give it a really good stir when you get it out of the refrig, and then serve it up with a selection of assorted fruits.  Divine!



Remember how I told you my Mom is really creative?  Well, here's another one of her amazing creations.  Check out these hors d' oeuvre picks my Mom made.  They're perfect for placing alongside a fruit platter.  A little fancier than toothpicks, don't ya think?  And she's so sweet she even made me a set.

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Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip
Source:  A Friend

Ingredients
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. Cool Whip
4 T. brown sugar
1 1/2 T. Grand Marnier
1 T. dark spiced rum
1 T. Triple Sec

Directions
1.  Combine sour cream, Cool Whip, and brown sugar.  Add liquors and whisk.

2.  Refrigerate for several hours.  Stir well before serving.  If the liquors "settle out," don't worry - just whisk or stir them back in.  Serve with an assortment of berries and fruit.

P.S. - Mark likes this with bananas the best!  Sometimes we spoon the leftovers over sliced bananas and eat it as a dessert.  Tasty.


The {Party Series} Posts:
My Mom Throws a Great Party! {Party Series 1}
Grand Marnier & Spiced Rum Fruit Dip {Party Series 2}
Antipasto Platter with Grape Tomato & Caper Salad {Party Series 3}
Marinated Cheese {Party Series 4}
Mini Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes {Party Series 5}
Raspberry Chocolate Truffles & Drunken Cherries {Party Series 6}
Raspberry-Almond, Caramel-Walnut, & Lemon-Coconut Bars {Party Series 7}
Toasted Pesto Rounds {Party Series 8}



 This post is linked with These Chicks Cooked hosted by This Chick Cooks, Sweet Tooth Friday hosted by Alli-n-Son, Sweets for a Saturday hosted by Sweet as Sugar Cookies,  A Themed Bakers Sunday hosted by Cupcake Apothecary, and Sweet Indulgences Sunday hosted by A Well-Seasoned Life, Sundae Scoop, Nifty Thrifty Sunday.

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