Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Baby shower recipes

Ok, so it's been FOREVER since I posted anything to this blog of any interest. Yeah, I've been busy, but I've also just been lazy and not gotten on and posted anything... I HAVE been cooking, just not recording what I'm cooking on the blog nor photographing it. However, two weekends ago I DID get some photos of some of the things I cooked AND I know that there are several folks who wanted copies of the recipes, so I'm posting this for them! :) The cooking was for a baby shower for my friend Andrea who's due to deliver her fifth child any time now. I had a great time cooking up a storm for the shower and am glad to know that folks enjoyed the food.  So, without further ado, here's a few pictures I took at the start of the shower as well as all the recipes I used with my notes...

In the center is the watermelon baby carriage filled with minted melon salad. On the top right is a spinach salad with strawberries and poppy seed dressing. Bottom left is a tray with stuffed tomatoes, bacon cheeseburger meatballs and stuffed mushrooms. Top left is a tray with crackers and mini cheese balls.

Back of the baby carriage carved with the soon-to-be born baby Ian's name.

Cheese ball tray with assorted crackers

Left to right: Stuffed mushrooms, bacon cheeseburger meatballs and stuffed tomatoes.

 The things I didn't get pictures of were the two kinds of candied popcorn, regular popcorn and caramel corn, the cake pops and the "Martha" punch. Now, on to the recipes!

First up, the minted melon salad served in the baby carriage which was carved from a watermelon with orange slice wheels:

Melon Salad With Lime, Mint, And Ginger

1 cantaloupe -- made into balls
1 honeydew melon -- made into balls
1 medium seedless watermelon -- hollowed out and carved into baby buggy; fruit made into balls
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons grated lime peel
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons honey

Place melon balls and mint in large bowl. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, lime peel, sugar, ginger, and honey, whisking to blend. Toss with melon and mint. Refrigerate until ready to serve, stirring occasionally, up to 3 hours. Serve in carved watermelon.

This recipe yields 18-20 servings.

Next is the mini cheese balls, which can be made and frozen ahead if desired.

Mini Cheese Balls

8 oz cream Cheese -- softened
12 oz blue Cheese -- crumbled
1 lb  Sharp Cheddar Cheese -- shredded
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp  Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup walnuts, pulsed to a fine crumb in the food processor

Mix all ingredients until smooth. Using a small cookie scoop, roll into individual cheese balls. Roll each ball into walnut crumbs.  Can be frozen then thawed prior to serving. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving with assorted crackers.
Then there were the bacon cheeseburger meatballs... These are a big hit at home as well as at parties as they contain a "surprise" of cheese and bacon on the inside of the meatballs.

Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs
6 eggs, divided use
2 envelopes onion soup mix
2 pounds ground beef
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
2 cups crushed saltines (about 60 crackers)

Combine ground beef, onion soup mix and 2 eggs until thoroughly mixed (using gloved hands if, like me you don't like the feel of raw meat!). Set aside. In a small bowl, combine milk and flour. Mix with the shredded cheese and bacon. Divide this into 48 (or so) small balls (I used my smallest cookie scoop for this). Now, divide the meat into 48 portions as well. Roll these into balls, then press one of the cheese/bacon balls into the center of each meatball, making sure to encase the cheese inside the meat. Once all the balls are ready, preheat your oven to 375°F. 
Whisk together the remaining 4 eggs into a shallow bowl or pie plate. Place the cracker crumbs in another shallow bowl or pie plate. Spray a couple of rimmed baking sheets with non-stick spray (or better yet, line with non-stick foil!). Now, dip each meatball into the egg mixture then roll in the cracker crumbs to coat. Place onto baking sheet. They can be very closely spaced as long as they aren't touching. Put the sheet(s) into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until browned. If preferred, you can brown them in little oil in a skillet on top of the stove, but I prefer the "low maintenance" method of oven browning. These can be prepared ahead and frozen, then reheated in a warm oven.

Then were the stuffed tomatoes. These were simply cherry tomatoes that had been cored and "scooped" (to remove most of the seeds and juice), then piped with a homemade boursin cheese spread. Here's the recipe for the boursin:

Homemade Boursin

2 large cloves  garlic -- minced fine
16 oz  cream cheese -- softened
8 oz butter -- softened
1/3 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp dried marjoram

Mix throughly. Place in piping bag with small star tip and use to fill cherry tomatoes. This cheese may also be used as a cracker spread, placed in a mold for a pretty cheese "mold" with crackers, used for filling chicken breasts or mushrooms...and it freezes beautifully!

The stuffed mushrooms are also a super simple recipe that can be prepped ahead and then reheated before serving.

Pesto Brie Mushrooms
48 button mushrooms, stemmed and cleaned
1 wheel baby brie cheese, rind removed and cut into small cubes
2 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 jar prepared pesto
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

Saute the mushroom caps (in batches if needed) in skillet with butter, oil, garlic and sherry until just softened. Once soft, place on a baking sheet and put 1 cube of brie into each cap. Top each cube with a small amount of pesto, then sprinkle breadcrumbs over all. Bake in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

If preparing ahead, stop after adding brie and pesto and refrigerate. When ready to serve, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake as directed.

For beverages at the shower we had ice tea (made with a combination of regular black tea and Republic of Tea's Ginger Peach) as well as what I call my "Martha" punch. I really like this punch as it's not like so many what have ice cream components and so is very light and refreshing, especially in the hot summer months.  
I made an ice ring using rinds from orange and lime and a few frozen cranberries. To make a pretty ring, fill a pretty bundt pan about 1/3 full with water and put in your "decorations" (rinds/berries/flowers/whatever). Freeze for an hour or two. Once hard, add more water. This way you make sure your "decorations" are in the center of the ring instead of floating to the top!

Now for the punch recipe. This recipe makes about 3 gallons of punch:

Martha Punch
2 containers frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed
1 containers frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 containers frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 container frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
1 container frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 gallons water (for dilution)
ice cubes
2 liters ginger ale
Combine thawed concentrates and allow to meld overnight. When ready to serve, dilute with two gallons of water and ice ring or ice cubes. Add 2 liters of ginger ale just before service.

Last but not least were the two different kinds of "candied" popcorn I made. The theme of Andrea's shower was "She's about to Pop" so we did all kinds of round and pop themed items. I made my "normal" caramel corn recipe as well as two colors of "jello" popcorn. Both are yummy, but I prefer the caramel :)  Here are the two recipes:

Jello Rainbow Popcorn

16 cups air-popped popcorn
1/2 cup butter
6 Tbsp.  light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large pkg.  JELL-O Gelatin (I used strawberry and blue berry)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 250°F. Spray two rimmed baking sheets with non-stick spray. Put popcorn on sheets and put into oven to keep warm.
Put butter and corn syrup in small saucepan; cook on low heat until butter is melted. Add sugar and gelatin powder; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. Mixture will foam up, so be ware!  Pour immediately over popcorn and stir to coat well. Spread evenly on baking sheets.
Bake 15 minutes. Stir then return to oven for another 15 minutes. Cool. Remove from pan. Break into small pieces.

Grandma's Caramel Corn

16 cups air-popped popcorn
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Spread popped corn on two large rimmed greased baking sheets. Put in a 250°F degree oven to keep warm. Combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a 2 qt. sauce pan. Heat over medium until sugar dissolves. Continue to boil to firm ball stage (248 degrees on the candy thermometer), about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in soda and vanilla (will foam up) and then pour mixture over warmed corn in a fine stream. Return to the oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

That's it! Enjoy!