LIFE'S A BEACH

LASDI©

LASDI©

This particular catering gig was in June, so being the Themer-Girl I am, it only made sense that the summer menu was called Beach Party Roast.  It consisted of roasted salmon, roasted mini-sweet peppers loaded with green onion, cream cheese, and shredded cheddar, roasted asparagus, roasted beach bread, and sandy beach parfaits that I found a recipe for from a Texas-girl blogger.  With all of that yumminess, the peppers got quite a bit of attention.  I had the opportunity to pop a few in my mouth, and could completely see why they were so addictive!  Plus they're easy to make and low-carb!!  Shout out to The Daughts for the cute-and-appropriate title to this post!

MINI SWEET PEPPER POPPERS

1 bag tri-colored mini sweet peppers (about 20) seeded, and cut lengthwise

1 block cream cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 bunch green onion, sliced thin (both green and white ends)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper

Combine cream cheese, shredded cheddar, green onion, sea salt and pepper in a bowl.  Microwave for 15 seconds.  Mix well with a spoon and let stand about a minute or two.  Scoop a mound of cheese mixture into each pepper and press into pepper, careful not to over-mound so your cheese doesn't leak out during cooking.  Refrigerate for about an hour.  Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake peppers for 20 minutes; switch oven to broiler and broil peppers until cheese is brown and bubbly - about five minutes.  Let rest five minutes before serving, then pop a few in your mouth before putting them on the table because they go quick!!

NOTES: These are great for your Vegetarian Friends.  For you Meat Eaters, and for extra flavor, you can crumble some bacon into the cheese mixture, or just about anything you like!  I know an entire bunch of green onion seems like a lot, but it really lends an herbaceous, chivey taste to these loves.  For July, and some added heat, I use jalapenos in place of the sweet peppers for hot pepper poppers!  These are great served warm or room temperature and make a great side or appetizer.  

ISLAND KITCHEN

LASDI ©

LASDI©

This catering job was FUN!  A lot of hard work, but really, really FUN!!  This was for a graduation party, and the theme was Hawaiian.  Now you KNOW I love and appreciate a good theme, and after some communication, we finally agreed on a menu consisting of sticky chicken drumsticks, garlic mashed potatoes, Hawaiian crispy spring rolls, teriyaki meatballs, and a fruit-and-cheese display that ROCKED.  The Hubster built the pineapple stand for the tree in the center of the display, and I am SUPER proud of it!  

A HUGE hit were the Hawaiian crispy spring rolls, and though they weren't a cinch to make on a large scale for 100 people, they are not hard to make and worth the effort if it's for family dinner or an appetizer to entertain.

So I invite you to join me in my kitchen, and let's bring the Hawaiian islands to YOURS!!

HAWAIIAN CRISPY SPRING ROLLS

canola oil

1/2 red pepper, sliced paper thin

2 carrots, grated

8 bamboo shoots, sliced paper thin

green or savoy cabbage, about a half-head, shredded

1 cup bean sprouts (fresh or canned - if canned, drained)

1 cup rice noodles, soaking in warm water

2 tbs oyster sauce

2 tbs soy sauce

sea salt

pepper

10 spring roll wrappers

1 egg, beaten

1/2 pkg unsweetened shredded coconut

Heat enough canola oil in the bottom of a deep pan or wok to cover the bottom, and on medium-high heat for about a minute-and-a-half.  Add all your vegetables and cook everything together until they are soft, but al denté.  Strain noodles and add those to the vegetable mix, and then add oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix well and remove from the heat, and pour into a bowl.  Place a spring roll wrapper in front of you, with one corner toward you so that it looks like a diamond. Brush the edges of the wrapper with the beaten egg. Add about a tablespoon or two of the filling in the bottom part of the wrapper in a thin log-like shape, being careful not to touch the edges. Leave about 1/2 inch at the bottom.  Sprinkle with a bit of the shredded coconut.  Lift the wrapper over the top and tuck it in under the filling. Fold over the left side, and then the right side and roll it up to form a tube-like little package. Brush a little more egg along the top part and seal the roll.  Repeat this process until all your rolls are full and ready to be cooked.  Place a pan over medium-high heat, and sprinkle with enough canola oil to cover the bottom and about an inch up the sides.  Wait until the oil is hot - about two-to-three minutes - and then deep fry the egg rolls until they are lightly brown on one side, turning and lightly browning on the other side. Drain them on paper towels or a cooling rack with paper towel underneath for your roll to stay extra-crispy.

NOTES:  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, or for these in particular, make it a spicy pineapple sauce!

PICNIC LUNCH

LASDI2016©

LASDI2016©

I am learning that catering doesn't always mean a fancy, sophisticated spread.  Sometimes may also be doing a ton of amuse bouche or appetizers, and sometimes the theme could be low-key and understated - and yet still very appreciated!  In this particular case, I made a picnic-style lunch of gorgeous paninis with three kinds of cheese and shaved deli turkey on sprouted-grain bread, hand-crafted veggie-chip blend, baked cornichon, and the most wonderful chocolate chip cookies that were crisp on the outside and just-soft-enough in the middle that they melted in the clients' mouths!  I know, because they said so!!  I have a little trick for uniform cookies so read on in the recipe to see what that little hack is!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP PICNIC COOKIES

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 pkg (16 oz) chocolate chips

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg. Add vanilla and mix well. slowly add flour mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. HACK PART ONE:  Spread your mixture onto a prepared baking sheet to meet the edges.   Bake until cookie "cake" is brown, which is approximately 13 minutes.  HACK PART TWO: Take a circular (or whatever shape) cookie-cutter (I used a small round with tiny scalloped edges for this catering job) and immediately cut your shape into the sheet of baked cookie.  DO NOT REMOVE.  Immediately place your cookie sheet in the freezer and leave there for anywhere between fifteen minutes to a half hour.  When you pull out the cookie sheet, carefully remove your cookies and keep the scraps for another recipe or as a treat for later!  I freeze mine and use in cheesecake for Sunday Supper!

NOTES: I use all-organic ingredients but it is not necessary for the flavor in the cookies for this particular recipe.  Also, be on the watch for your husband sneaking his nose into the freezer for the scraps you are saving for later.  I'm not trying to throw anyone in my house under the bus (The Hubster)......I'm just sayin'......

WELCOME TO TEXAS, Y'ALL!

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

The latest catering gig was for a meeting where some of the participants were flying into Texas from Indiana.  So providing lunch for this group was FUN because I wanted to welcome them TEXAS-STYLE!  I literally named the menu "Welcome to Texas, Y'all!".  Of course that meant stuffed barbecue chicken thighs, home-made baked beans, mini cornbread muffins, bacon-wrapped green bean stacks, cabbage salad with slaw dressing, and Texas tornado bars for dessert!  It was a huge hit and the chicken was delicious!!  So I have given you the gift of the easy recipe below!  Y'all.

Peppers & Cream Cheese-Stuffed Barbecue Chicken Thighs

extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

1 green bell pepper, diced finely

1 red bell pepper, diced finely

1 yellow bell pepper, diced finely

1/2 red onion, diced finely

1 tbs sea salt

1 tbs pepper

1 tbs cumin

1 tbs paprika

2 pkgs cream cheese, softened

2 pkgs chicken thighs

sea salt

pepper

garlic powder

1 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup mustard

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

In a heavy pan (I use my cast-iron skillet, of course!), sprinkle enough evoo to cover the bottom and heat for one minute on medium flame.  Add all peppers and onion, and cook for two minutes.  Add sea salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic, and then stir and cook another two minutes.  Remove from heat and add to the cream cheese in a bowl.  Stir until creamy smooth.  Pound each chicken thigh out to make sure it is not uneven.  Add a teaspoon of the cream cheese and bell pepper mix to the middle and roll, laying each one on a prepared baking sheet, fold-side down.  Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.

Remove from freezer and sprinkle the tops with evoo, and then sprinkle a little sea salt and a little pepper and garlic powder as well.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, mix barbecue sauce, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce together in a bowl.  Once fifteen minutes is up, baste the chicken thighs liberally with barbecue sauce mixture.  Bake another fifteen minutes.  Cowboy up!!

NOTES:  The longer you keep the thighs in the freezer, the less the cheese mixture will run out as the chicken cooks.  This is low-carb, too!

GREEN WITH ENVY

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

You just don't say no when you're a hustler and trying to get a business off the ground!  That's Life As She Does It!!  This catering job was from the Chamber of Commerce in my area for a hospital ward that was opening up, and their new logo had green with touches of blue - which meant they needed 250 green cupcakes with green frosting.  No problem, right?  I made THE most crumbly, moist, decadent cupcakes you've had this side of Cupcake-Land.  (And there IS a land of cupcakes!!)  But I couldn't make them green in good conscious by adding chemical food coloring.  Some people sincerely don't mind, but I just COULDN'T.  So I used India Tree all-natural food coloring.  It took a couple of batches of mixing and matching to get just the right color green, but The Fam didn't complain when they got the casualties.  Now, I sure couldn't indulge (hence, the envy), but it brought me joy to know I was filling total strangers' tummies with clean yumminess!  

SUPER-MOIST CUPCAKES

2 sticks butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

3 cups sugar

5 eggs, brought to room temperature

3 cups flour

2 tsps baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup organic whole milk, brought to room temperature

1/2 cup buttermilk, brought room temperature

2 1/2 tsps vanilla extract

India Tree coloring of your choice

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Slowly add sugar one cup at a time, making sure to mix each cup before adding another. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to fully mix in each egg before adding another.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour milk, buttermilk, and vanilla into separate bowl and whisk together. Alternate butter and shortening mixture with milk mixture, starting and finishing with dry ingredients, and stir well. Stir in your food coloring.  Evenly distribute batter into cupcake pans and place pans into oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cupcakes don't jiggle when you move the cupcake pan.  Remove and allow to cool cool completely.  Frost or ice cupcakes as desired.

NOTES: I use all-organic ingredients, including the shortening - yes, they make organic!! - which I find in the all-natural and organic section of the grocery store.  I also make my own buttermilk in a glass measuring cup by adding 1/2 tbs white vinegar to each 1/2 cup milk and letting it sit for 20 minutes.  This recipe makes approximately 24 cupcakes when I use my ice cream scoop and fill each cup 3/4 of the way full.  There were a TON of happy  (green-toothed for those that indulged in a few more than one) smiles at the end of the night!

HAM IT UP!!

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

This was a Christmas catering job, and it was so much fun!  The menu was magical, and not only perfect for the season, but great for the cooling winter months!  There was Shiner Bock beer bread with sweet honey-cream butter, bacon-wrapped green bean almandine stacks, a honkin-huge bowl of salad with honey mustard vinaigrette, sweet potato casserole with home-made marshmallows melted on top,  red velvet stack cakes, and the most gorgeous ham with orange-balsamic-honey-mustard-and-clove glaze.  And that, Ladies & Gents, is the recipe that follows!

ORANGE BALSAMIC HONEY MUSTARD & CLOVE GLAZE

juice and zest of a large orange

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/2 cup honey

2 tbs ground clove

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.  Baste ham as it bakes, and pour remaining glaze over the ham as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Let rest.

NOTES: I used organic aged balsamic and orange blossom honey, but I'm certain any variation on this recipe with similar ingredients would taste just as amahz!!

Let's Be Brie(f)

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

Oh, man.  I cannot TELL you how much this catering gig lit a fire under me!!  I had SO MUCH FUN doing this particular one because instead of a meal, it was a ton of apps for a ton of people.  And it was a SUCCESS!!  Among (many) other things, there was Teeny Tacos, Creamy Cake Truffles, Barbecued Meatballs, Stuffed Mushrooms, Pesto & Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Peppers, Shrimp in Texas Red Sauce, and so, soooooo much more.  One of the faves seemed to be the Streusel-Topped Baked Brie I made.  Considering the holidays, this is the recipe I'm sharing today.  It's so easy and very fast to make, but seems so sophisticated and like you spent all day in the kitchen!  I served mine with really hearty and rustic wasa crackers, but you can serve with whatever you like!  Happy Holidays indeed!

STREUSEL-TOPPED BAKED BRIE

1 full round of brie

cooking spray

1 cup pecan pieces

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 sugar

2 tbs pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Gently cut the top of the brie round off and lay it back on top of the cheese from where you cut it from.  Spray a circular baking sheet with cooking spray and place the brie in the middle.  Bake for exactly twelve minutes.  While the brie is baking, combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  After twelve minutes, take the brie out of the oven and sprinkle streusel mixture all over the top.  Bake another five minutes.  Take out of the oven and let cool completely.  Serve with crackers or just eat it with a spoon!  

NOTES: If any cheese runs out onto the baking sheet while cooking, you will be able to scoop it up in its entirety if you want to place it on a platter.  Simply place the crackers over it or for a rustic look, don't cover it up.  Let that melty-cheese look do all the talking! 

Horn of Plenty

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

I was asked to cater a small luncheon and with autumn upon us, I was super-pumped when they chose the Horn of Plenty Menu!  It consists of a stuffed acorn or carnival squash and a simple salad, from-scratch Shiner Bock beer bread with honey-butter rounds, and delicious cake truffles.  It made the house smell so wonderful and made me feel autumn deep in my soul!  I want to pass that along to you, so I am giving you the stuffed squash recipe below.  Happy Autumn Eating!

STUFFED ACORN SQUASH

 2 acorn or carnival squash, halved, seeded, and scraped deep and wide so as to fill generously, but still leaving enough squash flesh to eat

1 pnd ground beef

1/2 pkg bacon, chopped fine

1 onion, diced finely

2 green apples, cored and chopped finely

2 tbs pumpkin pie spice

2 tbs brown sugar

1 tbs dried sage

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper

2 cups Jasmine rice, cooked

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed dish. Add water to dish and bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes.  While squash is roasted, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until almost crisp. Add onion and apple. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in ground beef., breaking up meat as it cooks, and let it get just-brown.   Add brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, sage, salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in Jasmine rice.  Drain water from baking dish and flip over squash. Spoon meat-and-rice mixture into squash halves generously, pressing down with hands to pack it in. Return to oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with fried sage as a garnish.

NOTES:  Want low-carb?  Omit the rice.  Be careful frying your sage leaves - if they turn brown they will taste bitter.  I used all-organic ingredients for clean eating, but I'm not sure it made a difference in taste except for the ground beef.  No need to make any sides, as this houses all of your food groups.  Horn of Plenty, get it?