One of the best and most enjoyable gathering of my friends was a few years back for a Holiday Baking Party. Five of my best friends were invited for a cooking party at my home. In order to take this type of gathering you need a fairly good size kitchen, several ovens and lots of champagne and orange juice. To begin, section off several areas of your kitchen to serve as a prep area for each of your friends. I sectioned off five areas and at each of those was placed a set of measuring spoons, measuring cups, a hot pad and a vintage grandma’s apron. You don’t need to provide all these items but they can be purchased fairly inexpensively (except for the apron) at the local dollar store or super market. Gauge the number of friends to invite based on the size of your kitchen and how many prep areas you can arrange but hopefully have at least three participants including yourself.
Have on hand some hors d’ hourves such as the Asiago Cheese and Tomato Bruschetta for noshing and Mimosa or Martini’s to sip as you cook.
Items for the prep area:
1 Champagne Flute
1 Set of measuring cups
1 Set of measuring spoons
1 Hot pad(s)
Grandma’s vintage aprons
Friends should bring the ingredients and pans for whatever they want to cook. Suggested baking items are cookies, sweet breads or pies. Or, someone may want to take on making up a batch of fudge, penuche or chocolate truffles. That year I made up truffles and took the corner closest to the stove top.
You may want to find out what each of your friends will be baking so that you can stage a cooking corner just for them. At an un-staged area, put out all your baking pans, measure bowls, spatulas and anything else that you think someone might forget to bring. If you are an avid baker or cook like me who has to have every cooking tool they see, then this should be a cinch.
Put on your favorite Christmas music station or Holiday Playlist from your portable media to set the background. This is an easy party to pull off as you only need a few appetizers, the staging area, Champagne and music to set the stage.
Basic Mimosa Recipe
- Sparkling Wine, Cava, Prosecco or Champagne (1 bottle)
- Orange Juice (1 carton)
- Triple Sec (optional)
Enjoy a fun time at your Baking Party and Best Holiday Wishes from KCinAZ!
This is a much enjoyed appetizer that can be made a variety of ways. My friend, Mariette, uses a much sharper cheese and it’s just a delicious. It just has a different twist. Many recipes include spinach, but somehow, someway, I’ve not acquired a taste for spinach in large doses. Another fun addition is sun dried tomatoes but if doing that do so in small doses too. For a sharper more flavorful taste use Asiago Cheese, Gruyere Cheese or an Italian blend.
Artichoke dip is one of my regulars to take to take to a Pot Luck dinner. It’s a warm dish served with crackers, toasted baguette slices or tortilla chips. Or, if you have left overs or prefer a cold dish it makes a great tapenade for crackers, toasted bread, etc. I often used my left overs from a party for a Happy Hour cold dish appetizer the following day.
This recipe calls for only 1 1/2 cups of artichoke hearts but if you’re feeling a little frivolous you can always go with more. Depending on the size of the group and how far I want it to go, I would opt for more chopped hearts. If I were downsizing to a smaller group then there would still be as much artichoke and then less mayo and half-and-half to make it a thicker richer tapenade. Feel free to experiment. I always do.
|1 1/2 cups Artichoke hearts; quartered and then chopped||1/4 cup Half-and-half cream|
|1 cup Mozzarella; shredded||1/2 teaspoon Salt; to taste|
|1 cup Parmesan cheese; shredded||1/4 cup Baby spinach; shopped; optional; I never add|
|1 cup Mayonnaise|
Artichoke Dip Appetizer or Tapenade Preparation
Take 32 ounce jar of whole artichoke; Dry weight is 19.5 ounces. Drain of all liquid. If the artichoke has been marinated in olive oil then rinse under running water until all or most of the oil has been removed. Chop the artichoke until diced or slightly larger size. I find it easier to quarter the artichoke heart and then cut those pieces into thirds with the cut side facing up.
Place in 2 quart baking dish. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Continue to add cream or mayonnaise until easily mixed but with not too much liquid. If you want it more firm add less mayo.
Bake in 350 degree oven for around 20-30 minutes, remixing occasionally so that it heats evenly throughout. Remove when cheese begins to toast slightly on the top layer.
Serve with crackers, French baguette (sliced and toasted) or corn tortilla chips.
Slice French Baguette. Place on baking sheet. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with slight layer of garlic salt. Sprinkle with slight layer of Italian spice. Place under hot broiler until lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve immediately with spread.
If taking to a party to serve later then remove from baking sheet and let cool on cookie rack. Place warm artichoke dip in crockpot and reheat on low to serve after you arrive at the party.
If you like the recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀 I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.
My good friend who lives in Toronto, sent me this recipe to share on KCinAZ Cooks. She’s vegetarian and does find some great ideas. It looks absolutely delicious and I couldn’t resist posting it up. OMG, it’s got wine in it. If it were my recipe I would have to call it Drunkin’ Sole Meunier.
From Lidia’s Website – the recipe:
This light fish in a lemony sauce, which always appears on Italian and French menus, has remained a favorite for decades. I served it in my first restaurant, and continue to serve it today. I recommend using fillet of sole in this recipe, but the fillet of any fish prepared this way is delicious. It is easy to prepare, and even kids love it. The result is a pucker lemon finish, with briny capers. You know how much I love olive oil, but there is a time and a place for everything. When sautéing foods that cook quickly, like these sole fillets, using some butter along with the oil help the sole brown before they overcook. Thicker sole or flounder fillets are ideal for this dish, but if yours are thinner, you may find it easier to handle them if you cut them in half first. Traditionally the fillets are simmered in the sauce, but I like to cook the sauce separately and spoon it around the sole fillets—they stay crispier that way.
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing the sauce if you like
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 fillets gray of lemon sole, approximately
2 1/2 pounds all-purpose flour for dredging 5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
12 thin lemon slices (about 2 lemons)
3 tablespoons drained tiny capers
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley salt and freshly ground black pepper –
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is foaming. Dredge the fillets in the flour to coat both sides lightly, gently lay as many of the fillets into the pan as fit without touching. Cook just until the underside is lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip them gently with a wide metal spatula, and cook until the second side is browned and the fish is opaque in the center, about 2 minutes. Transfer them with the spatula to a baking sheet, and keep them warm in the oven. Repeat it necessary with the remaining fillets, adjusting the heat under the skillet to prevent the bits of flour in the pan from burning. When all the sole fillets have been browned, carefully wipe out the skillet with a wad of paper towels. Add the remaining olive oil and the remaining butter and crushed garlic, and return to medium heat. When the butter is foaming, slide in the lemon slices, and cook, stirring gently, until they are sizzling and lightly browned. Stir in the capers, and heat until they are sizzling, about 1 minute. Pour in the lemon juice and wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by about half. Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and boil until the sauce is lightly thickened, about 2 minutes. If you like, drizzle in a tablespoon or two of the olive oil to enrich the sauce. Sprinkle in the parsley, and taste, seasoning with salt and pepper if you like. Remove the sole from the oven, and set one fillet in the center of each plate. Fish the lemon slices out of the sauce, and top each fillet with two of them. Spoon the sauce around the fillets, dividing it evenly. Serve immediately.
If I only had one cookbook in my library it would be “Timing is Everything by Jack Piccolo”. There are no pictures and it doesn’t really have any recipes but it’s the best cookbook around for reference. Want to know how long to cook the tuna in my “Drunkin Yellow Fin Tuna” or the Beef Tenderloin in “Beef Tenderloin, Port Mushroom Gravy and Red Potatoes – Date Night Dinner”.
Just turn to the appropriate meat section in the cookbook and look it up. Tuna is considered a meaty fish found in the, of course, Fish Section. Then it breaks down in the cooking methods of braise, broil, grill, pan fry, poach, sauté and steam. For grilling it recommends a 6-8 ounce fillet or steak, then cook 3-5 minutes per side. I’ll have to recheck my recipe to see if I followed their instructions. You’ll even find a section on how to cook an egg, vegetables and rice along with storage time for vegetables, fruit and meats.
You won’t find it at the local book store unless it’s a used book store. I found my second copy to take up to my cabin on Amazon.com and I costs around $4 for a used book and all the way up to $50 or $60 for a new un-used one. The original price of the book was $16.95 so you can see how rare the new books are. It’s no longer in print but worth the find.
When I worked at a bakery this was one of my favorite cookies though this is not their recipe. Luckily, at this bakery, I could eat all I wanted and didn’t have to pay for the indulgence. Where this particular recipe comes from is a complete mystery since I’ve been making it for over 15 years. It’s probably been modified many times and I now guiltily claim it as mine. It’s a fun Holiday treat and packages well for gift baskets. I couldn’t resist posting this recipe so early since I’m going to a Christmas in July party next month. If I can find dates, which may be impossible, then this will be my contribution to the desert table. This is a rich buttery recipe with lots of chopped dates and nuts.
Combine dates, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat; stir in chopped walnuts. Let cool completely.
Cream butter in a large mixing bowl; gradually add brown sugar, beating well. Add eggs; beat well. Stir in vanilla.
Combine flour, soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl; add to creamed mixture, stirring well.
Divide dough into thirds. Roll each portion into a thin 12 – 15 inch square on separate sheets of parchment. To roll thin and avoid sticking, cover dough with a second sheet of parchment; press out dough to form a square shape and finish with rolling-pin over top of second sheet of parchment. Carefully, peel top piece of parchment away from dough; thinly spread the squared dough with one-third of reserved date mixture.
lifting up the edge of the lower parchment, gently peel of the long edge of the dough and roll up jelly roll fashion. Use a pastry knife to slide and roll the dough if necessary. You can use the lower piece of parchment to continue to form the jelly roll shape so as not to tear the dough. Use the same procedure with the remaining two portions of dough.
As formed, wrap each roll in the parchment, and chill overnight. If time is short, you can freeze the dough for a few hours to rapid chill. Remove parchment paper. Cut into 1/4-inch slices, and place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cookie browns slightly around edges. If cookies do not brown, may need to increase oven temperature or increase butter next time made.
Prepare dough and chill overnight. Store baked cookies in airtight containers.
If you like the recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀 I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.
Just a few days ago, I made my favorite Banana Bread recipe and usually it’s a special treat full of goodness and loaded with nuts. Not this time. Oh, there were plenty of nuts (including the cook) but the final baked bread was not what I expected. Only word to describe is “horrible”!! A word to the wise baker. When mixing the final batter for sweet breads DO NOT over mix. I was having so much fun mixing the batter that I over mixed the heck out of it. My thinking was oh, this is going to be so much better because I spent more time and energy mixing. Do not repeat my mistake or the loaves will not rise. The 4 mini loaves ended up 1/2 the normal fullness and were overly dense. They turned out like over baked hockey pucks. Gus said it tasted good, but normally our mini loaves are gone in 2 to 3 days. However this time there are still 2 1/2 loaves left. Guess I will just have to take them outside for the birds. Hope the birds like them better than we did.
Will be making one of our favorite treats for when there are left over banana’s going a little over ripe. Here’s are some pictures of the yummy treats right out of the oven. Making four mini loaves this weekend.
This banana bread is loaded with walnuts and has a crusty edge just like the tops of those banana nut muffins we all love. It’s like just eating the top off a muffin with every slice. Prepare individual slices and spread with softened butter. I prefer the four mini loaf version over one loaf.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and up the sides a bit of 1 large non-stick loaf pan; 9″ x 5″ x 2.5″ or 4 non-stick mini-loaf pans. Lightly coat with flour on the bottom to prevent sticking if pans are not non-stick.
Mix sugar, flour, baking soda and salt in medium size mixing bowl with whisk. Add shortening, eggs, bananas, and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Cut the shortening, softnened butter, eggs, banana mixture into the dry mix with double pastry knifes or kitchen knifes then finish mixing with large mixing spoon. Add half-and-half until batter is still somewhat thickened. Batter may seem to be too thick but it will mix in. Fold in 3/4 cups of the walnuts and retain around 1/4 cup to top the baking loaf. Do not overmix.
Spoon batter into the baking pan, or 4 mini loaves and spread to flatten to edges of pan. Top with remaining walnuts. Bake in 350 degree oven for 60-75 minutes for large loaf pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes for mini-loaf pans. Start checking at the lowest bake time and continue cooking until fully cooked.
Place in the middle of the oven for even baking. Test with toothpick or wooden skewer until it comes out clean, but do not overcook. If loaf is browned and beginning to split, it may appear to be done, Don’t be fooled. Check with “long” toothpick or wooden skewer. If the toothpick is not coming out clean from the center then cover with a little foil so as not to over brown the top while the center finishes cooking.
If you like this recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀 I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.