Well, I may have gone a little overboard, but I can say that cooking all of this food for the Pampered Chef party I hosted 2 weekends ago kept me well entertained for many hours! I had no idea how many people to expect (12 RSVP'd), but I figured the leftovers would find themselves a place to go. Plus, it was fun...and did I mention it kept me well entertained and busy for many hours!
While we may not have started eating with dessert, that was the first thing I started to make because it would take the longest and didn't need to be served hot.
Go figure, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies. This was one of the last things I added to my menu. The only other dessert I had planned to bake had peanuts, and I thought if some people did not like that (I checked on allergies in advance), then there was something sweet. To make them a little different from what we usually do, I used the dark chocolate morsels.
The seemed like they would turn out nicely, but I was concerned that some cookies wouldn't have a whole lot of chocolate in them. The bigger pieces made it difficult to get it spread evenly throughout and wind up with a few in each. The smaller chips usually take over everything so I never have that concern.
You can see that it looks like some have a few chips and others only have 1 or 2. But, they tasted awesome and the consistency was just right. I will definitely be making these again.
Next up is one of the dips for my veggie platter. I have the Pampered Chef chilled veggie platter try, so I thought I would make use of it and advertise it at the same time. I am not kidding, if you love picnics with veggies and dip (or deviled eggs because it has a tray for those), this is a great investment. The cooling tray in the bottom gets frozen the night before and then keeps your food cold for a few hours. At least it beats leaving it out without something to help keep it cold.
My original plan, since I had so much already in the works, was to buy a premade mix packet and mix with sour cream, and be done with it. But a few days earlier I discovered this recipe for Creamy Ranch-Style Dip in Cooking Light, and thought this was way better. Plus, it ensured that everything for my party stay homemade.
It was pretty thin at first, but after it sat in the fridge for a few hours, it thickened up some and was just right.
Since my veggie platter has 2 compartments for dips, I decided to make this Spicy Edamame Hummus, which was a recipe in a vegetarian cookbook I purchased from Pampered Chef. I went to my friends party a few months back (and that was when I decided to have my own), and I purchased this then.
This meant I needed to pick up 2 ingredients that I never have stocked at home (I know, I should have had tahini, but I didn't). Thank heavens the commissary carries the tahini. Not having sriracha would really have been surprising because our commissary has a decent sized selection of Asian products.
I modified the recipe a little bit because I didn't see the necessity of microwaving 48 cloves of garlic and using those. Instead, I added 4 teaspoons of minced (jarred) garlic. Also, instead of adding salt, I added an extra tablespoon of sriracha. Then it was just frozen edamame and the tahini.
Next up was a recipe using my new brownie pan (AKA square muffin pan or as my sister and I call this, Sponge Bob Square Pans). This is also a pampered chef product, so it is not surprising that the recipe for these brownies in a Pampered Chef cookbook.
I also got to use my batter bowl...which is, yes, you guessed it, also Pampered Chef. Not gonna lie, I am a sucker for Pampered Chef and I buy something at every party I go to.
I love that this was so easy to mix right inside this batter bowl, and then I could just pour it in to the muffin pan. The recipe directions said to use a scoop, but I don't have one (yet, I just ordered it- mostly to help keep cookie sizes in check), so I just poured using this batter bowl.
I also wanted to show another fun product I got to use, and really came in handy for almost all recipes, which is the prep bowls. These are the one cup bowls. They come with lids. I love it! I can have my ingredients ready to go, covered, and waiting in the fridge for me when I am ready.
Here you can see why using that scoop was probably recommended. I only had enough for 11 brownies, not 12. Oops! I was also a little reluctant to follow the directions for getting these out.
But you can see that it worked perfectly! Yes, a direction of put cooling rack over pan and flip over really makes me nervous (we have had an accident before) and I also worried that they would be stuck in the pans. They can out effortlessly. I was really impressed with this pan. I can't wait to use it to make other things, like mini lasagnas.
While the brownies cooled, I worked on the filling and topping. Oh yes, I said filling and topping. You see, these aren't ordinary brownies. These are peanut butter and jelly brownies!
I needed some chopped peanuts to garnish the top, so I used my handy dandy food chopper (yes, also Pampered Chef). This things works perfectly. I have also used it for onions and it is amazing how well it works.
Next up was the PB frosting. I will admit that this was overkill and next time I will use just PB, but I decided to go all out and make the frosting (I will disclose that this was PB, powdered sugar and butter- not the healthiest- but this was a special treat and I have no intention of eating this all the time).
The recipe called for seedless raspberry jam, so I was glad to see that the commissary carries this. I was also glad that the recipe called for raspberry because one of my guests has a strawberry allergy, so I would have had to modify it anyway if that was the ingredient.
After I sliced the brownies in half, I filled with PB frosting.
Then topped with jam and finished it with the top half of the brownie.
The finishing touch was a little drizzled melted chocolate and chopped peanuts on top. I will not even tell you what the calorie count was listed for on this, but I will say this was amazing...amazing...amazing! Actually, they were so well received that I am donating a dozen to an auction coming up (all proceeds go to a town that is still recovering from the tsunami and the plan is to give the kids of the town a Christmas celebration this year). Not surprisingly, I also donated an hour of nutrition counseling services. I have a feeling this dessert will be made again for some special functions throughout the year...but not too often!
After dessert and the dips, it was time to get to the appetizers.
Obviously I wanted to do something from the Muffin Tin Cookbook. Why? Because my name is on the cover! Ok, that's just a bonus. The real reason is because this cookbook rocks (bias aside of course). Making things in muffin tins is not only brilliant for party food, but makes clean up easy! There are so many fun ideas in here that would work for a party, and everything is pre-portioned, so guests have an easy time serving themselves and seeing what they are eating.
I made the presto shrimp in fillo dough. I was so glad that our commissary carries this in the frozen section. I have a feeling this is not the easiest to find off base.
I chopped up the (thawed) shrimp into small pieces.
I used jarred pesto because I have a slight sensitivity to basil (I am allergic to mint) and I don't do as well with homemade as I do with pre-made store bought stuff. Lucky again for me, they carry this in the commissary. Yes, I know, it really doesn't have the best look to it.
Then I cut up my sheets of dough into 6 equal sections.
I placed each of the 6 squares (6 sheets cut into 6 pieces so each of the 6 was also 6 layers) in a muffin tin sprayed with non-stick coating. Then I filled with the shrimp mixture, folded over the dough on the top, and then baked them.
Wow, look at those! These were a big hit.
Next up was a recipe that also came from a Pampered Chef cookbook. I decided to make these sweet corn and crab poppers. Thankfully I was able to find some crab meat in the commissary. The kind they usually have, and that I planned to buy, was out of stock.
I chopped up red pepper and corn and mixed this with the crab meat.
Tossed in the rest of the ingredients, gave it a mix, and I was ready to go.
For this I used my mini muffin tins, which were just the right size for these poppers.
After about 15 minutes they were ready to come out. I was really glad to see they stayed together and did not turn out as a big messy pile of corn and crab mixture.
Last up was my only entree of the evening. My party was at 6 pm, so I told my guests to come to the party hungry.
I decided to make a vegetarian Mexican lasagna. I made this one before when we lived in the Azores, but haven't made it since. It was really good the first time and I loved that it was easy to take to the party (I used a party room on the first floor of my building because I have pets that shed so I try not to have food focused parties there if I don't have to) because it was in a casserole dish.
Here is the filling for lasagna. It is tomato sauce, green peppers, onions, corn, kidney beans and spices.
For the lasagna, it is 3 corn tortillas on the bottom, then this filling, topped with fat free cottage cheese and shredded cheddar, and then repeat one more time.
That gets baked in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375F. This was also a big hit.
Well, with all the food ready to go, the only thing left was to set up. Megan, my Pampered Chef consultant, met me a little before the party started so we could set up the room and get the food ready to go.
Here is what my veggie and dip platter looked like when it was all ready to go. I think this turned out great!
Here is the final spread of all the food, just waiting for my guests to come and dig in. You can see that I also served a fruit dish that I bought at the commissary to go with my veggie tray.
Lastly, this is the dish that Megan demoed for us that night. It is a spinach and green olive tapenade, with goat cheese on bread. It was supposed to be a crostini (toasted) but the kitchen in the party room was ovenless, so we made do with this. It was tasty regardless of toasted or not.
All my guests went home stuffed and I went home happy knowing that I made all of the dishes at my party myself, from recipes, almost entirely from scratch (only a few prepackaged/prepared items).
QUESTIONS: Do you own anything from Pampered Chef? Have you ever been to a Pampered Chef party? What was the last thing you made for a party? What is your favorite party dish?