Friday, February 05, 2010

Dinner Party Menu

Last weekend I had a couple friends over after our journey to see "Avatar" in 3-D AND IMAX!! It was amazing! Now, I am not an action movie kind of gal.. Give me "Pride and Prejudice" any day! But the cinematic genius that went into this film was riveting! I sat for most of the movie with my mouth open and hand outstretched to touch the 3rd "D". Incredible!

Afterward, we came back to my house. I served Havarti cheese, baked brie and crackers while I finished cooking (I had done most of the prep before the movie and had my roommate put things in the oven before we got back). For dinner, we had a peppercorn pork tenderloin, a spinach/orzo salad and some garlic bread-sticks (don't get excited, they were those pop-and-go things from the refrigerated section). Desert? Just some Chocolate Chip Caramel Walnut Cookies.. Want the recipes?

Baked Brie


(You can omit the pecan/honey/brown sugar mixture.. It's just as amazing, I promise!)

Ingredients

1/2 package Puff Pastry Sheets
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 (13 ounce) round Brie cheese

Directions

1. Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature. Heat the oven to 400F degrees. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.
2. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet a little bit. Stir the pecans, honey, brown sugar and rosemary in a small bowl. Spread the mixture into the center of the pastry square. Top with the cheese round. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg mixture. Fold two opposite sides of the pastry over the cheese. Trim the remaining two sides of the pastry square to 2-inches from the edge of the cheese. Fold the sides up onto the cheese and press the edges to seal. Place the pastry-wrapped cheese seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture. ** Don't let the top get too high or it will burn!
3. You can decorate the top with pastry scraps or additional rosemary, if desired. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is deep golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with crackers, apples or bread.

Spinach/Orzo Salad


(This is my Aunt's recipe.. So simple and perfect with a bold main dish. I promise, YOU WILL LOVE this salad. It's substantial and can be served both warm or cold. You could also add pine nuts, red onion or something like dried cherries.)

Ingredients

1 bag fresh spinach, washed and dried
2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
zest of 2 lemons
fresh lemon juice, to taste (I squeezed almost a whole lemon)
1 1/2 cups of orzo
24 basil leaves, torn
3 tablespoons olive oil (I think I used more)
2 cups pralined pecans (found in the produce section)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Pile the spinach leave on top of each other and chop them into bite-size strips. Prepare the basil leaves the same way.
2. Throw the pecans in a Ziploc, cover with a cloth and use a meat tenderizer (I didn't have one, so I used a hammer -- LOL) to break up the nuts. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, lemon zest and chopped pecans.
3. Cook the orzo according to the directions on the box. Once the pasta is drained, pour the hot pasta into the bowl with the spinach to allow it to wilt and the pecans to soften a bit.
4. After a couple minutes, add the feta and toss.
4. Drizzle the olive oil on top and add the basil, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Toss and eat immediately or refrigerate and eat later (again, it can be eaten warm or cold).

Peppercorn Pork Tenderloin


(I really just eye-balled this one.. Feel free to do the same! Mine was pretty peppery and the salad above prooved to be the perfect, mild accompanyment!)

Ingredients

Juice of one/half lemon
1/2 cup crushed Peppercorns
2 tablespoons pepper
1 cup olive oil
1 3.5 ounce pork tenderloin
i tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons rosemary
little garlic powder (not garlic salt)

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a Ziploc bag.
2. Throw the pork loin in and let the party begin (No, it's not ready yet! I mean the marinating party!). Can let it sit for an hour or more. I had mine sit overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 350*F and put the loin into a lightly sprayed roasting pan. Let it bake for about 25 minutes for each pound (mine was in for about 1 hour and 15 mins). You should take it out when the internal temperature is about 150*F.
4. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to bring the temperature up and the juices to settle. Cut and serve!

Chocolate Caramel Chip Walnut Cookies

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (I just used more light brown..)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chunks
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup caramel balls (found in the nut section)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 32F.
2. In a mixing bowl beat butter and both brown sugars until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
3. Mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir just until combined.
4. Mix in the chocolate chunks and pecans. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.
5. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly on cookie sheet. Remove to a rack and cool completely.

Enjoy!

My Valentine!

I haven't been posting for awhile.. In the past month or so we have had three attempted break-ins. I have three roommates and we live in a house on campus; well, on the edge of campus. We are the most accessible house and in a neighborhood that's not the friendliest (see #1). We have been in the house each time and, as you can imagine, we are very freaked out. Thankfully, we have a police station on campus and an officer has been able to get to the house quickly. Even so, we decided that a dog might be a good organic security system, so to speak. So, without further adeiu, meet Valentine!