Thursday, August 26, 2010

An Engagement Party

Last weekend Jeremy and I had our engagement party in Houston. Of course I spent all day getting ready and of course I went overboard on the food. Not so much on the quantity of food, but the preparation effort. Which is fine, because I LOVE cooking, especially for other people.

The week before the party I started to think about what I wanted to prepare. Cakeballs, of course, and some tuxedo strawberries, oh and some caprese salad, and some mango salsa, oooh and meatballs, oh and...

Yea, you can see how it quickly escalated out of control. Thank goodness Jeremy is very understanding of my ambitiousness and he's such a wonderful help in the kitchen, especially the last few hours before the party when there's still like 4 dishes to make.

But I did finally settle on a menu, and now I will share it with you. (click on each photo to see a larger version)

1. Caprese Salad

I loved the presentation here, but when I do it again, I will use roma tomatoes instead of vine tomatoes. I think they'll fit better on the pieces of bread. I'd also like to make my own bread and mozzarella so I have full control over the sizes.

2. Chipotle Cornbread Cups with Southwest Chicken

These were a party favorite and went pretty quick. The chipotle in the cornbread was a really nice touch.

3. Mango Salsa Tortilla Cups

To make these I brushed a tortilla on both sides with olive oil. I then cut it in quarters and placed each one in a mini-muffin tin. Bake for 10+ minutes at 400 until they get crisp and golden. The mango salsa is a recipe that I got from a cooking class at whole foods. It includes mango, pineapple, cilantro, jalapeno, red onion, red pepper, tomato, and lime juice.

4. Cucumber Sandwiches

This was my first attempt at these and they turned out pretty well. The only thing I would do different next time is to add more cucumber and less other "stuff." They were a tad runny. Oh yea, and Jeremy says that he'd use wheat bread instead of white bread.

5. Swedish Meatballs

Okay, I failed to take a picture of these, but they're super easy, and if you cut the meatballs in half they make great one-bite snacks. Plus I got to serve them in my newish Le Creuset bake pan. Oooh fancy.

6. Roasted Eggplant Dip

No pictures of this one either, but it also was a new recipe for me. Jeremy actually handled this one and besides the massive amount of garlic it turned out quite tasty. Kinda like hummus but without the gritty texture. I really enjoy the roasted eggplant flavor, and now that we're growing eggplants in the garden (2 have started to grow!), we can make this dip again sometime in the near future. I will point out that this recipe uses the long skinny eggplants, Japanese eggplant, instead of the large fat ones. The large fat eggplants tend to be a little more bitter.

7. Tuxedo Strawberries

This was my first time making these guys, and I will admit that I was a little rushed at the end. But they turned out better than I though they would. I think with a little more time, the detail on the buttons/bowtie could be much cleaner. To make them you dip them first in white chocolate, let cool, then dip each side in milk (or dark) chocolate. Then, using a piping bag and small tip ("0" worked best for me), pipe on the buttons and bowtie.

8. Cakeballs

I wanted to something very special and elegant with these for this party. So I went down to Michael's crafts and picked up some white ribbon to make bows. While I was there, I found these little heart charms in the wedding isle. I formed each bow out of ribbon and attached the charms using hot glue. I suppose you could use pre-made bows, but I hadn't thought of that until I got home and was halfway through this process. I also affixed the bows to the sticks before sticking them in the cakeball. You don't want any chance of getting hot glue in your chocolate or cake, so all this prep was done the night before. The cakeball was made from banana cake and honey/cinnamon icing and was then dipped in white chocolate. I used just a touch of vegetable shortening to thin down the white chocolate, and then sprinkled each one with cake glitter (click to enlarge second picture). While you can't see it much in the picture, it gave it a nice elegant feel. I'm so happy with the way these turned out, and people really loved them. I even made them wait until then of the night to eat them. Yea, I'm mean.

Finally here are two pictures of the full spread. And the rest you can check out HERE if you so desire.

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