This little party is for some of the very most special people in my life -- my best friend of over 50 years, her sister, their husbands and their mother. These are people I am most comfortable with and, thus, I'm not feeling such pressure about the party preparations as I might for other groups. I know if there are failures, we'll all laugh about them and it will not be traumatic. I decided on hors d'oeuvres so we wouldn't be bound to sitting at the table but could relax in the living room or even walk around outside if the weather is as nice as promised. I'm having it mid-afternoon on Sunday because of issues with the freeway construction - so my friends won't have to navigate that confusing route in the dark.
The setting will be informal, but the food will be special. Here's the menu. If I happen to get photos, I'll post them later:
Swedish Meatballs in sauce
Shrimp (Killer Shrimp recipe)
Red beans and rice
Veggie platter with dip
Garlic bread, oven toasted
Cheese plate w/ dried fruit
Selection of wines, beer, soft drinks
Dessert: Cake (Yummy Dessert)
Coffee and tea
The meal is a combination of pre-prepared foods and some actual cooking on my part. I'm getting the meatballs and sauce already prepared from the deli. The red beans and rice is the Zatarain's (yes, from a package, but really very good). The shrimp is a new recipe I found online, but I'm not nervous about trying it as the ingredients are quite simple and it is wonderfully easy to prepare ahead and cook at the last minute. The veggie platter will include some lovely blanched and chilled asparagus spears, jicama, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and celery, all prepared the day before. The cheese platter will have just two or three selections -- whatever looks good when I'm shopping on Saturday. The hot dishes will be served in crock pots - everything is served buffet style. This interesting shrimp recipe bakes in the oven, so I won't be standing over a hot saute pan while I'm also visiting with my guests. I know it's against all the rules to try out a new recipe on guests - but that has never stopped me.
Here are the recipes:
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 lemon, sliced with peel
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 small Anaheim chile pepper, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Tabasco pepper sauce
1 pound large shrimp with tails (peeled and deveined), uncooked
French Bread for dipping
In a large saucepan over medium heat, simmer butter, olive oil, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, lemon, garlic, parsley, Anaheim chile, red pepper flakes, oregano and Tabasco until well blended. Remove from heat and let cool. Place sauce in a zip-lock bag; add shrimp. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place sauce and shrimp in a large shallow baking pan; bake approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until shrimp are opaque in center (cut to test). Remove from oven.
Place mixture in shallow bowls and serve with a crusty French bread for dipping in sauce (this dish is eaten with your fingers).
Serves 4 to 6.
1 white cake mix
8 ounces cream cheese
1 pint cream
2 cups powdered sugar
1 package Junket dessert
1 cup fresh or frozen fruit
Use half of the cake mix and bake in a 13" x 9" pan. Cool. Whip the cream to peaks gradually adding in the sugar. Fold in the softened cream cheese. Spread this mixture over the cake and chill. Make the Junket dessert using 1 1/2 cups water (or about 3/4 of the water called for). Add the fruit to the Junket and spread evenly over the cake. Chill for several hours.
If you wonder what I'll do with the other half of the cake mix, I'll bake it, too, and cut it into squares to freeze. Those plain cake squares are a nice accompaniment to morning coffee now and then.