More Party Food

In a continuation of the party I went to last weekend and catered as well – I am sharing the food that was prepared for 30 people.  First off the party was amazing – my friends Jay and Jonathan live in Cambridge Ontario and have a fabulous historic home on a huge lot so the evening was spent under a pergola on the deck and then on the grounds for a big bonfire as the evening got cooler.  Too much fun was had by all.

Last weekend I posted the stuffed dates and salad (truth be told the salad was for another event but I liked the way it turned out). This week are all of the foods I prepared.  Remember everything was to be finger food style so plates and cutlery were not a necessity.

Here was my thinking behind the choice of dishes I made. I wanted food that could be eaten with fingers (i.e. on skewers) and to cover the basics of salad, main course meat/fish, side dishes and then dessert.

The while I had the above order in mind – we put everything out together as it worked better for people to just come to the table and pick their choices.

The menu and recipes – this is a long list so stay with me on this…

First off salad skewers made with grape tomatoes, bocconcini cheese balls and chunks of baby cucumbers. Just before serving I drizzled some balsamic glaze over these skewers.

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Next on the list was smoked salmon with cream cheese on crackers with some crushed dried nori (seaweed strips) sprinkled over top.

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Then came Korean grilled beef skewers and the honey mustard chicken skewers.  Below is the recipe for the meat – the Korean Beef is now a new favourite – everyone went nuts over it.

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I did the prep work for the meat the day before and marinated for 24 hours in ziplock bags.

Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers

So the honey mustard chicken is simple – just mix about a ¼ cup of honey with about 1/4 cup of olive oil and about 4 tbsp of dijon mustard – adjust to suit your taste.  I also added a few crushed garlic cloves and some ground black pepper. I used 6 chicken breasts cut into thin strips lengthwise so there was enough to put on a skewer.

Korean Beef Skewers – I got this recipe from Food and Wine magazine but adjusted a bit:

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons dry white wine – I used the same amount of chicken broth as I didn’t have any white wine handy

2 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 2 1/2 pound beef flank steak, cut across the grain into thin long slices

1/4-inch-thick slices 16 scallions – I didn’t use these

Vegetable oil, for rubbing

Salt – didn’t add this either as the soy sauce had enough salt

1. Combine the soy sauce, sugar, white wine, chopped garlic, toasted sesame oil, and crushed red pepper, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced flank steak and coat thoroughly in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate the steak for at least 4 hours or overnight. 2. Working in batches, grill the steak over high heat (I BBQ’d it) until the slices are richly browned and medium-rare, about 30 seconds per side. Put pieces on a plate and let them cool – then put them on skewers just before serving.

Next was mini turkey meatballs in a sweet chilli sauce – this is my usual baked turkey meatball recipe but just made them smaller and tossed them with a store bought sweet chilli sauce instead of tomato sauce and put some into a cup for dipping as well.

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Next on the menu was my tuna and sweet potato cakes but made mini size and a cup of 1% yogurt for dipping.

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I then thought I needed something else that wasn’t meat and what do people love more than shrimp? Again I had a craving for shrimp and chorizo sausage so that was the next group of skewers.

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These are super simple – I sautéd the sliced chorizo and put aside – next I sautéd the shrimp in some garlic and put them in a dish – then it was just a matter of putting them together on bamboo skewers (they looked better on the shorter skewers than the long ones)

The side dishes were baby stuffed potatoes where you just boil the baby potatoes, then scoop out the centre leaving a bit of potato to hold the shape and then mix crumbled cooked bacon, chives and sour cream with the bits of potato you have scooped out . Once it is all mixed just spoon it back into the potatoes.  This was quite finicky but tasted good in the end so worth while.

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Last of the main course food was grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.  Simple and easy – just toss the asparagus in olive oil, then grill them (I did them on the BBQ) and then wrap a couple of stalks in a piece of prosciutto and you are done.

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Finally dessert – you saw the dates in my last post (I will put in again just so you see them). I put fresh fruit on skewers so they could be taken away from the table and you got several pieces at one without a mess. Each skewer had a slice of pineapple, a green grape, a strawberry, a purple grape and a raspberry.  You can make these with any fruit you like.

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And there you have it the whole party in food.  What I am not showing is the amazing evening we all had.  Great company, kudos to the hosts and all I can say is “when is the next party”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult

I often think how great it would be to do a cooking/educational class on creating healthy low cost meals for people who think they don’t have time to cook and feed their family on processed foods.

Now I don’t claim that I don’t eat anything that comes out of a tin or wrapped in plastic….but I do try to limit the amount of processed food I cook with to almost nothing other than a few condiments perhaps.

People often think that opening a can of prepared food is inexpensive and a quick fix for a meal.  If you read the label though you will find the sodium levels are sky high and the ingredients are made up of words I wouldn’t even try to pronounce.

If you take the cost of a prepared shepherds pie for example at a cost of anywhere from say $9 – $12 and look through the ingredients you could be amazed at how little real unadulterated food is in it!  Try buying a couple of lbs of lean ground beef and a few potatoes and a bag of frozen vegetables (usually these are pretty good about not including all kinds of chemical ingredients) and for about the same cost as a store bought pie you can make a healthy often much larger version which will give you additional meals that are much healthier for about the same cost.

Same holds true for buying things like canned pasta that you heat up.  A can of pasta can cost about $1 – $1.50 a can? Well for $1.50 on sale you can stock up on dry whole wheat pasta (whatever style you like) which can provide several meals for your family. Make up a quick tomato sauce from by using can of diced tomatoes, some chopped garlic maybe a chopped onion and whatever herbs you have on hand.  Let it simmer and viola! spaghetti sauce that is so much healthier than store bought.  To make it creamy add a touch of low fat evaporated milk and you have a rose sauce.

How about pizza?  Make your own for 1/2 the price.  Use 1/2 a whole wheat pita shell and let the kids make their own toppings from cut up vegetables and any leftover protein in the fridge – add some sauce and cheese and you have a great way to clean out the fridge and make individual pizzas that use way less bread and sodium.

I could go on and on here but the message is the same – rather than buying a quick fix meal that is not very healthy why not make your own and get several meals out of one cooking session?

I remember growing up, both my parents worked, so on the weekend my mom would make a full meal with a protein, a vegetable and sometimes a carb along with a salad (that I was responsible for making every night). We would eat leftovers for lunches and dinner for the next few days on that same meal – prepared a bit differently each time but the bulk of the cooking was done in one session.

So much is available to make as a healthy meal done in minutes for a whole family that really isn’t expensive.  Check out my pasta and shrimp with veg recipe  https://foodthoughtstoshare.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=268&action=edit This is made up of whatever was on hand in the fridge.  You don’t have to use shrimp – you can add tofu, or sauce and meatballs – see recipe https://foodthoughtstoshare.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=11&action=edit for meatballs that are healthy and delicious.  In my side food business these are my best seller!

The bottom line is that cooking doesn’t have to be a hardship or a chore – get the kids involved and make it a family event. If you don’t have kids – prepare a larger dish on the weekend and freeze portion sizes so that when you don’t feel like cooking you can just defrost. In the long run it is cheaper, healthier and can be loads of fun.

Healthy Baked Meatballs

These are a great go to meal if you don’t feel like cooking. I make a bunch and freeze them for those days. The pics above are made with ground chicken.

1 lb lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
4-6 egg whites (start with 4 and add if you need to for moisture)
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1/8 cup ketchup
1/8 cup chilli sauce with garlic or sweet chili sauce
1/8 cup dijon mustard
Pepper plus a hint of salt
You can either add italian spices or go a more exotic route and use several pinches of cumin, cardomon, dry mustard, sea salt and paprika.
Mix well but don’t over mix
Saute a large onion till browned and let cool. Add to meat mixture

Form meatballs and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes and then flip meatballs and bake another 15-20 minutes. Let cool and serve however you like to eat meatballs.

I make a tomato sauce with sauted onion and garlic and a can of diced tomatoes. Let cook till thick. You can add a can or bottle of ready made sauce at this point too if you want. Add a touch of either sugar, agave or sweetner to take the acidic edge off the sauce. When meatballs are cooked, add to sauce and simmer till ready to serve. Serve alone or over pasta. To cut down on carbs I throw in a can of white kidney beans and serve without the pasta.
Can be frozen or refridgerated.