Monday, September 7, 2009

A wonderful dinner party

Erik and I hosted a dinner party the other week and it was one of those evenings that are so perfect you wake up ridiculously happy the next morning. The weather was amazing so we had dinner on the deck, the food ended up better than I expected and the company was a lot of fun.

Menu

Tomato, basil and mozzarella crostini
Garlic toast
Caesar salad
Beef lasagna
Chicken and farmer's market vegetable pasta
White chocolate tartlets with raspberries and blueberries
wine
beer

Two recipes are posted below the photos, one for the lasagna and one for the white chocolate tartlets. The tarlets were adorable and delicious. The lasagna was cheesy, beefy, tomato-ey goodness.

Get ready for picture overload!



The tart dough, forming twenty of these into tiny tart pans was a bit time consuming.


But the end result was oh so worth it!



Lovely squash from the Minneapolis Farmer's Market.



The lasagna ready to go into the oven.


Basil from my favorite herb vendor, Dehn's Garden.



Don't these look gorgeous? They were delish. The tomatoes are also from the farmer's market.



The chicken, squash, red pepper, basil and parsley pasta. The sauce was made with cream, parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice. This was something I threw together and did not have a recipe for, it turned out awesome.


Garlic bread. I could have eaten this whole plate.


The lasagna right out of the oven.

More tart pics because I couldn't resist how damn cute these turned out.



The table set up. The Coors beer can sure adds a special touch, don't you think? The flowers are from the farmer's market. I bought two huge bunches for $8.

The lovely guests. My cute hubby Erik on the left, then Jason (Biffer), Libby, Deanna, Nick and Corey. Corey's girlfriend Debbie couldn't make it, but Corey made sure to eat enough for the both of them.


Lasagna (Recipe from The Neely's on Food Network)

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for pan
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 (8-ounce) jar tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (8-ounce) box no-boil lasagna noodles
2 large eggs
2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 (8-ounce) bag shredded mozzarella
1 (8-ounce) bag shredded Cheddar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish.
In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and saute meat, onion, and garlic until meat is browned, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Drain pan of fat and add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, then mix in cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, and seasoning salt.

Spread a little of the meat sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Lay half the noodles in the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping by 1/2-inch. Spread half the egg and cottage cheese mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle half the mozzarella and Cheddar evenly over the cottage cheese mixture. Pour half the meat sauce on top. Repeat layering in same order. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan on top. Bake in center of oven 30 to 35 minutes until sauce is bubbling around the edges. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

White Chocolate Fruit Tart (see the end of the recipe for the variations I made), recipe from Allrecipes.com
Ingredients
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (10 ounce) package vanilla or white chips, melted and cooled
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, undrained
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced

GLAZE:
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour; mix well. Press into an ungreased 11-in. tart pan with removable bottom or 12-in. pizza pan with sides. Bake at 300 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

For filling, in a small mixing bowl, beat melted chips and cream. Add cream cheese and beat until smooth. Spread over crust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain pineapple, reserving 1/2 cup juice; set juice aside. Arrange the pineapple, strawberries, oranges and kiwi over filling.

For glaze, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in lemon juice and reserved pineapple juice until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool; brush over fruit. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

Variations - I didn't bother with the glaze. Also, I only used blueberries and raspberries and instead of a large tart pan I used tartlet pans that I purchased from Cooks of Crocus Hill on Grand Ave in St. Paul. The cooking time was relatively the same, just be sure to check after about 25 minutes.

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