Tapas with Friends

I hope you are all enjoying your summer! After a much-needed hiatus, Reckless in the Kitchen is back in action and I have got some lovely recipes for you to enjoy. Today I am going to share my menu and recipes from a Tapas party I recently hosted.

IMG_20140801_074308_090

 

It was a small gathering of friends and since it was the end of July I was striving to keep the food light and fresh (aka I did not want to slave over the stove for hours or have my oven on for a particularly long time). I also wanted my food to have an Italian theme to it so I picked some of my favorite Italian party dishes, and a few new ones and created the following menu;

The Menu:

  • Anti Pasta plate
  • Nectarine-Basil-Mozzarella Salad
  • Sicilian Marinated Shrimp
  • Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini
  • Polenta Bruschetta
  • Gazpacho
  • Mini-Meatballs with Sauce
  • Lemons filled with Cream

Below I’ve listed the recipes and/or assembly instructions. I’ll let you know right now that the Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini and the Lemons filled with Cream were big hits with my guests!

IMG_20140731_180953_357

How I Assemble an Anti-Pasta Plate:

Now if there is one thing I have learned, it is that everyone assembles these just a bit differently. For this particular evening I was trying to keep this dish relatively small since I was preparing several small plates of food. So here’s my rule of thumb; 1-2 meats, 1-2 hard cheeses, olives, and other vegetables that I associate with Anti-Pasta plates. I know, that’s not super specific, but the point is you can really make these your own depending on what you’re feeling like serving. Here’s what’s on the plate above:

  • Salami
  • Bella Vita cheese with coffee rinds
  • Asiago cheese
  • Green olives with garlic cloves stuffed in the center
  • Kamalata olives
  • Mushrooms in olive oil (I get this in a jar in the “Italian” or Pasta section of my grocery store)
  • Pepperoncini
  • Artichoke hearts in olive oil

 

IMG_20140731_180934_848

Nectarine (or Peach) Basil Mozzarella Salad-This was my favorite dish, it uses ripe peaches or nectarines which were at their peak and it tastes so fresh. Yum!

From Real Simple Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled
  • 1 c fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1 inch cubes (or use small balls)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Cut the fruit into 6-8 wedges, and then cut the wedge in half. In a large bowl, combine the fruit, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.

 

IMG_20140731_182609_483

Sicilian Marinated Shrimp (Gamberi Marinati all Siciliana)
From Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner? by Lisa Caponigri-This happens to be one of my favorite cookbooks that I’ve received over recent years.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c fresh orange (or lime juice)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 lbs shrimp, uncooked, tails-on

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the lemon and orange (or lime) juices, the garlic, red pepper flakes and the salt. Whisk to combine.

Add the shrimp to the marinade, toss to coat, and let marinate for 5 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp from the marinade and add to the hot skillet. Cook, stirring, until they turn bright pink and transfer to a serving bowl.

Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini-These were a huge hit! You should make these immediately!
From Real Simple Magazine

Ingredients:

  • whole red grapes (amount depends on how many crostini you are making)
  • olive oil
  • fresh thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crostini  (Click here for directions)
  • ricotta

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Toss grapes with olive oil, fresh thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper and roast until their skins burst, 7 to 9 minutes.

Slather crostini with ricotta, top with the grapes.

 

IMG_20140731_181013_474

This time of year I am making big batches of gazpacho about every 2 weeks because we love it so much in this house. This cold soup is the perfect way to enjoy the season’s produce. Click here for my recipe for Gazpacho

 

IMG_20140731_173833_383

 

Polenta Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • polenta, cut into thin rounds (You can make the polenta yourself and cut it into rounds or your can buy the premade polenta that comes in a log shape at the grocery store)
  • 1 small ripe tomato, seeds removed and diced
  • fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Romano cheese, grated

Directions:

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan with non stick spray and working batches toast the polenta rounds, letting each side cook for 2-4 minutes depending on thickness of the polenta rounds. You want the polenta to look slightly browned with a few black spots on each side.

Place the toasted polenta on a baking sheet. In a small mixing bowl combine the tomato, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Using a spoon distribute the mixture onto the polenta and top each one with a small amount of Romano cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes (time depends on your oven, you want the cheese to melt, but don’t let it burn).

 

IMG_20140731_182453_260

Well I wasn’t going to have Italian food without my sauce and meatballs joining the party. I heated up some mini meatballs and sauce form the freezer and topped them with grated mozzarella.

Click here for my recipe for homemade meatballs

Click here for my recipe for homemade pasta sauce

ABM_1406777561

Lemons filled with Cream (Limoni Ripieni)-This was by far my favorite item of the night. I absolutely loved them and I cannot wait to try this recipe with oranges and limes. If you are looking for the perfect hot-weather dessert, search no further!
From Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner? by Lisa Caponigri

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 medium-sized lemons
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar

Directions:

Wash and dry the lemons. Cut off enough of one end of each lemon so that it will stand upright. Cut a “cap” off the other end of each lemon. Using a paring knife and a spoon remove all the pulp from each lemon. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the pulp, removing any seeds or pith, and squeeze the remaining pulp to get 1/4 c of juice. Set the lemons upright in a dish or pan that can fit into the freezer.

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, whip the cream to stiff peaks, adding the sugar gradually. Once the cream is whipped, stir in the lemon juice and pulp (Note: Don’t add the lemon juice while you are whipping the cream or the cream will curdle.)

Immediately spoon (or pipe) the mixture into the lemons. Set them in the freezer to freeze for about 30 minutes. Remove the lemons from the freezer 30 minutes before serving the top with their caps.

Buon appetito!


print2

Sicilian Marinated Shrimp (Gamberi Marinati all Siciliana)

From Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner? by Lisa Caponigri

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c fresh orange (or lime juice)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 lbs shrimp, uncooked, tails-on

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the lemon and orange (or lime) juices, the garlic, red pepper flakes and the salt. Whisk to combine.

Add the shrimp to the marinade, toss to coat, and let marinate for 5 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp from the marinade and add to the hot skillet. Cook, stirring, until they turn bright pink and transfer to a serving bowl.

 

print2

Roasted Grape and Ricotta Crostini

from Real Simple Magazine
Ingredients:

  • whole red grapes (amount depends on how many crostini you are making)r
  • olive oil
  • fresh thyme
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crostini
  • ricotta

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° degrees. Toss grapes with olive oil, fresh thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper and roast until their skins burst, 7 to 9 minutes. Spread ricotta on crostini and  top with the grapes. Serve immediately.

 

print2

Polenta Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • polenta, cut into thin rounds (You can make the polenta yourself and cut it into rounds or your can buy the pre-made polenta that comes in a log shape at the grocery store)
  • 1 small ripe tomato, seeds removed and diced
  • fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Romano cheese, grated

Directions:

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan with non stick spray and working batches toast the polenta rounds, letting each side cook for 2-4 minutes depending on thickness of the polenta rounds. You want the polenta to look slightly browned with a few black spots on each side.

Place the toasted polenta on a baking sheet. In a small mixing bowl combine the tomato, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Using a spoon distribute the mixture onto the polenta and top each one with a small amount of Romano cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes (time depends on your oven, you want the cheese to melt, but don’t let it burn).

 

print2

Lemons Filled with Cream (Limoni Ripieni)

From Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner? by Lisa Caponigri

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 medium-sized lemons
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar

Directions:

Wash and dry the lemons. Cut off enough of one end of each lemon so that it will stand upright. Cut a “cap” off the other end of each lemon. Using a paring knife and a spoon remove all the pulp from each lemon. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the pulp, removing any seeds or pith, and squeeze the remaining pulp to get 1/4 c of juice. Set the lemons upright in a dish or pan that can fit into the freezer.

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, whip the cream to stiff peaks, adding the sugar gradually. Once the cream is whipped, stir in the lemon juice and pulp (Note: Don’t add the lemon juice while you are whipping the cream or the cream will curdle.)

Immediately spoon (or pipe) the mixture into the lemons. Set them in the freezer to freeze for about 30 minutes. Remove the lemons from the freezer 30 minutes before serving the top with their caps.

 

print2

Nectarine Basil Mozzarella Salad

From Real Simple Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled
  • 1 c fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1 inch cubes (or use small balls)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Cut the fruit into 6-8 wedges, and then cut the wedge in half. In a large bowl, combine the fruit, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine.

Orange Spice Shortbread Cookies

print2

Who doesn’t love an easy slice and bake cookie recipe? Well, I certainly do at least. This post about an orange spice cookie that is easy to make didn’t start here though. I was actually trying a recipe I had never made before out of my Silver Spoon Italian cookbook. The recipe was so simple, it intrigued me. Instead of butter, the recipe called for olive oil and there were no leavening agents. I was curious. What I got however, was an odd, strange cookie withe the texture of sawdust.

I’m not sure if the ratios for the recipe were wrong or if this is some Italian delicacy I don’t have a pallet for but, this was not the cookie I was looking for. Then the search was on. I wanted a shortbread cookie. An easy one to make. One that didn’t require the fuss of rolling out the dough and using a cookie cutter. And Bam! I found this recipe from one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple.

The dough was a little dry at first, and I was tempted to panic thinking I had run into the same mistake twice, but unlike my flop from Silver Spoon, this dough comes right together.  And, I can tell you these cookies taste even better the day after you make them!

ABM_1396147009

Orange Spice Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Real Simple Magazine

IMG_8191

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c and 2 Tbsp of granulated sugar
  • zest of one orange (save the orange for the glaze)
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, room temperature

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice

Directions:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and cinnamon and set aside. In a small mixing bowl combine the sugar, orange zest, and the inside of the vanilla bean and set aside.

IMG_8152

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar mixture together on a low speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Slowly add the dry ingredients. The dough will be very crumbly.

IMG_8158

Place the dough onto some parchment paper or wax paper. Press the dough together to form a log. Wrap tightly with parchment paper and press the log to your work surface to form a long rectangle. Chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or in the freezer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

IMG_8170

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough from the parchment paper and using a sharp knife slice into 1/3 inch-thick cookies. Place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.

IMG_8175

Bake for 12-15 minutes rotating the pan halfway through. The recipe makes approximately 20 cookies depending on the size of your log. While the cookies are cooling make the glaze by combining the confectioner’s sugar and orange juice.

IMG_8182

Once the cookies are completely cool drizzle the cookies with the orange glaze.

IMG_8186

Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

IMG_8200

print2


Orange Spice Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from Real Simple Magazine

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c and 2 Tbsp of granulated sugar
  • zest of one orange (save the orange for the glaze)
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, room temperature

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice

Directions:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and cinnamon and set aside. In a small mixing bowl combine the sugar, orange zest, and the inside of the vanilla bean and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar mixture together on a low speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Slowly add the dry ingredients. The dough will be very crumbly.

Place the dough onto some parchment paper or wax paper. Press the dough together to form a log. Wrap tightly with parchment paper and press the log to your work surface to form a long rectangle. Chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or in the freezer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough from the parchment paper and using a sharp knife slice into 1/3 inch-thick cookies. Place cookies on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.

Bake for 12-15 minutes rotating the pan halfway through. The recipe makes approximately 20 cookies depending on the size of your log. While the cookies are cooling make the glaze by combining the confectioner’s sugar and orange juice.

Once the cookies are completely cool drizzle the cookies with the orange glaze.

Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas: Part I

print2

I know this is crazy seeing as it’s not even the end of November, but I’m already thinking about Christmas gifts. I am a last-minute person and I always have been. This applies to all areas of my life including studying for exams, writing articles, planning Halloween costumes, and most certainly extends to shopping for Christmas gifts. So let’s just say that this year, I’m trying to do things differently.

This year I want to try to make as many as my gifts as I can. (Spoiler alert to those of you on my Christmas list!) However, some of the ideas I have, I’ve never made before and therefore the recipes must be tested, so why not write about their success (or failure) and share the recipes with you!

Here is Part I of my series on DIY Christmas gifts.

Cheddar crackers

Recipe adapted from Real Simple Magazine

IMG_6050

Ingredients:

  • 2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 c grated cheddar cheese*
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 c all-purpose flour**
  • 1 c Rice Krispie cereal
  • 1/4 c chopped bacon, optional
  • 1/4 c chopped jalapeno, optional

Directions:

*Note: what really makes these crackers is the cheese (duh!), so choose your cheddar carefully. I’m a Cabbot girl myself, so I went with Cabbot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar and grated it myself before starting the dough. Personally, I think it’s worth the extra effort to grate the cheese yourself than to buy a pre-grated package.

**Note: some easy flour substitutions can be made; using whole wheat flour, or a combination of whole wheat and AP flour. Almond flour could also be used for a gluten-free version.

To get started beat the butter, grated cheese, and spices using a hand or stand mixer. Once combined add the flour and cereal. If opting to add bacon and/or jalapeno to the crackers toss them in too. Mix for 1-2 minutes on a medium-low speed until the dough starts to come together.

Now for the easy part! Dump the dough out onto a large sheet of wax paper. Form the dough into a log and roll up in the wax paper. (Square or round? Whatever floats your boat!). Next, put the log of dough into the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours or until firm. (Quick Tip: don’t have the time? Chill the dough in the freezer for 30-40 minutes instead.)

After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350. Unroll the dough from the wax paper and cut into slices that are at least 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes. The crackers should be a light golden brown color.

Store at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

Warning: This recipe makes a lotta crackers. My test groups yielded about: 50 per a batch (although this will vary depending on the size of the log).

IMG_6060

The Verdict: Yum. Yum. Yum! Just call me Clara Ciminelli: the killer of diets. These were awesome. Make ’em, share ’em, love ’em!

IMG_6058

 

IMG_6053

print2


Cheddar crackers

Recipe adapted from Real Simple Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 c grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c Rice Krispie cereal
  • 1/4 c chopped bacon, optional
  • 1/4 c chopped jalapeno, optional

Directions:

Start by beating the butter, grated cheese, and spices together using a hand or stand mixer. Once combined add the flour and cereal. If opting to add bacon and/or jalapeno to the crackers toss them in too. Mix for 1-2 minutes on a medium-low speed until the dough starts to come together.

Dump the dough out onto a large sheet of wax paper. Form the dough into a log and roll up in the wax paper. (Square or round? Whatever floats your boat!). Next, put the log of dough into the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours or until firm (or chill the dough in the freezer for 30-40 minutes instead).

After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unroll the dough from the wax paper and cut into slices that are at least 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes. The crackers should be a light golden brown color.

Store at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

April’s Recipe Box

Here is my monthly round-up of what’s been cooking in my kitchen.

From Real Simple Magazine:

From Cooking Light Magazine:

  • Pork tenderloin with mango salsa, loved the mango salsa with the pork.
  • BBQ chicken and blue cheese pizza, the combination sounded a little odd when I first read the recipe, but this pizza was fantastic! Also easy to make.
  • Tandoori Chicken Thighs, this was a flavor adventure for Joe, he’s not really a fan of Indian food so this was a bit of an experiment. I’m proud to report that this recipe went over very well and we both liked it a lot.

This month on my blog:

In addition to these new recipes I also revisited a few favorites that I already tried this year;