Friday, May 8, 2009

Kara's Birthday Dinner Date!!

My super duper blogmate and friend Kara celebrated a milestone birthday this week and to honor the occasion I planned a dinner date full of her favorites! I asked her what she wanted and she told me that she often had spaghetti and meatballs and/or hummus on birthdays past so I decided to give these a go with some Itty Bitty Bistro flair!

Sicilian Hummus Dip
(serves 8)

So what makes this dip Sicilian? Nada. I just thought it made it sound extra Italian. Did it work? I've never even been to Sicily. My friend Jen has though. Maybe she could tell us if there is anything Sicilian about this dip. ;o)

1 can of garbonzo beans
1/2 c. lowfat cottage cheese
1/4 c. fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
1 bunch of fresh basil
3/4 c. cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
pinch of salt

1. Add all ingredients to food processor. Process until smooth. Serve with crudite or toasted baguette rounds.

Kara's Birthday Spaghetti and Meatballs

I did my best to channel my inner Italian Grandmother for the spaghetti and meatballs (even though I'm Scandinavian and not Italian whatsoever.) When in doubt I would ask myself "What would Giada do?"

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 med or large sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 green peppers (i used small ones), seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 roma tomatoes, diced
2 cans of tomato sauce
2 cans of tomato paste
2 cans of tomato juice (soda sized cans)
1 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. italian seasoning
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped
salt to taste

1. In a large saute pan, saute the olive oil, onions and green pepper over med-high heat until the onions begin to be translucent.
2. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Add the diced tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Transfer the mixture to a crockpot. Add the tomato sauce, paste, juice, brown sugar, baking soda and salt (just a few shakes to start).
5. Cook allllllllllll day. :o) I put mine in the crockpot at 10:30 am and served it at 5 pm.
6. Add the meatballs (recipe below) and fresh basil an hour before you plan to serve.
7. Check the taste of the sauce. Salt if necessary.

Meatball ingredients:
1 lb. 'meatball meat' (I found this in my Shaws. It was a blend of beef, pork and veal.) You could, of course, use just one of these or even ground turkey or chicken
1 c. italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper (couple dashes of each)
1/8 c. fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil
1/2 cup warm water

1. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients, except water.
2. Slowly add the water until the mixture is moist but still a consistancy to roll into meatballs.
3. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.
4. Using your hands, roll 1-2" sized meatballs. Add them to the pan as you make them.
5. Cook for about 7 minutes or until cooked through.

Ok, this next one I'm pretty proud of...I also got to showcase the Valencia one last here we go....

Kara's Cara Cara Chocolate Citrus Cupcakes
(makes 12 cupcakes)

Cupcake ingredients:
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
zest and juice from 1 Cara Cara orange
1 c. lowfat vanilla yogurt
4 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 squares bitersweet baking chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Spray the insides of the liners with Pam for baking or the like.
3. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and whisk or beat until well combined.
4. Fill each liner half full with batter.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Frosting ingredients:
1 box of powdered sugar (16 oz)
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (or more) of milk
zest from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp lemon juice
zest from 1 valencia orange
2 Tbsp orange juice

1. Combine all ingredients exept milk and juice in a mixer. Mix until a thick paste forms.
2. Add the milk, zest and juice. Mix on high until fluffy adding splashes of more milk if necessary.
3. Spread on cupcakes and garnish with a little more zest if you'd like. Serve!

THIS FROSTING IS SERIOUSLY GOOD. No joke. (Toot toot goes my own horn.)

Happy Birthday Kara!


Kara said...

You're so coy with my "milestone" birthday :-p This was such a good dinner, Celeste!

cathy said...

WOW! What a great birthday dinner! The Sicilian hummus dip sound and looks sooo good. We'll be trying it soon!