Monday, February 16, 2015

Our Valentine's Dinner Party

It was an evening of dinner and dancing.  Our friends Carleen, Daniel, Helen and Don arrived and we began with these delicious cocktails called KINKY Bubbles.  KINKY Liqueur is a natural mixture of Super Premium Vodka distilled five times with succulent mango, blood orange liqueur and passion fruit.  They were sweet, just like my man.

KINKY Bubbles
Serves 1
Ingredients:
2 ounces KINKY Liqueur
2 ounces prosecco or champagne
maraschino cherries
Directions:
Drop maraschino cherry into glass.
Add KINKY Liqueur.
Fill will prosecco or champagne.

Stone and I were ready to get this evening started.  Earlier in the day we had moved the furniture which turns our living room into the perfect dance floor.  The music was cranked up and the laser lights were dancing all over the place. The laser American DJ Micro Galaxian Laser Special Effects Lighting we purchased at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004FODY6E/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.  This is a great little laser with more than 200 red and green beams. You can have just red, just green or mix them together. The lights blink to the beat of the music. The faster the music, the faster the lights blinked.

Helen and Don, dancing the night away...

Daniel and Carleen danced until they dropped.

The table was set with napkins that I shaped into roses.  I then went out to our lawn and cut some stems from our magnolia tree for the leaves.  The table was lined from one end to the other with candles in clear bottles glowing throughout the evening.  Don, who is skilled with the Green Egg, smoked pork that Helen had brined beforehand.  They make the perfect team and the results were succulent.  I made, to go along with the pulled pork, these Jalapeño Hushpuppies that were indeed very spicy and yummy.  With that I made some spicy collard greens that were the best I'd ever had and will definitely be making them again.  And lastly, Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese.  What's not to like when you have pasta and cheese?  All this cooking and I forgot to photograph it.  That was a first.

Jalapeño Hushpuppies
Ingredients: makes 36 hushpuppies
1 1/2 quarts peanut oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (7-ounce) can diced jalapeño peppers, drained or 3/4 cup fresh jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
1 (15-ounce) can creamed corn
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Paula Deen's Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce, for dipping: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/sweet-and-spicy-chili-sauce-recipe.html
Directions:
Heat the oil to 350' in a deep-fryer or dutch oven.
In a 1 quart mixing bowl, stir the cornmeal, flour, onion, jalapeño, corn, and eggs, until blended.  Allow to stand 5 minutes.
Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls into the hot oil.  Don't overcrowd; leave room for the hushpuppies to be turned.  Cook the hushpuppies until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  Keep the cooked hushpuppies warm in an oven while cooking the remaining batter.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste, and transfer them to a serving dish.  Serve with Paula Deen's Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce, if desired.  Recipe adapted from:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/jalapeno-hushpuppies-recipe.html
These are perfect fried ahead, let cool.  Freeze and when you want them, bake on cookie sheet for 30 minutes on 250'.

 Daniel-Carleen-Me-Stone-Helen-Don

These were the best collard greens I had ever eaten.
Spicy Collard Greens 
Ingredients: Serves 6
2 pounds collard greens, rinsed
5 slices think bacon, diced
1 large onion
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Instructions:
Use a knife to cut on either side of the large rib running up each collard green leaf.  Remove it and discard it.  You don't need to go all the way up the leaf, just remove the thickest part.  For smaller leaves, just remove the stem.  Stack about 4-5 leaves, roll them up, and cut into 1/2" strips.  Repeat with remaining leaves.
Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Add onion to bacon fat and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.
Add broth, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, and tabasco sauce to pot.  Stir to combine.
Add collard greens and use tongs to turn and mix them until they reduce in size some.  Cover, turn heat to low and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Before serving, sprinkle bacon on top and season to taste with salt and pepper.

One last quick picture before we sat for dinner.

Smokey Gouda Mac and Cheese
Serves: 4
Ingredients: 
2 rounded cups dry macaroni, cooked in well salted water until just al dente, and drained.
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups (8 ounces) smoked Gouda Cheese (grated), plus more for topping
2 slices bacon, cook and crumble for topping, optional.
Directions:
Set oven to 350'.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour.  Whisk to combine, and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.
Add the milk and whisk to combine, continuing to heat until the milk comes to a simmer and is thickened.
Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cheese, stir until all of the cheese is incorporated and the sauce is smooth.  Add salt and black pepper taste.
Mix the macaroni with the sauce, and pour into a baking dish or individual dishes.  Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbling throughout.
Sprinkle more cheese on top and put under the broiler until the cheese is browned.
Sprinkle on bacon, optional.

It wouldn't be Valentine's without chocolate cover strawberries that I had assembled earlier in the day.

Happy 9th Birthday Lucy
Lucy, who when guest arrives, typically will greet them, spin around a few times, then make her way to her bed.  Maybe it was because it was her birthday, but she wanted to be part of this party.  She was underfoot a good part of the night.  Once I even stepped on her, poor baby.  I didn't mean to, she's just so small I didn't see her. Numerous times when we were dancing I would see her in the middle of the dance floor sitting and looking up like she was saying, pick me up, I want to dance too.  Since it was her birthday, maybe she thought the party was for her.