Friday night entertaining

Friday night is not the best night for company when you work full time but our friends had family in from out of town and last night was the only time we could get together.  We had a cookout – chicken and burgers on the grill.  I used some “crabbies” from the freezer for pre-dinner snacks and made dessert Thursday night (a repeat of the extremely popular ginger snap sandwich cookies).  The guacamole salad only took a few minutes to assemble and the deviled eggs are a snap.  I invented a new variation on my potato salad which I was very pleased with – apparently everyone else was too because it was all eaten!  Here is the full menu with recipes:

Crabbies

  • 12 English muffins, split
  • 1 lb lump crabmeat
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 TB mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Melt butter.  Add cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder.  Gently fold in crabmeat.  Spread muffin halves with crab/cheese mixture.  Freeze in freezer bags until ready to use.

To serve, preheat oven to 375.  Bake on cookie sheets for 10 minutes.  Using a pizza cutter, cut each muffin half in 6 pieces.  Serve hot.  (For those who like a lot of spice, top with red pepper flakes.)

Deviled eggs
Classic picnic food – not the easiest to transport but worth the trouble.
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Perdue Perfect Portions work really well!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 TB chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used a mix from my garden – parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram and rosemary)

Wash and dry chicken breasts.  Put in a glass dish with all ingredients.  Mix well and marinate up to overnight.  Drain off marinade and grill until done.  Serve on hamburger buns with toppings – lettuce, tomato, red onion, etc.  NOTE: Chipotle mayonnaise is great on these!

Guacamole salad

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 avocados, diced

Combine tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno and lime zest in a bowl.  Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, garlic and cayenne pepper in a separate container and pour over veggies.  Mix well.  When ready to serve, add avocados and stir to combine.

Lemon chive potato salad

I usually make my potato salad with dill, scallions and mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice.  I wanted something a little bit different and was thinking about the delicious flavor of the grilled lemon chive potatoes that we often serve.  I decided to make a lemon chive potato salad.  Here is what I did:

  • 20 oz small red potatoes
  • 2 TB minced chives
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • fresh ground pepper

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender.  When done, drain and put in a glass bowl.  Chop in the bowl using two knives.  Top with fresh ground pepper and chives.  Pour lemon juice on potatoes (it’s important to do this while they are still hot.)  Toss well.  Add mayonnaise and stir.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ginger snap sandwich cookies

  • Ginger snap cookies – I used Anna’s ginger thins
  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 TB cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp milk

Combine butter, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar together with a mixer.  Split in half.  For chocolate add 4 TB of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tsp milk.  Beat until spreadable.  For lemon add juice and zest of 1 lemon and beat until spreadable.  Spread on ginger cookies and sandwich together.  Freeze until ready to serve.

Plan B

Even though I have the menu planned out ahead of time, sometimes you have to be prepared with a backup plan.  We were going to have pasta with the Aidell’s chicken meatballs but my daughter had a swim meet and a haircut and I had to substitute for my husband’s tennis interclub team.  Everything worked out but it was a hectic evening and when we got home after 8:00, we just needed to eat.  Fortunately, there were two chicken breasts left from the cookout on Sunday night and I had a nice tomato and a ripe avocado.  I toasted some good bread and we had grilled chicken sandwiches with tomato and avocado.  Quick and just the thing after tennis.

I made up the marinade for the chicken on Sunday and it turned out very well.  We’ll do that again and I’ll plan to make extras.  (My husband was slightly skeptical – he thought I should have used a teriyaki marinade but this was a winner.)   We’ll fix the pasta and “meatballs” next week.

Grilled chicken breasts for sandwiches

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – I used Perdue Perfect portions, nice size and thickness for grilling
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • fresh herbs from garden (I used about 3 – 4 TB including parsley, chives, thyme and oregano)

Whisk together all ingredients (except chicken) and marinate chicken 4 – 8 hours.  Grill until done.  Great for sandwiches and would be good on salad too.

Summer entertaining

My daughter has a fall birthday so she is going to do a pre-first year before starting First Grade.  It turns out that none of the other kids from her section of kindergarten are going to Pre-First – they are all going on to First Grade.  Her class won’t be very big and we wanted to start giving the kids a chance to get together so we’re hosting some families tonight.  Samantha is referring to it as our party with new friends!

It is summer time and this is a family event so we want it to be casual and easy.  The horrible heat wave from earlier in the week has eased and although it’s still hot, it isn’t as humid so the kids should be able to run around outside.  We’re going with classic cookout food and I’ve been very mature about letting go of my normal control freak need to do everything (in my opinion!)  One of the families is bringing an appetizer and someone else is bringing dessert.  Here is the menu we’re supplying:

  • Grilled hamburgers and grilled chicken breasts with hamburger buns, cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, etc.  (In addition to ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, I’m going to put out some chipotle mayonnaise
  • Deviled eggs
  • Potato salad
  • green salad

I’m marinating the chicken in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs.  Here are the recipes for the deviled eggs (which Samantha already helped me make) and the potato salad:

Deviled eggs
It doesn’t matter how many deviled eggs I make, I don’t think I have ever had leftovers.  Typically you’ll hear people say “I haven’t had deviled eggs in ages” as they pop them in their mouths!
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  NOTE: For fancy parties, a small bit of caviar can be added to tops of deviled eggs.
Potato Salad
There are lots of recipes for potato salad and I like most of them but once I discovered this one, it is my default.
  • Red potatoes, 3 pounds
  • scallions, 1 bunch thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper
Boil potatoes until tender.  Let cool until you can handle and then chop potatoes.  Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice (adjust to your taste) and toss over potatoes.  Add sliced scallions and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.