Friday, February 26, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends (and family)

For the past couple of years I have helped out with the Valentine dinner at church. The youth group usually spends the whole day slaving away in the kitchen and transforming the fellowship hall into "Mount Olive Garden". Well, this year was no different except for the fact that I think this was our best menu yet. It was simple yet elegant and very easy to prepare. I really can't take credit for it either. Between DeAnn, Lauren, Sam's Club, a few phone calls to Mom and one of those paperback Pampered Chef recipe books, we did! Here is what we ended up with.

Fresh Green Salad with Heart Shaped tomatoes a la Sandra
Marinated Mushrooms
Fresh Baked Bread Baskets
Vodka Penne Pasta from DeAnn
Italian Sausage
Bacon wrapped Green Beans from Lauren
Heart-Shaped Berry Shortcakes from the Pampered Chef
Creamy Fudge Hearts
Lemon Water with Cranberries thus the phone calls to Mom

And here are a few of the recipes.

Vodka Penne Pasta
6 oz chopped Canadian bacon
2 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
2 cups of heavy cream
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound penne pasta

Drizzle olive oil in pan and gently saute the minced garlic for a few minutes. Add the Canadian bacon, cayenne pepper, and vodka, saute for about 5 more minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Boil the pound of penne pasta and drain. Right before you are ready to serve, add the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and salt to your sauce. Stir until the cheese is melted and add the penne.

Lemon Water with Cranberries
2 ½ cups water
1 ¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely shredded lemon peel
3 cups lemon juice
Ice cubes
Lemon slices and Cranberries

In a medium saucepan combine water and sugar. Cook over medium heat till sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool.
Add the lemon peel to the sugar mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature for one hour.
Strain the juice mixture. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
To serve, fill glasses with one part fruit mixture and three parts water. Add ice and cranberries and serve. Garnish with lemon slices.

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans
1 (12 ounce) package bacon, strips cut in half
1 (16 ounce) package frozen cut green beans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a casserole dish.
Set out the bacon, green beans and casserole dish in a little assembly line. Lay out a half strip of bacon. Place a small bunch of green beans onto the strip of bacon and roll up into a bundle. Place the bundle into the casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining bacon strips and green beans. You can pack these pretty tight in the pan, just know that if the bacon is touching another bundle they take some prying to get apart. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and heated through, about 20 minutes.
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