Mini-Dinner Party

This weekend I was lucky enough to have a few of my friends from school visit. As soon as they told me about this a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to try out some new recipes and put my new cooking abilities to the test. For dinner we had roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans, with lemon bars and a low fat cheesecake for dessert. Check out the recipes and pictures below (special thanks to Shari for taking them).

Roasted Chicken
From March 2010 Food Network Magazine

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinned chicken breasts
2 heads garlic
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 425. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook skin-side down in the skillet for about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken, add the garlic (separate into cloves but do not peel) and rosemary to the skillet and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
From Mixingbowl.com magazine

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2c light whipping cream
1/3c shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan, covered, for 15-20 minutes (until tender). Drain and mash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon potatoes into four individual (10oz) baking dishes. In a mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Stir in cheese and spoon over potatoes. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Green Beans with Lemon Herb Butter
Courtesy of Loveandoliveoil.com

5tbsp butter, softened
3tbsp parsley
2tsp fresh thyme
1.5tsp lemon zest
1tbsp fresh lemon juice
2lb green beans

Stir together all ingredients except butter in a small bowl until combined, along with 3/4tsp salt and 1/4tsp pepper. Cook beans in skillet until warm and crisp, then add butter until melted.

Unfortunately, I was a little behind on timing and had to put the girls to work when they came, not to mention the chicken was a little slow to cook. We ended up digging into the potatoes and green beans while we waited.

After dinner we were all so full that it was hard to think about eating more, but dessert looked too tempting... we didn't even get the cheesecake cut before we started eating it. Earlier in the week, it had been a coworker's birthday so I made lemon bars (always a good excuse to bake) for that so we tried some of those leftovers too!

Lemon Bars
From March 2010 Food Network Magazine

1.5 sticks butter, diced
2 1/3c all-purpose flour
1/4c light brown sugar
1/4c confectioners sugar
1/4tsp salt
4 whole large eggs + 2 egg yolks
2c sugar
1tsp lemon zest
1c fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil and grease with oil or cooking spray. Pulse butter, 2c flour, light brown and confectioners sugars and salt in a food processor or with a mixer until it sticks together. Press into the bottom of the pan, making sure there are no cracks. Bake about 25 minutes, until golden. In another bowl, mix the eggs (and yolks), sugar, and remaining flour until smooth. Whisk in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove the crust from the oven and pour the filling over it. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 and make 30-35 minutes. Let the bars cool until room temperature, and then refrigerate until firm. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.


Low-Fat Cheesecake
From March 2010 Food Network Magazine

9 low-fat cinnamon graham crackers
2tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2.5 8oz packages Neufchatel cheese, softened
12oz fat-free cream cheese
1.5c sugar
1c fat-free sour cream
2 large eggs + 3 egg whites
2tbsp flour
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor (or with a mixer) until crumbled. Add 2tbsp water and the butter and pulse until mixed. Wrap the outside of a springform pan with foil (to prevent leaks). Coat the inside of the pan with cooking spray. Press crust mixture onto bottom of pan and bake about 8 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Beat both cheeses and the sugar until smooth, then beat in sour cream on low speed. Lightly whisk the 3 egg whites then add to the cheese mixture. Also add whole eggs, flour, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until fluffy. Pour over the crust. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake inside for 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely, then chill until firm.

(the cheesecake after we devoured it)

Needless to say, we were all completely stuffed by the end of the night... (and they're probably going to hate me for making this picture public)

And completely unrelated to this dinner party but equally as awesome... for all you bakers out there, check out loveandoliveoil.com -  they're having an great giveaway right now for some amazing baking supplies!


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