First of all, I have to apologize for not posting in a while. But I promise I have a very good reason: my new puppy! His name is Auggie and he's a 3 1/2 month old wire fox terrier. Isn't he adorable?
Now just because I haven't been blogging doesn't mean I haven't been baking! In the month since Auggie arrived I've made many a scrumptious treat, but it's time to get back into the blogging saddle and share with you some of the recipes I made! So here we go!
It's summertime and that means neighborhood potlucks or picnics at concerts. It seems every weekend there's an event to attend...and with them, the expectation to bring a dish. An invitation to a party might have you thinking that all you're ever going to be able to contribute are cups or a bag of chips or a bottle of wine (well, bringing wine is always a desired culinary talent).
Now I know some of you may look at this blog and enjoy the pictures and think "those look good but I could never make that" - well, consider this blog post for you. If you can use a knife, you can make these two easy and delicious recipes, perfect for a picnic or potluck.
So let's start with dessert first - because, you know, it's the sweetest meal of the day, and who doesn't live for dessert? Last weekend was my friend's birthday and he was having a little get together at his house for dessert. I basically don't know how to show up to anyone's house empty-handed, so I wanted to bring something that was easy, summery and a little special for a birthday. So I came up with these fruit and pound cake skewers.
It all started with a very ripe pineapple I had sitting on my counter. I wanted to use that in the dessert - but didn't have the time to bake. I knew that pineapple and strawberries go well together and strawberries and pound cake go together. So I did a little math, and thought "if A likes B and B likes C, then they call hang out together on a skewer!" So I headed to the store and grabbed a loaf of pound cake from the bakery section and then a jar of hot fudge sauce - cause most everything is good with a little chocolate.
Then all that was left was the assembly! I cut the cake into slices and then into cubes. I used whole strawberries (but only the smallest ones in the container) and then cut the pineapple into cubes. Using 4" skewers, I started with the pound cake on the bottom, a strawberry in the middle (figured they were less juicy and wouldn't make the cake too wet) and topped the whole thing off with a chunk of pineapple. I plate all the skewers on a chip-and-dip platter and filled the dip well with hot fudge sauce. O-YUM-G!
Now, these skewers can be flexible with whatever fruit you like and you can also swap out the cake for marshmallows or brownies. The best part of this recipe is that there really is no recipe. Just use what you have and shove it on a skewer! Everyone loves food on a stick!
For something a little more substantial, these easy and tasty sandwiches will have your friends thinking you are a gourmet chef in no time. Four simple ingredients come together for a fresh and satisfying sandwich. All you need is a fresh baguette, brie, sliced turkey or jam and the special ingredient: fig preserves.
Slice the baguette into 4 pieces and then slice each piece in half. Open up the halves and spread the fig preserves onto the cut faces of the bread. Layer 3-4 slices of turkey or ham onto the bottom side of each sandwich. Top with 2-3 slices of brie and then the top piece of bread. And voila! - an easy sandwich that tastes like a million bucks! Your friends will be highly impressed. These sandwiches have become my go-to for when my friends and I attend outdoor concerts or make visits to local wineries.
Notes: Trader Joes is one of my favorite grocery stores. I love to buy their loaves of Ficelle bread. They come two in a bag and are partially baked. So you take them home and finish them off in the oven. They get a perfect golden brown crust on the outside but stay nice and tender on the inside. Plus, they're not too chewy and they have great flavor. They also freeze well straight from the store - so I can always have fresh bread on hand. Just let them thaw while the oven pre-heats to 425 and then bake for 10-15 minutes. The other thing I love from TJs is their slicing brie. It comes in a rectangle and allows for the cutting of perfectly sized slices of brie. It's genius! Lastly, if you don't like figs or can't find fig preserves, you can swap for a more savory flavor profile and use whole grain dijon mustard. The mustard adds a bit of spice and tang and goes great with brie.
Next time you receive an invite for a potluck or go on a picnic, I hope you think you CAN cook and choose to bring one of these dishes - in addition to that bottle of wine. After all, you've perfected that recipe.