Alright, recipe time! I have just a few I want to share, starting with the snacks:
(Recipe makes aprox. 36 mini meatcakes, maybe more.)
I was inspired by a large-size version of these I found at Whole Foods once upon a time. I was so bemused by the idea, but theirs were pretty bland. I just made this recipe up as I went along, so feel free to improvise with the spices as it suits you!
3 lbs ground beef
1/2 of a white onion, very finely chopped
2 stalks celery, also very finely chopped.
1/2 cup herb-garlic breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic, mashed
1/2 teaspoon each seasoned salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 package of garlic-herb instant mashed potatoes, made according to box's instructions
You will also need either mini muffin tins or little individual silicone baking cups, mini muffin liners, a pastry bag, and a large star tip for it.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except mashed potatoes and stir until thoroughly combined.
3. Pack the mini muffin baking dishes with the meat mixture and flatten the tops. Pop them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. They should be browned on top and have bubbling juices, just like a regular meatloaf.
4. when they come out of the oven, it is important to let them cool and set up a bit. Then use cooking chopsticks to transfer them to fancy paper liners, and when you pop another batch in the oven you can start piping the mashed potatoes on top. Ice them high just like cupcakes!
These were the biggest hit at my party, just be sure to let people know that they are not in fact cupcakes or they will get quite a surprise!
Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms
(Recipe makes 1 dozen mushrooms)
I have become good friends with a couple of vegans as of late and I wanted to make sure I did some snacks for the party that they could enjoy. But really, I had no idea what to do. Dennis suggested stuffed mushrooms and I just made up a recipe that seemed right. They turned out to be the most delicious stuffed mushrooms we had ever had - vegan or not - and they will be returning when I go to a 4th of July party at a certain vegan friends house.
1 dozen large mushrooms, Creminis or Buttons work fine
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a small container of vegan cram cheese
2 med. zucchinis, finely grated (A microplane works great for this!)
1/4 cup or more Italian-style herbed breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp each paprika and ground coriander
1 clove garlic, mashed
Seasoned salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle of ground cumin
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Clean the mushrooms and tear out the stems, save these for soup later. Place them cap side down in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with cumin, seasoned salt, and pepper, and bake for 10 minutes until just starting to wrinkle around the edges. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. You need to add enough bread crumbs until the mixture starts to form a dough-like substance and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Also, be sure to add a good amount of seasoned salt, it makes the flavors pop.
4. Using your hands, divide the zucchini mixture into 12 equal portions and roll them into balls, place one inside each mushroom cap and put back in the oven for another15 minutes, until just starting to brown on top. Sprinkle with a little more cumin if you like.
And now, on to the cocktails. Dennis and I had slowly been amassing a decent selection of alcohols and learning to mix drinks in the moths preceding the party. The key to a good cocktail, we found, was to give it your own twist and just include the flavors you like. Recipes are not the end-all-be-all when it comes to mixed drinks. I prefer my cocktails a little less strong than most recipes, so keep that in mind when using these. And also keep in mind that each recipe makes a big jug of cocktail.
This recipe was inspired by a drink of the same name made at our favorite local tiki bar. It was the definite crowd-pleaser. Serve this garnished with a cocktail umbrella and a slice of pineapple if you like.
1 bottle coconut rum
1 bottle Hypnotiq
1/2 gallon guava juice
2 cans coconut water
1 quart pineapple juice
1/4 bottle passion fruit rum
Dash of blue food coloring
This was a cocktail of my own invention. I made it mostly because we had so many orange-flavored liqueurs in the house. It is not too terribly sweet and goes nicely with cheese and crackers. Mix this up and dilute it half and half with sparkling water in a glass of ice.
1/2 gallon orange juice
1 bottle sweetened lime juice
1 small bottle Cointreau
1 small bottle Grand Marnier
1/2 bottle Triple Sec
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup agave syrup
The Perfect Bloody Mary
I am a huge fan of Bloody Mary's but I am pretty picky about them. They need to be salty and spicy with lots of tangy flavor. This is the one I like best, but most people will probably want a little less spice.
1 quart spicy Bloody Mary mix
1 quart V-8 picante
1/2 gallon Clamato
1 quart vodka
Squirt of Siracha chili sauce
Brine from 1 jar of green olives (Use the olives for a garnish.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch celery, to garnish
Bonus cocktails! Leave the bottles for these out and let guests mix their own! Serve over ice.
*1/2 Bailey's and 1/2 Chambourd makes a Chateau Kiss - Delicious! Garnish with a blackberry.
*1/2 Kahlua, 1/4 vodka, and 1/4 half-and-half makes a White Russian. Garnish with a pinch of nutmeg and a couple chocolate and coffee Pocky.
*1/2 Midori and 1/2 sweet and sour mixer makes a Midori sour. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
*1/2 Chambourd and 1/2 Dr. Pepper makes a Cham-Wow! Our dear friend Aaron actually invented this one at our Memorial Day BBQ. All it needs is a paper straw. Delicious!