There is a group of girls I share a special friendship with. Jan, AJ, Jeannette and Susan, are like a bunch of flowers. They never fade. Twenty years ago our youngest kids started kindergarten together. And after all this time, we continue to manage a night every so often to get together.
This is a chance for us to catch up on the latest happenings with each other and our families. The kids have all grown and are on their own. Some come back for a while. But, I think for the most part, we’re all pretty much the same.
Now what reunion isn’t centered on food? Jeannette graciously entertained us at her lovely home while we all enjoyed a casual evening and delightful meal. Her father loved cooking and inspired her in many ways. Jeannette’s meal was rounded off with a wonderful refreshing fruit salad and garden salad. She shares with us some of her recipes. I’m sure you will agree these choices are easy and what’s great is they can be done ahead of time. They are perfect for a casual dinner with friends.
Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
¼ c. chopped parsley
¾ c. low-fat mayonnaise
½ c. white wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¾ lb. penne pasta
2 c. packed baby spinach, washed and stemmed
2 roasted red peppers, diced
½ lb. smoked mozzarella cheese, diced (can be found at Harris Teeter)
Combine the Parmesan cheese, parsley, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper with a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a food processor, or in a blender until the dressing is smooth.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it is al dente. Drain pasta into a colander. Run cold water over it or submerge it in ice water until chilled through and then drain well. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, spinach, roasted red peppers, smoked mozzarella and dressing.
(For garden salad)
Fresh garlic, minced
Balsamic Vinegar (I get mine from the Meat House because it is very thick and sweet like a reduction.)
Mix together all ingredients to taste.
Baked Chicken Thighs
Place desired amount of boneless thicken thighs in a casserole dish. Season with Montreal Seasoning for Chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. (Chicken cooks in its own natural juices.)
Black Bottom Cupcakes
1 ½ c. flour
1 c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
1 c. water
1/3 c. oil
1 T. vinegar
1 t. vanilla
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Spoon into paper cupcake lined pan, about one third full. Top each with a heaping tablespoon of Black Bottom Cream (recipe below). Sprinkle with sugar and slivered almonds if desired.
Black Bottom Cream
1 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/3 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
Beat all ingredients together until fluffy. Stir in 6 oz. semisweet morsels.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes. (My oven is convection, so I lower the temperature to 325 degrees and cook for about 20 minutes.) Note: These freeze really well! Makes about 15 to 20.