Search This Blog

Monday, June 21, 2010


This past week-end I was asked by our friends and neighbors (John & Amanda) to cook for their house warming party.  I jumped at the chance to cook for another party!  They were having about 50 or so people so I knew I was feeding a crowd.  Here was the menu:


  • Spring Green Salad with Fried Pancetta & Blue Cheese
  • Penne Pasta with Home-Made Marinara
  • Grilled Italian Sausage with Roasted Tri-Colored Peppers & Onions
  • Home-Made Meatballs
  • Fresh Italian Rolls
  • Dessert Tray:  Smore Brownies, Cherry Cheesecake Cobbler Bars and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I believe the party turned out fabulous!  The food was great!  John & Amanda made awesome appetizers, cocktails and cold salads which really added to the festivities as well.  Actually Amanda made this awesome Greek Pasta Salad that I am going to get the recipe for and post it here soon!  I have included all the wonderful recipes in this post.  Should you ever need a party catered please feel free to contact me.  This menu would be perfect for any gathering; graduation, baptism, housewarming, birthday, etc.....


* This salad has only a few choice ingredients in it as well as a great dressing that you can serve tossed with the salad or off to the side.  Pancetta is an italian cured bacon like meat...BUT....way, way better.  If you have not tried fried pancetta please run to your nearest italian deli and fry some really makes a statement in this salad.  I tripled the recipe to serve 50, but the exact recipe below feeds about 10-12 as a side dish.

•5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
 5 cups spring green salad mix
•1/2 red onion thinly sliced
•4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
•4 oz. thin sliced prociutto, cut into 2 inch squares and fried in olive oil (dry on paper towel to soak up extra oil)
•1 recipe for salad dressing (see dressing below)

Place the lettuce in a large bowl or large platter. Add sliced onion, blue cheese, and prociutto. Add salad dressing and toss salad. Serve immediately.


•1 garlic clove, minced
•1/4 tsp. salt
•1/2 tsp. dry mustard
•1/4 cup red wine vinegar
•1/4 cup white wine vinegar
•3 tsp. sugar
•3/4 cup vegie oil
•1/4 cup olive oil
•oregano to taste
•crushed red pepper flakes to taste
•ground black pepper to taste

1.Place garlic cloves, salt, dry mustard, red & white wine vinegar and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk together.
2.Slowly add the vegie oil and olive oil whisking constantly.
3.Add oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and pepper to taste. Whisk well.
4.Place in salad dressing bottle or smaller bowl and place in refrigerator.
5.Use when salad is ready.


  • 2 TB. Butter
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves chopped
  • 3 - 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2- 14 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 1 TB. chopped fresh oregano
  • 3-4 TB. chopped fresh basil (about 12 basil leaves)
  • salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. of sugar
  • 2 lbs. of penne pasta or other pasta of your choice

1.  Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy bottom sauce pan or pot.
2.  Add garlic and saute 3-5 minutes
3.  Add basil and oregano - cook 2 minutes
4.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, red pepper and sugar to your liking and cook 5
5.  Add about 1/2 cup to 1 cup water ( I usually do this by adding some water to empty tomato cans and
    swishing water around to get all the juice from the cans). Add this water to sauce in pot. Stir.
6.  Let sauce cook on medium for about half an hour.
7.  With a hand blender puree the tomato sauce until smooth.
8.  Cook for one more hour on low. Can cook for more, but an hour usually does the trick.


* I made this recipe for 50 people, but you can adapt it to feed less.
  • 24 italian sausage (I use mild, but you could use hot or half mild & half hot) - cut in half
  • 8 bell peppers (assorted colors:  green, red, orange or yellow) - sliced into 1 inch strips
  • 4 onions cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 TB. rosemary
  • 1 TB. oregano
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  1. Grill italian sausage until 90% cooked.  Takes about 8 minutes per side.
  2. In the meantime place peppers & onions in a large roasting pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, rosemary, oregano and crushed red pepper and mix well.  Set aside.
  3. When sausage is done grilling place sausage in roasting pan with peppers and onions - mix well.
  4. Place in oven at 375 degrees.  Roast for about 20 minutes stirring often.  Sausage should be cooked all the way through and peppers should be slightly roasted but not soft.
  5. Take out of oven and serve.


• 2 1/2 lbs ground meat (either all beef or 1/2 beef and 1/2 pork)

• 1/4 cup fresh chopped italian parsley
•1 tsp. oregano
•1 tsp. basil
•1 tsp. garlic powder
•1/2 tsp. kosher salt
•3/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
•2 1/2 cups italian breadcrumbs (plus more for rolling the meatballs in)
•2 or 3 eggs - slightly beaten
•1/2 cup milk

1.  Place all ingredients in a large bowl. I personally mix my meatballs with my hands, but you could also mix
     all together with a large spoon.
2.  Roll about 1/2 cup measurements of meatball mix into a round ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with
     wax or parchment paper.
3.  Place about 1 cup of breadcrumbs in a large flat plate. Take each meatball and roll in breadcrumbs so
    there is a light coating of breadcrumbs all over the meatball. I do this to form a barrier or crunchy coating
    on the meatballs for frying.
4.  In a large skillet place about 1/4 cup olive oil. Fry / brown the meatballs on each side. * At this point you
    could also place all meatballs on a non-greased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 45
    minutes. I personally do not do this because I feel they get too "soft". I would rather fry them.
5.  To finish cooking place the meatballs in the sauce while it is slow cooking on the stove or you could place
     the meatballs in a large baking dish or roasting pan - cover them completely with the sauce and bake at
    350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until meatballs are fully cooked all the way through.  I usually do this
    step when I am cooking for a larger crowd.


  • 1 package brownie mix (make according to directions: eggs, vegie oil, water, etc...)
  • 6 graham crackers broken into pieces
  • 1 package milk chocolate  or semi-sweet morsels
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
 1.  Make the brownie mix according to the package directions adding the correct amount of eggs, oil and
      water it calls for. Mix brownie mix until well blended.

 2.  Spray a 9x12 baking dish with
       cooking spray.
 3.  Pour the brownie mix evenly into the baking dish.
 4.  Place brownie mix into a pre-heated (350 degrees) oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until lightly
 5.  Take brownies out of oven. Sprinkle the graham crackers over the mix. Then sprinkle the chocolate
     chips over the graham crackers. Last sprinkle the marshmallows over the top.
 6.  Place brownies back into over and bake for another 15 minutes or so until the marshmallows or a nice
      golden color - they will have the look of a smore.
 7.  Take browies out of oven. Let them cook completely in pan for about an hour or so.
 8.  Cut brownies into small squares. Place on platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

 2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) packaged cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
1 (21 oz.) cherry fruit filling

1  .Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease foil.
2.  Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl, stir until crumbly * I use my hands to make a crumbly crust.
3.  Reserve 1 cup crumb mixture. Press remaining mixture unto the bottom of prepared pan.
4.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
5.  Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 minute or until fluffy.
6.  Gradually add condensed milk and almond or vanilla extract, beating until smooth.
7.  Spread over crust, and top with cherry fruit filling.
8.  Sprinkle with reserved 1 cup crumb mixture.
9.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden.
10. Cool on a wire rack. Lift cheesecake out of pan using foil. Cool completely.
11. Place in fridge for a few hours. Cut into bars and serve or continue to chill.
12. Dust bars with powdered sugar.

*Makes about 15-20 bars depending on how big you make them. I make them into 3x2 rectangles so they are on the smaller side. This way your guests can have a little of another dessert as well.

1 comment:

  1. This spread looks AMAZING!! We will definetly be talkign about my future parties!!!!