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Thursday, January 6, 2011


Ok...have I really not been on here with any  new posts since before Thanksgiving?  That is really sad!  I do have a good excuse....actually I have several:  1.)  I am in my third trimester or my pregnancy, 2.) I cooked like a fool around the holidays, 3.) I catered three big parties all in the month of December.
Instead of laying low and staying off my feet I added three major catering events to my life as well as all the regular holiday stuff.  I am now ready to put my feet up, do some major blogging and just get ready for this baby to arrive.  Did I mention I was  having one more family party this week-end?  Ok...after this week-end I will put my feet up and try to relax!

The first of the three parties I catered this past month was for my babysitter's father.  Her dad has been a layer in our town for quite some time and was honored to become a judge.  After the signing in they decided to put together a party of about 30 people who were invited back to their home for some appetizers and drinks.  I came up with a menu consisting of about 7 different appetizers:

  1. Roast Beef Crostini w/ Havarti and a Roasted Red Pepper Mayo
  2. Meat & Cheese Platter - assortment of salamis, sausages, cheeses and crackers
  3. Tomato & Basil Bruchetta - served with grilled crostini
  4. Vegie Tray - served with a home-made buttermilk ranch dressing
  5. Veal Meatballs - served in a mediterranean red sauce w/ golden raisins
  6. Tomato/Basil Flatbreads & Olive/Artichoke Flatbreads
  7. Prociutto & Provolone Frittata Bites
This menu was a hit and lucky you....I have posted all my recipes and photos from this event!


When I say that this appetizer is a hit....that is an  understatement.  Whether I have served these at a personal party I have hosted or at a catered event they are always all gone by the end of the night.  And believe me I more than double the recipe knowing that they will be gobbled up.  They are super simple to make.  My husband & I usually set up an assembly line where he spreads the crostini with the red pepper mayo and I stack on the roast beef and havarti cheese.  I promise you these will be a hit at any type of party that you throw.

  • 36 slices baguette bread or french bread (1/2 inch thick)
  • olive oil to drizzle on baguette bread
  • 2/3 cup (about 3) home-made roasted red peppers or 1 - 15 oz. jar roasted red peppers drained
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 1 garlic clove minced fine
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 lbs. deli roast beef (premium rare)- I buy a nice rare London Broil from the deli
  • 36 thin slices of Dill Havarti cheese (most blocks of this cheese are small may need two of them)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Arrange bread slices on two baking sheets. Drizzle olive oil over the slices evenly.
  3.  Bake bread in oven for about 15 minutes or until a light golden color.
  4. In the meantime make the mayo: completely dry off the peppers to avoid the mayo becoming to watery. Place peppers, mayo, garlic clove, salt and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  5. If the mayo is too thin place it in a bowl and whisk in more mayo one tablespoon at a time until it reaches the consistency you like.
  6. Take the pre-baked bread slices and spread about 1/2 tablespoon red pepper mayo on top of each slice. Place a slice of roast beef  or 1/2 a slice (folded) on top of mayo. Place a slice of Dill Havarti on top of beef.
  7. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
 Serve immediately.

To me there is nothing like a great tasting bruchetta that is made with simple and fresh ingredients.  If you will be serving this right away you can actually spoon some bruchetta on top of the grilled crostinis and sprinkle some fresh grated parmesan on top of them.  These would have to be consumed right away because if they sit for a while they can tend to get soggy.  If this will be part of an appetizer buffet I suggest just placing the tomato bruchetta in a bowl with the grilled crostinis surrounding it on a platter.  This way the guests can make them as they eat them and they will not get soggy.
  • 4 cups chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic- finely chopped
  • 3-4 TB. fresh chopped basil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • sliced baguette bread (about 1/2 inch thick slices)  one baguette will get you about 36 bread pieces
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl (except baguette bread).  Mix well, cover and place in fridge until ready to serve.
  2. In the meantime slice baguette bread into 1/2 inch pieces.  Brush with olive oil and bake at 375 degrees until golden.  If you want a grilled effect you can brush with olive oil and instead of baking in oven you can grill each side for about 3 minutes on a grill pan.  I like to do this because it makes a pretty impression on a platter.
  3. If serving right away top each slice of bread with tablespoon of tomato/basil mixture.  Grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top and serve immediately.  If serving as a buffet appetizer place tomato/basil mixture in a bowl and surround with grilled crostini.  Serve room temp.


One of my favorite restaraunts, Quartino, serves the most amazing veal meatballs. I wanted to create my own version with a slightly different twist. Their sauce is a regular tomato sauce, but I wanted mine to be different...slightly more exoctic or mediterranean. I added some capers and a dash of cinnamon to mine to give it an added sweetness so that it tasted different than my regular tomato sauce. Let me put it to you this way...I made about 70 meatballs thinking we could have some leftover for the next day....5 meatballs were left!!!!!! So much for left overs!

For Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground veal or pork
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground chuck
  • 2 TB. finely chopped italian parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup italian breadcrumbs (plus more to roll meatballs in)
  • 2 TB. whole milk
  • 2 TB. tomato paste
  • 1 TB. woecestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. organo
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. hungarian paprika
  • vegetable oil for frying meatballs
For Sauce:

  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 4 (32 oz. each) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (32 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 2 TB. capers (drained)
  • 1/2 tsp. hungarian paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups golden raisins
To Make Meatballs:

  1. Place all ingredients (except vegie oil) in a large bowl. Mix well ( I like to use my hands, but you could use a spoon).
  2. Roll about 1 1/2 TB. of meatball mix into a small bowl. Repeat with all meat until all is used.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet (about 1/4 inch. covering bottom of skillet). Brown each meatball on all sides - working in batches of about 7-10 meatballs at a time. Once the meatballs are browned remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towel. Continue until all meatballs are browned. Set aside.
To Make Sauce:

  1. Add olive oil to a large pot and heat.
  2. Add garlic & onion and saute about 3-5 minutes or until slightly soft.
  3. Add all ingredients (except raisins) to the pot. Stir well. Simmer for 1/2 hour.
  4. With a hand blender puree all ingredients in the pot until smooth. Simmer for about 1 hour.
  5. Add golden raisins and simmer - covered 1/2 hour more.
  6. At this point you can either add meatballs to the pot and simmer for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes or until meatballs are completely cooked and serve immediately or you can place in a container and keep in fridge overnight.
  7. When you are ready to use the sauce and meatballs: take sauce and meatballs out of fridge. Place in a crock pot and cook for 4-6 hours. You can serve directly from crock pot and let your guests serve themselves.
*Makes 60 - 70 meatballs



*This dough made four flatbreads

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 TB. yellow cornmeal, divided

  1. Combine boiling water and 1/2 cup cornmeal in a bowl; let stand 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl, and let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife.
  4. Combine cornmeal mixture, flour and salt in a food processor, and pulse 4 times or until blended. With processor on, slowly add yeast mixture and oil through food chutes; process until dough formas a ball. Process one additional minute. ** I do not use a food processor, instead I mix everything by hand: combine cornmeal mixture with flour, and salt in a large bowl. Stir until well blended. Add yeast mixture and oil, stirring well.
  5. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead lightly 4 or 5 times (dough will feel tacky).
  6. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat the top as well. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.
  7. Punch down dough; cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a ball (cover remaining dough while you are working to prevent it from drying).
  8. Roll each ball into a 10x6 inch oval. Place 2 ovals on a baking sheet lightly dusted with 1 1/2 tsp. of cornmeal. Repeat with two remaining dough balls on an additional baking sheet dusted with 1 1/2 tsp. cornmeal. Add toppings and bake according to recipe directions.
** I made four dough balls and used 2 for my Tomato Basil Flatbreads and 2 for my Olive, Artichoke and Rosemary Flatbreads.


  • Flatbread dough
  •  2 roma tomatoes, each cut in half and then thinly sliced crosswise
  •  2 large tomaotes (can use all red or you can mix in yellow or purple) - thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  •  4 tsp. oilve oil
  •  kosher salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
  •  2 garlic cloves, minced
  •  1 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese

  1. Prepare Flatbread Dough; let rise and shape into 4 ovals on baking sheets as directed. Cover and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Divide tomatoes evely among flatbread dough ovals. Bake at 450 degrees for about 10 - 13 minutes.
  4. Combine basil and next four ingredients in a small bowl; spread evenly over tomatoes.
  5. Sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve whole for an individual meal or cut into strips to share.


  • Flatbread Dough
  •  1 - 12 oz. jat quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  •  1 cup assorted pitted olives (green olives and kalamata work great) - sliced
  •  1/2 TB. rosemary, divided between two flatbreads
  •  2 TB. olive oil
  •  ground pepper and crushed red pepper flakes for taste ( do not add salt, the olives & cheese are salty enough)
  •  1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

  1. Prepare Flatbread Dough; let rise and shape into 4 ovals on baking sheets as directed. Cover and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Divide artichokes and olives evely among flatbread dough ovals. Bake at 450 degrees for about 10 - 13 minutes.
  4. Combine rosemary, olive oil and peppers in a small bowl; spread evenly over artichokes and olives.
  5. Sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve whole for an individual meal or cut into strips to share.


  1. Kara,
    Thanks for the new recipes. I met you at Misti's holiday party and I have been drooling over your blog ever since! Happy New Year and good luck with the new baby!

  2. The flat breads look delicious!!!!!