In my last post I mentioned a meatball recipe that I served at a co-ed baby shower. I thought today you might be interested in seeing the whole menu (with my modifications, because you know I can’t leave most recipes well-enough alone). And maybe even some photos?
In addition to the meatballs, I also served my homemade chips and salsa. Then there were Paula Deen’s famous BLT deviled eggs. I did modify that recipe some, by substituting about 3/4 of the called-for mayonnaise with sour cream. I like sour cream better for deviled eggs, it gives them more a twang, and they are less…mayonnaise-y. I also added just a touch of sweet relish to the recipe for a little more flavor.
There was also fruit salad, but alas, it was not as cute as the picture above. I was going to make that salad and the grocery stores had NO whole watermelons and NO whole cantaloupes. So, I settled for a mixture of watermelon, mango, green grapes, kiwi, blueberries and raspberries, finished with a honey-coconut water dressing as described in this fruit salad recipe. It’s a very simple dressing: 2 teaspoons of honey to 1/2 cup of coconut water (for a large party-sized batch you probably need to double that). It adds a hint of sweet refreshment to fruits, especially fruits that are out of season and not at their peak flavor.
The baby’s room is being decorated in what the mom called a “rustic” theme, and so we agreed on a rustic decor for the party consisting of lots of navy blue and burlap. (My next post will be about decorations.) I found a recipe for little mini cheese balls and I thought, “Hey! Those look very rustic!” They were also very delicious and were very fast to disappear. Definitely a recipe you could make days in advance, and just insert the pretzel sticks the day of the party. I served alongside some rustic crackers for spreading.
Also somewhat rustic looking were these tortellini skewers. You boil up some cheese tortellini al dente and gather some olives, basil leaves, mozzarella balls, and cherry tomatoes, and thread them on skewers. The only problem was I couldn’t find the colored tortellini so mine weren’t as colorful as the ones in the picture. But, they were still quite tasty, because I marinated the cooked tortellini overnight in Olive Garden brand Italian dressing. Then I gave the finished skewers a very light drizzle of the dressing just before serving.
Next, I offered up some little finger sandwiches. These “Lemony-Cucumber” sandwiches were really delicious (would be even better served in the summer when cukes are at their peak). I have some tips on these, though. First, use a very good quality cucumber, preferably Kirby or Persian cucumbers. Remove the seeds if using Kirby. Slice neatly using a mandolin if you have one, and take care to dry the slices for a while on paper towels. Also, I recommend what the recipe calls for–a really good quality, hearty wheat bread. I used Nature’s Own brand, which is good for regular sandwiches, but it just didn’t stand up well to these when it was time to slice them. Finally, in hindsight I wish I had done two things differently. One is using Irish butter, which I think would have really enhanced the flavor (see my thoughts on that here.) The other is sprinkling just a touch of kosher salt on the cucumbers before making the sandwiches, just to bring out their flavor a little more.
Last but not least, since this was a co-ed baby shower, I wanted to offer up one more hearty recipe for the men besides the meatballs. So, I made this taco crescent ring. There was not a single slice of it left when the party was over so I am assuming people liked it? I did not serve it as shown, but simply with sour cream and salsa (who has time for fresh lettuce when you’re prepping all this other food?) I’ll warn you that it is NOT as “big” as it looks in the picture. It looks ginormous in the picture but it comes out probably 10-12″ wide when you’re done. It does not come out as pretty as this picture (thanks, food stylists everywhere, for making the rest of us feel inferior). I also recommend baking it and serving it from a pizza stone. The pizza stone bakes the crescent rolls up better than a metal pan, and, keeps it warmer longer during serving.
Finally, for desserts I served cupcakes and marshmallow pops. What are marshmallow pops? Marshmallows with a straw inserted in them, then dipped in white chocolate, and decorated with sprinkles, drizzles, etc. This picture is of very well-done ones that I found on Pinterest. Mine were not this pretty, but they did look nice enough. Several pieces of advice on this one. First, get good paper straws that are both decorative and sturdy. I bought mine from an Etsy shop called Eve’s Party Market. They sell tons of different designs to match your party decor and their prices are quite reasonable. Second, use good white chocolate, not “vanilla bark.” I used Ghiradelli, which was at my warehouse club for the upcoming holidays. It was quite affordable and it melted beautifully and it coated the marshmallows very smoothly. They looked “glazed” when finished. Third, with chocolate use only oil-based food coloring. If you try to use liquid or gel coloring you run the risk of ruining the texture of the chocolate. You can find oil-based coloring in a ton of colors on both Etsy and Amazon. Fourth, the chocolate is much-improved with a touch of flavoring. I used cotton candy flavoring (also available on Amazon). But, I didn’t read it carefully when I started and it was glycerin-based, not oil-based. So in one batch of melted white chocolate I put too much and it completely ruined the batch. The chocolate “seized up” and wouldn’t flow smoothly. I had to throw that away and start over, using only a couple of drops of the flavoring. So, buy oil-based flavorings made especially for candy making.
I do not make pretty cupcakes, so I didn’t even attempt that. I had a friend who bakes make a couple dozen for me. She did 12 chocolate and 12 vanilla, and tried her best to color the vanilla ones “khaki.” It came out looking like peanut butter frosting, but it was still vanilla and it was delicious and the colors were in line with the rustic party theme! I have a ton of fancy chocolate cake decorations that a friend of mine gets for me where he works (thanks, John! xoxox) so I decorated those myself. You can see those in the photo gallery below.