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Appetizers on the run

Categories: Holiday Entertaining, Lunches, Organization, side dishes

11 Comments

Hi, I’m Elizabeth, better known as Busy Mom around the Internet, and it’s nice to meet you! Chris is a tough act to follow here, but I’m really excited to be writing for Ordering Disorder. I’m married and have 3 kids, and I work full-time as a nurse, so I always appreciate hearing ways you create order in your life and I hope you’ll join in all our discussions here.

Enough of that, let’s get started!

My husband is a teacher, and I also tend to hang around teachers, and the warm weather and their relaxed summer schedules inspire parties and other evening gatherings.  I love to get together with friends, but my schedule in the summer is the same as it always is, so I sometimes find myself rushing to parties after work and changing clothes along the way so I don’t miss out on anything.

Like any good guest, I always volunteer to “bring something”. Now, I love appetizers, and when I offer, I truly mean it. But somehow, I never actually get around to planning ahead for what I’m going to bring, and I inevitably tell myself, “I’ll just pick up something after work”.

While that’s a good enough plan on the surface, more often than not, I end up wandering in circles in the store looking for “something” I can walk out with that doesn’t have to be prepared, and is presentable for a gathering.

My fallback appetizer, (mighty tasty, though not exactly revolutionary), is the tried and true Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly:

1 8oz. block of softened cream cheese
1 jar of pepper jelly (red or green, your preference)

Spread the jelly over the cream cheese and serve with crackers of some sort (I like to use Wheat Thins)

Gather those ingredients, buy a fancy disposable plate or tray in the baking section, and you’re good to go straight from the store to the party.

Action shot (or proof you can go straight from the store to the party):

Appetizer on the run

Help me out, though. I need something new to add to my repertoire of, “Appetizers You Can Prepare in the Car” because, let’s face it, that won’t be the last time I run by the store after work to find something party-worthy.

Do you have a standby appetizer that you can pick up on the way to the party that looks like you made an effort, but is something other than chips and salsa from the gas station?

Do share!

Corn salad with walnuts and feta cheese

Categories: Cooking, Entertaining, Food, Uncategorized, side dishes, summer living

4 Comments

The most difficult part about cooking dinner for me is coming up with new and interesting side dishes.  Especially in the summer when we are likely to have guests eating with us.  There is only so many times you can serve pasta salad or potato salad before you bore even yourself.

I came across this recipe last year sometime and jotted it down on a scrap of paper and stuffed it into the bottomless abyss that is otherwise known as my purse.  I found it again last week and knew it would  the perfect accompaniment to the burgers I was grilling for some friends that night.
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Italian Braided Easter Bread

Categories: Cooking, Entertaining, Food, Holiday Entertaining, side dishes

2 Comments

This bread was always a tradition in my house growing up. The Italian Braided Easter Bread. What made it particularly Italian, I do not know. I think the my step-father’s family liked to attribute everything that they did as being uniquely an Italian tradition.

And so even though I can no no longer eat bread, I carry on the tradition.

I do not, however, dye the eggs.

This is what happened the last time we dyed easter eggs. The child in the photo has just turned 11. I have yet to recover from the experience.

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You will need:

6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter
3 eggs

***
4 eggs* for putting in the braids of the bread

***

Mix in a small cup:
1 egg
2 tablespoons cold water

Brush this over the bread before putting in the oven to give the bread a nice sheen. This is optional and purely aesthetic.

Step One:

Put the milk and butter into a sauce pan and heat on low just until the butter melts. Do not boil it. If it gets too hot it will kill the yeast when you add this to the dry ingredients.

Step Two:

In your mixing bowl combine half the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix well.

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(Not shown, my son turning the measuring cup upside down and pour most of the flour NOT in the bowl.)

Step Three:

Pour the milk/melted butter mixture into the mixing bowl. Mix well.

Step Four:

Add the three eggs to the mixing bowl. Mix until it is smooth.

Step Five:

Slowly add remaining flour until the dough forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You may need less than the full six cups of flour, or you may need slightly more.

Step Six:

Dump the dough out of the mixing bowl and knead it on a lightly floured surface.

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Don’t afraid to really work the dough.

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Dancing on a chair while you do it is optional, but seems to add something to the experience.

Make the dough into a nice round ball, and place it into an oiled bowl.

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Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put somewhere warm to rise.

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You will know it is done rising when it doubles in size.

Once that happens you are going to beat the dough back down.

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Again, chair dancing while kneading is optional, but you only live once, so why the heck not. This is the fun that money can’t buy. Which is good, because who has extra money in this economy.

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Break the dough into three equal pieces.

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Form each of those pieces into a long (24″ maybe?) snake.

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Loosely braid the three pieces together and form them into a circle. Pinch the ends together. Then tuck the eggs** into the spaces of the braid.

Now set it aside and wait while it rises again.

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And wait some more. To quote Tom Petty, “The wai-ai-aiting is the hardest part.”

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After it has finished rising, feel free to shout, “It has risen! It has risen, indeed!” Just to get into the Easter spirit.

You are then going to brush the top of the bread with the egg/water mixture. Unless after all that waiting you forget, like I did.

Put your bread into a 375 degree oven and bake for about 30 min. You will know your bread is done when it has turned a golden color and when to tap on it you hear a hollow sound.

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Perfect for eating with your Easter ham.

*The eggs that you put in the braids of the bread can be dyed and hardboiled. Or you can just use raw eggs and they cook inside while the bread is baking. I have never had a problem doing it that way.

**I discourage eating the eggs that are in the bread anyway because the bread sits out of refrigeration for so long. Yes, my step father’s family always used to eat the eggs and they all lived to tell the tale, but they also gave all of us kids coffee to drink with shots of Zambuca in it and called it an Italian tradition. So, you know, use your own, probably superior, judgement.

Baked French Fries - Easy, Spicy, Delicious

Categories: Cooking, Food, Uncategorized, side dishes

16 Comments

Who doesn’t love french fries? Crazy people that’s who.

So if  you are a crazy person just stop reading right now.  Then go and find yourself some medication.  Come back once you are sane.  Trust me, you will want to.

I have to confess right here that I had never made french fries from scratch before this. The thought of slicing up all of the potatoes seemed like way too much work when I could just open up a bag of already seasoned fries and dump it out onto my baking sheet. But a couple weeks ago I was making dinner and thought, ‘Oh what the heck, let me try.’
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Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Categories: Cooking, Food, side dishes, summer living

4 Comments

I am constantly on the look out for new pasta salad recipes. Pasta salad is the easiest summer side dish. It goes with anything you grill or you can even eat it by itself for meal. I love to make a large batch and serve it for a couple of meals… usually with dinner and a couple of lunches. Or for when you meet up with friends and have an impromptu dinner date.

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And the best thing about pasta salad? You can make it early in the day, stick it in the refrigerator, and not think about it again until you are pulling the burgers off of the grill that evening.

You will need:

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8 oz rotini pasta
1/2 c Italian dressing
1TB dijon mustard
1TB mayonaisse
1lb grilled chicken breast, cut into strips*
1 small can sliced olives
1 jar roasted red peppers, draned and chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped

*I used the premade/precooked grilled chicken breast strips that come frozen at the grocery store to make the recipe that much easier. When I grill chicken breast for a meal I like to save a few breasts for using in recipes like this, but this time I didn’t have any.

Step 1: Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and rinse with cool water until the pasta is completely cool.

Step 2: Combine the salad dressing, mayonaisse, and mustard and pour onto the pasta. Stir to coat.

Step 3: Add remaining ingredients. Stir.

Step 4: Cover and refrigerate until dinner time.

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Balloon tied to your chair optional, but why not. It makes meal time so much for festive. And by festive I mean cause your children to punch the ballon into each other constantly, and whine and cry until you threaten to spear the balloon with your fork. Not that I would know this from personal experience or anything. Ahem.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Categories: Cooking, Food, side dishes, summer living

13 Comments

Looking for a new summer side dish? I have a great one for you. This recipe is so easy that I do not even have photos of the steps because I think that you know how to open cans. Right?

You can make this early in the day and leave in the fridge until dinner time. Perfect for those days when you are going to be out of the house all day and just going to grill some hamburgers for dinner.

Also, it looks so pretty. Doesn’t it?

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Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1/4 c Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise
2T lime juice
1/2tsp ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 c chopped red onion
2T chopped fresh cilantro (I left this out because I could not find any at my grocery store)

Combine mayonnaise, lime juice, and cumin in a medium sized bowl.

Stir in remaining ingredients.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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This was loved by all. Except for the child who insists he doesn’t like beans, though I doubt that a bean has ever crossed his lips. So really he doesn’t count. The rest of my children said it was wonderful and that it should be made again and again. My eldest son even ate some of the leftover with his lunch, which says something because his general feeling is that leftovers are garbage that I store in the fridge.

Praline Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

Categories: Cooking, Entertaining, Food, Holiday Entertaining, side dishes

15 Comments

For the month of November there is something fun happening over here at this little cooking blog. I asked some of my favorite bloggers to share a recipe that they will be making this holiday season. Whether it is a holiday specific recipe or just something they will be cooking for their families while they are in the midst of the rat race know as the holidays.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Metalia. Surely all of you are reading her blog? She is a working mom of two young ADORABLE children and she is hilariously funny.

When I asked her if she had a recipe she immediately told me about this praline sweet potato pie. She had already made it a few times, FOR PRACTICE, so that she would know how to do it for Thanksgiving. God, I love her. And now that I have read the recipe and seen the photos, I would practice making this pie and practice eating this pie for the entire holiday season. I do need practice eating stealthily in my pantry I think.
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Fried Green Tomatoes, the Recipe

Categories: Cooking, Food, side dishes, summer living

18 Comments

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My garden runneth over with non-ripe vegetables. And sadly, the warm summer growing days are over. We have had frost a couple of nights now and so I was forced to pick everything.

Remember the movie Fried Green Tomatoes?  I love that movie.  If I had to rank my most favorite movies of all time it would be at the top of the list.  Along with the Princess Bride and the Wizard of Oz.  I am sure that there are others that I just can’t even think of right now.

The movie was what first introduced me to fried green tomatoes.  Before that green tomatoes were something that sat on your windowsill until they turned red or rotted.

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Baked Sweet Potato Fries Recipe

Categories: Cooking, Food, side dishes

34 Comments

When I find a food that I like I tend to eat it over and over again until I am so sick of it I don’t want to even look at it for another decade or so. Hummus recently joined this illustrious list, which includes foods like stuffed peppers, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and Hot Tamales (the candy).

This is my newest obsession. The sweet potato. No longer is it relegated just to Thanksgiving.

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No Cook Recipe - Yogurt Parfait

Categories: Cooking, Food, Lunches, side dishes, summer living

6 Comments

Everyone loves a parfait. Isn’t that what Donkey says in the Shrek movie? And just think, you can use the movie tie in to actually get your kids to eat the healthy yogurt parfait.

But what exactly is a parfait?

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Behold, the layered goodness that is the parfait.
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