Graduation Party, a la food blogs
Someone in our house graduated this week (it wasn’t me). To celebrate, we invited dozens of people, some of whom showed up, to a party in the graduate’s honor. My mom arrived two days early to help get ready (and maybe see me?). We spent much of Friday morning weeding and planting flowers, but by that afternoon we were in full cooking mode. TheBoyfriend was responsible for the main course–brats, hotdogs, and veggie dogs–while I (with my sous chef mom) took care of the dips and desserts. Most of my contributions were gleaned from my two favorite food blogs: The Pioneer Woman Cooks and Smitten Kitchen.
This salsa was my favorite food of the evening, even if I own the worst food processor to make it. Although Consumer Reports rated my food processor highest when I bought it several years ago, it has an especially low liquid level so that when I make sherbert (or this salsa, apparently) the liquid spews across the counter top and sends my boyfriend into cardiac arrest. Fortunately, my mom was able to stand by and wipe up the mess as I continued to pulse the salsa to the desired consistency. Also, my mom was somewhat frustrated that this salsa, made with canned tomatoes, tasted better than the kind she typically makes with fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes.
If the salsa was my favorite food of the night, these bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers were probably everyone else’s. Because we had some vegetarians coming over, I opted to make about a quarter of these without the bacon. I would recommend using gloves to seed the jalapenos. My thumbs were on fire for a couple hours from pulling the white part out nearest the stem. Ouch!
On the dessert side of things, I made these cupcakes. The frosting was delicious, but then again I did use Vahlrona chocolate. The cupcakes, to be brutally honest, were a little dry–and I took them out of the oven the second a tooth pick inserted came out clean. I’ve had a handful of dry cupcake batches over the past couple of years and I’ve come to an important conclusion: only make cupcake recipes that use buttermilk. Buttermilk equals moist cupcakes, regular milk or other liquids result in dry ones. Nonetheless, I have every intention of using this frosting recipe again (on buttermilk cupcakes).
Less problematic–though not necessarily more popular–were these blueberry bars. These weren’t the first dessert to go that evening, but by the end of the night all but two bars were gone (two bars which I happily ate the next morning). I was a little worried that the recipe only called for greasing the pan and was tempted to make a parchment sling to ensure easy removal. In the end, I stuck with the recipe and just used a lot of cooking spray. This worked really well, once you got one bar out of the pan (that first one was tricky!). I cut these bars pretty small, which I would recommend because they are very blueberry-y.
Just an up close shot of the blueberry bars. These are actually blueberries I got in Michigan while doing dissertation research last summer and froze. They were tart–in a wonderful way.
By far the most popular dessert of the night didn’t come from a food blog per se (or, if it did it was from my food blog), but from a recipe I read online at The New York Times several years ago. I made these a little smaller than the recipe calls for so that I might stretch them out, yet they were still the first dessert to disappear at the party. I heard rumors of people taking several cookies to go, and a friend who did most or our grilling for us ate close to ten. But it is kinda nice to make something that is so popular, even if it does make you wish that you had make two batches.
All in all, I’m placing this party in the successful column. I got to try several fun new recipes, we got to celebrate an accomplishment, and we fed our friends. The only problem with using so many recipes from food blogs is that it seems to justify my boyfriend’s complaints about how my ever-growing cookbook collection is unnecessary (even when there is this one cookbook I’m dying to get). Now I’m off to compensate by cooking a recipe that comes from between hardcovers. And to order that book.