Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Poker Night (the overachiever's dream)

For those that know me, I am a bit of an overachiever. Okay, I'm a TOTAL overachiever. So, when Ice told me that poker night was coming 'round to our house again, I started planning the menu about two weeks out. Why, you ask, when I could serve pretzels, nuts, and chips to accompany the BYOB, would I even bother? Two reasons - 1) I LOVE to cook 2) I LOVE to try recipes and because Ice is the meat and potatoes person he is, I need opportunities to try out recipes he won't touch.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ordering pizzas for the crowd - they would appreciate it either way, but with the bountiful produce available this time of year, I was inspired to create a (mostly) Mediterannean-inspired menu of noshes.

Chips and Dips:
- Pepper-onion relish dip (Harry and David pepper onion relish)
- Mediterranean salsa
- Joe T. Garcia's salsa
- Spicy Dorito's, tortilla chips, salt and pepper potato chips

The main (meaty) items:
- Buffalo chicken dip (went so well last time that it made an encore appearance)
- Sausage/cheese rolls
- Prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella bites

- Cookies
- Strawberry cheesecake phyllo tart (TRIPLE-YUM!)

The Mediterranean salsa was a different take on salsa - tomatoes, corn, green chiles, kalamata olives, and mozzarella mixed with fresh basil, olive oil, and lime juice. Keeping with the Mediterranean theme, I took thin-sliced prosciutto, cut them into strips, and wrapped perlini mozzarella and secured with a toothpick.

I strayed into the "guy food" with the Buffalo Chicken Dip - mayo, cheddar, green onions, chicken, and buffalo sauce topped with blue cheese and baked 'til bubbly - and with the sausage cheese rolls. This one is so stinkin' simple, and accommodates a variety of tastes from breakfast to appetizers. The original recipe was Cooking Club, but I've completely modified it to my tastes.

Savory Sausage Rolls (Italian style)
1 tube refrigerated french bread dough (Pillsbury, for example)
8 oz. pork sausage (or other sausage such as Italian, spicy Italian, chicken/apple, etc.) cooked and crumbled
3/4 c. Italian-blend shredded cheese (mix of mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, etc.)
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll french bread dough. Sprinkle with a little flower and roll out to about 13x9". Brush with melted butter to within 1/2" of edges. Add crumbled sausage to within 1/2" of edges, distributing evenly. Sprinkle with cheese. (I add in about 1 Tbsp. of sage if using pork sausage). Roll up jelly-roll style into a long roll. Slice off ends that are just dough; discard. Divide the roll into 12 pieces. (I slice in half, then slice each half in half, and finally each of those four pieces into 3 additional pieces). Spray a glass 13x9" baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place the slices with edges touching in pan (the swirl of meat and cheese should be face-up and look like a cinnamon roll). Bake at 350 degrees for 26 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool and serve!

You can also add herbs such as sage, parsley, etc. to taste.

Finally, my crowning glory, the strawberry cheesecake tart. I think at least one guy would have given me his firstborn for it! I won't repeat the recipe since I've blogged it prior, but that was the validation of the resounding success of this recipe! Happy Poker!

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