June 6, 2008

Not a bachelorette party!

Our wonderful friend Tara is marrying our wonderful friend, Jeff, in LA on July 3rd. She requested a girly get-together in lieu of a bachelorette party, and I was very glad that I didn't have to hunt around Sp.encers Gif.ts for yet another "Buy Me a Shot, I'm Tying the Knot!" t-shirt. We spent the morning at a lovely spa and then came back to my apartment for some dinner, games and general girly mayhem.

I started putting the extensive menu together a few weeks ago, but had to reign myself in when I took a realistic look at the fact that there were only 6 of us. I can't help it, it's the future Jewish mother in me...I need to have enough food for everyone. My worst party nightmare is to run out of food. Oy vey, the HORROR! (or should I say, the hora?) :-)

I got recipes for the great ladies on the What's Cooking message board on thenest.com, and they were all a hit! I made a few tiny modifications here and there, depending on what was in my pantry and what was affected by the insane 95+ degree heat wave we are going throughhere in MD. I also apologize in advance because I was so caught up in the party excitement that I forgot to take pictures of all the food before it was eaten!

Party Menu
Make-your-own quesadillas
White bean dip with homemade pita crisps
Vegetable crudite with ranch dip
Chips and guacamole/salsa
Ranch Oyster crackers
Spiced carrot cake with cream cheese icing


This meal is pretty easy, and everyone liked it. I chopped up green peppers, mushrooms and onions, and sauteed them in olive oil until they were soft and slightly browned (about 5-6 minutes). Everyone then layered their choice of veggies and cheese onto a whole wheat tortilla and I broiled them on a foil covered baking sheet for 6-7 minutes at about 300.


White Bean Dip (from Good Things Catered)

Amazing, delicious, flavorful...just day-um good! Thanks for the great recipe, Katie#'s!


2 14oz. cans of white beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly, divided

2 Tbsp butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

1/4 tsp salt

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 1/2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I only had dried)

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

1/4 c. water

1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

-In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter and add salt and onion
-Cook until onion is lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
-Add garlic, parsley, thyme, and white pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
-Deglaze pan with water and lemon juice, scraping up all browned bits.
-In the food processor, add onion mixture and half white beans and pulse, scraping down sides, until starting to smooth.
-Turn food processor to on and add the olive oil slowly while blending until smooth.
-Turn out bean mixture into a medium bowl and fold in remaining whole beans and salt and pepper if needed. It needed salt, so be sure to taste and season appropriately.

Homemade Pita Chips (from Amber's Delectable Delights)

Super easy and really delicious with the bean dip. Amber gave me the idea for these, and since I really wanted pita chips, I altered it a little bit.

Whole Wheat Pita Pockets
Olive Oil
Seasoning (I used Salt & Pepper, but you can use anything. Amber has a great recipe for a creole seasoning!)

Preheat oven to 350. Cut each pita pocket in half with a pizza cutter, and open them. Brush with olive oil. Cut each half into 3 triangles, and sprinkle with seasoning. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes, or until brown and crisp.


Ranch Oyster Crackers (From Ambers Delectable Delights)
The girls raved over these and they were super easy to make. A good hit for a party or poker night.

1 (14oz box) oyster crackers (can also use pretzels)

1/3 cup canola oil

3 Tbls (1.5 oz) dry ranch seasoning mix

1/2 tsp dill weed

1/2 tsp garlic powder (I didn't use because I didn't have any!)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place oyster crackers in gallon size zip-lock baggie. Add in the oil, seal bag and shake to coat all crackers with oil. Open bag and add all dry seasonings, seal bag and shake to coat. Dump onto cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until oil has absorbed into the crackers. Let cool and enjoy!


Spiced Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing (From Good Things Catered)

I will preface this by saying that carrot cake is not my favorite, nor am I a huge fan of cream cheese icing. However, the bride-to-be really loves it, so I was more than happy to whip this up for her. This is where the 90+ degree heat really affected my baking and icing. Our AC wasn't working properly, so it took a while for the cakes to cool, and my icing was running everwhere! It dripped off the cake onto the counter and I ended up keeping the finished product in the fridge until I served it (about 24 hours after baking). It was a messy but fun experience. My first layer cake! TA DA!

Also, since I made a layer cake, I doubled the frosting recipe and that seemed to be enough. I had maybe a little bit left over, so next time I might do 1.5 times instead of doubled.


2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp table salt

1 lb. medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)

1/2 c. packed light brown sugar (I only had dark brown, but it still worked out fine)

4 large eggs

1 1/2 c. vegetable oil , safflower oil, or canola oil


8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool

5 Tbsp unsalted butter softened, but still cool

1 Tbsp sour cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar (4 1/2 ounces)


Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray with flour(or I used 2 9-inch pans). Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside. In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor workbowl and fit with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

Icing: When cake is cool, process cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla in clean food processor workbowl until combined, about 10 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cake onto wire rack, then invert again onto serving platter. Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve. (Cover leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)


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Oh my gosh, everything came out FABULOUSLY!! This looks so great! That cake looks fantastic. :)