By Linda Brumley
We had hors d’oeuvres instead of a dinner the first night of our staff sister’s retreat. (Pictured at right L-R: Danielle Whitaker, Lynne Green and Karla Overstreet sampling Linda’s appetizers!) Since my lesson assignment on hospitality was headlined by the movie title, I felt compelled to be very Julia Child-like. Planning my menu with this in mind, I aimed for tasty, simple, and pretty. I’m no French chef. Indeed, my culinary skills are quite limited, but I deceive many about this deficiency by being a relatively savvy collector of easy, but yummy recipes. Lynne insisted that I share the ones I used for our retreat. I’m reluctant only because it so broadly blows my cover revealing to large audience online that I’m a short-cut cook. But I share them here hoping they help you all with Bible Talk refreshments or any other small gathering you may host.
SHRIMP WITH CILANTRO DIP
1 bunch cilantro
1/2cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
2t. soy sauce
2t. balsamic vinegar
1/3cup canola oil
2t. sesame oil
Blend it all in a food processor and serve with cooked, tail-on, jumbo shrimp (they’re pretty cheap at Trader Joe’s)
I broiled a small flank steak and cut it into thin slices before the retreat
Boison cheese (herbed cream cheese)
1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
On each strip of steak, put a generous tablespoon of the cheese, stick a couple of red pepper strips in it, roll it up and secure it with a toothpick. Stand them upright on a platter (red pepper spears sticking up like horns)
CUKES AND CHICKEN SALAD
Peel and halve lengthwise an English cucumber. Scoop out the seeds. Cut into 2 inch slices and fill with chicken salad (I bought Trader Joe’s little tub of ready-made chicken salad. It’s divine. It has cranberries and pecans in it, but you could make your own chicken salad. I like to put a little curry powder in my chicken salad with some onion and raisins, but whatever….).
VEGGIES AND DIP
Easiest of all because all we did was arrange raw asparagus, green onions, red pepper strips and some great crackers on a platter with a ready-made (Trader Joe’s again) red hummus.
CHILI CHEESE DIP
(I stole this recipe from Dianne Caraway)
2 8oz. slabs of cream cheese (I used light, just to fool myself into thinking it was healthier)
1 can Nalley’s Original chili
1c. (or so)shredded cheddar cheese
Mash the cream cheese and the chili together, put in a heat-proof serving dish, top with cheese and pop it into the microwave until the cheese melts. Serve with a big bowl of corn chips (I like Tostitos Scoops because you can get such a big dollop of the cheesy stuff on one). This one is additive, so beware!
Mozzarella rounds (deli section at Trader Joe’s again)
Fresh basil leaves
On bamboo skewers alternate the first three ingredients, lay out on a platter and sprinkle with the vinegar. Lynne did this one and she wrapped the basil leaf around the cheese so the leaf got skewer twice. It was even prettier that the picture from the magazine where I got the recipe. Lynne really is Julia Child!
APPLES AND CARAMEL DIP
4 or 5 big, crisp red apples
1 pkg. Kraft caramels (the labor-intensive part is unwrapping all those caramels!)
2T. creamy peanut butter
½-2/3cup half and half
Dry-roasted peanuts, chopped and in a little bowl next to the caramel dip
Slice those lovely apples and put caramels, peanut butter and cream in a microwave serving bowl. Melt and stir until it’s smooth and not too runny. Guests dip an apple wedge into the caramel and then into the chopped peanuts and enjoy! It’s like a pauper’s fondue.
*The additional benefit of all these goodies is that they are relatively cheap. So, bon appetit!