Impromptu cookout (or last minute)

I play golf.  I play for fun and occasionally I play in a tournament.  Not often, but at least once a year.  I recently played in a two day tournament.  I wasn’t sure when I would be done but a friend invited my husband and me to come for a “porch night” – drinks and appetizers on their porch one beautiful summer night and then out to dinner after.  Unbeknownst to my friend or me, my husband decided to invite everyone to our house for dinner… and by so doing invited a few more to porch night as well. Needless to say when I walked off the golf course and heard this, I sort of panicked.  My house was in disarray (a nice way of saying a mess) and I had nothing prepared.

Typical of my husband, Don went and bought huge steaks and farm fresh corn on the cob.  I got home and took to broom and mop and at least made the kitchen presentable.  The extra friends that thought we were going out to eat after porchtime felt terrible that they had not brought something but that didn’t worry us.  After I collected myself, I sliced up some cukes and tomatoes fresh from the garden, boiled some water for the corn and marinaded thickly sliced zucchini, also from the garden, in oil and garlic.  Don seasoned the steaks and lighted the grill.

My friends kindly overlooked the mess that was outside of the somewhat cleaned up kitchen, we  set up a buffet and when the corn and steaks were done, we ate.  I had vanilla ice cream and strawberries at the read for dessert but we decided dessert wasn’t necessary.  Everything was loaded into the dishwasher and we retired to the patio to listen to music around the firepit. IMG_4321

Heavenly Brownies

You are going out to a friends for dinner and you volunteered to bring dessert and you are running out of time for anything creative and out of the ordinary.  There is a box of brownie mix in your cupboard but do you really want to resort to a box of preservatives and flavorings?  Here is my go to recipe, given to me by a friend who is a very good cook.

They are call Heavenly Brownies and the name couldn’t be more appropriate.  They are heavenly simple to make and heavenly delicious to eat.  What makes them so simple is that I make the batter in a saucepan, pour it into a foil lined 9×9 inch square pan for easy clean up and pop it in the oven.  The recipe is as follows:

Line a 9″x9″ square pan with foil, up the sides.  Spray with baking spray. Set aside.  Melt a stick of butter or margerine in a saucepan with 2 squares of semi sweet chocolate.  Remove from heat and pour in 1 cup of sugar, mix.  Next add 2 large eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 tsp of baking powder, again mix well. Lastly add 1 tsp of vanilla and beat with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth. Pour into the foil lined greased pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 mins, check, do not over bake!!  If the center still feel really undone bake a few more minutes.  The brownies will continue to bake even when you take them out of the oven to cool so don’t leave in the oven too long.  When cool, lift foil out of pan, slice and serve or store in airtight container. Recycle the foil and put the pan away for easy clean up.

After you make this recipe, you will throw those brownie mixes out!

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Nothing like the comfort of a meatloaf…

It was a typical freezing cold New England evening and since I was making a meatloaf anyway, I decided to invite some friends to share it.  Many supermarkets now sell ground veal, pork and beef in one package which makes making a meatloaf that much easier.  My recipe is partly my mother in law’s and one I found in a magazine.  It is truly delicious and from what was left of the extra large loaf I made, my guests must have agreed.

In 2 tbls melted butter saute:

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup diced celery
Season with salt and pepper

Sprinkle 1 tsp dried thyme over and add:
3/4 cup grated carrot (buy the packaged grated carrots. it’s easier)
several cloves of garlic minced( you can never have too much garlic) I use a small food processor
Stir until combined then remove from heat and cool.

In large mixing bowl combine:

2 pkgs. of combined ground meats: veal, pork, beef (usually each package is 1 lb.)
1 cup panko crumbs ( or Italien bread crumbs for a little more flavor) soaked in 1/2 cup milk ( I use skim)
2 beaten eggs
1 3/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
Mix with hands and shape into a 9×5 inch loaf in a casserole dish.

Mix:
1 can tomato sauce (small)
1/2 cup water
3 tbls vinegar
3 tbls. brown sugar
3 tbls prepared mustard
2 tsp worcestershire sauce

Spread over entire loaf. I sometimes poke holes in the meatloaf so the sauce sinks into it.  Bake in 350 oven for 1 hour or until thermometer reads 155 degrees.

I served red skinned garlic mashed potatoes with a green salad and a nice crusty bread.  There were eight of us and the meatloaf was gone even after second helpings.

Usually, successful entertaining means going the extra mile and being fancy, but this was one I my best dinner parties ever.  Enjoy!!