October Supper Club {Birthday Celebration}

This month’s SC was hosed my my Fireman and me.  I LOVE hosting Supper Club, but this month was going to be a little different due to the fact that I am restricted to the bed or a reclined chair.  I had mentioned to my Fireman that we could make it easy and still fun by ordering in from a local restaurant, but he insisted on making the preparations himself for this month’s meal.  Together we came up with a menu.. well, sort of together.  He knew we were making a baked pasta dish (easy, right?), and a salad.. and probably an appetizer.  But, one appetizer turned into two appetizers, and the salad became a bit invasive (making our own dressing and complete with candied pecans to sprinkle over top..)  What else is this bored preggo supposed to do while laying in bed surfing pinterest for ideas and forgetting that I am not allowed to cook at this time, and that someone else has been doing all my cooking.  So the menu grew..Poor guy ended up cooking through his Sunday afternoon with me instructing him along the way.  What a GREAT sport he was, and we were ALL very grateful for the impressive meal he presented before us in the end.     A fall-inspired themed menu was in the plan- this month we celebrated sweet Jacqueline’s 30th birthday and in honor of her adoration for the month of October (and the fall months surrounding it) we decided to prepare some of her favorite things.

First thing on her favorites list?  Vodka.

I kid:)  I’ll never forget this time almost two years ago that we celebrated J’s birthday at the Massey house.. and Ashley brought the biggest bottle of Vodka as a birthday gift for Jacqueline.  3 minutes later she announced she was pregnant with our little SC mascot, Landon.  Go figure?

So, what’s on the menu this month?

Fancy Beverage

Cran-Apple Vodka

Appetizers

Warm Fennel & Parmesan Dip with Lentil Crackers
Pumpkin-Shrimp Bruschetta

Main Entree

Fall Harvest Salad
Roasted Butternut Squash Baked Penne

Dessert

Nothing Bundt Cakes (White Chocolate Raspberry)

The appetizers were pretty simple… in this cook’s eyes, anyway.  It thought my Fireman was going to strangle me when I directed him to pull out the food processor for finishing this dip.  The ingredients list is super short, and the directions include roasting, pureeing, and baking.  Too many steps for the one that questioned how to assemble the blade into the food processor.

Even with the kitchen gadget issues, this dip turned out beautifully- and not a scoop was left by the end of it.   The roasted fennel turns a golden caramel color and develops this sweetness that no one could pin point.  They didn’t even know what they were eating!   Even if you are not a fennel fan (I can eat it like an apple), you’ll love this dip.

Warm Fennel & Parmesan Dip with Lentil Crackers

I served the dip with Lentil Crackers, but you could serve it with any dipper you please.  I recieved these gluten free snack crackers in a sample box from Mediterranean Snacks and have fallen in love with them!  The recipe suggests a crusty baguette, but I thought since the second app we served was bruschetta, the Sea Salt Lentil Crackers would do the trick.

Warm Fennel & Parmesan Dip

Yield: 6-8 servings

Adapted from Martha Stewart Recipes

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering; add fennel and garlic for 4 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover skillet with foil, and transfer to oven. Roast until fennel is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Puree fennel and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Transfer mixture to a 3-cup baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake @ 400 degrees until dip is hot in center and cheese is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

http://chocolate-broccoli.com/2012/10/october-supper-club-birthday-celebration.html

Pumpkin-Shrimp Bruschetta

Jacqueline Favorite Number 2: Pumpkin.  These were also a hit, although received some questionable glances from the boys in the group.  My Fireman even questioned me when I suggested it should go on our menu.  After he gave one a try, he decided that “these are really good!”  The goat cheese combined with the pumpkin offsets the sweetness of the squash, making a perfectly savory bite.  Like my Fireman, I really, really liked this one, too!

Pumpkin-Shrimp Bruschetta

Yield: 20 appetizers

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  • 20 fresh or frozen jumbo shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, at room temperature (2 ounces)
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, cut julienne
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas)
  • 1/4 cup bottled Zesty Italian vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 20 (3/4-inch-thick) slices baguette-style French bread
  • 2tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse shrimp. In a large saucepan, cook shrimp in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Drain well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, goat cheese, lemon juice, and honey; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, spinach, onion, pumpkin seeds, and salad dressing; set aside.

Brush baguette slices lightly with olive oil. Arrange on a large baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden and slightly crisp.

Spread pumpkin mixture on one side of toasted baguette slices. Top each with a shrimp and some of the spinach mixture.

http://chocolate-broccoli.com/2012/10/october-supper-club-birthday-celebration.html

You can definitely skip the Vodka in this cocktail (as me and Diana did) and still get a great seasonal drink out of it.  The tart cranberry cocktail juice makes a great option for mixing with the vanilla flavored Vodka.

Cran-Apple Vanilla Vodka

Cran-Apple Vanilla Vodka

Yield: 6-7 servings

Adapted from All Things Splendid

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 cups 100% apple juice
  • 3-4 ounces Vanilla vodka
  • Ginger ale
  • Ice

Instructions

Combine apple juice, cranberry juice cocktail and vodka in a blender, combine until smooth. Pour into a large pitcher and top with 2 cups ginger ale and serve over ice.

http://chocolate-broccoli.com/2012/10/october-supper-club-birthday-celebration.html

Lastly.. the main entree!  I failed to take a picture of the Harvest Salad, but it was divine!  I put together the salad and the dressing (while sitting of course) while my Fireman made the candied pecans.  Everything came together so easily- in my mind anyway.

Pear and Candied Pecan Salad with Maple-Balsamic Dressing

Adapted from Tyler Florence; Food Network

Ingredients

    Candied pecans
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans, chopped
  • Maple-balsamic dressing
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons real maple syrup (Grade A or B)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salad
  • 6 cups Spring Mix greens
  • 1 red pear, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

Instructions

To make the candied pecans, set a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the butter and sugar and once it has melted toss in the pecans and continue to toss to coat and cook evenly, about 1 minute. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with waxed paper (use 2 forks to separate pecans) while you prepare the salad.

Make the dressing by combining the chopped shallot, Dijon and balsamic vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while you whisk to emulsify. Add the maple syrup and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Assemble salad by tossing greens, cheese, dried fruit, and pear slices in a large mixing bowl with maple-balsamic dressing. Top with candied pecans.

http://chocolate-broccoli.com/2012/10/october-supper-club-birthday-celebration.html

Jacqueline’s Favorite # 3: more squash!  When we asked her sweet hubby what Jacqueline’s favorite meals were, he replied with: Steak, fall-inspired foods, and pasta.  Easy enough.  So pasta and butternut squash it is!  I’ve made butternut squash and bacon pasta before, but this recipe called to mash the squash and mix it with a creamy Italian cheese and milk to make an actual sauce.  It was delicious!  A couple of my guests went back for seconds, and baby Landon was really diggin’ it, too.  We ended up having enough leftovers for just one.. which made me and this belly pleased, for sure.     

Roasted Butternut Squash Baked Penne

Roasted Butternut Squash Baked Penne

Yield: 8-10 servings

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4-6 slices center-cut bacon
  • 3-4 small shallots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1 1/2 pounds whole wheat penne
  • 1 cup freshly grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss your squash with with olive oil, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Roast for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and add squash to a bowl, then mash with a potato masher or fork.

Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add bacon- cooking until crisp. Remove from the pan and onto a paper towel-lined plate. Drain some of the bacon fat out of the pan, leaving about a tablespoon or so. Return to the heat and add the shallots . Whisk continuously until the shallots begin to brown and small brown bits appear in the pan. Immediately whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add milk, mascarpone and mashed squash, mixing until combined, adding additional milk if you’d like the sauce to be thinned out a bit more. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Spoon the pasta to large 9x13 in baking dish. Pour sauce over top, then use a spoon to fold the sauce into the penne, coating it completely.

Top with 1/2 of the bacon, shredded cheeses, sprinkling the remaining bacon over top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Garnish with fresh sage, if desired.

http://chocolate-broccoli.com/2012/10/october-supper-club-birthday-celebration.html

Finally on Jacqueline’s List of favorites: White Chocolate Raspberry Cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes.   Ok, who am I kidding?  We all are pretty much borderline-obsessed with this cake.  It is so yummy!  When Diana told me she was going to bring a cake for the ‘celebration’, it was a no-brainer where she would go and what kind she would bring.  The birthday girl was showered with gifts from her girlfriends (we all think alike, I suppose..)

We ended the night- stuffed with yummy food (courtesy of my Fireman) and with the planning of the next couple of months for our little Supper Club group.  Ash is up next for November and I cannot wait to see what she has planned (because she and I are too much alike, and because of this fact, she already has some kind of menu working in that brain of hers.)

Happy Birthday, Jacqueline!

Comments

  1. Wow! Looks like your firemen rocked it ;)
    Btw-you look adorable!

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