Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cookie Baking Extravaganza - The Lunch

So, as I mentioned, some friends and I, and Offspring 2, got together last weekend to do a cookie baking and exchange party.  We had a blast, and there are a ton of recipes to share, but I thought I would start with lunch.  We all agreed ahead of time that there should be some 'real' food there to offset all of the sugar.  And what a feast we had!  Veggies and dip, sandwich fixings (and on some delicious homemade bread to boot), soup, and penguins-on-a-stick.

{screech}  "What was that???" you say?  Well, I figure blogs are out there for people to glean info from and shamelessly copy great ideas.  And what I found were these....

Easy to put together, and how cute are they?  Found them on one of my favorite blogs, Once Upon a Plate.  Basically, carrot coins with a wedge cut out of them for the feet, which acts as a base for cream cheese stuffed jumbo olives.  Top that with a small olive and use that carrot 'wedge' as a beak, then shove a toothpick down through the little guy and voila!  A penguin.  :-)

I had also volunteered to make a soup but didn't want anything terribly heavy.  So, cream soup was out, and a broth based soup was in.  Remember when I made this broth?  Well, here's how I put it to good use.

But first the meatballs...

So, I didn't get a photo of the finished product, but we all know what meatballs look like, right?

Sun-dried Tomato Meatballs

1 1/4 lbs good quality ground beef (mine was 7% fat, I believe)
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely (I used the 'dry' variety, not the kind in oil)
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup freshly grated, or shredded, Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400º.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix together until well blended (your hands are really your best tool here).  Roll mixture into balls (ping-pong ball size, roughly) and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil, about an inch apart.

Bake 20 minutes, or until browned.

These can be made a day or two in advance and then just kept refrigerated until the big day.  Putting this together was a snap.

Meatball Tortellini Soup

1 1/2 quarts GOOD QUALITY chicken stock (using homemade makes all the difference here)
1 recipe sun-dried tomato meatballs (see above)
1 package cheese filled tortellini, cooked to package instructions (I think I used cheese and roasted garlic because, really, can you EVER have too much garlic???)
3 - 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried
Optional garnishes:  Shaved parmesan and Black Pepper Biscotti

Pour chicken stock into a large soup pot and turn heat to medium.  Add meatballs.  When stock is heated through, add tortellini.

To serve, place a handful of spinach leaves at the bottom of a bowl, ladle soup on top and add garnishes.

How easy is that??

Light but filling at the same time.  I will have to say that it was a good thing we had so much baking ahead of us, or we would have all opted for a nap.

Even the penguins were tired.

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