April 2011 Gourmet Night

Well now that it is the very end of May, I figure it is high time I give out a gourmet shout with an update from the gourmet girls.  Our last  post was in February!  Sheesh!  We've been quite busy - some more than others!  One marriage down and one to go (for now that is) ! We all enjoyed Lara & Loic's beautiful wedding on May 18 and can't wait for Lynley's & Todd's this Friday, June 3!  We skipped March  gourmet night due to the extensive travel schedules of a few of the gourmet girls.  And the evening of April 12 was a gourmet delight with all seven of us at Jodi's! We started off the evening with Sweet Potato and Beet Chips with Garlic Rosemary Salt by Andrea.  She put her deep fryer to work and these things were delish!  Lynley provided a simple yet classic salad, and the Butter Dip Breadsticks were by Lara.  Jodi was a fabulous hostess as usual and treated us to Gretchen's Super Stuffed Shells.  Yum!  Bridget's side-dish could pass for a double in the pictures, but was actually Scalloped Tomatoes from Barefoot Contessa "How Easy Is That?"  Raquel's "extra" was Resurrection Rolls, just in time for Easter!  And we polished off the night with two deserts by LS; "Creme Brule" - we do recommend investing in a torch rather than trying the "broil" option on your oven.  (We love you LS!)  And her Chocolate Chip Cookies were simply AMAZING!  Another gourmet success goes down in the books!

 Raquel, Bridget, LS & Lara
Lynley, Jodi & LS

 Bridget & Andrea

 LS practicing her modeling poses

 Jodi & Raquel
 Lara & Lynley enjoying their salads!

 Lynley is caught again!  Classic.

 Lynley's Christmas gifts in April!  Homemade Salsa!

Lynley's Caesar Salad

Lara added Parmesan cheese to the dough and sprinkled some on top.  She also added Italian herbs.

Resurrection Rolls
Raquel was "extra" this month and since Easter was just around the corner, she decided to make "Resurrection Rolls".  For some reason we didn't snap a picture, but they sure were yummy!

Frozen dough for dinner rolls (Raquel used Rhodes)
Marshmallows - regular size (large not small)
Melted Butter
Sugar and Cinnamon Mixture - about a 4:1 ration recommended

1. Thaw rolls - spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Arrange dough balls, leaving about 2 inches between each ball, and 16 per cookie sheet.  Spray some plastic wrap with non-stick spray and cover them as they thaw.  This will keep the dough from drying out and getting a hard crust.  About 1 1/2 - 2 hours for them to thaw.
2. Add Marshmallow - Before the dough rises, flatten it to a 3 inch diameter circle.  Place your marshmallow in the middle and pinch the dough closed around the marshmallow to completely cover it up.  Roll the dough ball in the palm of your hand to smooth out the closure and seal it.  
3. Roll dough covered marshmallow in butter (or brush it on).
4. Sprinkle on cinnamon & sugar mixture.  Or you can roll it on if you like them super flavorful, sweet & yummy.
5. Place them on a greased cookie sheet, cover them again with your non-stick coated plastic wrap and let them rise until they double in size.  This takes approximately 30-60 minutes depending on how warm the environment is.  and not to worry ... if they don't rise they'll still taste yummy.
6. Don't forget to pre-heat your oven during the last 1- minutes of your rising step.  When they are ready to bake, place them in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 
7. When they are done baking, remove them from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Gretchen's Super Stuffed Shells

1 pound jumbo shell pasta, or any large shell-shaped pasta
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
 1 pound mild sweet Italian sausage
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-oz cans Italian-style plum tomatoes, with juice
12 ounces tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons sugar
2 pounds fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 pounds grated whole milk mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Cook pasta shells in 8 quarts of water according to package directions.  Drain and place in cold water.
 In a large saucepan combine the beef, sausage (remove and discard casings), onions, fennel and garlic.  Brown meat over medium-high heat.  Drain off excess grease.  Add tomatoes, breaking them up slightly.  Add tomato paste, basil, oregano, dried parsley and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Let mixture simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
 Meanwhile, combine ricotta cheese, eggs, 1 tablespoon sugar and parsley in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.  Add 1 1/2 pounds mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly.  Set filling mixture aside.  Preheat oven to 350.
 Spread a small amount of sauce over bottom of an 11x14 inch shallow baking dish . Fill the pasta shells generously with the filling mixture, place in pan and layer sauce over, reserving approximately 1 1/2 cups of the sauce to add later.
Bake shells for 30-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top with reserved sauce and remaining cheeses.  Return to the oven and continue baking approximately 5-10 minutes until cheese topping has melted.