Foodbuzz 24×24: The Best Things We Ever Ate

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Summer officially started last Monday. However, being in Louisiana, we’ve been feeling summer-like weather since May. With the heat index hitting 110 degrees sometimes, we wanted to throw a summer party that was most definitely indoors!

I watch entirely too much Food Network. If it wasn’t for Food Network and reading food blogs, I’m fairly certain my husband and I would be living off of Hamburger Helper and take-out. One of my favorite shows lately has been The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Every show has a theme, and it features the cooks/hosts on Food Network and their favorite eats in that theme. So, when Foodbuzz emailed about this month’s 24×24 proposals, I figured it would be a fun party to feature the best things our families have eaten! Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this party! :)

To come up with the menu, I sent out an email to our families asking for their favorites in each category.

  • On the Grill (recipes that are done on the BBQ)
  • Dangerously Cheesy (major cheese in a dish)
  • No Utensils (finger foods/apps)
  • Keep it Comfy (comfort food)
  • Frozen Treats (any dessert from the freezer)
  • Mix it Up (a food that requires using a mixer—doesn’t have to be a sweet)
  • Louisiana’s Best (Louisiana food)
  • Cold and Colorful (like a salad or cold app with lots of veggies or fruit)
  • Under the Sea (favorite seafood dish)
  • Classic American (with 4th of July approaching, tell me a dish that screams American)

After getting many responses, here is the menu we came up with:

Drinks:
Strawberry Lemonade
Strawberry Daiquiris

Appetizers:
Cheese Fondue with Vegetables/Bread*
Bruschetta*
Boudin Balls

Entrees:
Steak Skewers with Chimichurri, Onion Cheese Sauce and Compound Butter*
Spicy BBQ Shrimp Skewers*

Sides:
Crawfish Fettuccine
Macaroni and Cheese
Vegetable Skewers*
Grilled Corn
Lettuce Greens with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Desserts:
Strawberry Cake*
Assorted Cupcakes
Cinnamon Crumb Apple Pie
Fresh Berries with Ice Cream

* recipes will be featured in the blog in future posts

I will admit, I’m still getting the hang of entertaining for a large number of people. Despite doing a lot of prep, I felt fairly stressed in the last hour. Since the party was for family, though, I had loads of help at the last minute. :) Whew!

The fondue was an absolute hit. I was nervous to make this myself, but this recipe came together beautifully! I served the fondue with day old po’boy bread, carrots and broccoli.

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We purchased the boudin balls at a local joint, since they are pretty much my husband’s favorite. The bruschetta was a lighter alternative to the other appetizers. I was super excited to use basil from our garden for this dish!

Appetizers

I need to thank the hubs for braving the sweltering disgusting heat to cook up this magic on the grill. The steak, especially was a real winner to family!

kabobs

We made 3 sauces available for people to dip/cover their skewers in: a chimichurri, onion blue cheese (not pictured) and a worchestershire chive butter. The chimichurri ended up being a huge hit (and I used parsley from the garden for it)!

Steak Butter/Chimichurri

Here is some lovely grilled corn that survived a few flare-ups on the grill. :)

Grilled Corn

Here is a semi-decent picture of the crawfish fettuccine before everyone digged in. The hubs’ parents made this dish and it was delicious. Perfect flavor with a little Louisiana kick!

Crawfish Fettucine

This is some macaroni and cheese that is my mother-in-law’s favorite. It was definitely pretty tasty (not to mention, cheesy). :)

Mac and Cheese

After enjoying some serious eats, we waited a good while before putting out desserts and just chatted, watched TV and played some games.

I will say the desserts were absolutely amazing.

Fresh berries (and ice cream, not pictured)

berries

Strawberry Cake (inspired by a local bakery). I would have just purchased one, but I had no idea an 8″ cake was over $30. What the heck?! I guess I’m just used to baking my own cakes to realize how expensive cakes have gotten!

Strawberry Cake

This was a welcomed surprise. A local cupcake bakery occasionally has giveaways on Twitter, and I won some cupcakes! They were seriously delish! Thank you Sweet Wishes Cafe!

Cupcakes

Here is the cinnamon crumb apple pie. This is one of those frozen pies you can find in the grocery store, but has quickly become a favorite with my hubs’ family.

apple pie

Of course, our puppy was very excited to get all of the attention she got at the party, and thanks to my mom, she tried a piece of steak for the first time. I think she enjoyed it. :)

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And of course, it wouldn’t be a party without family! Here are some pictures of our family.

Mom and Sis

family

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It was a great time to be had by everyone, especially in the milder indoors. Thank you so much to Foodbuzz again for the party! Everyone had a blast! :)

Crawfish Pies

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I absolutely love crawfish pie. Usually for a meal, it’s served as a regular pie in slices, but since the main course for the party was the actual boil, I decided to make mini hand pies. I made the filling the night before, allowing the flavors to meld in the fridge overnight. I definitely recommend doing this because the filling was firm to work with for making these pies, and also, the flavor was definitely awesome!

The only problem I have with this original recipe is that it calls for 1 cup of oil. This was WAY too much oil, in my opinion. I ended up spooning the oil/fat off of it and after measuring it, that was almost 1/2 cup of oil! My husband also pointed out that a roux is usually 1:1, which is essentially what you are making in the end to thicken the filling. So, next time, I’m using 1/2 cup of oil in the recipe!

Crawfish Pies
Adapted from John Folse

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound crawfish tails
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tasso ham, diced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 packs of refrigerated pie dough sheets

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a 10-inch saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and tasso ham. Saute 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted.
  3. Add crawfish and saute an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and using a wire whisk, stir constantly until white roux is achieved. Add tomato sauce and slowly add broth, a little at a time, until sauce consistency is achieved. (NOTE: You may not use all of the broth.)
  4. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cook 30 minutes. Season to taste using salt, pepper and Tabasco. Remove from heat and allow to cool, preferably overnight.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, combine egg, milk and water. Using a wire whisk, stir until all ingredients are well blended.
  6. Using the rim of a cup, cut the pie dough into circles. Place about 1 tsp. of filling center of each circle.
  7. Brush the edges of pastry with eggwash and fold over in a crescent shape. Crimp the edges closed with a fork and pierce the top of the pie to create vents for steam to escape during cooking. Brush eggwash over pies and bake until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.

Crawfish Cheesecake

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I remember when my husband took me out to this fine Italian restaurant, and we sampled some crab cheesecake as an appetizer. We were hesitant at first, but our waiter insisted that we’d love it. And, boy did we! It was so flavorful and delicious. :)

So, when I saw this recipe on Elizabeth’s Edible Experience, I knew I had to try it for myself!

This was a very rich dish. It would be great for an appetizer at a potluck or something similar to that. We spread the cheesecake on crackers and it was very yummy! I loved the flavor, and I hope to have the opportunity to make this again sometime soon!

Crawfish Cheesecake
Source: Chef John Folse (found on Elizabeth’s Edible Experience)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound crawfish tails, chopped
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 tbsps cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s seasoning
  • 2 tbsps minced onions
  • 2 tbsps minced celery
  • 2 tbsps minced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup sliced chives
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tbsps melted butter
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups crushed butter crackers (like Ritz)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, egg white and crackers. Press mixture into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake for 8 minutes to crisp.
  2. Remove from oven and cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 250°F.
  3. In a mixing bowl, blend cream cheese, sour cream, cornstarch, salt, seasoning, onions, celery, bell pepper and chives. Blend well, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add eggs and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl again. Fold in the chopped crawfish tails. Pour the batter over the cooled crust.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven for another hour without opening the door. Cool on a rack for at least 4 hours. Carefully unmold. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.