Strawberries w/ Chocolate Dip & Orange Dip: Color the Buffet

What can be easier to prepare for the buffet table than wicker baskets lined with lettuce, full of strawberries? Add a side of dipping sauce for a stress-free appetizer. Serve fruit dips in stemmed glasses for extra elegance.

The cream cheese fruit dip with orange goes well with the strawberries, and the chocolate sauce is always a favorite. The dips can be made conveniently a day ahead of time. Use about 2 pints of strawberries for each dip. Each dip serves 10-15.

Easy Chocolate Dip in stemmed glass, w/ Strawberries in basket

Chocolate Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 1 TBS. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla

PREPARATION

1. Microwave 1 minute or so, until hot: > 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

2. Add and stir until melted: > 1 c. chocolate chips > 1 TBS. honey > 1/4 tsp. vanilla

3. Serve dip with fresh fruits. Use bananas and other fruits too, but add lemon to such fruits to keep them from turning brown.

Sun-Kissed Fruit Dip

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room-temperature
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 3 TBS. frozen orange juice concentrate
  • Optional: 2 TBS. sugar

PREPARATION

1. Whip until light: > 8 oz. cream cheese, room-temperature (warm in microwave at half-power, if necessary)

2. To the whipped cream cheese, add: > 1 tsp. orange zest (the gratings of about 1 orange) > 3 TBS. frozen orange juice concentrate > Optional: 2 TBS. sugar

3. This dip is not all too sweet, but is a good contrast to the chocolate, which goes very well with it. Ideally, start with sweet, quality strawberries; a great combination.

Quick Chicken Alfredo

“Leftovers”? Put to Work, and Awesome!

This popular Italian pasta dish, with its creamy base and fresh garlic flavor, can utilize “leftover” chicken. Delicious!

While “Fettucine Alfredo” is most traditional, we use rotelle pasta at The New Deli, which cooks up easily (it’s less likely to stick together). Our version is also lighter than most renditions; if you’re looking for an “Olive Garden” style pasta dish, just add a package of cream cheese to this recipe, cut up in small pieces.

When cooking fettucine, stir often, as the flat sides of the noodles like to stick together if unattended. Add steamed broccoli and other favorites to this dish for variety; peas are a traditional component. Serves 2-4 or so.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz. pasta, dry (fettucine or other)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • fresh grated black pepper
  • 1-2 c. cooked chicken
  • 1-2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. cream (or butter from grass-fed cows)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 c. Parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. fresh chopped parsley
  • Optional: Peas, broccoli, or other veggies

PREPARATION

1. To a pot of boiling water, add: > 8 oz. dry pasta (your choice, although Fettucini noodles are tradtional)

2. Stir pasta and continue cooking on lower heat, 15 minutes or according to directions. (Different pastas cook in different lengths of time.) Meanwhile, into a ceramic bowl, add: > 1-2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic > 1/2 c. virgin olive oil > 1/2 c. cream (or butter from grass-fed cows) > 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (or to taste) > salt to taste > fresh grated black pepper > cooked pasta

3. Microwave the ceramic bowl of ingredients for 3 minutes or so, until heated and garlic is fragrant. This mixture can also be heated in the oven first. To the heated ingredients, add and toss again: > 1-2 c. cooked chicken, in chunks > 1 c. parmesan > 2 eggs > fresh chopped parsley > Optional: Veggies of choice, cooked (or frozen peas, heated in pasta just until warm)

4. This recipe can be used for leftover pasta and/or chicken, making an even quicker meal.

Cold Pasta Salad Recipe with Angel Hair Pasta & Mushrooms

It’s really easy to marinate mushrooms. Use a zip-lock bag, adding a bit of oil to coat the mushrooms. Add a touch of soy sauce, vinegar, and seasoning to that, letting them marinate for a few hours (or even a day). Throw ’em on the grill for even more flavor.

Leave the Parmesan out, for a vegan dish. Serves 4 as a side, or 2 for main dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 oz. raw mushrooms
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 TBS. plus 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1/2 TBS. plus 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 TBS. fresh, chopped garlic
  • 1 TBS. fresh, chopped thyme and oregano (OR substitute 1/2 TBS. dry Italian herb blend)
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

PREPARATION

1. At least an hour ahead of time or up to 2 days earlier, toss well until oil’s absorbed: > 12 oz. raw mushrooms > 1/4 c. olive oil

2. After tossing with the oil, add the following, stirring some: > 1/2 TBS. each soy sauce and balsamic vinegar

3. Let the above marinate, refrigerating if doing this the day before. On serving day, grill in iron pan (or on barbeque) until golden-browned, stirring as needed: > Marinated mushrooms, sliced (or leave whole if barbequing)

4. Cook in boiling, salted water, stirring often, until tender (about 6-7 min.): > 8 oz. angel hair pasta

5. Drain and cool the cooked pasta. When mushrooms have browned, remove from pan, tossing with cooled pasta and a sprinkling of olive oil (to keep the pasta from clumping together). Next, grill in the same pan, drizzled w/olive oil: > 1 red bell pepper, diced

6. When red pepper is grilled, turn heat off, and add to pan: > 1 TBS. fresh, chopped garlic > 1 TBS. fresh, chopped thyme and oregano (OR substitute 1/2 TBS. dry Italian herb blend)

7. Stir the garlic and herbs, letting them “steep” in the warm pan for 5 min. or more. Also, reduce the following in a pot until slightly syrupy but not burned, boiling for about 5 min. (watch closely near end): > 1/2 c. soy sauce > 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

8. Toss the cooked pasta and mushrooms with the red pepper mix, adding: > The reduced soy sauce-mix

9. Serve at room-temperature or heated up, topped with parmesan cheese if you like. Most of this recipe can be done in steps ahead of time. A great cold pasta salad recipe, although it can also be reheated in the microwave or oven.