Fantasy Football Draft/Dinner Party

Last night Ken held his Fantasy Football live draft party.  We’ve got 10 people playing this year and yes, he even lets the girls play!

It all started about a week ago, we had a chores list on our “fridge board” and knocked it out.  Then we rearranged some furniture so everyone will have a place to sit.  Ken got an app for his iPhone called Epicurious that helps you find recipes for what type of event and meal you’re planning.

I had to work 9-5 yesterday and Ken was awesome – he got the last minute cleaning done and bought groceries (I did made him a grocery list the night before)!

When I got home, I had two (then three) awesome sous chefs – Ann, Vickie, and Elyse helped me pull all of our wonderful recipe ideas together.  And Ken and the guys grilled outside.

Our Menu: Grilled chicken or steak, Potato & Mozzarella cakes, Bacon-wrapped pineapple, Veggies w/ homemade dip, Pita/tortilla chips w/ humus, and Parmesan wafers. (Lucee had cheese puffs)

We only had a few mishaps: 1) when making the Parmesan wafers, Elyse sprayed the pan under the wax paper, but didn’t spray the wax paper under the cheese.  Thus the wafers had wax paper on the bottom of them.  2) when we put the Parmesan wafers in the oven, we forgot to turn the oven back off of Broil (which is how we cooked the bacon-wrapped pineapple), so the wafers didn’t burn, but the wax paper did – smoke alarm #1.  3) We put the bacon-wrapped pineapple back in the oven to crisp up the bacon, I was using an old oven mitt that I bought when I first started living by myself (it was about 6 years old and lived in 4 different places).  Needless to say, it didn’t protect me from a 500 degree pan – smoke alarm #2.

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All in all, it was a very successful night – good food, good entertainment, and good football with some great friends (even Matthew on the web cam got to party with us).  Lucee decided to flirt with Moose after Elyse left.

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And because our menu was so successful (even with the mishaps), below are the recipes we used:

Potato & Mozzarella Cakes

  • 3 pounds large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper or Cajun seasoning (optional)
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small jar store bought pesto sauce

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Bake the potatoes right on an oven rack until a bit overcooked, about 1 hour. Let sit until cool enough to handle, cut in half, and scoop out the flesh. Reserve the potato skins, if desired, for another use. (We baked the potatoes in the microwave for 20 minutes – poke and wrap each one in a wet paper towel and put in a microwave safe bowl.)

Lower the oven to 250 degrees F.

Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer or grate them on the large holes of a box grater. You should have about 6 cups. Season the potatoes with the salt and pepper, and then divide them into 16 equal balls. Press each ball into a patty about 1/3-inch thick. (Didn’t have a ricer so we made them like mashed potatoes).

Cut half of the cheese into 1/4-inch pieces. Place a piece of cheese in the middle of each of 8 patties. Cover with the remaining patties. Shape the patties into smooth disks. Lightly dust the patties on both sides with flour. (Potato patties can be made ahead and covered and refrigerated up to 1 day before cooking.)

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Place 4 patties in the skillet. When you hear the patties sizzle, lower the heat to medium. Cook until brown and crispy on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes total, turning once. If the potatoes absorb all the oil, add another tablespoon or 2 of oil to the skillet and cook the remaining 4 patties.

In a microwave-safe bowl, warm the pesto in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until warm throughout. Grate the remaining mozzarella. (Don’t like pesto, that’s why I suggest adding red pepper or Cajun seasoning to add the spice)

To serve: Sprinkle each potato cake with grated mozzarella and place in a 250 degrees F oven until the cheese is melted. Spoon pesto on top of each cake and serve immediately.

Cumin Parmesan Crisps

  • 2 cups coarsely grated  fresh Parmesan cheese (about 6 ounces – Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds or fennel seeds, finely crushed or ground (we used cumin powder – a 1:1 ratio)
  • Nonstick spray

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.  Mix cheese and cumin in medium bowl. Scoop 2 tablespoons of cheese and sprinkle into a mound on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper (spray the wax paper first).  Flatten into a 4 inch rounds. Bake for 2-3 minutes or until light golden and bubbling.  Place on wire rack to cool for 2 minutes, then remove with a metal spatula.

Garlicky Cheese Dip

  • 1 cup whole-milk cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 hard-boiled large egg, forced through a medium-mesh sieve (we skipped this part)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Rumaki (but not really)

  • 12 strips of bacon, halved lengthwise
  • 24 chunks of fresh pineapple
  • 24 toothpicks

Place piece of pineapple in center of each bacon strip, wrap, and secure with toothpick.

Place on broiler pan or shallow baking pan and broil, about 5-6 inches from heat. Broil until bacon is crisp 10-15 minutes.  Alternatively, back in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Note: the bacon grease and the pineapple juice accumulate in the pan so a broiler pan is preferred.  We ended up baking them the first time then turning them on their sides and baking again so the bottoms wouldn’t be soggy

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