Girls’ Night In!

Girls don’t really need a reason to hang out, just some besties, a willing host among them, and a sitter for the night!  And it doesn’t hurt if you all enjoy great food and drink.  Since I was hosting, I made the day all mine for the prepping.  This is going to sound crazy, but I was so excited to start making things that I couldn’t even sleep in.  I had multiple lists.  I know, nuts!  I kept thinking about the various permutations on the ideas I had that weren’t yet solidly formed.  Should I top the truffle pate with figs or pears?  Have I selected enough variety?  Do I need to make more cooked items?  Did I get enough bottles of champagne (apparently the answer is always “no”)?  But everything turned out great!!!

While I can’t write about everything I made this time since I kind of went overboard, here are a few of the yums from the evening’s array.  The crab stuffed mushrooms were the only thing that actually required cooking.  Start with some good-sized baby bellas, pop off the stem, and scoop out enough to make a nice bowl.

Drizzle some truffle oil on the shells.  Put some truffle oil in a sauté pan and add the chopped up mushroom guts, then use about 1/2 cup red wine to reduce and soften up for stuffing.

I usually just do this mushroom mix with cheese and spinach to stuff back into the caps, but for this special evening, I got some crabmeat.

Crabmeat is always great – especially when it’s already picked for you, but I wouldn’t turn down some good old do-it-yourself Maryland hard shells!  I’m not as fast a picker as I used to be, but I can hold my own.  Anyhoo, get the lump crab into a bowl and then add into the bowl the sautéed mushroom and wine mixture.  Add in a little bit of Panko just to hold things together.

Add in some cheese – really anything you like will be great, I had a balsamic infused cheddar and an aged cheddar, yes two different cheeses, but anything works.  Save a few cubes/slices/pieces of the cheese for topping the caps.

After stuffing the mix generously into the caps, put a little cheese on top to seal it off.

Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes til everything is nicely browned and the cheese is all gooey on top.

I felt terrible that none of these guys were left by the time my husband got home, but us girls devoured them!  Everything else I made was just assembly required, not cooking.  One of the best (and no-carb) foods to use for a canapé base that I’ve become fond of lately is the radish.  If you slice them up raw, they make a wonderful crispy crunchy and easy to pick up base for anything you want to put on them.

I decided to top them with an avocado mash (avocado, plain greek yogurt, and lemon juice) and gravlax (cured salmon with salt, pepper, and dill weed).

These delicious bites are so healthy and fresh and just feel good in your mouth.  All textures – crunchy, soft, tender, chewy – work great together.  I also put together some simple skewers of tomato, mozzarella, kalamata olive, and asparagus with a little truffle balsamic glaze drizzled on top.

These are so easy and look so pretty!! I love making things colorful.  Another easy and delicious appetizer that will literally make people who don’t like blue cheese change their minds (that happened this evening) is the blue cheese stuffed dates.  Cut the dates in half (my wonderfully understanding husband helped on this task, prior to him getting the hell away from the forthcoming madness of the ladies taking over the house!), take out the pits, stuff in blue cheese and top with pecans.  That’s it!

I promise you’ll have none of these left no matter how many of them you make!! People (myself included) just walk by and pop them into their mouths so casually because they are the perfect bite of sweetness, tang, cream, and crunch.  I’m big on textures and flavor interaction, in case you didn’t notice!  This was a great spread and a great evening.

My recycling bin hadn’t seen that many champagne and wine bottles in one night since our house warming party a few years ago, which had about 50 guests.  There were eight of us girls this evening.  Never underestimate the power of women to drink copious amounts of wine and champagne when they get together.  It’s a natural phenomenon kind of thing, which results in a rough morning after! #girlsnightin.

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