by Jolene Lamb, coordinator, Culinary Institute, Lincoln Land Community College
We often celebrate birthdays, graduations and weddings with food, family and friends. Those celebrations are being observed quite differently lately, if at all. People are getting creative and making the best of a not so ideal situation. Drive by birthday celebrations and virtual recognition videos have replaced the usual gatherings.
A couple recently got married in their yard and danced in the street, celebrating with neighbors watching from a distance. We are finding ways to connect and celebrate while staying apart. Food can still be included, although making party appetizers or baking a cake for just a few people instead of a crowd can be quite different. Many recipes can be adjusted to make a small amount. Here are a few recipes I recently shared with a friend. She is planning a graduation party for three and asked me for some fun bite sized foods. Enjoy!
Chocolate Covered Cheese
Yes, you read that right. No, it isn’t gross! Many cheeses pair well with sweet fruit and sweet wines, so it isn’t that far of a stretch. I know people who enjoy apple pie with a slice of cheddar. I tasted a fantastic fudge, and the recipe contained Velveeta!
8 ounce block of a good quality aged cheddar
8 ounces good quality 70% dark chocolate, chopped
Course sea salt
Cut cheese into 1 inch cubes and set aside. In a small glass bowl, melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals. Heat for 30 seconds, stir, repeat for another 30 seconds and stir until chocolate is melted. Pierce cheese with a toothpick and dip into melted chocolate, let excess chocolate drip off. Place on a parchment covered tray and sprinkle with a few flakes of salt. Place tray in refrigerator to chill and set chocolate. Remove from fridge about 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Bites
Makes 18 bites
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large sweet potato (about ½ -3/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounce bacon strips, halved
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 ounce maple syrup, warmed
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix butter and seasonings. Add sweet potatoes and toss to coat.
Wrap one piece bacon around each sweet potato cube; secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place on a parchment-lined 15x10x1-in. baking pan.
Bake until bacon is crisp and sweet potato is tender, 40-45 minutes. Serve with maple syrup.
Yield: 1 cup
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
1/4 cup finely chopped peeled avocado
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice =
2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Chips for serving
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; toss gently. Serve immediately.
Mini Lettuce Wraps
Makes 8 appetizer servings
8 asparagus spears
4 ounce package cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon parsley
1/8 teaspoon dried dill
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
8 thin slices deli roast beef
1 red bell pepper, cut into 16 strips
8 fresh chives or green onion (green part only)
Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut asparagus tips into 3 1/2-inch pieces, reserving any remaining end portions for another use.
Cook asparagus in boiling water to cover 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Mix cream cheese and spice together. Spoon cheese into a piping bag, or 1-qt. zip-top plastic freezer bag. (Do not seal.) Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole, then pipe a dollop of cheese on center of each lettuce leaf.
Arrange 1 asparagus spear, and 2 red bell pepper strips in center of roast beef slice and roll up. Place rolled beef in each cheese filled lettuce leaf.
Wrap sides of lettuce around roast beef and vegetables, and tie bundles with chives or green onion. Serve chilled.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Learning Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu.
Cooking or food questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.