Archives for Engagement Party Food

2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 10-ounce box couscous

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (generous) grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 15- to 16-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
2/3 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup minced green onions
Fresh cilantro sprigs

Bring 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan. Add couscous; stir 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Transfer to large bowl to cool.
Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, and cardamom to blend in small bowl. Drizzle over couscous. Mix in garbanzo beans, dates, almonds, minced cilantro, and green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Serves 4.

Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 cups lentils
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 orange, red, or yellow (or a mix) bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dices
4 scallions, thinly sliced


In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook lentils until crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water to stop further cooking, and drain again.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, mustard, and tarragon. Add drained lentils, bell peppers, and scallions; season well with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

This is from Cook’s Illustrated which is why is has so many steps, but we made this for our house warming party and it was a hit. We used the no boiling lasagna noodles from Trader Joe’s that were actually pretty good

1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pound eggplants (about 2 small), cut into 1/2-inch dice
5 tablespoons olive oil , divided
6 cloves garlic , minced (divided)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley leaves
Salt and pepper
15 no-boil lasagna noodles (dried, 7-by-3 1/2-inch)
1 pound mozzarella cheese , shredded (about 4 cups)
5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 cup)
Cooking spray for foil

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle postions and heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss zucchini and eggplant with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 4 minced garlic cloves, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread out vegetables on 2 greased baking sheets; roast, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Set vegetables aside.

2. Heat remaining oil and garlic in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil or parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into large measuring cup. Add enough water to make 3 1/2 cups.

3. Spread 1/2 cup sauce evenly over bottom of greased 13-by-9-inch lasagne pan. Lay three noodles crosswise over sauce, making sure they do not touch each other or sides of pan. Spread 3/4 cup prepared vegetables evenly over noodles, 1/2 cup sauce evenly over vegetables, and 3/4 cup mozzarella and 2 generous tablespoons Parmesan evenly over sauce.

Repeat layering of noodles, vegetables, sauce, and cheeses three more times. For fifth and final layer, lay final three noodles crosswise over previous layer and top with with remaining 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 cup mozzarella, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. (Can be wrapped with plastic and aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, defrost in refrigerator).

4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Cover pan with large sheet foil greased with cooking spray. Bake 25 minutes (30 minutes if chilled); remove foil and continue baking until top turns golden brown in spots, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let lasagne rest 5 minutes. Cut and serve immediately.

We knew that no-boil noodles would save time, but we weren’t sure of the best way to handle them in our quick vegetable lasagna recipe. We learned that one secret to cooking successfully with no-boil noodles is to leave your tomato sauce a little watery. The noodles can then absorb water without drying out the dish overall. Another is to cover the lasagna with foil for part of the cooking time, thereby preventing the loss of moisture. But we found out that it was important in our quick vegetable lasagna recipe to control the amount of moisture added by the vegetables by precooking (either sautéing or roasting) them, which had the added advantage of boosting the flavor of the finished lasagna as well. (less)
Smoked mozzarella, Gruyère, or Fontina can be substituted for the mozzarella and Pecorino Romano for the Parmesan. Also, three and one-half cups of your favorite prepared tomato sauce can be substituted for the sauce in this recipe. Because no-boil noodles come twelve to sixteen in a box, we suggest buying two boxes to ensure that you’ll have the fifteen required for this lasagne.

Adapted from The Grrl Genius Guide to Life: A 12-Step Program on How to Become a Grrl Genius, According to Me! by Cathryn Michon.

Serves Enough


  • 2 (or some) boiled white potatoes
  • 2 (or some) boiled red potatoes
  • 2 (or some) boiled purple potatoes
  • 2 (or some) boiled Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 (or some) boiled sweet potatoes
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 each red, yellow, purple, green, and orange bell peppers, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons rough-cut Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup diced parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Chop the potatoes and the hard-boiled eggs and put in an enormous bowl with the diced peppers and onion.
  2. In a less-enormous bowl mix up all the other ingredients.
  3. Dump the less enormous bowl into the more enormous bowl and toss gaily. Salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Delicious if you eat it now, even better tomorrow.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 2 small Belgian endives
  • Thin crackers, for serving


  1. Bring water, wine, 1 teaspoon salt, and the bay leaf to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add half the shrimp, and cook until opaque, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a plate, and let cool. Repeat with remaining shrimp. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  3. Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified.
  4. Whisk in creme fraiche. Fold in shallot, chives, and shrimp.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and up to 4 hours).
  6. Just before serving, separate endive leaves, and thinly slice crosswise. Fold endive into shrimp mixture. Serve on crackers.

Serves 8.

If you plan to serve the chicken later on the same day that you cook it, refrigerate it immediately after it has cooled, then let it come back to room temperature before serving. On the breast pieces, we use toothpicks to secure the skin, which otherwise shrinks considerably in the oven, leaving the meat exposed and prone to drying out. We think the extra effort is justified, but you can omit this step. This recipe halves easily.


  • 5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks, or a mix with breasts cut into 3 pieces or halved if small), trimmed of excess fat and skin
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Following illustrations below, use sharp knife to make 2 or 3 short slashes in skin of each piece of chicken, taking care not to cut into meat.
  2. Combine salt, sugar, and spices in small bowl and mix thoroughly. Coat chicken pieces with spices, gently lifting skin to distribute spice rub underneath but leaving it attached to chicken.
  3. Transfer chicken skin side up to wire rack set over rimmed foil-lined baking sheet, lightly tent with foil, and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours.
  4. Secure skin of each breast piece with 2 or 3 toothpicks placed near edges of skin.
  5. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees.
  6. Roast chicken until thickest part of smallest piece registers 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees and continue roasting until chicken is browned and crisp and thickest parts of breast pieces register 160 degrees, 5 to 8 minutes longer, removing pieces from oven and transferring to clean wire rack as they finish cooking.
  8. Continue to roast thighs and/or drumsticks, if using, until thickest part of meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, about 5 minutes longer.
  9. Remove from oven; transfer chicken to rack and let cool completely before refrigerating or serving.

Getting Chicken into Make-Ahead Shape:

When chicken is eaten at room temperature or cooler, a fowl’s usual flaws become magnified. For this recipe, we found that a modicum of extra prep work kept the flavor, texture, and appearance from suffering.

SCORE: Scoring the skin (but not the meat) provided outlets for melting fat, yielding more fully rendered, paper-thin skin.

RUB: Applying a salty spice rub both on the skin and beneath it ensured that neither exterior nor interior came out bland.

CHILL OUT: Air-drying the rubbed parts on a rack in the refrigerator overnight gave the flavors time to penetrate while also drying out the skin.

PIN DOWN: Securing the skin with toothpicks just before roasting kept the skin from shrinking up into an unattractive bundle.