Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunday Celebration - Ellie and Larr - A Casual Dinner Party

On Sunday, March 9th we had a family birthday party for Larr and Ellie as it was Larr's actual birthday. It was a glorious day;it was a bit of a preview of things to come. It was so warm that some of us who worked in the yard got just a tad sunburned and we were warm enough to wear t-shirts and shorts.

For Christmas Grandpa Don bought us a new grill and I was excited to use it. We purchased a Stok Quatro and my, is it ever nice. I made a coconut cream pie; a pasta, cheese and grilled veggie salad; and hamburgers. We also had cream soda in glass bottles, sparkling lemonade and tangerinade.

Ellie and Kohlton went swimming at a recreation center that has a climbing wall and rope swing as part of the swimming area. Larr did the driving and relaxed a bit. The new grill has sections where the grill itself can be removed and a grilling basket can go in its place. I use it to grill yellow, orange and red peppers, carrots, broccolli, and tiny grape tomatoes that had been tossed with olive oil. I added them to cooked pasta, a few herbs and fresh mozzarella balls that I had sliced into bite-size pieces. Just before serving it I tossed in a small bit of balsamic vinegar and a little more olive oil. It was an easy and popular dish.

As I already mentioned, I also made a coconut cream pie. I've included the recipes below.

We ate dinner in the back yard and moved inside once it became too cold. They opened presents, visited and stuffed some of the LED light things in their noses - such silly kids.

Coconut Cream Pie

1 1/2 cup Coconut Cream (1 large can)
1 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
3 Egg Yolks (in addition to the ones above)
3/4 cup Sugar
1 tea. Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup Corn Starch (dissolved in a small bit of cold water)
1 cup Coconut, shredded & sweetened

1 Pie Shell, baked and cooled
1 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream, whipped until soft peaks form, add a small bit of sugar (1/2 cup or so, to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake it, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Be sure to watch it closely as it burned quickly.

In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut cream, heavy whipping cream, eggs, sugar,and mix well. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly using a wooden spoon and stirring in one direction only. This can be a slow process, so be prepared to be patient. Just as it begins to boil, turn off the heat. Add in the corn starch and continue to stir until thickened. Turn the heat back on low, if needed.

Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the toasted coconut and the vanilla extract. Fill the pie crust with the custard. Reserve the remaining coconut to top the pie.

Top the custard with the whipped cream. Sprinkle the roasted coconut onto the top of the pie and chill until firm, about 4 hours.

Top with whipped topping and with the reserved coconut.

Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies and Fresh Mozzarella

Fun Pasta, cooked

Red, Yellow and/or Orange Peppers, cut into strips
2 crown Broccoli, trimmed into bite size pieces
1 cup Grape Tomatoes
Olive Oil

1-2 handfuls of Spinach, torn into bite size pieces
Fresh Mozzarella Balls, cut into bite size pieces
Kalamata Olives, pitted
Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat the grill.

Toss the peppers with olive oil to coat them. In another bowl toss the grape tomatoes and broccoli with more olive oil. Grill the peppers in a grilling basket. Once they begin getting soft and a bit caramelized. Place this back in the bowl. Add in the broccoli and tomatoes to grill them for a few minutes.

Add all of the grilled veggies to the cooked pasta. Add in the spinach, cheese and olives. Add a enough balsamic vinegar to coat the pasta salad lightly. Taste and adjust as needed. You may want to add salt and pepper.

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