Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sunshine and Mason Jar pies

I have been given the great opportunity to organize monthly activities for the ladies at church. We have a different theme every month and May was "Sunshine in Your Soul." We decided to do a dinner outside in a lovely backyard (not mine) where people could sit, relax and get to know one another. I love these nights because I can actually have a full conversation without anyone interrupting, pulling on my leg or yelling "I have to go pee!" Anyway, I digress. So it was a cool, spring evening with yummy food and great conversation and I thought I would share some of the highlights!

I am so in love with these striped paper straws. I got mine here. So stinking cute! And the paper doesn't come apart when you drink out of them! We had lemonade in mason jars but I apparently was too busy conversating to take a picture of those.
 I created conversation cards - taken from the great game Table Topics- for the ladies to ask each other. Some of the questions included "what historical time period would you like to visit?" "what was your favorite childhood meal" and my personal favorite "what was the most ridiculous but very cool fashion trend you followed?"

The favors were yellow tulip cakes (thanks Little Debbie!) tied with tags that said "spread sunshine."
 The highlight of the night for me was sharing these adorable pies in mason jars. Every woman had one at her place setting - either apple pie or mixed berry. I saw the idea here on Paiges of Style and knew I had to do it! Paige shared a mixed berry recipe so I will share how I made the apple pies.
Makes 8 pies
8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter, chopped
2 pie crusts (store bought or your own)
Half pint wide mouth jars found here

Peel and chop your apples very small. They will not cook well if they are too large. Put them in a bowl and pour the lemon juice on them.
 Mix the sugars, nutmeg, cinnamon and flour in a separate bowl.
 Pour the dry ingredient mixture on the apples and mix well.
 Fill the mason jars with the apples. Go all the way to the top - the apples will settle as they cook. Place a couple of tabs of butter on top of the apples.
 Roll out your pie crusts and use the rim of lid cut out the crusts. Place each crust on top of the apples and push into the sides with a fork. Pierce the top of the crusts with a knife to allow for ventilation. Sprinkle some sugar on top if you like!
 Place the jars on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 45 minutes, rotating once. LOVE how wonderful your house smells and just try to keep your husband from stealing one :)
 Mixed berry
Let the pies cool completely. Then you can make them even cuter with fabric squares under the rims or you could tie ribbon and attach a tag. These were a big hit with the ladies and would make great gifts for teachers, new neighbors or around the holidays. Don't forget the ice cream!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chicken Spinach Lasagna

Do you need a new recipe to add to your weekday repetoire? Do you have a gazillion friends having babies and want to bring them a good meal? My college friend Amy, shared this great recipe for Chicken Spinach Lasagna. Some of the ingredients don't seem like they should go together i.e the soy sauce and nutmeg but it is DELISH! I promise your family or whoever you make it for will ask for more!
Chicken spinach lasagna
8-10 lasagna noodles (DO NOT use the no bake)
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and drained completely (I usually wrap it up in a dish towel and ring it out)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tblsp. soy sauce
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. sour cream
4 1/2 ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
Cook lasagna noodles.  Combine spinach, chicken and all other ingredients except Parmesan cheese.  Grease 9X12 casserole.  Layer noodles and chicken mixture, making 3 layers.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake covered in 350 degree oven for 50 minutes, uncovered 10 minutes.
Start by boiling your noodles. Yes, you have to boil the noodles. You cannot use the no-bake noodles because the lasagna does not have enough "juice" to cook the noodles.
Then on to wringing out the spinach. I really don't like this part. I defrost it in the microwave and then wrap it in a towel and wring it out. If you have a better way, please let me know.
 Combine the spinach, chicken, cheese, onion, nutmeg, soy sauce, mayo, mushroom soup, sour cream and mushrooms together. It will look delectable, like this:
 Spread a layer of the chicken spinach mixture in the baking dish.
 Layer the cooked noodles on top. Repeat these steps until you run out.
 Finish with the chicken mixture on top. Sprinkle on the parmesan. I didn't have any parmesan so I used mozzerella- just as yummy! Bake it covered at 350 for 50 minutes and then uncovered for another 10 minutes.
 I made two- one for us and one for a new mom. My advice is to always bring food in a disposable container because although the new mom is so thankful for the meal, it is a big ole pain in the butt to track you down to return your pyrex!