Do you ever entertain at lunchtime? Every once in a while, it is fun to ask friends over for a special lunch on a weekend. There are so many good things you can make for this meal while keeping it simple, delicious and mostly made ahead to allow you time with your friends.Finish the lunch menu with a platter of delicious fruit and that is all you really need.
Mini Carrot Muffins
Make these muffins well in advance and keep in the freezer. Heat in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes before serving.
1/1/2 cups all-purpose
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shredded carrots
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons low-fat or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place the beaten egg, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, oil and butter in a large mixing bowl. Combine thoroughly.
In a large measuring cup or medium mixing bowl combine flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.
Add to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in carrots and pecans.
Divide batter evenly among 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. A cookie scoop works well for this.
Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.cool five minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Tomatoes Stuffed With Shrimp Salad
The shrimp salad can be prepared the day before you are having lunch. Cook the shrimp and place in a covered container. Make the dressing and store it in the refrigerator. The next morning, combine the shrimp and dressing and store in the refrigerator until is time to serve. Then fill the tomatoes just before serving.
1 pound large shrimp (21-25)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon good white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel, remove the tails and devein the shrimp.
Place them in a baking dish with the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss together.
Spread the shrimp out in one layer and roast for 6 to 8 minutes, just until pink, firm and cooked through. Allow to cool for 3 minutes.
To make the dressing.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
When the shrimp are cool, add them to the dressing and toss. Add the dill, capers, and vegetables and toss well.
Cover and chill until serving time.
Hollow out the tomatoes and fill with the shrimp salad and serve.
Summertime Corn Chowder
The chowder can be made weeks in advance and defrosted overnight. I keep several soups in the freezer for just such occasions.
For the corn stock ingredients
12 corn cobs (corn kernels removed and set aside for the chowder)
2 chive stalks
2 stems fresh parsley
2 stems fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Put corn cobs, chives, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and cold water to cover in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 1 1⁄2 hours. Strain, discard the solids and measure the broth.
If you do not have 6 cups add water to make the 6 cups. Set aside the broth.
For the chowder ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 carrots, diced
1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup half-and-half or evaporated canned milk
6 cups corn stock or vegetable broth if you don’t make the corn stock
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Grated cheddar cheese, chopped chives or crumbled bacon, for garnish
Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot.
Add the leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper, jalapeno and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.
Add 3 cups of the corn, the 6 cups corn stock, chili powder and the thyme.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour. Remove the thyme branches.
Take the pot off the heat and puree the contents with an immersion blender.
Add the half and half, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining 3 cups of corn.
Return the pot to the heat and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes.