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NewsTribune photo/Shannon Crawley-Serpette Connie Eattoni of rural Hennepin slices bananas to put at the bottom of a modified Dream Whip pie she is making. Eattoni likes to stray from the basic recipe for the pie by looking for ways to jazz it up.
RURAL HENNEPIN — Many hosts scramble on the day of a party to finish preparing everything before the guests arrive. Things aren’t quite as stressful at Connie Eattoni’s rural Hennepin home on the day she has a party. “Here’s the key to throwing a party: Do all your prep work ahead of time,” she said. “I sit down weeks in advance and start to plan my menu.” She makes sure she has all the ingredients handy long before the big day. She chops any vegetables she needs before the day of the party. Desserts usually are made ahead of time so she can concentrate on other tasks. Her house is cleaned before the day of the party. “The more you can do ahead of time, the better,” she said. While still in the planning stages, Eattoni considers everything — the theme of the party, the main course, which colors go together and what flavors will complement each other. Presentation of the food is almost as important to Eattoni as the actual food is. “I like it to look pretty,” she said. She acknowledges that her friends tell her she goes overboard and plans too early. “But this is what I like to do,” she said. “I do drive my girlfriends nuts. I know I do.” Having people who will help you is another key to successfully party hosting. “I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of what I do without my friends and family. They make me look successful. They help me,” she said. Eattoni said she usually makes too much food for a party, but she’d rather have too much than not enough. “I don’t want anyone to go home hungry,” she said. “It’s my way of showing that I love you and you are welcomed into my home.” Eattoni has loved cooking and entertaining since she was little. “I’ve always had an interest in cooking, even when I was dating my husband,” she said. “I always wanted to throw little get-togethers.” Most of the recipes she tries are out of cookbooks, but she changes them until they suit her. “I kind of make them my own,” she said. For instance, her go-to dessert for parties in the past has been Dream Whip pies. But she isn’t content to simply follow the recipe. She finds ways to make the desserts extra special. When making a banana cream pie, she covers the crust with banana slices before folding in the pudding filling. Then she’ll make homemade whipped cream to cover it. “I’ve learned so much through the years. I’m not a gourmet cook. I cook simple, but the taste is really good,” she said. Her daughter, Angie Eattoni, who lives at home, said her mom loves experimenting in the kitchen and presenting new recipes to the family. “She always tries really hard and it’s obvious,” she said. Shannon Crawley-Serpette can be reached at (309)364-2268 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOT CORN DIP 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers with adobe sauce (small diced and liquid) 1 small can green chilies (undrained) ½ cup mayo 2 cloves of garlic, crushed 11 ounces roasted fresh corn or canned 1 small tomato diced 2 tablespoons cilantro 3 tablespoons green onion, sliced 3 tablespoons red and green bell pepper diced Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together, except for tomato, green onion and cilantro. Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Then garnish with tomato, green onion and cilantro. Serve with tortillas.
WHITE BEAN AND FETA SPREAD 2 cups drained and rinsed white beans, smashed a little 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, optional 2 cloves garlic, diced 3 teaspoons chopped parsley Lemon juice to taste Olive oil to taste ½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes ¼ cup asiago cheese ½ cup feta cheese Mix all together and drizzle with a little olive oil. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley. Serve with baguette bread that has been toasted.
GREEN BEANS WITH GRUYERE AND MUSHROOMS Serves 16 3 pounds tender young green beans ¾ cup light olive oil ¼ cup white rice vinegar 2-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard Chopped Italian parsley to taste Salt and pepper to taste ½ pound Gruyere, coarsely grated ½ pound white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced Blanch and chill beans. Mix the vinaigrette, using the olive oil, rice vinegar, Dijon mustard, Italian parsley and salt and pepper. Whisk or shake the vinaigrette until creamy. Toss the beans with the vinaigrette until completely coated. Toss in the cheese and mushrooms.
DREAM PIE 2 envelopes Dream Whip whipped topping mix 2¾ cups cold milk, divided 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 packs (four serving size) Jello instant pudding and pie filling, any flavor 1 baked pastry shell or graham cracker crust Beat whipped topping mixes, one cup of the milk and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed for six minutes or until topping thickens and forms peaks. Add remaining 1¾ cup milk and pudding mixes. Beat on low speed. Beat on high speed two minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Spoon into pastry shell. Top with homemade whip cream. Refrigerate at least four hours.
ITALIAN BEEF SANDWICHES 2 tablespoons kosher salt 1 tablespoons dried oregano 2 teaspoons dried thyme 4 pounds boneless rump roast or chuck 2 cups beef broth 6 tablespoons olive oil 4 medium onions, sliced thin 6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled 4 stalks celery, sliced ½ inch thick 4 bell peppers, green and red, sliced ¼ inch thick 6 hot pickled cherry peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped 16 (6 inch) sub rolls Mix the salt, 2 teaspoons of the oregano, thyme and rub the spices into the meat. Mix broth, one sliced onion and garlic. Pour it over meat and marinate in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put roast in pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil, along with the marinade. Roast uncovered. Turn the meat over one time during cooking. Cook until meat is tender and still has some pink in the middle, about 1½ hours. Remove the meat from the pan and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Reserve the cooking juices in pan. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet. Add remaining onions, celery, peppers, a little salt and the rest of the dried oregano. Sauté until tender crisp, about eight minutes. Slice the meat against the grain as thin as you can. When peppers are tender, add the sliced beef along with all the juices and heat for 4 minutes or so. Toast sub rolls and serve as sandwiches.
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