The Life of the Party

Bananas Foster 


Are you looking for a perfect dessert recipe for the holidays? Well I found one easy one for you…bananas foster. This classic and delicious dessert is a favorite amongst everyone. 

Who doesn’t like bananas and some rum?! Anyways, here’s the recipe below and the ingredients you’ll need. Most of them you should have at home as well. Enjoy! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup banana liqueur 
  • 1/4 cup dark rum 
  • Dash of 151 rum 
  • Dash of cinnamon 
  • 4 firm bananas, sliced 
  • Vanilla ice cream 

Steps to make the bananas foster: 

Melt the butter in a skillet. Stir in the brown sugar. Cook until melted and well blended. Add the banana liqueur, dark rum, 151 rum, cinnamon and bananas. Cook until the bananas are warm and softened; do not let bananas get mushy. 

Scoop the ice cream into dessert bowls and top with hot banana mixture. Serve immediately. 

The Life of the Party

Pina Colada Muffins 


Happy Saturday! Hope you all are enjoying your weekend. As we are approaching summertime, I thought what better snack to have around then pina colada muffins! Super easy to make and delicious. 

I know I’ll be bringing some to the pool with friends along with real pina coladas 😉 

Here is what you’ll need: 

1 (2 layer) package yellow cake mix

1 teaspoon coconut extract 

1 teaspoon rum flavoring

1 cup flaked coconut 

1 cup chopped nuts (macadamia or pecans) 

1 cup of drained pineapple 

Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions. Stir in the coconut extract, rum flavoring, coconut, nuts and pineapple; do not overmix. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 3/4 full. You can also bake it in mini muffin pans. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. 

Yield: 30 regular muffins or 8 dozen mini muffins 

The Life of the Party

White Truffle Mashed Potatoes


Good evening! A great way to end your weekend is with this amazing white truffle mashed potato recipe. It takes some time to make but is worth every minute of it. You can find this lovely recipe in the Junior League of Tampa’s Life of The Party cookbook, pg. 67. 

What you’ll need: 

2 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cubed 

1 cup of milk or half and half 

3 tablespoons of butter

Salt to taste 

Pepper to taste 

3 tablespoons of white truffle oil 

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water in a saucepan until tender and easily pierced with a fork; drain. Spoon into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk and butter. Beat until very smooth. You may add more milk if necessary for the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the truffle oil. Serve immedietly. 

To prepare in advance, spoon in a baking dish and let it cool. Chill, covered, until ready to bake. Add a small amount of additional milk. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through. Refrigerate after opening. 

Yields 8 servings 

This was my first time making these potatoes and I can’t wait to make them again! One mishap, I forgot to peel them but the recipe still turned out just as yummy. 

The Life of the Party

Double-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


Double-Chocolate Shortbread CookiesThe Life of the Party, Page 116

We don’t believe there is such a thing as too much chocolate, which is why we included these delectable cookies. As a part of a dessert tray or enjoyed with a cappuccino, they are a rich treat. They make a festive presentation when cut into shapes.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup baking cocoa

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon almond extract

¾ cup mini chocolate chips

  
Directions:

Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking cocoa and salt in a bowl. 

  
Beat the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the almond extract. 

  
Add the flour mixture and beat until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. 

  
Shape the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm. Roll out ¼ inch thick on a lightly floured surface. TIP: Instead of making everything a mess with flour, I use two pieces of saran wrap with the dough in the middle. Then, use the roller on top so the dough does not touch the roller and stick. Pell back the saran wrap when you’re ready to use the cookie cutters. 

  
Cut into rounds using a 2-inch round cookie cutter. Or use a festive shaped cookie cutter. Place about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until set and firm to the touch. Cool on wire racks. 

   
 Yield: 2 dozen

The Life of the Party

The Best Brownies


The Life of the Party, p.117

Looking for a delicious brownie recipe? Look no further because The Junior League of Tampa’s, The Life of the Party cookbook (p.117) has you covered. If you don’t own this cookbook, become friends with someone who does or go online and buy it! This recipe is quick, easy and doesn’t call for a lot of tricky ingredients. Other than the unsweetened chocolate, many of the ingredients are items you probably have on hand! The recipe also has options to modify the recipe. I enjoy the basic brownie recipe but if you want to have a caramel brownie or an espresso chocolate brownie, those are options too with this recipe.

Basic brownie batter:

31/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (baker’s chocolate)

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

For basic brownie batter, melt the chocolate (break into small pieces or squares) in a double broiler; cool. I use a metal bowl that fits into one of my sauce pans because I couldn’t find my double broiler and it worked perfectly. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and salt and beat on low until well blended. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans (optional). I just like some on top of the brownies, so again, this is an optional step. Spread the batter into a greased 8×8 inch baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons pecans on the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Because of the consistency of the brownie you may initially think it needs a lot more baking time- be careful increasing the time too much because it may over bake them.

Cool 1 hour before cutting. For the best flavor, serve the next day. Makes about 20 small brownies despite the recipe which indicates 2-3 dozen small brownies. If you bake in a larger pan you may yield more but be sure to watch your baking time if you are adjusting the pan size.

For directions on the caramel brownie or the espresso chocolate chunk brownies check out the cookbook.

   
    
    
   

The Life of the Party

Life of the Party’s Sassy Salsa


Life of the Party’s Sassy Salsa (p. 40)

We’ve all been there. You arrive to your friend’s football watch party/girls night gathering with a heaping pile of cookies….that no. one. touches. In this day and age, oftentimes the men are even trying to count their calories!

Take heart! The Junior League of Tampa has the cure all for appetizer agonies. Sassy Salsa!

It’s healthy, easy to make, and did we mention, delicious? Read on for the quick secret for ALWAYS going home with a cleaned-out casserole dish.

Most of the ingredients for Sassy Salsa are already likely stashed in your pantry.

Start out with two cans of black beans, and a can of corn. Drain and rinse both…and add to a big bowl.

Fool proof, right?!

Alright…here comes the real leg work of the recipe. Break out that cutting board. Whew! Now, get to chopping! Chop up cilantro, green onions, red onion, and a few limes. Juice limes. (Strenuous activity like chopping may require wine…for hydration purposes, obviously).

Add all that gorgeous color to your bowl…along with some vegetable oil and cumin. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Now the best part, do some taste-testing! Add more lime juice, salt or pepper according to your taste.

If your party is later on…cover this bad boy with plastic wrap and forget about it till the last minute. If you’re heading out the door soon, read on.

You thought you were done with that cutting board (and wine). Not quite, domestic goddess! Dice up some tomatoes and one avocado. Add to that big bowl again (isn’t it looking gorgeous in there?!). Add one small can of chopped green chiles to add some depth to the flavor. Stir up everything…and if you’re feeling spicy…add some of your favorite hot sauce to the mix!

Get ready for it….that’s it! You did it! Just pair your Sassy Salsa with some tortilla chips…and prepare to really be the Life of the Party!

Recipe:

2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained, rinsed

1 (16oz) can  corn, drained

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon cumin

Salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 cup chopped avocado

1 (4oz) can green chiles (optional)

Hot sauce (optional)

Combine the beans, corn, cilantro, green onions, red onion, lime juice, oil and cumin in a large bowl and mix well. Add salt and pepper. Chill, covered, for up to 24 hours. Stir in the tomatoes, avocado and green chiles immediately before serving. You may also add hot sauce to taste if desired. Serve with corn chips or crostini.

Yield: 6 cups (12 to 15 servings)

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The Life of the Party

Cajun Shrimp and Lemon Pasta


Cajun Shrimp and Lemon Pasta

Capture the Coast, pg . 78

Weeknight meals can be a challenge in our house.  With two kids running around and jobs and volunteer commitments to juggle it’s a major accomplishment to get ANYTHING on the table.  We have our staple meals and takeout places, but I do like to mix it up occasionally and I was feeling adventurous this week.

I’m always looking for something that can be prepped in advance and is easy to finish and when I saw this Cajun Shrimp and Lemon Pasta dish, I knew we had to try it! The recipe is very adaptable according to your taste and was a huge hit in our house. The kids even enjoyed the pasta by itself!

Cajun Seasoning:

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon oregano

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Combine all of the seasonings together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Secure lid and shake well. *I used a small mason jar for this step.

Spicy Shrimp:

½ cup olive oil

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 pound large shrimp

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients with the Cajun seasoning.  Peel and devein shrimp and rinse and pat dry.  In a 9×13 inch dish, combine the shrimp with the marinade and toss to coat.  Marinate covered in the refrigerator for 1 to 12 hours.

When you are ready for dinner, preheat the over to 450 degrees. Discard the garlic clove from the dish and bake the shrimp for 7 to 10 minutes until pink, stirring occasionally.

Lemon Pasta:

½ cup olive oil

2/3 cup grated parmesan

juice of 2 lemons

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

1 lb spaghetti or penne

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

zest of two lemons

Whisk the olive oil, parmesan, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving a ½ cup of the cooking water. Combine the pasta and the sauce and add the lemon zest and basil, toss to coat. Add reserved water a tablespoon at a time, as needed (I didn’t need to add any).  Top with the shrimp and serve.

Cooks notes:

  • We don’t care for parsley so I skipped that ingredient in the marinade.
  • You can use whatever pasta you want in this recipe! I only had gluten free penne in my pantry and it was delicious.
  • The recipe suggests that you can use parsley instead of basil in the pasta and also can add capers. I took them up on the latter part and we weren’t disappointed!

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The Life of the Party

Hot & Spicy Spinach Dip


Hot and Spicy Spinach Dip

The Life of the Party, p.43

     Well it’s the start of college football and we all know what that means! Tailgates and watch parties. If you’re like me, the food is ALMOST as important as the game itself. I have a few “go to” appetizers that I bring to parties or make for my guests. The Hot and Spicy Spinach Dip is one of my favorites. It’s an easy prep and it makes a lot. I usually make mine the day of so its nice and fresh and I serve mine with blue corn tortilla chips. You can serve it with just about whatever but that happens to be my favorite. The dip itself is very flavorful with butter, spices, onions, and cheeses that all join forces to make your mouth water!

 

Be sure to try it out and let us know what you think!

 

½ onion, finely chopped

½ cup (1 stick) butter

2 (10 ounce) packages frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained

8 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes

1-cup sour cream

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped

crushed red pepper flakes to taste

salt to taste

pepper to taste

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

 

Sauté the onion in butter in a large skillet until tender. Add the spinach, cream cheese, sour cream and parmesan cheese, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the artichoke hearts, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper; remove from heat. Pour into baking dish. Top with pepper jack cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve hot with assorted crackers and bread slices.

   

  

  

  

  

  

  

The Life of the Party

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf


Good morning and happy Friday!! Can you believe it is already the end of August already? This year is seriously going by way too quickly. But hey at least football is around the corner and I have the perfect snack to make while watching a game. This lemon poppy seed loaf is super easy and quite delicious to bake for you and some friends.

It’s not messy which means it’s easy to clean up and that sounds like a pretty good deal to me when entertaining others. Anyways, here is what you’ll need in order to make this loaf!

Ingredients for the Bread:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds

For the Glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups of confectioner’s sugar

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For the bread, beat the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the lemon zest, flour, baking powder, salt and milk and beat at low speed until combined. Mix in the poppy seeds. Do not overmix the batter. Pour into a greased and floured 5×9 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the glaze, combine the lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Prick the top of the hot loaf with a fork. Pour the glaze slowly over the hot loaf. Wrap in plastic wrap and let stand for several hours to overnight before slicing to serve.

Yield: 12 Servings

The Life of the Party

Beach Picnic: Black Bean Vegetable Wraps & Citrus Slush


Junior League of Tampa cookbook committee member, Erin, volunteered to share some of her favorite recipes from The Life of the Party for a Florida beach picnic!

Summer has officially ended, and what better way to celebrate than with a sunset beach picnic. For most of the country, end of summer means closing up pools, putting away boats and wistfully preparing for winter. Here in Florida however, it is quite the opposite. Fall is welcomed, as afternoon showers and resulting humidity have finally begun to subside. Outdoor activities are no longer an unbearable thought, as we welcome a break in the weather.

Florida beaches are at their best around this time. The Gulf that was once a warm bath in the summer months has returned to its former refreshing self. A beach picnic is the perfect way to get friends together for an easy stress-free dinner to enjoy sunset and the best Florida has to offer.

I chose two recipes from the Junior League of Tampa’s Life of the Party cookbook – the Black Bean Vegetable wraps and Citrus slush. Hand-held foods are great for the beach and you’ll be surprised at how much you don’t miss the meat in this feel-good Black Bean Veg wrap. The Citrus slush is light and refreshing, the perfect cocktail for a sunset beach picnic.

Black bean vegetable wraps

Black Bean Vegetable Wraps

Pg. 94 Life of the Party

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon onion salt

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed, drained

¼ cup salsa

12 (8-inch) flour tortillas (regular, spinach or red pepper)

10 ounces fresh spinach

2 (7-ounce) jars roasted sweet peppers, drained, chopped

2 carrots, shredded optional

Combine the cream cheese, Pepper Jack cheese, sour cream and onion salt in a mixing bowl; beat until well blended. Process the black beans and salsa in a food processor until smooth. Spread the bean mixture in a light layer over each tortilla. Top evenly with the cheese mixture, spinach, red pepper and carrots. Roll up the tortillas tightly. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill before serving. Serve with a side of salsa and sour cream for dipping. You may add grilled chicken or steak if desired.

citrus slush

Citrus Slush

Pg. 48 Life of the Party

1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed

6 ounces gin (substituted white rum)

1 quart citrus soft drink (substituted regular club soda)

2 drops green food coloring (optional)

Combine the limeade concentrate, gin, soft drink and food coloring in a large container. Freeze until serving time. Thaw until slushy and serve in a punch bowl.

Recipe Notes:

The optional addition of carrot gave the wraps a nice crunch. Instead of shredded carrots, I peeled whole carrots with a potato peeler which created gorgeous, thick curls.

The Citrus Slush transported very well in a large plastic Rubbermaid beverage container. Serve over lots of ice to keep that nice slushy texture.