Thursday, September 22, 2011

Birthday Dinner

Here are the recipes promised from my birthday dinner last week.

Artichoke Tossed Salad
I omitted the celery (it is a texture thing) and used more artichokes because they are o so yummy.  All I had was Dijon mustard and that worked fine in place of the brown spicy mustard.  Josh loved this salad because it had bacon!

Chicken, mozzarella and basil panini (Parent Magazine March 2011)

4 ciabatta rolls or 8 slices of other good quality rustic bread ( I bought what was on sale at HEB)
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (I totally ignored the environment and bought pre-cooked and packaged sliced chicken I found with the lunch meats--it was good)
4 oz. thinly sliced fresh mozzarella
1 tomato, sliced ( I like Roma tomatoes)
8 to 12 fresh basil leaves (I used dried bottled basil)
Kosher salt ( I forgot the salt)
2 T. olive oil

1. Slice the rolls in half.  On the bottom half of each, layer 1/4 of the chicken, a slice or two of the cheese, a slice of tomato, and 2 to 3 basil leaves; sprinkle with salt.  Put the top of the roll on the sandwich and press down gently. 
2. Put the olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold all four sandwiches, turn the heat to medium.  When the oil is hot and shimmers, put the sandwiches in the pan, put another pan or large heat-proof plate on top of the sandwiches, and press down (you can also use an electric sandwich press or waffle iron for this step if you like).  When the cheese has melted and the bread begins to crisp on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes, remove the top pan or plate, flip the sandwiches, press down again, and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. 

I totally skipped step number two and just put the sandwiches on a cookie sheet in the broiler oven. 

Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cake is what I made for dessert.  It was heavenly!  I don't have the recipe at this time.  I got it from Southern Living and loaned it to a friend, but I can tell you the basics.

Bake a devil's food chocolate cake in to two round pans.  Purchase some mint chocolate chip ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate wafer cookies.  I actually made my own whip cream using heavy cream and sugar.  I also made my own wafer cookies, because HEB doesn't carry them and I wasn't going to drive all over town looking for chocolate wafers. 

Chocolate Wafers
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cocoa ( I use dark chocolate)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (I use 1cup)
1/2 cup plus 2 T room temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven, Preheat to 375
2. In a food processor, or bowl of an eclectic mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar.  While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg.  Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart.  With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough.  Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking.  Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

Now this makes more than you need for the cake.  So you will have to make some filling and then you have homemade oreos.

1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Optional-gel dye

Back to method
4. To make the cream, place the butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla.  Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.  (Optional: Blend in a ting bit of gel dye until you reach the the desired color).
6. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie.  Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie.  Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream ( I don't use a pastry bag.  A spoon works fine.).  The Oreo recipe came from

OK, back to my birthday cake. 

Once the cakes have cooled place one layer in a spring form pan (cheesecake pan) layer ice cream, wafer cookies.  Then another cake layer and more ice cream.  Place in freezer fro 10 to 12 hours.  About 1/2 hour before serving take out of freezer it will be easier to cut if it thaws some.  Top with a mixture of semi-sweet chocolate baking squares melted in the microwave and whip cream (this has a name, but I can't remember it).  The recipe said to use immediately so I did and well when hot meets cold you get a mess.

Not exactly like the picture in Southern Living, but very YUMMY!!


  1. I am so impressed with your birthday dinner variety! ...and the cake looks yummy :)

  2. I love that artichoke salad!! I make it quite a bit. Will have to try the mint cake. Yummy!